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The Staff's Top Picks of 2008

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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
Elias Granillo
Butch Jones
Kerry Leimer
Ryan Sparks
Alex Torres
Jon Neudorf
Scott Jessup
Scott Borre
Scott Ward
Christian Bernier
Denis Brunelle
Summarized List Of The Top 50 CDs, From All Of The SoT Staff

PETE PARDO's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

The Top 100 of 2008

It was a great year, mostly for progressive metal (which seemed to have made a comeback this year, especially from some of the younger bands in the genre) and death metal, especially of the more technical variety. Progressive rock fell somewhat short of expectations this year, though there were still some strong releases in the genre, as there was for instrumental prog/jazz-fusion and black metal. Some fantastic comebacks from veteran bands also helped make it a very memorable year in music. Not wanting to leave out any of my favorites from 2008, here's my Top 100 of the year, though the Top 25 or 30 really stood out and kept in regular rotation throughout the year for me. Kudos to Opeth, Zero Hour, and Meshuggah, all three releasing perhaps their best material to date.

1) Opeth-Watershed (a masterpiece, combines death metal & prog to perfection)
2) Zero Hour-Dark Deceiver (a classic of technical progressive metal)
3) Meshuggah-obZen (the Swedes return to a more song based format, and it kills!)
4) Into Eternity-The Incurable Tragedy (concept album inspired by tragedy, but a complete triumph!)
5) Seventh Wonder-Mercy Falls (wonderful melodic & technical prog-metal, easily their best release yet)
6) Enslaved-Vertebrae (nobody mixes prog & black metal like these veterans)
7) Souljourners-Mind Control (best new progressive metal band of the year, hands down)
8) Tomorrow's Eve-Tales From Serpentia (German band releases their magnum opus)
9) Presto Ballet-The Lost Art of Time Travel (Kurdt V. and Co. mimic that 70's prog style with a touch of AOR-great stuff!)
10) Decrepit Birth-Diminishing Between Worlds (killer technical death metal-expect great things from this band in 2009 and beyond)
11) Suspyre-When Time Fade (truly "progressive metal" in every way-a winner!)
12) Uriah Heep-Wake the Sleeper (easily the comeback of the year-plenty of Hammond & guitar from the Heepsters!)
13) Gojira-The Way of All Flesh (wow, completely crushing and memorable)
14) Cynic-Traced In Air (candidate #2 for comeback of the year, more technical, proggy & jazzy than before, but even better)
15) Testament-The Formation of Damnation (best old school thrash album of the year, hands down, and just a great return to form)
16) Evergrey-Torn (the Swedes are back on track with another dark yet melodic metal treat)
17) Martriden-The Unsettling Dark (future leaders of the death metal genre-crushing, melodic, and progressive)
18) Whitesnake-Good to Be Bad (comeback contenders #3-rousing early 80's styled
stuff, and plenty of guitars!)
19) Ayreon-01011001 (can't go wrong with Arjen these days, another star-studded concept album winner)
20) Psycroptic-Ob(Servant) (monstrous technical death metal from these Australians)
21) Metallica-Death Magnetic (comeback contender #4-the thrash kings are back!)
22) Mercenary-Architect of Lies (not quite as strong as their last two, but still plenty good)
23) Iced Earth-The Crucible of Man (this ones a grower, and it's great to have Barlow back)
24) Scar Symmetry-Holographic Universe (once again, catchy, heavy, and lots of guitar)
25) Children of Bodom-Blooddrunk (the Bodom come up with a winner yet again)
26) In Flames-A Sense of Purpose (they might not be much of a death metal band anymore, but damn this one is filled with memorable tunes)
27) Journey-Revelations (Arnel Pineda is quite the vocal find-a great release of catchy hard rock and pop songs)
28) Cradle of Filth-Godspeed On the Devil's Thunder (their best in years)
29) Beneath the Massacre-Dystopia (release #2 is even more furious and brutal than before)
30) Keep of Kalessin-Kolossus (watch out Dimmu, there's a new black metal player in town)
31) Arsis-We Are the Nightmare (technical blackened death metal masterpiece)
32) Bigelf-Cheat the Gallows (totally retro, and loving every second of it)
33) Origin-Antithesis (another marvelous technical death metal find this year)
34) Biomechanical-Cannibalised (bombastic futuristic death/thrash metal)
35) Ihsahn-angL (the genius returns with another proggy black metal feast)
36) Hands-Strangelet (prog legends still have what it takes)
37) Cloudscape-Global Drama (melodic & memorable power metal)
38) Bloodbath-The Fathomless Mastery (old school styled Swedish death metal doesn't get any better than this)
39) Xystus-Equilibrio (epic, orchestral progressive metal)
40) Todd Rundgren-Anthem (Todd returns with plenty of hard rocking guitar pop)
41) Protest the Hero-Fortress (lots of guitar pyrotechnics here, a technical metal workout!)
42) Brain Drill-Apocalyptic Feasting (brutal, crushing, technical death metal)
43) Brainstorm-Downburst (power metal veterans can do no wrong)
44) The Red Masque-Fossil Eyes (the most unique band in prog)
45) Krisiun-Southern Storm (Brazil's best return with another platter of brutal & technical death metal)
46) Abigail Williams-In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns (fantastic US symphonic black metal)
47) Sothis-De Oppresso Liber (more great US symphonic black metal)
48) Unearth-The March (thrash & metalcore combine for one killer release)
49) Byzantine-Oblivion Beckons (shame they broke up, awesome release)
50) Heaven Shall Burn-Iconoclast (Part 1: The Final Resistance) (German's come of age)
51) Fish-13th Star (the former Marillion frontman's best in years)
52) Dominici-O3 A Trilogy-Part 3 (extremely solid prog-metal from the former Dream Theater singer)
52) Communic-Payment of Existence (another winner from the prog/power metal Norwegians)
53) Canvas Solaris-The Atomized Dream (an instrumental delight)
54) Neuraxis-The Thin Line Between (strong technical death metal with a touch of 'core)
55) Steve Stevens-Memory Crash (one of the best instrumental guitar albums of the year)
56) Hate Eternal-Fury and Flames (they still know how to pummel)
57) Firewind-The Premonition (melodic power metal veterans strike big yet again)
58) Ohm-Circus of Sound (more brilliant instrumental jazz-fusion from the former Megadeth guitarist)
59) Andromeda-The Immunity Zone (not their best, but still solid prog-metal from the Swedes)
60) Unifaun-Unifaun (lovely Genesis styled prog, a real labor of love)
61) Garaj Mahal-wOOt (killer jammy instrumental jazz-fusion)
62) Nation Beyond-The Aftermath Odyssey (concept piece that really worked)
63) Eluveitie-Slania (fantastic pagan/death/black/folk metal hybrid)
64) Zimmers Hole-When You Were Shouting At the Devil…We Were In League With Satan (miss Strapping Young Lad? This is most of the band and pretty similar sounding)
65) Slipknot-All Hope Is Gone (great mix of the brutal and the commercial)
66) All Shall Perish-Awaken the Dreamers (solid technical death metal & hardcore)
67) DFA-4 (Italian band once again delivers excellent fusion & prog)
68) Simon Says-Tardigrade (fun modern progressive rock with a 70's flair)
69) To-Mera- Delusions (still jazzy & proggy, but plenty of metal too)
70) Woods of Ypres-Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues (red hot Canadian black metal)
71) Pyramaze-Immortal (two shots of Matt Barlow this year is a great thing!)
72) Misery Signals-Controller (one of the best metalcore bands around)
73) Burst-Lazarus Bird (another winner of psychedelic & proggy metalcore)
74) All That Remains-Overcome (more melodic this time around, still good)
75) Planeta Imaginario-Biomasa (great Zappa styled instrumental progressive fusion)
76) Yngwie Malmsteen-Perpetual Flame (his best in years, and with Tim "Ripper" Owens in tow!)
77) Deeds of Flesh-Of What's to Come (excellent technical death metal)
78) Expedition Delta-Expedition Delta (great prog, AOR, and a touch of metal)
79) Magenta-Metamorphosis (epic prog all the way)
80) Mindwarp Chamber-Delusional Reality (a new player on the prog/power metal scene)
81) Dismember-Dismember (old school Swedish death metal from these innovators)
82) Empyrios-The Glorious Sickness (industrialized progressive metal from Italy)
83) Intronaut-Prehistoricisms (more experimental this time around)
84) Farmakon-Robin (very Opeth sounding progressive death metal)
85) Unleashed-Hammer Battalion (the masters of Viking metal impress as always)
86) Oceans of Sadness-The Arrogance of Ignorance (progressive metal with a touch of black and death on top)
87) The Acacia Strain-Continent (brutal as always)
88) Burning the Masses-Mind Control (teenagers erupt on the technical death metal scene)
89) Soul Secret-Flowing Portait (solid new prog-metal from Italy)
90) Uli Jon Roth-Under a Dark Sky (not enough guitar, but a fun symphonic affair)
91) Equilibrium-Sagas (masterful pagan/folk/black metal)
92) Jeff Loomis-Zero Order Phase (shredderific solo release from Nevermore guitarist)
93) Death Angel-Killing Season (thrash legends return)
94) Kataklysm-Prevail (Canadians once again deliver)
95) Avantasia-The Scarecrow (Tobias Sammet's all star cast once again impresses)
96) Spaced Out-Evolution (instrumental Canadian outfit once again wows)
97) Cavalera Conspiracy – Inflikted (better than recent Soulfly or Sepultura)
98) Soniq Circus-Soniq Circus (wonderful blend of classic & modern progressive rock)
99) Nathan Mahl-Exodus (so happy to see these Canadian progsters back again)
100) Queen + Paul Rodgers (I really dug this hard rocking set)

