2006 was a strong one for heavy metal. Some veterans proved they still have it, some lesser known bands became stars and a lot of talented newcomers burst upon the scene. Here are our choices for the top heavy metal CDs of 2006. Mastodon has made the jump to a major label. Did that also make them jump the shark, or do they continue their streak of excellent albums? The latter is definitely the case. Mastodon hasn't lost any of their quirkiness or innovativeness on Blood Mountain.
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Amon Amarth's approach on this album was very different than in the past. First they decided to use a producer for the first time instead of just having an engineer. They were also able to quit their day jobs and put in intense songwriting sessions for this album. The result is their most focused and polished release to date.
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Iron Maiden releases a new CD there's a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. They've had so many great albums over the years and you hope that this one can at least come close to some of those classics, but know that a band that's been around so long could be on the down side of their career and is just hanging on. In Iron Maiden's case there is no need to put them out to pasture just yet.
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Cannibal Corpse delivers under pressure, and their latest release ranks right up there with their best. They don't break out a whole lot of new tricks on this album, they just bludgeon you with what they do best. Devastating riffs, blistering solos and maniacal drums are played with technical precision.
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Evergrey hasn't completely changed their stripes. The songs still have some keyboards and an element of darkness. They've just amped up the melody and the hooks. And as always, Tom Englund's vocals are outstanding. His powerful voice is one of the best in metal.
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Killswitch Engage is ready to take things to the next level. They continue to bludgeon the listener with monstrous and aggressive riffs, but also incorporate even more melody than they have in the past. They've managed to write songs that are catchy as hell, but still brutal enough that metal fans will be able to mosh to their heart's content.
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Lamb Of God concerts.
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Mercenary evolved into on the last album while breaking new ground. The songs are lengthy, with only one clocking in at under five minutes. They combine the complexity of progressive metal and the soaring melody of power metal with the speed and aggression of thrash.
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Celtic Frost is closer to the 1983 edition of Hellhammer. The songs are dark, plodding and heavy with droning doom metal guitars. Fischer's voice has aged nicely. His baritone is strong and unique, and he throws in some black metal style vocals as well. You'll also hear some female goth style vocals. The songs are flawlessly and painstakingly constructed with layer after layer of music that you appreciate more with each listen.
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Voivod's trademark chaotic and unusual riffs and more traditional and simpler thrash metal compositions. Michel "Away" Langevin is a superior drummer who is able to add a lot of texture and bombast with his unique style. Piggy's guitar work is as distinctive and skilled as ever, but it's Snake who really shines. His vocals are some of the best he's done, and delivered with range and emotion.
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