Sunday, 19 December 2010

Top 50 albums of the year.

So here it is again. My top 50 albums of the year in reverse order.

50. Fear Factory – Mechanize
Great come back album. Could be my fave FF of all time and Burton sounds the best he has ever done in my opinion.

49. Kiske & Somerville - st
Love anything Kiske does these days apart from his shitty solo albums. Great chemistry between the two for me although I have read this chemistry questioned by some but for me it's a delightful album.

48. First Signal – st
Harry Hess of Harem Scarem fame fronts a typical Frontiers melodic rock project. Works out just great for me.

47. Gamma Ray - To The Metal!
To be honest the Rays delivered just a solid melodic power metal album of the likes which Kai can probably write in his sleep. Helloween has you beat Kai I'm sorry to say. Still even an average GR album is enjoyable enough.

46. Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
Almost included by default. I don't like the raw production much but some of these songs are very good and I'm sure will sound a 1000 times better live. The Talisman is almost worth the admission price alone.

45. Reckless Love - st
Super cleanly produced glammy AOR with cheese montor dial set to eleven. But when you have the tunes to back it up who can resist?

44. Overkill - Ironbound
I think this is the first Overkill album I have liked from start to finish. Possibly their finest hour. Never been a fan of Bobby Blitz's vocals which is probably why this isn't higher in my list cause the music wrecks necks no doubt about it.

43. Virgin Steele - The Black Light Bacchanalia
I count myself as a bit of a VS fanboy. I liked Visions of Eden song wise but the production was cheap. This time the production is much clearer and better but not perfect by any means. The songs are regular VS fare however as many have noted Mr. Defeis does tend to under sing a little, he doesn't really belt it out like in the old days. Maybe his voice is shot who knows. Anyway I enjoyed this album.

42. Halford - Made Of Metal
The love it or hate it Halford album. The only complaint I have is with the production which really is not up to standard for this day and age. The songs are very fun and melodic metal with Mr. H in very good form.

41. Bonded By Blood - Exiled To Earth
A top quality thrash metal throwback with only the vocals being a bit painful but the dude has left now so we will see how the next one turns out. Musically they are on the money!

40. Magic Kingdom - Symphony Of War
Dushan Petrossi's other band finally released and it was worth the wait. I am not quite sure if I like it as much as his other band Iron Mask but this album is top quality melodic neo-classical metal.

39. Helstar - Glory of Chaos
I didn't like their previous album but the new one hit it out of the park with me. Great thrashy power with sizzling vocals from the main man James Rivera.

38. Human Temple - Murder of Crows
Typical Finnish melodic rock merchants deliver wonderfully catchy songs in the main, with lush production and sweet vocals. If you like the style, you'll love Human Temple, it's that simple really.

37. ReinXeed - Majestic
I have liked all the ReinXeed releases so far to differing degrees but Majestic is far and away the best. Lightning fast, airy melodic speed metal, with swashbuckling keys and high as a kite vocals from main man Tommy. Some would call it cheesy as hell but I just call it a whole heap of happy!

36. Wuthering Heights - Salt
The last two WH have been magical and Salt is more of the same from the band. The vocal performance of Patrik Johansson is of course teh main draw for me. The music is so dazzling and melodic that it takes a few plays to fully cement itself in your brain but once it does your in for a hell of a ride!

35. Rhapsody of Fire - The Frozen Tears of Angels
Finally they are back and with two releases this year no less! I think Luca finally realised that Rhapsody of Fire is a heavy metal band first and foremost which is what makes this comeback so good. The band were lost in the Joey created dark abyss but now they are fully back on track. Oh to one day catch them live - tis but a dream of mine! Oh and Luca please make that Keeper 3 album you promised us many moons ago with Olaf Hayer doing his best Kiske impression - you owe it to us!

34. H.E.A.T - Freedom Rock
The kings of AOR currently deliver a strong follow up to the stand out debut. The singer Kenny has gone now but the new guy promises to be just as good. They are due to release an ep with him with some new songs and re-records of early songs with his new vocals. We will see how it turns out but Kenny is mighty big shoes to fill as he delivers a stellar performance on these tunes.

