Best of 2006

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Best of 2006

Another year has zoomed by us, a year filled with a lot of great metal from all it’s many sub-genres. Some bands made a great comeback, some had a return that was not what fans hoped it might be. Within each staff members list is their best DVD of the year, best new band, greatest hopes for 2007, and of course their disappointments for the year that was. As always, some restrictions are placed on our lists. The top albums are for releases from 2006 that all full albums (no EP’s or demos). They also have to be new studio albums for 2006, not re-recordings, re-releases, or live material. For best new band, the restriction is that the band’s debut full-length album (not including demos or EP’s) has to be a 2006 release.

The Top 30  Heavy Metal Albums of 2006
(click the album cover to read the review)


Oh, how we’ve waited…waited for years for Slayer to deliver a worthy follow-up to 1990’s SEASONS IN THE ABYSS, a landmark album in heavy metal. Many of us thought it might not even happen, but the unthinkable has occurred and the gods are back! Whether it is a coincidence or not, original drummer Dave Lombardo is back in the band and the result is CHRIST ILLUSION, Slayer’s strongest album in sixteen years. No it’s not REIGN IN BLOOD or SOUTH OF HEAVEN, but it’s damn good and puts Slayer back into the revered list of metal bands for many a metalhead.

2. Amon Amarth – With Oden On Our Side

Amon Amarth are the poster child for having an unchanging and steadfast vision. 14 years since their inception and the band are still playing a style not too dissimilar than what they were doing on demos. This album shows that, yes, while the band continues unabated and while the last few albums were damn good, Amon Amarth still has something left in the tank after 14 years. This is the album Amon Amarth should be remembered for!

3. Into Eternity – THE Scattering of Ashes

Canada’s prog/death sensation comes in at #3 on our list. The band has a style the is unique and nearly impossible to pin down. If you enjoy bands that mix the death and clean sound you’ll have a hard time finding a band you’d enjoy more than Into Eternity. With new vocalist, Stu Block, as well as some minor tweaks to the band’s sound, the band’s style has grown much wider. Musically the band has made the music a little slicker, maybe a little simpler, and more straightforward sounding. Stu Block’s voice adds much to the band’s sound this time around and has given the band a much more upfront single voice. From blackened screams, growling lows, clean harmonies, and amazing falsetto screams Into Eternity hasn’t had a vocalist this good before.

4. Persuader – When Eden Burns

No stranger to and to our best of lists, Persuader comes in highly in this year’s list with WHEN EDEN BURNS. Vocalist Jens Karlsson’s powerful, rough voice coupled with the catchy, aggressive melodies gives the power metal genre a much-needed breath of fresh air. This band really has a lot of songwriting talent, and we all anticipate even more godly releases!

5. Tarot – Crows Fly Back

The long-running Finnish heavy metal giants have returned, bringing in a new plateful of punishments from the Heavy Metal Gods. It could be stated that CROWS FLY BLACK may probably not be as strong release content-wise as their previous album SUFFER OUR PLEASURES, but it´s definitely darker, and probably even a bit more varied album musically (mostly thanks to Tommi´s contribution for the 2nd vocals). It would be an understatement to simply say it has its moments, as much as it would be an overstatement to claim, it´s definitely the best Tarot album they have recorded so far.

6. Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth

A TWIST IN THE MYTH is more stripped-down production-wise, it is still a slick-sounding album that has been layered heavily. Hansi Kursch’s vocals are multi-tracked, of course, and the guitars of Marcus Siepen and Andre Olbrich are crystal-clear and full of dynamic riffs and solos—pretty typical Blind Guardian stuff, in other words. However, A TWIST IN THE MYTH is the next logical progression for the band and on this, their eighth studio album, the compendium of their early power/thrash is mixed with the lavish soundscapes of IMAGINATIONS FROM THE OTHER SIDE and the complex instrumentation of A NIGHT AT THE OPERA to bring fans a very diverse and faithful album to the Blind Guardian sound.

7. Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and Death

The release of a new Iron Maiden album is a time that much of the metal community yearns for with bated breath. After all, it was this band that spawned a thousand others, whose influence has been felt and can still be heard in just about every sub-genre of metal in some form or another. In the early 80’s this band were well into reshaping much of metal as we know it. Yes we collectively owe a lot to Iron Maiden and they are indeed one of the bands we deservedly call metal gods, and a band that I still call one of my favorites. With a legacy like this, there is a lot to live up to, so much so that’s it near impossible to compete with a past like this. Should we give the band a break? It seems some of us here were on the fence with this album. While it did make most of our lists, it wasn’t highly placed on a lot of our lists. This is reflected in the album’s #7 position on our list this year.

8. Motörhead – Kiss of Death

On Motorhead’s twenty-first studio album, KISS OF DEATH, Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee deliver another slice of predictable, punk-and blues-based speed metal that will satisfy their fans and leave their critics wondering what all the fuss is about. There are no surprises here. KISS OF DEATH sounds almost exactly like Motorhead did in 1996 and 1986 and, like AC/DC, fans take comfort in knowing there will be no rapping, breakdowns, clean vocals or any other fad to sully the band’s musical reputation. Motorhead is timeless, plain and simple, and KISS OF DEATH is just another notch in Lemmy’s well-worn bedpost.

9. Edguy – Rocket Ride

Love it or hate it ROCKET RIDE finds its way into the top 10. Edguy have been alternately praised and reviled for their slow metamorphosis towards a more melodic almost hard rock sound and ROCKET RIDE is the culmination of that transformation. With songs that run the gamut from 80s hard rock to their trademark power metal ROCKET RIDE is a rollercoaster ride that allows Tobias Sammet to showcase his talent at writing a catchy tune but more importantly it shows that he, and his bandmates, are not afraid to take their sound in a new direction.

10. Circle II Circle – Burden of Truth

Zak Stevens returns with his band Circle II Circle on their third studio album BURDEN OF TRUTH. If you liked the previous two Circle II Circle albums, Savatage’s EDGE OF THORNS and HANDFUL OF RAIN, there is no doubt that you’ll love this album. If you haven’t heard this stuff before, then the style of music is melodic metal with certain nuances of progmetal. Lyrically, BURDEN OF TRUTH follows a conceptual theme based on the popular books ‘The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’.  No surprises are in store for fans of Zak’s past work here. We’ve come to expect nothing short of perfection from anything Zak Stevens puts his golden voice to and that’s exactly what is delivered on this album!

