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The Staff's Top Picks of 2007

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(Click on each writer's name below to go directly to his list.)

Pete Pardo
Mike Popke
Duncan Glenday
Murat Batmaz
Ken Pierce
Butch Jones
Elias Granillo
Hugh Dark
Ken Sanford
Kerry Leimer
Mike Blackburn
Richard Barnes
Ryan Sparks
Scott Borre
Summarized List Of The Top 50 CDs, From All Of The SoT Staff

PETE PARDO's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

The Top 50 CD's of 2007

  • Symphony X-Paradise Lost (hands down the CD I went back to the most this year!)
  • Epica-The Divine Conspiracy (stunning stuff, opened my eyes to the whole symphonic female fronted prog/power metal genre)
  • Dimmu Borgir-In Sorte Diabolo (the first half of 2007 had me constantly playing this grandiose & heavy thing)
  • Down-Down III-Over the Under (heart wrenching, heavy masterpiece)
  • Between the Buried & Me-Colors (pure genius, a band that keeps getting better)
  • Nile-Ithyphallic (this is what you call marvelous technical death metal)
  • Magic Pie-Circus of Life (wonderfully melodic and tasty prog)
  • Pathosray-Pathosray (THE debut of the year, and a band that could be huge very quickly)
  • Dream Theater-Systematic Chaos (the prog metal veterans are back on track)
  • Arch Enemy-March of the Tyrant (heavier than the previous CD, but still so melodic)
  • Black Bonzo-Sounds of the Apocalypse (great 70's sounds but starting to add in a modern touch)
  • Amorphis-Silent Waters (melodic, heavy, with a touch of goth, folk, and prog)
  • Dark Tranquility-Fiction (these veteran Swede's can seemingly do no wrong)
  • Wolves in the Throne Room-Two Hunters (progressive US black metal at its best)
  • KBB-Proof of Concept (jaw dropping Japanese fusion-these guys kill time and time again)
  • Nightwish-Dark Passion Play (Tarja who? Awesome stuff!)
  • Beneath the Massacre-Mechanics of Dysfunction (one of the most technical & brutal metal albums of the year!)
  • Behemoth-The Apostasy (Polish juggernauts return with a very satisfying platter of technical death metal)
  • Pagan's Mind-God's Equation (one of the strongest prog metal albums of the year)
  • Echoes of Eternity-The Forgotten Goddess (another great debut this year, and a band that could be big in no time)
  • Riverside-Rapid Eye Movement (Polish prog stalwarts once again produce a winner)
  • Megadeth-United Abominations (THE comeback of the year, hands down)
  • Rush-Snakes & Arrows (proving yet again how classic these guys are)
  • Starcastle-Song of Times (triumphant return of US prog legends!)
  • Threshold-Dead Reckoning (their strongest album in years)
  • Marduk-Rom 5:12 (crushing black metal from the punishing Swede's)
  • Porcupine Tree-Fear of a Blank Planet (mixes the old and new sounds quite well)
  • Circus Maximus-Isolate (melodic prog-metal, oh so memorable)
  • Exodus-The Atrocity Exhibition (thrash legends show they still have plenty left)
  • Primordial-To the Nameless Dead (late 2007 entry for these Irish pagan/Celtic black metallers is stunning stuff)
  • Sun Caged-Artemisia (extremely solid Swedish progressive metal)
  • Immolation-Shadows in the Light (US death metal juggernauts again fire on all cylinders)
  • Nightingale-White Darkness (Dan Swano & Co. return with a wonderful melodic prog album)
  • Nahemah-A Second Philosophy (one of the most varied, and certainly progressive, metal albums of the year)
  • After Forever-After Forever (this latest has gotten me hooked on this band)
  • Devin Townsend-Ziltoid the Omniscient (more insane stuff from the evil professor)
  • Glass Hammer-Culture of Ascent (another winner from these US prog veterans)
  • Cathedral-The Bridge (70's underground US prog legends return)
  • Dillinger Escape Plan-Ire Works (getting closer to the mainstream)
  • Holding Pattern-Breaking the Silence (another US prog legend returns big)
  • Oblivion Sun-Oblivion Sun (Happy the Man members re-appear and once again deliver stunning prog & fusion)
  • Blotted Science-The Machinations of Dementia (zany instrumental progressive metal from 3 virtuoso musicians-technical as all hell!)
  • Melechesh-Emissaries (this one started 2007 off with a bang!)
  • Thought Chamber-Angular Perceptions (more solid prog metal)
  • Chthonic-Seediq Bale (Taiwan's answer to Dimmu Borgir churn out a real winner)
  • 3 Inches of Blood-Fire Up the Blades (80's thrash meets modern extreme-great stuff!)
  • November's Doom-The Novella Reservoir (more progressive, even heavier)
  • Mayhem-Ordo Ad Chao (strong return from these legendary Norwegian black metal legends)
  • Machine Head-The Blackening (their best album in years!)
  • Aeon-Rise to Dominate (Europe's answer to Deicide strike big again)

A Very Lengthy Honorable Mentions List :

