Melodic Music Reviews’ Best Of 2016!
Well here we are folks, 2016 is just about over and we are almost into 2017 now! Hard to believe isn’t it? People always tell you as you are growing up that time seems to start moving faster the older you get, something you don’t really understand or appreciate until you yourself start getting older and you realize that all of those “old” people that told you such nonsense were actually right all along. Who knew!
2016 has been a big year for me as I started a new job, my wife and I are expecting a child and I started a little site writing down my thoughts on a genre of music that is little appreciated and not the popular choice here in the USA where I live, though it is the greatest music in the world.
I started this site while I was in a difficult place in life. Partially out of catharsis, partially out of just something to do, partially because I have always wanted to do something like this and a lot due to the pushing of my wife and my good friend Randy to take my love and knowledge of this music and try to use it for something other than the very one-sided trivia games I would come up with while sitting at the local watering hole.
I honestly never thought this little venture would take off. There are many sites out there that feature great reviews of this genre by writers that are more articulate and far better at writing and reviewing than I could ever hope to be and I never thought that so many people would be interested in my views and opinions of this incredible music. But thanks to all of you wonderful folks who have followed and supported me throughout the year and to the amazing artists who have been kind enough to share my reviews and grant me interviews, my little site has slowly grown, and continues to grow, thankfully, and I could not be more thrilled about that!
I have had the opportunity of meeting, befriending and talking with some of you terrific folks around the world that are like-minded in our love for this amazing music. I love talking and interacting with you, the readers, about this music.
I have had the privilege of talking with, interviewing and even becoming friends with some of my musical idols. The feeling and the thrill of being able to just sit down, chat with and pick the brains of these amazing minds that give us this music is something that I never lose and it never gets old no matter how many times I have the chance to do so. For the artists it is just another interview in a long line of interviews but for a fan such as I it is a once in a lifetime experience.
I have even had some of these same idols of mine like and follow my little site, talk about being beyond thrilled!
I have new artists that are trying to get a start contacting me wanting to get some of their music reviewed or featured to help get their name out there, something I am always happy to do if it falls within the lines of melodic rock, regardless of whether I myself enjoy it or not, it is about getting music out there.
I have said it before many times but I will say it here one last time, this is all about the music for me. From the 1980’s ’til today this genre has been, and continues to be, the greatest music ever made and everything that I write and post is to try and help out these phenomenal artists and to draw more attention to their incredible music that means so much to each and every one of us. The day that I feel that I have stopped doing the genre and the artists any good will be the day that I stop doing this. But as long as there are folks like all of you that continue to read my ramblings and support my effort here then I will continue, hoping that somehow through my thoughts and posts that they will help to garner a broader knowledge and appreciation for this music that we so love and bring these sensational artists the kind of fame that they truly deserve.
Without you readers I would have no reason to write a single word and without you artists I would have nothing to write about, or listen to. So to all of you, readers and artists, I say a very big, heartfelt
Now, onward we go!
2016 was also a gigantic year for the genre. With album upon album the artists just did not stop delivering outstanding records. From January to December we rarely saw a dull month in releases.
As you can imagine with such a year, making this list has been incredibly tough to do. How do you pick the best of the year when you have so many wonderful albums, artists and songs to choose from without leaving some deserving artist out of the mix?
Well after much thought and deliberation and hours upon hours of listening to the music, I have put my lists together for what I personally feel has been the best of the best in 2016!
Some may feel this is a bit of a long list and feel like I have included every album I got this year but let me assure you, this is a far cry from being even half of the amount of albums I purchased this year. I could have TRIED to make a list of just my top five albums, period, but quite frankly that would be nearly impossible for me with a year like we have had, so I decided to break it down into various categories such as debuts, metal, etc. and as such give me the freedom to include more albums of artists that are just as deserving to be on this list.