Number 11 to 20

11. Evergrey – Monday Morning Apocalypse
12. Angra – Aurora Consurgens
13. Vanden Plas – Christ 0
14. I – Between Two Worlds
15. Amorphis – Eclipse
16. Mercenary – The Hours That Remain
17. Scar Symmetry – Pitch Black Progress
18. Communic – Waves of Visual Decay
19. Katatonia – The Great Cold Distance
20. Paul Stanley – Live To Win

Number 21 to 30

21. Deicide – The Stench Of Redemption 22. Celtic Frost – Monotheist
23. Death Breath – Stinking Up the night 24. Firewind – Allegiance
25. Voivod – Katorz 26. Virgin Steele – Visions of Eden
27. Solitude Aeturnus – Alone 28. Rage – Speak of the Dead
29. Krokus – Hellraiser 30. Astral Doors – Astralism

Individual Staff Lists For 2006 Includes: top 20, best new band, best DVD, greatest hopes for 2007, and disappointments of 2005.


EvilG Top 20 Albums

1. Slayer – CHRIST ILLUSION What I thought was impossible has happened – Slayer have released an album that stands up when compared to their past! After SEASONS IN THE ABYSS the band deteriorated greatly. I thought all hope was lost…then drummer Dave Lombardo re-joined the band and the spark of hope began and was fully realized with CHRIST ILLUSION putting Slayer back to GOD status! If you look back at my past year’s disappointments, you’ll see for more than one year my greatest hope for the coming year was a worship-worthy Slayer album….for me this is it! 2. VoiVod – KATORZ One of Canada’s greatest metal bands of all time return with their 14th album KATORZ. KATORZ is not only an excellent album, but serves as a tribute to the undying memory of one of Canada’s best musicians, Piggy. The only bittersweet thing is that the band will not likely be able to take this material on the road and play it for us live. We can celebrate that we do have this new album, and that there are more albums to come along with DVOD2, the follow up to their recent DVOD1 DVD! 3. Persuader – When Eden Burns 4. Imagika – My Bloodied Wings 5. Into Eternity – The Scattering of Ashes 6. Angra – Aurora Consurgens 7. Dream Evil – United 8. Edguy – Rocket Ride 9. Motorhead – Kiss of Death 10. Circle II Circle – Burden of Truth 11. Van Canto – A Storm to Come 12. Firewind – Allegiance 13. Hammerfall – Threshold 14. Metal Church – A Light in the Dark 15. Dionysus – Fairytales and Reality 16. Eidolon – The Parallel Otherworld 17. Dark Empire – Distant Tides 18. The Haunted – The Dead Eye 19. Blind Guardian – A Twist In The Myth 20. Cellador – Enter Deception

Best New Band Van Canto This is WILD! A band of 5 singers and one drummer…no guitars, no bass, no keyboards. I thought the idea sounded questionable, but after several listens to their debut album A STORM TO COME, I was hooked to the bands original vocal driven melodic power metal.Runners-up:Chrome Division Delicious Motörhead worship on the band’s debut CD DOOMSDAY ROCK N’ ROLL. Lemmy would be proud!Outworld Killer prog/technical metal from guitar wizard Rusty Cooley.Dark Empire Anything with Jens from Persuader on vocals has to be cool!

Best DVDKnowing my tastes and love for Kamelot, I would of liked to see their new DVD before compiling this list but it’s not in my local stores and costs nearly $40 with shipping from Amazon and is currently sold out at The End Records…damn. Another possible runner-up is the 2 DVD set from Sentenced…I have it on order but it’s not here yet so I can only make my selections for best DVD of 2006 from what I’ve actually been able to see. So with that said, I’m going to pick 2 DVD’s since one is not music but is a metal documentary.Metal – A Headbanger’s Journey A great look into the world of heavy metal from Canadian headbanger Sam Dunn. Although weak in the power/melodic metal department, it does provide for a very entertaining documentary.Sonata Arctica – For the Sake of Revenge Nothing too fancy, but a great live gig that rejuvenated my interest in the band.

Disappointments1. Rhapsody of Fire – Triumph or Agony Remove all the speed and heavy elements and you’ll have the snooze-fest now known as Rhapsody of Fire. Rhapsody are still one of my favorite bands, but Rhapsody of Fire are so far just boring as hell! Triumph or agony? Well for this Rhapsody freak it’s been agony with my top 2 disappointments coming from the once infallible creative force of Luca Turilli…Luca, what is going on man? Bring back the fire, bring back the speed, the anger, the METAL! 2. Luca Turilli’s Dreamquest – Lost Horizons After his solo albums with Dionysus vocal god Olaf Hayer, I was hoping for more of the same, not half-assed Nightwish goth garbage. 3. Sepultura – DANTE XXI Perhaps I should give up on Sepultura? But hey, if Slayer can make such a killer comeback, why not Sepultura? I say we need Max and Igor back together and writing some BENEATH THE REMAINS / ARISE era thrash metal!4. Iron Maiden – A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH Yeah I LIKE this album, but it is below average when you look at most of their other Bruce-fronted offerings. And how many bloody songs on here start out with boring slow clean guitar before heading into the three chord E-C-D riffing with whoaaa whooaaa ahh aaa ooo….I expect a lot more.

Greatest Hopes For 20071. Iced Earth Unleash the trilogy Jon (with Ripper on vocals!). Can’t wait!3. Savatage (I continue to dream on) I’ve listed this one for this section for a number of years to no avail. SAVATAGE, WE MISS YOU! TSO is great and makes you a load of money, but why can’t you take a couple months of the year to record new Savatage material with Jon and Zakk on vocals…what a huge album it could be!4. Motley Crue (dreaming on for another year) Fuck off with the reunion tour, best of’s and live shit…get in the god damn studio and record some new METAL material like SHOUT AT THE DEVIL!!5. Other Random Ramblings Let’s hear a new melodic POWER/SPEED metal gem from STRATOVARIS…not a mid-paced uneventful album. Let’s get back at the Speed of Light! I’m skeptical that anyone can replace Tarja in NIGHTWISH, but I’m curious to hear what the result will be. Dio back with Sabbath….a new album of all new material under the moniker HEAVEN & HELL, the possibilities are endless. I also hope to hear new studio albums from from DEATH ANGEL, TESTAMENT, ANTHRAX, KING DIAMOND, GAMMA RAY, JUDAS PRIEST….

