Melodic Music Reviews’ Best Of 2018!
Well once again we find ourselves through another year and well into a new one, and a New Year means that it is time for my top picks of the year.
First of all let me say a huge thank you to all of you who have stuck with me over the years and followed this little site and another huge thank you to everyone new who has followed me in the past year. I cannot thank you all enough for taking the time to read my thoughts on these amazing artists and their incredible music! Thank you, thank you! It means so much to me.
This year has been an extremely difficult one for me as I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my father in May. My father-in-law has taken a turn for the worst and my family and I also found ourselves once again moving, so through all of that I have not kept up with reviews and interviews as much as I was hoping to and I am way behind on getting reviews posted and I have many reviews that I have promised to do and have yet to post, so to all of you I am very sorry and let’s hope that 2019 will prove to be a better year for everyone and a more productive year for this site.
I have chosen to do it a little differently this year and have only chosen my top fifteen albums of the year rather than the larger lists that I have done in the past. Having gotten somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 new titles over the course of 2018, narrowing them down to a mere 15 proved to be a mighty challenge, but after much thought, deliberation and countless hours of listening, I think that I have finally managed to do just that. I always feel guilty as I am forced to make the difficult choices of what to put on the list and what to leave off and this year, as with every year, there are more amazing albums then there are spots to put them in unless I did a top 50 albums. So if one is not there then please take no offense! This has been, and is always, an incredibly difficult list to make.
As some of you may know, this year I was happily able to bring on a second writer for the first time in the history of the site. Due to circumstances beyond his control, Luigi was not able to contribute a great deal this past year, but if you read any of the reviews that he was able to write then you are fully aware of his knowledge and expertise on this genre and how wonderful those reviews were. A big thank you to him for tying himself to my site and helping to make it far better than I could ever do alone. I am sure you all are looking forward to read what he has in store for 2019, I know I am!
Due to having two writers, then for the first time I am having to do two separate lists. First up you will see Luigi’s top ten albums of 2018 followed by my own list of my top songs of the year and then my top albums.
Thank you all once again. Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you enjoy the lists.
As always, feel free to comment and share your thoughts on our lists or share your own lists.
David and Luigi.
Dynazty – ‘Firesign’
‘Firesign’ is in the same melodic metal vein as ‘Titanic Mass’ and ‘Renatus’, but for me the choruses are bigger and more memorable this time around.
Powerwolf – ‘The Sacrament Of Sin’
This will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it. There are so many memorable moments thanks to Powerwolf’s emphasis on melody and harmony. The single ‘Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ and the track ‘Nighttime Rebel’ are two of the best songs of the year for me.
Perfect Plan – ‘All Rise’
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better opening triple play salvo than on ‘All Rise’. The whole album oozes brilliant nostalgic AOR/Melodic Rock with a superb production and performances. Vocalist Kent Hilli is out of this world at times, in particular on the single ‘In And Out Of Love’.
Jerome Mazza – ‘Outlaw Son’
Another very pleasant surprise. A top notch, pure melodic rock album with moments of Seventh Key and Journey. Jerome’s vocals are fantastic, as is the production and guitar work from Tommy Denander.
Destinia – ‘Metal Souls’
Japan meets Spain in a clash of melodic guitar wizardry with gravelly, soulful vocals to create a kick ass Euro styled melodic metal album.
Kamelot – ‘Shadow Theory’
My All-time favorite band do it again. Melodic and majestic. It’s typical Kamelot, which is fine as they are so damn good.
Ammunition – ‘Self Titled’
Erik Martensson had a busy 2018 and aren’t we glad he did. The second Ammunition carries on from the debut and is full of super, hard edged melodic rock. If you want songs to sing along to then go no further than this.
Brainstorm – ‘Midnight Ghost’
The album I have hoped Brainstorm would make. Bombastic, superbly produced and stacked with memorable, melodic metal tracks.
W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’
The first two W.E.T. albums are great, but ‘Earthrage’ takes it to another level. A classic from Martensson and Soto. You know what you are going to get, and this is another example of two artists at the top of their game.
Luigi’s Number 1 Album of 2018!
Fifth Angel – ‘The Third Secret’
I wasn’t sure what to expect after 27 years away. Could they match their classic albums? Well that is a resounding HELL YES!!! Kendall is a revelation on vocals, along with his incredible riffs and solos. Album of the year for me!
The Top 15 Songs:
(Listed in no particular order)
Dallas – ‘Rock N Roll Never Dies’.
One of my most listened to songs of the year, and I didn’t even get the album until we were well over halfway through the year. ‘Rock N’ Roll Never Dies’ is a very fun, very classic hair metal sounding song that, as a friend of mine put it, sounds like a mix of Def Leppard meets Britny Fox, the result being one hell of a rocking song with an insanely great vocal performance from Bryan. I absolutely love this song!
