Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My favourite melodic metal/rock list for 2013

Here is my list of favourite melodic albums for 2013. The first part contains albums I like that didn't quite make the top 50 with no particular ranking. These are listed in alphabetical order. The second section is my ranked top 50 albums in reverse order. So much great music in the melodic metal/rock and AOR field to wade through this year and it's been quite hard to split many of them as on any given day depending on my mood, they are interchangeable, however I have come up with some sort of list as per usual.

Alter Bridge - Fortress
Amendfoil - Skyline Escape
Arrayan Path - IV Stigmata
Athelstan - The Ride
AURA - russian title
Bai Bang - All Around the World
Bane of Winterstorm - The Last Sons of Perylin
Black Trip - Goin Under
BST - In The Blink of an Eye
China - We Are the Stars
Circle of Silence - The Rise of Resistance
Civil War - The Killer Angels
Coldspell - Frozen Paradise
Damnations Day - Invisible, The Dead
Dead End Space - Distortion of Senses
Dendera - The Killing Floor
Derdian - Limbo
DGM - Momentum
Divinity Compromised - A World Torn
Dreamtale - World Changed Forever
Eclipse Prophecy - Days Of Judgement
Edge - Heaven Knows
Electronomicon - Unleashing The Shadows
Enforcer - Death By Fire
Envinya - Inner Silence
Evertale - Of Dragons And Elves
Forever Storm - Tragedy
Gemini Syndrome - Lux
Giant X - I
Heavatar - Opus I - All My Kingdom
Heaven's Basement - Filthy Empire
Heavens Fire - Judgement Day
Illusion Suite - The Iron Cemetary
James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance
Jorn - Symphonic
Lancer - Lancer
Lawless - Rock Savage
Lightning - Raise The Sun
Lion Twin - Nashville
Lord - Digital Lies
Meridian - Metallurgy
Messenger - Starwolf Pt. I: The Messengers
Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock - Bridge The Gap
Minotauro - Master Of The Sea
Neuronspoiler - Emergence
New Device - Here We Stand
Operadyse - Pandemonium
Paris - Only One Life
Prospekt - The Colourless Sunrise
Robin Beck - Underneath
Rocka Rollas - Metal Strikes Back
Shadows Past - Perfect Chapter
Satan's Host - Virgin Sails
Sepsis - Fear of Freedom
Silent Force - Rising From Ashes
Sinheresy - Paint The World
Siren's Cry - Scattered Horizons
Sinister Realm - World of Evil
Sleeping Romance - Enlighten.
Smash Into Pieces - Unbreakable
Strike - We're Back
Sphinx - Chronos
The Theander Expression - Strange Nostalgia
The Prowlers - Point of No Return
The Storyteller - Dark Legacy
Thunder and Lightning - In Charge of the Scythe
Takayoshi Ohmura - Devils In The Dark
Trivium - Vengeance Falls
Vega - What the Hell!
Vandroya - One
Vhäldemar - Shadows of Combat
Vicinity - Awakening
Walking with Giants - Walking with Giants
Withem - The Point Of You
Wolfchant - Embraced by Fire

50. Mean Streak - Trial by Fire
Quality Swedish melodic heavy metal with big riffs and nice powerful vocals.

49. Orphaned Land - All Is One
The Israeli brothers come up with a wonderfully charismatic and epic album.

48. Diamond Dawn - Overdrive
Melodic hard rock with punchy sound and big songs. Only the slightly accented Italianvocals stop this from ranking higher.

47. Cardiant - Verge
Finnish melodic metal goodness from these comeback merchants.

46. Megadeth - Super Collider
As a fan of any type of Megadeth music be it thrash or rock, I find myself happy enough with Super Collider. It still has good quality and Dave's vocals sound very cool at times especially on the Thin Lizzy cover on this album. Enjoyable, melodic, non thrash Megadeth.

45. Edenbridge - The Bonding
I love Sabine's voice although I was expecting slightly more from this album. Still any Edenbridge is still a great listen.

44. Laneslide - Flying High
Newcomer melodic rock project from Europe. Typical Euro AOR stuff but the songs, production and playing are all top notch as are the vocals.

43. Giuntini Project - IV
Melodic metal from the Italian dude with Tony Martin on vox. The songs had to be good for me to enjoy and they surely were on this album.

42. Degreed - We Won't Belong
Young Swedish upstarts returned with a more mature and polished sound than their debut which was a huge fave of mine looking back. Songwise the album had some corkers and a couple of less memorable tunes but when they got it right boy did they get it right!

41. Signum Regis - Exodus
The last album had Goran Edman on all the songs and was nothing short of brilliant. The new album utilizes a mixed set of singers and is still pretty damn good but not as good as the last.

40. Niva - Magnitude
Catchy as hell melodic hard rock with clean sound and typical Scandi vocals ala Treat etc. Great stuff if you ask me.