Rick Top 20 Albums

1. Edguy – Rocket Ride When this CD was released early in 2006 it was met with mixed reviews from fans. Many lamented that Edguy were no longer power metal while others found the CD to be a perfect blend between Edguy’s power metal bombast and 80s melodic metal. From almost the first listen I knew that ROCKET RIDE was a contender for CD of the year as its infectious sound kept the disc in my player for a month. As the year progressed not one release reared its head to topple Edguy so with its hair metal influenced power metal swagger ROCKET RIDE reigns supreme as the #1 release of 2006. 2. Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth If any CD could have toppled Edguy it would have to have been Blind Guardian. The much anticipated new disc A TWIST IN THE MYTH was finally released and the band did not disappoint. After the multi layered A NIGHT AT THE OPERA fans (myself included) were yearning for a touch of the old Blind Guardian and the band did not disappoint. They delivered a CD that touched on the past, without being a step backwards, while still looking towards the future. Truly a great release. 3. Evergrey – Monday Morning Apocalypse 4. Vanden Plas – Christo 5. Circle II Circle – Burden of Truth 6. Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and Death 7. Persuader – When Eden Burns 8. Slayer – Christ Illusion 9. Astral Doors – Astralism 10. Firewind – Allegiance 11. Kataklysm – Into the Arms of Devastation 12. Tarot – Crows Fly Black 13. Amorphis – Eclipse 14. Imagika – My Bloodied Wings 15. Communic – Waves of Visual Decay 16. Van Canto – A Storm to Come 17. Beyond Fear – Beyond Fear 18. Angra – Aurora Consurgens 19. Motorhead – Kiss of Death 20. Hammerfall – Threshold

Best New Band Van Canto Picture a metal band with only drums and 5 vocalists. You say “How can that be metal?” Just take one listen to VAN CANTO and you won’t have to ask that question. Acapella Metal is what this band does on their debut A STORM TO COME and till I heard this CD I wouldn’t believe that it could have been done. With only drums to accompany the vocalists this 9 track CD also includes a cover of Battery by Metallica. I was having trouble with the best new band but after hearing VAN CANTO the questions resolved itself easily year.

Best DVDBruce Dickinson – Anthology OK, I admit it. I am a Bruce junkie and ANTHOLOGY is like crack. With 3 DVDs covering Bruce’s solo career this set is a must for any fan of the voice of metal. With shows spanning his first solo disc TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE, his coldly received SKUNKWORKS and the classic CHEMICAL WEDDING the first 10 years of Bruce’s solo career is chronicled. To complete this extraordinary package are his promotional videos and even a look at his Samson days. This is a must for fans of the Air Raid Siren and metal fans in general.

DisappointmentsAlbums: 1. Rhapsody of Fire – Triumph or Agony This should have been called AGONY OR AGONY. The name change must have affected the band more than I thought. Where is the aggression? The speed? The power? They are gone and in its place is mid paced mediocrity. Oh how the Mighty have FALLEN.2. Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime II OPERATION: MINDCRIME is one of my favourite releases of all time and a classic of the genre so I met the news of a sequel with much anticipation but also with a fair bit of skepticism. Queensryche had released only 1 good CD after the original MINDCRIME so this could be either a victory or crushing blow for them. Though met with favorable reviews on its release the disc just doesn’t have any of the magic of the original and if called anything else might have heralded a return to form for Queensryche.Other: RIOT Distribution Woes. Riot releases a great new CD called ARMY OF ONE yet cannot secure distribution anywhere but Japan. How could one of the greatest metal bands to come out of the US find itself relegated to Japanese import status? What a sad situation for our genre.

Greatest Hopes For 2007 Riot That ARMY OF ONE will finally be released worldwide so that Riot can be introduced to a whole new generation of metal fans!

Lord of the Wasteland Top 20 Albums 1. Celtic Frost – MONOTHEIST After an absence of a decade and a half, Tom Gabriel Fischer and Martin Eric Ain delivered what may have been the most eagerly-anticipated album of the last few years…even though no one really knew what to expect. MONOTHEIST is shrouded in a cloak of despair, doom and artistic license that left as many awestruck as it did confused and hateful. Yep, that’s exactly what Celtic Frost has done for over twenty years. 2. Katatonia – THE GREAT COLD DISTANCE How does a band go from a doom-filled death metal entity to a darkly melodic tone and still maintain its integrity and fanbase? Just listen to THE GREAT COLD DISTANCE for the answer. Brilliant from start to finish with haunting melodies, this is Katatonia’s master work and will be a tough act to follow.3. Into Eternity ~ THE SCATTERING OF ASHES 4. Slayer ~ CHRIST ILLUSION 5. Paul Stanley ~ LIVE TO WIN 6. Amon Amarth ~ WITH ODEN ON OUR SIDE 7. Deicide ~ THE STENCH OF REDEMPTION 8. Mercenary ~ THE HOURS THAT REMAIN 9. In Flames ~ COME CLARITY 10. The Devin Townsend Band ~ SYNCHESTRA 11. Cannibal Corpse ~ KILL 12. Motörhead ~ KISS OF DEATH 13. Rob Zombie ~ EDUCATED HORSES 14. I ~ BETWEEN TWO WORLDS 15. All Shall Perish ~ THE PRICE OF EXISTENCE 16. Gorgoroth ~ AD MAJOREM SATHANAS GLORIAM 17. Blind Guardian ~ A TWIST IN THE MYTH 18. Poisonblack ~ LUST STAINED DESPAIR 19. Skinless ~ TRAMPLE THE WEAK, HURDLE THE DEAD 20. Misery Index ~ DISCORDIA

Best New BandBeyond Fear Tim “Ripper” Owens steps out of the shadow of Rob Halford, Judas Priest and Iced Earth to show that he is more than just a hired gun behind the microphone. Traditional and modern metal mix fluidly on the band’s self-titled debut with Owens’ impressive pipes serving as the anchor. Runners-up: Cellador European-influenced traditional/power metal played at blinding speed. Not exactly original (see DragonForce) but these Nebraska-based young ‘uns inject North America with brilliantly-played metal riffs and higher-than-a-kite vocals hearkening back to the glory days of KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS-era Helloween. Demiricous It’s a wonder that Slayer’s legal team didn’t descend upon Demiricous’ ONE (HELLBOUND) album with litigious intent. The band’s similarities to classic Slayer are uncanny, right down to the diving solos and yet this blistering, relentless thrash assault slipped under the radar of many metalheads in 2006. Destroy Destroy Destroy A gloriously over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek image that would make Venom and Manowar blush equally, Tennessee’s Destroy Destroy Destroy pull out the stops with a balls-out platter of keyboard-heavy, blackened traditional/melodic death metal on DEVOUR THE POWER. Ridiculous lyrics, clichéd song titles and a blatant sense of humor are all wrapped up in a neat package that provides a kick in the pants to stiff-lipped metalheads who take their music way too seriously.I Not sure how long-term I as an entity is planned for, but Abbath finally rises from the legacy of Immortal with BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, an album that is equal parts Motörhead, Immortal and traditional metal.