Flops of 2008

1) Jarboe/Justin K. Broadrick-J2 (horrible, horrible stuff, and virtually unlistenable)
2) Judas Priest-Nostradamus (liked it as first, but with repeated spins it's just dull and ponderous-they should have kept it to a single CD)
3) Neal Morse-Lifeline (still love the voice and some of the arrangements, but the lyrics are finally starting to alienate me)

Top Live Albums of 2008

Between the Buried and Me-Colors Live
King Crimson-The Collectable King Crimson Vol 3
Jeff Beck-Performing This Week…Live at Ronnie Scott's
Kansas-Two For the Show (remaster)
Gorgororth-True Norwegian Black Metal-Live in ….
The Moody Blues-Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970
Bloodbath-The Wacken Carnage
David Bowie-Live Santa Monica '72
Ozric Tentacles-Sunrise Festival
Magnum-Wings of Heaven Live
Isotope-Golden Section
Joe Lynn Turner-Live in Germany
Therion-Live Gothic

Best Concerts of 2008

1) Opeth, Nokia Theater
2) Journey & Heart, Bethel Woods Center
3) Progressive Nation Tour (Dream Theater. Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, and Three), Terminal 5
4) Trans Siberian Orchestra, Izod Center
5) Symphony X, Epica, and Into Eternity, Nokia Theater
6) Gigantour (Megadeth, In Flames, Children of Bodom, Job For a Cowboy, and High On Fire), Hammerstein Ballroom
7) Amorphis, BB Kings
8) Iron Maiden, Izod Center
9) King Crimson, Nokia Theater
10) Liquid Tension Experiment, BB Kings
11) Down, The Chance Theater
12) Lynyrd Skynyrd & The Outlaws, Bethel Woods Center
13) Robin Trower, BB Kings
14) Uli Jon Roth, BB Kings
15) In Flames, Gojira, and 36Crazyfists, Terminal 5
 

 

MICHAEL POPKE's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

Top 16 CDs (in alphabetical order):

Ayreon: 01001101
BoDeans: Still
Neil Diamond: Home Before Dark
Dominici: 03-A Trilogy: Part 3
The Flyin' Ryan Brothers: Totality
Jelly Fiche: Tout ce que j'ai reve
Fish: 13th Star
King's X: XV
Neal Morse: Lifeline
Mudcrutch: Mudcrutch
No-Man: Schoolyard Ghosts
Opeth: Watershed
Presto Ballet: The Lost Art of Time Travel
Theocracy: Mirror of Souls
Tiles: Fly Paper
Unitopia: The Garden

Top 12 Live/Reissues (in alphabetical order):

Black Sabbath: The Rules of Hell (Box Set)
Cheap Trick: Budokan!
Dream Theater: Chaos in Motion 2007/2008
Dream Theater: Greatest Hit (…and 21 other pretty cool songs)
Genesis: 1970-1975 (Box Set)
David Gilmour: Live in Gdansk (2 CD+DVD)
Billy Joel: The Stranger (30th Anniversary Edition, 2CDs+DVD)
Kansas: Two for the Show
Sister Hazel: Before the Amplifiers-Live Acoustic
U2: Under A Blood Red Sky (CD/DVD)
Dennis Wilson: Pacific Ocean Blue
Within Temptation: Black Symphony (CD/DVD)

Top 5 DVDs (in alphabetical order):

The Brandos: Town to Town, Sun to Sun
Genesis: When in Rome 2007
Neal Morse: Sola Scriptura & Beyond
Rush: Snakes & Arrows Live
Spock's Beard: Live

Box Set I Wish I Owned:

Marillion: Early Stages-The Official Bootlegs 1982-1987
 

 

DUNCAN GLENDAY's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

It was a strange year for me .  I've been extremely busy, so my CD intake and my reviewing rate have both plummeted.  My only new years resolution is to fix that in 2009!  The list below is the best of those CDs I've heard  ... with the caveat that there are dozens that I'd probably include in the list if I'd heard them.

