10. LAMB OF GOD “VII: Sturm Und Drang”
The first album after vocalist and guitarist Randy Blythe’s manslaughter case reflects deeply on him, as he recounts the events that led to the case in 2013.
Literally translated to “Storm and Stress”, Blythe opens up about his personal ordeal in which a fan was killed at one of their shows, and Blythe was blamed. Many months and court cases later, he was found not responsible and was released.
09. MICHAEL MONROE “Blackout States”
The ex-Hanoi Rocks vocalist plows back into the scene with a very traditional 80s-era rock album. A welcome return for a guy that still knows what it takes to rock. Full review Here.
08. W.A.S.P. “Golgotha”
Blackie and the Boys’ 15th studio album, and first release since 2009’s “Babylon”, “Golgotha”, also known as Calvary, was, according to the Gospels, a site immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls where Jesus was crucified.
This album saw the departure of drummer Mike Dupke shortly after completion, while guitarist Doug Blair, and bassist Mike Duda remain.
07. UFO “A Conspiracy of Stars”
Phil Mogg, Andy Parker and Paul Raymond are all that remain of the British band’s once phenomenal lineup that also included founding bassist, Pete Way and German wunderkind Michael Schenker. Schenker has since sold off any ownership he may have had with UFO, as he has no intent to rejoin the band again.
It’s a sad fact, but that being said, the guitar slot is very adequately filled by Vinnie Moore, who is no slouch, (Insert Ty Webb quote “Don’t sell yourself short, you’re a tremendous slouch!”) and Phil Mogg is wonderful as always.
06. SCORPIONS “Return To Forever”
Retirement sucks, as so many rockers have come to realize. After wrapping up their farewell tour in 2014, Germany’s Scorpions realized that they didn’t really want to call it quits just yet. While this album is far from another Lovedrive, Blackout, or Love At First Sting, it is worthy of making it available, and the guys show us that age doesn’t necessarily mean that doing what you love has to stop.
05. WHITESNAKE “The Purple Album”
David Coverdale’s dreams of putting together Deep Purple’s Mark III lineup for a few shows were dashed when Purple’s legendary keyboardist Jon Lord passed away from cancer in 2012. Given Ritchie Blackmore’s then-refusal to play anything Rock, the idea had fleeted, but the urge to play the music was still there.
Coverdale assembled the latest lineup of his band and remade some of his favorites, including “Mistreated”, “Stormbringer”, “You Fool No One”, and “Burn”.
04. SLAYER “Repentless”
The first album after the death of founding guitarist, Jeff Hanneman, and also after the second departure of founding drummer Dave Lombardo, other founding members, bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, and guitarist Kerry King have forged on, bringing back drummer Paul Bostaph, and permanently borrowing Exodus guitarist Gary Holt.
Given the circumstances behind Lombardo’s dismissal, it’s safe to say he isn’t coming back. Slayer’s best days are behind them. Regardless, the music isn’t bad on “Repentless”.
03. MOTORHEAD “Bad Magic”
Not giving a Motörhead album a spot on a year-end best of album list would be sacrilege. Lemmy is, after all, God in any way, shape or form in which I would associate. All joking aside, Motörhead really can’t do a bad album. Longtime members Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell ensure that Lemmy can comfortably contribute, despite being sidelined a few times lately with health issues, and experiencing the death of ex-drummer Philthy “Animal” Taylor.
02. SAXON “Battering Ram”
Biff Byford and Saxon stormed back at us with their equivalent of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller”. A very heavy, almost thrashy album, “Battering Ram” sounds like it could have been released 25 years ago. Full review Here.
01. IRON MAIDEN “The Book Of Souls”
What can one say? 40 years after forming, the core of the classic lineup (Dickinson, Harris, Murray, Smith, McBrain) is intact, and the 3rd guitar wizardry of Janick Gers, is just gravy. Although Dickinson’s voice is showing slight signs of aging, it still sounds as air-raid siren-ish as ever.
This isn’t just another release for Maiden; it’s not important because it’s their first double-disc studio effort, it’s not important because it contains their longest studio song to date, it’s important because it’s that good. “The Book Of Souls” is the front-runner on this best-of list by a very big margin.
Honorable Mention: DAVID GILMOUR “Rattle That Lock”
I’d also be at a loss by not including the ex-Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist’s latest studio effort. Although it’s not Floyd, it’s pretty impossible for him to not sound like Floyd. And that voice. That haunting, yet soothing voice. And that guitar work. It’s almost as recognizable as his voice.