2007: A Year in Musical Review (by myself)
Alright, I just posted this on my blog last night, so I wanted to more or less copy and paste it and put it up here for you guys to read. I know only a small few of you believe my opinions are relevant to what you like, but I hope you'll at least take a gander at this list, as I've put a lot of time into making it.
I now present my ranking of all the discs in 2007 which I either purchased (more than half of the list), or burned and considerably familiarized myself with. I apologize for the albums missing (there wound up being about 8 that I still would like to get). I tried to get as a much of this stuff in as I could, but I only have so much time, money, and sanity.
The albums are ranked from 40 to 1, 1 being the highest. This was a very hard list to compile and it's not set in stone. These are my opinions, don't bash. You can disagree, but as I just said, don't get sand in your vagina if you don't like what I have to say.
P.S.: I meant to include an image of each album cover, but apparently we have a 14-picture-per-post limit, and I'm not making 3 different posts to be able to include images. Sorry.
40.Labyrinth - Six Days to Nowhere (52%)
A big dissapointment to say the least. This band used to be an excellent prog/power hybrid, but neither element is very prominent here. The opening track is pretty good, but most of the rest is just bad.
39.Thunderstone - Evolution 4.0 (59%)
Another band which used to be at the forefront of their genre, releasing 3 amazing albums prior to this. A better title for this album would be: "De-evolution 4.0". There are some good tracks, ie "Face in the Mirror", but mostly it just shows how you can take excellent heavy/power metal and destroy it.
38.Magnum - Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow (62%)
Magnum have never been a hip, modern, or "up-to-date" band, but this release in general is just plodding, bordering on boring. Many of the songs clock in around 7 minutes with absolutely no justification for it. Not a completely worthless album though, as songs like "Out of the Shadows" and "When Were Younger" are actually pretty good.
37.Sonata Arctica - Unia (63%)
I hated this album when it came out, but I must say it's grown on me ever-so-slightly. This album features a lot of experimentation. Some of it works, a lot of it doesn't. Despite this album's downfalls, "Paid In Full" is an excellent song, fit for any Sonata release of the past.
36.Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos (67%)
Clocking in just 90 seconds shy of a full-disc, this album's length alone is one of it's biggest negative factors, considering a total of 8 tracks. DT are known for wankery, but with almost every song coming in at 9 minutes or longer, the length doesn't justify the substance. Also, I deduct points for the occasional forrays into Metalli-worship (Constant Motion), and nu-ish tendancies (Dark Eternal Night).
35.Joe Lynn Turner - Second Hand Life (68%)
Considering his age, I should rate this album higher just because of how good JLT's voice still sounds. However, most of the songwriting here is pretty forgetable, and in general this disc just doesn't grab me. The title track is pretty worth a listen though.
34.Machine Men - Circus of Fools (69%)
Another experimentation-gone-wrong in my opinion. This band is far better suited for their Bruce Dickinson-worship of old than this nu-ish new direction they seem to be headed in.
33.Lizzy Borden - Appointment with Death (69%)
Mix attempts to be modern, over-attempts to be "evil", and a generally good sense of classic metal, and this is what you will get.
32.Avantasia - Lost In Space (70%)
I completely saw this one coming. A blind and deaf man could've seen and heard that Tobias Sammet has been wanting to be a pop artist for a couple of years now, and this the result. The title song is basically a version of Edguy's "Superheroes" but with all the heaviness removed. Despite the weaknesses, one cannot fault the pure ownage of "Promised Land", which showcases why Jorn Lande is a vocal god.
31.Jorn - Live in America (72%)
Did someone say Jorn? This live album showcasing his performance at ProgPowerUSA VIII has mediocre sound, but most unfortunately is the set list. When you have done as much great work of your own as Jorn has, you should not be doing a live album that's half covers. It's as simple as that.
30.Emerald Sun - Escape From Twilight (72%)
Two words. Helloween worship. That's really all there is to say. You could play the opening track, "Scream Out Loud" for a die-hard Helloween fan and convince them, production aside, that it was a lost bonus track from the original Keeper of the 7 Keys sessions.
29.WASP - Dominator (73%)
No surprise here, but WASP released a fairly good album which despite a few great songs, in general is just nothing special. They seem to like doing this. Props to "The Burning Man", "Long Long Way to Go", and "Take Me Up". You can skip the rest.
