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The Staff's Top Picks of 2011

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(Click on each writer's name below to go directly to his list.)

Pete Pardo
Mike Popke
Duncan Glenday
Murat Batmaz
Jon Neudorf
Elias Granillo
Scott Ward
Butch Jones
Denis Brunelle
Dean Pedley
Mark Davies
Steven Reid
Gert Hulshof
Jeff Ballew
John O'Boyle
Jordan Blum
Mark Johnson
Simon Bray
Brandon Strader
Carl Sederholm
Jason Guest
Kim Jensen
Mikhail Madnani
Tom de Val

Summarized List Of The Top 50 CDs, From All Of The SoT Staff




PETE PARDO


Best albums of 2011:

1 Symphony X : Iconoclast - This one has been my favorite all year, and despite some very strong releases from other bands, the boys from NJ still had this year's best release
2 Opeth : Heritage - The Swedes took a chance going full prog and dropping the death metal, but it worked!
3 Obscura : Omnivium - THE best technical death metal act on the planet. Astounding release!
4 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events - Mike Portnoy is gone but the band releases their best CD in years!
5 Haken : Visions - Remarkable stuff from a band that gives the progressive and the metal.
6 Iced Earth : Dystopia - Best release from them in a long time, might be best ever. Welcome aboard Stu Block!
7 Black Country Communion : 2 - Another winner from this supergroup. 70's styled hard rock the way it ought to be!
8 Uriah Heep : Into the Wild - Just love this band and this album-the Heepsters keep on rollin' !
9 Mars Hollow : World In Front Of Me - A wonderful 70's inspired prog album.
10 Whitesnake : Forevermore - Taking the best from their bluesy hard rock beginnings and the more metallic 80's style. Love it!
11 Magic Pie : The Suffering Joy - This band can do no wrong-perhaps the best modern prog act going!
12 Journey : Eclipse - The bands hardest rocking album ever, yet still catchy and accessible.
13 Mastodon : The Hunter - Less epic and progressive, but still killer.
14 Man on Fire : Chrysalis - Like yer prog upbeat & funky? Then you need to hear this addicting CD.
15 Demon's Eye : The Stranger Within - Best homage to Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Whitesnake. So much fun!
16 Wobbler : Rites At Dawn - Another wonderful take on 70's prog from these Norwegians.
17 Chickenfoot : III - Sammy and the boys once again deliver a fun hard rocking affair!
18 Voodoo Circle : Broken Heart Syndrome - Another band that takes the Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Whitesnake formula to new levels!
19 Evergrey : Glorious Collision - More solid emotional progressive metal from these Swedes.
20 Between the Buried and Me : The Parallax - Hypersleep Dialogues: Basically an EP but still kick ass extreme progressive metal from these guys.
21 Glass Hammer : Cor Cordium - Stellar Yes inspired prog rock from these US veterans.
22 Unexpect : Fables of the Sleepless Empire - The masters of avant-garde progressive metal return!
23 Magnum : The Visitation - Longtime UK rockers once again deliver another classy platter of melodic hard rock.
24 Arch / Matheos : Sympathetic Resonance - Who needs Fates Warning when we have these guys now delivering great prog-metal
25 Yes : Fly From Here - Better than most people expected-might not be classic Yes, but it's damn good.
26 While Heaven Wept : Fear of Infinity - Crushing, masterful epic doom
27 Steven Wilson : Grace for Drowning - Grand, majestic, epic…yep, it's Steven Wilson!
28 Redemption : This Mortal Coil - Another killer collection of prog-metal songs from these guys.
29 Vicious Rumors : Razorback Killers - One of the best thrash/power metal releases of the year! GREAT guitar work!
30 Brainstorm : On the Spur of the Moment - Another amazing release from this veteran act. Power metal doesn't get much better!
31 TCP : Fantastic Dreamer - One of 2011's best pure prog albums.
32 Mr. Big : What If - The return of an underrated band, and quite possibly their best release yet.
33 Primordial : Redemption at the Puritan's Hand - Irish pagan metal act once again wows with a strong album of epic music.
34 Cynthesis : DeEvolution - The guys from Zero Hour amaze with a new project.
35 Hate Eternal : Phoenix Amongst the Ashes - Brutal, technical death metal-another killer release from Rutan & Co.
36 Pagan's Mind : Heavenly Ecstasy - More streamlined but still a winner!
37 Scar Symmetry : The Unseen Empire - This band is still on fire delivering killer melodic & progressive extreme metal
38 Megadeth : Thirteen - Perhaps not as spectacular as their previous 2 releases, but still quite a strong one from Mustaine & the boys.
39 Artillery : My Blood - Thrash legends once again show they still have it!
40 Graal : Legends Never Die - Deep Purple inspired prog & hard rock-quite good!
41 Pallas : XXV - Veteran UK proggers once again deliver!
42 Nazareth : Big Dogz - Can't keep these legendary Scott's down. Fantastic bluesy hard rock!
43 Ten : Stormwarning - Majestic, grand, epic, melodic…yep, another winner from Ten!
44 Scheepers : Scheepers - Primal Fear mainman releases first solo CD, and no surprises here, it's a good one!
45 Gosta Berlings Saga : Glue Works - One of 2011's surprise prog releases. Great stuff!
46 Black Stone Cherry : Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea - Modern metal meets Southern Rock. Such a fun album!
47 Rory Gallagher : Notes From San Francisco - Long lost recording from the vaults finally sees the light of day. We miss ya Rory!
48 Yoyager : The Meaning of I - Fantastic progressive metal from a band that keeps getting better.
49 Origin : Entity - Crushing technical death metal. Intense!
50 Andromeda : Manifest Tyranny - More melodic progressive metal from a band that never seems to disappoint.
51 Arch Enemy : Khaos Legions - Another solid outing of melodic death metal from these Swedes.
52 Amorphis : The Beginning of Times - The Fins once again give us a winner of melodic death & folk metal.
53 Hell : Human Remains - Great throwback to 80's NWOBHM from these legends.
54 Night Ranger : Somewhere in California - Best album in years from these 80's US rockers.
55 Riverside : Memories in My Head - Only an EP but another killer release from the Polish wonders.
56 Devin Townsend : Deconstruction - Zany extreme metal from the madman!
57 Marbin : Breaking the Cycle - Killer fusion & prog!
58 Kruk : It Will Not Come Back - If you like the sounds of classic Deep Purple, you need to check this Polish band out.
59 Presto Ballet : Love What You've Done With the Place - Another great 70's sounding prog release from Kurdt Vanderhoof & crew!
60 Rhapsody of Fire : From Chaos To Eternity - The band has recently split into 2 camps, but they went out on a bang with this one.
61 Ken Hensley & Live Fire : Faster - Hensley decides to embrace his Uriah Heep roots with this stellar release.
62 Jakszyk, Fripp, and Collins : A Scarcity of Miracles - The future of King Crimson? We shall see…
63 Iona : Another Realm - Lovely mix of folk & prog.
64 Derek Sherinian : Oceana - High octane fusion from Sherinian. His tribute to Jeff Beck.
65 Decapitated : Carnival is Forever - Polish technical death metal act return from tragedy with this killer release.
66 Born of Osiris : The Discovery - The new player on the technical death metal scene.
67 Vader : Welcome to the Morbid Reich - Polish death metal legends deliver another stunner.
68 Sun Caged : The Lotus Effect - Can't go wrong with this progressive metal band. Another winner!
69 Wolves in the Throne Room : Celestial Lineage - The best atmospheric & folky US black metal band going.
70 Lionville : Lionville - Totally addicting melodic hard rock.
71 Airrace : Back to the Start - 80's band returns with a killer collection of melodic hard rock & NWOBHM!
72 Alice Cooper : Welcome 2 My Nightmare - The nightmare continues! Lots of hard rocking fun.
73 Mercenary : Metamorphosis - Revamped line-up delivers solid melodic extreme metal.
74 Sebastian Bach : Kicking & Screaming - Former Skid Row frontman blows the doors off with this heavy release.
75 Anubis Gate : Anubis Gate - Gotta love this dependable prog-metal act.
76 Anthrax : Worship Music - Not as enamored with this as some are, but it's still a great return to form for this legendary US thrash band.
77 Bloodbound : Unholy Cross - Killer power metal from this always solid band.
78 The Universe Divide : Dust Settles on the Odontophobes - This EP blew me away-an instrumental technical prog metal band to watch out for.
79 Textures : Dualism - It's all here-progressive metal, death metal, metalcore…great stuff!
80 Creation's End : A New Beginning - Progressive metal supergroup really delivers with their debut!
81 Charred Walls of the Damned : Cold Winds on Timeless Days - Not as outstanding as their debut, but still a solid outing for this power/prog/death metal supergroup
82 Fleshgod Apocalypse : Agony - Operatic technical death metal band delivers another unique platter.
83 Graveyard : Hisingen Blues - Really digging this latest release from Swedish retro rockers. If you love 70's hard rock & doom, check this out!
84 Rival Sons : Pressure & Time - A band to watch out for-these youngsters do the 70's retro hard rock thing the right way.
85 Demonaz : March of the Norse - Immortal legend finally releases his solo album. Great mix of traditional metal with black metal.
86 Pentagram : Last Rites - Doom legends return with a stellar collection of hard rock & metal.
87 Protest the Hero : Scurrilous - Their formula of progressive metal, metalcore, and pop once again impresses.
88 Vreid : V - An extreme metal act that always seems to come out on top.
89 Coldspell : Out From the cold - Great melodic hard rock & metal.
90 Noctum : The Séance - Seemingly a fantastic tribute to Black Sabbath & Pentagram. Love it!
91 Abnormal Thought Patterns : Abnormal Thought Patterns - Another new project from the Zero Hour crew. Instrumental insanity on this EP!
92 Belphegor : Blood Magick Necromancer - Veteran black/death metal band corks up one of their best yet!
93 Glen Drover : Metalusion - Ex-Megadeth/King Diamond axe master delivers his first solo album, and it's a stunning guitar oriented affair.
94 MaYan : Quarterpast - Side project from Epica guitarist Mark Jansen offers up great mix of death & power metal.
95 Destruction : Day of Reckoning - German thrash titans keep the headbanging going strong!
96 Stratovarius : Elysium - The veteran power/prog act still making it happen!
97 Demonic Resurrection : The Return to Darkness - Though released internationally in 2010, this great CD from this Indian symphonic black/death act just arrived here in the US this year.
98 Children of Bodom : Relentless, Reckless Forever - Their act might be getting a tad stale, but this is still a fun release from Bodom.
99 Believer : Transhuman - Veteran 90's avant-garde metal act return with a very strong album here.
100 Factory of Dreams : Melotronical - Dramatic, sweeping gothic progressive metal with great female vocals.

