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Steven Reid

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Enchant : The Great Divide - Too long in coming, but well worth the wait. One of the best Progressive Metal acts around return in fine, fine style. Deeply involving songs with true heart and soul make for an album with great depth and clarity and one which will stand the test of time with ease.

Audrey Horne: Pure Heavy - Last year's Youngblood album was one of the best heavy, melodic rock albums released for many a moon. Pure Heavy isn't maybe quite as instant, but given time it matches it in every department. A contender for melodic rock album of the year and no doubt.

Galahad: Seize The Day - Guardian Angel - Mein Herz Brennt - Three EP releases in quick succession from THE form band in UK Prog right now. Alternate versions of album tracks, piano and voice takes on songs usually dripping with synths and guitars and reworkings of old fan favourites make the first two EPs essential listening. However, having the balls to take a Rammstein track and record it in four different ways really is as brilliant as it is unexpected. Put simply Mein Herz Brennt is an inspired triumph!

Saga: Sagacity - I mean it's Saga, right? They can do no wrong, right? Well initially I wasn't so sure, but now I've lived with Sagacity for a few weeks it's suddenly clicked into place and become an album I simply can't get enough of.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Hypnotic Eye - I'm not quite sure this album is the return to the old TP&THB values that critics, and to be fair Tom himself, are suggesting. However it's still the strongest album these veterans have released since The Last DJ in 2002; with a couple of numbers in particular standing out as the Heartbreakers near their best.

Judas Priest: Redeemer Of Souls - A Massive step up from the rather disastrous and misguided Nostradamus, I'm still split with my feelings towards Redeemer. On the one hand the riffs are blistering and choruses abrasively memorable. However factor in that Rob Halford's voice is slowly evolving into a lower register weapon and the production can only be described as muddy, at best, and what could have been a stunning return to form is simply a decent album that doesn't quite deliver what it promises.

The Treatment: Running With The Dogs - Proving that their no nonsense rockin' debut was no fluke, The Treatment return with a mature set of songs that bite and snarl for all their worth - and believe me when I say these straight up UK rock n' rollers are worth a huge amount of your time and respect!

Killer Be Killed: Killer Be Killed - A debut album from a supergroup containing members of Soulfly, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Mars Volta and Mastodon. The end product is maybe a little more straight down the line METAL than might be expected, however when this album's good, it's great. Yes, there's a bit of filler in places, but then it's a rare beast which avoids that.

Peter Shoulder: Feathers And Rain - Best known as Luke Morley's vocal partner in The Union, Peter Shoulder steps out on his own to prove what a glorious Blues tinged, singer-songwriter he is. And that voice? It's to die for! One of the best surprises 2014 has thrown out so far.

IQ: The Road Of Bones - Another UK Prog act right at the top of their game, IQ have created a two disc opus which illustrates amazing patience as song ideas and themes are given time and room to fully develop into their atmospheric glory. A bold claim, but this is as good as anything IQ have produced at any point in their career.

Heaven And Earth: Dig - Having witnessed this Classic Rock outfit simply destroy the ABC2 in Glasgow with one of the finest, most energetic shows you could hope for, their latest album Dig has remained on regular rotation in the Reid household ever since - as have the self titled debut and album number two Window To The World. Many bands have tried to relive the Rainbow and Deep Purple glory days of yore, few if any have managed it with the class and authenticity of Heaven And Earth.

CJ Wildheart: Mable - Named after his favourite chicken…yes you read that right… The guitarist in the Wildhearts returns with his first solo effort in some seven years and what a doozy it is. Upbeat, yet with much more going for it than Power-Pop simplicity, it's great to welcome back the only guitarist/singer who ever really brought out the considerable best in his Wildhearts buddy Ginger. Oh, and the cover of "Vitriol", originally by BlueJuice, is one of the best tracks recorded all year.

Fahran: Chasing Hours - More top notch UK Rock/Metal from another young band who've recently arrived on the scene. The introduction of ex-Serpentine frontman Matt Black sees a serious jump in class behind the mic, but it is the punchy Maiden meets Shinedown via Black Stone Cherry ramped up to 11, that make this album worthy of your attention.

The Scintilla Project: The Hybrid - Featuring two key members of the much missed Balance Of Power and the unmistakable voice of Saxon frontman Biff Byford, this concept album based on the new movie Scintilla, combines the Progressive Power of BoP to the Traditional Metal values of Saxon perfectly. Come year's end, this should be featuring highly on many a best of poll. Yes, it's that good.

Skid Row: Rise Of The Damnation Army-United World Rebellion-Chapter 2 - A year on from the first EP in the World Rebellion series, the 18 and lifers maintain the high standards they've once again set themselves. Frontman Johnny Solinger is on top form, but it is the more aggressive than you might think guitar approach that snags the memory. If these short sharp EPs, with a couple of classy cover versions (Queen and Aerosmith getting the treatment on chapter 2), is the way forward for this band, then long may it continue. I'll happily take five killer tracks with no filler any day of the week.
  

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