Wednesday, April 19, 2006

1989 - The Dogs Lay at Your Feet

This may have been the most difficult Top 10 I have ever assembled. The reason is that NONE of these albums are really that great, with perhaps only the top album achieving greatness. They are all good, but none of them are close to perfect, and they all have their weak spots.

In fact, it was tough to exclude the following six albums because they were all worthy of the top 10, but fell a bit short. So, the runners up are:

Helstar – Nosferatu
Fates Warning – Perfect Symmetry
A.S.A.P. – Silver and Gold
Cloven Hoof – A Sultan’s Ransom
Annihilator – Alice in Hell
Enuff Z’ Nuff – Enuff Z’ Nuff

All really good albums, but not quite there, so now on to the top 10:

10. Blue Murder – Blue Murder

More of a hard rock than metal album, John Sykes solo band’s first album is quite good. Of course, there is a Whitesnake feel to it, but since John wrote all the music on the multi platinum self titled album, it’s all good in my book. Valley of the Kings is a great track, and the other songs are good too, but Sykes’ playing is what keeps this record interesting.

9. Watchtower – Control and Resistance

This album is frustrating. Watchtower was capable of making such a better album than this. However, it is still a real good album, and while a step down from Energetic Disassembly, it is good enough to crack the 1989 top 10.

8. Tora Tora – Surprise Attack

1989 was the peak of hair metal. By the end of 1990, the Seattle scene will have all but ruined the career of hair bands. However, by 1989, so real talented musicians were in hair bands, and the song quality was way above the pioneers of the sub genre. So bands like Vain, Enuff Z’ Nuff and Fifth Angel were releasing good quality records, but little did they know their genre was doomed. Any way, this album was the best of the bunch.

7. King Diamond – Conspiracy

Many people believe this record is just as good as its predecessors, but I disagree. Maybe it’s that horrible record cover. Anyway, for me, this is where King’s dominance is over, and his releases decline to mediocrity. Still, Conspiracy is a good album, and worthy of the top 10.

6. Metal Church – Blessing in Disguise

Badlands is probably the track of the year, and the rest of the album is really good too. As I have said before, it is my opinion that Metal Church is the most underrated band for the 1980’s California Thrash scene. They are so much better that Vio-lence, Testament, Exodus and all that other generic thrash.

5. Running Wild – Death or Glory

This was Running Wild’s peak period. Death or Glory has a perfect sound. Some of the songs fall flat, but the majority of them are terrific Euro speed metal, done by the genre’s inventors.

4. Dream Theater – When Dream and Day Unite

The first album from the now legendary New York prog outfit is one of my favorite DT records. While Charlie’s voice is not that great, the band’s playing was very tight, and I think they have lost focus over the years. The album manages to be very progressive, while still being heavy. DT would go on to make a couple albums far superior to this one, but still, despite poor production and less that average vocals, this is a very good album.

3. Rush – Presto

Fanboy? – maybe. While not the greatest Rush record of all time, Presto still has some quality tracks on it like The Pass, Superconductor and the title song. Most of the album is somewhat generic mid-term Rush, but let’s face it, generic mid-term Rush is still pretty damn good.

2. Savatage – Gutter Ballet

Like most of the albums on this list, Gutter Ballet has some great moments, and at other times it falls flat. Criss Oliva’s songwriting and guitar playing here is what makes this album so good. A bit more progressive that their previous albums, but not corny like the albums that would come after, Gutter Ballet is the high water mark for Savatage.

1. The Cult – Sonic Temple

Every so often, an album comes from left field to completely blow me away, and while Sonic Temple is not without its flaws, it is easily the top album of 1989. Ian Astbury’s vocals are brilliantly incorporated into the music, and the additional heaviness compared to their previous albums makes this a hard rock album worthy of inclusion here.


Metal Mark said...

Welcome back, T-bone. Tax season must be over.

This was a good year. I certainly agree with Tora, Tora, Blue Murder, King Diamond and Metal Church. My favorite album of 1989 was probably either WASP's Headless children or Overkill's Years of decay. I had the pleasure of seeing Tora, Tora in 92 and they rocked. They also have a third album that was recorded in 94 and it's still sitting on a shelf somewhere unreleased because the label didn't think it would sell.

Strutter71 said...

Wow, and I thought I was the only Tora Tora fan around. I loved that album. I was never a huge Metal Church fan, but "Badlands" kicked major ass.
Mark, I agree with your choices. "Headless Children" was the first WASP album I ever bought and I absolutely loved it. And "Years of Decay" was probably Overkill's finest hour, although "Horrorscope" comes damn close. One of the best concerts I ever saw was Overkill at a club in Asbury Park that was easily breaking some laws as far as building capacity goes, but there was so much energy in the room. Simply amazing.

T-_Bone said...

Thanks for the comments guys. You know I actually forgot about that Badlands album. That was a good one too. I don't think it would be in the top 10, but it was a good record.

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