6. HammerFall - Infected
While many were disappointed with this, I think I've reached the point where I can enjoy just about anything HammerFall does. If you actually really analyze the music, it's not that different from their previous releases. I have to mention the guitar work of Pontus Norgren as I think he's really stepped up to fill the void left by Stefan Elmgren. He's even better on this release than on No Sacrifice, No Victory. The only major negatives of the album are the confusing tracks "I Refuse" and "Redemption", which I don't really think fit in too well.
Full Review Here: http://www.metal-archives.com/review...1173/Spiner202
Recommended Tracks: The Outlaw
& 666 - The Enemy Within
5. Crimson Shadows - Glory on the Battlefield
I've been waiting for this one since 2008. I'm not sure it's officially been released yet because the release party is in February (although I bought a CD copy, so maybe it has been). For anyone who has never heard this band, they are a Power/Death Metal band, but they are not
Melodic Death Metal. Imagine if Corpsegrinder were singing for Dragonforce, and then there were a couple of sections with clean vocals. If you are looking for something unique in Metal, you have to check out this album, because there's literally nothing to compare it to.
Recommended Tracks: Kingdom of Ale and Journey's End http://crimsonshadows.bandcamp.com/
The full album is only streaming until tomorrow night, but you can still hear Battle Hard in full after New Years Eve.
4. Cauldron - Burning Fortune
Cauldron are yet another band that really stepped it up recently. Their first album was really enjoyable, but I prefer this one a lot more. There are a ton of guitar solos (somewhere between 1 and 3 per song) and the vocals are really melodic. As mediocre as the vocals are, they are somewhat mesmerizing and hypnotic. In fact, I've found the mid-paced songs to be a lot catchier recently. I would give this one a chance to grow on you, because I like it a lot more than when I first got it. I also have to commend them on their choice of "I Confess" as a cover. I wasn't familiar with the original, and for a while, I didn't even recognize this was a cover because it is exactly their style.
Recommended Tracks: Miss You To Death
& Tears Have Come