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  #21  
Old 11-29-2012, 11:24 AM
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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

5.5/10
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  #22  
Old 12-02-2012, 02:15 PM
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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

6/10
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  #23  
Old 12-02-2012, 03:38 PM
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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

6/10
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  #24  
Old 12-02-2012, 11:21 PM
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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

6/10
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  #25  
Old 12-04-2012, 08:30 PM
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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

6/10
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  #26  
Old 12-05-2012, 07:50 PM
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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

6/10
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  #27  
Old 12-06-2012, 12:12 PM
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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

6/10
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  #28  
Old 12-06-2012, 02:26 PM
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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.

6.5/10

"The Whispers Never Written" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lYIZz5Gleo
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  #29  
Old 12-08-2012, 03:46 PM
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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.

6.5/10

"Upside Down" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur_gT1q4Wx8
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  #30  
Old 12-09-2012, 01:39 AM
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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.

6.5/10

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