Before we reveal our last playlist of the year, editor in chief Lotty reveals her top ten albums of the year.
In the words of ABBA “Thank you for the music”. Normally it provides that much needed escapism to allow us to forget our day-to-day stresses and worries. During this pandemic where mental health has been low for most of us, including me, it has lifted me up and matched my down feelings. Either way it has provided a great release. Whether I reviewed it for the mag or listened to it at my own pleasure, here are my top ten albums that have helped me get through the year.
10. The Outlaw Orchestra – Pantomime Villains
Fancy a good time? It’s just as well I am kicking off my top ten is THE OUTLAW ORCHESTRA’s Pantomime Villains. Ever since discovering THE OUTLAW ORCHESTRA at NozFest 2019, I haven’t looked back. During the gloomy goings on in 2020, their debut album never failed to make me smile. The thing I love about this album is the brilliant variety of tracks; one minute you could be dancing to the upbeat sounds from songs such as Take A Bow, Hanging Tree and Jumpin Jive. The next you could be tapping your foot, chilling and drinking to songs such as Too Much Willie Nelson, Voodoo Queen and Arabia. This is an album to turn to when you want to have a good time and we needed it this year.
Find THE OUTLAW ORCHESTRA on Facebook.
9. Unleash The Archers – Abyss
The next album in my top ten takes you to a far-off galaxy that you can escape to. This year, we have needed this and this is what UNLEASH THE ARCHERS’ latest release Abyss does. Before Abyss, the last album I had listened to was Time Stands Still. So, a few years between the two. Abyss reminded me of why I needed to listen UNLEASH THE ARCHERS more often. The album contains some much-needed power that will help us overcome anything. Through the strong vocal work, finger-blistering guitar work and thunderous drums; I felt floaty and mesmerised when listening to this record. I should mention Waking Dream is definitely one of the best album openers I have heard for a long time, a great way to start the journey. I also wish to give a shout out to tracks Legacy and Carry The Flame for providing me that empowerment when I have needed it.
You can read my review of the album here.
Find UNLEASH THE ARCHERS on Facebook.
8. Nightwish – Human :II: Nature
NIGHTWISH are one of my personal favourite bands. They were the first band that opened my eyes to Symphonic Metal, I loved how two opposing styles of music could come together to create something beautiful. The poetic song writing from lyricist/keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen is the reason why I wanted to start writing.
Like all albums that come my way for a top ten of the year post, it got the fair treatment and would have only make my top ten if I can listen to it from start to finish without growing bored or skipping tracks. With Human :II: Nature, I definitely can do both. I notice in this release they venture to the symphonic sounds that drew me to NIGHTWISH in the first instant. Favourites on this album include Noise, Pan, How’s The Heart and Tribal. Whenever I listen to this album of choirs, orchestral elements and top-notch metal, I feel fully immersed. It allows me to escape for those few moments. This album is further proof why NIGHTWISH continue to be personal favourites.
Find NIGHTWISH on Facebook.
7. Leaves’ Eyes – The Last Viking
Don the long boats, prepare the armour and charge into battle with The Last Viking. The latest tale from LEAVES’ EYES will leave you feeling so empowered that you will want to stand on top of a rock clutching your weapon in hand and raising it to the gods. I classed The Last Viking as my album of the month last month and with good reason, each track contains powerful vocals and music arrangements that will make Odin quake in his boots. My personal favourite tracks on this album are Chain Of The Golden Horn, Black Butterfly and Serkland. Unleash your inner viking with the sounds of this fantastic album.
Find LEAVES’ EYES on Facebook.
6. Ad Infinitum – Chapter 1: Monarchy
I discovered AD INFINITUM by chance this year. Their debut album Chapter 1: Monarchy was released around the time we went into lockdown and it came under my recommendations on YouTube. So perfect timing. From the majestic opening notes of Infected Monarchy to the beautiful sounds Tell Me Why, I was blown away by this band’s majestic sound. My personal favourite tracks on this album are Marching On Versailles, Maleficent, I Am The Storm, Live Before You Die and Revenge. In fact, each track is so brilliant I have trouble selecting just one that demonstrates this band’s impeccable talent. What I am saying is that you need to give this album a listen and hear for yourselves. This strong debut is concrete evidence AD INFINITUM are Symphonic Metal icons in the making.
You can read my interview with band’s vocalist Melissa Bonny here.
Find AD INFINITUM on Facebook.
5. Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
I am kicking off my top five with Emblas Saga, the latest album from BROTHERS OF METAL. This band of warriors are great at producing songs that make us laugh and help us feel empowered. They achieved this mighty feat in their latest tale that was released at the beginning of the year. It’s been a tough year all around and the uplifting content in Emblas Saga has helped me feel better. Whether it’s through a song like Theft Of The Hammer where the lyrical content such as “Give it back at once you thief, or I’ll go tell my Dad” made me chuckle and laugh. Or whether it was through the single One about coming together and helping your fellow warriors through their struggles. Emblas Saga was an album I turned to time and time again for comfort and power.