  • Saga-10,000 Days
  • Lana Lane-Red Planet Boulevard
  • Firewind-Allegiance
  • The Red Chord-Prey For Eyes
  • HIM-Venus Doom
  • Witchcraft-The Alchemist
  • Kategory V-Hymns of Dissension
  • Heart of Sun-Heart of Sun
  • The Autumn Offering-Fear Will Cast No Shadow
  • Within Temptation-The Heart of Everything
  • Soilwork-Sworn to the Great Divide
  • Galleon-Engines of Creation
  • Coheed and Cambria-No World For Tomorrow
  • Behold the Arctopus-Skullgrid
  • Be'lakor-The Frail Tide
  • SGM-In Glorious Times
  • Therion-Gothic Kabbalah
  • Trail of Tears-Existentia
  • Dominici-O3 A Trilogy-Part 2
  • Daath-The Hinderers
  • Swallow the Sun-Hope
  • The End-Elementary
  • Naglfar-Harvest
  • Infidel-I, Oathbreaker
  • Puppet Show-The Tale of Woe
  • Daryl Stuermer-Go
  • Finntroll-Ur Jordens Djup
  • Redemption-The Origins of Ruin
  • Alan Morse 4 O'Clock and Hysteria
  • Magnum-Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow
  • Moonlight Comedy-Dorothy
  • Neal Morse-Sola Scripta
  • Planet X-Quantum
  • Beardfish-Sleeping in Traffic
  • The Watch-Primitive
  • Memfis-The Wind Up
  • John Macaluso & Union Radio-The Radio Waves Goodbye
  • Candlemass-King of the Grey Islands
  • Angel Corpse-Of Lucifer and Lightning
  • Akercocke-Antichrist
  • Kosmos-Kosmos
  • Obituary-Xecutioner's Return
  • Watain-Sworn to the Dark
  • Solitude Aeturnus-Alone
  • Kamelot-Ghost Opera
  • Blinded By Faith-Weapons of Mass Distraction
  • Phideaux-Doomsday Afternoon
  • Iced Earth-Framing Armageddon
  • Metaphor-The Sparrow
  • Sear Bliss-The Arcane Odyssey
  • Black Dahlia Murder-Nocturnal
  • Cephalic Carnage-Xenosapien
  • Little Atlas-Hollow
  • Soniq Circus-Soniq Circus
  • Vesania-Distraction Killusions
  • Amaran's Plight-Voice in the Light
Top Live Albums :
  • Opeth-The Roundhouse Tapes
  • Heaven & Hell-Live at Radio City Music Hall
  • Fromuz-Audio Diplomacy
  • Frogg Caf√©-The Safenzee Diaries
  • Spaced Out-Live at the Crescendo Festival
  • Hamadryad-Live in France 2006
  • Wicked Minds-Live at Burg Hurzberg Festival 2006
  • Jethro Tull-Live at Montreux 2003
  • Arti & Mestieri-First Live in Japan
  • Katatonia-Live Consternation
  • Frank Zappa-Imaginary Diseases
  • King Crimson-The Collectible KC Vol 1
  • King Crimson-The Collectible KC Vol 2
  • Praxis-Tennessee 2004
  • Helloween-Keeper of the Seven Keys-The Legacy World Tour 2005/2006
  • Mahavishnu Project-Return to the Emerald Beyond
  • Motorhead-Better Motorhead Than Death-Live at Hammersmith
  • Paul Rodgers-Live in Glasgow


Best Concerts :

  • Immortal at BB Kings
  • Heaven and Hell at Radio City Music Hall
  • Symphony X at The Chance
  • ROSFEST 2007
  • Dimmu Borgir at Nokia Theater
  • Genesis at Giants Stadium
  • Emperor at BB Kings
  • Mastodon at Starland Ballroom
  • Katatonia, Sonic Syndicate, Swallow the Sun, and Insomnium at BB Kings
  • Nile, Chthonic, & Daath at The Chance
  • The Police at Giants Stadium
  • Dark Tranquility, The Haunted, Into Eternity, and Scar Symmetry at Toad's Place
  • Behemoth, Job For a Cowboy, and Beneath the Massacre at Irving Plaza
  • Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Devildriver, and Soilwork at Hammerstein Ballroom

    MIKE POPKE's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    CDs (New Releases, in no particular order) :

    • Neal Morse: Sola Scriptura -- The man's music never ceases to blow my mind; this is his most ambitious effort yet.
    • Rush: Snakes & Arrows -- Better than anyone could have hoped for, really.
    • Therion: Gothic Kabbalah -- Despite this album's nebulous themes and elaborate but convoluted arrangements, it is arguably Therion's most accessible record.
    • Pathosray: Pathosray -- Italian newcomers meld technical finesse, melodic sensibilities and razor's-edge execution into a sound influenced equally by Symphony X and TNT; in a perfect metal universe, this band would be huge.
    • Symphony X: Paradise Lost -- Almost worth the five-year wait...
    • Far Corner: Endangered -- A captivating and accessible exploration of modern-music's outer edges; classical chamber music meets improvised avant-prog.
    • Iced Earth: Framing Armageddon-Something Wicked (Part 1) -- Despite the overlong title, this album picks up where The Glorious Burden left off. And here I thought Tim Owens and John Schaffer had forged the perfect partnership; guess not.
    • Mob Rules: Ethnolution A.D. -- Smart and majestic German metal that sounds like Queensryche in its prime and Iron Maiden at its most progressive.
    • Bruce Springsteen: Magic -- The Boss proves some rock stars actually do get better with age; his best overall record since the Eighties.
    • Pat Dinizio: Pat Dinizio -- I'm a sucker for anything Smithereens-related, and this perfect pop-rock album mesmerizes me.

    CDs (Reissues / Live, in no particular order) :

    • Genesis: 1976-1982 and 1983-1998 -- These handsome box sets chronicle the band's rise and fall in the post-Peter Gabriel era, complete with 5.1 Surround Sound mixes and abundant video footage; can't wait for Rhino to tackle the Gabriel years next.
    • Rocket Scientists: Looking Backward -- I'm still eagerly anticipating this one, which contains three earlier album gems, newly recorded tracks and performance footage.
    • Various Artists: The Heavy Metal Box -- Obviously not all-inclusive, but nice to see metal in the mainstream again
    • The Flower Kings: The Road Back Home -- A non-intimidating, epic-free introduction for newbies and still a neat compilation for the rest of us.
    • Opeth: The Roundhouse Tapes -- I'm really starting to dig this band, death-metal grunts and all; this live collection offers a fantastic career overview.
    • Umphrey's McGee: Live at The Murat -- A jam band for music fans who don't like jam bands (and for almost any fun-loving proghead).
    • The Marshall Tucker Band: Carolina Dreams Tour '77 -- Rare vintage concert captured on two CDs and one DVD featuring the original lineup; all these years later, I just can't get enough of these guys.
    • U2: The Joshua Tree Limited Edition -- Buy the extravagant version if only for the live DVD filmed back in the day.
    • Pearl Jam: Live at The Gorge -- Seven CDs worth of reasons why this band has survived when all of its former peers have not.
    • Bob Dylan: Dylan -- Sure, most of this stuff has all been released many times over, but this three-disc set provides an impressively broad picture for both beginning Dylan-ologists and collectors. (I fall somewhere in the middle.)