33. InnerWish - No Turning Back
These guys were missing for year and years but they came back with a huge band this year. This is a real solid melodic power metal album with plenty of balls and memorable songs with plenty of fat choruses to get stuck into. Nice one by the Greeks!

32. Edenbridge - Solitaire
Been loving Sabine and co since the Shine album now and Solitaire is yet another fantastic release. The production on this album is just incredible being heavy as lead and yet crystal clear. I love Sabine's style of singing and the songs are very good for the most part. I know some have claimed the album is 'boring' but I hear only the opposite so I'm very happy with this album.

31. Issa - Sign Of Angels
Another one of those manufactured Frontiers releases, but when the quality of songwriting is this good then who can bith? Issa is a gal going places make no mistake, she can really sing and looks the part. Whether she makes it in melodic rock music is open to question but she could be really quite big in Europe if they tone down the guitars for her. However for the sake of us rockers let's hope they don't do that and she comes back with another top quality follow up. I'm sure the Frontiers team have a follow up in mind, they are not stupid, they know when they have a hit on their hands.

30. Wicked Sensation - Crystallized
Another melodic rock come back gem, this time from our Deutsch friends. The production on this album is near enough flawless. The songs are memorable and the vocals are super clear. Again if you enjoy melodic rock/metal you can't go wrong with Wicked Sensation.

29. Grand Magus - Hammer Of The North
This is grand indeed. Pounding true heavy metal to be sung loud and proud from cliff tops with wind in your hair etc. These guys have moved away from the real doomy stuff and remind me a little bit of Amon Amarth musically speaking only of course with those chest beating pounding riffs and magical calls to Valhalla reflected in the pwoerful vocals. Epic!

28. Volbeat - Beyond Hell Above Heaven
Sure the wonder of Volbeat has worn off and they've been making similar albums for a while now but it seems there is a slight change in the air this time. The songs sound much more melodic than before not that they weren't melodic then, but it somehow sounds even catchier now. One of those bands that's quite hard to put down to be honest and almost a guilty pleasure though there's nothing to be guilty about in loving da 'beat!

27. Degreed - Life Love Loss
A melodic pop/rock debut full of wonderfully catchy material. They are very young and sound it on record, but they are also very professional and when you have a debut of this much quality, it really bodes well for the future.

26. Suicidal Angels - Dead Again
Old school thrash doesn't get any better than this for me. A rip roaring, short, sharp ride through Slayer infested waters, made for people who like to bang their heads - a lot!

25. Sinbreed - When Worlds Collide
Another top class German band this time at the heavy end of the power metal spectrum. Carrying the torch where bands like Running Wild and Grave Digger to a lesser extent have left it behind.

24. Firewind - Days of Defiance
Been a Gussy fanboy for years now. Firewind have slowly evolved from a straight up heavy power band to more of a melodic rock direction which suits me fine as I love both styles. However this album sees a toning down of the melodic elements and a return to more of a heavy power metal sound. I don't think it's as good as The Premonition but it's a really good album in it's own right. Apollo sounds totally amazing as always.

23. Masterplan - Time to be King
Yet another really great come back although I guess some people will have other views. I for one think Jorn needed to sing for Masterplan and they did the best they could do. The songs were there and the sound was really heavy. I've read complaints about the production but I don't hear any major flaws myself. A very enjoyable platter and any time Jorn sings I'm listening!

22. Vega - Kiss Of Life
Another debut from the UK this time and it's pretty much flawless as you would expect from a Frontiers release. The production is tip top as are the songs. I am not a huge huge fan of the vocals which can be a touch thin on occasion but that's such a minor complaint as song wise the album can hold it's head up high with the best of them.

21. Versailles - Jubilee
An acquired taste in power metal circles shall we say, but the band never ceases to amaze with their music skills. The vocals will always be a major stumbling block for most but I must admit I have got used to the warbling buzzard with time and the music is always enough of a draw, especially the sumptious production values and spectacular playing ability.