 

1     Fromuz--Overlook
2     Amaseffer--Exodus-Slaves for Life
3     Jupiter Society--First Contact - Last Warning
4     Opeth--Watershed
5     Ihsahn--angL
6     Cynic--Traced in the Air
7     Messhuguh--obZen
8     Black Noodle Project--Eleonore
9     Thieve's Kitchen--Water Road
10     Beardfish--Sleeping In Traffic Part II
11     Brighteye Brison--Believers And Deceivers
12     Votum--Time Must Have A Stop
13     Presto Ballet--The Lost Art of Time Travel
14     Moth Vellum--Moth Vellum
15     Zero Hour--Dark Deceiver
16     Moongarden--Songs From The Lighthouse
17     Frost--Experiments in Mass Appeal
18     Suspyre--When Time Fades
19     Bigelf--Cheat the Gallows
20     Baku Llama--Eris
 

 

MURAT BATMAZ's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

Favourites for 2008

Opeth - Watershed
--Perhaps not Opeth's best, but this one is among their most diverse works ever, and possibly Mikael's greatest vocal performance to date.

Zero Hour - Dark Deceiver
--They are simply put among the greatest technical progressive metal bands ever.

Garden Wall - Aliena(c)tion
--The most underrated Italian prog band. Quite a change from their past two releases, but still weirdly addictive.

Warrel Dane - Praises to the War Machine

--Just what a solo album should be. There is no one out there that sounds like Warrel Dane and this record proves the guy can also write non-Nevermore-like tunes. Amazing production as well.

Hail of Bullets - Of Frost and War
--Best death metal debut of the year. Best death metal album of the year. No keyboards, no junk, just straight-up old-school death metal. Bone crushingly heavy.

Meshuggah - ObZen
--Another addition to one of the most creative bands in the universe. You either get them or you don't.

Amaseffer - Slaves for Life
--Fantastic production. And Mats Leven's finest hour vocally. Interesting concept, great songwriting. Look forward to the sequel already.

Cynic - Traced in Air
--After 15 years, a new Cynic album. The follow-up to the revolutionary Focus album. Different, more polished perhaps, but still mesmerizing.

Honourable mentions

RPWL - The RPWL Experiment
Neverland - Reversing Time
Ayreon - 01011001
Quidam - Alone Together
Votum - Time Must Have a Stop
 

 

KEN PIERCE's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

The Best CDs of 2008:
 

Slania Eluveitie (Nuclear Blast Records): Pagan/Folk Metal of resounding proportions. I loved this one and played it quite a bit.

Obzen Meshuggah (Nuclear Blast Records) Reminding us with every groove and spine crushing riff that they are one of the most powerful Metal bands on the planet.

Revelation Journey (Columbia Records): New singer, new album, new versions of classic material & a DVD concert. Truly a standout release from the Rock legends.

Good To Be Bad Whitesnake (SPV Records): Its as if no time had passed by and this CD came out after the juggernaut self-titled album from the eighties. Great work guys.

Songs From The Sparkle Lounge Def Leppard (Universal Music): I havent liked a Def Leppard album in years and was set on giving them up entirely until this one came out and showed us that they still had it in them.

The Dream In This Moment (Century Media Records): I knew I was seeing something special when I first caught them as an opener for Kittie, and this release shows musical and compositioinal growth from their killer debut that raises the bar. A must have album that offers much for wider scopes of fans. Trust me.

Antithesis Origin (Relapse Records): Clearly one of the most powerful Extreme Death Metal records released this year. This is smoldering stuff that moves at break neck speeds.

Colossus Keep Of Kalessin (Nuclear Blast Records): A band who has chosen to walk in the path of Dimmu and see what storms they can cause themselves is a worthy addition to the Metal collection. Kiler stuff here.

13th Star Fish (Chocolate Frog UK): A return to form for the singer who once fronted Marillion. His strongest release in years and a must have.

The Rules Of Hell Black Sabbath (Rhino Entertainment): Collecting the four albums that Sabbath recorded with Dio and remastering them after many years of waiting, this was a must have release. Nicely packaged and eventually released individually for those fans who didnt want the complete set.

Watershed Opeth (Roadrunner Records): Master of Progressive Death Metal deliver once again after Ghost Reveries. Clearly the new label has cost the band their style. They put out a deluxe edition that gave you some more treats if such things enticed you more.

The Incurable Tragedy Into Eternity (Century Media Records):
Progressive Metals favorite opening act deliver a concept album about the terrible topic of cancer. Its well thought out and based on personal loss that the band experienced. Nice work gentlemen.

Vertabrae Enslaved (Nuclear Blast Records): Black Metal meets Progressive for a stunning release from one of the most important bands in the darker genre.

Death Magnetic Metallica (Warner Bros): Thank the Metal powers
that be, the Thrash Titans have returned to form with a solid record.
Much better than the last three releases and once you hear it you will agree.

Holographic Universe Scar Symmetry (Nuclear Blast Records): This
won me over instantly with ripping guitars and thunderous drums.
Double vocals from Christian makes me wonder how this band will do without him.

The Perpetual Flame Yngwie Malmsteen (Rising Force Records):
Combine the guitar technique of Yngwie with the vocals of Tim Ripper
Owens and you have a winner on track after track.

Killing Season Death Angel (Nuclear Blast Records): An album that showed us how good old school Thrash can be in todays Metal scene.

Dead Again Special Edition Type-O-Negative (SPV Records): TON was back and now with a live DVD there was more than enough reason to repurchase this one.

Ghost Opera The Second Coming Kamelot (SPV Records): The initial release was a 2007 fave and now with bonus tracks, artwork and a live CD deserve a place in my 2008 picks.

Live In Santa Monica 72 David Bowie (Virgin Music): A vintage concert from Bowies most influential period in a stunning collectable box. Kick ass.

Black Ice ACDC: Back at what they do best comes an ACDC great.
Nothing over the top flashy here just pure Rock & Roll that makes them a favorite.

Hole In The Sun Night Ranger (VH1 Classic): Proving they were more than just Hard Rock balladeers, Night Ranger gives us a rocking return.

Sagas Equilibrium (Nuclear Blast Records): Symphonic Pagan Folk Metal that is epic.

Mother Earth Within Temptation (Roadrunner Records): A re-release of the bands killer CD now available to a wider audience. Not a bad tune on it, and some bonus tracks.