    DVDs (in no particular order) :

    • Friday Night Lights: The Complete First Season -- One of the finest television shows ever; believe the hype and tune in to save this ratings-starved drama.
    • Queensryche: Mindcrime at the Moore -- The much-need revitalization of a vital band.x
    • Kiss: Kissology -- Collectively, this nine-disc trilogy (plus bonus discs) stands as a monumental piece of rock history that even casual fans should consider essential viewing.
    • The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show -- Of all the archival Johnny Cash material released following his 2003 death, this two-DVD collection of footage from Cash's seminal television show ranks among the most significant.
    • Saturday Night Live: The Complete Second Season -- Worth the price for the musical performances alone. George Harrison? Frank Zappa? The Kinks? Oh, yeah.

    DUNCAN GLENDAY's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    My top 25 for 2007 (Note - these are in very rough order of priority. Tomorrow, the sequence could be reversed) :

    • Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - In Glorious Times
    • Big Big Train - The Difference Machine
    • Fromuz - Audio Diplomacy
    • Magic Pie - Circus of Life
    • Speechless - Time Out Of Mind
    • Anekdoten - A Time Of day
    • Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon
    • Winds - Prominence And Demise
    • Satellite - Into The Night
    • Symphony X - Paradise Lost
    • Pain Of Salvation - Scarsick
    • Roz Vitalis - Compassionizer
    • Obivion Sun - Obivion Sun
    • Amaran's Plight - Voice In The Light
    • Lana Lane - Red Planet Boulevard
    • Deadsoul Tribe - The Dead Word
    • Bj√∂rk - Volta
    • Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura
    • Little Atlas - Hollow
    • Trettioariga Kriget - I Borjan Och Slutet
    • Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement
    • Sigh - Hangman's Hymn
    • Black Bonzo - Sounds Of The Apocalypse
    • Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet
    • Dial - Synchronized

    MURAT BATMAZ's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    Best of 2007 Picks for Murat Batmaz in no particular order :

    • Nightingale - White Darkness
    • Sieges Even - Paramount
    • The Rebel Wheel - Diagramma
    • Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement
    • Mind's Eye - A Gentleman's Hurricane
    • Abigail's Ghost - Selling Insincerity
    • Devin Townsend - Ziltoid the Omniscient
    • John Macaluso & Union Radio - The Radio Waves Goodbye
    • Threshold - Dead Reckoning
    • Sun Caged - Artemisia
    • Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet
    • Thought Chamber - Angular Perceptions
    • Ulver - Shadows of the Sun
    • Novembre - The Blue
    • Pathosray - Pathosray

    KEN PIERCE's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    Best CD's of 2007 :
    • Epica - The Divine Conspiracy - So the singer you have heard on some Kamelot stuff and her band have delivered their third release, a magnum opus that is meatier than beef stew when it comes to satisying content.
    • Kamelot - Ghost Opera - If you wondered how the guys could top "The Black Halo", then pick up a copy of this one.
    • After Forever - After Forever - You''ve heard her in Ayreon stuff for years now the larger populace can enjoy
    • Daath - The Hinderers - Crushing, thunderous, topical.
    • Nightwish - Dark Passion Play - Tarja who? The band is back and on fire with new singer Annette Olzon, "Bye Bye Beautiful" indeed, "Hello Beautiful" as well.....
    • Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos - New DT was quite satisfying.
    • Within Temptation - The Heart Of Everything - a long awaited US debut from Dutch Gothic Metal superstars is loaded with catchy numbers and sure to make them more of a household name.
    • Symphony X - Paradise Lost - With this new CD they are firm and strong and no longer anyones opening band. Welcome to the big leagues guys, your journey was hard and long but now you are rewarded.
    • Moonspell - Under Satanae - Go forward with me back in time for the re-recorded early Moonspell music that shows us the bands roots in a brighter or shall I say "darker" productive light.
    • Helloween - Gambling With The Devil - Heavy and fast moving, a record that made me realize Helloween was aiming to take back their once held position as a super power of Power Metal.
    • Ensiferum - Victory Songs - I felt like pillaging after this one.
    • Dimmu Borgir-In Sorte Diaboli
    • Behemoth-The Apostasy
    • Melechesh-Emissaries

    Best DVD:

    • Heaven And Hell - Live At Radio City
    • KISS - Kissology 2 & 3
    • Metalocalypse - Season 1
    • Nightwish - The End Of An Era
    • Queensryche - Mindcrime At The Moore

    Best Concerts:

    • Ozzfest 2007 - the first and possibly last free Ozzfest was by far the heaviest in the tours history and gave the likes of Behemoth, Chthonic and Nile the chance to shine. Add the might of Lamb Of God to the hits of Ozzy and you know this was worth the time.
    • Dimmu Borgir at Nokia Theatre - Hail to the Dark Lords of Norwegian Black Metal. They returned to NYC like conquering kings and there is little more I can humbly say.
    • Nightwish at Nokia Theatre - the return of the band that opened the door for many who followed. New singer, new material, new energy.
    • Kamelot and Leaves Eyes at BB King Blues Club - love the Kamelot dudes and the music they make. A continually satisfying and energetic concert experience. Welcome to the new order of things.
    • The 69 Eyes and Wednesday 13 at Blender Theatre - a Finnish band that owes much to early NYC punk has
    • Heaven And Hell at Radio City Music Hall - can you say historic? Dont believe me, buy the DVD and see for yourself.
    • Megadeth at The Fillmore NY - a small club for a band like Megadeth is always a treat. New lineup is locked in and exciting.
    • Epica w/Visions Of Atlantis at Highline Ballroom - Epica is one of the most powerful and promising in the Symphonic Metal genre. This show proved it. It was also the first and last appearance of the lineup of VOA in the states.
    • Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Izod Center - OK it was mostly the same show from previous years but this year the special guest at my show was Roger Daltry of the Who, it doesnt get better than that.
    • Van Halen at Madison Square Garden - Let's see, Dave Lee Roth is back in Van Halen and touring. The show I have prayed to happen for two decades. Thank you guys for figuring out that this was for the fans more than about squabbling.

