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  #51  
Old 12-14-2012, 04:52 AM
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25. Kotipelto & Liimatainen - Blackoustic

The second and final acoustic album on this list. Singer from Stratovarius and guitarist from Sonata Arctica decided to record some acoustic tracks after playing them live over in Europe. Honestly, I was pretty indifferent upon hearing the news, even though I would certainly give it a spin. The end result is actually quite nice. The acoustic version of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica songs sound great, and the other covers/originals flow very well. Even the Finnish song is well-constructed. Upon hearing the "Black Diamond" rendition, I was honestly astounded at how good it was. The solo sounds so beautiful. This was a nice surprise, and if anybody is a fan of these two bands or just nice acoustic music, this merits attention.

8/10

"Black Diamond" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cmRvlDFprs
I don't know if I could listen to a whole album of this, but I've heard a couple tracks and it sounds pretty good to me.
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  #52  
Old 12-14-2012, 12:05 PM
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22. Christian Älvestam - Self 2.0

The voice and soul behind Scar Symmetry and Solution .45. An incredibly talented vocalist, he has clearly shown his dominance in both clean vocals and growls, and he does each better than most. Given my heavy preference towards clean vocals, I was always hoping he would release an album that relaxed on the 'death' side of things. What I got was even more creative. This album isn't metal, or at least not fully. It's more alternative-ish, with some atmospheric moments here and there. It still retains the style Christian Älvestam usually does, but the music is completely different. There's a sax on two songs, if that says anything. It's not what I expected, and I'm glad about that, because it's better than I would have imagined. This just goes to show his talent as a musician. I give him all the respect in the world. I hope he continues making music like this, along with his traditional path.

"Once Adreamed" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FINsVqb_WsE
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  #53  
Old 12-14-2012, 01:12 PM
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21. Infected Mushroom - Army Of Mushrooms

A very heavy electronic duo from Israel. On this new album, they have expanded upon the rough bass and added some mixes of dubstep and techno, while still maintaining the catchy licks. Their Middle-Eastern influence is a huge turn on for me too, and it translates incredibly well into the music. A great release that sounds consistent and plays well, especially given its hour+ length. Some tracks sounds like they could easily be a part of action movie soundtracks, while others are more club-friendly and just more approachable. Even their cover of "The Pretender" is really good, given they put their own unique spin on it. For anybody wanting good, heavy electronic music, it's right here.

8/10

"The Rat" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBW5u-f2pPw
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:33 PM
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20. Joe Bonamassa - Driving Towards The Daylight

And so begins the Top 20. This one was mentioned a while back when Black Country Communion came up, and here it is. Bonamassa's new album is a solid one, although not as good as last year's Dust Bowl, I must admit. Nevertheless, it's still proof that he churns out powerful blues records effortlessly. From this point on it's so hard to even pick a track to link to, they all have such different ranges of influence. The title track is easily one of my favorites, having a ballad-y uplifting message and having that raw emotion present. The track below is the quintessential blues track; great groove, beautiful leads, and just a rocking package overall. The rest of the album doesn't stray too far from that formula, and I'm not complaining. Give it a chance, I can't imagine strong disdain.

8.5/10

"Dislocated Boy" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HfS9FVDFEE
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  #55  
Old 12-14-2012, 06:07 PM
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19. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata

For the majority of the albums here, the surprise behind them aren't really all that surprising. A better way of putting that is, for example, if a thrash metal band makes a killer thrash metal album, great. If a prog band makes an awesome prog album, you get the picture. Genre classification works, for the most part. Pandora's Pinata is a huge outlier in that sense. I've heard it be called avant-garde, and while it certainly qualifies, it shares barely any characteristics of avant-garde other than the barrage of odd compositions. There's an insane amount of groove on this album, and there are progressive moments as well. Listening to the record from start to finish is the only way to really get an understanding of the newest release from Diablo Swing Orchestra. There's even an electronic drop of sorts on the closing track. I was blown away by how good this album was. Unique metal? Look no further.

8.5/10

"Mass Rapture" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm8m31wdLN8
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  #56  
Old 12-14-2012, 07:25 PM
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18. Rush - Clockwork Angels

An album and band that no one needs an introduction to. Quite frankly, I only listened to this album this month. I was never too into Rush, although I'd been hearing great things about this album ever since it came out so i figured why not. I do love prog, and I'd always considered it strange that Rush never clicked with me on a high enough level. I can happily say this album has gotten me there. What a fantastic album. That's the best way to put it. Geddy Lee's vocals have somehow become better over time. I am completely indifferent to the criticism of that seemingly bold statement, but he really has developed more finesse to his voice in my opinion. Not that the past material is bad. It's great too. But I digress. This album has high caliber prog with catchy, accesible moments that could easily be on mainstream radio. I find myself humming some tunes more often than not, and that could be that it is very fresh to me but I'll take it. If you haven't heard it already, it's never too late, I can attest to that.

8.5/10

"The Wreckers" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bkt51J7VNo
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:50 PM
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17. Teramaze - Anhedonia

Progressive thrash metal. That's the short version. Long version: I found this band as a random on Blabbermouth, and most of those end up being terrible. These guys sound incredibly tight, very crisp and modern sounding, and interesting, very much not like a typical 'unknown' Blabbermouth band. The vocalist reminds me of mix between Annihilator and Breaking Benjamin. Never thought those two would ever correlate in some way, shape or form. The music is very Annihilator-like, but better. Catchy melodies, heavy riffage, great soloing, and a fresh breath of air for the thrash metal genre (not that this strictly conforms to thrash). I'm thoroughly impressed with this band, and I look forward to hearing the rest of their material in the future. This stuff is pretty great.

8.5/10

"Anhedonia" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYZ8bXhWWos
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  #58  
Old 12-14-2012, 08:00 PM
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16. Knife Party - Rage Valley

From the ashes of platinum-selling electronic group Pendulum came Knife Party. More heavier, more dubstep oriented than their parent's drum n' bass roots. Behind Skrillex, these two are easily my #2 in the genre. Incredible musical talent, and much higher quality than their cohorts. Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen clearly understand musical progression, and don't just put out beats: they have licks that mesh perfectly with the aggression of the music, as well as having the pummeling bass that drives the song consistently. After a well-placed buildup comes the crushing drop, only to be taken on this smooth, beautiful synth melody. And the catchiness of each song on this EP goes without saying. Maddeningly infectious. Being that this is only their sophomore release, I can only imagine what time will churn out for these two individuals. This is the highest electronic album on this year's list, so I can say from my experience that if this doesn't tickle someone's fancy, then give up and stick with whatever it is you listen to.

P.S. - Very cool artwork too. A good amount of metal bands don't even get there for me.

9/10

"Rage Valley" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rnw4GzXgXNA
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  #59  
Old 12-15-2012, 06:58 AM
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15. Soundgarden - King Animal

After years and years of silence, Soundgarden have finally come back at it, touring and everything. I am pleased by this, quite pleased. I didn't know what to think of the album upon first listen, but after giving it a few spins, I'd say it's a lot better than when I thought it was going to be. There are some hard rock songs, some more out-there grunge songs, and some interesting tracks with catchy, true-to-form Soundgarden-like uniqueness. I've heard a few bad things about this album, and I can see it if people were wanting another Superunknown. Those days are gone, and for being a decade+ later, this is much better quality than what many of their peers could/can do. Try this one out if you want different rock in you mix.

9/10

"Taree" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBDOORRHM64
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  #60  
Old 12-15-2012, 07:23 AM
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Good calls on Rush / Soundgarden. Also, that mushroom artwork is awesome.
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