Johnny Gioeli – ‘Drive’.
One of my favorite vocalists delivered his very first solo album in 2018. While the album is a bit different than anything we have gotten from Johnny before, I am really enjoying the record and for me, ‘Drive’ is the best song present. A fun, feel good, upbeat song.
Gioeli/Castronovo – ‘Set The World On Fire’.
The title track from the debut album from Johnny Gioeli and Deen Castronovo is one of the best songs off of that record. A rocking track with a killer chorus and, of course, amazing vocals by two outstanding singers.
Bon Jovi – ‘Walls’.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am Bon Jovi fanatic, as damning as that claim can be nowadays among rock lovers. But be that as it may, I find myself inexplicably drawn to their music and this song, one of two new ones recorded for the expanded edition of ‘This House Is Not For Sale’, is one of my favorite songs that they have released in recent memory.
Powerwolf – ‘Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend’.
The first song that I heard from the new Powerwolf album captured me instantaneously and wouldn’t let go. I love it. The mix of melodic metal, the almost-operatic style vocals, the heavy emphasis on melody and an insanely catchy chorus made the album a must-buy for me after hearing only this one song.
W.E.T. – ‘Kings On Thunder Road’.
W.E.T. gave us their strongest album yet with ‘Earthrage’ and for an album that I found to be perfect in every way, this is the song that stood out the most to me.
Maverick – ‘Cold Star Dancer’.
The title track of the newest Maverick album delivers everything that we love about this band, killer vocals, excellent guitar work and a melody that will have you singing along in no time. One of many songs from the album that I could have easily put on this list.
Vega – ‘Mess You Made’.
From what is possibly my favorite album that Vega has delivered yet comes my favorite track from the record and one that holds a place on my list of favorite songs that the band have delivered yet. This is just a fun, upbeat rocker that is very catchy and has some outstanding vocals from Nick Workman.
Nordic Union – ‘New Life Begins’.
One of many albums on this list where I could just about pick any song from and it would fit perfectly on my list of my top songs of the year. But the only way I know to do this list is to go simply by the songs that I have listened to the most and ‘New Life Begins’ from the sophomore release from Nordic Union is one such song that I have found myself hitting repeat on consistently.
Dynazty – ‘The Grey’.
I was hooked from the moment the intro started. These guys never fail to deliver, a terrific song from a damn fine album!
Amaranthe – ‘Helix’.
Some may disagree with me, but I find ‘Helix’ to be the strongest album from Amaranthe to date, and the title track is not only my favorite song of the record but, as you can see, one of my favorite songs of the year and one of my favorite songs from the band period. A great song with a great trio of vocals from the three singers. One of the few bands I can stomach the growling vocals in.
Firmo – ‘Forget You Not’.
For an album full of great mellow songs and ballads, this one stands at the top for me from ‘Rehab’. A beautiful song from this Room Experience mastermind. Terrific!
Kissin’ Dynamite – ‘You’re Not Alone’.
From a phenomenal album comes a song, and a music video, that is just fantastic. I like the fun video the guys filmed for it and I love the song. Just an all-around excellent track.
Creye – ‘Different State Of Mind’.
The entire album is sensational but the single ‘Different State Of Mind’ is one of the best. An absolutely catchy melody with tremendous vocals from Robin Jihed. I love this song so much. Killer stuff that just screams the 80’s.
Beyond The Black – ‘My God Is Dead’.
I absolutely love this song! It is a beautiful, heartbreaking song that starts out very mellow before throwing you for a loop when the chorus hits. In my opinion it is not only easily one of the best songs from an amazingly great record, but one of the best songs from an amazing band as well.
David’s Top 15 Albums of The Year:
Nordic Union – ‘Second Coming’
Erik Martensson is, in my opinion, one of the greatest writers to hit the melodic rock scene in a great many years. Whether it is his own band Eclipse, or the Jeff Scott Soto fronted W.E.T., one of his many writing ventures for other artists or this collaboration with Pretty Maids frontman Ronnie Atkins, the guy can just write some damn fine music. I like the first Nordic Union album quite a lot but I think that they have one-upped that debut with ‘Second Coming’ by delivering a group of songs that I find to be a more solid collection and Ronnie still sounds absolutely amazing!
Bonfire – ‘Temple Of Lies’
The second album to feature Alexx Stahl on vocals is head and shoulders above the first. In fact I think ‘Temple Of Lies’ is the best album that has come from the Bonfire camp in years. Terrific songs with memorable melodies, huge production, incredible musicianship and the fantastic vocals of Stahl made this an instant favorite of the year for me.
W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’
When you have a group that is comprised of artists that come from bands such as Work Of Art, Eclipse and Talisman (W.E.T.) then you are obviously talking about a group of remarkable artists that should not be expected to deliver anything below perfection. Three albums in now and this supergroup has given us what is by far their strongest record to date. There is nothing about this album that I dislike and it is, in my opinion, a must-have for anyone who claims to like melodic rock.