    Drech of 2007:

    • Marillion - Somewhere Else - Listeners were advised to buy something else instead of this disappointing release from the once prolific Progressive Rock outfit.
    • Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain - Ozzy sings about his being here for us and holding the weight of the world on his shoulders since he is never going away, but listeners will wish he would when they hear this drech.

    ELIAS GRANILLO's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    Top New Studio/Live CDs of 2007 In Alphabetical Order:

    • Arc, Fracture ...UK electronic/synth veterans Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve return for their most significant retro-styled statement to date. 100% analog--accept no substitutes.
    • Black Bonzo, Sounds Of The Apocalypse ...having heard (and enjoyed) the likes of Bigelf, Ar√©knames and Wicked Minds, the Bonzo is another mighty addition to the current crop of retro hard-rockin'' prog.
    • Bootcut, De Fluff ...Beardfish's Rikard Sjoblom's kickass keyboards+drums duo's second outing! Hopefully it won''t be another five years before they release another one.
    • Dokken, From Conception: Live ''81 ...new evidence from the band's pre-Aquanet days that illustrates what a viable hard rock act they were. Rippin'' great disc.
    • Fromuz, Audio Diplomacy ...great prog-fusion from Uzbekistan.
    • Hiromi's Sonicbloom (Hiromi Uehara), Time Control ...this super-talented cutie continues to burn up the ivories and make fortysomething fanboys break out in sweat at her performances!
    • Moore, Steve, The Henge ...first solo CD from Zombi's bassist/synthesist half. In one CD, he manages to traverse ambient/Berlin School/filmscore/minimalism and prog territory. As with Zombi, fat keyboard sounds and slick--but not too slick--compositions.
    • Parallel Worlds, Obsessive Surrealism ......stellar new electronic music on Ian Boddy's DiN label...if John Carpenter had ever decided to issue a non-soundtrack album in the early ''80s, it might''ve sounded like this!
    • Phideaux, Doomsday Afternoon ...is this Los Angeles-based Brit transplant progressive rock's best-kept secret? Probably not for long...people outside the prog-o-sphere are taking notice.
    • Rush Snakes & Arrows ...better production than Vapor Trails with some kickin'' instrumentals.
    • Side Steps, Alive 2 ...long-running Japanese fusion band's new live CD is a sizzler.
    • Wakeman, Rick, Retro 2 ...say what you will, but the sequel has more instrumentals this time around plus all that analog keyboard coolness.

    Top CD Reissues/Remasters of 2007 In Alphabetical Order :

    • Cutaia, Carlos, Ciudad De Tonos Leganos ...reissue of this otherwise-unknown keyboardist-drummer affair from South American circa 1983. This will probably only appeal to keyboard music lovers, which is why it gets a spot on my shelf. Not really fusion, and just proggy enough, the nine instrumental rock pieces sound like what Jan Hammer might have done in the early ''80s before starting work on Miami Vice.
    • Genesis, Trick Of The Tail; Wind & Wuthering; ...And Then There Were Three ...what, you expected me to cough up for all of them? Not this guy--I burned out on this band, with the exception of those three albums.
    • King Crimson, Great Deceiver, The-Parts 1 & 2 ...at long last, the OoP boxset is restored to circulation in the form of two double-disc volumes. Along with The Nightwatch, anything from the ''72-''75 live era rocks.
    • Lewis, Mingo (James), Flight Never Ending ...new and apparently legit German reissue of this ''70s fusion classic.
    • Rocket Scientists, Looking Backward ...just in time for the holidays, Erik Norlander, Mark McCrite and Don Schiff--i.e. the "brain trust" of the Rocket Scientists--issue this, in the words of the press-release, "5-disc collection containing remastered versions of their first three studio albums, Earthbound, Brutal Architecture and Oblivion Days, along with a 4th audio CD of NEW recordings of classic Rocket Scientists songs reinterpreted by the band live in the studio in 2007. The 5th disc is a DVD-9 containing video of the 2007 sessions along with extensive interviews and historical archive footage from sessions going back to 1993." Quite a package!!!
    • Squire, Chris, Fish Out Of Water ...one of the best (some say the best) Yes alumni solo albums. Par excellence. The new edition adds a bonus disc--no new music, unfortunately.
    • Vangelis, Blade Runner Trilogy ...released on the same day as the new definitive Blade Runner DVD sets, this handsome triple-disc digipak adds two tracks to the legit ''90s remaster, a second disc of more great, previously-unreleased music from the film, and a third disc of complementary (read: nonessential) new music recorded especially by the Van-man for this commemorative edition. Either way, if you''re a Blade Runner and/or filmscore type, you''re going to want it. Inexpensive, too.
    • Wakeman, Rick, The Burning ...finally resurrected on disc, "Side A" involves four superb keyboard-rock (with guitar/bass/drums) instrumentals "inspired" by Rick's score. "Side B" is actual music from the music, with some dialogue excerpts.

