View Full Version : SerpentineVIVIVI's 2012 Ranks

11-15-2012, 09:26 PM
So after getting my hands on the last album of my 'Albums to Get' list, I'd say it's time for me to post up the finalized list. There is the slight chance that something can abruptly change in the list, given that two albums on the list were listened to recently due to MPF's Year-End Review list. It is plausible that I can find something I hadn't heard before, so if that's the case I'll adjust accordingly. This is most likely the case with MPF and Maiden33's posts, if the latter decides to do such a thing this time around. My musical taste correlates the most with these two, but as I said earlier, it's just a chance.

I have my candidates on an Excel spreadsheet that I will screenshot at the end of the list for those to see. I'm going to be doing a rundown starting from the worst album of the year down to the best, with rankings out of 10 for each. A little description for each will suffice. I will also include a link to the strongest track on the album for those who want to listen in. This is very much in the vein of what Maiden33 did, and I happened to like that style of representation. Feel free to present your own opinions, if not that's fine as well. Let's begin.


52. Firewind - Few Against Many
Ever since Gus G. went to Ozzy, there is something that hasn't clicked as much. He is still an incredible player of course, and this isn't downright awful, but it has to be one of the weakest Firewind releases to date. Firewind are in a sort of Sonata Arctica-like decline, and it's unfortunate given the potential creative force behind the band. Shame. However, on a positive note, Gus' solos are not surprisingly stellar. If anything he has gotten even more technical and profound in his compositions. My favorite track has Apocalyptica involved, which does not shock me in the slightest. Beautiful track. Overall though, that is not nearly enough to save the album from my dissatisfied "Worst of 2012". Better luck next time.

"Edge Of A Dream" feat. Apocalyptica - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW8vnUlqgxs


11-17-2012, 09:16 AM

51. Sunstorm - Emotional Fire

So we got Joe Lynn Turner and a couple of other talented folk on this album, and it's AOR (album oriented rock), which I am sort of a sucker for. Alas this potential gem shines in some moments and lacks in others, making it a pretty typical AOR album. It has its catchy moments, good hooks, the works. But it gets lost in itself at points, becoming mundane and more often than not, repetitive. I suppose that's the ultimate flaw in this album; there's not much to really talk about. If one is a fan of this sort of stuff, it's worth it to listen to a few times. Shame too, being a huge fan of Joe Lynn Turner and most of his projects.

"Emotional Fire" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMT8djlTRCw


11-17-2012, 02:58 PM

50. Schoolboy - The Science Project
The first of a few electronic releases on the list. Schoolboy is fairly new, not many people have heard of him. In the world of electronic, one has to do a lot of hunting to find some real quality (then again, metal nearly parallels that concept). I happened to find him via Pandora, and I was surprised at the quality compared to most 'unheard of' EDM artists. While this is certainly good, it's not incredible by any means. Tons of Skrillex worship in the drops, which is never a bad thing, however it lacks the original flavor. Some of the beats get mundane as well, and that's never a good thing when it's a 7 song EP. Nevertheless, it's a solid release that is hopefully a precursor for stronger material later on.

"Zombies Ate My Neighbours" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MylixkwKARU


11-17-2012, 03:08 PM
In the world of electronic, one has to do a lot of hunting to find some real quality (then again, metal nearly parallels that concept).

Not really, unless you're aimlessly listening to a bunch of random artist it's pretty easy to find good ones in just about any genre. When looking for music of a specific genre I usually just check the rym charts or look for an essentials list.

11-17-2012, 10:56 PM
Not really, unless you're aimlessly listening to a bunch of random artist it's pretty easy to find good ones in just about any genre. When looking for music of a specific genre I usually just check the rym charts or look for an essentials list.

'Quality' is not that easy to come by, at least for me. Maybe for solidified artists with a solid following, different story. They have presence and can be found more often. But relatively unknown artists? Much more likely to find a needle in a haystack, the haystack being the majority of crap found in most genres. Statistically speaking, the average time I spend looking for new bands, I get about 1 out of 15-20. That's a pretty bad percentage. But I'm totally fine with that, because if I have the will to instantly get the discography of a band I have listened to for a cumulative 3 minutes, there's definite quality in there. But that's me.

11-17-2012, 11:02 PM
Well first I would like to say thank you for checking out my list and that my list has inspired at least two of the albums you are posting in this thread (I say at least in case there happens to me more, as I still have a fuckload of album to go through, not including my coveted Top 20).

And so far so good!

11-17-2012, 11:03 PM

49. Sonata Arctica - Stones Grow Her Name

It doesn't need to be repeated that this band has been notoriously going on a down hill for quite a while now. To be frank, this album doesn't really change that trend. However, I wouldn't say that it made that trend worse. In simpler terms, it's about what I would have expected given Sonata Arctica's track record. There are some catchy songs, such as the single, and even a few others. Some ballads on there, notably "Alone In Heaven", are very well constructed and quite good. However, there are obviously weak tracks that just shouldn't be there (Shitload of Money?...) All in all, people give this too much shit because they haven't listened to it fully and expect another Ecliptica or Silence. Once the dust settles, this album is nowhere near as bad as people are saying although still leaves much to be desired. Not worth more than one or two listens, at best.

"I Have A Right" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49JbOKrPFAI


11-18-2012, 01:57 AM

48. Arthemis - We Fight

As the follow up to 2010's 'Heroes', I was expecting a strong album with the same catchy parts that got me hooked before. Unfortunately, this album was a big downer in that sense. Sure it's more of the fast, power/thrash metal, but it didn't have the same hook as the last album did, especially with the quality of the songwriting on the last album. There are decent tracks on here for sure, although it didn't leave a strong overall impression on me. The terrible lyrics, while not a defining factor by itself, never helps either. We will fight, we will fall? Grow up guys. Best track for me would have to be the ballad of the album. It just so happened to be the only track the lived up to my expectations of memorable melodies. Apparently it's not on YouTube, so the title track will have to do...

"We Fight" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xf7vboNP89o


11-18-2012, 06:32 PM

47. Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth

This is easily one of my biggest surprises of the year. Formation was a tank of an album, and I didn't even think twice of this album being even stronger than its predecessor. And with an album cover like that, how could you think otherwise? When Native Blood was released, I was mildly disappointed, but I've had plenty bad single releases followed by killer albums. However, this was a double whammy in that sense. This album just lacked the killer songs this time around. The opening track, which to be is the most important track on the album symbolically, wasn't anything like what I thought. The lyrics were abysmal. The music was uninspired and re-hashed. Arguably the most shocking finding for me was Sckolnick's 'meh' solos. On Formation, he hit gold with catchy yet technical solos. On this one, he obviously still brings his game, but not A game. This album is not to be completely discarded, namely due to "Cold Embrace" and "Throne Of Thorns". All in all though, I was left wanting a lot more. I'm well aware my opinion is in the minority, but it is what it is. Maybe next time.

"Throne of Thorns" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giOJU3SxH_s


11-18-2012, 07:03 PM
Cold Embrace and Throne of Thorns are awesome but so is the rest of the album. It's funny because for me this album is far superior to Formation. Do you like the title track?

11-18-2012, 07:28 PM
I like the new Testament. I'll agree that Rise Up and Native Blood aren't very good but I think songs like the title track, Throne Of Thorns, and A Day in the Death make up for it.

11-18-2012, 08:27 PM
That's a great point, I completely forgot about the title track. Excellent track that one is. Man Kills Mankind isn't bad either. There's a good chance that this album suffers from the "Ironbound" effect. Basically, a thrash 'comeback' album is released, it's an absolute hit, and the subsequent release is held to such a high standard that it can't help but be somewhat of a letdown. Granted that obviously is contingent upon the person's opinion of both, but nevertheless.

