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