    HUGH DARK's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    • Pink Floyd: Oh By The Way- I love all things vinyl replica and this is the king of them all. While the Brits don't equal the quality of the Japanese versions, this set (limited to 10,000) is the perfect way to celebrate year 40.
    • Between The Buried and Me: Colors- This is one of the pure genius metal recordings ever. No new releases even come close to this mutha!
    • Genesis: Trick of the Tale- The Japanese mini includes the SACD and 5.1 Surround versions pressed to 24 gold and they sound amazing. Best post Gabriel cd for me.
    • Watain: Sworn to the Dark- I still have never shaken the damning efforts of the title track luring me in. Simply incredible Black Metal release.
      Akercocke: Antichrist- This CD effectively ends the contract with Earache and I am wondering if the band won't be hunting for a new label. Still, this album was high on quality control and I still play it to this day. Merry Christmas, Satan!
    • Machine Head: The Blackening- I never really listened to this band, but this one caught my attention. Epic and heavy in a kind of way Ride the Lightning did it years ago. Let's hope they can maintain this direction.
    • Type O Negative: Dead Again- Looser, longer and more creative the band truly brought some smiles to long-standing fans with this one. The new label seems to have brought some extra inspiration to the songwriting.
    • Black Sabbath: The Dio Years- I know, I know! A best of collection? Cmon, can you tell me that this one is not an exception?
    • U2: The Joshua Tree (Deluxe DVD version) - My first copy of this was missing the actual Joshua Tree CD! All was made nice after an exchange and this is an excellent, if not a little expensive edition of one of the greatest albums ever. Certainly deserving of a remaster for a very long time; this baby really sings now!
    • Novembers Doom: The Novella Reservoir- They turned up the Death Metal influence and drowned most of the mellow crooning of yore. Other than the gag inducing 'Twilight Innocence' this disc has some of the best songs in recent years. This baby is a chug-a-lug!!!
      Artillery: Through The Years- This is one of the best presents I ever received! Thanks Pete!! This is some of the best underground thrash ever recorded.
    • Pink Floyd: Oh By The Way- I love all things vinyl replica and this is the king of them all. While the Brits don't equal the quality of the Japanese versions, this set (limited to 10,000) is the perfect way to celebrate year 40.
    • Between The Buried and Me: Colors- This is one of the pure genius metal recordings ever. No new releases even come close to this mutha!
    • Genesis: Trick of the Tale- The Japanese mini includes the SACD and 5.1 Surround versions pressed to 24 gold and they sound amazing. Best post Gabriel cd for me.
    • Watain: Sworn to the Dark- I still have never shaken the damning efforts of the title track luring me in. Simply incredible Black Metal release.
    • Akercocke: Antichrist- This CD effectively ends the contract with Earache and I am wondering if the band won't be hunting for a new label. Still, this album was high on quality control and I still play it to this day. Merry Christmas, Satan!
    • Machine Head: The Blackening- I never really listened to this band, but this one caught my attention. Epic and heavy in a kind of way Ride the Lightning did it years ago. Let's hope they can maintain this direction.
    • Type O Negative: Dead Again- Looser, longer and more creative the band truly brought some smiles to long-standing fans with this one. The new label seems to have brought some extra inspiration to the songwriting.
    • Black Sabbath: The Dio Years- I know, I know! A best of collection? Cmon, can you tell me that this one is not an exception?
    • U2: The Joshua Tree (Deluxe DVD version) - My first copy of this was missing the actual Joshua Tree CD! All was made nice after an exchange and this is an excellent, if not a little expensive edition of one of the greatest albums ever. Certainly deserving of a remaster for a very long time; this baby really sings now!
    • Novembers Doom: The Novella Reservoir- They turned up the Death Metal influence and drowned most of the mellow crooning of yore. Other than the gag inducing 'Twilight Innocence' this disc has some of the best songs in recent years. This baby is a chug-a-lug!!!
      Artillery: Through The Years- This is one of the best presents I ever received! Thanks Pete!! This is some of the best underground thrash ever recorded.
    • Obituary: Xecutioner's Return- This gets a nod for the guitar solos alone! The recording was a bit dicey, but the songs rule! Bow to the Xecutioner!
      Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains The Same (Collectors Edition DVD) - I was stung at the retail line a couple of times, but this one is another essential band and purchase. No need for further justification. I love the power metal scenes with Robert Plant on the horse with the sword. On guard!
    • Nile: Ithyphallic (Pyramid Edition) - This has to be one of the coolest packages that I have. The way the pyramid has a secret chamber for the scroll is just way to cool. Oh, By The Way has a little competition with the wow factor here and the music is first class death metal from Nile-- with or without (Damn you, U2!) the pyramid!
    • Al Dimeola: Speak A Volcano(DVD)- It was a close match between this and the new CD, but watching Al and getting a free tune-up in the form of a lesson just pull this one out in front. My fave DVD release of the year, along with Zepp. No way Kiss!
      Dethklok: The Dethalbum (Deluxe Edition)- You have to be dead inside not to have fun with this one and the musicianship is incredible. Queen meets death metal for an outstanding combo!
    • Hardingrock: Grimen- This recording just pulled me in and took me to places that I never have been. It might not be for everyone, but it was an absolute master class in diversity!! I am not even trying on putting these releases in order of like because this year just killed it!
      Electric Light Orchestra: Out of the Blue (Deluxe mini book edition) - The word deluxe is getting quite a work out, isn't it? This album is an absolute production and songwriting classic and pure metal enthusiasts should avoid, but if you should become interested'¶
    • Sabbat: Dreamweaver- I went into fits of metal rage when I found out this was returning to the shelves this year. Pagan writing and progressive and epic songwriting make this one of the greatest releases ever in extreme metal. Please, do yourself a favor and get this!
    • Sodom: The Final Sign Of Evil

    Honorable Mentions-These are just another example of the many releases this year that have exceeded excellence!
    • Raging Speedhorn: How The sea was Built
    • Bokor: Anomia1
    • Wolves in the Throne Room: Two Hunters
    • Blut Aus Nord: Odinist

    BUTCH JONES's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    Top 10 CD's of 2007 In No Particular Order :
    • HIM-'Venus Doom': Their heaviest & most consistent record to date
    • Fear My Thoughts-'Vulcanus': A smoking record by an Intelligent band to take notice of.
    • Soilwork-'Sworn To A Great Divide': 1 of the best bands of the amazing Swedish Metal revolution. Heavy & melodic & back on track! This is the record that they should have made after the classic Figure Number Five!!
    • Sevendust-'Alpha': A great record from one of the saviors of American Metal. But they still miss former Band mate & chief songwriter Clint Lowery!
    • Megadeth-'United Abominations': Dave Mustaine keeps it heavy and shows Metallica what can be done if you sellout & realize that you made a mistake!!!
    • Terra Diablo-'Deluge Songs': A surprise CD that is simply brilliant.
    • Porcupine Tree-'Fear Of A Black Planet': One of the best bands on the planet does not disappoint, as usual! Fantastic!!
    • Machine Head-'The Blackening': Probably their best CD since their debut. A metal masterpiece. Robb Flynn on his game
    • Nuclear Blast All Stars-'Out Of The Dark': A different singer on every song and a different Metal genres throughout. The amazing Peter Wichers, former Soilwork guitar mastermind, wrote & plays on every song. Awesome!
    • Cosmosquad-'Acid Test': Guitarist Jeff Kollman smokes on every tune on this great instrumental CD.

