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Despite the supply chain issues continuing to delay the production of vinyl worldwide, which maybe has led to a mini revival of the compact disc, this year provided a bevy of box sets and expanded editions for many heavy metal and hard-rock recordings.

The number 40 was a popular one in terms of anniversaries, with Kiss, Motörhead, Rush and more digging deep into the vaults to present monstrous mutations of their early-‘80s releases, adding in bells and whistles like patches, posters, backstage passes, toy cars, art prints, drumsticks and various other item to round out their respective sets. Top-tier alternative rock acts like Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots took their most popular and best-selling efforts and beefed them up too, while the Chicago-based label Numero Group went on an archaeological expedition to unearth some of the music that fell through the cracks of the hallowed Sunset Strip glam metal scene.

It’s always a treat when one of your favorite artists takes one of their best albums and inflates it with bonus material. Even if the extras are simply an additional disc of a live show from the era or result in a full-blown box set, replete with demos, outtakes and other rarities, putting a classic work in a new frame can take listeners back to the first time they heard it. Ultimately though, it comes down to the music, and whether the following list of the 2022’s top sets were remastered, remixed or tweaked in another manner, they all leave a feeling of sonic satisfaction.

Kiss – Creatures of the Night 40th Anniversary

Faced with dwindling popularity and coming off the disastrous art-rock experiment Music from "The Elder" the year prior, Kiss cranked up the guitars, embraced the darkness and doubled down on hard rock with 1982’s Creatures of the Night. Even with the lead guitarist revolving door tumult behind the scenes – Ace Frehley is pictured on the original album cover but didn’t play a note on the finished product – the work somewhat miraculously comes off as a cohesive effort. Much of the credit goes to the virtuosic six-string abilities and songwriting injection provided by Vinnie Vincent on songs like “I Still Love You,” “Killer” and the riff-tastic “War Machine.” 

Available in multiple configurations, including a super deluxe edition featuring a staggering 103 tracks with 75 of them previously unreleased demos, edits, remixes, live cuts, outtakes and even sound effects used on the Creatures of the Night tour, the set paints the most complete picture of a transitional time in Kisstory. The material ranges from the poppy Gene Simmons demo “It’s My Life” to a take-by-take process showing how “Rock and Roll Hell” came together. Of course, this being Kiss, there’s a boatload of collectibles and ephemera like a Creatures press kit, backstage passes, multiple posters, bumper stickers, trading cards, buttons, glow in the dark guitar picks and much more.

Various Artists – Bound for Hell: On the Sunset Strip

We all know the major players from the glory days of the ‘80s Sunset Strip glam metal scene; Poison, L.A. Guns, Ratt, et al. But for every Mötley Crüe, there were a dozen Rough Cutts, Hellions and Odins who never produced enough cream to rise to the top. The 2LP Bound for Hell: On the Sunset Strip sifts through the spandex to uncover a treasure trove of long-forgotten gems like Max Havoc’s Zep-ish “Bound for Hell,” Romeo’s anthemic “Feeling to Rock” and Reddi Killowatt’s funked out “Liquid Lady.” There’s also a focus on female players like Leather Angel, Jaded Lady and Bitch, aberrations among the cocksure braggadocio which dominated the period. Some of the acts, Armored Saint, Lizzy Borden and Black ‘N Blue among them, might be better known, but still fit seamlessly into the collection. Figure in the 144-page hardcover book where Katherine Turman, music critic and co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, documents the rise and fall of the era on the Strip via firsthand testimonials, and Bound for Hell is an indispensable piece of metal history.

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast 40th Anniversary

Singer Bruce Dickinson’s debut effort with Iron Maiden celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion the metal icons have released The Number of the Beast as a triple vinyl set. One noticeable change in the track listing is the swapping out of deep cut “Gangland” for the “Run to the Hills” B-side “Total Eclipse,” an atonement four decades in the making. “I think ‘Total Eclipse’ is a stronger song and the album would have been stronger if it had been on there [initially],” Maiden bassist and band architect Steve Harris says in the liner notes. The additional vinyl is a March 1982 gig at London’s Hammersmith Odeon captured just days before the record landed on shelves. Dubbed Beast Over Hammersmith, the show was previously available as part of the 2002 Eddie’s Archive box set and only on compact disc.

Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II Box Set

Like they did with Appetite for Destruction in 2018, Guns N’ Roses have delivered a box set of their 1991 Use Your Illusions albums a year after the official 30th anniversary. Checking in with a total of 97 songs – 63 of them unreleased – along with a 100-page hardcover book of unseen photos and a host of assorted collectibles, it’s well worth the wait. For the first time since their release, the studio albums have been fully remastered from high-resolution 96kHz 24-bit transfers from the original stereo ½ inch analog masters, providing an aural feast for the ears. Fans clamoring for quality versions of the oft-bootlegged Illusion era demos might be a bit disappointed by their absence, but the selection of live tracks, including a remarkable gig at the Ritz in New York City from May 1991 in both audio and video formats, makes up for it. Available in a number of configurations, hardcore Guns devotees will want to splurge for the super deluxe 12LP + Blu-ray edition.