For any artist and album that is not included I apologize, it is most certainly not an indication that I dislike your records. This has been an exceedingly hard list to make with such a stellar year in the genre and I know that I am leaving out some artists that more than deserve to have their names listed here and for that I am sorry.
Below you will find my thoughts on the past year and the highlights from it. Now I realize that likely no one will agree with my exact list and that is totally fine, if we all had the exact same taste in music then music would get rather boring. So take a look and then let me know what you think were the best of 2016.
Top 10 Songs Of The Year:
#10. ‘Someday’ – Phantom 5.
Well this supergroup of sorts failed to blow me away on the album as a whole but this song is certainly impressive.
Claus Lessmann seems to have brought a heavy dose of Bonfire with him to the band as this track is as Bonfire sounding as you can get.
I love this track. Had the rest of the album stayed this strong it would have been high on my list for one of the best albums of the year but, while it is a far cry from a bad record, it just failed to impress much past this song.
Incredible musicians, excellent vocals and a catchy as hell chorus make this song squeak onto my list.
#9. ‘Nobody’s Fool’ – Hardline.
This is one of the closest sounding songs we have ever had from Hardline to that classic debut from 1992 and it is a hell of a great song from a fantastic record.
The record itself is easily the strongest we have had since ‘Double Eclipse‘ and Johnny’s voice has seemingly only gotten better with age.
I love this song, I love this band and I love this entire record.
#8. ‘The Best Damn Thing’ – Rick Springfield.
ah, utter that name and you will still send females the world over into a tizzy as they swoon over this heartthrob of a singer and his apparently ageless voice.
While most notably known for that song, yes, you know the one, Springfield is actually far more than that one overplayed teenage jealousy, lust-filled track. With multiple albums that are excellent and song after song that I personally feel blow that one away, this Australian singer has released one of his strongest records yet this year with the almost Country tinged ‘Rocket Science‘.
A near perfect record, marred only by two tracks I dislike, the album has several very catchy songs on it but none better in my opinion then this one.
What a great chorus!
Rick delivers an outstanding performance here and proves that he has not lost a single step vocally.
#7. ‘Angel In The Ashes’ – Project Aegis.
This is one of only two songs released, thus far, by this project. Theocracy frontman Matt Smith started this project as a charity benefit and has gathered around him some truly remarkable talents, both vocally and on the instruments.
This was actually a surprise hit for me. I am not really into Theocracy’s music. I think they are incredible musicians and Matt certainly has a phenomenal voice but, aside from a few songs, they are far too progressive for my tastes, so this is not a song that I would typically have clicked on to listen to except that I saw the great Rob Rock was involved (love his voice) and I had to listen to it and low and behold, I ended up loving it. In fact I loved it so much that it made me look into Theocracy’s new album when I heard it was coming out.
Some amazing vocals from everyone involved and some tremendous guitar work, this was one great surprise for me. If Smith wrote an album of songs that were all this strong it would be a tough record to top.
#6. ‘Nothing Matters’ – Bryan Cole.
Well honestly I could just close my eyes and point to any track on this sensational debut and be happy with putting whatever song I pointed to on this list, they are just all that f****** great, but since I didn’t do it that way then I have to choose what my favorite is, and that is tough. Basically it was narrowed down to this one and ‘When Love Breaks‘ and to be completely honest it is pretty much a toss up between the two so I just grabbed one and went with it.
Just a tremendous track. I love it.
I am seriously just blown away by this guy, is it time for his second album yet?
Bryan, Andrew MacNeice, Melodic Rock Records and everyone involved here just did an amazing job.
If you don’t have this one yet then just go get it, that’s all there is to it really.
#5. ‘Roller Coaster’ – Bon Jovi.
Well we all knew I couldn’t make it through a best of list without having at least one Bon Jovi entry didn’t we!
While many many people couldn’t give two shakes about this band anymore, even more so now that Sambora is officially gone, they still remain my favorite band of all time and while I am more than able to admit that the music has changed drastically and we will never get another record that can rival the bands phenomenal past releases and that they are certainly not up everyone’s alley these days, I still believe they are putting out some great music with Jon’s usual, sometimes seemingly trademarked, optimistic lyrics and very familiar melodies.
