One thing we can all be grateful of the pandemic for is that it gave artists and musicians of varying levels of grandeur to continue creating that thing that we all love: music. Selecting a Top 10 Albums when there has been so much released this past year was never going to be an easy task. From bands that have been a mainstay on my radar for years to new and exciting discoveries I am truly thankful for the music I have listened to this year.
10. Andrew Lloyd Webber – Symphonic Suites
Phantom of The Opera has had a lasting impression on me since I first saw the live show as a child. To hear it reimagined as part of the new Symphonic Suites album was really good! The other suites are from Evita and Sunset Boulevard. If you are a fan of Sir Andrew’s work then you really will love this.
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9. Marius Danielsen’s Legend Of Valley Doom – Part 3
The final chapter in The Legend of Valley Doom trilogy. This was highly anticipated after discovering Legend of Valley Doom last year and with guests such as John Rhys-Davies, Ralf Scheepers, Herbie Langhans, Tim “Ripper” Owens, Tommy Johansson, Melissa Bonny, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Marco Pastorino and many more appearing throughout you knew this was always going to be epic.
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8. Avaland – Theater Of Sorcery
This metal opera introduced us to a new fantasy realm surrounding the tale of a young sorcerer who was struggling to deal with the pressures of fate and destiny. This also features several guest artists and is magnificent. Well worth a listen for fans of early AVANTASIA. You can read my review of the album here.
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7. Helloween – Helloween
I knew from the first listen that this album was always going to be amongst my album of the year choices. Riding upon the success of the live Pumpkins United tour which reunited the band with former members Michael Kiske & Kai Hanson, the Teutonic metal masters went into the studio and recorded an album that featured all three vocalists and appeals to fans of all eras of the bands career to date. There are lots of nostalgia trips throughout and this album certainly delivers.
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6. Ghosts of Atlantis – 188.8.131.52
Diving into the realms of Greek Mythology this debut album from GHOSTS OF ATLANTIS channelled the darkness that had previously been laid down by DEVILMENT and CRADLE OF FILTH before them. Throughout there were tastes of DIMMU BORGIR, EX DEO, HELL and SCAR SYMMETRY too. There is complex and superior musical sorcery throughout and it is absolutely phenomenal. You can read my review of the album here.
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5. Yarimā – The Strings Of Fate
This album was a fairly recent discovery but it certainly had an infectious impact on me. This oriental fantasy metal offering captures the influence of NIGHTWISH, EPICA and WAGAKKI BAND and is set in the fantasy LovAnaverse universe and features the title character of Yarimā who is a protector of the spiritual realm and keeps the peace against the shadows of the night. This is really worth checking out!
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4. Seven Sisters – Shadow Of A Fallen Star Part 1
This was my recent selection for my album of the month post and I keep feeling myself being drawn back to it time and time again since it was released. The album is a sci-fi concept and is a wonderful amalgamation of NWOBHM and classic rock with touches of thrash and symphonic. SEVEN SISTERS really are flying the flag for the UK Metal scene.
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3. Faeland – When I Close My Eyes
This album has been a go to since discovering FAELAND through a Facebook ad earlier in the year. This is an extremely relaxing, soothing album that reaches deep into your soul. The album touches on the themes of natural magic, healing and our own emotions. When listening to When I Close My Eyes I am instantly transported to sitting on a beach looking out onto the horizon as the Sun begins to set and the tide washes in and out. It’s true what they say, sometimes music finds you just when you need it and this was undoubtedly the case in this instance.
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2. Therion – Leviathan
Ever since it was released I have gone back to THERION’s 17th album on and off throughout the year and it certainly warrants additional plays still. One song that I cannot get out of my head at all is Psalm Of Retribution. The album encapsulates all of the techniques and craft that have generated memorable tracks throughout the bands career to date.
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NUMBER ONE: Rage – Resurrection Day
Another of the Teutonic Titans of power metal featured in my Top 10 Album list this year in the form of RAGE. They were the first metal band to write and record an album with a fully symphonic orchestra way back in 1996 and this unison of metal and classical has showed no signs of slowing down. There are really heavy tracks in the thrash/speed style, loads of power metal tracks and an amalgamation of both. My song selection A New Land is uplifting and conjures a sense of adventure. It was an absolute honour to both the album and speak with RAGE mastermind Peavy Wagner for Rock Out Stand Out this year! You can read my album review here and the interview here.
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Honourable Album Mentions in alphabetical order:
Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories, Anette Olzen – Strong, Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile, Epica – Omega, Gus G. – Quantum Leap, Ice Nine Kills – Welcome To Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2, KISS – Destroyer 45th Anniversary, Manic Street Preachers – The Ultra Vivid Lament, Manora – Brave The Storm, Rhapsody of Fire – Glory of Salvation, Temperance – Diamante, The Grandmaster – Skywards, Toothdrinker – The Last Escape