Live Albums:

1) Transatlantic-More Is Never Enough
2) Uriah Heep-Live in Armenia
3) Hypocrisy-Hell Over Sofia
4) Mastodon-Live at the Aragon
5) Jorn-Live in Black
6) Mike Keneally Band-Bakin' @ the Potato
7) Whitesnake-Live at Donnington 1990
8) Siena Root-Root Jam
9) Grateful Dead-Europe '72 Volume 2
10) Sabaton-World War Live: Battle of the Baltic Sea
11) Bad Company-Live at Wembley
12) Saga-Heads or Tales Live
13) GMT-Raw Live
14) Doobie Brothers-Live at the Greek 1982
15) Bryan Beller-Wednesday Night Live
16) ZZ Top-Live in Germany 1980
17) Sonata Arctica-Live in Finland
18) Keith Jarrett-Rio

 

MICHAEL POPKE

Best albums of 2011:

1 Redemption : This Mortal Coil - This album flowed out of the blood cancer diagnosis multi-instrumentalist/chief songwriter Nick van Dyk received in October 2008. He beat the disease, but not before staring death in the face. Then van Dyk made an album about it. This Mortal Coil is everything that a metal album should be in 2011: dark, brutal, melodic, honest and provocative.
2 Evergrey : Glorious Collision - Evergrey continues to retreat toward its roots, even as it marks a triumphant beginning with three new band members. This is Evergrey's best album since 2003's Recreation Day … maybe even better.
3 Creation's End : A New Beginning - Heavy, brooding and densely melodic, Creation's End boasts elements of Dream Theater and Queensrÿche but possess enough class and character to not sound too much like either band.
4 Neal Morse : Testimony 2 - Morse winds up on my best-of lists every year he releases something (see "Reissues/Live Albums" and "Books," too). This is not his finest or most original work, but it's lyrically honest, musically invigorating and better than most anything else I heard in 2011.
5 Steve Hackett : Beyond the Shrouded Horizon - Hackett just gets better with age. Here, he combines his love of multiple genres into an exotic theme, with song titles nearly as gorgeous as the songs.
6 Symphony X : Iconoclast - Iconoclast was worth the four-year wait, immediately luring you into its labyrinth with the epic 11-minute title-track opener. This is Symphony X primed for a new decade - prog's version of Metallica, stretching well beyond its neoclassical-metal roots and approaching something akin to heavy classic-rock status.
7 Edguy : Age of the Joker - Edguy returns from the brink of self-destruction to record its strongest album since 2004's Hellfire Club. Original, it is not. But Age of the Joker is such an enthusiastic throwback to when rock and metal were fun that it deserves a spot here.
8 Pagan's Mind : Heavenly Ecstasy - This soaring, melodic album boasts huge choruses, convincing vocals, superior musicianship and mass appeal. Sure, the band's sound may have become predictable by now, but few groups deliver this kind of quality so consistently.
9 Proto-Kaw : Forth - Post-stroke, Kerry Livgren reformed Proto-Kaw and released an album that demanded fans welcome the band back like an old friend.
10 Opeth : Heritage - This is the kind of album we could see Opeth heading toward for years. Is it metal? Who cares? Heritage ranks among the boldest albums released in 2011, not only for the chances it takes musically, but for the way it attempts to stretch Opeth's existing audience while welcoming newcomers.
11 Journey : Eclipse - The finest Journey album in two-and-a-half decades, with progressive overtones that should make naysayers think twice.
12 Theocracy : As the World Bleeds - Matt Smith and his band are back with perhaps their most transparent Christian album. That doesn't mean this doesn't deserve your attention. If Neal Morse played progressive/power metal, it would sound like Theocracy. In fact, Neal and Theocracy should launch a tour together; no one else is in the realm of what they are doing with Christian prog.
13 Arena : The Seventh Degree of Separation - A late addition to this list, Arena's first new album in six years includes new vocalist Paul Manzi and places an emphasis on shorter, heavier and darker songs.
14 Gazpacho : Missa Atropos - Fifteen years after its formation, Norway's Gazpacho has finally emerged as a major player in progressive-rock circles. This classy yet subdued album embodies the band's moody, atmospheric sound, bridging Porcupine Tree and Marillion; best experienced in a dimly lit room.
15 Pallas : XXV - I don't know how much clamoring there was for a contemporary sequel to The Sentinel, 1984's Cold War-themed debut album from British proggers Pallas, but the band delivered one of the most cinematic prog albums of the year.
16 Marbin : Breaking the Cycle - Now, this is "progressive" music. Marbin consists of guitarist Dani Rabin and sax man Danny Markovitch - a guitar-and-sax duo of equally skilled musicians with the same name, blowing minds and twisting genres with a flurry of prog, fusion and jazz.
17 Greylevel : Hypostatic Union - In a prog universe overpopulated with Porcupine Tree imitators, few bands truly live up to that comparison. Greylevel seems ready to ascend the throne with an engaging and dynamic album that boasts broad appeal, even for people who don't know they like prog.
18 Mars Hollow : World In Front Of Me - Mars Hollow proves it's not resting on the laurels generated by the band's 2010 self-titled debut. While that album drew comparisons to Spock's Beard's brand of modern progressive pop/rock with a warm and familiar sunshiny quality, World in Front of Me establishes a stand-alone sound for Mars Hollow.
19 Divine Ascension : As the Truth Appears - The novelty of female-fronted bands wore off long ago, but originality still counts. Divine Ascension's sound, borne of Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Delain and maybe even Evanescence, emerges from the pack as one to watch.
20 Lance King : A Moment In Chiros - The man whose voice pulled me into an unexplored world of melodic metal back in the late Nineties with three Balance of Power albums hasn't lost a step with this concept album revolving around the vocalist's fascination with the 11:11 time-prompt phenomenon. And in keeping with that theme, King is donating $1.11 from every sale of A Moment in Chiros to Not For Sale - an organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking and sex slavery.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Abnormal Thought Patterns: Abnormal Thought Patterns
Black Stone Cherry: Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
Cheer-Accident: No Ifs, Ands or Dogs
Cynthesis: DeEvolution
Dream Theater: A Dramatic Turn of Events
The Flyin' Ryan Brothers: Under the Influence
Glass Hammer: Cor Cordium
Iced Earth: Dystopia
Karmakanic: In a Perfect World
Knight Area: Nine Paths
Magic Pie: The Suffering Joy
Mastodon: The Hunter
Pendragon: Passion
Presto Ballet: Invisible Places
Steven Wilson: Grace for Drowning

