Best of 2012 – JP

Best of 2012 – JP

My first full year as Managing Editor of seemed to blow by in a hurry. Overall 2012 was another stellar year for Metal. Again, well over 5000 Metal bands around the globe released new studio albums. In addition, countless concerts, books, DVD’s, fanzines movies, festivals, continued to display, support and celebrate the culture of Metal. We at tried to do our part by conducting over 150 interviews, writing a dozen features, about 50 book reviews, DVD reviews, over 150 concert reviews, and over 775 CD reviews! That’s an average of just two CD reviews a day, every day of the year!

Personally, it was a solid year with many great concerts watched, books read and albums enjoyed. Highlights include, speaking at the 5th Noctis Valkyries Conference and another highlight was bring to ask to sit on the Metal Committee for the Juno awards, Canada’s national music award recognition program. Six of my predictions from last years list came true so it was a good year! This is what I felt was the best of the best for 2013.

 Top 20 Albums

As expected my list is top heavy with Power Metal. Last year a dozen bands out of my Top 20 were new, young bands. This year there was a strong showing from some veteran bands and the other half being new bright lights of the Metal world with a very strong showing from Metalodic Records.

1. Manowar -The Lord Of Steel (Magic Circle Music)

Manowar - The Lord Of Steel
Manowar – The Lord Of Steel

Once again my favourite band demonstrates why they are the best. The fans wanted a rawer, meaner and stripped down album than the past couple of orchestral albums, and the band delivered. A lot of people didn’t like the production but I loved the fuzzed out bass and enjoyed both versions equally.

2. Dragonsclaw – Prophecy (Arkeyn Steel)

Dragonsclaw - Prophecy
Dragonsclaw – Prophecy

Even though this was released on Dec 31, 2011, I’m still counting it as a 2012 release. From the opening (mighty) scream by Giles Lavery on the lead-off track ‘Darkness Within’, I had a shit-eating grin on my face a mile-wide that I still haven’t wiped off. I instantly knew this was the album for me AND a very contender for Album Of The Year for me. Imagine the perfect blend of the first two Racer X albums, and Priest’s PAINKILLER, mixed with old 80’s Queensryche. Oh yeah. Hell yeah. It’s that good..

3. Teodor Tuff – Soliloquy (Fireball)

Teodor Tuff - Soliloquy
Teodor Tuff – Soliloquy

The individual performances are all excellent but the strength of this album is the way the songs are arranged and composed. This is such an interesting album, it’s almost hard to articulate. I hear hints of St. Daemon, Communic, Nevermore and other forward-thinking bands that really try to push the boundaries by writing good, interesting songs but never sacrifice the Metal song for the sake of being weird or overtly hyper-instrumental. It drives along at a good pace, always crunchy riffs leading the way embellished by great solos.

4. Sound Storm – Immortalia (Scarlet)

5. Xandria – Neverworld’s End (Napalm)

6. Pathfinder – Fifth Element (Sonic Attack)

7. Vorpal Nomad – Hyperborea (Metalodic)

8. Reinxeed – Welcome To The Theater (Rivel)

9. Galderia- The Universality (Metalodic)

10, Kerion – Cloudriders-Part 1: Road To Skycity (Metalodic)

11. Fogalord – A Legend To Believe In (Limb)

12. Tidal Dreams – Once Upon A Tide (Iron On Iron Records)

13. Bejelit – Emerge (Bakerteam)

14. Soulspell – Hollow’s Gathering (Inner Wound)

15. Paragon – Force Of Destruction (Napalm)

16. Orden Ogan – To The End (AFM)

17. Rhapsody – Ascending To Infinity (Nuclear Blast)

18. Dragonforce – The Power Within (Roadrunner)

19. Gothic Knights – Reflections From The Other Side (Inner Sphere)

20. Axehammer – Marching On (Pure Steel)


10 other great albums include: Crow 7, Custard, Empires Of Eden, Freedom Call, Kamelot, New Eden, Pellek, Phantom X, Rage and Reverence.


Best Live Album

Vicious Rumors – Live You To Death
Vicious Rumors – Live You To Death

Vicious Rumors – Live You To Death (Steamhammer)

It was a huge year for live albums, Gamma Ray, U.D.O., Helstar, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, and Stratovarius but the Vicious Rumors third live album took it for me with Pretty Maids as the runner up.

Best New Band

Reverence – When Darkness Calls (Razar Ice)


I choose this band even though other new bands like Dragonsclaw and Tidal Dreams made my Top 20 list to give this excellent band exposure.

Discovery Of The Year


Hexen – Being and Nothingness (Pulverised)

This tech-minded progressive thrash band was a slow burn and only recently really grabbed my ear as something truly special.

 Best EP

Grave Digger – Home At Last
Grave Digger – Home At Last

Grave Digger – Home At Last (Napalm)

Best DVD

Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution

Metal Evolution (Banger Productions) The 11 part oft-praised, oft-criticized documentary series about the history of Metal finally comes to DVD. Check out our massive analysis and multi-writer, episode-by-episode review of the series on the site!

 Runner Up: Stratovarius – Under Flaming Winter Skies: Live In Tampere.

Under Flaming Winter Skies
Under Flaming Winter Skies

A fitting, farewell tribute to Jorg Michael. The bonus documentary is excellent.


Best Movie

Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages

Rock Of Ages A fun movie and great tribute to the Sunset strip.


Best Book

Like DVD’s there are so many categories of books, biographies, autobiographies, academic works, photo/art books, books of lists, that it is hard to only pick one! These two stood out for me.

Black Metal: Beyond The Darkness (Black Dog Publishing)

 A cutting-edge collection of academic works written about Black Metal.

 Iron Maiden: The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast (Voyaguer)

Like the previous Voyageur books about AC/DC, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and Queen, Iron Maiden gets the ultimate coffee table treatment too.

iron miaden, best book

Album Disappointments

Firewind – Few Against Many (Centuria Media)

Ironfire – Voyage Of The Damned (Napalm)

Running Wild – Shadowmaker (SPV)


Best Concerts

Iced Earth, Symphony X, Warbringer Calgary, Alberta Feb 12

Marduk, Withered, 1349, Weapon Calgary, Alberta Jun 12

Eluveitie, Wintersun, Varg Calgary, Alberta Dec 6

 Greatest hopes for 2013

W.A.S.P.’s Blackie Lawless decides to release the mountain of archived footage (and the long-lost Japanese only video collection) in a cool, historical 3+ DVD set. Blackie also finishes his autobiography he has been rumored to have working on for years. (Carried over from 2010, again)

New Queensryche. Queensryche hasn’t made a good album in over 20 years. Booting Tate was the best thing they could have done. I have very high hopes that the La Torre led version will reinvigorate the band to make a stellar record and reboot their stagnant career.

Matos just rejoined Viper. Can Viper make good Power Metal record again like they did in the 80’s? Who will be the new Angra singer?

70,000 Tons of Metal –Part 3. I finally get to see Anacrusis, Angra, Doro, Helstar, Nile and onslaught and knock a few more bands off my ‘must see’ list.

New albums by the titans of Metal: Yngwie, Helloween, Stratovarius, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and W.A.S.P. and of course Black Sabbath.