Motorizer Motorhead (SPV Records): Much like traditional ACDC, with Motorhead you get what you pay for and this one is a rocking ride with Lemmy and company.

The Formation of Damnation Testament (Nuclear Blast Records): Bay Area Thrashers back in command for a throttling new Metal regime.

Twilight Of The Thunder God Amon Amarth (Metal Blade Records): The Vikings have returned to pillage and destroy anything in their path and their newest is a driving force without question.

The March Unearth (Metal Blade Records): Raising the bar to be followed by Metalcores elite, Unearth show there is a lot more in the way of dynamics to be displayed on this one.


The Best DVDs of 2008:

Roadrunner United Various Artists (Roadrunner Records): Filmed concert with Heavy Metals finest celebrating the record labels 25th anniversary. Lots of fun stuff here.

The Roundhouse Tapes Opeth (Peaceville Records): Filmed during the Ghost Reveries tour and a follow up to the CD released last year.

Live At The Astoria Twisted Sister (Demolition Records): The SMFs from NYC remind London and the world about why they are a Metal super power to this very day.

Black Symphony Within Temptation (Roadrunner Records): A stunning live concert performance that pairs the Dutch sensations with a full orchestra. This is an amazing show. Audio CD included.

Live After Death Iron Maiden (Universal Music): Never before on DVD this classic Iron Maiden show from the Powerslave tour, this release was loaded with extras and is listed as required Metal.

Walk With Me In Hell Lamb Of God (Epic Records): This documentary took the viewer on a three year trek with the band and was insightful, entertaining and sometimes jarring in its honesty. Great job guys.

The Invaluable Darkness Tour Dimmu Borgir (Nuclear Blast Records):
The giants of Norwegian Black Metal have their tour captured on DVD for more to enjoy. A great set with a ton of features.

Paris Moon Blackmores Night (SPV Records): A great concert from the Renaissance Rockers. Bonus CD included.

Live In Texas ZZ Top (Eagle Vision): There is nothing like the Blues-Rock of ZZ Top to make a day fun. This film captures all of their hits and offers up some cool bonuses.

Black Mass Krakow Gorgoroth (Metal Mind Productions/MVD
Entertainment): Visual villainy at its most notorious. This film finally surfaces and shows why Gorgoroth is one of the most feared of the Black Metal bands today.

Wacken Carnage Bloodbath (Peaceville Records): Brutal and uncompromised live set from this Death Metal supergroup. A CD comes with it.


The Best Concerts of 2008:

Metal Masters Tour - Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell, Motorhead & Testament (Sony/Rhino Entertainment/SPV Records/Nuclear Blast Records) at PNC Bank Arts Center: Pairing Judas Priest and H&H together would have made this an amazing show, and adding Motorhead and Testament to the mix just upped the ante. It was a fanastic display of Metal power.

Paganfest USA Ensiferum, Turisas, Tyr & Eluveitie (Candlelight Records/Century Media Records/Napalm Records/Nuclear Blast Records) at B.B. King Blues Club: Luminaries of Viking and Folk Metal all touring under one banner made for an incredible night.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Lava Records) at Izod Center: The TSO is a yearly tradition for me, and this year they added Savatage numbers and brought out special guest Steven Tyler. I was on my feat more than in the seat that night. Always impressive and something that finally needs to be on DVD.

Helloween & Gamma Ray (SPV Records) at B.B. King Blues Club: Two bands that are closer knit than most others on the same stage. This was an exillerating Power Metal ride.

Fish (Chocolate Frog UK) at B.B. King Blues Club: It was great to have Fish touring in an intimate venue and for the NYC show we had 3 as the opener. A great show.

At The Gates at Fillmore NY (Earache Records): Reunions were popular
this year and this one presented the legends of the Gothenburg sound.
A killer show without question.

Carcass at Nokia Theater (Nuclear Blast Records): Carcass endeavors gave the ok to new forms of Metal and their reunion tour was an amazing experience. It also brought Suffocation and 1349 among others along and was to be talked about for weeks after.

Opeth at Nokia Theater (Roadrunner Records): You cant go wrong with the power of Opeth in concert. They are raising the Metal bar with each and every show. High On Fire and Nachtmystium helped out as support.

Apocalyptica at Nokia Theater (Zomba Music): The four cellists of Metal delivered the goods to a scaled down Nokia Theater where everyone had an amazing time. I love how these guys do their thing and recommend you see them at least once if not more.

Dethklok at Nokia Theater (Williams Street Records): The animated juggernauts in a live concert Yes it can and was done. An amazing time and lots of fun watching the crowd mosh to a giant movie screen band.

Ace Frehley at Nokia Theater: The Space Ace was back in the New York Groove and not much more needs to be said on that.

Iced Earth at Nokia Theater (SPV Records): Much to the delight of Metal fans, Matt Barlow is back in Iced Earth and all is right in their world. Into Eternity opened up and delivered a crushing set as well.

Symphony X at Nokia Theater (SPV Records): Prog-Metal will never be the same now that they are finally getting their due. They brought Epica and Into Eternity along for the ride and I love both of those bands as well.

Trail Of Tears at B.B. King Blues Club (Napalm Records): The ToT had never toured the US before and since they brought Unexpect, The Agonist and Echoes Of Eternity along we made sure to join in. Sadly it was ill attended but those who came loved it, and thats all that matters.

Twisted Sister at Nokia Theater (Razor and Tie): It's a Twisted Christmas Charlie Brown!!!! Dee and the boys really made the holidays a hoot and a half with this show that pulled out all the stops and upped their game from the previous year's Fillmore NY gig. Guest star Lita Ford made this all the more special.

Kamelot and Edguy at B.B. King Blues Club (SPV Records & Nuclear Blast Records): The yearly Kamelot show has been a welcome part of my Rock and Roll year as they always deliver. This year they brought EdGuy along and the fun just was upped a bit more.

Sonata Arctica at Nokia Theater (Nuclear Blast Records): Sonata Arctica stepped up their game when Nightwish had to cancel due to illness, and as result this show was a blast of Melodic Metal that showed just how good these guys are at what they do. New fans were made this night without question.

Other shows that needed to be mentioned and also kick ass included Candlemass, Grave Digger and Iron Savior but sadly these shows had what I considered a pathetic level of attendance as opposed to full rooms. Its not a reflection on the bands because they rocked everyones socks but it seemed to be more a case of there being other larger events happening at the same time that forced the Metal legions to choose one or the other. Those who attended were entertained while those who missed out without good reason very simply missed out.


Interesting Reads of 2008:

Reckless Road by Marc Canter: This book delivered early photographs of Guns N Roses from their pre-signed days and offered set lists and commentary from the people involved during their climb to the top. A must for Guns historical buffs.

