TOP TWENTY ALBUMS OF 2011 – READERS’ CHOICE:
For the sixth consecutive year Sleaze Roxx readers came out in full-force to vote for their favorite albums of the year. With Ratt, KISS and Motley Crue decimating the competition in most recent years, the 2011 voting resulted in the tightest race ever, with a mere four votes separating the top two spots. 2011 also proved to be one of the most eclectic contests in terms of entries — as over 350 albums received votes ranging from chart-topper Adele to nu-metal rockers Korn. As with other years a first place vote resulted in 5 points for the album, second place received 4 points and so on, resulting in the list you see before you.
Thanks again to everyone from around the world who voted, and to FNA Records for helping supply some of the great prizes offered. This year’s winners include Terry H (Quincy, IL), Jim S (Woods Cross, UT), Dusty S (Bismark, ND), Darryl W (Scotia, NY), Chris R (Arnold, MO), Dean D (Appleton, WI), Dan C (Chamblee, GA) and John F (Brandon, FL).
Also make sure to check out the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 Of 2011.
The legendary Whitesnake squeaked out the win this year with their much-heralded Forevermore. Band leader David Coverdale seemed to defy age on this album, and its predecessor Good To Be Bad, while recapturing the vintage ‘Snake sound. Reaching the Billboard Top 50 and placing third on the Sleaze Roxx Top 10, Forevermore proved to be a highlight within the group’s lengthy and influential discography. Taking 2012 off to recharge their batteries, we can only hope the rest makes the next studio album another blistering affair — although with his current band of talented musicians that is almost a given.
People still aren’t sure how to take Steel Panther — are they a killer rock band with childish lyrics, or are they a comedy group that is poking fun at the ’80s hair metal genre? The answer likely falls somewhere in the middle as these over-the-top rockers are like Beavis & Butthead with musical talent. In reality, Steel Panther isn’t too far removed from Spinal Tap, and we all remember how their ‘rockumentary’ caused controversy within the heavy metal establishment upon its release. Eventually the joke will probably wear thin, but on Balls Out the band is just hitting their peak.
After taking top spot in the 2007 Sleaze Roxx reader’s poll I fully expected Sebastian Bach to repeat with Kicking & Screaming. In my opinion this album was much better than Angel Down, containing more of the former Skid Row vocalist’s signature melodies. With the help of wonderkid guitarist Nick Sterling, Bach created an album that was both heavy, melodic and memorable. While a recent divorce and losing his home to Hurricane Irene made 2011 a memorable year for all the wrong reasons — at least Bach has Kicking & Screaming to make him proud.
Enough Rope was not only a triumphant return to the ’80s by cult rockers Vain, but also became a critical success by taking top spot in the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 followed by an excellent showing in this contest. Vocalist Davy Vain appears to have found the fountain of youth as he offers not only the band’s best work since their No Respect debut, but an album that practically equals it in every way. In 2011 Vain proved, more than any other artist, that it was possible to perfectly recapture the sounds of their youth and deliver exactly what their fanbase desires.
Hard rock fans seem to have a love/hate relationship with Finland’s Reckless Love. Despite the detractors who view the group as nothing more than ridiculous glam rockers, Reckless Love have secured a loyal following in their short history while making their second consecutive appearance on the Sleaze Roxx Top 20. Far removed from vocalist Olli Herman‘s short stint in CrashDiet, there is no denying this young band can be a guilty pleasure. Animal Attraction is filled with the syrupy sounds that put hair metal on the map over twenty years ago, and Reckless Love seem determined to resurrect that musical era.
Few albums were as heralded in 2011 as Michael Monroe‘s Sensory Overdrive. With an all-star line-up backing him up the former Hanoi Rocks leader delivered a satisfying blend of hard rock and punk as only he could. With the almost unanimous praise for Sensory Overdrive it appears as if the grizzled veteran’s solo career has gotten a second wind — and it’s about time! Few artists have flown under the radar for as long as Michael Monroe, and any music that helps propel him into the spotlight is welcomed.
After a failed 2007 reunion, Anthrax and their most popular frontman Joey Belladonna finally got around to recording another studio album together — the partnership’s first since 1990’s Persistence Of Time. It proved to be a long wait, with some difficult years and failed experiments for the veteran thrashers, but fans were incredibly receptive to the long-awaited product while driving the album to #12 on the Billboard charts. While John Bush was arguably a better technical singer, there is no denying that Belladonna is the face and voice of Anthrax.
Another of thrash metal’s ‘Big 4’ released new music this year — Megadeth. Throughout their career Dave Mustaine and company have been overshadowed by his former bandmates in Metallica, but in 2011 they blew their old competition out of the water. While Metallica were experimenting (and failing) with the Lulu project, Megadeth were giving head-bangers exactly what they expected and salivated over.