    RICHARD BARNES's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    Stand out albums :
    • Bright Eyes - Cassadaga (the finest lyrics I've heard in years and a big step up in arrangement quality - shades of John Cougar Mellancamp)
    • KBB - Proof of concept (probably the best KBB album so far from prog's no 1 violinist Tsuboy)

    Other 'u02dctop ten contenders :

    • Conqueror - 74 Giorni (classic Italian gem in Le Orme/PFM vein)
    • Lazuli - En avant doute (Superb percussion led French band melding African rhythms with Ange themes. Second album and a step up from the already quality first)
    • Ritual - Hemulic Voluntary Band (back to their roots with this heavily folk influenced concept album. Gone are the Zep power chords - even better than their debut in my book)
    • La Torre dell''Alchimista - Neo (a much more mature and well developed offering from the young Italian prog-romantics)
    • The Twang - Love it when I feel like this (the best thing out of Birmingham for years - Oasis with more attitude than Oasis and the talent to stretch themselves musically)
    • Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon (brilliant symphonic work with his usual interesting take on life)
    • Black Bonzo - Sound of the Apocalypse (Uriah Heep eat yer hearts out - great album full of energy'¶ oh, and Hammond, lots of Hammond)
    • Magic Pie - Circus of Life (the second slice is as tasty as the first. Less Beardy, more Flower Kings with perhaps better use of space)
    • Anekdoten - A time of day (their best album for some time - they even manage to rock with 'In for a ride')

    Honourable mentions :

    • Mostly Autumn - Heart full of sky (back to their best - new blood has helped)
    • Blind Ego - Mirror (Arena meets RPWL and its an instant neo hit)
    • Editors- The end has a start (big improvement on the debut - lush keyboard backing to the more usual Indie style, ala Killers)
    • The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (Brice Springsteen themes purloined mercilessly but the lyrics and vocals are special - get down with the new hip drug crowd)
    • Motis - L''homme-loup (French folk classic)
    • Rusby, Kate - Awkward Annie (another winner from the best British folk singer around)
    • Soft Machine - Legacy (Theo Travis replaces the much missed Elton Dean but the band show once again that they can still produce the goods)
    • Tinyfish - Tinyfish (arguably the best British prog debut since Magenta's)

    SCOTT BORRE's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    • Slough Feg - Hardworlder : This is my favorite album of the year because it is filled with catchy, original sounding, strong songs. That and an excellent cover of Dearg Doom. Mike Scalzi, the singer and main member of this band, was also in my top album of 2006 in Hammers of Misfortune's The Locust Years.
    • Art Metal - S/T : This is what I''ve been waiting for. Strong jazz fusion with a metal attitude. It easily could be first.
    • Primal Fear - New Religion : On first and second listen I had chills at various moments on various songs. I rarely get that. It was my number one, and if asked another day I might claim it as my number one. Depends on what I want to hear.
    • Nightingale - White Darkness : Dan Swano has become a very strong singer, and with well written, emotional songs with great riffs and fitting solos this album is one of the best of the year.
    • Therion - Gothic Kabbalah : Their sound slightly changed on this album, but its still Therion. Therion is one of my favorite bands, and this album does not disappoint.
    • Blotted Science - The Machinations of Dementia
    • Behold... the Acrtopus - Skullgrid
    • Redemption - The Origins of Ruin
    • Turisas - The Varangian Way
    • Devin Townsend - Ziltoid the Omniscient
    • Kamelot - Ghost Opera
    • November's Doom -- The Novella Reservoir
    • Symphony X - Paradise Lost
    • Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon
    • Sonata Arctica - Unia
    • Rush - Snakes & Arrows
    • Circus Maximus - Isolate
    • Divinity Destroyed - Death and Honor
    • Elvenking - Scythe
    • Between the Buried and Me - Colors
    • Pain of Salvation - Scarsick
    • Heart of Cygnus - Utopia
    • Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement
    • Dark Moor -- Tarot
    • Black Bonzo - Sounds of the Apocalypse
    • Shins - Wincing the Night Away
    • Amorphis - Silent Waters
    • Fair to Midland - Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True
    • Sigh - Hangman's Hymn
    • Cruachan - The Morrigan's Call

    KERRY LEIMER's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    MUSIC: New Releases In Alphabetical Order :
    • Do Make Say Think: You, You're a History in Rust - A quintessential Post-Rock outfit finds its voice at last, putting together an album of flux and shimmer amid a rain of falling bricks.
    • Fennesz / Sakamoto: Cendre - Definitive laptop.
    • Robert Fripp: Chruchscapes - By setting aside his incline to art and relenting to his sense of faith Fripp invokes his most poignant and approachable soundscapes.
    • J√≥hann J√≥hannsson: IBM 1401, A User's Manual - Machine music will take a long time to leave but here J√≥hannsson makes it as human as possible.
    • Kronos Quartet / Henryk G√≥recki: Songs are Sung - G√≥recki continues to compose some of the most profoundly moving and accessible works for small and large ensembles. Flawless writing and flawless performance.
    • Stephan Micus: On the Wing - The reedy and harsh timbres of Middle Eastern instrumentation articulate mostly melancholic and sedate inflections set within a minimalist surround.
    • Mountains: Sewn - Golly, just real pretty lowercase/drone hybrids made more distinct by some atypical instrumentation.
    • The Necks: Townsville - Live album in the slipstream of 'Chemist'.
    • Sigur Ros: Heim/Hvarf - A leaner set than usual, spare and usually arpeggiated piano and guitar over languid drums and sparse vocals describe a long twilight.
    • Stars of the Lid: And their refinement of the decline - Entropical and accretive drones that are simultaneously static and in motion. A difficult compositional sleight of hand that almost no one else can pull off.
    • Supersilent: 8 - Deathprod in a silent way.
    • David Toop: Sound Body - Toop seems to undergoing a revival of sorts some three decades after The 'Bathosphere' without yielding to convention.
    • Robert Wyatt: Comicopera - Perhaps his best since 'Rock Bottom', a near perfect amalgam of commentary and pure expression.

