Honorable Mentions, Part 2:
Again, I heard around 90 albums this year, so actually do really enjoy all of these albums, they just fall just outside my top 25. These are essentially the albums ranked 26-37th, in some random order.
07 Royal Hunt - Show Me How to Live
The return of "classic" Royal Hunt vocalist DC Cooper had many people buzzing with excitement, myself included. Though I enjoy stuff with their other vocalists a lot, something about DC has always felt "natural" for Royal Hunt. I was a little concerned about how fast this album came about though, fearing it would lack in quality songwriting and memorable songs, and sadly I think I was dead on with that fear. The album is still pretty strong, I don't think Royal Hunt could put out an album I don't like, but considering they released my #3 album of 2008, it's a bit of a let-down.
Featured Track: Honestly, not a single song from this is on YouTube.
08 Mr. Big - What If?
I've never been a huge Mr. Big fan, always more of a casual admirer because of the talent within the band - I've loved some of their songs, but most of the albums on the whole are underwhelming. This comeback album still isn't a perfect 10, but I genuinely feel it may be the best complete record they've ever made, as the grand majority of the tracks are very enjoyable. I'd say there's still a few fillers, but the bottom line is that "Undertow" and "I Won't Get in My Way" are two of my most-played songs of 2011, hands-down.
Featured Track: "I Won't Get in My Way"
09 Myrath - Tales of the Sand
Myrath's 2010 album, "Desert Call" managed to creep up my list all the way to about #15. This band hails from Tunisia and really utilize their musical heritage in their sound - basically sounding like an Arabic Symphony X. At least that was sort of what they did on the previous record. This new album sees the band stripping away the songs a bit, focusing on shorter, more concise songs - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I do miss a lot of the "epic" feel of the last record, and I think some of the songs here get a bit same-y as the album goes on. Nevertheless, this band is pretty excellent and worth your time if you're looking for something different.
Featured Track: "Time to Grow"
10 The Magnificent - The Magnificent
It's been so long since the last Circus Maximus record that I'll check out anything vocalist Michael Eriksen is singing on. As I mentioned, it's been a great year for the Melodic Rock/AOR genre, and this album is no exception. There's a few absolute gems here, and Erksen's voice works surprisingly well for this sort of stuff. Some great guitar playing as well, but this stuff isn't for everyone I guess.
Featured Track: Again, nothing on YouTube.
11 Doogie White - As Yet Untitled
I've been waiting for this much-talked-about Doogie White solo album for several years now. First off, I want to award major points for the great, tongue-in-cheek title. Also, there's some really outstanding songs to be found here, with some great guest appearances from the likes of Marcus Jidell (Evergrey, ex-Royal Hunt), Pontus Norgren (Hammerfall, The Poodles), and Patti Russo (Meat Loaf, Trans-Siberian Orchestra). Sadly, there's three or so songs on here that I just flat-out don't like, so even though there's a half-dozen gems, it's not enough to propel the album that high up my list.
Featured Track: "Lonely"
12 Voodoo Circle - Broken Heart Syndrome
Voodoo Circle are a bit of a supergroup consisting of Pink Cream 69 vocalist David Readman, Mat Sinner (Sinner, Primal Fear) on bass, and chief songwriter Alex Beyrodt of Silent Force, Sinner, and Primal Fear. The band's first album was a bit of Yngwie Malmsteen worship, but rather enjoyable. This sophomore record sees them mature a lot beyond that, getting into a very 70's-derived hard rock sound - reminiscent of early Whitesnake, Coverdale-era Deep Purple, and bluesy rock of the like. If that sounds appealing to you, definitely check this out.
Featured Track: "Don't Take My Heart Again"