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Steven Reid

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Reverence - Gods Of War – The second album from US power metal masters Reverence has been a long time coming (well for someone as impatient as me anyway), but it is well worth the wait and every bit as good (maybe even better!) than hoped for. The vocals from the in demand Todd Michael Hall are something to behold!

Symphony X - Underworld – Well if the wait for a Reverence album was long, the patient anticipation for the long in the arriving new Symphony X platter has been gargantuan. However the results are almost beyond stunning. Possibly the band's best and their 2016 UK tour can't come quick enough.

Cats In Space - Too Many Gods – Put simply, one of the best AOR/70s Rock albums of the year. Seriously good stuff.

Tim Bowness - My Hotel Year – With two great albums in the last two years, it was about time I caught up with the debut album, My Hotel Year from Tim Bowness (No-man). Less sparse and less intentionally despairing than his recent work, this is still the sound of a serious artist at work.

Blackberry Smoke - Little Piece Of Dixie/Bad Luck Ain't No Crime/New Honky Tonk Bootleg – A newly announced Scottish date (in just a few weeks time) for the BBS, had me scurrying to relive the band's early/formative years. Great stuff, but the best was yet to come.

Big Big Train - Wassail – Can you call an EP as good as Wassail a "stop-gap" release? I'm not sure, but if wonderfully English prog is your game, you need to hear this.

Leogun - Majick Potion – I caught Leogun when they opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd earlier in the year and was impressed enough to give their new EP a spin and I'm glad I did. Live they bordered on being Zep clonesters, but on disc this band are a far more contemporary beast. A nice surprise.

Lightning - Road To Ninja – I must admit to a weakness for all things "J" J-Rock, J-Metal, Anime (OK no "J" there, I know, but you get the idea). Hence a new Lightning album which crosses the boundaries between Dragonforce and Vow Wow is a reason to celebrate. Utterly throwaway but utterly enjoyable.

IO Earth - New World – Expansive prog rock come metal come concept album, come ambient, come…. Rather than try to put it in a box, let's just say that an album that could have easily been under par due to the evolution the line-up undertook in recent years, is a triumph!

KKB - Got To Get Back – Early recordings from Bruce Kulick (Kiss/Meat Loaf/Union/Grand Funk…) hit hard and like a cross of Cream splatting into early Rush and Zeppelin – Kulick's guitar work is mighty!

Kiss - Lick It Up/Animalize/Asylum/Crazy Nights/Hot In The Shade/Revenge/Carnival Of Souls – And that above Kulick release caused me to go back and re-sample some of my favourite albums from my youth. The "unmasked" Kiss years are much derided (even by some members of the band), but musically all these albums have some stellar stuff. "Lick It Up", "Rain", "Take It Off", "The Street Giveth And The Street Taketh Away"…… and so many more still hit the spot. Great stuff!!

Opeth - Pale Communion – After being underwhelmed by the last couple of Opeth albums, it's taken me a while to give Pale Communion a fair hearing. How wrong was I? Utterly superb!

Nemo - Coma – Possibly the farewell album from the French progressive collective and it's a beauty. I've only heard the single disc version, but the 2CD pack is a must buy on my list. Great album from a band who I hope reconsider their mothballing.

Paul McCartney - The Art Of McCartney – Interesting compilation where the likes of Roget Daltrey, Billy Joel, Kiss, Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, Harry Connick Jnr, The Cure, Smokey Robinson, Dr John and amongst others Paul Rogers and Barry Gibb queue up to pay tributes to Paul McCartney's Beatles, Wings and solo compositions. Some miss the mark, but this double disc release makes for a great evening of guess the band playing the cover version!

Muse - Drones – I've found the last two Muse albums to be slow growers and Drones is proving no different. The band's usual traits slow to break down and the liberally poured on bombast difficult to cut through. Perseverance has paid off in the past and repeat listens are suggesting the same may happen here, but is it just possible that the band's best albums are already behind them? Maybe…

Screaming Eagles - Stand Up And Be Counted – Young Northern Irish band joining the ever growing list of UK acts coming through and playing their own superb take on classic rock. This is the band's second album and it's a belter.

This Oceanic Feeling - Universal Mind – WOW. Possibly the melodic progressive rock album of the year. No more needs said - other than the song "I Play Debussy" still refuses to leave my head!

Unisonic - Light Of Dawn – Second album from the ex-Helloween pair Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen hits the speed/power metal mark, the pair proving the debut was no fluke!

Roger Waters - Amused To Death – A remastering for the best Pink Floyd album not to carry the name. Waters has seemingly struggled to find his own identity since his departure from arguably the biggest prog band ever. Here he proved his identity was still Floyd through and through. And this album has never sounded better. Still stunning and hard hitting all these years later.

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