39. Saints 'N' Sinners - Saints 'n' Sinners
Probably the best Turkish band I've heard since Mezarkabul/Pentagram although those guys were a different style. SnS plays out and out melodic power metal with a surprisingly solid singer. Very enjoyable!

38. Dream Theater - Dream Theater
Maybe A Dramatic Turn Of Events was a little bit better but I still enjoyed the s/t disk a lot. The music is stellar whilst I will never be a huge fan of Labrie's voice, he still turned in a solid performance.

37. Newman - Siren
Steve Newman creates melodic rock albums on a regular basis and they are all solid but the song writing is sometimes not to my taste so I tend to forget about them quickly. Not on this occasion. Steve has turned in his best set of songs ever! A consistently solid listen with a punchy production.

36. Snowfall - Cold Silence
Melodic rock/AOR project with the UK's Lee Small on vocals - the man who does the best Glenn Highes impersonation ever. Anyway he doesn't sound so much like Mr Hughes this time and the scandi melodic rock project turned up trumps with big songs and a shiny crystal clear production.

35. Dark Moor - Ars Musica
I've enjoyed the band's oputput for a long time so I was looking forward to Ars Musica immensely when I heard about it's release. To be honest I expected it to place higher on my list overall. It is still a very engaging listen but perhaps not as immediate as some of its predecessors. Still Dark Moor doesn't do average by any means as this album proved.

34. Alex Beyrodt's Voodoo Circle - More Than One Way Home
The new Whitesnake in all but name delivered a monster hard rock record with awesome vocals from David Readman.

33. Serenity - War of Ages
Epic symphonic melodic metal with a huge production. A triumphant listen.

32. MindMaze - Mask Of Lie
Melodic progpower mix from the States with female vocals. A very strong and enjoyable album with memorable songwriting. A great start for the band.

31. Avantasia - The Mystery of Time
Tobi is a great songwriter period. I don't love everything he does but when he gets it right there's no one better and this album had far more great than merely average hence its high placing. I especially liked the songs with Kiske, they were awesome to listen to.

30. Hell - Curse & Chapter
A billiant classic heavy metal record even better than their comeback album. The songs are dark and mysterious yet very catchy at the same time.

29. Wisdom - Marching for Liberty
Easily the best Hungarian power metal band ever with an awesome air raid siren vocalist. These guys are superb at the craft of making a memorable, cheesy power metal song with a skyscraping chorus.

28. The Poodles - Tour de Force
The Swedish melodic rock supergroup returned with another catchy beast of a record. It featured everything I look for in my music. Punchy sound, big vocals and massive hooks to spare. 

27. White Wizzard - The Devils Cut
This self destructive band actually made one of the year's best retro metal albums with this release. The vocals were a ton stronger and the songs catchier and more to the point. I hope they continue in this vein if possible but I'm not even sure the band exists any more.

26. Running Wild - Resilient
I'm a RW fanboy so take what I say with a pinch of salt but I loved this record. Shadowmaker was ok and had some real fun moments but Resilient tops it with ease. The songs are just stronger all the way through although Rolf loves the mid pace in his old age and we don't get any real speedy firecrackers any more but I can live with it. Oh and in Bloody Island we have one of the best RW epics ever.

25. Iron Mask - Fifth Son of Winterdoom
Another really great neo-classical effort from the Belgian mob led by guitar wiz Dushan Petrossi. The songs are very strong and the vocals from Mark Boals are as great as you would expect for this sort of music.

24. Wardrum - Messenger
A big improvement from their previous album for these Greek power metal merchants. Everything has been turned up a notch from playing production and singing to much better song writing. I enjoy this more than the last Firewind album!

23. Seventh Key - I Will Survive
I love the previous SK albums but this album maybe be even better. It has more of a prog edge than previous albums which were a little heavier and more straight ahead but I think the move into proggier waters actually suits the band even more. Mike Slamer's guitar playing is just superbly fluid on this one.

22. Fate - If Not for the Devil
Swedish melodic hard stalwarts return yet again with another classic sounding record. The melodies are stronger than on the last album hence its high rating. The production is also out of this world making this a joy to listen to.

21. Nautiluz - Leaving All Behind
Speedy Stratovarius worship from Peru! Who knew a band of upstarts could come out with such a joyously melodic album full of speedy riffs and high as a kite refrains. Really great job guys!

20. Exlibris - Humagination
Another unknown band this time from Poland with a cracking power metal release with top notch vocals. I enjoyed the super melodic riffage and memorable choruses that stayed etched on my mind day and night.

19. Týr - Valkyrja
The Faroese Tyr are well honed professionals now and are only getting better with each album. Valkyrja is their best and most mature album to date with epic vocals and wonderful guitar riffs that take you to Valhalla and back.

18. StoneLake - Monolith
A very melodic follow up to their previous album. Much heavier as well with a crunchier guitar sound making for a great listen. Some huge songs to latch on to as well.

