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  #31  
Old 12-09-2012, 02:20 PM
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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.

7/10

"Carnival of Souls" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBXWk__NrDY
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  #32  
Old 12-10-2012, 06:29 PM
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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.

7/10

"Untouchable Part 2" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0tkGtYpKJ0
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  #33  
Old 12-11-2012, 04:27 PM
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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.

7/10

"Common Man" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK1SQTHMUQo
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  #34  
Old 12-11-2012, 06:34 PM
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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.

7/10

"Heart of the Storm" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZSVVy1ZFD4
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  #35  
Old 12-11-2012, 07:29 PM
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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.

7.5/10

"The Dream Maker" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsr4S0T5t7Y
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  #36  
Old 12-11-2012, 09:16 PM
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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!

7.5/10

"Coming For You" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ST85Sui43Q
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  #37  
Old 12-12-2012, 03:46 PM
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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.

7.5/10

"Keep On Swinging" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyKk-cF7dgI
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  #38  
Old 12-12-2012, 04:29 PM
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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.

7.5/10

"Eternity" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC5T2iFb6xc
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  #39  
Old 12-12-2012, 06:49 PM
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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.

7.5/10

"Santonian Shores" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQo0fMUdiGg
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  #40  
Old 12-12-2012, 07:24 PM
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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.

7.5/10

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