Best DVD KISS – KISSOLOGY VOLUME 1 1974-1977 For die-hards, this is the crown jewel in the expansive KISS catalogue, offering the original masters of long-sought-after live bootlegs and rarities. I can finally toss my VHS copy-of-an-umpteenth-generation-copy of that Winterland Ballroom show from ’75 and enjoy it here in like-new splendour. RUNNER-UP: Therion – CELEBRATORS OF UNBECOMING Jaw-dropping in its breadth (6 hours on DVD, plus another 2 hours on CD!) with little repetition, Therion offers long-time fans plenty to sink their teeth into as well as providing new fans—with big wallets—an introduction to their eclectic career. Honorable Mentions: Amon Amarth’s WRATH OF THE NORSEMEN and Sodom’s LORDS OF DEPRAVITY VOL. 1.

Disappointments1. Dio ~ HOLY DIVER – LIVE One of the golden voices of metal must have had an off-night because the live recording of Dio’s best-loved album is plagued by a scratchy, out-of-key and breathless performance that is an injustice to the man and the music. Provides a valid argument for KISS’ notorious studio doctoring of supposed “live” albums, too. 2. Iron Maiden ~ A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH Without question, one of the worst albums of Iron Maiden’s storied career. A black cloud hangs over everything and ‘Arry’s long-winded attempt to cater to metal’s intelligentsia gets bogged down under dreary, unpleasant songs before the halfway point. Is the end near? Let’s hope not.3. Queensryche ~ OPERATION:MINDCRIME II Following up what is arguably the greatest concept album in metal with a sequel almost twenty years later was a recipe for disaster. Expectations were too high and when this weak effort under Queensryche’s already-dwindling name was released, the critics were all over it…and rightfully so. Even a guest spot by Ronnie James Dio couldn’t save it and when Geoff Tate and Dio combine their vocal skills and still fail, you know this material reeks.4. Savage Circus ~ DREAMLAND MANOR Overly-long songs delivered by a third-rate Blind Guardian clone that pandered to former glories rather than carving out its own niche. With former members of Blind Guardian, Persuader and Iron Savior heading up the ship, this super-group should have delivered in spades. Instead, that spade should be used to dig a hole for this dud.5. A Wicked Wisdom ~ WICKED WISDOM Jada, I was rooting for you…I really was. But after slogging through this mess of tired nu-metal, I hate to say your critics were right. Whoever green-lighted this terrible-by-all-accounts clutter is surely lacking any “wisdom.”

Greatest Hopes For 20071. Heaven and Hell bringing the sadly-overshadowed Dio-fronted Sabbath triumvirate of studio albums to the stage to conquer the collective metal conscious once again. The fact that the tour is kicking off here in Vancouver almost brings a tear to my eye *sniffle*.2. KISSOLOGY VOLUME 2…and 3! The KISS Army waits with baited breath as the next two volumes are rumored to cover the late seventies through the mid-nineties and the reunion years, respectively. We all know the KISS vaults have barely even been tapped yet and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say there could be ten of these things. 3. After being blown away by their 5-song E.P., EVIDENCE OF INEQUITY, in 2005, the full-length debut from Quebec’s Beneath The Massacre is a sure bet to be in my Top 20 of 2007. Dizzying technical death metal mixed with gut-churning brutality echo the grandest moments of Cryptopsy, Martyr and Neuraxis in a band that has only been together for a little over 12 months.4. Iced Earth’s two-CD sequel to 1998’s SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES has been in the works for years. If Jon Schaffer can stay in good health and assemble a band (including the inimitable Ripper Owens) to tour, this could be quite the live spectacle.5. What year-end forecast would be complete without Guns ‘n Roses’ CHINESE DEMOCRACY on it? Here’s to Axl stepping on the bottom lip of all the naysayers whose jaws drop when the album puts G’nR back in the news…for the right reasons.

Luxi Lahtinen Top 20 Albums1. Slayer – CHRIST ILLUSION 2. Domination Black – DARK LEGACY 3. Satan´s Host – SATANIC GRIMOIRE: A GREATER BLACK MAGICK 4. Deicide – THE STENCH OF REDEMPTION 5. Violator – CHEMICAL ASSAULT 6. Rytmihäiriö – SEITSEMÄN SURMAN SIUNAUSLIITTO 7. I – BETWEEN TWO WORLDS 8. Iron Maiden – A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH 9. Shatter Messiah – NEVER TO PLAY THE SERVANT 10. Tarot – CROWS FLY BLACK 11. Melechesh – EMISSARIES 12. Leverage – TIDES 13. Legion of the Damned – MALEVOLENT RAPTURE 14. Amon Amarth – WITH ODEN ON OUR SIDE 15. Slugathor – CIRCLE OF DEATH 16. Blessed Death – HOUR OF PAIN 17. Necrodeath – 100% HELL 18. Ares Kingdom – RETURN TO DUST 19. Unreal Overflows – ARCHITECTURE OF INCOMPREHENSION 20. Fueled by Fire – SPREAD THE FIRE

Best New Band Shatter Messiah Free advice: Just get their debut album NEVER TO PLAY THE SERVANT and you´ll realize why

Best DVD Rotting Corpse – CIRCUS OF FOOLSA very well put together document of this probably most underrated Thrash Metal band from Dallas, Texas. Rotting Corpse was a band that was influenced by such bands as Possessed, Slayer, Kreator and Exodus in the ´80s. As it is stated in this document (a film by SPLarsen), Rotting Corpse kind of didn´t want to loose their status as a true underground metal band, and therefore they sort of wanted to stay unsigned, which they have admitted to regret badly afterwards. One of the true highlights on this document is live footage from a gig which they played at some record store, believe or not. But there´s also so may other funny and interesting things shown on this DVD that make sure you don´t get bored while watching it. This DVD is limited to 100 hand-numbered copies only (mine was 60/100), so you need to hurry up if you are intended to get one for yourself!