Reissues / Live Albums:

1. Neal Morse: Testimony Two-Live in Los Angeles — I've been waiting years for Neal Morse to tour the Midwestern United States. Until then, this three-CD/two-DVD set will be the closest I'll probably get to his progressive Christian-rock extravaganza.

2. Transatlantic: More Never Is Enough-Live @ Manchester & Tilburg 2010 — The title of this one says it all! I loved Transatlantic's Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London, so why wouldn't I want seconds?

3. Avantasia: The Flying Opera — This engaging two-CD/two-DVD set captures the Avantasia live experience, featuring13 vocalists and musicians on a humongous stage usually reserved for the likes of The Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi. Kudos to mastermind Tobias Sammet for making this tour happen; even better, he's shared it with the rest of us.

4. Ben Folds: The Best Imitation of Myself-A Retrospective — This is how all reissues should be done: a best-of disc, a live disc, a rarities disc and insightful, witty liner notes from the artist himself.

5. Bruce Hornsby: Bride of the Noisemakers — Eclectic reinterpretations of Hornsby's catalog, plus other songs (including his version of "Comfortably Numb," which alone is worth the price of this two-CD, 25-song set). That said, is there an "ugly album cover" award?

7. Jim Capaldi: Dear Mr. Fantasy-The Jim Capaldi Story — This long-time-coming, four-disc box set offers 67 tracks spanning the entire career of Traffic's founding vocalist/drummer — including solo material and stints with Eric Clapton, Paul Kossoff and George Harrison. It also features rare and unreleased songs. Capaldi is vastly deserving of a set like this.

8. Anathema: Falling Deeper — The British group's move away from its doom/death-metal roots continues to pay dividends, making Anathema an even bolder band — as this elegantly mellow collection of rearranged and re-recorded songs from Anathema's back-catalog attests.

9. Jimi Hendrix: Live at Winterland — Some may balk at the way Jimi Hendrix's back-catalog has been handled through the years, but I've got no complaints about this affordable box set featuring four discs of material from three shows in October 1968. In fact, it's essential for any Hendrix CD library.

10: Journey: Greatest Hits 2 — Even though there are some great songs here (namely, "Stone in Love"), this disc made my list because Steve Perry remastered these 17 tracks to sound as they originally did on vinyl. The result is a warm and friendly listen that eliminates so much of the noisy abrasion of other remastered titles.

DVDs:

1. Peter Gabriel: New Blood-Live in London — This concert film featuring recordings from the Gabriel catalog (dramatically rearranged for orchestra without guitar, bass or drums) provides an aural and visual extravaganza that left me hypnotized. Gabriel remains an artist beyond compare; his voice sounds as effective as ever and almost moved to tears.

2. Pearl Jam Twenty: The Motion Picture — I appreciated Pearl Jam's debut, Ten, and then I lost interest. But when I saw the band open for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in 2006, I discovered a new appreciation for the sole survivors of the grunge era. And, really, as this Cameron Crowe documentary proves, Pearl Jam was — and remains — so much more than just grunge (whatever that means).

3. ESPN's 30 for 30: Volume 02/Films 16-30 — I'm still absorbing Volume 01, but this consistently heralded collection of sports documentaries — The X Games! Michael Jordan and baseball! Fernando Valenzuela! — belongs in the video library of any viewer who appreciates how sports are intricately intertwined with the fabric of humanity.

4. Iced Earth: Festivals of the Wicked — Very few bands excel at intense, dark, melodic metal the way Iced Earth does. Sure, some songs (especially the ballads) sound the same, but these three gigs from the Tim Owens and Matthew Barlow II eras show how Iced Earth leaves its soul on the stage after every performance.

5. Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) (Blu-Ray) — The only video versions I have of the original Star Wars trilogy are on VHS, and while I will hold onto those because they contain the unaltered versions, this box brought my Star Wars collection into the Blu-Ray era. Plus, I couldn't resist the more than 30 hours (!) of extras. Even though I'll probably never watch them all, it's good to know I have them…

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

AC/DC: Live at River Plate
Lindsey Buckingham: Songs from the Small Machine
The Flower Kings: Tour Kaputt-The Official Bootleg Film
Royal Hunt: Future Coming from the Past
Unitopia: One Night in Europe-Live at the Boerderij

Books:

1. Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel-An American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend, by Leigh Montville — Best-selling author Montville takes on the controversial daredevil Evel Knievel and reveals an intimate, often alarming and ultimately sad portrait of a man who lived precariously both on and off his motorcycle. The author recounts stories with eye-popping details, including Knievel's failed jumps over the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and over the Snake River Canyon. The combination of Knievel's rambunctious lifestyle and Montville's lively prose produces a page-turner almost as exhilarating as landing a record-breaking jump.

2. The Five, by Robert McCammon — The most rock 'n' roll novel I've read in years, maybe ever. This book takes its title from The Five, a band standing on the edge of success and disbanding. During what could be the group's last tour together, a sweaty swing through the American Southwest, band members are picked off one by one by an insane assassin. As terrifying and violent as it is invigorating, the book reminds readers of rock's vitality and its ability to heal even the deepest wounds.

3. It's So Easy (And Other Lies) by Duff McKagan — It's so easy to see why the former Guns N' Roses bassist has writing gigs for ESPN.com and Playboy. McKagan is smart, articulate and brutally frank, and his story is as inspirational as it is intoxicating. He's always been my favorite Gunner, and this book made me even more of a fan.

4. Touch and Go, by Thad Nodine — This cinematic novel deserves to be hailed as one of the year's finest fiction debuts. In addition to creating a memorable cast of characters — including Kevin, the blind unemployed journalist and recovering addict who narrates this contemporary road story — Nodine treats readers to a realistic portrayal of multicultural America and manages to make the plot pivot at the height of Hurricane Katrina's fury in Biloxi, Miss.

5. Testimony: The Inspirational and Spiritual Journey of a Prog Rock Musician, by Neal Morse — Although the book's chronology is loose, Morse's writing reflects his personality. Testimony is engaging, occasionally funny and — pay attention, you post-conversion haters — surprisingly non-preachy. In fact, at times the man even criticizes religion. This is the refreshing, ego-free story of not only one of modern prog's finest artists but also one of its finest people.



DUNCAN GLENDAY


Best albums of 2011:

I've been extremely busy this year, and haven't had the time I needed to collect everything I wanted to hear. So several albums are conspicuously absent from my list, simply because I haven't heard them yet. Otherwise, I feel sure my list would include albums like After Crying's Creatura, Neal Morse's Testimony 2, Planeta Imaginario's Optical Delusions, Pandora's Sempre e Ovunque Oltre il Sogno, Ske's 1000 Autunni, and particularly, Unexpect's Fables of the Sleepless Empire or either of the Devin Townsend releases.