20. Dark Moor – Ancestral Romance
Massive fan of the last Dark Moor and I looked forward to this follow up with baited breath and at first I wasn't so sure but then after more plays I realised this is a wonderful release in it's own right. It's majestic, has many troughs and valleys and a crystal clear production. The symphonic elements and the ambition of the band is also pretty breath taking at times. This one needs plays galore but you will be rewarded in time.

19. Galneryus – Resurrection
With a new singer on board I wasn't sure how the new Galneryus will sound, but I shouldn't have worried cause it sounds bloody great! The music is always sweeping melodic power with top notch sonics and the new guy on the mic has a much mroe pleasant voice to listen to and sounds less 'Japanese' hehe!

18. Stone Sour - Audio Secrecy
A shock entry from this modern rock Slipknot spin off band. I hadn't liked a single song from the band before the little that I had heard of them, but when i first heard the single Say You'll Haunt Me, I was haunted alright! The vocals for Corey are really good, the guitars, rock and the songs stay in your head for days. Only the production was a touch muddy for my tastes. Songwise it had it all as far as modern rock goes.

17. Signum Regis - The Eyes of Power
A recent entry but what an album from a little known guy from Slovakia who does everything by himself and has Goran Edman and a couple of guests do the vocals. This album is just pure pleasure to listen to let me tell you. Melodic power metal with a slight melodic rock edge and also a shred angle all topped off with Goran's crystal clear vocals. For someone with my taste this really is a no brainer.

16. Allen Lande - The Showdown
Well we've been waiting for the third Allen lande instalment from the songwriting sword of Magnus Karlsson and it doesn't disappoint one jot. Sure it goes over tried and tested ground but when you can listen through without feeling the urge to hit the skip button then your in melodic heaven with two of the finest voices in rock at the helm to boot. I have never been a big Allen fan but always a huge Jorn fan but this album made me an Allen fan.

15. Accept - Blood Of The Nations
Holy Shit this is good! I am not a fan of Udo's vox but I know his place in Accept is almost sacrosanct according to some, but damn this guy does a tip top job. The production courtesy of Sneap is what you would expect of course, being massively heavy and in your face, but you still need the tunes and Accept have outdone themselves. I would say it's the best Accept album ever by far personally speaking, having no great allegiance to the early days with Udo. I will catch them on the UK tour in early 2011 you betcha!

14. Pretty Maids - Pandemonium
Another band that I've never had a love affair with in the past that really shocked with the quality of their album. This is melodic heavy metal at it's very best and make no mistake. I haven't been into Pretty Maids much in the past but if they ever make it over to our shores, I'll be there in a flash judging by this album.

13. Helloween - 7 Sinners
Gambling with the Devil was awesome and 7 Sinners follows suit. Andi Deris is now at the heart of everything great about modern day Helloween and belongs as the lead singer of the band. The quality in this album remains at a high standard all the way. The production is very heavy and perhaps could have been a touch clearer if I'm being extra picky. Songwise the band is in great form though I am not sure if I like the album as much as it's predecessor.

12. Aeon Zen – The Face Of The Unknown
This young boy really has some amazing chops and is a top class songwriter to boot. This album is not perfect from beginning to end especially vocally as too many different people sing with various levels of success including Rich Binks himself. It would be wise to find one singer next time. Musically almost flawless in my eyes.

11. Astral Doors - Requiem Of Time
The band that can do no wrong. Album after album sounds exactly the same. Do I care? The hell do I! They just have the knack for writing cool tunes and when you have one of the best rock singers in the world on the mic you can't really go far wrong in my eyes. Hopefully they are working on a follow up quickly as I know these guys work pretty fast.

10. Grand Illusion - Brand New World
Wonderfully produced Svensk melodc pomp rock comeback. These guys had some cool albums under their belts in the past but nothing that I would go gaga over, but the new album did send me over the top when I first heard it. Some of it has worn off over time but it deserves it's position due to the number of times I played it earlier on in the year. The production on this thing is literally a million dollars. A joyous listen.