28.Axel Rudi Pell - Diamonds Unlocked (73%)
Covers albums have never fared well with me, but this I must say is a stray exception. ARP and co. manage to actually take a fairly average set of songs (many of which are not metal) and turn them into excellent tracks, which sound perfect for the ARP dynamic. My hat is off to the nearly 9-minute version of "In the Air Tonight".
27.Twisted Tower Dire - Netherworlds (74%)
TTD's last album was a tour-de-force in the potential of US Power Metal. Though this album falls a bit short of that, I must commend it, for it offers several excellent tracks. Only real complaint is that (now ex-) vocalist Tony Taylor sounds very weak for some reason.
26.Ride the Sky - New Protection (75%)
Uli Kusch apparently left Masterplan to form a band which is basically: Masterplan + 7 String guitars + Weaker Vocalist. This disc overall is pretty good, but falls short of being anything to write home about.
25.Saxon - The Inner Sanctum (75%)
28 years since their first album, and Saxon are still managing to release quality albums with a handful of great tracks. "Red Star Falling" and "If I Was You" offer up great new and succesful directions for the band, while "State of Grace" offers a modern update on the traditional Saxon sound of old.
24.Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon (76%)
Despite the general opinion that this album blows, I must disagree... though this is hardly a masterwork. I don't really care what anyone says, this album is hardly an embarrassment to IE, and overall offers up their traditional killer-to-filler ratio. If anything, I actually find this album to be more consistant than many IE albums of the past. Regardless of opinion, I can't stop singing the chorus of "Ten Thousand Strong".
23.Kotipelto - Serenity (76%)
Timo Kotipelto without Stratovarius will always leave me feeling like something is missing, but I must say, this album is better than Kotipelto's last effort, "Coldness". Despite not having any songs I love, I can't say I don't like any song on this album. A pretty satisfying and consistent listen.
22.Messiah's Kiss - Dragonheart (77%)
This is the kind of style that usually either completely works or completely fails, but oddly here it produces a generally good but un-amazing album. Vocalist Mike Terrelli shows why his pipes are a very good fit for Riot throughout the disc, but at many times the song arrangements tend to be very paint-by-numbers.
21.Icarus Witch - Songs For the Lost (78%)
Icarus Witch now offers up their sophomore effort, which is pretty much in the same vein as their debut. Overall the disc is about the equal quality of it's predecessor, meaning it has it's clear strengths and weaknessed. The Def Leppard cover with Joe Lynn Turner is superb, and "Out For Blood" is a killer opening track.
20.Excalion - Waterlines (78%)
Excalion are generally a new band, but in my mind they've already joined their Finnish brethren (ie Stratovarius, Nightwish, Twilightning, etc) with this release of quality melodic power metal. The opening trilogy of tracks here is pretty hard to follow, but in general this is a very solid disc, worth checking out if you're a fan of the bands I just mentioned.
19.Sinner - Mask of Sanity (79%)
Mat Sinner pumps out yet another Sinner disc, this one offering a bit of a return to his classic rock, Thin Lizzy-esque roots, with only a few exceptions, such as "Thunder Roar", featuring Brainstorm-vocalist Andy B. Frank. I have to be in the right mood for this disc but when I am, I love it, and there's not a weak track to be found here.
18.At Vance - VII (79%)
At Vance have now released more than a half-dozen quality albums, but as was the case were their previous album, "VII" seems to be lacking a bit of identity. Incredibly, Olaf Lenk pulled another excellent vocalist out of the bag. Unfortunately he apparently was so enthralled that he forgot to write quality songs. There's no bad tracks on here, but this album is lacking the drive and inspiration of past efforts like Only Human or The Evil In You
17.Black Majesty - Tomorrowland (81%)
These Australian metal kings now offer a third disc, which follows very much in the vein of its two predecessors... meaning excellent melodic/progressive power metal. Their singer still manages to occasionally annoy me by meandering into weak/high falsetto, but I'll hardly fault and otherwise superb disc for that.
16.Primal Fear - New Religion (82%)
Primal Fear released what will probably be their career masterpiece, "Seven Seals" in 2005, so a dissapointment was inevitable. Not that this disc is bad. Half of these tracks are excellent. In other words, what I'm saying is: "This is about the quality of any Primal Fear album that isn't Seven Seals". Unfortunately it also seems as though the exit of guitarist Tom Nauman led the band down a less dual-guitar sound, which hurts the disc overall.