11-18-2012, 11:01 PM

45. ReinXeed - Welcome To The Theater

The first of two bands on the list that were introduced me due to their appearance at this year's ProgPower (which is an incredible lineup, by the way). Initial impression wasn't too high, and that reflects in this album's position. Conversely, there is still some nice moment to be found on the album. Their usage of theatrical surges in the songs are representative of the album name and the target they are aiming for. It has just the right flavor of 'symphonic' that most bands under that label tend to use now. However, it suffers from an all too common problem known as repetition. Nothing new, still as strong a factor. The songs get buried within each other, and the album really starts to shine again with the last three tracks. For fans of symphonic power metal, with an edge of melody instead of heavy, this is for you.

"Welcome To The Theater" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlJsYvgeI7Q


11-19-2012, 11:36 AM

45. Caravan Palace - Panic

A group I found while listening to Parov Stelar. Both are just about the only real 'electroswing' artists out there, at least the ones that have notable popularity. Continuing forward, the band has made a mark for sure. The album has some great gems, and the good tracks pick up on where the last album left off. The constant balance between swing and groove is ever present, and for that their efforts should be applauded. Alas it didn't quite live up to its predecessor due to the songwriting. Again, not unique, but what can you do. Their last self-titled album was stronger in quality of the songs, at least I think so. The downbeat songs on this one are very monotonous, offering very little to the grand picture. It's definitely worth having due to the couple of gems, but that's the extent of it. At the very least, it's still something you don't hear every day which is always a relief.

"Rock It For You" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBGSJ3sbivI


11-19-2012, 09:46 PM

44. Delain - We Are The Others

Summary: Female fronted power metal that is acceptable. A lot of those kinds of bands are overshadowed by the two titans in that respective subsection, Nightwish and Epica. While I'd relate Delain more to Within Temptation, they manage to hold their own and have a variety of factors that makes them stand out a bit. This album is all around average, except the recurring factor of monotony makes this album rank less than its competitors. Once in a while, this is a great listen to get a different angle form this saturated market. It also needs to be mentioned that this is a step up from 'April Rain' too. Hopefully their next release steps up their game to a higher level. Nevertheless, there are some stellar tracks on this album. Definitely worth a listen. At this point in the list, the albums will warrant some attention, at the listener's discretion.

"Where Is The Blood" feat. Burton C. Bell - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF-YR1I2SQ4


11-20-2012, 12:27 PM

43. Shinedown - Amaryllis

Shinedown have taken what made them famous and injected a mild amount of aggression in to their formula. In turn, Amaryllis comes out. Nothing revolutionary, nothing terrible either. A solid album with some memorable tracks, and the band sounds more tight in terms of instrumental arrangement. Notably, hearing the guitarist do solos now is a breath of fresh air for this band, let alone any mainstream hard rock band in the first place. There are notable heavier moments such as "Enemies", and great catchy radio-friendly tunes like the title track and "Unity". Fair game for those open to listening to things other than constant metal. An aside, but great cover artwork as well. Very Tool-esque.

"Enemies" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z9Kmla_ceA


11-21-2012, 03:02 PM
There has been an album added to my list, so I'm just going to go on from what I see in my spreadsheet. It's not that hard to understand that everything beneath this post and onwards should be dropped one spot. That being said, I'll continue.


43. Lillian Axe - XI: The Days Before Tomorrow

Another hard rock band out there amongst the mediocrity. And with a name like that, it's pretty hard to think of them positively, at least initially. However I'm glad I overcame even my own initial bias and gave a few songs a listen. They are by no means an excellent band, but they manage to differentiate themselves enough to warrant attention. These hard rock songs aren't exactly as 'mainstream' sounding as other songs (not that that's always bad, but I digress), and the band has solid songwriting skills. Even the bonus track is interesting, given it has no drums and is very...atmospheric to a degree. All in all it's a good album with a few bugs. Give it a spin if you desire.

"Death Comes Tomorrow" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGItcwS2X6M


11-21-2012, 04:25 PM

42. Overkill - The Electric Age

The inspiration behind my "Ironbound effect" theory, Overkill have released yet another album full of speed and aggression. Good? More than good for most I'm sure. However, this time around, the 'comeback' effect had been mitigated, and what was left was certainly quality material, albeit not up to the standard previously set. The Electric Age has awesome moments, starting exactly from "Drop The Hammer Down" and extending all the way until the closer "Good Night". The first half of the album is not as exciting, although not bad. At the end of the day though, this simply does not live up to its predecessor. As I said earlier, it could be that it's just more of the same and it's almost expected. Mind you I'm not trying to rag on Immortalis, for that was a decent album, but I don't really consider it the true return to form. I'm sure most have heard this by now, but if not, do so. It's certainly worth the time.

"21st Century Man" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldXk6q0_ySk


11-25-2012, 01:56 AM
I don't really see how The Electric Age can be anything less than a 7/10 at the very least.:eyes: It's probably my favorite thrashy release this year.

11-27-2012, 11:24 PM
Once again, a few more albums have cracked their way in. I'm going onwards as I see it, so don't mind the minor irregularities.


43. Xandria - Neverworld's End

The short version: copy of Nightwish. The slightly longer version: very Nightwish-like without the more 'theatrical' elements. Mind you when I say 'copy of Nightwish' that hardly means anything negative, in fact it is completely positive given I very much like them. The comparison is justified, and their lack of originality means nothing to me. They have written a fine album with some great moments. Nothing out of the ordinary in this genre, but definitely not bad. Hopefully on the next release they can find a way to get out of the immense shadow of the aforementioned band. It doesn't help that the singer sounds 75% like Tarja, but then again, is that really a bad thing?

"Soulcrusher" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s9cBRoEPD8&feature=relmfu


11-29-2012, 11:24 AM
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EInoo9IT2bs/TuEJtPfAe-I/AAAAAAAAH8c/loqSJ-_6FZM/s1600/Amberian%2BDawn%2B-%2BCircus%2BBlack%2B%2528Front%2BCover%2529%2Bby%2 BEneas.jpg

42. Amberian Dawn - Circus Black

Another female-fronted, this one is your symphonic power metal formulaic band. If Nightwish/Xandria/Epica don't do it for you, then these guys are probably a waste of your time. However if not, then it is definitely worth listening to. The title track is very catchy, and the rest of the tracks deliver well. Stratovarius singer even guests on the single "Cold Kiss". Amberian Dawn are much better than the average 'hunt on YouTube for new music' power metal band, as they have crisp production with strong songwriting. This makes them stand out much more than their competitors, those being more than 80% of the power metal genre. Give it a go if you wish, who knows? You might be surprised.

"Circus Black" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHbJiOe6hwM


12-02-2012, 02:15 PM

41. Slash - Apocalyptic Love

The follow-up to the self-titled was certainly more 'organized' in that Myles Kennedy was the only singer on the album, and the band sounded more tight and cohesive as a unit. This isn't to say that the guest singers on the past album were bad, quite frankly most of those songs were pretty good. Regardless, it was nice to see that Slash gave Myles more of the spotlight. He is an amazing singer and easily one of the best in hard rock/metal music right now. However, this album is still just a precursor to what I believe Slash could be. I've always respected his song-writing skills to the highest degree, and his technicality is still nothing to scoff at. This album is a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't fully capture the potential of Slash and Myles together. What's more strange to me is the two bonus tracks are better than half the album. Especially Carolina.

"Anastasia" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G49s6t6Bj5E


12-02-2012, 03:38 PM

40. Nile - At The Gate Of Sethu

My first and last death metal album on the list, it's a testament to this band that they are still even present. The genre has gotten outlandishly derivative to me, and most of my old interests have dissolved. The few that remain have for reasons beyond my ability to explain coherently, but the closest I can get to reasoning is they are truly unique. In a genre so filled with repetition, Nile really stand out amongst their peers for the songwriting skills of Karl Sanders and crew. Being a sucker for anything Egyptian-leaning certainly plays in too, I'm sure. However even for all my apparent Nile love, this album was a bit of a disappointment at the end of the day. Without a doubt there are some killer track on the album, but as a whole this doesn't even come to being half as good as Those Whom The Gods Detest. This album lacks the tight songwriting its predecessor had, and the production doesn't sound as appealing to me. As a minor annoyance, that other singer doing whatever he does into the microphone is appalling as well. Thankfully it doesn't happen often, but when it does....I digress. All in all, definitely worth a listen for fans of the band. However I hope Karl ups his game on the next record. Until then, this will have to do.