While we may no longer get those anthems that make stadiums shake with the roar of the crowd when played that made this band one of the biggest bands in the world, the fact is they are still delivering damn good music and this new record has some great ones on it.
‘Roller Coaster‘ is the catchiest song of the new record to my ears. A great melody with a killer chorus and, while the record as a whole didn’t make it on to this best of post (everyone who knows me personally just let out a collective gasp and dropped their jaws in utter disbelief at that admission), this is one of a few songs off of the record that could have made this list for me. Just a great track.
#4. ‘Underneath The Stars’ – The Defiants.
Talk about a trio of sensational artists, this is it. Simply put, they just don’t come much better than Paul, Bruno and Rob. An absolutely superb album from start to finish it was the final track of this amazing record that turned out to be my favorite. Bruno wrote a doozy with this one and it has one heck of a catchy chorus to it. Paul sounds excellent, what’s new there, and Rob, as usual, shows his considerable chops on the guitar. Awesome song from an even better record and yet another album I could pretty much pick any track from to make it here.
#3. ‘Hard To Get’ – Cruzh.
For an album that gets nothing wrong and has many tracks that could easily fit onto this list, ‘Hard To Get‘ takes the cake by just a nose on being my favorite song from this outstanding debut from this new Swedish band. I love this song, such a catchy chorus to it. I love the melody, I love the harmonies, I love the key change in the chorus, I love it all. Just an all around terrific track. One of my go-to songs.
#2. ‘The Human Paradox’ – Dynazty.
This is one of the best songs that Dynazty has ever released in my opinion. Loud, heavy and a killer chorus, this song was on repeat long before the record ever released. Just straight up melodic metal at it’s absolute best from one of my favorite melodic metal bands. And can Nils Molin sing or what? Seriously, the guy never ceases to blow me away. Simply phenomenal voice. The rest of the band is incredible as well, these guys can straight up play.
Number 1 Song Of The Year:
#1. ‘Fear’ – Bulletrain.
Coming out of nowhere this song took me by complete surprise. To be honest I was not even aware that the band had a new record coming out prior to seeing this song online on the day the music video released. I had this one on repeat as well up until I received the album, which I immediately pre-ordered on the day that I first heard this track, after the very first listen. I absolutely love this song. This Swedish band got everything right with this one. It just flat out kicks ass in my opinion and the mere fact that their first single came in at the next to the last track of the album ought to tell you all you need to know about the strength of the rest of the record.
Again, a record that I could literally pull any song from to make this list.
Top 5 Debut Albums Of The Year:
#5. ‘Between Red And Blue’ – Violet Janine.
This group is led by a singer that I had no prior knowledge of until late in 2015 when I saw the video for a song called ‘Down On My Knees‘ by a band called Violet Janine. I knew the male singer in the video, Pontus Snibb of Bonafide. I knew the man sitting in the chair obviously, Jon Levén of Europe. But I had never heard of the band or the lovely female singer. After doing some research I found out her name was Janine Nyman and the band was brand new and the album would not be releasing until the following year. I really liked the song but due to the length of time before the album released I put it on the back burner and all but forgot about it until I saw something about the album finally being released.
Remembering how much I had enjoyed that song I went back and listened to it and was reminded of what a great song it was. I anxiously ordered the new album and waited for it’s release.
What a record it turned out to be. Excellent all the way around. Janine has a fantastic voice and the band sounds terrific. A hell of a debut and I knew at that moment early in the year that it would definitely be on my list for one of the top debuts of the year.
#4. ‘Self Titled’ – Nordic Union.
The name Erik Martensson attached to a project basically assures that I will be purchasing the record. Add to that name the legendary Pretty Maids singer Ronnie Atkins and this album couldn’t arrive soon enough to satisfy me.