15.Symphony X - Paradise Lost (82%)
After a long hiatus, Symphony X delivers the follow-up to "The Odyssey". Though this disc offers some excellent tracks, including the title track, which is among the best songs this band has ever done, I feel this disc is a dissapointment. The band seems to playing up the repetative nu-ish riff-aspect of their sound and down-playing the excellent keyboard atmospheric side of the sound to their past masterpieces. Also, it doesn't help that apparently they thought it would be a good idea for Russell Allen, the man with what I feel is metal's best voice, to growl.
14.Silent Force - Walk the Earth (83%)
DC Cooper sounds excellent, the songs are well written and well performed, and there are a total of 12 tracks showcasing various dynamics of the band's sound. These aspects accounted for, it's hard to imagine how this disc could not succeed.
13.Nocturnal Rites - The 8th Sin (85%)
Nocturnal Rites have long-been one of power metal's best and most underated bands. Their previous effort, "Grand Illusion" was a career high for them in my eyes, and while this disc is anything but bad, it lacks the personality of albums like the aforementioned and "Shadowland". The songs are very catchy, which is something I've always loved, but I feel at times the band might be getting too caught up in commerciality.
12.Eden's Curse - s/t (87%)
This brand new band has given us a very strong and memorable debut album. Not a single one of these songs is weak, and as usual when Dennis Ward is involved, there is an obvious trace of Pink Cream 69's signature sound on this disc, which is one of the year's highlights in melodic metal.
11.Astral Doors - New Revelations (87%)
Astral Doors had two choices: Either they mature and leave their Dio-worshipping roots behind them, or be doomed to mediocrity. Luckily they chose the evolution path, which shows them taking more chances than in the past, and vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson expanding his vocal horizons (see: Bastard Son). This disc really surprised me, and gives me hope that this band could continue to mature into something great in the years to come.
10.Steve Grimmet Band - Personal Crisis (88%)
Spealing of evolution, Steve Grimmet is back, and better than ever. Not a knock on Grim Reaper, but Steve's closed that chapter of his book and now offers this disc, which renewed all the faith I ever had in him as a vocalist. These songs are strong and memorable, and Steve sings his ass off, in a good way.
9.Allen/Lande - the Revenge (88%)
The only reason this album didn't rank higher is because it followed 2005's "The Battle", and not the other way arround. This disc almost exactly the same caliber, but unfortunately sticking to the exact formula makes me deduct some points. This is basically The Battle: Rewritten. Which means though it's not highly original, it's still an excellent example of the best in melodic metal.
8.Pink Cream 69 - In10sity (89%)
Pop metal never sounded so good. Somehow, Dennis Ward and the boys manage to yet again more or less cross classic Def Leppard with power metal and come up with amazing results. This disc has some of the catchiest choruses I've ever heard.
7.Bloodbound - Book of the Dead (89%)
People who hated Bloodbound's debut for being too "unoriginal" or "generic" will likely hate this album for the same exact reason. But for those of us who appreciate old school metal redone with a melodic power metal flavor, this album plays on all the strengths of it's predecessor, and actually manages to diversify a bit. New vocalist Michael Bormann fits the spot quite well.
6.Lord - Ascendance (90%)
From the ashes of the magnificent Dungeon comes LORD, which picks up just where Dungeon left off. Thus, we have a disc full of incredible metal tunes... spanning from melodic metal, to power metal, to thrash. "Lord" Tim and co. offer a great disc which will please any fan of the sadly demised Dungeon.
5.Gamma Ray - Land of the Free Pt. II (90%)
Remember the Gamma Ray sound of the mid-to-late 90s? Well, it's back in full form. After the somewhat lackluster Majestic, the band have bounced back with an excellent return to form, which offers some of the best songs this band has done to date in my opinion. The final track, "Insurrection", clocking in at nearly 12 minutes, is an incredible reminder that there is still life in traditional power metal.
4.Rob Rock - Garden of Chaos (91%)
Following in the vein of "Holy Hell", Rob Rock gives us another disc of quality "christian" metal which does not dissapoint. Though the second half of this disc is stronger, the whole thing rules, and proves once again that: Roy Z + Rob Rock = Great. Every time.
3.Vanishing Point - the Fourth Season (91%)
Australia's Vanishing Point have now cemented their spot as one of the best and most original bands in modern metal. Just as with their previous efforts, "The Fourth Season" reminds us what melodic/progressive metal is meant to be. Emotional, Deep, Thoughtful, and Powerful. I can't fault this disc at all.
