Christmas is almost upon us. If the Mayans are correct, our last Christmas. At least as we know it. Until then we live in the moment and appreciate all that we have, and that means music. In a year full of incredible hard rock releases, The Examiner has put together a list of stocking stuffer ideas for those who are trying to buy for others, or for those who may have overlooked a few gems.
Some of the albums listed below were simply mammoth while others slipped quietly under the radar. All were released in 2012.
1. Slash – “Apocalyptic Love”: Slash along with Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy release the best Guns n’ Roses album in over 25 years. Every track soars with rich melodies and tight riffs. A must own hard rock record.
2. Halestorm – “The Strange Case Of…”: The Pennsylvania quartet has created a brilliant sophomore effort and Lzzy Hale and Company are devouring the road, and fans are embracing their sound and style. The album has already spawned massive hits with “Love Bites (So Do I)”, “I Miss The Misery” and “Here’s To Us”. Evanescence vocalist Amy Lee joined Lzzy onstage for ballad “Break In” on their recent tour. Expect another radio hit there as well.
3. Fozzy – “Sin and Bones”: Wrestling superstar Chris Jericho gave up his day job to concentrate on his music, and it hits as hard as anything he’s ever thrown in a rink. Songs like “Spider In My Mouth” and “Sandpaper” are as addictive as anything you’ll hear on this list. The latter includes a special cameo by Avenged Sevenfold vocalist, M. Shadows.
4. Frank Hannon – “Six String Soldiers”: Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon connected with singer Jeff Sandoval and guitarist Mike Araiza to create an old school album of sticky rock riffs with bluesy swagger. Guitar legends like Rick Derringer, Pat Travers, Dave Meniketti and Dickey Betts put in cameo appearances as well.
5. Dead Sara – “Dead Sara”: Originally slated for a 2011 release, the debut from this Los Angeles quartet is simply exceptional. Driven by the unique and angsty voice of Emily Armstrong along with the sweet guitars of Siouxsie Medley, Dead Sara have crafted an album that taps into the best chunks of 60s and 70s rock with elements of punk and folk threaded in. Check out “Weatherman”, “Face to Face”, “Sorry For It All”, or “Test My Patience”: Brilliant!
6. Lacuna Coil – “Dark Adrenaline”: Italy’s hard rock sextet continue to define and refine their dark edged sound, and this is easily the band’s most complete album to date. Songs like “Trip The Darkness”, “Give Me Something More” and “Kill the Light” are infectious rockers.
7. Shinedown – Amaryllis: With each passing album Shinedown continue to make catchy yet moving hard rock and roll. The album has already yielded multiple radio hits including “Bully”, “Unity”, “Enemies” and the title track. The band will release the single “Miracle” next month.
8. Flying Colors – “Flying Colors”: Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and legendary guitarist Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Kansas, Dixie Dregs) put together a monumental lineup of talent for this inspired debut. The quintet taps into all manner of pop, rock, prog and blues elements to build a magnificent sonic beast.
9. Rush – “Clockwork Angels”: The prog-rock masters returned this year with their most relevant and stunning album in years. The Canadian trio are in fine form. Rush and prog-rock fans will want this album in their collections.
10. AC/DC – “Live at River Plate”: Like your rock and roll in a live setting? Well no one does it better than AC/DC, and the band’s third live offering of their career is a beast encompassing music that covers both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras of the band.
11. Foxy Shazam – “The Church of Rock and Roll”: Is a monument to bombast: Over-the-top yet under-the-radar, the band’s second major label release (fourth overall) is a pure joy to behold. This is classic rock with a modern twist full of swagger without tipping into distracting sonic kitsch. Check out the tracks; “I Like It”, “Wasted Feelings”, “Last Chance At Love”, and “The Streets”.
12. Tracer – “Spaces in Between”: Bad Company meets Queens of the Stone Age. Track by track “Spaces In Between” is packed with solid, well-crafted tunes that show immense promise for this young, bluesy, Aussie band. One listen to the final track, “Won’t Let It Die (Run Mary)”, and it is easy to hear that these guys are something special and on the cusp of a global breakout.
Music is the universal language, speak it loudly!
Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.
Got suggestions of your own? Sound off below.