Also - my listening has included very little metal this year. There's no particular reason for that, and it's something I plan to rectify in 2012.

2011 was an odd year in that there was a lot of good music, but none of the albums I heard jumped out as an obvious number one. So I have no "number 1", and no "number 2", but I'm tying three albums at "number 3".

3 Discipline : To Shatter All Accord - Tied for no. 3
3 Magic Pie : The Suffering Joy - Tied for no. 3
3 Steven Wilson : Grace for Drowning - Tied for no. 3. (In my opinion, no album qualified for number 1 or number 2.)
4 Mars Hollow : World In Front Of Me
5 Beardfish : Mammoth
6 The Future Kings Of England : The Future Kings Of England
7 Wobbler : Rites At Dawn
8 Haken : Visions
9 Opeth : Heritage
10 Radiohead : The King of Limbs
11 Phideaux : Snowtorch
12 Sean Filkins : War and Peace and Other Short Stories
13 Paatos : Breathing
14 Riverside : Memories in My Head
15 The Dear Hunter : The Color Spectrum
16 Nemo : Revolu$ion
17 Pendragon : Passion
18 Cosmograf : When Age Has Done Its Duty
19 Symphony X : Iconoclast
20 Mastodon : The Hunter
21 Le Orme : La Via Della Seta
22 The Tangent : COMM
23 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events
24 Within Temptation : The Unforgiving
25 Man on Fire : Chrysalis
26 Pain Of Salvation : Road Salt Two
27 Farpoint : Kindred
28 Gösta Berlings Saga : Glue Works
29 White Willow : Terminal Twilight
30 Anathema : Falling Deeper
31 Manning : Margaret's Children
32 Big Big Train : Far Skies Deep Time
33 Frequency Drift : Ghosts
34 Black Country Communion : 2
35 Yes : Fly From Here



MURAT BATMAZ

Best albums of 2011:


1 Wolverine : Communication Lost
2 Steven Wilson : Grace for Drowning
3 Haken : Visions
4 Arch / Matheos : Sympathetic Resonance
5 Opeth : Heritage
6 Sun Caged : The Lotus Effect
7 Ulver : Wars of the Roses
8 Garden Wall : Assurdo
9 Devin Townsend Project : Ghost
10 Cynthesis : DeEvolution
11 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events
12 Riverside : Memories in My Head
13 Symphony X : Iconoclast
14 Andromeda : Manifest Tyranny
15 Devin Townsend Project : Deconstruction
16 Mastodon : The Hunter
17 Derek Sherinian : Oceana
18 Anathema : Falling Deeper
19 Leprous : Bilateral
20 Neal Morse : Testimony 2



JON NEUDORF

Best albums of 2011:

It has been another great year in progressive rock. This year I have decided to keep my list relatively short as there were many albums I have not yet heard. Here are my favourites of 2011.

1 Mars Hollow : World In Front Of Me - My favourite of the year. A great album from a great band.
2 The Psychedelic Ensemble : The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur - Another one of my personal favourites and my second five star rating of 2011. The third ones the charm for this enigmatic musician.
3 Sky Architect : A Dying Man's Hymn - An excellent sophomore effort. Filled to the brim with intricate, classic inspired progressive rock.
4 Leap Day : Skylge's Lair - A lovely little prog album, especially for Genesis fans…
5 Symphony X : Iconoclast - Fantastic progressive metal. This one really rocks.
6 Amorphis : The Beginning of Times - Their most dynamic album yet.
7 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events - A return to form for the progressive metal veterans.
8 Memory Of Machines : Warm Winter - Stellar art rock from the Tim Bowness led project.
9 Dorian Opera : Crusade 1212 - A pretentious progressive metal album? Perhaps, but I love it anyways.
10 Mike Keneally Band : Bakin' @ the potato! - A masterful live performance and outstanding musicianship by all involved.
11 Tinkicker : The Playground at the Edge of the Abyss - Top notch melodic prog/rock from Denmark.
12 The Winter Tree : The Winter Tree - One of the most melodic symphonic rock CDs of 2011.
13 Camembert : Schnörgl Attahk - Progressive jazz/fusion at its finest. An impressive debut release from a band that has tremendous potential.
14 Abrete Gandul : Enjambre Sismico - Moody progressive rock from Chile. I really liked it.
15 Red Orchid : Blood Vessels & Marshmallows - Atmospheric progressive rock that should appeal to fans of Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd.
16 Kurt Michaels : Soaring Back To Earth - One of the more poignant releases of 2011; loaded with great songs and melodies to match.
17 Fourteen Twentysix : Lighttown Closure - Their first album. An exploration through the darker side of art rock.
18 D'Accord : Helike - A nostalgic tour through the early days of classic progressive rock. It's not original nor is it supposed to be. Very well done retro prog.



ELIAS GRANILLO

Best albums of 2011:


1 Ozric Tentacles : Paper Monkeys
1 Zombi : Escape Velocity
2 Pandora : Sempre E Ovunque Oltre Il Sogno
3 Henderson/Oken : Dream Theory In The IE
4 Par Lindh Project : Time Mirror
5 Ian Boddy & Parallel Worlds : Exit Strategy
6 Hillmen : The Whiskey Mountain Sessions
7 Black Country Communion : 2
8 Dinner Music For The Gods : Blood And Red Wine
9 Lars Boutrup's Music For Keyboards : The Symphonic Dream
10 Chickenfoot : III



SCOTT WARD

Best albums of 2011:


1 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events - It don't get much better than this!
2 Amorphis : The Beginning of Times - A real treat!
3 Opeth : Heritage - A masterful work.
4 Magnum : The Visitation - Glorious power metal...their best work maybe.
5 Symphony X : Iconoclast - A must have album!
6 Presto Ballet : Invisible Places - It is progressive metal at it's best!
7 Omnium Gatherum : New World Shadows - This is metal as it should be.
8 Wolverine : Communication Lost - Epic!
9 Rhapsody of Fire : From Chaos To Eternity - Marvelous power metal...easily their best.
10 Five Finger Death Punch : American Capitalist - Cannot stop listening to the gem.
11 Mastodon : The Hunter - Great follow-up to Crack the Skye.
12 TCP : Fantastic Dreamer - This is what prog is all about!
13 Bak : Sculpture - Australian progressive metal...Outstanding!
14 Demon's Eye : The Stranger Within - This one gets better with every spin.
15 Myrath : Tales Of The Sands - Power metal treat.
16 Cynthesis : DeEvolution - You won't get enough of this one.
17 Falloch : Where Distant Spirits Remain - Fantastic debut
18 Edguy : Age of the Joker - A great return to form for Tobias and company.
19 Iced Earth : Dystopia - They haven't missed a beat...great album.
20 Brainstorm : On the Spur of the Moment - Majestic power metal treat!
21 Uriah Heep : Into The Wild - Ageless rockers keep rolling.
22 Suidakra : Book of Dowth - These guys just keep getting better.
23 Flaming Row : Elinoire - Terrific concept work.
24 Boguslaw Balcerak's Crylord : Blood Of The Prophets - Impressive Polish power metal.
25 Iron Savior : The Landing - Take a ride on the power metal train!
26 Voyager : The Meaning Of I - Powerful, melodic and metal!
27 Children of Bodom : Relentless, Reckless Forever - Back to form for these guys.
28 Fen : Epoch - Dark and magnificent.
29 Anubis Gate : Anubis Gate - Another fantastic album from these guys.
30 Motorhead : The World Is Yours - Lemmy is back with a vengeance.
31 Alice Cooper : Welcome 2 My Nightmare - He just keeps rocking and rolling!
32 Hope For The Dying : Dissimulation - Symphonic metalcore...very cool disc.
33 Xerath : II - Symphonic death groove metal. Habit forming.
34 Black Stone Cherry : Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea - Good hard rocking disc!
35 Devin Townsend : Ghost - Devin being Devin.
36 Anubis Gate : Anubis Gate - They just keep getting better.
37 Megadeth : Th1rt3en - Thrashy goodness from one of the best!
38 Insomnium : One for Sorrow - Atmospheric dark metal that captivates.
39 Yes : Fly From Here - They sure manage to keep it coming.
40 Evergrey : Glorious Collision - Terrific melodic metal disc.
41 Devin Townsend : Deconstruction - This one will get you for sure.
42 Avalanch : Malefic Times: Apocalypse - Symphonic metal concept work...fantastic!
43 Lance King : A Moment In Chiros - A melodic metal masterpiece.
44 Saxon : Call To Arms - Heavy metal thunder the old school way!
45 Journey : Eclipse - What a comeback!
46 Times of Grace : The Hymn of a Broken Man - What a debut!
47 Allen : Lande - Two of the best singers in metal give you a real treat.
48 Black Country Communion : 2 - Second release as good as the first.
49 Ken Hensley & Live Fire : Faster - Hensley keeps that Hammond pumping it out!
50 Chickenfoot : III - This is what hard rock and roll is all about.
51 Sepultura : Kairos - Best album by them in years.
52 U.D.O. : Rev Raptor - They still do metal the way we love it.
53 Vektor : Outer Isolation - Brutal thrasy goodness. Watch out for these guys.
54 Whitesnake : Forevermore - Another comeback band that is still smokin'
55 Sixx A.M. : This is Gonna Hurt - A bit lighter than first disc but still terrific.
56 Phideaux : Snowtorch - Glorious progressive album.
57 Times Of Grace : The Hymn of a Broken Man - A metalcore band with style!
58 Manilla Road : Playground Of The Damned - Old school heavy metal...it's just fun!