DisappointmentsThe Haunted – THE DEAD EYE We remember them starting out as a fierce, Slayer-ish Thrash Metal act in 1998 – and where have they gone musically since then in 2006? The dead-cold fact is that they have traveled far from those original roots they had on their excellent debut back in the day – and I don´t like a bit how they sound on their latest album, THE DEAD EYE. From the frantic thrashing mayhem to sort of ´progression´ to an ultimate regression… Now goodbye for good, the Swedish so-called ´thrashers…´!

Greatest Hopes For 20071. Heathen Well, a new album from Heathen would be something to start with. I´m sure most of us expected it from them in 2006 already, so how much longer we have to wait for it??! All this waiting is killing us, I can tell! F**K!!2. Jumalation And there´s even more, of course! A debut album from the Finnish old school thrashers Jumalation will definitely be on the top of my ´must-get´ list as well as new albums from Onslaught, Demigod, Moonsorrow and Judas Priest will definitely be something to look forward to…

Marko Syrjala Top 20 Albums1. Buckcherry – Fifteen 2. Paul Stanley – Live To Win 3. Krokus – Hellraiser 4. Motorhead – Kiss of Death 5. Black Label Society – Shot To Hell 6. MSG – Tales of Rock’n Roll 7. Amorphis – Eclipse 8. Tarot – Crows Fly Back 9. Slayer – Christ Illusion 10. Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime II 11. New York Dolls: One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This 12. Quiet Riot – Rehab 13. Europe – Secret Society 14. Rhino Bucket – And Then It Got Ugly 15. Randy Piper’s Animal – Violent New Breed 16. Beyond Fear – S/T 17. Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death 18. UFO – The Monkey Puzzle 19. Rage – Speak of the Dead 20. Winger – IV

Best New BandI didn’t find any completely new bands this time.

Best DVD Whitesnake – Live…In The Still Of The Night Best live DVD released in years!

Disappointments1. Iron Maiden tour set list… One word = boring2. Still no new album from AC/DC or GN’R.3. Really weak new albums from Glenn Hughes, Doro and Warrant.4. Twisted Sister’s Christmas album. Probably the worst idea of the year!!!!

Greatest Hopes For 20071. New albums from classic trash bands: Anthrax, Testament and Megadeth.2. New music and tours from Heaven & Hell and Ozzy Osbourne.3. Paul Stanley/KISS European tour… It’s about time?!!

Arto Lehtinen Top 20 Albums 1. Amorphis – Eclipse Finnish long time metallers Amorphis definitely did an utter amazing above all brilliant album with a new vocalist, featuring a plenty of catchy songs. Eclipse brought the hope back to several long time fans. end. 2. Death Breath – Stinking Up The Night Long live old school death metal in the vein of Autopsy, Repulsion, and Nihilist as performed by the former Entombed skinsman, Nick Andersson. Pure deadly old school death metal.3. Slayer – Christ Illusion 4. Celtic Frost – Monotheist 5. My Dying Bride – A Line Of Deathless Kings 6. Communic – Waves Of Visual Decay 7. Lamb Of God – Sacrament 8. Ministry – Rio Grande 9. Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death 10. Solitude Aeturnus – Alone 11. Krisiun – Assassination 12. Unleashed – MidWinterBlot 13. Napalm Death – Swear Campaign 14. Deicide – The Stench Of Redemption 15. Torture Killer – Swarm 16. Lacuna Coil – Karmacode 17. Dissection – Reinkaos 18. Strapping Young Lad – The New Black 19. Demiricous – One (Hellbound) 20. Legion Of The Damned – Malevolent Rapture

Best New BandThis Demiricous Brutal thrashing slap direct to the face, Even Tom Araya wondered if Demiricious could be sued for sounding too much Slayer. Runners-up: Legion Of The Damned Occult went and changed their band name to Legion Of The Damned and put out one hell of a killer album. Beyond Fear Ripper Owens on his own and did an ass kicking album with his band!

Best DVD Sodom – Lord Of Depravity Pt 1 Amazing DVD package covering the whole long history of one of the most important names in thrash. A lot of killer interviews like the former drummer Witchammer, rare pictures, and killer video clips from the good old times when thrash ruled the earth. Killer stuff and a must for every old school Sodom fan.

Disappointments1. Sepultura – Dante…well whatever… It is a cold fact Sepultura is done after another Cavalera pulled out to focus on his DJ career. Unfortunately the newer Soulfly albums are better than Sepultura nowadays.

Greatest Hopes For 2007The new Onslaught album, the new Testament album finally?? More new killer bands coming out of nowhere.

Waspman Top 20 Albums 1. Bal-Sagoth – The Chthonic Chronicles I found this list incredibly tough to compile this year. In truth, any one of the top 6 listed here could have made my top pick, depending on the day. Still, for me a Bal-Sagoth album is an event, not just another disc. When it comes down to it, THE CHTHONIC CHRONICLES is arguably the English Barbarians’ most focused and crushing album, even if they rarely tread any new ground. Powerful and punishing through and through, Bal-Sagoth slays all comers once again. 2. Amon Amarth – With Odin On Our Side Right up there with Bal-Sagoth, Amon Amarth showed a renewed vigor and power in 2006, as WITH ODIN ON OUR SIDE crushes the competition and the band’s own previous output with sheer Viking fury. From first song to last, this album is the embodiment of relentless aggression and is another jewel in the crown of these Swedish kings.3. Pyramaze – Legend of the Bone Carver 4. Evergrey – Monday Morning Apocalypse 5. Mercenary – The Hours that Remain 6. Cavalar – As a Metal of Fact 7. Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and Death 8. Voivod – Katorz 9. I – Between Two Worlds 10. Motorhead – Kiss of Death 11. Persuader – When Eden Burns 12. Into Eternity – A Scattering of Ashes 13. Green Carnation – The Acoustic Verses 14. Throttlerod – Nail 15. Fireball Ministry – Their Rock is Not Our Rock 16. Kataklysm – In the Arms of Devastation 17. Dragonforce – Inhuman Rampage 18. Anarion – Unbroken 19. Edguy – Rocket Ride 20. Unearth – III: In the Eyes of Fire Security

Best New BandAnarion I don’t care if they had a self-released album in 2001 – this album (UNBROKEN) is the first official release and it fucking rocks damn it! Power/trad metal done up nice and crunchy. This is a band to keep an eye on.

Best DVDWell duh, it’s got to be the multi-disc monstrosity known as: Therion – Celebrators of Becoming It’s a new standard in music DVD releases.