Heavy Metal Painkillers by Martin Popoff: Popoffs book about the history of Judas Priest is very similar to his Black Sabbath one and features a ton of amazing photos and delivers a year by year, album by album synopsis of one of the worlds greatest Metal bands. It even focuses on the Ripper years and Halfords solo work all the way up until the reunion.


The Worst of It All in 2008:

C U La Tour Ministry & Meshuggah (13th Planet Records/Nuclear Blast Records) at Fillmore NY: Yes this was Ministrys final tour but performing behind a chain linked fence in limited light on top of giving Meshuggah a dark stage and 30 minutes to perform made this a suck fest for me. Legends or not, this show could have ruled and instead made me stare at my watch. Lucky for those interested, Meshuggah returns and headlines a tour next year.

Chinese Democracy Guns N Roses (Universal Music): Wow, the wait is over and everything I heard via the streaming version made me say who cares. I couldnt bear to spend money on it being as under whelmed as I was by this Axl Rose solo effort.

Saints Of Los Angeles Motley Crue (10th Street Entertainment): I expected much more from these guys especially with such incredible
releases from their 80s Metal peers coming out around the same time.
Not completely awful but really not impressive either. Luckily this year saw the re-release of a complete remastered catalog for the Crue and that impressed me.

Nostradamus Judas Priest (Sony Music): Maybe its not fair to line it out as a worst release, but it was too epic and hence too ponderous for many listeners. A single disc could have made this a more focused and interesting listen. If they tour this full album they will be playing to empty sections without question. Fans want Priest to rock and not be something meant for the Broadway stage. It was hard to place this here after eventually liking the CD.

J2 Jarboe & Justin Broderick (The End Records): Sound effects, and atmospheric drech was par for the course with this unlistenable piece of music. No matter how you sliced it, this was an arduous listen.

Ikons" & "Playlist Plus" KISS (Universal Music): It almost pains me to list a KISS album as a flop in any sense and this is not as much their fault as it is the fault of Universal for continuing to
re-package the same stuff that we have had them issue over and over.
Yes the label owns the KISS back catalog, and I love that they gave us remasters a few years ago, but I am sure that unreleased stuff that is under their control is somewhere to be released. Please give us that and no more Greatest Hits packages. We KISS fans will buy it anyway and in today's economy you are killing us.

Top 100 Metal Guitarists by Joel McIver (Jawbone Press): Some might like this one but the book left out far too much for me and my own views were in massive disagreement with the author. You might like it, I didnt.
 

 

ELIAS GRANILLO's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

Best Of 2008

Elephant9 – Dodovoodoo
Arc – Fracture
Dawn – Loneliness
Karcius – Episodes
Tangerine Dream – View From A Red Train
Emerson, Keith (Band) featuring Marc Bonilla – Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla
Project Moonbeam – Project Moonbeam
Klotet – En Rak Hoger
Time Traveller – Time Traveller
Rush – Snakes & Arrows Live
Saga – 10,000 Days
Lindh, Par (Project) – In Concert–Live In Poland
Thin Lizzy – UK Tour '75
Bigelf – Cheat The Gallows
R-U Kaiser – Ocelos
Koepper, Jeffrey – Sequentaria
Giallo! – One Suite For The Murderer
Tricantropus – Recuerdos Del Futuro
Healing Road, The – Timanfaya
 

Best Of 2008: Reissues

Kansas – Two For The Show
MacKay, Duncan – Chimera
Planet P Project – Pink World
Carey, Tony – Some Tough City
Carpenter, John with Alan Howarth – Prince Of Darkness–Complete
Wright, Gary – The Light Of Smiles
Winterhawk – Revival
Vangelis – Blade Runner Trilogy: 25th Anniversary
Bigelf – Closer To Doom
Hawkwind – Warrior On The Edge Of Time
Blue Oyster Cult – Imaginos
Mellow Candle – Swaddling Songs

 

 

KERRY LEIMER's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

MUSIC: New Releases

In principle, ranking works is an artificial sort of endeavor. Too subjective, with no suitable framework of measures and – outside the professional world of actual and informed criticism – typically laboring under the illusory notion of some fixed aesthetic which always proves to be, of necessity, highly variable anyway. But in my mind at least, 2008 had one release that stood out above the rest for a number of reasons.

Gavin Bryars's The Sinking of the Titanic (1969 –) importantly revisits and reinterprets that seminal new music work first presented close to forty years ago. Performed at the storied Teatro Malibran in Venice, Italy, Bryars, with ensemble Alter Ego and Philip Jeck on turntables, makes the statement that there can be a living repertory of New Music, free of the often slavish dogmas that have determined the presentation of the Canon of Western Art Music for several centuries; that the now old idea of "newness", driven principally by commercial concern to sell art as product, need not be a guiding principle; that the reuse of original material can extend far beyond the modest and commercially expedient cult of "remix"; that new compositional techniques, such as those used to originate The Sinking of the Titanic are both durable and reliably flexible, demanding discipline and the recognition that any and all expression remain open-ended. Besides, it's incredibly beautiful, by any definition.

The others, alphabetically

Ryoji Ikuta: 1000 Fragments
In the slipstream of Robert Henke, an engineering expert applying new technologies to generating music, 1000 Fragments compiles aspects from a multitude of installment and performance pieces created over that past decade.

oRSo: Ask your neighbor
Strangely strange but oddly normal mostly acoustic highly-polished naοve primitivism.

Steve Peters: Three Rooms
An outstanding example of sound art for installation, translated successfully to CD.

Kate Rusby: Awkward Annie
For anyone who admires Sandy Denny, and would appreciate the slowest, most controlled vibrato ever heard, Rusby's latest release is an immaculate rendering of traditional and contemporary English folk.

Russian Circles: Station
Kid Crimson.

Set Fire to Flames: Sings Reign Rebuilder
The next-gen God Speed You, Black Emperor! Takes the shape of a wide-ranging ensemble, uninterested in every notion of genre.

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra La La Band: 13 blues for thirteen moons
Another large scale ensemble incorporating the electric, electronic and acoustic into that monumentally understated and often uncomfortable sound of Musicians Thinking Out Loud.

Willits + Sakamoto: Ocean Fire
Sakamoto's collaborations are uniformly remarkable, remarkably diverse. His ability to impart musicality to the most amusical preoccupations. A singular ambient / electronic collection.

Wire: Object 47
Another stage artifact derived from ever-changing / ever-constant movement.


Music: Reissues

The past seemed ready to overtake the present in 2008 (in any number of ways), and there were many worthwhile reissues. Still, the remastering seemed of dubious quality for much of the category. Perhaps none were as disappointing as the Genesis box 1970 - 1975. To my mind, the only worthwhile music the band offered came during this period, yet the remastering does little to dissuade me of the opinion that from 1970 - 1975 Genesis suffered some of the worst production values of the period. But, hey, at least two worthwhile groups were again granted UPC codes:

Supersister
The entire catalog was remastered and reissued. On the margins, but for their humor and invention, Supersister should be in every prog rock library.