P.S. - Though chances are it has nothing to do with the music, I am fascinated by my personal notation that whenever a band has incredible artwork, I am predisposed to believe the music will be just as incredible. 9 times out of 10 that tends to be the case too (after hearing the whole record of course). This is true for the opposite (bad artwork = bad album). By no means is this absolute, and there are plenty of outliers. But at least for me, this remains to be proven totally wrong. The reason I brought this up was this album has really stellar artwork, but ended up being an average album to me in the long run. As I just said, this doesn't happen too often.

"The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djnhWU42_AY


12-02-2012, 11:21 PM

39. Opera Diabolicus - †1614

An odd find that I came across on the site. The opening track is easily one of the darkest things I've heard in most recent years, and it lures the listener in quite seductively. Snowy Shaw contributes leads, as well as the guy from Dream Evil whose name I can't remember. Genre wise, I'm not too sure how to describe it, but if I were to take a gander I'd say doom-ish, dark, and theatrical. I suppose this is one of the reasons I like it so much. It can't really fit into one exact niche, but I feel it has appeal across a broad fanbase. The tone of the album is so dark without becoming melancholy, and I like that a lot. I'm interested to hear more from these guys, assuming this wasn't a one-off project. I highly recommend the track 'Forbidden' as well, practically on par with the recommended track below.

"The Gates" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj_WBUGXdQQ


12-04-2012, 08:30 PM

40. Pigeon Toe - The First Perception

Easily one of the strangest finds I've come across this year. I would have never came across them were it not for Spawn of Possession, if I recall correctly. Blabbermouth had posted an article about them, and I clicked on their Soundcloud to just give it a listen for old times sake, and it led me to their record label's page. While I wasn't surprised at my lack of interest in the Spawn song, I stumbled upon Pigeon Toe. I was in the mood for new music at the time, and I can't say I regret it. They are a unique band, to say the least. I am a fan of genre classifying so as to lead people in the right direction, so to do my best I'd say it's progressive alternative rock with more than noticeable metal elements, and a hint of Tool-esque moments. It's a lot, but honestly nothing does better than the listen itself. It's not downright incredible, but as a debut, this is a) beyond different and b) surprisingly captivating given the aforementioned. This band definitely shows promise, and I'll be sure to follow their releases.

"The First Perception" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5Bov73bueU


12-05-2012, 07:50 PM

41. Halestorm - The Strange Case Of...

A name I'm certain most have heard. Halestorm are your fairly common female fronted hard rock band that have blown up in the mainstream due to hit singles and relentless media attention. There's honestly nothing too different, except for the fact that I happen to enjoy their songs. Very much. Catchy material, fun to listen to, and overall good quality. Lizzy Hale is an incredibly talented young lady, and she shows off her pipes in this new album even more than in the debut. Songwriting is definitely something the band has down; the songs get more and more interesting as the album goes along, with the exception of a select few. The sometimes "too-much" girly lyrics and poppy choruses can be overwhelming for some, if not most, however the good outweighs the bad for me. Frankly, I don't even find poppy choruses bad at all. The lyrics do sometimes get ridiculous, but lyrical content for me holds next to nothing in overall album value. It's just a very nice bonus. At the end of the day, Halestorm's sophomore album is a good one. Not great, but good. Looking forward to the next one.

"Rock Show" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buNoT-AELRs


12-06-2012, 12:12 PM

40. Tesseract - Perspective

EP released by the UK progressive metal band. This release is more ambient than anything, but it still retains progressive roots for sure. The singer did leave the band shorty after this release, not that that is anything of a surprise for this band, but it's interesting to have a background. All in all, acoustic proggy music that is great to relax to, and analyze for those music tech junkies out there. It's what one would expect out of Tesseract, and that is by no means a bad thing. They did release a single called 'Nocturne' with their new singer this year too, and that is a great song which has me looking forward to the album. It's NOT on this EP, however I feel it's worth mentioning since it is still relevant to 2012. I'll be posting two songs, the latter one I just mentioned and my personal favorite off of Perspective. They're both pretty different, and they both showcase the elements I love best of the band. Listen to it if you're feeling up to it.

Also, incredible artwork.

"Dream Brother" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-OjcP-m-dE

"Nocturne" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIpJbmumeP8


12-06-2012, 02:26 PM

39. Suspyre - Suspyre

The first of a few that came to my attention due to MPF. Being a progressive metal band from NJ, there was an instant comparison to Symphony-X on my part. It was totally justified as well, given Suspyre have many overlapping qualities. Suspyre tune lower, and therefore sound 'darker' and more aggressive, but not in terms of riffage, just in tone. Regardless, the latest release from this band is promising. Incredibly heavy passages are followed by light, quintessential progressive softies with soothing synths. The vocalist is very powerful, and legitimately sounds a but like Russel Allen. The only negative thing that truly comes to my mind is a few songs just aren't memorable, which is where Symphony have them left in the dust. Suspyre could honestly be a much bigger deal in the prog circle, however I feel this is holding them back. This is much easier said than done of course, however I feel these guys have it in them. The quality of some songs is truly stellar. I look forward to seeing their advancement as a band, but until then, this will suffice. In case it needs to be said, if you like Symphony-X and Dream Theater, at the very least try.


"The Whispers Never Written" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lYIZz5Gleo

12-08-2012, 03:46 PM

38. Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline

Sixth release from Lacuna Coil, and a much better one than its predecessor. Catchier tunes, well produced, and overall...better. There are some guitar solos here and there, as well as some clear Karmacode influence (which is my favorite album of theirs). The factor that is not present is consistency, however. As with the last album, there are a handful of, not good, but amazing tracks. Conversely as bad are all the rest. They just lack inspiration and don't pack the same punch the others do. This isn't going to attract a new fanbase, but I feel it has people on the edge still on the edge. As I said before, consistency is the missing key to this band's true potential. I'm not asking for AC/DC consistency, but something better than what's going on now.


"Upside Down" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur_gT1q4Wx8

12-09-2012, 01:39 AM

37. Neal Morse - Momentum

I'd never really heard solo Neal Morse until I heard Flying Colors, and I must say I can't be shocked at the similarities. Prog of course, but very clean and poppy, to a degree. I very much enjoy the music, and his songwriting skills are undeniably strong. What one thinks of his music is a different story. I haven't paid any attention to his lyrics, but I as I said before, that does little for me. The main detracting factor is the longevity of the songs; when a song is 10+ minutes long and I am not looking at the time, you know you did something right. I cannot say that is the case with Neal Morse. The two longest songs drag on for a bit, and that's something I hate to see in talented prog. Maybe it's just me, but what can you do? If you like prog rock, definitely give this one a spin.


"Momentum" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHRYE65TemU

12-09-2012, 03:20 PM

36. Savage Messiah - Plague Of Conscience

This one was hardly advertised, so when I found out that Savage Messiah were releasing a new album this year I was pleasantly surprised. The predecessor, Insurrection Rising, was really strong for being a new thrash band (most of it is pretty derivative). I can honestly say I enjoy this one more, but some tracks just don't do it for me. The simplest way to sum up this album is the logical step up from Insurrection Rising. Same melodic thrash, great heavy moments, and beautiful modern production. It's always a pleasure to hear singing instead of screaming, especially on a new-age thrash album. I'm surprised that these guys aren't bigger than they are, although it seems in Europe they do alright. Regardless, great album that has a few "bad" apples. Definitely merits attention.


"Carnival of Souls" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBXWk__NrDY

12-10-2012, 07:29 PM

35. Anathema - Weather Systems

One of the most introspective releases of the year. Very deep, atmospheric at points, and overall, beautiful. This album is not one that I could listen to everyday, and even when it comes on shuffle, it has to get skipped. It has to be listened to in the right context. However, even with this 'constraint' the record shows it strengths right in the beginning, all the way until the end. Very few albums can make me say that they would mess with my emotions if listened to frequently. Now one might say that they wouldn't bother listening to an album if it just makes them depressed, but if that is the reason then there is some masochism going on. In my opinion, it is a testament to the emotion released from the songs that the listener's emotion responds immediately. Unless your heart is made of stone, there is no way I can believe that someone who absorbs the track below with earnest listening wouldn't transcend into some point in their life that results in outbursts of emotion, for one reason or another. Bold statement? I suppose, but to emphasize the aforementioned point, this is not an album for everyday casual listening. In the right moment, it can really stimulate you. Give it a go if you dare.


