Best of 2019: Marko Syrjälä

BEST ALBUMS OF 2019

WHITESNAKE

FLESH & BLOOD

David Coverdale and his snakes return with FLESH AND BLOOD. The album is the band’s most fresh and vital album since SLIP OF THE TONGUE (1989). The renewed line-up sounds just fantastic together. Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra make a great guitar duo together, Tommy Aldridge plays drums like a maniac, and Coverdale still sounds himself, in a right way. What makes this album different to its many predecessors is that finally, we hear some up-tempo songs from Whitesnake again. An excellent example of that is the lead single “Shut Up & Kiss Me,” which could have been on the 1987 album. If this is the last album from the Snake, then it’s a great way to end this long and long and comprehensive career.

 

DREAM THEATER

DISTANCE OVER TIME

After somewhat disappointing and mammoth THE ASTONISHING (2016), Dream Theater pleasantly surprises its fans. With DISTANCE OVER TIME, the band goes back to the more straightforward and heavy direction, and now the band sounds more eager and hungrier than in a long time. In my opinion, the group drifted into serious musical crisis after its founding member and drummer Mike Portnoy left the band in 2008. But with this album, the band is back on track.

 

CHILDREN OF BODOM

HEXED

It’s a bit ironic that HEXED is the last album on the Finnish speed/thrash metal band. It’s been a long time since the group has managed to release a full record of such melodic and catchy songs. HEXED is easily the band’s most substantial release since the first four Children of Bodom albums. Alexi Laiho and new guitarist Daniel Freyberg play seamlessly together, and the album production is top-notch. It’s a pity that everything good ends at some point.

 

4. SLIPKNOT: WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND

You can have different opinion, but the fact is that Slipknot is a metal band and the best in its field. Despite all the changes in the band line-up, “WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND” is a great album and the band’s best since IOWA (2001)

5. AVANTASIA: MOONGLOW

MOONGLOW is the eighth studio album by the German metal opera project. The band, led by multi-talented Tobias Sammet, sound as hungry and bombastic as ever, and the record continues the strong album series which started already in 1999. MOONGLOW is easily the best power metal album of 2019.

6. BLACK STAR RIDERS: ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE

Black Star Riders’ fourth studio album is a very positive surprise. Even though the band has gone through significant line-up changes, it now sounds better than ever. ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE is packed with catchy hard rock songs, and Thin Lizzy is not entirely forgotten either. The ghost of Phil Lynott is still alive and well.

 

7. PRETTY MAIDS: UNDRESS YOUR MADNESS

Danish hard rockers Pretty Maids is just getting better with age. UNDRESS YOUR MADNESS is their 17’th studio album, but there are no signs of tiredness or getting old. Pretty Maids still sounds as fresh and reliable as they did in the mid-’80s, and this album goes to the band’s Top 5 easily. A top hard rock release of the year right after the mighty Whitesnake.

8. DEATH ANGEL: HUMANICIDE

Death Angel is definitely one of the most underrated groups in the speed/thrash genre. Although the band has continuously released high-quality albums, it never reached the level of success like Testament, Exodus, or Anthrax, which is wrong. HUMANICIDE is an excellent album on all levels, but in its own genre, it’s a masterpiece.

9. TIMO TOLKKI’S AVALON: RETURN TO EDEN

Timo Tolkki is one of the most controversial personalities in the power metal world, but one thing is sure. He’s always been, and he still is, a great songwriter. RETURN TO EDEN is the best Tolkki album since the golden years of Stratovarius.

10. OVERKILL: THE WINGS OF WAR

Overkill guys might be a bit older, but they have a lot of common with Death Angel. Both bands are criminally underrated, but they never gave up, and they both have released tons of killer quality albums year after year. THE WINGS OF WAR is everything you can expect from Overkill — killer vocals by Bobby Ellsworth and great riffs after another. Other bands play, Overkill kill!

11. QUEENSRYCHE: THE VERDICT

12. DESTRUCTION: BORN TO PERISH

13. TOM KEIFER: RISE

14. MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST: REVELATION

15. CANDLEMASS: DOOR TO DOOM

16. BATTLE BEAST: NO MORE HOLLYWOOD ENDINGS

17. ANDY MCCOY: 21’ST CENTURY ROCKS

18. D-A-D: PRAY FOR THE LOUD

19. PHIL CAMPBELL: OLD LION STILL ROAR

20. L.A GUNS: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

 

BEST EP’S

It seems that many bands have started releasing EP’s again. It’s a fun thing for collectors and fans. These three are the ones I did buy, but I won’t put them in order. I just say that all these were great!

 

BEST LIVE ALBUM

HELLOWEEN: UNITED ALIVE IN MADRID

“Pumpkins United” is definitely the best thing that happened in power metal world in years. This album is perfect proof of how great the band nowadays sounds. It’s just pure greatness and magic from start to finish!

BEST BOOK OF 2019

PETRI SILAS: ALEXI LAIHO, KITARA KAAOS JA KONTROLLI

Alexi Laiho’s biography is a raw and barren story about his life and career. Highly recommended reading for everyone!

BEST CONCERTS OF 2019

  1. Kiss: Hydro Arena, Glasgow
  2. Ufo: Swedenrock Festival, Solvesborg
  3. Whitesnake: Sauna Open Air Festival, Tampere
  4. Children of Bodom: Jäähalli, Helsinki
  5. Andy McCoy: TBA, Helsinki

 

DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2019

Again, we lost many great musicians. Ginger Baker, Ric Okasec, Eddie Money, and many others. Also, it was surprising, and very sad, that Children of Bodom split after releasing their best album in decades.

 

HOPES AND/OR PREDICTIONS FOR 2020

1. Sabaton quits its career.

2. New albums from Nightwish, Ozzy Osbourne, Helloween, Anthrax, Alice Cooper, Testament, Scorpions, Deep Purple, Megadeth,  and many others. It’s going to be a great year of classic metal.

3. Mötley Crue reunion tour. It’s amazing they’re back. Welcome!!

4. Vinnie Vincent releases SOMETHING!

5. Re-union of the classic Sepultura. Would be awesome!!

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