Disappointments1. Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth Wow. I didn’t think it was possible, but it sounds like Mr. Kursch is running out of ideas. Between last year’s yawn-inducing Demons & Wizards album and this dull retread (which is still better than 90% of bands mind-you), I’m beginning to think that Hansi and crew need to take some time off to recharge and refocus. 2. Lacuna Coil – Karmacode OK, they’ve officially jumped the shark. This once-great band has been reduced to pandering Cristina Scabbia to teenage goth-boys and copying Evanescence & mallcore riffs. Pathetic, just pathetic.3. Sadus – Out for Blood I could basically cut and paste my comments on Lacuna Coil above and put them here…although I hope we don’t see Steve DiGiorgio in any centerfold shots anytime soon. Shudder. Anyway, this album was utter nonsense.4. Virgin Steele – Visions of Eden This actually isn’t a bad album, but the shoddy, powerless production handicaps it so terribly that I just had to include it here. David Defeis should know better than this.

Greatest Hopes For 20071. New Megiddo album I said this last year, and it still stands today: It feels like forever since THE ATAVISM OF EVIL, so will 2007 bring about a new Christ-crushing metallic slab? Let’s hope so. 2. A Judas Priest as Prophets OK, so the reunion produced a very solid album and lots of fan-service money-milkers and gave millions of metal-fans hope. So yeah, here’s hoping the much-talked about Nostradameus concept-album doesn’t suck, eh?

Madman Top 20 Albums 1. Virgin Steele – Visions of Eden Still on an incredible streak since the THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL saga that began in 1995, as well as the incredible HOUSE OF ATREUS albums, this one will not disappoint. David Defeis proves that a 6 year wait is almost justifiable with an album that will blow away any fan of epic power metal. better. 2. Solitude Aeturnus – Alone 8 years, a few line-up changes, and a whole mess of delays (many out of the band’s control) didn’t slow Solitude Aeturnus down one bit. A band that has always set the standard for what doom can, and should, be. They haven’t lost a step.. 3. Amon Amarth – With Odin on Our Side 4. Crescent Shield – The Last of My Kind 5. Arsis – United in Regret 6. Into Eternity – The Scattering of Ashes 7. I – Between Two Worlds 8. Pharaoh – The Longest Night 9. Place of Skulls – The Black is Never Far 10. Insomnium – Above the Weeping World 11. Shatter Messiah – Never to Play the Servant 12. Ghoul – Splatterthrash 13. Frightmare – Bringing Back the Bloodshed 14. Bloodbound – Nosferatu 15. Tyr – Ragnarok 16. Meliah Rage – The Deep and Dreamless Sleep 17. Melechesh – Emissaries 18. Communic – Waves of Visual Decay 19. Countess – Holocaust of the God Believers 20. The Gates of Slumber – Suffer No Guilt

Best New Band Crescent Shield Not necessarily a “new” band, seeing as all the members have been a part of the metal scene for a while already but THE LAST OF MY KIND absolutely smokes. This one was definitely a grower, so I’d advise everyone to give the band’s debut album a good handful of listens before passing judgement.

Best DVD Manowar – The Day the Earth Shook – The Absolute PowerTalk as much shit about Manowar as you want, the bottom line is that they backup their attitude with great music and an unquestionable performance on this first ever, full performance on DVD. Runner Up: Amon Amarth – The Wrath of the Norsemen Amon Amarth overload is not a bad thing. Nearly 7 hours of Viking death metal at it’s finest..

Disappointments 1. Kataklysm – In the Arms of Devastation While I kinda felt the band was on a small decline with the last album, SERENITY IN FIRE, the decline is much more evident here. Certainly the album is listenable but there’s way too much middle of the road, mid-paced bullshit. What happened to this band?2. Manowar – Sons of Odin EP Sure, it’s kind of a good idea but when the next album is released this EP is going to be useless. Barely any exclusive content at all.. 3. Celtic Frost – Monotheist I couldn’t believe my ears when I first heard the album. While I wasn’t expecting much from Celtic Frost in 2006, I apparently should have expected even less. I know a lot of people love this album and I think that may have added to my disappointment but regardless, this album isn’t worth the trouble of the band reuniting.

Greatest Hopes For 2007 1. Slough Feg One of my favorite bands has been in the studio already this year and I can’t wait. Few bands have been around for five albums yet never released a dud and Slough Feg are one of those few. High hopes and I wouldn’t doubt a high spot in next year’s list for Slough Feg. 2. Absu Maybe a new album, a new line-up is to be announced in January 2007, so I can only hope this means more activity for a band that fell apart after its best album. 3. Manilla Road The new album is nearly complete from what I hear and I couldn’t be more pleased. A band that still sounds adventurous after all these years. 4. Morgana Lefay I’ve heard rumblings about a new album, I do hope it’s true..

Anders Sandvall Top 20 Albums 1. Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and DeathThe metal icons show again why they are the best band in the world! 2. Motörhead – Kiss of Death What can go wrong when Motörhead releases a new album? Lemmy & co are a reliable well-oiled machine that continues to release strong albums!3. Backyard Babies -People Like People Like People Like Us 4. The Haunted – The Dead Eye 5. Death Breath – Stinking Up The Night 6. Astral Doors – Astralism 7. Firewind – Allegiance 8. Pretty Maids – Wake Up To The Real World 9. Krux – Krux 2 10. Slayer – Christ Illusion 11. Krokus – Hellraiser 12. In Flames – Come Clarity 13. Sabaton – Attero Dominatus 14. Talisman – 7 15. Hammerfall – Threshold 16. Edguy – Rocket Ride 17. Poisonblack – Lust Stained Despair 18. Slamer – Nowhere Land 19. Babylon Bombs – Doin You Nasty 20. Lunatica – The Edge Of Infinity

Best New Band Beyond Fear The outnumbered Tim “Ripper” Owens does a strong comeback with his new act Beyond Fear, he’s now a name to count with. Well played heavy metal can’t get so much better than this…Runner-up: Bloodbound “Nosferatu” These Swedish boys are soon heading into the studio to record their second album, can it be as amazing as this? Strong power metal with an Iron Maiden guitar style.

Best DVDD.A.D. – Scare Yourself Alive Finally, it’s here, the bands first live DVD and what a DVD it is! This is simply the best Denmark have to offer. I saw the show at Roskilde Festival last year so be prepared to be blown away. Runner-up: Nightwish – End of an Era Tarja’s goodbye and truly an end of an era in many ways. The home crowd of Helsinki Finland got to see one of the best shows Nightwish have ever done.