Darryl Way's Wolf
Same story: less even and at times awkward (vocals and lyrics, as usual) Way made a strong case for the violin in rock, though never quite as compelling as High Tide or the LTA edition of King Crimson, Wolf was better and worse than many of us might hope.


Film, Alphabetically

Breathless and Pierrot le fou
It's about time Criterion got busy with the Godard catalog: great films, lovely in their restoration and disarming in their frankness.

Funny Games
That Haneke chose to remake his own film is almost interesting enough: but discomfort that is both social and unsettling in form. The original is incrementally better, being free of celebrity and all...

Interkosmos
Analog lovely.

Margot at the Wedding
So good that despite have stars does not seem like a movie with stars.

The Savages
Unflinching and dark in humor and pathos.


Books, Alphabetically

Julian Barnes: Nothing to be frightened of
The novelist and Francophile presents a meditation – personal essay form – on living and it's guaranteed end. Some concise insights on art and the flex-meaning thereof.

Richard Brody: Everything is Cinema, The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard
Encyclopedic film-by-film appraisal of the genius of the French New Wave.

Robert Scheer: The Pornography of Power
First, very happy to see the word "pornography" applied to the Pentagon. A short, thorough and damning report on the self-serving nexus of politics, weaponry and the mass-death business better known by the sobriquet of "defense".

Jacob Weisberg: The Bush Tragedy
Indeed. Indeed.
 

 

BUTCH JONES's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

CD's of the Year

1.    Meshuggah-"Obzen": It's MESHUGGAH, enough said. The beginning to "Bleed" is completely sick!!
2.    Leatherwolf- "World Asylum": A tremendous return from the 3 guitar threat of the '80's. Super heavy & totally fierce.
3.    Byzantine- "Oblivion Beckons": Another band that just NEVER disappoints. They just keep picking up from where they left off.
4.    Opeth-"Watershed": Breathtaking!
4.    Mudvayne-"The New Game": Another band picking up where they left off. Great record
6.    Testament "The Formation of Damnation": Fantastic ANGRY comeback record. Chuck Billy at his meanest in years!
7.    Richie Kotzen-"Live in Sao Paulo": What a KILLER. Kotzen is one of Rock's greatest talents that no one really even knows. What a VOICE & he's no slouch on guitar, either.
8.    Dub Trio- "Another Sound Is Dying": An incredible band that is truly one of a kind. Amazing stuff.
9.    Mercenary- Architect Of Lies": These guys never disappoint!
10.    Iced Earth-"The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Part 2)": Welcome back Matt Barlow and full steam ahead for the machine that is Iced Earth. Great new installment to this continuing story.
 

 

RYAN SPARKS's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

NoMan -- Schoolyard Ghosts
The Pineapple Thief -- Tightly Unwound
Greg Sherman -- The Road Home
Deadsea -- Deadsea
Kings X -- XV
Journey -- Revelation
Metallica -- Death Magnetic
Opeth -- Watershed
Whitesnake -- Good To Be Bad
Airbourne -- Runnin' Wild
Motorhead -- Motorizer
Neal Morse -- Lifeline
Agalloch -- The White EP
Peter Primamore -- Grancia
Time Traveller -- Chapters I & II
Ascend -- Ample Fire Within
Simone Weissenfels / Adam Smith -- Arrival
Bosch's With You -- Dreams That Come A Thing
Orthodox -- Amanecer en Puerta Oscura
Actual Music Quartet RSM -- Actual Music Quartet RSM
Arghoslent -- Hornets of The Pogrom
Ahkmed -- Chicxulub
Riversea -- The Demo EP
Shade Empire -- Zero Nexus
Stebmo -- Stebmo
 

ALEX TORRES's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

My Top 25 Albums of the Year

The ones I adore
The Pineapple Thief
- Tightly Unwound
Mostly Autumn - Glass Shadows

Believe - Yesterday is a Friend
The Reasoning - Dark Angel
Klaus Schulze & Lisa Gerrard - Farscape

No-Man - Schoolyard Ghosts
I Am Kloot - Play Moulah Rouge (singer-songwriter with backing band, faint hints of a young John Lennon)
Natty - Natty (Anglified reggae infused with light folk influences)

And the ones I have a few reservations about
 

Frost - Experiments in Mass Appeal (fairly recent release and I'm not sure how it will hold up with time, but is very promising)

Nosound - Lightdark
Simon Collins - U-Catastrophe
Siena Root - Far From the Sun
Gary Moore - Bad for you baby

Opeth - Watershed
Blandbladen - I Grevens Tid
Nayo - African Girl (sweet sexy soulful)
Eternal Wanderers - The Door to a Parallel World
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

Very enjoyable and worthy of a mention

Van der Graaf Generator - Trisector (not quite the same without David jackson though)
Guillemots - Red (pop crossover with world music written by a progressive mind)
Billy Sherwood - At the Speed of Life
The Kooks - Konk (21st century Kinks)
Panic Room - Visionary Position
Combination Head - Progress?
Il Baccio Della Medusa - Discesa agl' inferno...
 

EPs Worthy of a Mention

Mytho - Mytho
After My Own - Psychotropic Annotations of the Lights Unreceived (which also receives my award for the whackiest title!)
 

DVD of the Year

Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura and Beyond

Biggest disappointment of the Year

Neal Morse - Lifeline
 

 

JON NEUDORF's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

Best CD's of 2008 in no particular order:

Magenta – Metamorphosis (excellent female vocals and outstanding progressive rock)
Coldplay – Viva La Vida (well executed progressive flavored pop, there strongest album to date)
3rdegree – Narrow-Caster (excellent melodic rock/pop with a strong progressive twist)
Seven Steps to the Green Door – Step in 2 My World (great melodies and a variety of styles made this release one of my favorites)
Ayreon – 01011001 (probably my favorite this year, another superb rock opera from the master himself)
Don Airey – A Light in the Sky (the Deep Purple keyboardist's solo album is a real treat for the ears, fans of Deep Purple cannot go wrong with this one)
Cast – Originallis (classic sounding symphonic rock in the tradition of the 70's)
Evolve IV – Decadent Light (for me, an exciting new find of 2008)
Jelly Fiche – Tout ce que j'ai reve (fantastic French progressive rock with a nod to Pink Floyd)
D Project, The – The Sagarmatha Dilemma (a classy slice of 70's style Pink Floyd flavored prog)
Nosound – Lightdark (moody, atmospheric music at its finest)
Serenity – Fallen Sanctuary (symphonic and progressive metal fans should love this)
Talisma – Quelque Part (another highly enjoyable French Canadian band making high quality instrumental music)
Simon Says – Tartigrade (if you are interested in 70's influenced classic symphonic rock this is the cd for you)
Asia – Phoenix (one of their best in years, a definite return to form)
Avantasia – The Scarecrow (an excellent offering from Tobias Sammet and should appeal to fans of hard rock, metal and prog)
Neal Morse – Lifeline (probably his most personal album to date and one which I enjoyed very much)