With the highest of expectations I sat down to listen to it and was entranced throughout the entire album. While it is not a perfect album for me, it is so very close and when it is good it is phenomenal and it was a shoe-in for this category for me.
#3. ‘Self Titled’ – The Defiants.
Well this one was no surprise at all to me. I am a huge Paul Laine fan and a huge Danger Danger fan and frankly I expected to be blown away by the release. Actually it may be more accurate to say that I almost expected to be disappointed by the album because my expectations were so high.
Either way, I was not disappointed and I was in fact blown away. A fantastic mixture of Danger Danger meets Laine’s solo albums, the record delivered in spades and never once did I find myself tuning any of it out as I listened that first time, or any of the countless times since then.
Bruno, Paul and Rob have given us an instant classic with their debut, full of catchy, sing-a-long tracks and of course, incredible vocals. I can’t wait for the second album!
#2. ‘Sands Of Time’ – Bryan Cole.
Bryan Cole is a name that I was not familiar with prior to seeing promos for this debut album, but once I listened to the record it is a name I will never forget.
With powerhouse vocals nearly rivaling that of Toby Hitchcock and Marc Scherer, Cole’s debut album is a tour de force of pure, radio friendly AOR at it’s absolute best.
I was, and am, speechless that we are just now hearing this voice on a record. Absolutely stellar! Every second of this album is pure gold. Kudos to everyone involved here and to Andrew and Melodic Rock Records for the excellent production.
Number 1 Debut Album Of The Year:
#1. ‘Self Titled’ – Cruzh.
This record came out of nowhere and blew me away. These three young men stepped up to the plate swinging and knocked it clear out of the park their first time at bat.
The debut from this Swedish band is a “how to” guide for commercial, radio friendly melodic rockers. Catchy as hell melodies pervade every second of this album and it never once lets up and it leaves you wanting more. I am beyond excited about this band and their future. Another release of this strength and they will be well on their way to becoming one of the top bands out there and able to compete with the likes of the mighty Eclipse in my opinion.
It has been a while since I was so excited about a new, unknown band as I am with these guys, but Anton, Dennis and Tony have succeeded in putting out such a stellar debut, and in so doing making themselves a force in the music world, that I can’t help but love every second of this album. This is one that every melodic rock fan should have in their collection.
Top Covers Albums Of The Year:
#2. ‘Heavy Rock Radio’ – Jorn.
From one of the most incredible metal voices to ever step behind the mic, the mighty Jorn Lande (who is certainly no stranger to doing covers), came this collection of songs that have influenced and impacted him personally through the years. Though not every song that is included is a winner and there are some tracks I would have preferred to be different altogether, the record as a whole is surprisingly fantastic as he delivers some excellent covers of classics like Dio’s ‘Rainbow In The Dark‘, Foreigner’s ‘Rev On The Red Line‘ and surprising tracks, but still outstanding covers like Frida’s ‘I Know There’s Something Going On‘ and Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill‘.
Number 1 Covers Album Of The Year:
#1. ‘Pearls’ – Bonfire.
Okay so not technically a covers album since it is the same band behind the original songs, but I am counting it as one since we have David Reece on vocals here instead of the original singer Claus Lessmann.
Guitarist Hans Ziller and company did a fantastic job with this album. The songs, while still very similar to the originals, are slightly re-tooled and Reece, who sounds nothing like Lessmann, does an excellent job as usual on vocals and makes these songs his own.
While we all know these tracks already and likely all own them on their original releases, this re-tooled “Greatest Hits” of sorts gives these classic Bonfire tracks a bit of a different sound and proves that these are just excellent songs, no matter who is behind the mic.
Love this record.
Top 5 Melodic Metal Albums Of The Year:
#5. ‘Game Of Sins’ – Axel Rudi Pell.