Disappointments1. Europe Why does Europe continue to releasing albums when their glory days have come and gone a long time ago? Please save some dignity and put the band to rest now! 2. Debase The metal icons of Malmö, Debase, haven’t released anything at all this year, it’s time to awaken the beast again 3. Twisted Sister My childhood heroes Twisted Sister decides to release a Christmas album as a final goodbye…why Dee why??4. All the tragic deaths in the metal community this year 5. Chinese Democracy didn’t come this year either, Axl, I’m waiting.

Greatest Hopes For 20061. Hopefully Debase waking up to life again, it’s time to do something now guys 2. I really hope that the legendary Nicke Anderssons latest project Death Breath are going out on tour 3. Again, hopefully Sweden stays ahead of the metal progress this year.4. Nightwish are going to release their new album with a new singer next year, something that’s really worth checking out 5. Hopefully Masterplan’s new album that’s coming out sometimes in 2007 will be much better than the last one?!

Brat Top 20 Albums 1. Angra – Aurora Consurgens The music is up to it’s usual excellent standard and Edu is finally able to step out from the shadow of Andre Matos as this album sounds likes it’s been written with his natural/comfortable vocal range in mind. 2. Behemoth – Demonica (2CD) What a brilliant limited edition release of some Behemoth rarities. Everything about this is quality – the digi-book packaging is brilliant. A must for any black metal worshiper.3. Accomplice – She’s on Fire 4. Tarot – Crows Fly Black 5. Sodom – Sodom 6. Poisonblack – Lust Stained Despair 7. Metal Church – A Light in the Dark 8. Nocturnal Rites – Grand Illusion 9. Moonspell – Memorial 10. Lacuna Coil – Karmacode 11. Edguy – Rocket Ride 12. Dionysus – Fairytales and Reality 13. Brother Firetribe – False Metal 14. Tourettes Syndrome – Sick Sense 15. Dogma – Black Roses 16. Dragonforce – Inhuman Rampage 17. Head Inc – Demons 18. Persuader – When Eden Burns 19. Ministry – Rio Grande Blood 20. Misery Inc – Random Ende

Best New Band Head Inc Australian band mixing metal with traditional punk..

Best DVD Sonata Arctica For the Sake of Revenge FINALLY a DVD from a band whose popularity has been growing slowly, but steadily over the past 10yrs since their birth as a band called Tricky Beans. The Japanese released an awesome extra limited edition DVD/CD combo with with laminate and Sonata Arctica symbol necklace.Runner-up: Amon Amarth – Wrath of the Norsemenn

DisappointmentsPeter Steele in the flesh with Carnivore.

Greatest Hopes For 20071. More representation of Australian metal at the overseas summer festivals this year.2. Nightwish to find a worthy singer.3. For scheduled releases from Edguy, Sonata Arctica, and Nightwish to exceed expectations.

Celtic Bob Top 20 Albums 1. Crash Kelly – Electric SatisfactionThis disc by Canadian rockers has easily gotten the most plays by me this year. It has been in heavy rotation since I got my advance the spring and I bought my actual at the CD Release on May 2nd. A modern day glam rock classic! 2. Brent Doerner’s Decibel This debut release from former Helix guitarist is a disc of 9 solid rockers and no mellow tunes. This hard driving music is made from the love of music. The real blood, sweat and beers shine through making this one of the years “Must Own” releases.3. Helix – Get Up! 4. Bobnoxious – Rockaholics 5. Slave To the System 6. Warrant – Born Again 7. Winger – IV 8. Saga – Trust 9. New York Dolls – One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This 10. The Creepshow – Sell Your Soul 11. Rebel Meets Rebel 12. Wednesday 13 – Fang Bang 13. Def Leppard – YEAH! 14. Sammy Hagar – Livin’ It Up 15. The Matadors – Horrobilly 9000 16. Neil Young – Living With War 17. Skid Row – Revolutions Per Minute 18. Paul Stanley – Live To Win 19. Buckcherry – 15 20. Black Label Society – Shot To Hell

Best New BandBrent Doerner’s Decibel

Best DVD Alice Cooper – Live At Montreux 2005 Runner-up: Close 2nd : BLS – Doom Troopin’

Disappointments1. Only a 7 Track cd from Helix. While the 6 new tracks are killer and classic sounding the fan in me just wants more. Hope to see more in 07 from these legends.2. Queensryche’s Mindcrime II. The potential was there along with the hype but it fell flat. A few good tracks but nothing close to the groundbreaking original.

Greatest Hopes For 20071. Motley Crue yet again. It’s time for the 4 guys to get in the studio and record an over the top classic Crue disc. A double disc would be the ultimate but that probably won’t happen. We can all dream!!

Shaq Top 20 Albums 1. Into Eternity – The Scattering of Ashes For me there really was no question as to what album to pick for #1. Into Eternity have returned with a new singer and a new album that delivers start to finish. The intensity on this album is turned way up, and I’d recommend it to any fan of metal. 2. Circle II Circle – Burden of Truth With Burden of Truth, Circle II Circle returned to do what they do best – writing delicious melodies that make you both bang your head and sing along. This album gives WATCHING IN SILENCE a run for its money, as it truly represents a phenomenal band at the top of their game. Endeavour 3) Persuader – When Eden Burns 4) Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth 5) Amon Amarth – With Oden On Our Side 6) Scar Symmetry – Pitch Black Progress 7) Communic – Waves of Visual Decay 8) Angra – Aurora Consurgens 9) Dark Empire – Distant Tides 10) Vanden Plas – Christ.0 11) Katatonia – The Great Cold Distance 12) Strapping Young Lad – The New Black 13) Tarot – Crows Fly Back 14) Rage – Speak of the Dead 15) Mercenary – The Hours That Remain 16) Devin Townsend Band – Synchestra 17) Amorphis – Eclipse 18) Venturia – The New Kingdom 19) Evergrey – Monday Morning Apocalypse 20) Zero Hour – Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond

Best New BandDark Empire The new band from guitarist Matt Moliti featuring none other than Jens Carlsson on vocals brings a much needed breath of fresh air to a genre filled with too many bands doing the same thing. Dark Empire delivers a mix of power, progressive and even thrash through its unique style, and without a doubt has a promising future in the metal world.

Best DVDSentenced – Buried Alive Picking a favorite DVD this year was perhaps the hardest part of making this list, with so many excellent releases to choose from. Perhaps it’s due to a bit of nostalgia for a band no longer active, but I will go with the new Sentenced DVD that contains their final show ever, and an emotional one it was.