BUTCH JONES

Best albums of 2011:


1 Anthrax : Worship Music - Finally Scott Ian & Co. get back on track with the Anthrax riffing of the 80's with a more mature and even better sounding Joey Belladonna back in the fold on vocals. Worship Music rivals their classic catalog with a power and focus that had been missing in the band for years. THIS is the album Anthrax needed to make 10-15 years ago but the wait was well worth it. Once thought as dead and out, Anthrax has roared back with a modern Metal masterpiece!
2 Richie Kotzen : 24 Hrs
3 Tesseract : One
4 Opeth : Heritage
5 Threat Signal : Threat Signal
6 Machine Head : Unto The Locust
7 Iced Earth : Dystopia
8 Symphony X : Iconoclast
9 Blindside : With Shivering Hearts We Wait
10 Cold : Superfiction



DENIS BRUNELLE

Best albums of 2011:


1 Eli Cook : Ace, Jack & King
2 Fyrnask : Bluostar
3 A Forest of Stars : Opportunistic Thieves of Spring
4 Sol Invictus : The Cruelest Month
5 Roger Glover and The Guilty Party : If Life was Easy
6 Finnr's Cane : Wanderlust
7 The Flying Eyes : Done so Wrong
8 Lantlôs : Agape
9 Root : Heritage of Satan
10 Desolate Shrine : Tenebrous Towers
11 Funeral Tears : Your Life my Death
12 Sacrilegious Impalement : II Exalted Spectres


DEAN PEDLEY

Best albums of 2011:


1 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events
2 Black Stone Cherry : Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
3 Whitesnake : Forevermore
4 Rival Sons : Pressure And Time
5 Chickenfoot : III
6 Journey : Eclipse
7 Yes : Fly From Here
8 Black Country Communion : 2
9 Nils Lofgren : Old School
10 Pendragon : Passion
11 Opeth : Heritage
12 Alice Cooper : Welcome 2 My Nightmare
13 Motörhead : The World Is Yours
14 Joe Bonamassa : Dust Bowl
15 Status Quo : Quid Pro Quo
16 Presto Ballet : Invisible Places
17 Nightwish : Imaginaerum
18 Exit State : Black Veins
19 Fastway : Eat Dog Eat
20 Magnum : The Visitation
21 Mastodon : The Hunter
22 Pain Of Salvation : Road Salt Two
23 Mr Big : What If
24 Symphony X : Iconoclast
25 Within Temptation : The Unforgiving

Gigs:

1. Roger Waters The Wall @ Birmingham NIA
2. Peter Frampton Comes Alive! @ Birmingham Symphony Hall
3. Judas Priest @ High Voltage Festival, London
4. Dream Theater @ High Voltage Festival, London
5. Black Stone Cherry @ Birmingham LG Arena
6. Yes @ Birmingham Symphony Hall
7. Paul Rodgers @ Birmingham NIA
8. Journey / Foreigner / Styx @ Birmingham LG Arena
9. Rush @ Birmingham LG Arena
10.Richard Marx @ Birmingham Symphony Hall


MARK DAVIES

Best albums of 2011:


What a hell of a year it's been for Metal/Rock music of all genres; this year in particular has seen some quality releases from some of our best loved bands and some excellent debut releases (Hostile). Live music has also been well catered for, once again I've travelled the globe to catch some ear shatteringly good live bands (to the sacrifice of a new kitchen…again!!!). If you love your METAL check out my highlights from 2011 to see if your list mirrors mine, and check out the worthy mentions, so near the cusp of greatness!

1 Machine Head : Unto The Locust
2 The Haunted : Unseen
3 Mastodon : The Hunter
4 Anthrax : Worship Music
5 Devin Townsend : Deconstruction
6 Sixx A : This is Gonna Hurt
7 Amon Amarth : Surtur Rising
8 In Flames : Sound of a Playground Fading
9 Voodoo Circle : Brocken Heart Syndrome
10 Chevelle : Hats Off To The Bull

In no particular order:

Evile : Five Serpents Teeth
Ghost : Opus Eponemous
GraveYard : Hisingen Blues
Hell : Human Remains
Hostile : Eve Of Destruction
Journey : Eclipse
Oliver Weers : Evils Back
Onslaught : Sounds Of Violence
Revoker : Revenge For The Ruthless
Rival Sons : Pressure & Time

Gigs:

1. Big 4 - Indio, California
2. Ghost - Hellfest, France
3. Accept/Wolf - Sheffield Corporation U.K
4. Devin Townsend- Performing Addicted/Deconstruction(over two nights) London ULU U.K
5. Alter Bridge - The Grove Aneheim California
6. Down - Hellfest, France
7. Black Label Society - Graspop, Belgium
8. Roger Waters - Performing The Wall, O2 Arena London U.K
9. Scorpions - Hellfest, France
10. At The Gates - Bloodstock Festival, U.K

Close, but just off the list by a riff!

Grand Magus - Hellfest, France
Clutch - Hellfest, France
Hell - MFN Club, Nottinghamshire U.K
Slayer - Sonisphere Festival U.K
Rival Sons - The Dome, Doncaster, U.K



STEVEN REID

Best albums of 2011:


1 Shy : Shy - Put simply the best Melodic Rock album I've heard in a seriously long time. Sadly Shy's guitarist Steve Harris died shortly after the release of this stunning, career defining album. Rest in peace Steve and thanks for the music.
2 The Tangent : COMM - You want intricately constructed Prog and thought provoking lyrics? Then you need this album!
3 Arena : The Seventh Degree Of Separation - Proof (if it was needed) that Neo-Prog really can be scintillating and uplifting, an amazingly poised, but melodic album.
4 Credo : Against Reason - And just to labour the point, Credo return with another fantastic release. This band just keep getting better and better.
5 Hell : Human Remains - The back story to this album is amazing, and comparing and contrasting the bonus disc of twenty year old live and demo versions of these songs against this ridiculously overdue real version is a journey in itself. Daft lyrics, over the top videos and pummelling Traditional Metal of the highest order.
6 Pagan's Mind : Heavenly Ecstasy - Is there another band capable of combining Power Metal and Melodic Rock in such convincing and captivating fashion? Not on this evidence.
7 Within Temptation : The Unforgiving - It's amazing what a slight change of direction can do for a band. A hint of 80's Metal, a well thought through story ark and catchy as hell choruses result in Within Temptation's best album by some distance.
8 Man On Fire : Chrysalis - If you suggest that Prog can be accessible, people automatically presume you mean something like Asia. However Man On Fire prove that it is possible to add sing-along sections to challenging music, leaving songs that rewards on multiple levels.
9 Myrath : Tales Of The Sands - It's always a pleasure to hear a band who sound like no other and while Myrath show influences aplenty, the addition of traditional music from their homeland Tunisia, make for a truly original band.
10 JD Malone & The Experts : Avalon - Sometimes good old fashioned Rock music can get overlooked, but when the results are as good as Avalon, there is little danger of that.
11 Nightwish : Imaginaerum - After a lengthy wait, the main exponent of female fronted Gothic, Symphonic, Power Metal return with an album that is part Folk, part Broadway Musical, but mainly a cracking slice of Metallic bliss!
12 Eden's Curse : Trinity - Another phenomenal, aggressive mix of melody and Metal and the band's best album yet. However with vocalist Michael Eden departing the band, what comes next, no one knows!
13 66Crusher : Blackest Day - Crushing, melancholy, yet uplifting and bright. 66Crusher are a band who deserve to have had far more hype surrounding them and their individual melding of genres and ideas.
14 Steven Wilson : Grace for Drowning - A much more rounded and complete experience than his previous solo output, Grace For... draws from all of the different aspects of Wilson's career to make for one of the most complete, although not necessarily best releases of his career.
15 Pallas : XXV - Recording a sequel, however long a band have resisted the temptation, is a dangerous endeavour. However Pallas prove to be the exception illustrating the rule, with a bold, brash concept album that almost lives and breathes Prog authenticity.
16 Furyon : Gravitas - UK Classic Metal act Furyon have been making live waves for quite some time now, so it was somewhat surprising that hunting their album down proved to be a decidedly challenging task. However the bristling riffs and howling vocals made the effort worth the while.
17 Chickenfoot : III - It has been a long time since any super group has made quite such an impact as Chickenfoot, however unlike any band who have had that honour bestowed upon them, Hagar, Satriani, Anthony and Smith have delivered the goods - twice!
18 Black Stone Cherry : Folklore And Superstition - One of the hottest, hungriest young bands to hit the Bluesy, Heavy Rock scene over the past few years, BSC have grown, evolved and improved in a way that many bands aren't allowed to these days, Folklore And Superstition shows that patience still pays off.
19 Touchstone : The City Sleeps - Is it Prog? Is it Metal? Who cares - it's a wildly rewarding and irresistible album and that's all that matters.
20 TCP : Fantastic Dreamer - Some people will try and convince you that Prog is dying, or staid. Let bands like TCP prove them wrong and laugh in their face!
21 Michael Monroe : Sensory Overload - Kicked into gear by Ginger from the Wildhearts, Monroe hasn't sounded this vital since Demolition23.
22 Dec Burke : Paradigms and Storylines - Moving into almost commercial areas at times, album number two from Burke fuses Muse to Porcupine Tree and Pop to Prog. Very impressive indeed.
23 Magnum : The Visitation - Can this vintage band do no wrong? Four albums in from their reformation and they are making music that matches their best output.
24 Rob Moratti : Victory - Rather than hide away after his (unfairly) much criticised tenure with Saga, Rob Moratti treats us to super slick and glossy AOR that proves mightily irresistible.
25 Scheepers : Scheepers - Outside of Primal Fear, Ralf Scheepers illustrates that he has one of the best voices in Power Metal. Less melodic than his band output, Scheepers is a mighty fist of Metal.
26 Grand Illusion : Prince Of Paupers - Another blast of soaring vocals, shining hooks and glorious melodies, Grand Illusion secure their place as one of AOR's most interesting bands.
27 Glyder : Backroads To Byzantium - A change of line up, and a new voice at the front of Glyder reinvigorates a band who are masters of Classic Rock - and more!
28 Saracen : Marilyn - For fans of Saracen, Marilyn is an album that takes a lot of getting used to. Gone are the Prog/Pomp overtones to be replaced with classy Melodic Rock and for the main the vocals of Robin Beck, however you can't hide class and Saracen have it aplenty.
29 Firewolfe : Firewolfe - Monster riffs, suitably snarling and howling vocals and drums capable of steam-rollering over you. Surely one of the finest new names to hit the Trad-Metal scene in a few years.
30 Glyn Bailey & The Many Splendid Things : The Disturbance - Not a straight forward album, but one that undoubtedly rewards through its individuality, quirkiness, catchiness and craft. Progressive Pop lives and Glyn Bailey & The Many Splendid Things are Progressive Pop!
31 The ANABASIS : Back From Being Gone - The ever busy Ryo Okumoto teams up with a stellar cast of Prog's finest to deliver the best old fashioned Prog album of the year.
32 Slaves To Fashion : Artistic Differences - Deep, dark, intense Progressive Metal that veers into Prog Rock, Power Metal and so much more to make a long lasting and unsettling impact.
33 Derek Sherinian : Oceana - The best instrumental album of the year is usually reserved for guitarists, but keyboard whizz Sherinian cleverly employs a plethora of famous six string talent to highlight his undoubted musical and songwriting prowess.
34 41point9 : Still Looking For The Answers - The album cover to 41point9's debut release show a falling cat with buttered toast strapped to its back, illustrating that in essence the cat should hover (think about it...) and illustrates the wonderfully eclectic Prog mix that you will find on this excellent album perfectly.
35 Joe Bonamassa : Dustbowl - Moving further from the Blues and closer to Rock with every release, Bonamassa proves that no difference what the genre is, he's one of the hottest guitar talents in the world right now.
36 Legend : Cardinal Point - A wonderful return from one of the more original Prog acts out there.
37 Not Otherwise Specified : Judgment - Blending 70's Prog with 80's Neo, Not Otherwise Specified debut with a quite fantastic release that will satisfy a broad cross section of Prog lovers.
38 Black Country Communion : 2 - You wait for a real super-group to appear and you end up with two! Hughes, Bonamassa, Bonham and Sherinian take the same Classic Rock template that served their debut so well and improve upon it!
39 Saxon : Call To Arms - Once, wrongly (very wrongly) seen as a bit of a laughing stock, Saxon are legends, but not one's satisfied to trade off past glories as this stunning album testifies.
40 Whitesnake : Forevermore - Now I'd kind of given up on Whitesnake, seeing their previous album Good To Be Bad as nothing more than treading water. Forevermore however is an unexpected mix of everything that has ever been good about this band. Long may it continue.
41 Shadowman : Watching Over You - Steve Overland again shows that he's the Daddy of AOR singers with an amazing vocal performance that the classy music on this album matches with ease.
42 Uriah Heep : Into The Wild - More old men proving that they are still hugely relevant decades after they formed, Into The Wild isn't quite as startlingly good as Wake The Sleeper, but it sure ain't far behind.
43 For All That We Know : For All That We Know - Along with the wonderful Within Temptation album and the surprisingly good Maiden UniteD, Ruud Jolie also launched the wonderfully progressive For All We Know. Is there a genre the man can't thrive in?
44 House Of Lords : Big Money - Put simply, Big Money is the bet HOL release since their first two albums, which is a strong recommendation in itself.
45 Knight Area : Nine Paths - On the lighter side of Prog, but no less hard hitting or memorable for it, Knight Area prove their long lasting hot streak shows no sign of abating.
46 Oz Knozz : True Believer - From Kansas to Boston and Europe to Asia, Oz Knozz take you on a whirl-wind tour of acts and destinations to deliver another uplifting mix of AOR and Prog.
47 Haken : Visions - It takes a little time to sink in, but UK Prog Rock, come Metal act Haken work their own brand of choruses and quirk into captivating music.
48 Doogie White : As Yet Untitled - Long overdue solo album from the "voice for hire" that is Doogie White lands somewhere between Rainbow (natch) and Saxon, while still sounding vibrant and fresh!
49 Mars Hollow : World In Front Of Me - Following up acclaimed albums is never easy, but with World In Front Of Me, Progressive powerhouse Mars Hollow confirm they are the real deal.
50 Hardboiled Wonderland : As Small As A World And As Large As Alone - Electro trip-hop Prog? Sounds daft eh? Wrong, wrong, wrong! Hardboiled Wonderland not only serve up the album title of the year, but also a genre blurringly good album that satisfies on so many levels!