"Untouchable Part 2" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0tkGtYpKJ0

12-11-2012, 05:27 PM

34. Black Country Communion - Afterglow

After all the drama between Hughes and Bonamassa, I'm pretty sure this is the final record we'll be seeing from this very talented group. Shame too, they were a supergroup that did it pretty well. At least they went out strong. I can't say this is my personal favorite of theirs, but it isn't bad by a long shot. Good tracks like "Big Train" and "Midnight Sun" stand out, but the album has to be listened to from start to finish to really 'get it'. All in all, a solid hard rock/heavy metal release of the year. Bonamassa's playing, as per usual, is stellar, although not as good as his solo releases (spoiler, his solo album is ranked higher on this list). I hope that a tour comes out of this, just so I can say I saw them, although given the track things are headed on I doubt that will be the case. Anyway, listen to the album if you like these respective artists, or if you want some well-written rock.


"Common Man" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK1SQTHMUQo

12-11-2012, 07:34 PM

33. DragonForce - The Power Within

As a prelude, this album isn't changing anyones opinion about the band. Either you like them or you don't, simple. I happen to be in the former category. This album, while not my favorite, is their best in terms of diversifying. DragonForce have been expanding on their love for mid-tempo songs, even some slower ones, which isn't a bad thing at all. It shows a different side of the same coin, really. The catchy choruses with the soaring feel is still present, and with the singer change it's nice to see that the music still is able to be held constant. Mark is a great replacement for ZP, even though ZP is much more unique and preferable to me. Regardless, everything that makes people love and hate DragonForce is present here. At the end of the day, I still long for a bit more change, but this is a step in the right direction. Maybe one day there can be a real curveball.


"Heart of the Storm" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZSVVy1ZFD4

12-11-2012, 08:29 PM

32. Vision Divine - Destination Set To Nowhere

With Fabio Lione joining their ranks again, I was interested to hear how this would sound. I didn't really like the last album much, and I much preferred the material they had with Michael. However this album is a huge step up. Very heavy, very crisp sounding, and Fabio sounds a lot more....appropriate. Great prog metal, nothing more and nothing less. Even the cover of Savatage's "Gutter Ballet" is awesome. They also released a bonus CD with new versions of their best songs of the past, so that is a bit of a drag to listen to, but I honestly can't say it's terrible. But the originals stand stronger, needless to say. However I digress. This album definitely made me feel positive towards the new lineup, and I look forward to a potential U.S. your, though I highly doubt it.


"The Dream Maker" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsr4S0T5t7Y

12-11-2012, 10:16 PM

32. Twelve Foot Ninja - Silent Machine

#2 that I got from MPF. I don't listen to Djent, and while I respect the musicianship, the vocals usually cut any interest I have. Even when there are just clean vocals I can hardly get into it. There's just something I don't enjoy about it. However, Twelve Foot Ninja manage to break through my walls there. A big part of that is because they approach their songs from different avenues, rather than strictly be Djent-like. While constantly having Djent undertones, there are moments of jazz, alternative, progressive, a lot for an album. I really dig the change of pace as you listen from start to finish, and it's pretty unique. I'm interested in hearing further releases, as this one caught my attention and not many of this style of music do. Kudos!


"Coming For You" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ST85Sui43Q

12-12-2012, 04:46 PM

31. Rival Sons - Head Down

If you're looking for a modern day Zepellin, it's right here. Rival Sons are the most Zepellin sounding band I've ever heard, moreso than The Parlor Mob, even. I don't even care that there is such blunt worship, it sounds great. A lot of soul, tons of groove, and a nice breath of fresh air form most hard rock out there now in days. This album doesn't hold to a candle to its predecessor, but it still holds some gems. The only thing that makes this record drag a bit is some weak tunes that don't really mesh well with the others, but its a minute factor in the grand scheme of things. I'm waiting for the inevitable moment where this band releases a flawless album, start to finish. I know it'll come, but unfortunately this isn't the time. Listen to this if you like rock and want some transparent 70's worship mixed in there.


"Keep On Swinging" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyKk-cF7dgI

12-12-2012, 05:29 PM

30. Secret Sphere - Portrait Of A Dying Heart

The old singer from Vision Divine graciously decided to do the vocals on this album, and boy does he add a nice twist. I briefly heard Secret Sphere's past material, and to be honest it wasn't really that inspiring. Music was alright, but nothing stellar. Whether it be Michael's entrance into the band or some other reason, the music is much more tight and crisp. The songwriting is definitely taken up a notch, with some great fast moments coupled with slow, well-constructed ballads. A solid album and a solid placement given that I heard this only a few weeks ago. I wonder if Michael is going to continue to sing for these guys, but one thing is for sure, no matter where he goes I will follow. Great singer, and seemingly gave the right push to a band with great potential.


"Eternity" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC5T2iFb6xc

12-12-2012, 07:49 PM

29. Eluveitie - Helvetios

Truth be told, I was initially pretty discontent with album earlier when it was released. I loved the previous album, and even then I should tone it down a notch, because I loved select songs which trumped the others. This album didn't have any "Thousandfold" or "Quoth The Raven"s, so on the first spin I just discarded it and never really listened to it again. I picked it up after hearing about the Wintersun tour, so I figured why not. I can happily say that it is much better then I previously remembered. While none of the songs on a standalone basis hold a candle to my favorites of Everything Remains…, it is an overall more diverse album. One complaint that is still present is its length. It is way too long in my opinion, and it could have been shortened down to allow better absorption. An hour+ is stretching it for a band like this, at least for me. Alas I cannot simply call out its faults, for it has great moments here and there. I'm glad I picked it up again, and it makes me hope the next one is even better.


"Santonian Shores" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQo0fMUdiGg

12-12-2012, 08:24 PM

28. Wino & Conny Ochs - Heavy Kingdom

I know nothing about the backgrounds of these two artists, although that hardly matters. This all acoustic album is one great track after another. The slow, dirty blues of the South is present on this album, with Simon & Garfunkel moments popping up in every track. The vocal harmonies are done very well, and really stick in one's memory more often than not. There's definitely a lot of raw emotion on the record, and I respect and appreciate that. There's honestly not much else to say, or at least for me; if you like blues, acoustic oriented music, and Simon & Garfunkel, listen to this. You won't be disappointed.

I would have put "Dust", my true personal favorite track, but I couldn't find it on YouTube, so I settled for my 2nd favorite.


"Heavy Kingdom" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ8j0bqgiSg

12-13-2012, 10:42 AM

27. Siamese Fighting Fish - Breathe: See: Move

#3 from MPF. Terrible band name, and I was skeptical at first, but anything with a potential 'prog' influence has my attention even if for a moment. Definitely an album I would never have come across. Very interesting band, as one description doesn't really pin it. They have styles of punk, new age alternative, hard rock, progressive, etc. The end result is definitely good though. Catchy vocals, great hooks, and songwriting skills that others wish they had. The violinist really adds a lot to the atmosphere as well. The twists and turns this album has is impressive, and it makes for a pretty easy listen from start to finish for this almost 45 minute record. Upon first listen I was thoroughly enjoying it, and time has only made it better. This band will definitely be on my radar from now on.


"HAUT" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRg7lbyfXsU

12-13-2012, 11:45 AM
You have an interesting spread of tastes. I'm checking out that Siamese Fighting Fish video right now and it is pretty cool. I might give this a buy.
I was at ProgPower in 2006 when Vision Divine played with their then-current singer. In a lineup full of killer vocalists (and musicians), the singer for that band was leaps and bounds in front of everyone. He was nailing pitches and projecting his voice with a confidence and authority that was very attention-grabbing.