Axel Rudi Pell is an interesting character. He puts out music at a pace that can only be rivaled by Jorn Lande. I, quite honestly, would be hard pressed to name 5 songs if they were played back to back to me, unless they were a few that see constant rotation here, because so much of his stuff sounds so similar to these ears.
But a few things cannot be denied about the man. Number one, love him or hate him, the guy can play the guitar.
Number two, if you like this genre of music then there is no denying that he has always gotten superb singers, Charlie Huhn, Rob Rock, Jeff Scott Soto and Johnny Gioeli.
And number three, the man can write a ballad like it’s nobody’s business. ‘Don’t say Goodbye‘, ‘Your Life‘, Oceans Of Time‘, etc.
You know exactly what you are getting with a new Pell album and he never strays from that formula. I don’t care for all that he does but he always has enough good on a record that I always purchase them.
Add to this the fact that Gioeli is the voice behind the mic and I can’t help but buy the records.
As it turns out ‘Game Of Sins‘ is one the strongest ARP records as a whole in quite some time and I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with it.
Not perfect and it is still your very familiar ARP formula at work here, but it works for the man and Johnny’s voice is about as a perfect a match as you can get for his songs.
All in all this is a terrific piece of work from this German guitar virtuoso and company.
#4. ‘Ghostlights’ – Avantasia.
I love Tobias Sammet. His charisma, his energy, his love of what he does, his voice, his writing, all of it. The man is just an amazing artist, musician, singer and writer. ‘Ghostlights‘ is not the strongest release from his metal opera Avantasia but it is still an excellent album with many great songs on it and, as always, a collection of some of the greatest singers in the genre. Also featured on this album is one of my favorite songs from Avantasia yet, ‘Draconian Love‘.
Sammet proves once again here why he is one of the top names in melodic metal music.
#3. ‘Rulebreaker’ – Primal Fear.
One of the strongest releases in recent memory from this German metal outfit, ‘Rulebreaker‘ is a hard, heavy and simply outstanding effort from a band that almost consistently delivers. Ralf Scheepers is a hell of a singer that seems to have an age defying voice as he has lost next to nothing vocally over the years. An excellent release with nary a bad track to be found. One of my favorite Primal Fear albums to date.
#2. ‘Guilty By Design’ – Jaded Heart.
Jaded Heart is one of the most consistent metal bands out there. Ever since Johan Fahlberg joined the band in 2005 on vocals and they released the excellent ‘Helluva Time‘ record and we heard their change from melodic rock to melodic metal take place the band has delivered near perfect records since. Actually there is not much that I don’t like by these guys, even going back to when Michael Bormann was on vocals, they always seem to bring their A game and while I do not like every song they have ever done, they always have some outstanding tracks on every record and, with the exception of 2009’s ‘Perfect Insanity‘ (which I feel is the weakest album they have released since Fahlberg’s entrance) they barely have a single song I have disliked since he joined. An amazing band.
I love the band, I love Fahlberg’s voice and I love this album.
Number 1 Melodic Metal Album Of The Year:
#1. ‘Titanic Mass’ – Dynazty.
Five albums in and this band has yet to deliver a bad record. Their first two are not bad but they really started things off in 2012 with the ‘Sultans Of Sin‘ album. Then 2014 rolled around and ‘Renatus‘ released and blew my socks off. The album saw the band leaving behind the more radio friendly, poppier melodic rock for a much heavier, darker sound, yet still keeping the melody and catchiness of their prior releases close at hand. ‘Titanic Mass‘ followed in that same vein and saw these outrageously talented young men yet again delivering a perfect record, I dare say even their greatest one yet.
Everything about this band is incredible. From the playing of these amazing musicians to the phenomenal vocals of Nils Molin (again, this young man has one of the most powerful and sensational voices of recent memory), these guys have cornered the market for melodic metal in my opinion. Three perfect records in a row and still going strong. An easy pick for my number one metal album of the year, though not an easy feat considering some of the legends they were up against.
An absolute must have record for melodic metal fans.