17. ReinXeed - A New World
The film themed Welcome to the Theater was too awesome for words and I had high hopes for this release. Alas they couldn't be fully met as the album is a little inferior to that album. However A New World is still a great power metal record in its own right with more mature song writing but perhaps with less immediacy. Nevertheless Tommy ReinXeed can do little wrong for me and ReinXeed delivered the goods yet again.

16. Magnus Karlsson - Free Fall
A solo album from the Primal Fear guitarist with many guest vocalists and the man him self on a few songs. His own voice is actually very good and of course so are the guest such as his band mate Ralf. The songs are stellar as is the production as you would expect. A great effort by Magnus.

15. Titanium - Titanium
Polish band came out of nowhere with another fantastic melodic power metal album, very closely aping the Finnish masters Stratovarius. The vocallist was again very good indeed. A big surprise and it bodes well for future releases from this band where I expect big things.

14. Place Vendome - Thunder in the Distance
The Michael Kiske led Frontiers project returned for a third stab at the AOR game and boy was it a gorgeous song based affair. However the album was not quite as good as Streets of Fire which I consider a modern AOR classic alongside The Magnificent's debut. Nevertheless Thunder in the Distance soon started to work its magic on me and Miki's voice did the rest. A must listen for AOR junkies!

13. Amaranthe - The Nexus
This band seems to be a bit of a marmite type band and I'm definitely in the love it camp. Their songs are just superbly catchy with choruses to die for. It all maybe a bit manufactured or bubble gum metal but who cares the melodies are top of the charts stylee!

12. Helloween - Straight Out of Hell
German power metal kings return with another great latter day record. Deris sounds as good as he has ever done and the songs are fast and catchy. I still like Gambling With The Devil more but Straight Out Of Hell is another great Helloween record who are only get better the older they get.

11. Tainted Nation - F.E.A.R.
Uk's Eden's Curse members with a side project band. They made a fantastic debut rock record very early in the year to boot. The songs are catchy and very melodic with strong vocals from drummer turned frontman Pete Newdeck.

10. Eden's Curse - Symphony of Sin
And the main band didn't disappoint either with a worthy album after the fiasco with Michael Eden. I must admit I was sceptical of the new singer but he proved me wrong and then some. His performance is stellar on this album. The songwriting is very strong as usual.

09. W.E.T. - Rise Up
The Frontiers owned melodic rock supergroup returned for a spectacular second effort with the impeccable voice of Jeff Scott Soto at the helm. With Erik Martensson and the Work of Art guy as part of the song writing you can't go wrong really and they didn't! Awesome record full of monster melodic choruses that whirl around your head all day and night.

08. Armory - Empyrean Realms
Perhaps the second biggest surprise of the year from this little known US power metal band. This album is choc-a-bloc full of great songs with huge melodies and lovely crystal clear vocals. What else more could a power metal fan want I ask you?

07. Powerwolf - Preachers of the Night
Probably my favourite band in existence. I just love, love, love them what can I say. This album is solid all the way with some amazing songs. Bible of the Beast remains my favourite Powerwolf album but Preachers will do alright till I have my next Powerwolf fix.

06. Primitai - Rise Again
And here is THE biggest surprise of the year from relatively unknown UK trad metallers who've been plying their trade at a lowly level with little to no success. Well now they deserve their place in the big league. They deserve so much more success with this release I tell you. This album has no filler pretty much although there are some songs which just stand out more. Pound for Pound might just well be the song of the year.

05. Gloryhammer - Tales From the Kingdom of Fife
The band who brought the most cheese to power metal this year was Chris Bowes' side project and their unicorn fixation! Like I said the cheese was flowing freely on this release but Goddamn the songs were amazing as were the vocals from the Emerald man Thomas Winkler. Waiting impatiently for round 2 guys!

04. Find Me - Wings of Love
A manufactured Frontiers project like they only know how but this time with more than magnificent results. Singer Robbie Le Blanc turned in a stupendous performance and your regular Frontiers songwriting teams did the rest. A spectacularly tasty AOR release by people who know the genre like the back of their hand!

03. Battle Beast - Battle Beast
A hot shot knew blonde chick on the mic worked wonders for Battle Beast on their second album. The song writing skills were honed to perfection but it's that young lady on the mic which sends the songs through the roof whilst the band creates seismic power metal with songs that imprint themselves on your brain with superglue.

02. Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
I think this could possibly be the most melodic Volbeat album yet. Michael Poulsen and co really worked a treat with these set of songs this time to make them as catchy as possible whilst retaining the heaviness that all Volbeat fans know and love. Michael's voice is also the best and most melodic it has ever been and they also bring it live. What more could a fan of melody want in a metal band?

01. Stratovarius - Nemesis
This late in their career and with the main man long gone Stratovarius start releasing amazing albums! I think this album is their best post Tolkki album by far and the others were also good but Nemesis takes top honours for this year. A truly magnificent and catchy power metal album sung brilliantly by Timo Kotipelto I should add. I'm actually not a huge fan of his somewhat whiny delivery at times, but he delivers a sensational vocal performance on this album with melodies to die for. A superb album in a year with a lot of tough competition!

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