12-13-2012, 07:10 PM
Thank you, I appreciate the comment. My tastes do vary, and I'm glad you've enjoyed a few. I'm incredibly jealous of your attendance at ProgPower 2006, I really want to go to one and the fact that Vision Divine with Michael was there is even more enticing. Maybe one day.

12-13-2012, 07:14 PM

26. Bad Salad - Uncivilized

#4 from MPF. Another terrible band name, but outstanding music. Very progressive, and of high quality too. These guys take a no-shame bow to Dream Theater, and emulate many qualities that have made them the champions of prog metal. The singer sounds great, and the guitar tone sounds very much like Petrucci's. The fact that this is a debut is even more impressive. I certainly would never have come across this band by any means, so I'm glad I did. For any fans of quality prog in the vein of Dream Theater, this is a no-brainer.


"Crowded Sky" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYA6ZjjI0ng

12-13-2012, 07:16 PM
I am very happy to see I do have an affect on someone's taste in music, especially this much. 4 albums so far since I've been doing this in November. Thank you very much!

Great list so far!

12-13-2012, 07:29 PM
1 more left too, as of right now. Those 5 from all hunting has been totally worth it. I don't know where you find out about these bands, but I appreciate the exposure. Keep up yours as well!

12-13-2012, 07:33 PM

25. Kotipelto & Liimatainen - Blackoustic

The second and final acoustic album on this list. Singer from Stratovarius and guitarist from Sonata Arctica decided to record some acoustic tracks after playing them live over in Europe. Honestly, I was pretty indifferent upon hearing the news, even though I would certainly give it a spin. The end result is actually quite nice. The acoustic version of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica songs sound great, and the other covers/originals flow very well. Even the Finnish song is well-constructed. Upon hearing the "Black Diamond" rendition, I was honestly astounded at how good it was. The solo sounds so beautiful. This was a nice surprise, and if anybody is a fan of these two bands or just nice acoustic music, this merits attention.


"Black Diamond" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cmRvlDFprs

12-13-2012, 07:35 PM
1 more left too, as of right now. Those 5 from all hunting has been totally worth it. I don't know where you find out about these bands, but I appreciate the exposure. Keep up yours as well!

Since the day I discovered Dream theater and Opeth on the same day at Walmart back in 2004, I've been on the hunt to find the best music possible no matter what rock or metal genre it is. This is just the 8th year of me doing that.

Also getting a fuckload of promo albums this year thanks to my radio show has helped a lot. :lol:

12-13-2012, 07:48 PM

24. Diabulus In Musica - The Wanderer

Female fronted power metal. Nice, quick summary to get those who like it to listen and those who don't to leave. However, they have crafty songwriting skills. I can't exactly describe it, but they do things differently. It might be the transition from very heavy to very light, it could be the songwriting, but the overall package is very strong. The track below has one of the catchiest keyboard licks I've heard this year, and I can't remember how many times it's been stuck in my head, or I catch myself humming it. This sophomore release shows promise for the band, and I look forward to seeing what they release in the future. It's a shame little people know of this band. I easily see them holding their own against heavyweights Within Temptation and Nightwish.


"Sceneries of Hope" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd17f21f58s

12-13-2012, 08:18 PM

23. Muse - The 2nd Law

For all the hate new Muse gets, I get confused more and more. They've changed a lot since the first few albums, and if that was the only reason you liked them then alright. But the new music is still quality, just of a different type. I fail to see how half of this album can be deemed as worthless as most people claim it to be. This is a step up from the last album, and some songs on here are some of the best they've done in recent times. "Madness" has that typical alternative, elctro-y Muse sound they've adapted, while tracks like "Supremacy" blatantly worship Zepellin (particularly Kashmir). "Survival", the Olympics song, has one of the heaviest outros I've heard from Muse since "Stockholm Syndrome". The track below has a great groove, and has an insanely catchy chorus too. All I know is new Muse is quite good, although not as good as the Absolution-era. It's worth a listen for somebody wanting solid alternative.


"Panic Station" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk24UKKI4yY

12-14-2012, 05:52 AM
25. Kotipelto & Liimatainen - Blackoustic

The second and final acoustic album on this list. Singer from Stratovarius and guitarist from Sonata Arctica decided to record some acoustic tracks after playing them live over in Europe. Honestly, I was pretty indifferent upon hearing the news, even though I would certainly give it a spin. The end result is actually quite nice. The acoustic version of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica songs sound great, and the other covers/originals flow very well. Even the Finnish song is well-constructed. Upon hearing the "Black Diamond" rendition, I was honestly astounded at how good it was. The solo sounds so beautiful. This was a nice surprise, and if anybody is a fan of these two bands or just nice acoustic music, this merits attention.


"Black Diamond" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cmRvlDFprs

I don't know if I could listen to a whole album of this, but I've heard a couple tracks and it sounds pretty good to me.

12-14-2012, 01:05 PM

22. Christian Älvestam - Self 2.0

The voice and soul behind Scar Symmetry and Solution .45. An incredibly talented vocalist, he has clearly shown his dominance in both clean vocals and growls, and he does each better than most. Given my heavy preference towards clean vocals, I was always hoping he would release an album that relaxed on the 'death' side of things. What I got was even more creative. This album isn't metal, or at least not fully. It's more alternative-ish, with some atmospheric moments here and there. It still retains the style Christian Älvestam usually does, but the music is completely different. There's a sax on two songs, if that says anything. It's not what I expected, and I'm glad about that, because it's better than I would have imagined. This just goes to show his talent as a musician. I give him all the respect in the world. I hope he continues making music like this, along with his traditional path.

"Once Adreamed" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FINsVqb_WsE

12-14-2012, 02:12 PM

21. Infected Mushroom - Army Of Mushrooms

A very heavy electronic duo from Israel. On this new album, they have expanded upon the rough bass and added some mixes of dubstep and techno, while still maintaining the catchy licks. Their Middle-Eastern influence is a huge turn on for me too, and it translates incredibly well into the music. A great release that sounds consistent and plays well, especially given its hour+ length. Some tracks sounds like they could easily be a part of action movie soundtracks, while others are more club-friendly and just more approachable. Even their cover of "The Pretender" is really good, given they put their own unique spin on it. For anybody wanting good, heavy electronic music, it's right here.


"The Rat" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBW5u-f2pPw

12-14-2012, 04:33 PM

20. Joe Bonamassa - Driving Towards The Daylight

And so begins the Top 20. This one was mentioned a while back when Black Country Communion came up, and here it is. Bonamassa's new album is a solid one, although not as good as last year's Dust Bowl, I must admit. Nevertheless, it's still proof that he churns out powerful blues records effortlessly. From this point on it's so hard to even pick a track to link to, they all have such different ranges of influence. The title track is easily one of my favorites, having a ballad-y uplifting message and having that raw emotion present. The track below is the quintessential blues track; great groove, beautiful leads, and just a rocking package overall. The rest of the album doesn't stray too far from that formula, and I'm not complaining. Give it a chance, I can't imagine strong disdain.


"Dislocated Boy" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HfS9FVDFEE

12-14-2012, 07:07 PM

19. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata

For the majority of the albums here, the surprise behind them aren't really all that surprising. A better way of putting that is, for example, if a thrash metal band makes a killer thrash metal album, great. If a prog band makes an awesome prog album, you get the picture. Genre classification works, for the most part. Pandora's Pinata is a huge outlier in that sense. I've heard it be called avant-garde, and while it certainly qualifies, it shares barely any characteristics of avant-garde other than the barrage of odd compositions. There's an insane amount of groove on this album, and there are progressive moments as well. Listening to the record from start to finish is the only way to really get an understanding of the newest release from Diablo Swing Orchestra. There's even an electronic drop of sorts on the closing track. I was blown away by how good this album was. Unique metal? Look no further.