Top 5 Music Videos Of The Year:
#5. Draconian Love’ – Avantasia.
Well this one is my favorite track from the new Avantasia album and one of my favorites from Sammet period. I absolutely love that chorus. So damn catchy.
I love this video because it shows the pure energy that Tobi has on stage and the love of what he does. It also shows how into the show the crowd is, every single person it seems is moved by the performance, which has obviously been dubbed over by the studio version of the song of course, and is just beyond excited to be there.
Living here in the States the chances of ever getting to see Sammet and Avantasia live are slim to none, just like with 99% of the artists in this genre sadly. So it is always fun to see these acts on stage like this, even when dubbed over by studio versions.
#4. ‘Down On My Knees’ – Violet Janine feat. Pontus Snibb.
I love this one. Besides being a pretty kick ass song the video is pretty cool too. Taking an idea from, not only something that has taken the world by storm these last many years (the singing contest “reality” shows) but also a bit of personal history from frontwoman Janine Nyman as she herself once appeared on the Swedish Idol show in 2010.
Great vocals from both of these excellent singers, a neat idea for a music video and, well let’s face it men, Janine isn’t exactly too hard on the eyes here either.
#3. ‘Take You Home’ – Hardline.
A beautiful piano backed ballad and equally great video. A black and white shot film of Johnny and Alessandro alone performing this almost hauntingly beautiful track. Fantastic idea for the video. Johnny told me that originally this track had the band backing it but they finally decided to cut all of that and just have Alessandro on the piano. They couldn’t have chosen better in my opinion.
What a great song and what a tremendous performance from both Johnny and Alessandro.
#2. ‘Higher’ – Ted Poley.
Have I mentioned that I just love Ted Poley? There is something about his voice that I just love. Perhaps it is a nostalgic thing, taking me back to long ago when I first heard him singing on that excellent Danger Danger debut, but whatever the reason the man’s energy and passion for what he does can’t help but rub off on you and that is precisely why I love this video. Besides being just a great song the video shows the energy and the fun-loving nature of this ever-smiling frontman.
#1. ‘Fear’ – Bulletrain.
Well I guess since it is my number one song of the year then it makes a bit of sense that it would be my pick for number one video of the year as well, but more so I just love how the guys did the video. Sebastian gives a great, creepy performance. A beautiful female lead character in a horror themed rock ‘n’ roll video. As a man, really what’s not to like!
I love that the guys went with a themed, story style video rather than just showing the band playing, as I feel that this song really fits better with such a video then the normal live shots or studio shots.
Top 10 Albums Of 2016:
#10. ‘Generation Goodbye’ – Kissin’ Dynamite.
This band has never ceased to amaze me. When they first started they were only around 15 and 16 years old, and they flat out rocked!
Well as if that is not amazing enough then the fact that they have yet to release a bad album and in fact are only getting better should certainly amaze.
These German rockers have continually delivered hard rocking albums with track after track of catchy melodies, awesome vocals and excellent musicianship, all of which has always belied the band’s young age.
Incredible band. Excellent album! Love these guys!
#9. ‘Big Red– Maverick.
A fairly young band as far as how long they have been around, Irish rockers Maverick have released two stellar records now and, as great as ‘Quid Pro Quo‘ was, ‘Big Red‘ tops it in every way.
These guys are here to rock and they do it exceptionally well.
If it weren’t for the final track of the album whose melody still just fails to connect with me personally, this album would be much higher on the list. Still, there are 10 tracks of absolute rock ‘n’ roll bliss here that I can’t get enough of.
If this band continues on the trajectory they are on then their next album is going to be album of the year material and they are going to be a name that are spoken in the same breath as the top bands of the genre.
Get this record, you will not regret it.
#8. ‘Don’t Look Down‘ – Dion Bayman.
Australian melodic pop rocker Dion Bayman is an artist that, aside from being criminally unknown and exceptionally talented, seems to only get better with each release.
