I will repeat what I said last year, thank you for the music. Whilst things are slowly getting back to our own versions of normal, there is still uncertainty in the air. As I write this, they have reintroduced measures due to news of the new variant of a certain virus. Anyway enough virus talk and lets talk about albums. The ones I have picked contain no fillers, each of the tracks on my top ten play a vital part. So without further ado, here is my top ten albums.
10. Lord Of The Lost – Judas
Kicking off my top ten is Judas, the latest album from genre bending maestros LORD OF THE LOST. They are one of the bands I wish I listened to sooner and this masterpiece is evidence of this. This album contains beautifully crafted melodies that stop you in your tracks, songs of this nature include Viva Vendetta, 2000 Years A Pyre and my personal favourite on the album Your Star Has Led You Astray. Due the stunning nature of this the double album flies by and you ready to experience it time and time again.
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9. The Picturebooks – The Major Minor Collective
THE PICTUREBOOKS have been on my radar since their 2017 release Home Is A Heartache. They brought an array of the best and upcoming talent from the Hard Rock sphere to create their latest album The Major Minor Collective. As mentioned in my album of the month post from September, this record is a smorgasbord of top-quality hard rock greatness. The songs manage to provide a chill out ambience whilst hitting you with an impact at the same time. Songs of this nature include Catch Me If You Can, Beach Seduction, Riders And Farmers and Rebel. I found myself going back to it time and time again, it even makes that stressful commute to work more pleasurable.
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8. Orden Ogan – Final Days
ORDEN OGAN are one of those bands that make the most mundane tasks feel like an epic quest, there is plenty of opportunity to experience that in their latest adventure Final Days. The first three singles they released to promote this release caught me hook, line, and sinker; the rest of the album held up that grandeur that ORDEN OGAN are well known for. Personal favourite tracks include In The Dawn Of The AI, Inferno, Interstellar, Alone In The Dark, Hollow and Final Days.
You can ready my review of the album here and my interview with band vocalist Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann here.
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7. Crystal Viper – The Cult
CRYSTAL VIPER entered my radar when I reviewed their previous album Tales Of Fire & Ice, so I was excited when I heard they were due to release an album this year. The Cult is packed with finger blistering guitar work, dominant vocals, pounding basslines and thunderous drums. These all fuse together to create mind blowing and heroic melodies that make you feel powerful; great examples can be found in the title track, Sleeping Giants and The Calling. I have had this album on repeat throughout the year and it scored a spot as my album of the month in February. If this is what being part of CRYSTAL VIPER’s cult consists of then please sign me up.
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6. dArtagnan – Feuer & Flamme
DARTAGNAN have been around for a little while yet they were a new discovery for me at the beginning of the year. Their upbeat, fun medieval folk caught my attention instantly and I found out shortly afterwards they were due to release their latest album this year. Feuer & Flamme is a treat for the years; it contains many amazing tracks such as Feste Fierne, Farewell, Glukstritter and C’est La Vie. The bonus edition features medieval folk rock versions of a David Bowie classic and Ludvig Van Beethoven masterpiece. If that isn’t enough to pique your curiosity, I don’t know what is. This album provided me comfort this year and gave me a boost when I needed it.
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5. Dragony – Viribus Unitis
A couple of friends recommended DRAGONY at the start of the year and I am very glad they did. Their single Legends Never Die was enough persuasion to check out their latest album Viribus Unitis. I was surprised by how quickly I took to this album; from start to finish I was transported to this fantastical world. There is an array of marvellous tracks including Battle Royale, Love You To Death, Magic and Golden Dawn. After this record, I will be keeping my eyes and ears out for them.
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4. Aexylium – The Fifth Season
AEXYLIUM’s The Fifth Season was my choice for album of the month last month. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away the way I was. The album is a great fun folky masterpiece that has the motivation to prepare you for battle. It contains a great array of tracks to suit every aspect on a warrior’s journey. You have the party tracks like Skål and Vinland. The songs that get you pumped for the quest ahead such as The Bridge, Battle Of Tettenhall, Mountains, Immortal Blood and Spirit Of The North. Need some calm? AEXYLIUM has you covered with the tracks An Damhsa Mor, Yggdrasil and Cliff Of The North. Unleash your inner warrior with this magnificent release.
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3. Winterage – The Inheritance Of Beauty
Bands like WINTERAGE reinforce the statement symphonic metal is my favourite sub-genre of metal and their latest release The Inheritance Of Beauty confirms this love. It’s kicking off my top three for many valid reasons. Each track on this stunning record is put together so beautifully and intricately, the variety this album shows is fantastic. Whether it’s the swashbuckling tones of The Mutineers, the stunning beauty in La Morte di Venere, the gallant sound in Of Heroes And Wonders and the sinister yet playful surroundings in The Amazing Toymaker; each track has it firm place on this record.
Note: After listening to this album, you won’t hear Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy in the same way again.
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2. Bloodbound – Creatures Of The Dark Realm
Ever since catching them live a few years ago, BLOODBOUND have been firm favourites. They knocked it out of the park with their latest release Creatures Of The Dark Realm. The single releases leading up to this record heightened my expectations and they were right to do so. This album is hugely powerful and each song on here makes you feel like you can conquer anything. My personal favourites include the mystical Eyes Come Alive, the strong the title track, the empowering When Fate Is Calling, the stunning Death Will Lead The Way, the jovial Kill Or Be Killed and the mighty March Into War. BLOODBOUND have a knack of creating solid albums and this latest instalment upholds this statement.
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NUMBER ONE: Ad Infinitum – Chapter II: Legacy
AD INFINITUM’s Chapter II: Legacy is my number one choice for 2021 and I shall tell you why that is. I have mentioned before AD INFINITUM became solid favourites very quickly after the release of their debut Chapter I: Monarchy last year. Naturally I eagerly anticipated their latest chapter in their saga.
Chapter II: Legacy delves into the life and afterlife of Vlad The Impaler (a.k.a. Dracula); to some he was a hero defending his land, to others he was a violent monster and to many he is the father of vampires. The stellar song writing, majestic music and the versatile vocal work do remarkably well to capture each of these aspects of this historical figure.
My personal favourites on this masterpiece include the heart stopping Inferno, the beauty in Son Of Wallachia, the no nonsense My Justice Your Pain, the comradery of Animals and the sinister yet empowering sounds of Afterlife.
Chapter II: Legacy is solid evidence that AD INFINITUM are metal icons in the making. Given its ability to literally stop you in your tracks to experience every detail, it’s crystal clear Legacy is the right title of this album.
You can read my review of the album here and my interview with vocalist Melissa Bonny here.
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