Firmo – ‘Rehab’
Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but the first solo outing from the Room Experience mastermind is a fantastic, low-key AOR album that delivers on every level for me. The songs are not in your face, but they stay with you long after listening to the album and it has proven to be one of slow-burn albums of the year for me. Excellent job by Gianluca here.
Perfect Plan – ‘All Rise’
A brand new band featuring one of the best voices to hit this genre in quite some time. With nary a bad track in site, this debut from Perfect Plan was one that I knew would be in my top albums after only one listen. An outstanding album beginning to end with some truly amazing songs present and, as mentioned, utterly fantastic vocals.
Beyond The Black – ‘Heart Of The Hurricane’
The third album from these German rockers continues on their upward climb from their debut and delivers what is, for me, their strongest album to date. Superb vocals, superb musicianship and outstanding songs make this an easy shoe-in for one of the best albums of the year in my book.
Odyssey Desperado – ‘Don’t Miss The Sunset’
One that came out of the blue for me. I received the e-mail containing the press kit of a new, unknown band and I went into it with no expectations whatsoever and was absolutely blown away by this baby. Superb melodic rock by a group of very talented guys. I cannot wait for the sophomore release! Bring it on! If you love melodic rock then you need this record in your collection.
Big Guns – “Re-Loaded”
One of the most surprising albums of the year for me was this New York based band’s debut. Big Guns came out of the clear blue for me and a big thank you to Rachel Lorin who made mention of the band which sent me on a search for them only to have their album become one of my most listened to records of the year. Excellent hard rock that combines the sounds of Hair Metal, modern hard rock and even a bit of post-Grunge into one awesome sound that delivers on every level. Not to mention some of the nicest folk you would care to meet. Excellent record!
Dion Bayman – ‘Better Days’
What can I say, I love this guy! Excellent singer, excellent writer and just a super nice chap, Dion Bayman has been one-upping each consecutive record since 2013’s ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ came out and topped his three demo albums. Since that time he has released an album every two years and each time they have been better than the last. ‘Better Days’ is the man’s most exceptional piece of work yet. If you have not heard this one yet than go buy it now. A fantastic record and the best of Bayman’s career.
Maverick – ‘Cold Star Dancer’
Irish rockers Maverick dropped their third full length album in 2018 and what a beauty it is! Taking everything good about their last two albums, using that and then pumping things up even higher they managed to deliver the strongest album of their career with the excellent ‘Cold Star Dancer’.
Midnite City – ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’
Midnite City came out and blew their debut away with this release. With a fuller sounding production and better songs, these seasoned artists have delivered a must-have album for fans of throw-back music to the 1980’s hair metal scene. A no-holds barred good time record that never takes itself too seriously, this is just so much fun to listen to and I can’t help but smile every time I hear these guys. Superb.
Dallas – “Self Titled”
I love this album! Catchy as hell songs sung by a guy that has a tremendous voice with an out of this world vocal range. I, in all honesty, had all but forgotten about Bryan Dallas after being impressed with his 2012 EP and then hearing nothing by him until this album. But one listen reminded me just why I had been so impressed by that EP. A fantastic album full of very catchy songs. I love it!
Creye – ‘Self Titled’
I was fortunate enough to discover this band back when their three track EP was released in 2017. Already being a fan of Andreas Gullstrand and his work with Grand Slam then the EP was a natural purchase for me, and it was fantastic, but it holds no bearing to the beauty that is the band’s first full length album. Stepping everything up several notches from that EP, Creye delivered an absolute stellar album full of 80’s inspired melodic rock with some synthwave leanings that should satisfy most any lover of 80’s music.
Dynazty – “Firesign”
With one impressive album after another, Sweden’s Dynazty quickly became one of my favorite bands and thus it was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. From the start of their career, their debut album ‘Bring The Thunder’ and on through five studio albums, the band has continually delivered one amazing record after another, culminating in this, their sixth album and one of the best ones they have given us yet. An absolutely incredible record by a group of phenomenal musicians and one of the best voices of melodic metal in the business right now.
David’s Number 1 Album Of 2018:
Kissin’ Dynamite – ‘Ecstasy’
I’ll be honest, most any album on this list in the top five could take this spot pretty easily and so it took me a while to make my final decision on the number one spot…but here it is.
These German lads have been kicking some major ass since their 2008 debut album, which was recorded when the members were around a mere 15 years of age! With five highly impressive studio albums under their belts and one smashing live record, the band reached the pinnacle of their career thus far and released the best record to date with the absolute beauty that is ‘Ecstasy’.
The songs, the musicianship, the vocals…there is not a single moment of this album that I do not love. Absolutely stellar from beginning to end and it is my pick for the best album of 2018!