‘Afterburn‘ was a perfect pop rock record and I didn’t think he would be able to top that one,
then out came ‘Don’t Look Down‘ and it was done.
Dion took everything that has worked on his past records and tweaked it. He lost everything that didn’t work and then perfected every bit of it all only to put out his greatest album yet.
Full of some of the best melodic pop rock you are going to hear, ‘Don’t Look Down‘ is an easy entrance on this list for me from a great artist and a great guy.
#7. ‘Self Titled‘ – Roth Brock Project.
Terry Brock has a voice that I can listen to all day. He can harness a lot of emotion in his voice and he always sounds absolutely amazing.
John Roth has such a talent on the guitar that you can’t help but love the guy and, it turns out, has a hell of a great voice also.
The marriage of these two artists on a record together pretty much guaranteed that I was going to love this record from the start.
And I did.
Everything that one could hope for in a melodic rock record is contained here. Catchy melodies, blazing guitar solos, big hooks and soaring vocals are found on every track of the album and these guys outdid themselves here.
I realize this is a debut and I have a section dedicated to the best of debuts but that list is full and this album was a must for me for making it onto this post somewhere, so here we are.
Really there is nothing here not to love and if you don’t have this record yet then you are missing out.
#6. ‘Unplug ‘N Play‘ – Johnny Lima.
Full acoustic albums are not my thing. I have a huge appreciation for any artist that is talented enough to bare themselves in that way and pull it off but after a couple of songs I get bored.
Well at least that was the case until one of my favorite artists in the world released his acoustic album.
Californian Johnny Lima is an artist that has seven albums under his belt, one of which is a re-recorded and re-tooled version of his first record, and has yet to deliver a bad album. In fact there is only one song in his catalogue that I even dislike at all, that’s even including the few tracks found floating around of his former band, Attitude. He is just an impressive, extremely talented, nice and humble as can be fellow.
While this acoustic album of all new, original material is not going to be my go-to album of his, it is still an amazing record that shows that this guy not only has one hell of a fantastic voice and can write some of the best songs out there but that he is also more than a capable guitarist as well.
An exceedingly well done record, as Johnny’s always are, this album continues Lima’s streak of perfect records and of being one of the greatest songwriters and singers in the business.
There are not very many artists out there that I will buy an album from without hearing a single note first but I will be first in line to pre-order a new Johnny Lima album every single time. The man could put out an album of nursery rhymes and make it sound good.
#5. ‘Human Nature’ – Hardline.
I was excited about this release when I first heard about it but after speaking with both Johnny Gioeli and Alessandro Del Vecchio I could not wait for it’s release.
Touted as being the heaviest Hardline album to date, it couldn’t arrive soon enough to suit me.
I received it, ripped into it, put it in the player and sat back to listen, ready to be blown away.
I’d heard a couple of the track prior to the release and already knew I loved what I had heard. The rest of the album however was just as strong and never once did it let up.
Easily the strongest record from Gioeli since ‘Double Eclipse‘, this is a must have for fans of melodic rock, Del Vecchio, Gioeli and everyone else involved.
A near masterpiece of melodic rock.
#4. ‘Beyond The Fade’ – Ted Poley.
Well here is one that was pretty much a shoe-in from the get-go for me. I love Poley, his voice, his energy, everything, so hearing that he had a new album coming out with Frontiers and that the great Alessandro Del Vecchio was behind it was pretty much all I needed to know. I was not disappointed in the least upon receiving it. Everyone involved here did an outstanding job and this is easily the strongest material Poley has ever released outside of Danger Danger.
#3. ‘Sacred Ground’ – Dare.
Darren Wharton’s brainchild, Dare, is an interesting band. After their first two records the band left behind your typical sounding melodic rock, instead opting for a much more mellow, Celtic influenced sound. I don’t think that there is much middle ground when it comes to this band, you either love them or hate them I think. Personally I love them. I love Darren’s voice. I love how he writes. He has penned some absolutely beautiful songs and his voice compliments them exceptionally well.
