SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2012:
Welcome to the eighth edition of the annual Sleaze Roxx Top 10 list.
With a seemingly endless avalanche of albums coming across my desk this year it almost became overwhelming trying to keep up with all the new music being thrust upon listeners, and without a doubt there are countless discs that I didn’t even get time to check out. However, simply based on what I personally listened to, I once again used a heavily guarded and complicated formula (that omits EPs, reissues and live albums) to compress hundreds of releases into the list before you.
Because I refuse to expand the Sleaze Roxx year end list past the number ten, there are always countless worthy albums that fail to make the grade. Established acts like Van Halen, KISS, L.A. Guns — who each returned with commendable albums — are at an unfair disadvantage simply because they have storied pasts to live up to. Even perennial favorites such as The Last Vegas, Little Caesar, Bullet, Sister Sin and Snew found themselves on the outside looking in, not because of disappointing efforts but because the line had to be drawn in the sand somewhere. So here it is — some returning favorites, some fresh faces, some band’s you’ve heard of and some you probably haven’t… the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 of 2012!
Also check out the Sleaze Roxx Reader’s Choice Top 20 Of 2012.
It took several years for Million Dollar Reload to record their sophomore album, a hiatus that was longer than many upstarts entire careers, but the wait was well worth it. With a major label now behind them these Irish rockers had something to prove — and prove it they did. Sounding heavier and more determined than ever, Million Dollar Reload‘s ‘A Sinner’s Saint’ contained massive amounts of energy, memorable hooks, blazing guitars and attitude-driven vocals. An album that could cater to both traditional hard rock fans and fickle radio listeners alike, Million Dollar Reload hit the nail on the head for a flawless collection of rock royalty.
Essential Tracks: Bullets In The Sky, Wicked, It Ain’t Over
From out of nowhere, and with little fanfare, the Hellectrokuters burst onto the scene in 2012 with a head-banging debut album. With a sound that crossed the line between Airbourne and Lynch Mob on a crystal meth binge, these French rockers screamed their way through ten deliciously hard-driving numbers. The fire and rage the band played with made it appear as if they knew their career would end abruptly, so they had to lay all their cards on the table during ‘Rock N Roll Beggars’. As it turns out, that might not be so far from the truth — as they are currently searching for a vocalist and bassist.
Essential Tracks: Hey Baby, Raised In Hell, New York 79
If I get complaints about any album reaching this list it will likely be due to Hardbone, who are making their second appearance on the Sleaze Roxx Top 10. Devoid of any real melody, harmonies or finesse, these German rockers succeed solely on working-man’s attitude. Their three-chord guitar attack is pulled directly from AC/DC‘s playbook but played at warp-speed. You won’t be signing along with any ‘choruses’, but your neck will get sore from head-banging to a musical assault tailor made for a long night of excessive drinking.
Essential Tracks: Bottlemate, One Night Stand, Hellevator
As a supporter of Crazy Lixx for close to a decade now (this is their third appearance on the Sleaze Roxx Top 10), I was beginning to wonder if they would ever fully reach their potential. Over the years they seemed to be slowly cleaning up their sound in an effort to reach a pinnacle not unlike Def Leppard‘s over-produced classic ‘Hysteria’. Thankfully ‘Riot Avenue’ saw Crazy Lixx return to their roots by adding a little dirt to their deliciously addictive compositions filled with soaring harmonies and flawless guitar leads. How this Swedish band hasn’t squeezed out even a hint of commercial success worldwide is outright criminal.
Essential Tracks: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Young Blood, Riot Avenue
With a delivery that takes listeners back to late ’70s era AC/DC, Bonafide have once again found themselves on the Sleaze Roxx Top 10. Far from flashy, these Swedish rockers simply lower their heads and deliver blues based rock anthems with bite. Bonafide are one of those groups who seem destined to playing every little bar in existence, which isn’t a bad thing at all because you can tell they would slay in a live setting. And obviously the band have unrivaled creativity, as frontman Pontus Snibb released a damn good album with his own side project in 2012 as well.
Essential Tracks: Make My Own Rules, Doing The Pretty, Rebel Machine
Making their second appearance on these Top 10 lists is the extremely satisfying Koritni. Not unlike Bonafide, these Australians have been quietly releasing impeccable slabs of hard rock for several years now with little fanfare. The lack of recognition doesn’t seem to deter these rockers however as they have always delivered and continued doing so with ‘Welcome To The Crossroads’. A guest appearance by Jeff Scott Soto and superb mix by Mike Fraser may finally get people to take notice, but in the meantime a brand new live album should satisfy hard core fans like myself.
Essential Tracks: Down At The Crossroads, Better Off Dead, Sydney In The Summertime
Late in the year I was contacted by a band asking if I’d check out their new album — I get requests like this daily, but few impressed me as much as 21st Century Goliath. The artwork didn’t exactly inspire, so it took me awhile to actually listen to ‘Radio Destroyer’, but am I ever glad I did. Biker rock, boogie, heavy metal, punk… this gritty American band threw everything up against the wall on their debut platter, and it all seemed to stick. 21st Century Goliath seem unafraid to take risks and broaden horizons, meaning they could easily have a bright and interesting future ahead of them.
Essential Tracks: Life’ A Bitch, Radio Destroyer, Lipstick
One of my most anticipated albums of 2012 failed to disappoint as King Lizard came roaring back with another collection of Guns N’ Roses inspired sleaze. Several times during ‘A Nightmare Livin’ The Dream’ it feels as if the band is going to fly off the rails and implode, and it is that recklessness that makes these English bad boys fascinating. You never know what is coming next as they teeter on the edge of destruction with banshee wails, killer guitar riffs plucked from the sky and a heavy bottom end. This is their second appearance on the Sleaze Roxx Top 10, and barring a catastrophic meteor shower I have a feeling we will see them here again.
Essential Tracks: Hair Of The Dog, If It’s A Sin, A Nightmare Livin’ The Dream
It was early in the year when a disc from a completely unknown band dropped upon my desk, and it remained embedded in my head for the remainder of the year. Full Tilt added some sophistication and class to my listening experience but it was really Devan Stokosa‘s blues soaked voice that immediately caught my attention — if George Lynch needs a crooner the next time Oni Logan goes MIA, look no further. Even though the singer is this American band’s ace in the hole, the remaining musicians are no slouches either… the sky is the limit for Full Tilt.
Essential Tracks: Dancing With The Devil, Beautiful Mask, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Tenth place always seems the hardest to fill in, but I figure you can’t go wrong with a band that sounds like a cross between Bullet and Airbourne — and that is The Scams in a nutshell. I’ll admit I’m late getting to the party when it comes to this Swedish band, who have been around for a decade now, but better late than never. I’m a sucker for this type of music, no doubt about it — but there is something satisfying about the Neanderthal approach taken by The Scams and their kind as they rekindle the magic of hard rock’s roots.
Essential Tracks: I’m Not Alone (Got Rock N Roll), Pour Me One, Ten Tons Of Steel