1. Elvenking – “Era”
I listen to this album way too much to be considered healthy. The hooks in this album are stuck in my head all day long, so I just have to put it on! In one week at one point in time I listened to the tracks on this album over 300 times (over 40 songs a day). I literally dream about the songs, and this is no joke. They’re the last lyrics running through my head at night, and the first ones I’m singing in the shower in the morning.
For a band that I’ve been in love with since I heard The Winter Wake in 2006, and really thought they could do no wrong, they have honestly proven this to me better than any other band has managed to. They blend the two greatest things about metal (power and folk of course) and do it so seamlessly! Everything they’ve done is amazing, with each album progressing their sound to a more polished and melodic art form, they blow me away. Kudos to you Elvenking! Now get your asses to Denver, CO.
My favorites on the album are “We, Animals” and “Forget-Me-Not”.
2. Orden Ogan – “To the End”
Spot 2 & 3 was extremely hard for me to decide between. Orden Ogan was unknown to me until this year. I blame all of my friends (you shitty friends!) for not blessing me with this band before now, but the fact that this album exists makes everything better. Seeing the video single for “The Things We Believe In” instantly hooked me on the band and I just had to get my hands on the album. I wrote my review for Metalholic.com and gave it one of the highest scores I’ve given an album, a 9.8/10, only because one song at the end kind of stuck out to me like it didn’t fit. Literally everything else about this album is perfect.
The vocals are what really sell me on a band, and this band has one of the greatest vocal styles I have ever heard in power/heavy metal. Seeb has become my new Russell Allen, my new Jens Carlsson, my new Jorn Lande! What I’m trying to say is now my crazy stalker crushes that I have on the previous stated men, I now feel for Mr. Sebastian Levermann. Of course the musicianship behind the vocals are righteous! The songs so easily get stuck in your head. AND. What should be enough on its own for the number two spot on my list is the song “The Ice Kings” which completely blew me away with its beauty. This song is more beautiful than anything I’ve ever heard, and makes me question everything I once thought WAS beautiful.
3. Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – “Ascending to Infinity”
Rhapsody of Fire was one of the first power metal bands I ever got into, Power of the Dragonflame being my first taste of the band. Of course, like any fan I fell in love with LT and his amazing songwriting and skill and creating perfect hooks and beautiful melodies. With LT’s split from the band, and his endeavors with the new Rhapsody, I was one happy little fan to get her hands on their newest album a month before its release date. In no way did this album disappoint. It completely blew me away.
Mythology and power metal go hand in hand, and more bands should utilize this. Mythology is full of bad ass songs that are practically already written for you! The Divine Comedy was one of the most interesting stories I’d gotten my hands on, so of course when I saw Dante’s Inferno on this CD I cried a little, squealed, and hit play. And from then on, just as the intro track stated, my life would never be the same. Cinematic metal indeed, a fantastic release!
4. Sabaton – “Carolus Rex”
Sabaton had quite a rocky year, with most of the band leaving after being tired of constantly touring, however they managed to recover quickly, not letting their fans down. This release was the last release for the pre-replacement band line-up and I’m somewhat excited to see where exactly they will go from here with new members. It’s hard for me to say this but I think I have found an album that I like more than The Art of War because that has been my favorite album since I originally heard of these guys.
I love the concept of the Swedish wars and Carolus Rex, and feel like the band cared more about this album and the emotion put into it is definitely felt. Especially in songs like A Lifetime of War, you can truly feel the sadness and fear. From start to finish there isn’t a single moment on the album I don’t truly enjoy. There are so many catchy hooks and choruses to sing along with, and of course I enjoy that the most.
5. Dragonforce – “The Power Within”
Finally a Dragonforce album (outside of Valley of the Damned) that totally doesn’t suck ass. The new singer did wonders for the band, bringing a fresh young face into this stale world of Dragonforce. For a band that has brought the beautiful realm of power metal into millions of homes in America through Guitar Hero and terrible yet catchy singles, I surprisingly had zero respect for them (smell the sarcasm). Not to mention they were RUINING the sacred world I will ever fight for. When I was given the opportunity to review the album through Metalholic.com I was really hesitant but had no idea they would blow me away with a great album.
The moment I hit play for the first time on the album I could hear the vocals had changed and were far less digitized, same goes for the musicianship behind them. Still keeping the well-known tone of the band, I could actually hear each note without being bathed in reverb or whatever the hell this band did on Inhuman Rampage and Ultra Beatdown (even just looking at that name I cringe). I was pleasantly surprised in this album and still listen to it regularly as I drive through terrible Denver traffic. The gems of the album are Wings of Liberty, or Seasons if you prefer the ballad version, and Last Man Stands.