09. Dream Evil - In The Night
The most fun heavy metal band out there. Some don't get it but I think most metal fans have a soft spot for da 'Evil in their hearts. In The Night was almost as good as United but maybe a touch below. That still gives it easy top ten status for me. They rock live too!

08. Axel Rudi Pell - The Crest
Love Axel's style and album after album he delivers the same high standard of melodic metal. The Crest is an all round solid record and with Johnny Gioeli in top form on the mic.

07. Rage - Strings to a web
Loved Carved in Stone the rpevious effort but I know many didn't but Strings to a Web is even better in my eyes. I love the guitar play from Viktor Smolski and Peavy is his usual "cool as hell frontman" self. The song writing is very good all round and the album is just a great ride. Love it to death!

06. Pathfinder - Beyond The Space Beyond The Time
Holy crap these guys have created one of the most spectacular symphonic power metal debuts of all time. These Poles have really honed their style to perfection. They've been around quite a while and have created quite a buzz here and there with the odd song, but the album as a whole is just a magnificent record in my eyes.

05. Treat - Coup De Grace
Great comeback time! I've said that a few times in this run down haven't I! Well this time it really is true. These Swedes have completely bowled me over with this release. The songs, the sound, the good time feel, everything is more or less perfect. The only thing which is slightly below what I would call perfect are the vocals which whilst very good are not technically perfect always but that's basically really splitting hairs as a criticism. Amazing album!

04. Alter Bridge - AB III
That three great albums in a row from these giants of US modern hard rock. Blackbird was just an amazing record but by the Gods of Rock they've actually managed to equal if not better it! The vocal performance from Myles Kennedy is truly a wonder for the ears. The songwriting is consistently strong as strong as an ox and it makes you wonder how they keep churning out these wonderfully strong melodies song after song. Perhaps the album that hits strongest on an emotional level this year.

03. Sabaton - Coat Of Arms
When I first heard Coat of Arms I was almost a touch disappointed. I thought it was quite a step down from The Art of War and whilst I still think that album is unbeatable, I have now grown to adore Coat of Arms almost just as much. The band just has this addictive sense of melody and free flowing melodic power metal that I find very hard to resist.

02. Seventh Wonder - The Great Escape
When I first heard this album my mouth was literally nailed to the floor. I thought damn these guys have gone and topped Mercy Falls which I thought was an impossible task. But heck, they've somehow managed it. The production on this record is phenomenal and cannot be bettered ever. This is how melodic metal should sound in my book. In general prog metal is not a genre which Iam a major fan of however with a band like Seventh Wonder the melodic quotient is set so high that it immediately grabs and never lets go. It's also one of those albums that reveals further charms the more you play it. The vocals are also one of the best in the business. His tone and melody is really pure aural ambrosia for the ears.

01. Instanzia - Ghost
So I arrive at the number one disk of the year for me and it to be honest it is a complete surprise. This disk has completey bowled me over. Imagine that some unknowns from Canada on their debut album deliver something so spectacularly good that it floors everything else I've heard this year. Ok this is very high praise indeed and perhaps a little over the top, but put the praise in context that this is their debut effort and most bands need time but these guys have immediately made their name. I'm sure many people won't probably hear them and ignore them as a noob band, but goddamn these boys have it all. Their songwriting skills are really something to be hold. There is not one weak moment in this album that I can hear. The choruses swirl around your head like a swarm of bees and embed themselves long after the songs have finished. The replaybility of this disk is just through the roof for me. The lead vocals could perhaps be a touch more powerful, hwoever this is nit picking in the extreme. The choir back ups are wonderful and pure sugar for the ears and even the lyrical matter intrigues me at times and normally I could care less about lyrics but I listen quite closely to the words this time. They even give Sabaton a run for their money with a lyrically sympathetic song about Field Marshall Rommell. I'm not sure about the accuracy of it and about Rommell being a "good guy" on the "dark side" but anyway the song itself is completely amazing. So well done guys you deserve my number one spot. There's not an original note to be heard here but with songs of this magnitude you just can't go wrong. Brilliant!

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