"Mass Rapture" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm8m31wdLN8

12-14-2012, 08:25 PM

18. Rush - Clockwork Angels

An album and band that no one needs an introduction to. Quite frankly, I only listened to this album this month. I was never too into Rush, although I'd been hearing great things about this album ever since it came out so i figured why not. I do love prog, and I'd always considered it strange that Rush never clicked with me on a high enough level. I can happily say this album has gotten me there. What a fantastic album. That's the best way to put it. Geddy Lee's vocals have somehow become better over time. I am completely indifferent to the criticism of that seemingly bold statement, but he really has developed more finesse to his voice in my opinion. Not that the past material is bad. It's great too. But I digress. This album has high caliber prog with catchy, accesible moments that could easily be on mainstream radio. I find myself humming some tunes more often than not, and that could be that it is very fresh to me but I'll take it. If you haven't heard it already, it's never too late, I can attest to that.


"The Wreckers" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bkt51J7VNo

12-14-2012, 08:50 PM

17. Teramaze - Anhedonia

Progressive thrash metal. That's the short version. Long version: I found this band as a random on Blabbermouth, and most of those end up being terrible. These guys sound incredibly tight, very crisp and modern sounding, and interesting, very much not like a typical 'unknown' Blabbermouth band. The vocalist reminds me of mix between Annihilator and Breaking Benjamin. Never thought those two would ever correlate in some way, shape or form. The music is very Annihilator-like, but better. Catchy melodies, heavy riffage, great soloing, and a fresh breath of air for the thrash metal genre (not that this strictly conforms to thrash). I'm thoroughly impressed with this band, and I look forward to hearing the rest of their material in the future. This stuff is pretty great.


"Anhedonia" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYZ8bXhWWos

12-14-2012, 09:00 PM

16. Knife Party - Rage Valley

From the ashes of platinum-selling electronic group Pendulum came Knife Party. More heavier, more dubstep oriented than their parent's drum n' bass roots. Behind Skrillex, these two are easily my #2 in the genre. Incredible musical talent, and much higher quality than their cohorts. Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen clearly understand musical progression, and don't just put out beats: they have licks that mesh perfectly with the aggression of the music, as well as having the pummeling bass that drives the song consistently. After a well-placed buildup comes the crushing drop, only to be taken on this smooth, beautiful synth melody. And the catchiness of each song on this EP goes without saying. Maddeningly infectious. Being that this is only their sophomore release, I can only imagine what time will churn out for these two individuals. This is the highest electronic album on this year's list, so I can say from my experience that if this doesn't tickle someone's fancy, then give up and stick with whatever it is you listen to.

P.S. - Very cool artwork too. A good amount of metal bands don't even get there for me.


"Rage Valley" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rnw4GzXgXNA

12-15-2012, 07:58 AM

15. Soundgarden - King Animal

After years and years of silence, Soundgarden have finally come back at it, touring and everything. I am pleased by this, quite pleased. I didn't know what to think of the album upon first listen, but after giving it a few spins, I'd say it's a lot better than when I thought it was going to be. There are some hard rock songs, some more out-there grunge songs, and some interesting tracks with catchy, true-to-form Soundgarden-like uniqueness. I've heard a few bad things about this album, and I can see it if people were wanting another Superunknown. Those days are gone, and for being a decade+ later, this is much better quality than what many of their peers could/can do. Try this one out if you want different rock in you mix.


"Taree" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBDOORRHM64

12-15-2012, 08:23 AM
Good calls on Rush / Soundgarden. Also, that mushroom artwork is awesome.

12-15-2012, 10:12 AM
Thanks, I enjoyed those two very much so. I was especially surprised with Soundgarden, given what I had heard about Rush I'm not surprised at the outcome.

12-15-2012, 10:50 AM

14. Pepe Deluxe - Queen Of The Wave

#5 from MPF. Easily the best one too. This is an eclectic mix of so many kinds of rock, I would've thought impossible before. It is definitely most oriented towards theatrical, spacey rock, but there is so much going on it's sometimes hard to tell. From start to finish, this album has something to offer for everyone. Insanely catchy melodies and great, crafty songwriting that is extremely rare. No metal traces to be found, heads up, not that this means anything to me. This is one of those albums where every listen gives you a new perspective, or you hear something you didn't hear before. Fine wine style. I highly recommend this album for an open minded spirit who wants to venture into some sort-of uncharted territory. Have at it.


"Go Supersonic" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn2c6LhUBeI

12-15-2012, 03:24 PM

14. Pepe Deluxe - Queen Of The Wave

#5 from MPF. Easily the best one too. This is an eclectic mix of so many kinds of rock, I would've thought impossible before. It is definitely most oriented towards theatrical, spacey rock, but there is so much going on it's sometimes hard to tell. From start to finish, this album has something to offer for everyone. Insanely catchy melodies and great, crafty songwriting that is extremely rare. No metal traces to be found, heads up, not that this means anything to me. This is one of those albums where every listen gives you a new perspective, or you hear something you didn't hear before. Fine wine style. I highly recommend this album for an open minded spirit who wants to venture into some sort-of uncharted territory. Have at it.


"Go Supersonic" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn2c6LhUBeI


Very happy to see anyone else from here love this album too!

12-15-2012, 04:32 PM
I should probably check out that Pepe Deluxe record. I've seen people compare it to Mr. Bungle.

12-16-2012, 09:52 AM

13. Bonded By Blood - The Aftermath

Even though the grand majority of thrash metal has become pretty boring to me (especially the new wave), there are always those few who still manage to catch my attention. Bonded By Blood have kept it constant from the first record, and they've gotten better and better. Not to mention that the singer change was a very nice touch to this new one. Concerning the music, these guys have always focused on being fast and nasty, and nothing changes on this album. They have some different tunings from the usual E flat, and it is instantly noticeable, such a in the track below. The groove they have added to some songs is very well placed too, and the emphasis on powerful, harmonic minor soloing/riffage is always a hefty check in my book. I'm very pleased with The Aftermath, and I hope the streak continues for them.


"Among The Vultures" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkqtUzoPECg

12-16-2012, 10:29 AM

12. Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Ascending To Infinity

After hearing that Luca Turilli was leaving Rhapsody of Fire to start another Rhapsody, I was intrigued. Rhapsody has been on a steady decline for the past couple of years, and this was finally the opportunity to see the root of the problem: Alex or Luca. Clearly, Luca was not. This album is everything that Rhapsody of Fire could have been spewing, but for reasons beyond my understanding, have not. The majestic feel of this album is incredible, and every song feels like a different passage into Luca's different creative outlets. From the speed-oriented and heavy "Dark Fate of Atlantis" to the beautiful "Luna", this album is filled with stellar moments that any power metal fan should love. Even their note-for-note cover of "March of Time" is an enjoyable listen. I hope this band can come to the States, because I would see them in a heartbeat.


"Clash Of The Titans" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5DOvH54o9Y

12-16-2012, 11:45 AM

11. Aeon Zen - Enigma

Progressive metal in the vein of Dream Theater and Eumeria. Extremely talented, and extremely unknown. I would have never heard of this album had I not already been familiar with the band. Damned shame too. There are some beautiful songs on this album, as well as some very unexpected tracks. They even took some Djent influence and have some chugging riffs here and there, most noticeably in the very beginning of "Downfall". Upon further listening, I realized that this album sounds a fair amount like Devin Townsend material, obviously without his voice and over-the-top mannerisms. This is a very tight release that nearly made it to my Top 10, but a late contender made its way in instead. Give it a listen if you wish.

P.S. - I didn't realize my above comment would stand so strong. They don't even have any of the new stuff on YouTube. The best they have is the guitarist playing "Divinity", without the vocals. What a shame. I have a song from the past album, and it should still give a semi-similar vibe. Just get the actual album if you like what you hear. I decided to post the guitar playthrough version as well.