2.Redemption - The Origins of Ruin (92%)
You'd never believe it, but apparently this singer is the same guy who sang on Fates Warning's No Exit album. Yep, it's Ray Alder. 20 Years after coming onto the scene, Ray delivers his most passionate vocal performance to date on this disc, which perfectly combines the emotional aspect I love about well-written music and the best kind of progressive metal in my opinion. All 9 of these tracks are excellent, and this album was without a doubt one of the most heavily rotated of the entire year for me.
1.Masterplan - MKII (92%)
Yep, this is it. Amazing isn't it? Masterplan lost Jorn Lande and Uli Kusch and somehow managed to claim my 1 spot again. The massive factor present here is the inclusion of now ex-Riot vocalist Mike Dimeo, which is probably the best replacement for Jorn this band could've gotten shy of Russell Allen. Mike brings his all on this disc, as does Roland Grapow - mainly in the writing department. I can't say I don't like a single one of these tracks, and every time I strike up the intro to "Warrior's Cry", I feel like there's nothing better than this. With now 3 amazing albums under their belt, Masterplan have earned their spot as one of the best bands around, and if they keep Dimeo on vocals and keep releasing albums of this quality, that's not going to change.
I thank the readers that took their time to browse through this and maybe even read all of it. If you thought it was long for you, imagine listening to all 40 of these discs over and over again, and for the weaker ones, just listening for the sake of being able to write intelligent criticism. It's been a long journey, but as always, I'm happy I did it. I get an immense satisfaction out of doing this kind of thing, even if I know only a few stray people will take the time to appreciate it.
Feel free to post your comments on my list, but as mentioned at the very beginning: Do NOT bash. I'm not made of time and money, so I'm sorry if you feel I'm missing something I should've ranked on here.
Last edited by Maiden33; 01-04-2008 at 06:35 AM.
Lol, apart from Thunderstone all the power metal albums I slated this year for being generic and boring are in your top 20!
Just an observation
Lots in there that I need to get though. Ones I know I'll like but for whatever reason (usually shit distribution companies in the UK) weren't sent them.
I can't be bothered to write a little bit about each album because I've written all I care to about most of them already, but lovin' the top 40 countdown idea, so here goes:
40 U.D.O. - Mastercutor review
39 Mustasch - Latest Version of The Truth review
38 Hellfueled - Memories In Black review
37 Comes With The Fall - Beyond The Last Light review
36 Agent Steel - Alienigma review
35 Nightwish - Dark Passion Play review
34 Down - Over The Under
33 Chris Cornell - Carry On
32 Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain
31 The Cult - Born Into This
30 Therion - Gothic Kabbalah review
29 Abandoned - Thrash You! review
28 Every Time I Die - The Big Dirty review
27 Razor Ball - Razor Ball review
26 Clawfinger - Life Will Kill You review
25 Overkill - Immortalis review
24 Echoes of Eternity - The Forgotten Goddess review
23 Wolfpack Unleashed - Anthems of Resistance review
22 W.A.S.P. - Dominator
21 Ricky Warwick - Love Owes review
20 Candlemass - King of The Grey Islands review
19 Threshold - Dead Reckoning review
18 Mindflow - Mind Over Body review
17 Symphorce - Become Death review
16 Mystic Prophecy - Satanic Curses review
15 Three - The End is Begun review
14 Deadsoul Tribe - A Lullaby For The Devil review
13 Tarsha - Prophecies review
12 Tristania - Illumination review
11 Primordial - To The Nameless Dead review
10 McQueen - Break The Silence review
9 Hellyeah - Hellyeah review
8 Symphony X - Paradise Lost review
7 Lions Share - Emotional Coma
6 House of Games - Rise And Shine review
5 Volbeat - Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil review
4 Wall of Sleep - …And Hell Followed With Him
3 Emigrate - Emigrate review
2 Nation Beyond - The Aftermath Odyssey
1 Sixx:A.M. - The Herion Diaries review
27/4 Dan Patlansky
3/5 Maiden United
7/5 One Machine
8/5 Blaze Bayley
Last edited by ravenheart; 01-04-2008 at 07:38 AM.
After reading this thread, I'm gonna listen to nothing but rap this year so you people can ask "How can you listen to so much rap and not commit homicide?"
You know its true, bunny rabbits we have got lovely little fluffy bottoms. We do. That's why people often mistake us for Danny Devito.