    MUSIC: Reissues In Alphabetical Order :

    • Gavin Bryars: Hommages - Early, important and affecting conceptual work from a modern mas-ter
    • David Byrne: Music for the Knee Plays - The concept itself seems fussy and perhaps too self-involved, but the music is strong enough to reinvigorate the Brass Band genre, singlehandedly.
    • Egg: The Civil Surface - The fulcrum between early progressive and the then jazzier leanings of Canterbury. Probably one of the five or ten essential records of the period.
    • Joy Division: Closer - Riding a marketing wave no doubt set in motion by the film 'Control' does not detract from one of the most original LPs of the early 1980s. Nor does the fact that the surviving members of Joy Division went on to descend into the most vacuous of synth-pop/rock-dance-doodle imaginable lessen the impact.
    • King Crimson: The Great Deceiver, Parts 1 and 2- Made available again, this time at a reasonable price, The Great Deceiver remains the finest document of the Wetton/Bruford era, live.
    • Matching Mole: On the Radio - Principal value here is in tracing the evolution of the MM corpus.
    • Pink Floyd: Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Radiant mono mixes and excellent remastering.
    • Terry Reid: River - Probably his consensus best work gets the full makeover. When will this guy get the recognition he deserves?
    • Chris Squire: Fish out of Water - Long overlooked. Sheer brilliance in every moment, featuring some of the most compelling work Bruford has done in the prog rock context.

    BOOKS: Nonfiction In Alphabetical Order :

    • Douglas Anderson: Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Vol.4 - This series continues to improve in reach and complexity for anyone ready to step back from the sword fighting and into the text itself.
    • Graham Bennet: Soft Machine: Out-Bloody-Rageous - Definitive look at a defining Canterbury leader.
    • Christopher Hitchens: God is not Great - Journalistic documentation of the fall to faith. Especially grim is a look at death by circumcision (yes, in this century) and the now well-documented internal and inherent contradictions of organized religions, all dressed in Hitchens' fluid and sharp prose style.
    • Andrew Hussey: Paris-The Secret History - The French influence on western culture is more profound than many anglos are willing to admit. This book looks into the corners of Parisian history and reveals even more of the origins of that influence.
    • Christine Kenneally: The First Word - As we continue to learn to see the human species as part of the world, rather than apart from it, this look at the origins of language provides accesible documentation of the progress made from Chomsky's 'language organ' to Pinker's less magical look at physiological origins, including gesture. More fun to read than you might think...
    • Mark Lilla: The Stillborn God - Shattering survey of then philosophical grappling with western faith charting the largely failed attempts to govern on earth as in heaven, starting with Hobbes to Kant and Hegel and up to the system collapse of WWII.
    • David Linden: The Accidental Mind - See above, 'The First Word'. Here Linden does for cognizance what Kenneally does for language.
    • Alan Weisman: The World Without Us - And here, Weisman does for our role in the world what Kenneally does for Language and Linden does for cognizance.
    • Peter Swirski: The Art and Science of Stanislaw Lem - Excellent critical survey of one of the most original and significant speculative fiction and philosophical writers of the 20th century.

    BOOKS: Fiction In Alphabetical Order :

    • Martin Amis: House of Meetings - Amis continues his autopsy of the Soviet era, this time in fiction. Best read as the fleshly parts of organized oppression beside his critical meditation on Stalin, 'Koba the Dread'.
    • Benjamin Black: Christine Falls - A book by John Banville under an assumed name turns out to be a post-mod romp in the thriller genre. Good as a thriller, better as a riff on thrillers.
    • Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach - The amplification of a smallish event across a lifetime, com pounded by making even more elusive those many definitions of love.

    DVDs In Alphabetical Order :

    • Earthworks (Bruford) - A few decades with the master.
    • Essential Art House: Fifty Years of Janus Films - If you can afford it, this may be all that many of us need to know about 20th Century cinema. 50 films that embrace Bergman, Bunuel, Truffant and virtually every important director of the time.
    • Flight of the Conchords - Well, hey. It's good to have a laugh now and again!
    • Help! - Extravagant packaging that might actually be more appropriate to the better still 'Hard Day's Night', it's worth watching again if for no other reason than to see Harrison strum Eleanor Bron into a charming and sultry blush.
    • The Lives of Others - 'The Conversation' slipped into East Germany in the days of The Wall offers us still another way to consider the distinctly human act known as betrayal.
    • No End in Sight - There are many damning documentaries concerning the Bush Admin and the U.S. misadventure in Iraq, but this one is the definitive model. In it's objectivity and representation of key officials within the decision-making flow, 'No End in Sight' may easily prove to be one of the more significant additions to the historical record.