Disappointments 1) Black Label Society – Shot To Hell I still remain a BLS fan, but it seems the creative juices have run dry. Shot To Hell is not necessarily bad, but is filled with more of the same, with very few memorable tracks. 2) Celtic Frost – Monotheist I admittedly have never been a huge fan of Celtic Frost, but always enjoyed them. I cannot say the same about this album, however, which did not click with me at all. 3) Sepultura – Dante XXI Truly gone is the Sepultura of old. Some hailed this as being a return to form, but I couldn’t even make it through most songs without wanting to skip to the next track.

Greatest Hopes For 2007 1) Symphony X Ironically enough, this was on my list of greatest hopes for 2006, but at least for 2007 it will be a reality. I have no doubt that Symphony X will deliver an album well worth the wait. 2) Dark Empire These guys will be delivering their sophomore album in 2007 which will, simply put, blow everyone away. 3) Wintersun The long awaited follow-up to their phenomenal debut album will finally be released.

Metal Chick Top 20 Albums1. Vanden Plas – Christ 0 2. Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth 3. Elvenking – The Winter Wake 4. Eternal Tears of Sorrow – Before the Bleeding Sun 5. Into Eternity – A Scattering of Ashes 6. Scar Symmetry – Pitch Black Progress 7. Angra – Aurora Consurgens 8. Dragonforce – Inhuman Rampage 9. Falconer – Northwind 10. Circle II Circle – Burden of Truth 11. Mercenary – The Hours That Remain 11. Venturia – New Kingdom 13. Moonspell – Memorial 14. Pyramaze – Legend of the Bone Carver 15. Tarot – Crows Fly Black 16. Edguy – Rocket Ride 17. Rage – Speak of the Dead 18. Manigance – L’ombre et la Lumiere 19. Eidolon – Parallel Otherworld 20. Warcry – La Quinta Esencia

Best New BandVenturia

Disappointments Rhapsody of Fire’s Triumph or Agony

Greatest Hopes For 2007 Symphony X – Paradise Lost The new Symphony X – Paradise Lost will be released and is guaranteed to be amazing

Drew Top 20 Albums 1. Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth This was the obvious choice for me. Blind Guardian has been my favorite band since I discovered them, and every release lives up to the hype and long wait. I’ve played this album literally more than 100 times, and it still hasn’t gotten old. Blind Guardian has a strange way of keeping their core sound while still branching out and expanding their style, which is their main appeal for me. I can (and do) listen to this album on repeat all day at work, and it still manages to get better every time. So many elements pop out at you that you didn’t notice on your previous listenings. This one took a long time to completely sink in, but once it did I was completely and utterly hooked. 2. Persuader – When Eden Burns Persuader are one of the most underappreciated bands out there. In a world filled with lame, repetitive power metal, Jens’ powerful, rough voice coupled with the catchy, non-fruity melodies give the genre a much-needed breath of fresh air and make this album an easy #2 pick. This band really has a lot of songwriting talent, and I absolutely can’t wait for them to get more releases under their belt.3. Tarot – Crows Fly Back 4. Evergrey – Monday Morning Apocalypse 5. Rage – Speak of the Dead 6. Amon Amarth – With Oden On Our Side 7. Scar Symmetry – Pitch Black Progress 8. Dark Empire – Distant Tides 9. Kalmah – The Black Waltz 10. Katatonia – The Great Cold Distance 11. Virgin Steele – Visions of Eden 12. Strapping Young Lad – The New Black 13. Edguy – Rocket Ride 14. Angra – Aurora Consurgens 15. Elvenking – The Winter Wake 16. Coldseed – Completion Makes The Tragedy 17. Communic – Waves of Visual Decay 18. Mystic Prophecy – Savage Souls 19. Outworld – Outworld 20. Into Eternity – The Scattering of Ashes

Best New BandDark Empire Matt Moliti’s first effort is very solid. Even though this is his debut release, he proves that he has an unremarkable ear for catchy melodies and strong songwriting. He is a guitar virtuoso, and employs some of the best musicians out there for his album, including Jens Carlsson’s amazing vocals and Noah Martin’s expert bass playing. If he keeps evolving his sound and stays true to his melodic skills, I believe Dark Empire will rise above a genre that is filled with sound-alike’s and clichés.

Best DVD Kamelot – One Cold Winter Night Kamelot is an amazing band, and this DVD shows it off perfectly. Roy Khan is on his A-game, and the rest of the band is just as good. The shots are professional, and the sound is equally impressive. This is a must-buy for any fan of good melodic metal – or good music in general 🙂

Disappointments1. DragonForce – Inhuman Rampage I liked DragonForce’s demo a LOT when it was availble for download on the now-defunct I got their debut CD, but thought the production ruined the awesome songs. For that reason, I pretty much completely ignored Sonic Firestorm. Figuring they may have cleaned themselves up and gone back to making great music with better production, I gave Inhuman Rampage a spin. I was surprised to find the CD was filled with only one track, split up into 8 parts. The first part was pretty awesome, but the rest of the track was a sever disappointment. They’ve lost their touch, and I’m pretty sure I’m done with this band from here on out.2. Edguy – Rocket Ride I know this album still made my top 20, but I fell in love with Edguy’s older albums and judge all their new releases by them. After the ridiculous Hellfire Club, I was hoping they’d get back to making serious, good music. One look at Rocket Ride’s cover convinced me otherwise before I even put in the disc. Sure, songs like “Trinidad” and “Superheroes” are great for your metal pina colada parties, but this album really made me lose hope for Edguy’s future. If they stop making pop-metal and go back to the awesome stuff they used to do, perhaps I’ll start buying their albums again.

Greatest Hopes For 20071. Symphony X – Paradise Lost Symphony X has been blue-balling us with a new release for over a year now, and it’s about damn time they finish it and release it! The Odyssey was an excellent album, as are all of their previous albums (OK, except maybe their S/T), so with such a great track record I’d expect nothing less than a pants-wetting release. Let’s go Symphony X!2. Dark Empire – Humanity Dethroned Alright, so I’m biased on this one since I’ve heard demos of the new songs. This album is shaping up to be one of the best releases planned for 2007 thus far. Once Jens gets his vocals into the mix, I’m sure this album will be a masterpiece. Matt Moliti has tremendously improved his songwriting abilities (which were superb to begin with) and has written a heavier, more driving album than Distant Tides that still stays true to his wonderful sense of melody. I can’t wait!

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