Best concerts of 2008 in no particular order:

Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Credit Union Center, Saskatoon (a prog metal extravaganza)
Australian Pink Floyd Show at T.C.U. Place in Saskatoon (they did not miss a note, an excellent show)
Progressive Nation Tour at MacEwan Hall, Calgary (Dream Theater, Beneath the Buried and Me and Opeth did not disappoint, unfortunately I missed the band Three )
 

 

SCOTT JESSUP's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

Top 10

1.Scar Symmetry - Holographic Universe - Stellar performances from all those involved.
2.Into Eternity - The Incurable Tragedy - Frantic ride on this fantastic concept album.
3.Seventh Wonder - Mercy Falls - This album was a great surprise.
4.Thy Majestie - Dawn - This band haven't disappointed me yet.
5.Opeth - Watershed - Can't fault this one, another fine cd.
6.Testament - The Formation Of Damnation - My favorite 80s Thrashers with another fine album.
7.Iced Earth - The Crucible of Man - Something Wicked Part 2 - Great album from one of the best.
8.Cavalera Conspiracy - Inflikted - Another surprise my favorite release involving Max since he left Sepultura.
9.Almah - Fragile Equality - Is this the new Angra? Maybe not, but what an album.
10.Zero Hour - Dark Deceiver - It' heavy, it's complex and it's fantastic.

Some Of My Other 2008 Favorites

Theocracy - Mirror Of Souls
Harmony - Chapter 11 - Aftermath
Stormwarrior - Heading Northe
Powerquest - Master Of Illusion
Pyramaze - Immortal
Avantasia - The Scarecrow - Good album, better than Edguy's latest.
Psycroptic - Ob(Sevant)
Opeth - Watershed
Messhuguh - OBZEN
To Mera - Delusions
Firewind - The Premonition - I just skip the Maniac cover now.
Viron - Ferumm Gravis
Soulfly - Conquer
Brainstorm - Downburst
Warrell Dane - Praise To The War Machine
Jeff Lomis - Zero Order Phase
Alestorm - Captain Morgan's Revenge
Ayreon - 0101101


Live DVD/CD releases From:

Gamma Ray, Within Temptation, Dream Theater, Therion, Firewind and Dream Evil.


Biggest Let Downs

Metallica - Death Magnetic - Besides the sound issues, it pales in comparison to the other heavy albums this year like those from Testament and Calvalera Conspiracy.
Judas Priest - Nostradamus - Too long for it's on good.
Revolution Renaissance - New Era - Wish it was.
Children Of Bodom - Blooddrunk - Been going downhill for me since Follow The Reaper.


Musical highlight of 2008

Finally seeing Dream Theater live, it was a great show and of course joining the Sea Of Tranquility team.


Most looking forward to

New albums from Dark Moor, Pagan's Mind, Mystic Prophecy, Dream Theater and Redemption DVD amongst many other rumored releases. If they all come out 2009 is looking great.
 

 

SCOTT WARD's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

These are the albums that for whatever reason kept creeping back into the CD player. They are in no particular order:

Souljourners – Mind Control (One of the best debut albums ever)
Chaos Theory – The Art of War (Johnny is the best screamer there is)
Lava Engine – Lava Engine (Great progressive metal debut from Sweden)
Mind Warp Chamber – Delusional Reality(Majestic Metal Masterpiece)
Keep of Kalessin – Kolosuss (Black Metal at it's best)
Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper (It is about time they do another album!)
Jon Oliva's Pain – Global Warning (Must have album period)
Crematory – Pray (Death metal with soul Cool stuff)
Winters Dawn –The Winter is Dawning (A gem of symphonic power metal)
In This Moment – The Dream (Maria Brink Enough said)
Ulysses – The Gift of Tears (Just fantastic music and story)
Testament – The Formation of Damnation (Comeback of the year?)
Motley Crue – Saints of Los Angeles (Nikki does The Heroin Diaries for the band)
Meshuggah – obZen (Butch gave it 112 stars out of 5 Not enough!)
Kivimetsan Druidi – Shadowheart (Can't understand a word but who cares)
Rod DeGeorge – Cosmic Playground (Great instrumental guitar)
Deadsea – Deadsea ( Just kick ass metal)
Disturbed – Indestructible (Their best)
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (Who else could put a slasher movie to music)
Avantasia – The Scarecrow (Tobias with Alice Cooper guest starring)
Firewind – The Premonition (WOW! This is power metal to the max)
Another Black Day – Another Black Day ( Powerhouse metal, dynamite vocals)
Judas Priest – Nostradamus (It grows on you)
Strange Karma –Volume I (Just plain old fashion rock and roll)
Marco Sfogli – There's Hope (Monster guitar shredder Amazing!)
Opeth – Watershed (You Have To Love This Album)
Cynic – Traced in Air (What a great album 15 years in the making)
Communic – Payment of Existence (Outstanding Metal)
Esoteric – The Maniacal Veil (Moody, dark and captivating)
Eyefear – The Unseen (Aussie metal at it's best)
(un)SAID – The Initial Transition ( This is a surprise winner)
Amaseffer – Slave For Life (Very different and compelling)
Pop Evil – Lipstick on the Mirror ( Rock & Roll's newest stars)
Amon Amarth – Twilight of the Thunder Gods (They finally put it all together Great Viking metal album Epic and bombastic Almost perfect!)
Wykked Wytch – Memmories of a Dying Whore (Melodic Death Metal)
Eluveitie – Slania (Swedish Folk Metal-Tour Edition has bonus live material)
Poisonblack – A Dead Heavy Day (Finnish heavy metal Their best to date)
The Sundial – Transition (Russian gothic metal)
Brave – Monuments (Great female fronted metal from Washington D C )
Lanfear – X to the Power of Ten (German melodic power metal)

Live and Reissue Best of 2008

Kansas – Two For The Show (30th Anniversary Edition)
Dream Theater – Chaos In Motion (Live)
David Gilmour – Live In Gdansk
The Clash – Live At Shea Stadium
Jeff Healey – Mess of Blues
David Bowie – Live in Santa Monica '72
Rush – Snakes & Arrows Live
Firewind – The Premonition Live
Warren Zevon –Warren Zevon (Collector's Edition)
Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve Reloaded
Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue & Bambu
The Moody Blues – Live at the Isle of Wight
Spock's Beard – Live
Dream Evil – Gold Medal in Metal
Gamma Ray – Hell Yeah!
Black Sabbath – The Rules of Hell
Therion – Live Gothic
Marillion – Early Stages
Jeff Beck – Performing This Week…Live at Ronnie Scott's
The Doors – Live at the Matrix 1967