Find BROTHERS OF METAL on Facebook.
4. Amaranthe – Manifest
I have liked AMARANTHE ever since finding their debut album all those years ago on Spotify and from then on, I felt their albums got better each one they released. Their latest album Manifest is no exception. From the moment I pressed play on this record, I felt like a super hero ready to conquer anything that came my way. One of the things I admire about AMARANTHE is that they are not afraid to try new things with their sound, even if it means people turning their noses up.
One of those new things is including guest vocalists and musicians on Manifest. You have the powerful duet between Elize Ryd and BATTLE BEAST vocalist Noora Louhimo in the empowering song Strong. BUTCHER BABIES’ Heidi Sheppard on belter BOOM!1, a track that sounds like if SOIL and SLIPKNOT had collided. DRAGONLAND’s Elias Hlmlid and APOCALYPTICA’s Perttu Kivilaakso on stunning ballad Crystalline, AMARANTHE often hit the nail on the head with ballads. Of course, not forgetting ARCH ENEMY’s Jeff Loomis and renowned vocalis Angela Gossow on Do Or Die.
In my opinion, this is their best album to date. Maximum volume is mandatory when listening to this.
Find AMARANTHE on Facebook.
3. Thundermother – Heat Wave
From the moment I heard singles Driving In Style and Sleep, I knew I wanted to check them out and listen to their latest album. When the first few notes of belting opener Loud And Alive were heard, I instantly decided that THUNDERMOTHER’s Heat Wave was going to make my top ten of the year. It’s kicking off my top three with extremely valid reasons.
Let’s go through the checklist for an outstanding hard rock album. Prevailing vocal work that helps you feel motivated? Check. Finger blistering guitar work that would make Slash proud? Check. Pounding drums and basslines that make you want to headbang and stamp your feet? Check. All of these coming together to create empowering hard rock anthems that are worthy of stadiums? Absolutely.
Strong examples of this can be found in tracks such as Dog From Hell, the title track, Free Ourselves, Mexico and Bad Habits. From start to finish, you are treated to kick ass, straight to the point, no nonsense hard rock greatness.
If AC/DC and HALESTORM had conceived a love child, THUNDERMOTHER would be it. If you fancy letting out that inner wild rock child, blast Heatwave out of the loudest speakers you have.
You can read my review of the album here.
Find THUNDERMOTHER on Facebook.
2. Majestica – A Christmas Carol
This was a late addition to the top ten since it was only released a couple of weeks ago. I knew from the moment I started listening to MAJESTICA’s A Christmas Carol that it was going to be very high in my top ten. It was a close call between this album and my top album for the top spot, I will explain my reasons for picking my top album momentarily but for now, let’s go into why this is my second top album of the year.
A Christmas Carol is one my personal favourite stories and naturally I was intrigued to hear MAJESTICA were going to do their own adaption of the Charles Dickens classic. Using a mixture of traditional Christmas carols and MAJESTICA’s own sound, these work together impeccably to create something magical. I mention this in my review of the album, one thing I loved about this album is how they were able to create the right mood in the music for the situations in the story. Whether it’s the spooky and important goings on in Ghost Of Marley or the sad yet hopeful feelings from Bob Cratchit as he speaks of Scrooge in The Joy Of Christmas, MAJESTICA hit the nail on the head with these.
It’s a great power metal album that can be enjoyed all year round, not just Christmas.
Find MAJESTICA on Facebook.
NUMBER ONE: Feuerschwanz – Das Elfte Gebot
FEUERSCHWANZ’s Das Elfte Gebot has made the top spot for my top ten albums this year. It was such a close call between a few others. It was their collaboration with AD INFINITUM vocalist Melissa Bonny that drew my attention to the medieval metallers; their video for Ding was one of those where you were trying to figure out what was going on but at the same time I enjoyed it. I requested to review their latest album Das Elfte Gebot and I am very glad I did. From the moment I first listened to this album, I have had this on loop since and have gone back to it multiple times.
From start to finish, each track has a purpose and stands out in their own unique way. Totentanz and Mission Eskalation could start a polka mosh pit with their quirky arrangements. Meister der Minne is one of the best opening tracks I have heard for a long time. Malleus Maleficarium is on par with SABATON classic Atterro Dominatus. Unter dem Drachenbanner is a great closer that reassures us the band keep up consistency throughout the record. The deluxe version with the bonus covers album is worth checking out. Their covers album features brilliant versions of classics from POWERWOLF, RAMMSTEIN and even ED SHEERAN.
If you fancy some fun, folky frolics that empower you; Das Elfte Gebot is the album to go to.
Find FEUERSCHWANZ on Facebook.
That’s it for our top ten for the year, the last playlist of 2020 will be revealed tomorrow.