Motörhead – Iron Fist 40th Anniversary

Motörhead’s follow-up to the masterful Ace of Spades and UK No. 1 live record No Sleep 'til Hammersmith was hardly a dip in quality, though 1982’s Iron Fist did signal the final output from the band’s classic “three amigos” lineup of Lemmy Kilmister, guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. The 40th anniversary deluxe edition comes in 3LP and 2CD formats, both with a 24-page hardback book which tells the story of the album through previously unpublished interviews and unseen photos. The remastered Iron Fist is augmented by a disc of unreleased demos and another with a complete March 1982 concert at the Glasgow Apollo originally broadcast on Scotland’s Radio Clyde. Additionally, for those who don’t need all the extras, there’s a limited edition of the original standalone album on blue and black swirl vinyl.

Alice in Chains – Dirt 30th Anniversary

There is little debate that the darkest album to come out of the ‘90s Seattle scene was Dirt, the drug-addled, depression-heavy and sludge-filled Alice in Chains 1992 work. The onerous darkness and track marks of addiction are all over the lyrics and music, and for the 30th anniversary the band put together a deluxe box set limited to just 3,000 units. The LP itself has been remastered for the first time and pressed on orange vinyl while the five singles, "Them Bones," "Down in a Hole," "Rooster," "Angry Chair" and "Would?,” receive the 7-inch treatment on multi-colored vinyl. Also included is a custom-sculpted, resin “Dirt girl” from the album cover as a vinyl topper and magnet, four show posters, a 24-inch square poster featuring the album cover and band photo, four reimagined album art prints, a Dirt hardcover book with never-before-seen photos, compact disc with remastered audio and a box lid filled with metal shavings you can move around to create your own Dirt design using the magnetic cover figurine.

Rush – Moving Pictures 40th Anniversary

The roll Rush were on in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s hit its apex with their eighth full-length, the groundbreaking Moving Pictures, where the Canadian prog-rockers delivered the hits – and future classic rock radio staples – “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight,” alongside fan favorites “Red Barchetta,” “YYZ” and “Vital Signs.” The slightly-delayed 40th anniversary edition of the 1981 record came out earlier this year in various configurations, with a beast of a super deluxe edition leading the pack. Featuring three CDs, a Blu-ray and five 180-gram black vinyl LPs, the set has an array of extras like 44-page hardcover book with liner notes from Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil, Les Claypool of Primus, the late Taylor Hawkins and others. Collectibles include a Red Barchetta model car, Neil Peart signature MP40 drumsticks, two metal guitar picks – each with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson’s signatures engraved – concert posters, handwritten song lyrics, a lithograph and more. Musically, in addition to the 2015 remaster of Moving Pictures, there’s a previously-unreleased and freshly-restored live show from 1981 at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens mixed from the original analog live multi-tracks. The Blu-ray Audio disc sees the core album newly mixed from the original multi-tracks in Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound as well as four bonus videos.

Whitesnake – Greatest Hits: Revisited – Remixed – Remastered - MMXXII

Whitesnake is one of those bands that have just as many “best of” compilations as studio albums, when the truth is you only need one of the latter and, in the case of David Coverdale & Co., it’s the thorough 2006 two-disc set Gold. Given that, what makes this collection worthwhile is the way it’s been modernized with additional instrumentation. Like the recent Red, White and Blues Trilogy that concluded with The Blues Album last year, Greatest Hits: Revisited – Remixed – Remastered – MMXXII sees supplemental Hammond organ accents from Derek Sherinian on half the songs as well as new guitar lines laid down by former Whitesnake guitarist Adrian Vandenberg on Slip of the Tongue’s “Judgement Day” and “The Deeper the Love.” Coverdale also dug up some John Sykes guitar work that didn’t appear on the original recordings, including a solo on “Slide It In” and rhythm guitar on “Give Me All Your Love.” It’s always a dicey move when an artist attempts to revise the classics, but here it’s never overdone.

Dio – Holy Diver Super Deluxe Edition

A super deluxe edition of Holy Diver marks what would’ve been the 80th birthday of Ronnie James Dio in 2022, though it hasn’t been without a bit of controversy. Two versions of the record are included in the four-CD set, one of them a new mix of the album made by producer, mixer and engineer Joe Barresi, who has worked with the likes of Tool, Soundgarden, Buckcherry and Volbeat. Using the original analog tapes to remix all nine tracks on the album, he’s also lengthened the songs with the band’s studio count-ins and extended outros, a move which has left some fans sour but, luckily for them, there’s a second disc, a newly remastered version of the original 1983 Holy Diver mix. Across the two remaining CDs are a previously unreleased recording of a 1983 concert at Selland Arena in Fresno, California and outtakes for several album cuts.

Stone Temple Pilots – Core 30th Anniversary

Sure, there was a 25th anniversary deluxe edition of Core released back in 2017, but the main reason to pick up the 30th iteration is the vinyl which, for a near 54-minute recording, has been spread across two LPs resulting in less compression and allowing the music to breathe. It’s the best the STP debut has ever sounded and one of the top rock recordings reissued in recent memory in the format. The 4LP set also has a partial live show from the Castaic Lake Natural Amphitheater in the summer of 1993 and a disc dedicated to demos and B-sides, with both appearing on vinyl for the first time.