Reissues/Compilations:

1. Lone Star : Firin' On All Six
2. Spider : The Singles Collection 1976-86
3. The Pineapple Thief : 10 Stories Down
4. Survivor : Too Hot To Sleep
5. Lone Star : Lone Star
6. Skin : Skin
7. The Pineapple Thief : Variations On A Dream
8. Steve Ellis : Loot
9. After The Fire : Signs Of Change
10. Hard Stuff : Bolex Dementia

Live Albums:

1. From Uz : Quartus Artifactus
2. Andrew Atkinson Quartet : Live-Keep Looking Forward
3. Steve Hackett : Live Rails
4. Def Leppard : Mirrorball
5. Rush : Time Machine
6. Black Country Communion : Live Over Europe
7. Marillion : Live At Cadogan Hall
8. Whitesnake : Live At Donington 1990
9. Marillion : High Voltage
10. Uriah Heep : Live In Armenia

Live Bands:

1. Vanden Plas
2. Coney Hatch

3. Pure Reason Revolution
4. Black Country Communion
5. Threshold
6. W.E.T.
7. Masters Of Reality
8. Clutch
9. Michael Monroe
10. Voodoo Six
11. Fish


GERT HULSHOF

Best albums of 2011:


1 Agents Of Mercy : The Black Forest - Just because it is the best album of 2011 for me
2 Karmakanic : In A Perfect World - Came very very close to being number 1
3 Psychedelic ensemble : The dream Of the magic jongleur - Had this not long enough still growing on me
4 Van Der Graaf Generator : A Grounding In Numbers - Fantastic
5 Beardfish : Mammoth - Another example of Nordic finesse in music
6 Discipline : To Shatter All Accord - Risen from the deep returning with a fantastic album
7 Phideaux : Snowtorch - Xavier always a pleasure to listen to this music
8 Hemina : Synthetic - Took Turns with DT when it arrived guess what They won.

In no particular order:

Accordo Dei : Contrari Kublai
Alberto rigoni : Rebirth - Bass extravaganza
Antoine Fafard : Solus Operandi - Bass extravaganza
Anubis : A Tower Of Silence - Doug returns with the second album in my list Hemina is first
Arena : The Seventh Degree Of Separation
Blackfield : Welcome To My DNA
Caligula's Horse : Moments From Ephemeral City - Fine example of what is cooking down under
Credo Against : Reason
Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Glass Hammer : Cor Cordium
Haken : Visions
K² : Black Garden
Knight Area : Nine Paths - Great Dutch symphonic band
Lisa LaRue : 2KX Fast And Blue
Manning : Margaret's Children - Where does he get his lyrics from, stunning
Mars Hollow : World In Front Of Me - Still growing stronger
Matt Stevens : Relic - Great singer songwriter
Mogador : All I Am Is Of My Own Making - What a line
Moonwagon : Night Dust - New comers with great debut
Myrath : Tales Of The Sands
Neal Morse : Testimony 2 - Icon of Prog let me down a bit with this album
Nemo : R€volu$ion - The French hope for better music for years on end now
Neograss : Atlantis - Bluegrass turns progressive amazing third outing.
Pagan's Mind : Heavenly Ecstasy
Pain Of Salvation : Road Salt Two
Pallas : XXV
Pendragon : Passion
Poor Genetic Material : Island Noises
Red Orchid Blood : Vessels & Marshmallows - Excellent second outing by Sanmeet and Tom
Sky Architect : A Dying Man's Hymn
Subsignal : Touchstones
Sun Domingo : Songs For End Times - New comers with great debut
The Innerroad : Visions - New comers with great debut
The Tangent : COMM - They have done better
Wobbler : Rites At Dawn



JEFF BALLEW

Best albums of 2011:


1 For All We Know : For All We Know
2 Fen : Epoch
3 Wolverine : Communication Lost
4 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events
5 Neal Morse : Testimony 2
6 Haken : Visions
7 Arch / Matheos : Sympathetic Resonance
8 Magic Pie : The Suffering Joy
9 Obscura : Omnivium
10 Appearance of Nothing : All Gods Are Gone
11 Symphony X : Iconoclast
12 Born of Osiris : The Discovery
13 Steven Wilson : Grace for Drowning
14 Unexpect : Fables of the Sleepless Empire
15 The Tangent : COMM
16 Argus : Boldly Stride the Doomed
17 Devin Townsend : Deconstruction
18 Anubis Gate : Anubis Gate
19 Woods of Desolation : Torn Beyond Reason
20 Rwake : Rest
21 Aurora Borealis : Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything
22 Odd Logic : Over the Underworld
23 Scale the Summit : The Collective
24 Lost In Thought : Opus Arise
25 Jolly : The Audio Guide to Happiness (Part I)
26 Infestus : Ex | Ist
27 Leprous : Bilateral
28 Omnium Gatherum : New World Shadows
29 Shroud of Despondency : Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion
30 Ghost Brigade : Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
31 Man on Fire : Chrysalis
32 Opeth : Heritage
33 Beardfish : Mammoth
34 Nightrage : Insidious
35 The Project Hate MCMXCIX : Bleeding the New Apocalypse
36 Lunatic Soul : Impressions
37 Yes : Fly From Here
38 Greylevel : Hypostatic Union
39 Evadne : The Shortest Way
40 X-Panda : Flight of Fancy
41 Corpsessed : The Dagger and the Chalice
42 Malison Rogue : Malison Rogue
43 Trioxyde : Hey Carlos
44 Radiohead : The King of Limbs
45 Pain of Salvation : Road Salt Two
46 Wolves in the Throne Room : Celestial Lineage
47 Tornado : Amsterdamn, Hellsinki
48 Entrails : The Tomb Awaits
49 Shining : VII Fodd Forlorare
50 Revocation : Chaos of Forms



JOHN O'BOYLE

Best albums of 2011:


1 The Tangent : COMM - The stunning uncompromising album Andy Tillison and co were destined to make
2 Manning : Margaret's Children - Majestic and passionate story telling at its best
3 Sean Filkins : War Peace and Other Short Stories - A mesmerizing album that defines its genre
4 Credo : Against Reason - The defining follow up to Rhetoric. A powerful musical statement
5 Ranest Rane : Shining - This is what an album should be about, fascinating soundstages that heighten the emotions
6 Dec Burke : Paradigms and Storylines - A collision of power and beauty that entertains to the highest order
7 Also Eden : Think of the Children - Exquisite neo prog at its finest
8 Pallas : XXV - An album that speaks volumes, a concept that is just unbelievably rewarding
9 Karmakanic : In A Perfect World - Jonas Reingold and co at their creative, absolutely stunning
10 Grateful Dead : Europe '72 The Complete Recordings Box Set - Speaks for itself really, musical nirvana
11 25 Yard Screamer : Until All Are One - Welsh Prog Metal band at their defining best, a fantastic and fitting follow up to Cassandra
12 Tinkicker : The Playground at the Edge of the Abyss - Warped twisted and stunning mayhem that entertains to the highest order, move over Alice... the new guys are in town............
13 From Uz : Quartus Artifactus - An elegant, sublime and must be heard album
14 Phish : Hampton / Winston - Salem '97 capturing Phish live at their best
15 Not Otherwise Specified : Judgment - A captivating curve ball of an album from multi-instrumentalist Craig Kerley, being very powerful and entertaining.
16 Enoch : The Hierophant - Sublime powerful sonic chicanery with mammoth power and audacity
17 Frank Carducci : Oddity - An abundantly talented musician who displays his ideas to the world
18 Adrian Weiss : Big Time - Fantastic instrumental guitar orientated album, the surprise find of the year
19 Ten : Stormwarning - One of Britain's most expressive rock bands return with a stunner
20 Nichelodeon : Il Gioco Del Silenzio - Italian avant Grade prog at its finest, dynamically stunning
21 Opus Symbiosis : Mute - Ethereal and addictive music
22 Alice Cooper : Welcome 2 My Nightmare - His strongest album in years revisiting his ultimate nightmare
23 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events - A stunning release as ever from the ambassadors
24 Aethyr : Messio - Unafraid to challange with its satanic majesty featuring tones that stretch the imagination
25 Steel Panther : Balls Out - The best of the late 70's and 80's in one location making it the party album of 2011 for the un-pc fun loving fraternity