"Redemption's Shadow" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JDdLoLPW_s

"Divinity" (without vocals, it's so much better with vocals so don't judge too much) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNJD2ngvEnA

12-16-2012, 03:57 PM

10. Jeff Loomis - Plains Of Oblivion

And so begins the Top 10. As logic imposes, these albums are the best of the year for me. They will each get two songs, because one is simply not enough. And heading at #10 is Jeff Loomis, ex-guitar player of Nevermore. His first album was decent, nothing great but far from bad. This is everything the first album should have been. Much more focused songwriting, crushingly heavy at points, and a few guest vocalists sprinkled throughout. The two songs with the female vocalist are easily some of the best on the album. Whoever she is, she needs to get well known. His soloing is beyond talented and his guitar tone makes me insanely envious, but that goes without saying at this point. Loomis has shown that he is without a doubt the reason Nevermore are the way they are, not that that needed much convincing anyway. I give massive props to Mr. Loomis this round, and I hope to see an even stronger release the next time around (if that's possible).

P.S. - Awesome artwork. Mesmerizing if you look at it for a bit.


"The Ultimatum" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urHAR57-tUE

"Tragedy & Harmony" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFbXyCbBSYM

12-16-2012, 04:31 PM

9. Epica - Requiem For The Indifferent

The successor to Design Your Universe was an interesting threshold for me, given I had semi-recently got into Epica, two years after it was released. I fell hard for it though. I still find it to be Epica's best album to date, by far. However, I don't mean to belittle their efforts on this one. The songwriting is definitely there, and at the end of the day that is Epica's key strength. Their technical prowess and beautiful, powerful vocals are all secondary to the quality of the compositions. At some points when Simone sings, it sounds as if an angel were channeling her voice into her. The cheesiness of that statement aside, she really sounds great. As to why it doesn't surpass Design Your Universe is puzzling to me, but one thing that stands out is the production quality, strictly on a comparative basis with the aforementioned. Requiem's production is a little bit more mechanical, if that makes sense. Doesn't sound as organic as Design, but that could just be me being extreme. Case in point, it's a testament to this band that even an album perceived to be a slight step down is still in the Top 10. Epica are a progressive metal powerhouse and anyone who doesn't think so is wrong. Simply put.


"Karma/Monopoly On Truth" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DJ76TQYzNU

"Guilty Demeanor" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP-qD5QJVzw

12-16-2012, 07:07 PM

8. Stone Sour - House Of Gold And Bones - Part 1

Considering the last release of theirs (which is nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be), I didn't really know what to think of this one. The teaser tracks were alright, and they seemed to be in a better place. After listening to it properly a few times, I was smitten. Very much so. Corey Taylor has compared this album to Alice In Chain's classic 'Dirt', and while that may seem a bold statement, it validates itself in the music. This is one of those moments where some magic happened in the studio. I don't really know another way to describe it. All of the track flow intricately with each other, one to the next, while maintaing their own unique place in the story. The openers are up there in heaviness, while tracks like "Taciturn" and "The Travelers, Pt. 1" really tug at your heartstrings. It's an incredibly well rounded album with a nod to grunge legends and modern hard rock/alternative metal bands. Not to mention everyone sounds great on their respective instruments, as the band maturity has hit a new high. If this was Part 1, I can only hope that Part 2 is as good. If so, then I consider that a huge accomplishment.


"Gone Sovereign/Absolute Zero" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsW95u5nmcc

"Taciturn" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCGpI6rz3x4

12-16-2012, 08:49 PM

7. Wintersun - Time I

Having grown out of a lot of melodic death metal and associated acts, I didn't listen to this until recently. I only did so due to the fact that some friends were going to the Eluvietie/Wintersun show, so I figured I'd try them both out. While the new Eluveitie was good, I was floored by Time I. Given Wintersun's debut, it's more or less a Chlidren of Bodom/Ensiferum clone. I wasn't expecting much difference this time around, even with the whole time lapse in between. I could not have been more wrong. This album is so much more mature than its predecessor. Those who criticize simply do not have a taste for the grandiose nature of the orchestral arrangements, and want aggression non-stop. The symphonic movements are beautiful, and the aggressive movements the same. Another great surprise was the presence of clean vocals, which outweigh the growls. I would never have thought Jari could sing so eloquently. This final touch sealed the deal for me. All in all, listen to this. This is an incredible piece of art and I look forward to Time II.


"Time" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg6yS1WHpvk

"Land Of Snow And Sorrow" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_gGVaNQcx4

12-16-2012, 09:11 PM

6. Soen - Cognitive

Martin Lopez of Opeth decided to start Tool 2.0. That's the best summary I can give. While they have been getting tons of flack for that fact, I flip that on its head and say I could not be more impressed. Tool is already a band I love and respect, and emulating Tool to the level that Soen do is beyond inspiring. The level of dissonance and ambience that this album achieves without becoming spacey and boring is mind blowing to me. I was fully expecting a decent album, but nothing amazing. I was proven oh so wrong. From start to finish, this record is a trip. The heavy moments really eat at you, and the softer beautiful moments are abundant and captivating. The vocalist sounds like a more straight forward Keenan, and the fact that Steve DiGiorgio plays bass automatically makes the tone and foundation of each song that much better. This is a supergroup done near-perfect. There are always flaws in an album, so I don't believe in there being a perfect album, but this one comes so damned close. And I forgot to mention that it's a debut as well. I'm not sure if these guys are interested in touring, and as much as I hope they do, I would honestly prefer more studio music. All in all, progressive Tool-heads, get your fix here.


"Fraccions" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuG1MkwXUY0

"Slithering" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iJvMfIaVSU

12-16-2012, 10:19 PM
Yeah, I seriously do not get any of the hate for Time I. Unless people somehow wanted a heavier deathier album, from a a band whose self-titled really did show all of the elements that were on Time I. It's the same spirit... but executed different. I don't want to say better... not sold on that part yet, though. "Not better" than the Wintersun album can still mean fantastic though. It's likely going to be in my top 3.

12-17-2012, 01:10 AM
I agree on Time I too. It's a different album than the self-titled, but that doesn't make it bad. I still don't think it is quite as good as the first one, since that one had a huge impact on me, but it's a great album regardless. Definitely in my top 20, not sure where yet though.

12-17-2012, 03:38 AM
Oh, awesome. I didn't know Infected Mushroom released a new one. I'm going to need to check that out.

I'm also going to need to check out that Knife Party album. I like the songs I've heard by them.

12-17-2012, 06:49 AM
I'm happy to see a general consensus on Time I. Finding it so late in the year and having it at #7 says a lot about its impact. I can only hope that Time II continues in the vein of this album. Concerning the electronic artists, you definitely should check them out. What's nice is that Knife Party are so new that there's not much to really hear, quantity wise, so it's not that daunting a task to pick up the songs.

12-17-2012, 06:51 AM

5. Flying Colors - Flying Colors

Two supergroups back to back? I guess so. Everything I said about Soen applies here as well, except for the Tool worship. Mike Portnoy, Casey McPhearson, Neal Morse, Steve Morse, and Dave LaRue. On paper, that sounds incredible. In reality, what came out was something that no one could have pinned. The closest thing I can pin on them is they are certainly Neal Morse oriented, with the whole poppy prog rock approach. But that would be underselling them by a long shot. Casey provides a nice alternative perspective in the vocals, and Steve Morse's playing is beyond tight as expected. The guy has some of the best guitar tones out there, up there with Petrucci and Loomis. Notice how this has only been covering the instrumentation; get into the songs, it's something else entirely. Every single song stands out as a unique piece of insanely catchy art. Every chorus, verse, solo, it all has a place. These are the kinds of songs that you hum to all day and love doing it. The album takes you through a nice spot in every members' respective careers, sometimes emphasizing Spock's Beard, sometimes Alpha Rev, Deep Purple, etc. I still am shocked with the near flawless output of this band, and I am very fortunate I was able to see them perform this masterpiece in its entirety. I hope they continue to make music, and at least for Mike Portnoy, exclusively here.


"Blue Ocean" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8fZxUGWrPI

"Kayla" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOfWISwjGJE

12-17-2012, 07:22 AM
Two quick takes:
I also like Time 1 a lot. I don't really care about the melodeath of the last decade or the current wave of folk metal....which, if anything, has resulted in me NOT having the burnout on it that a lot of other people have. So, an album that sounds like Time I is something I can approach with fresher ears than someone who has long feasted on other albums like it. Perhaps surprisingly though my favorite track is track 3, the slow one.