Best Concerts

Jon Oliva's Pain, Circle II Circle, Manticora, Halloween, Justdefy at the I-Rock, Detroit MI
Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Bury Your Dead, Another Black Day at the Emerald Theater, Detroit MI
Halloween, Chaos Theory, 2 Days Out, In His Image, Mindcryme at the Ritz, Detroit MI
 

 

CHRISTIAN BERNIER's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

Best of 2008 list in no particular order

Neal Morse -- Lifeline
Karmakanic -- Who -- s the Boss in the Factory
Opeth -- Watershed
Ephart -- No One -- s Words
Meshuggah -- ObZen
Brighteye Brison -- Believers and Deceivers
The Mars Volta -- The Bedlame in Goliath
My Morning Jacket -- Evil Urges
Steve Stevens -- Memory Crash
Edensong -- The Fruit Fallen
Neal Morse -- Sola Scriptura DVD
Muse -- HAARP DVD
 

 

DENIS BRUNELLE's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

CD's of the Year

In no particular order :

Dark Suns - Grave Human Genuine

Black Altar - Death Fanaticism

Mφrker - Hφstmakter

Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Pt.1

Empty - The Last Breath of Thy Mortal Despair

Fimbultyr - Gryende Tidevarv

Tiamat - Amanethes

Nucleus Torn - Knell

Celestia - Frigidiis ApotheosiA: AbstineciA GenesiiS

Heorot - Ragnarφk

Folkearth - Songs of Yore

Lantlτs - Lantlτs

Moonsorrow - Tulimyrsky

Infestus - Chroniken Des Ablebens

Ars Diavoli - Pro Nihilo Esse

Striborg - Autumnal Melancholy

Darkestrah - The Great Silk Road

Might is Right - Nordic Warchants II

Kerbenok - O

Hellveto - Neoheresy

Cold Northern Vengeance -Domination and Servitude

 

SCOTT BORRE's TOP PICKS FOR 2008

 

1. Voyager - Univers : It was a 2008 release for the US so I'm counting it. This album affects me in a wonderful way. I only recently got it, but it has become a favorite of mine. Daniel Estrin has an incredible voice. He can channel the gothic tones of Peter Steele, the emotions of Duda, Englund, and Kakko, as well as a pure rock/metal voice. The album is progressive, though mostly absent of solos. Each song is distinct and strong. There are no weak songs on this album.

2. Captain Cutthroat - s/t : One of the few quirky albums I've enjoyed this year. I'm not sure why it ranks so high, I guess it just fits me well. I think its highly overlooked, but hopefully their next album gets the press and distribution they deserve.

3. Biomechanial - Cannibalised : I still can't figure this album out. Its pure madness. Its hard to listen to at times, yet I've listened to it more than any other album this year.

4. Sabaton - Art of War : I tire of the quotations, but otherwise its great metal. I've listened to this secondmost this year. Its wonderful.

5. Pharaoh - Be Gone : I don't know what true metal means anymore. I don't like to call this true metal, because while it probably is, it doesn't sound old like everything else people put that label on. This has some of the best rhythm and melody of any album I've heard this year.

6. Hammers of Misfortune - Fields/Church : I still haven't fully absorbed this album. At times I love it, at times my mind wanders a bit too much. I think I need another 6 months to really appreciate it. Scalzi brought an energy level that is absent without him. But musically, compositionally, this album has so many strong moments of pure bliss.

7. Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward : The eponymous song is one of my favorites this year.

8. Sculptured - Embodiment : An early favorite for me. I don't have much to say about it.

9. Protest the Hero - Fortress : Its full of energy. I turn to it when I need a kick in the ass.

10. Zimmer's Hole - When You Were Shouting at the Devil... We Were in League with Satan : I'm a Devin fan. He produced this. It feels like he was a member of the band. Fun album. I haven't listened to it too much yet. I've heard that it loses its greatness after a while. I'll see.

11. Jeff Loomis - Zero Order Phase : I can understand claims from people that this feels like it should just be a Nevermore album. However, that's not true from song to song. Cashmere Shiv is one of, if not the,

 

SUMMARIZED LIST OF THE TOP 50 CDS, FROM ALL OF THE SoT STAFF

 

In Approximate Order Of Preference

1. Opeth - Watershed
2. Meshuggah - ObZen
3. Zero Hour - Dark Deceiver
4. Testament - The Formation of Damnation
5. Cynic - Traced in Air
6. Ayreon - 01001101
7. Bigelf - Cheat the Gallows
8. Amaseffer - Slave For Life
9. Presto Ballet - The Lost Art of Time Travel
10. Iced Earth - The Crucible Of Man
11. Avantasia - The Scarecrow
12. Scar Symmetry - Holographic Universe
13. Eluveitie - Slania
14. Firewind - The Premonition
15. Into Eternity - The Incurable Tragedy
16. Seventh Wonder - Mercy Falls
17. No - Man - Schoolyard Ghosts
18. Jelly Fiche - Tout ce que j'ai reve
19. Neal Morse - Lifeline
20. Brighteye Brison -- Believers And Deceivers
21. Nosound - Lightdark
22. Warrell Dane - Praise To The War Machine
23. Frost* - Experiments in Mass Appeal
24. Souljourners - Mind Control
25. Theocracy - Mirror Of Souls
26. Ihsahn - angL
27. Suspyre - When Time Fades
28. Mercenary - Architect of Lies
29. Uriah Heep - Wake the Sleeper
30. Psycroptic - Ob (Servant)
31. Keep of Kalessin - Kolossus
32. Byzantine - Oblivion Beckons
33. Dominici - 03 - A Trilogy - Part 3
34. Brainstorm - Downburst
35. Simon Says - Tartigrade
36. Magenta - Metamorphosis
37. Dark Suns - Grave Human Genuine
38. Elephant9 - Dodovoodoo
39. Fromuz - Overlook
40. Gavin Bryars's The Sinking of the Titanic
41. The Pineapple Thief - Tightly Unwound
42. Journey -- Revelations
43. Arc -- Fracture
44. Leatherwolf -- World Asylum
45. The Reasoning -- Dark Angel
46. Dawn -- Loneliness
47. Garden Wall -- Aliena(c)tion
48. Jupiter Society -- First Contact - Last Warning
49. Tangerine Dream -- View From A Red Train
50. Karcius -- Episodes
 

  

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