    KEN SANFORD's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    Top Albums 2007 :

    • Immolation - Shadows In The Light (Absolutely immense album in more ways than one. Listen closely)
    • Dimmu Borgir- In Sorte Diaboli (black metal masterpiece)
    • Exodus - The Atrocity Exhibition - Exhibit A (they can still dish out the goods)
    • Watain - Sworn To The Dark (deadly Swedish black metal)
    • Machine Head - The Blackening (I'm not a Machine Head fan at all, but this album is unbelievable, a great metal album)
      Nile - Ithyphallic (Ah, the brutality, and technicality, absolutely pummeling)
    • Symphony X - Paradise Lost (one of the year's best from top to bottom)
    • Arch Enemy - Rise of the Tyrant (melodic, tasty at times, yet crushing)
    • Devin Townsend - Ziltoid the Omniscient (Caution: genius at work)
    • Blotted Science - The Machinations of Dementia (Planet X on steroids describes it best. Alex Webster is a monstrosity on bass)
    • 3 Inches of Blood - Fire Up the Blades (These guys are on to something big. Old school, new school, shake it up, it kicks ass)
    • Behemoth - The Apostasy (the hardest working band in metal, back with a vengeance)
    • Obituary - Xecutioners Return (Another classic band coming back strong, great guitar work from Santolla)
    • Aeon - Rise To Dominate (the most blasphemous for sure)
    • Wolves In The Throne Room - Two Hunters (proving the U.S. can produce good black metal)
    • Firewind - Allegience (dynamic, ass kicking, heavy rock album)
    • Melechesh - Emissaries (Sumerian blessings my friends)
    • Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos (not a big fan, but good stuff here)
    • Beneath the Massacre-Mechanics of Dysfunction (hyper speed death destruction)
    • Angel Corpse- Of Lucifer and Lightning (evil, sneering, buzz saw blasphemy)


    Honorable Mention :
    • Echoes of Eternity - The Forgotten Goddess (shout out to Francine for being the hottest babe in metal)

    Best Concerts 2007:

    • Emperor, BB Kings, NYC
    • Immortal, BB Kings NYC
    • Dimmu Borgir, Nokia Theater, NYC
    • Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, The Red Chord, Job For a Cowboy, Irving Plaza, NYC
    • Ted Nugent, The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY

    RYAN SPARKS's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    • Watain - Sworn To The Dark
    • Secrets Of The Moon - Antithesis
    • Fromuz - Audio Diplomacy
    • Frogg Caf√© - The Safenzee Diaries
    • Blood Of The Black Owl - Blood Of The Black Owl
    • As I Lay Dying - An Ocean Between Us
    • Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
    • Pathosray- Pathosray
    • Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura
    • Glass - Live At Progman Cometh
    • Azreal: Act III - Self & Act IV - Goat
    • Orthodox - Gran Poder
    • Dave Kilminster: Scarlet
    • Canvas Solaris: Cortical Tectonics
    • Spheric Universe Experience: Anima

    MIKE BLACKBURN's TOP PICKS FOR 2007

    • JOE BONAMASSA - Sloe Gin (Provogue)
    • PORCUPINE TREE - Fear Of A Blank Planet (Warner)
    • TROUBLE - Simple Mind Condition (Escapi)
    • CLUTCH - From Beale Street To Oblivion (DRT)
    • ANDY JAMES - In the Wake of Chaos (Grooveyard)
    • DIMMU BORGIR - In Sorte Diaboli (Nuclear Blast)
    • BLOTTED SCIENCE - The Machinations of Dementia
    • CANDLEMASS - King Of The Grey Islands (Nuclear Blast)
    • ARCH ENEMY - Rise Of The Tyrant (Century Media)
    • THRESHOLD - Dead Reckoning (Nuclear Blast)
    • RONNI LE TEKRO -Kingdom of Norway (Bonnier Amigo)

    ALL OF THE STAFF's TOP 50 CDs

    Just for grins, we parsed out the top CD lists from all of the staff, allocated points based on their ranking, and picked out the top 50. (This was difficult, because some of the staff did not sequence their selections - i.e. they listed their top CDs in no particular order, or in alpha sequence.) nevertheless, we applied a few formulae and arrived at the following top-of-the-top selection of the staff's top 50 CDs for 2007, in rough sequence:

    1. Symphony X: Paradise Lost
    2. Black Bonzo: Sounds Of The Apocalypse
    3. Pathosray: Pathosray
    4. Dream Theater: Systematic Chaos
    5. Rush: Snakes & Arrows
    6. Dimmu Borgir: In Sorte Diaboli
    7. Devin Townsend: Ziltoid the Omniscient
    8. Fromuz: Audio Diplomacy
    9. Porcupine Tree: Fear Of A Black Planet
    10. Magic Pie: Circus of Life
    11. Phideaux: Doomsday Afternoon
    12. Riverside: Rapid Eye Movement
    13. Neal Morse: Sola Scriptura
    14. Behemoth: The Apostasy
    15. Nightingale: White Darkness
    16. Epica: The Divine Conspiracy
    17. Watain: Sworn To The Dark
    18. Blotted Science: The Machinations of Dementia
    19. Therion: Gothic Kabbalah
    20. Arch Enemy: March of the Tyrant
    21. Machine Head: The Blackening
    22. Nile: Ithyphallic
    23. Kamelot: Ghost Opera
    24. Anekdoten: A Time Of day
    25. Iced Earth: Framing Armageddon-Something Wicked (Part 1)
    26. Nightwish: Dark Passion Play
    27. KBB: Proof of Concept
    28. Melechesh: Emissaries
    29. Between the Buried & Me: Colors
    30. Threshold: Dead Reckoning
    31. Megadeth: United Abominations
    32. Wolves In The Throne Room: Two Hunters
    33. Exodus: The Atrocity Exhibition - Exhibit A
    34. Pain Of Salvation: Scarsick
    35. Immolation: Shadows In The Light
    36. Beneath the Massacre: Mechanics of Dysfunction
    37. After Forever: After Forever
    38. Amorphis: Silent Waters
    39. Sun Caged: Artemisia
    40. Circus Maximus: Isolate
    41. Sigh: Hangman's Hymn
    42. Do Make Say Think: You, You're a History in Rust
    43. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum: In Glorious Times
    44. Slough Feg: Hardworlder
    45. Art Metal: S/T
    46. Big Big Train: The Difference Machine
    47. Fennesz / Sakamoto: Cendre
    48. Secrets Of The Moon: Antithesis
    49. Thought Chamber: Angular Perceptions
    50. Obivion Sun: Obivion Sun

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