And Flying Colors RULES, one of my favorites from this year too. Awesome awesome awesome.

12-17-2012, 08:18 AM
I'm glad someone enjoys Flying Colors, I haven't met many who do. It's an underrated release of the year, and it's a pity given the star power in the band. I'm hoping they make another album, although I'm not counting on it.

12-17-2012, 08:44 AM
A lot of my high school friends couldn't shut up about that album. From what I heard it's a better than what the guys do in their actual (for lack a of a better word) bands.

12-17-2012, 09:10 AM
For the most part, I agree. I'm not a big fan of Spock's Beard, and while I do enjoy Alpha Rev, Flying Colors is way ahead of them. I don't really know Dave LaRue's background too well, but I can't say I feel the same for Steve Morse and Portnoy.

12-17-2012, 09:11 AM

4. Zonaria - Arrival Of The Red Sun

As a quick prelude, I really, really don't like this kind of music much anymore. The fact that this is up here is a huge testament to the quality of this particular band. Ever since I heard Zonaria's sophomore release, The Cancer Empire, I realized melodic death metal still holds a place for me, but it has to be done…in only a way Zonaria can. Sure I like other melo death bands, but I've come to terms that Zonaria is the absolute gold standard. This album expanded on qualities I thought to be maxed out. The opening track, with its insanely catchy drum fill, leads to an epic lick that just explodes in the listener's face and continues all the way until the closer. The production on this album is perfect, the guitars sound nice and deep, and there are dynamics and orchestrations on this album left and right that, when added together, really changes the tone of the tracks. The fact that there are growls over this and literally not a trace of cleans doesn't bother me in the slightest. Frankly, it adds to the experience in the way that the vocalist does it. How is it different? I will be the last to give an answer; I simply don't know. At the end of the day, it comes down to taste. And this guy satisfies mine. Now mind you there some stupid lyrics (listen to "The Blood That Must Be Paid"), but as said earlier, lyrical content is an added plus that means little to nothing to me. The music on Arrival Of The Red Sun is gold in a pile of dung, and if you don't listen to this your really doing yourself a disservice.

Fun fact: The old guitarist form Five Finger Death Punch plays on this album. Never judge a book by its cover...


"Arrival Of The Red Sun" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVcxid1Jivs

"My Vengeance Remains" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b333xupF6Ho

12-17-2012, 12:23 PM

3. Kamelot - Silverthorn

The last album was pretty weak, especially relative to the previous Ghost Opera (which I happened to love). Roy Khan getting axed was another deterring factor that made me believe this album was going to have questionable results. Upon hearing they got boy-wonder Tommy from Seventh Wonder, I was instantly given faith that this would be a smash hit. Sure he didn't write much, if anything at all, but two things: 1) Seventh Wonder write high caliber prog that I just knew he would bring to the table, and 2) 98% of singers would give an arm and a leg to sing half as well as he can. His range and tone is to salivate for. Nevertheless, when "Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)" was released, I doubled down and was certain the album was going to knock my socks off. Amazingly, it did more than that. Youngblood really went all out and revitalized the band with some of their highest quality music in years. The catchiness and structure of the choruses in some songs could easily be in radio friendly songs. The dynamics on this album are something that really caught my attention as well; pauses, crescendos, you name it and its been applied. It all flows so well together I can still hardly believe it as I listen to it again and again. This is power metal as it should be done, as long as you have the unrestrained vocal abilities such as Tommy. I could go on and on, but just listen to it instead. It speaks for itself.


"Solitaire" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8dLNJJPPe0

"Ashes to Ashes" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWSLSDtAbJ8

12-17-2012, 12:49 PM
I loved Ghost Opera as well. If anything, it was released too soon which caused it to fly under the radar. Seventh Wonder is brilliant, as is Tommy's singing.

12-17-2012, 01:28 PM

2. Damnation Angels - Bringer Of Light

This was at #1 for a long time, and it deserves to be. But lists are simply snapshots of a person's thoughts at a point in time, so I don't hold them too strictly. Anyway, upon searching bands playing ProgPower this year, I am always open to at least giving a chance to every band on the bill. It doesn't get easier than a progressive festival. I found ReinXeed through this too. However the real diamond in the rough were the UK's Damnation Angels. The power of the music from start to finish is a feat that not many achieve, yet these guys did it in a debut album. To me, that is beyond impressive. Damnation Angels take symphonic metal to true 'symphonic' levels, not just having synths do your dirty work. I'm sure they use synths for all the orchestra sounds, so just to clarify that's not what I mean. They manage to input beautiful orchestrations that fit perfectly into the music, almost telling a story and painting a portrait of the feelings one should feel when listening to it. It's hard to describe. Nevertheless, the music on Bringer Of Light is of the highest quality a power metal band can obtain. For this band to upend Kamelot (see above) after all the love I spewed their way isn't easy in the slightest. Maybe it's the 'new' factor, maybe it's the beautiful voice, whatever it is, I lean in this direction. The Oriental inspired track below is the most polarizing track on the album: I love it and it is easily my favorite, however it shows me their potential. I don't mean that they go all Oriental, but they can branch out to use so many different methods of instrumentation to really do what they're already doing…better. Just make something great even greater. To conclude, one who doesn't like power metal and symphonies won't like it. That's easy. Give it a shot if you're up for it though. It's as best as you're going to get this year in that field.


"The Longest Day Of My Life" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmy0y8U7vjE

"Pride (The Warrior's Way)" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNerE4k4htM

12-17-2012, 02:58 PM

1. Circus Maximus - Nine

To finally arrive at #1 for the year is a nice accomplishment. So without further a due, Circus Maximus' Nine. Having been inactive for quite some time, I was starting to think that this band's days were done. Some members were doing stuff here and there, but nothing related to Circus Maximus. Upon hearing the good news of a new album, I was giddy with excitement. The predecessor, Isolate, was outstanding. And that was 5 years ago. Fast forward to 2012 and we get a progressive metal beauty. It's as if they took Dream Theater's approach to everything prog and put their own European spin on it. Tracks sound like an eclectic mix of the best of the prog world. "Architect of Fortune" pulls out Opeth-like riffs while going into a Rush-like verse. "Reach Within", the first single, has emotional undertones with an uplifting foundation that translates incredibly well. Time signatures and key changes flow through this album without a moment's notice to the listener who isn't informed, and that's when you know they've done everything right. A track-by-track review won't be necessary, but they each have a different place in this masterpiece. If I believed in giving perfect scores, this would definitely be the 10/10, but as I said before, every album has its flaws, as minimal as they are. But I digress. The vocals on this album truly hit you at certain points, along with some melodies and riffs. Circus Maximus went above and beyond the threshold for acceptable progressive material on this album, and I expected nothing less. The fact that they aren't too well known is a travesty, and I sincerely hope this album changes that. They deserve to have the recognition of Dream Theater, and I hope someday they achieve that. All I can say for now is they have my massive kudos for being my favorite album of the year. And with some tough competition out there, I'd say that's quite a feat. Fans who want to hear good music overall should listen to this, start to finish. I hope you enjoyed the list, it was fun doing it, and I look forward to 2013.


"Namaste" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX-CaFsKQoE

"Architect Of Fortune" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKT9V6TVEts

12-17-2012, 08:47 PM
I really liked Sacrimony and Veritas but wasn't crazy about most of the rest of the stuff from that album.

12-17-2012, 10:16 PM
I really have to get around to hearing Silverthorn.

And I liked Nine too but not nearly enough for me to put it close to my number 1.

12-17-2012, 11:47 PM
Fantastic thread. and i must say again i feel proud that I inspired someone so much to check out some of the music I reviewed and have said people enjoy it. Thank you so much!

Killer thread!

12-18-2012, 06:13 AM
Excellent thread, taste, and write ups, Serpentine. Hail \m/

12-18-2012, 10:24 AM
Thank you, it was nice to organize everything and be able to have a nice fancy list to show. Glad some people got a few things out of it, and it's nice to see a few correlating interests. I wanted to post a snapshot of the spreadsheet I had, but I don't know how to post images that aren't URL's on here...