Another year of solid releases is behind us. The consistency in release quality is still very evident as it has been for quite some time now. It once again is hard to just narrow things down a bit as I feel most of what I heard this year was very good. We did narrow down to some highlights of the year. It's just our personal taste and not all inclusive obviously. Once again it is broken down into two different categories including album of the year and melodic album of the year. The styles that we mainly focus on are traditional metal, melodic rock, and a dose of more modern edged rock as well. My personal experience with listening dates back to the former two.
For the year as a whole, I feel good about where things are. There were definitely times in the past where music was a bit unfocused, but as a whole, I think musicians are comfortable and write music with their strengths. I see this trend continuing as the mentality of a decade and a half ago seems to be gone for now.
The concern I personally have currently is related to the streaming of music. The industry is definitely going that direction and I do not find that a positive development. Too many bad stories of musicians not reaping the rewards of their labor. This needs to be fixed. It also bothers me to see 'true' ownership in danger of not being there any more. If it all goes streaming and physical media disappears, you will lose control of content. My advice is to go buy that physical medium whether it be compact disc, vinyl or whatever. This is an important way to support your favorite artists and ensure you can listen to it whenever you would like to.
With all of that being said, let's get on to the music releases!
Top 10 Albums of the Year
Album of the year ~ The Dark Element-The Dark Element (Frontiers Records)
It just sunk its teeth in and never let go. Great to see Anette Olzon in the metal community again. Quite a bit of variety to it and no filler to be found. Comparisons were drawn to Nightwish for good reason. Very solid effort and I hope this group continues!
2 ~ Threshold-Legends of the Shires (Metalville)
Absolutely superb progressive rock release. Has edge when needed and an amazing finesse in other areas. Just a great album to kick back and take in without the need to skip anything.
3 ~ H.E.A.T.-Into the Great Unknown (Gain)
This album could qualify in either category but ended up in the top 10. Great record with a bit of both ends of the spectrum and a little experimentation in sound. Just ended up enjoying it a heck of a lot!
4 ~ Eclipse-Monumentum (Frontiers)
I dig this band a lot. Another great release with some good rockers and a great deal of melodic feel mixed in. This band always gets it done by giving the total package of great songwriting and musicianship.
5 ~ Sons of Apollo-Psychotic Symphony (Inside Out)
Very talented supergroup of musicians. Definitely progressive in nature and as a whole this band has quite a bit of chemistry. This one almost slipped under the radar, but I caught it luckily and it made my 2017 list. Good heavy release!
6 ~ Kobra and the Lotus-Prevail I (Napalm)
Female fronted power metal band that I discovered in 2017. Maybe late to the party, but after seeing the two video tracks for ' You Don't Know' and 'Light Me Up' I became a fan. I love the energy this album brings and will be keeping an eye on this band!
7 ~ Alice Cooper-Paranormal (Ear Music)
One of my all time favorite artists. This record to me has a very cool groove to it. Sometimes it sounds vintage which isn't hard to do when original members are involved, but it just hit all of the right buttons for me. Great album from the shock legend!
8 ~ Steelheart-Through Worlds of Stardust (Frontiers0
Another album that could have made either list. Enough heavy stuff to put it here. Very good mix of heavy and lighter tones. I found myself going back to this album over and over again after its release. A bit different from the earlier stuff, but very cool!
9 ~ Emil Bulls-Kill Your Demons (AFM)
Had not gotten into this band until 'XX'. This one was back to the heavier side and for some reason it just struck a cord with me. I have warmed up a bit to more modern energy in music and these guys deliver it in spades. Very cool and heavy release!
10 ~ Nothing More-The Stories We Tell Ourselves (Better Noise)
A definite evolving from the last release. I like this modern band a lot. They have really gotten traction and I saw it coming with their self titled release. Definitely for modern heavy rock fans, but this one is a lot of fun and a regular in my rotation!
Top 5 Melodic Rock Releases
Melodic Rock Album of the Year ~ One Desire-One Desire (Frontiers)
Very hard to pick the top spot in this category this year. I went with One Desire as this was the release that I went back to the most through the year. Also the release I bought the most for gifts. Love everything about these guys. Hoping for more music soon!
2 ~ Harem Scarem-United (Frontiers)
This album ended up in my player a lot as well. Been a big fan of the band for a long time now and thought they hit it out of the park with this release. There is a definite edge, but this band always leads with their melodic sound. Great record!
3 ~ degreed-degreed (Gain)
This release came later in the year but still had its impact. Good melodic rock with some cool energy. I would love to see this release broaden the bands audience as I think they could have a great impact on the genre. Oh and it's not capitalized on purpose.
4 ~ Revolution Saints-Light in the Dark (Frontiers)
This album seemed to come in under the radar, maybe it was just me. Very good second release by another supergroup of musicians. Good rockers and great melodic tunes. This will have appeal to fans of AOR and rock alike. Solid!
5 ~ The Nights-The Nights (Frontiers)
'Welcome to the Show' caught me immediately with this band. Had to have it. Loved the melodic sounds and tempo changes to heavy. Mostly, this band is melodic and sounds fairly unique to me. Enjoyed it a lot and listened to it plenty in 2017!
There you have it! Opinions will obviously vary, but that's my list and I'm holding to it. With the new year here, let's get out there and support our artists by buying compact disc or vinyl and catch some shows. A lot of effort is put into the music and it's worth rewarding these bands for it.
Have a great 2018 and we'll do it again at the end of the year!