This new record saw the return of original guitarist Vinny Burns and as such we are given a bit of a heavier record with more guitar solos then we have had the last several albums and it bodes well for the record.
Again Wharton has written simply superb and beautiful songs and he is still at the top of his game vocally and I dare say (no pun intended) that this is the strongest album that the band has released since 1991’s ‘Blood From Stone‘, my all-time favorite album from Dare, and it knocks 2004’s ‘Beneath The Shining Water‘ out and takes my number two spot for best Dare record ever. An easy pick for me with this one.
#2. ‘Reach’ – Tyketto.
Well what can you say about this band? With one of the best debuts of the genre to their name, Tyketto has finally delivered an album that rivals that first one in strength.
Danny Vaughn still sounds utterly fantastic and barely sounds, or looks, like he has aged a day. What a voice. The band sounds excellent and the songs are some of the best of the band’s career.
Easily the strongest record from Tyketto since the phenomenal ‘Don’t Come Easy‘ and containing some of my favorite songs the band has ever done with ‘The Run‘, LOVE that song.
A ballad that can actually stand next to the mighty ‘Standing Alone‘ with the sensational ‘Scream‘.
A wonderful mid-tempoed number with ‘Circle The Wagons‘.
I could go on and on through every song. Track after track there is nothing here but pure melodic rock greatness. The guys did an outstanding job with this record and it was evident from the first listen that this would be high in the order for top albums of the year. Superb record from a superb band.
Another easy pick here.
Number 1 album of 2016!
#1. ‘What You Fear The Most’ – Bulletrain.
Well this album could take two positions here actually. It is my number one album of the year but it could also be labeled as my biggest surprise album of the year, a close call alongside Cruzh and Bryan Cole.
These guys delivered a strong debut back in 2014 and I like the album, it has some great songs on it, great vocals and great playing by the band but to be completely honest I was not expecting to be blown away by an album from them based on that record and their EPs.
Then this album dropped and WOW!
I first heard the single ‘Fear‘ prior to the release and I was hooked right away. I loved the song, I loved the video, I loved everything about. I probably listened to that song 20 times the day it was released.
I don’t remember the last time I waited so impatiently for a record to come out, and I only had to wait three days!
Then the album released and I received my copy and popped it into the player and sat down to listen. From note one it was apparent that something had changed with the band. Their sound was tighter, more together, more polished.
The music was heavier, darker and more melodic. The disc flowed together smoother then their first record.
And the songs? Oh the songs were a thing of beauty. Some of the best and strongest sleaze rock I have heard in many years.
I have listened to this record at least 100 times since it’s release, I’m not even exaggerating, my wife now just rolls her eyes when she gets in the car and hears it playing…yet again.
I have had the pleasure of interviewing Jonas Tillheden, the drummer, writer and founding member of the band and can say that these guys are some of the coolest and nicest guys out there and I now, after multiple conversations, have the privilege of calling Jonas a friend.
Bulletrain have cemented themselves as a major force to be reckoned with in the sleaze rock arena with this record and this is easily the most exciting release in that genre that I have heard in many years and the album takes them to a place in the upper echelons of the genre and plants this record alongside the greatest sleaze rock records of all time.
If this band manages to pull another album of this strength out of their hat then, in this guy’s opinion, they will be the strongest sleaze band out there, period.
This is by far the easiest pick of the year for me. A five star record if I’ve ever heard one. Sleaze rock just doesn’t get any better then this.
These guys are going places and I for one cannot wait for their next offering.
Well folks, there is my list of the best of 2016. Write in, let me know what you think. Agree? Disagree? Have your own list? Let me know! I love to hear from you all.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful 2016 and here’s to hoping that 2017 is even better! Lots of great releases already lined up for the year.
For everyone who may observe the holidays that are upon us now then I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and anything else I may have missed.