2011 will go down in Warrant history not because of their comeback album Rockaholic but due to Jani Lane‘s sudden (although not entirely unexpected) death. Sadly the iconic singer’s passing overshadowed what was a fairly satisfying return with new vocalist Robert Mason of Lynch Mob and Big Cock fame. Hopefully next time the band’s new music gets recognized for what is on the album as opposed to outside forces, and with Mason at the helm expectations will once again be high.
Back in 2007 Sixx: A.M. placed #4 on the Sleaze Roxx Top 20, so this result would appear to be somewhat of a disappointment. While the members of Motley Crue continue to have a tumultuous relationship, and often hint at putting the band to rest, bassist Nikki Sixx continues to explore a more mainstream sound with his Sixx: A.M. project that includes guitarist DJ Ashba and frontman James Michael — one that has proven to be very successful in their own right.
If you want to get technical, What If… is actually a late 2010 release — however it only surfaced in Japan, the country that eats up anything Mr. Big dishes out. About a month later, in early 2011, the album was finally available throughout the world. What If… made it seem as if this talented band had never broken up, as everything that made Mr. Big so great to begin with found its way onto this effort. Despite coming out so early in the year many readers remembered to give the album, the band’s first in a decade, its rightful due.
The supergroup Chickenfoot continue to make headlines, lately because of Sammy Hagar‘s disdain for Van Halen‘s popular comeback album. But Chickenfoot is fully capable of making news of their own with a killer line-up that includes guitar legend Joe Satriani, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. With a line-up like that how can they go wrong?
Recording the sequel to his classic 1975 album was a stroke of genius for shock-rocker Alice Cooper. Once again taking the listener on a journey through another nightmare, Cooper reunited with several key members of his past to release his most successful album in 20 years. While shocking audiences may not be as easy today as it was back when he launched his solo career, Cooper remains on the macabre cutting-edge and continues to show a younger generation how to put on a memorable stage show.
Vocalist Joe LeSte has single-handedly kept the Bang Tango machine rolling since the original band parted ways during the grunge invasion. The funk influenced bass lines of the band’s early work are long gone as the current version of Bang Tango is a more straight-forward sounding rock group. On their first CD in over five years, LeSte and company proved that they haven’t run out of ideas yet and delivered an album that fit nicely within the band’s growing discography.
After some ill-fated efforts, the core of King Kobra returned in 2011 with Rough Cutt vocalist Paul Shortino to release one of their most consistent efforts ever. Their sound may have changed, trading AOR infused rock for a more straight-forward and bluesy delivery, but the consensus among hard rock fans seemed to be favorable. Replacing a singer is never easy, especially someone as talented as Mark Free, but everything seemed to line up perfectly for King Kobra on this self-titled disc.
Not since Guns N’ Roses‘ Chinese Democracy has an album taken so long to come to fruition. Originally slated for a 2003 release, Hell Yeah! was constantly pushed back and bounced between record labels — leading some to wonder if it would ever see the light of day. Finally Black N’ Blue put the final touches on the long-awaited album, their first since 1988’s In Heat, and stayed true to their ’80s sound — the only ingredient missing was current KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer.
Italian newcomers Hell In The Club unleashed a monster of an album upon the public in 2011, a CD that became the only debut effort to appear on the Top 20. Also placing in the Sleaze Roxx Top 10, Let The Games Begin proved to be worthy competition for slick and melodic groups such as Crazy Lixx. While Sweden arguably has a monopoly on up-and-coming sleaze sounds, Hell In The Club are doing their damndest to change that perception and their first ever release was a giant step in the right direction.
Black Stone Cherry have quickly made a name for themselves with their brand of commercial metal diving headfirst into southern rock. On the Kentucky native’s third album they once again delivered what their fans expected, and with the help of singles such as “White Trash Millionaire” and “Blame It On The Boom Boom” reached #29 on the Billboard charts. Black Stone Cherry continue to walk the fine line between new and old, and in the process recruited fans from both eras.
It seems that every year this Top 20 list contains an entry that appears slightly out of place. This year it was the Foo Fighters, but with a chart topping album, several Grammy wins, and sales in excess of 600,000 it should come as no surprise that former Nirvana member Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighter cohorts found a place here. Personally I can’t comment on the band’s sound, as I’ve never really delved into their music, but with that much success they must be doing something right.
Slipping into the final spot is Night Ranger, who celebrated 30 years on the music scene with Somewhere In California, the band’s first Billboard charting album in over twenty years. Forever known as the guys who found success with sappy ballads such as “Sister Christian” and “Sentimental Street”, Night Ranger proved that they could rock with the best of them on their tenth studio album and that they aren’t yet ready to be put out to pasture.