JORDAN BLUM

Best albums of 2011:


1 Phideaux : Snowtorch

2 Steven Wilson : Grace for Drowning

3 Devin Townsend : Deconstruction

4 Neal Morse : Testimony 2

5 Devin Townsend : Ghost

6 Opeth : Heritage

7 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events

8 Beardfish : Mammoth

9 Blackfield : Welcome To My DNA

10 Sky Architect : A Dying Man's Hymn

11 Anathema : Falling Deeper

12 The Deer Hunter : The Color Spectrum

13 Cynic : Carbon Based Anatomy

14 Mastodon : The Hunter

15 Riverside : Memories in My Head

16 The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra : All Out of Peaches



MARK JOHNSON

Best albums of 2011:


1 Memories of Machines : Warm Winter - No other album hit all the feelings, high and low, as that this one did this year. Perfect timing.
2 Jonathan Wilson : Gentle Spirit - Let's hope this gentle spirit carries over and helps make 2012 better than 2011. Discovered and became one of my favorite recording artists in one year. This album is amongst my favorites of the decade already.
3 Steve Hackett : Beyond the Shrouded Horizon - Steve is timeless. This album, live tour and album follow up "Live Rails" released this year. Newly married and full of inspiration, with one project already possible and a tour set for the USA next year the news coming from the rooftops is indeed good for Hackett fans.
4 Fleet Foxes : Helplessness Blues - Dominated my spring and summer. An incredible follow up to their first album. Well worth the long wait. "Shrine/Argument" one of the top 10 songs of the year. All of us Northwesterners thank you for "The Cascades".
5 TCP : Fantastic Dreamer - So glad 10T sent me this gem. Great bunch of down to earth guys, with the number one song of the year for me, "Vision". Thanks.
6 Comedy of Errors : Disobey - Another great surprise. This is the album some of the UK's former neo – prog leaders wish they would have made. "The Student Prince" and "Jekyll" are just a sample of the power behind this band.
7 Phideaux : Snowtorch - I have heard so much about this band over the years. Finally took the plunge and I am so glad I did. Went out and bought "Number Seven" based on the power of the "Torch".
8 Banda Do Sol : Tempo - Another absolutely brilliant year of surprises. This album took me right back to Anima Mundi from last year. Looking forward to what they have in store for the future.
9 Paul Simon : So Beautiful, or So What - Another guy, like Hackett, Alabama, or Eastwood, doesn't re-build, he re-loads. This album hit at the perfect time at the beginning of the year. Took away the blues and helped me sing a new song.
10 The Watch : Timeless - Another of the bands, like Phideaux, that I finally purchased for the first time. I now own all of their studio albums. The interview we had here on the Sea of Tranquility was one of my favorite of the year. Their music is like a time machine, capturing the power of Gabriel – era Genesis, while pointing in a new direction for this style of music.
11 In the Labyrinth : One Trail to Heaven - An awesome surprise to receive in the last Sea of Tranquility review pack of the year. Full of excellent sitar, keyboards, guitar and moments to treasure long past this year. An ethereal album that takes you to a different place each time you play it.

Also excellent this year:

Heather Findlay – Phoenix – Best debut solo CD of the year.
From.UZ – Quartus Artifactus – The best DVD/CD package of the year.
Frequency Drift – Ghosts – Excellent new band to follow.
Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion – Bright Examples – I will be following closely the future creations of this band.
Nemesea – The Quiet Resistance – Nice new surprise from Napalm Records.
Stream of Passion – Darker Days – Solid album, returning to the power of the debut album. Looking forward to what's next.
Iona – Another Realm – Excellent double album full of inspiration
Travellers – A Journey into the Sun Within – No news from the team at Poland's Satellite until this gem made it home. Another good side project. The creativity spins on.
Teodasia – Teodasia – Another great surprise.
Black Country Communion - II – The power continues.
Time Horizon – Living Water
Knitting by Twilight - Weathering
The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum
Evanescence – Evanescence
DTES – Lost and Gone Forever
CPR – Volume 4
Oxcart – Beekeeper Constellation

Top Songs of 2011:

1. Vision – TCP off Fantastic Dreamer. Glenn Arpino wrote the music and Henry Tarnecky wrote the best lyrics of the year. Fantastic lyrics and beautiful melodies providing inspiration.
2. Natural Rhapsody - Jonathan Wilson off Gentle Spirit - Unbelievable. He may have already passed some of Chris Robinson's work with this track and album.
3. Shrine/Argument - Fleet Foxes off Helplessness Blues – So good you never want it to end.
4. Turn This Island Earth – Steve Hackett off Beyond the Shrouded Horizon. Everything you could want from a spacey prog song. Only need a video to support this incredibly visual song.
5. The Student Prince – Comedy of Errors off Disobey. Takes you right back to the best of '80s Neo – Prog as if this album belonged there near the top all along. An epic for the ages.
6. Jeckyll – Comedy of Errors off Disobey. Power prog like it used to be.
7. So Beautiful, or So What – Paul Simon, (Title track) – One of the greatest songwriters of all time, does it again.
8. Lucky You, Lucky Me- Memories of Machines off Warm Winter – One of the many excellent mood/feeling tracks from the mind of Bowness and Erra.
9. Bright Examples – Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion (Title track). So glad to be part of this album's launch. Can't wait to hear more from this husband/wife team.
10. Questions for the Angels – Paul Simon off So Beautiful, So What. The lyrics take your breath away.
11. 'Til These Eyes – Steve Hackett off Beyond the Shrouded Horizon. One of his best songs ever.

Other top songs of 2011:

Gentle Spirit – Jonathan Wilson
Dazzling Blue – Paul Simon
Waters Down – Jonathan Wilson
Desert Raven – Jonathan Wilson
Valley of the Silver Moon – Jonathan Wilson
Canyon in the Rain – Jonathan Wilson
Ballad of the Pines – Jonathan Wilson
Love and Blessings – Paul Simon
The Afterlife – Paul Simon
Carousel – Comedy of Errors
Between the Sunset and the Coconut Palms- Steve Hackett
A Place Called Freedom – Steve Hackett
Four Winds Suite – Steve Hackett
The Cascades – Fleet Foxes
Lorelai – Fleet Foxes
Bedouin Dress – Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
Sim Sala Bim – Fleet Foxes
In the Movie of You – TCP
Ambiance for the Active Mind – TCP
Snowtorch Part I – Phideaux
Sinal Da Liberdade – Banda Do Sol
Tempo - Banda Do Sol
Beautiful Songs You Should Know – Memories of Machines
Desert Circle – From.UZ

Top DVDs:

1. Unitopia – One Night in Europe
2. Izz – Live
3. Composing Outside the Beatles – Lennon and McCartney 1973 – 1980
4. Bad Co. – Live at Wembley
5. From.UZ – Quartus Artifactus
6. Steve Howe – Remedy Live
7. David Byrne – Ride, Rise, Roar
8. Eric Burdon and War – The Lost Broadcasts
9. Curved Air – The Lost Broadcasts


SIMON BRAY

Best albums of 2011:


1 Black Stone Cherry : Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea
2 Nightwish : Imaginaerum
3 Iron Savior : The Landing
4 Within Temptation : The Unforgiving
5 Toby Hitchcock : Mercury's Down
6 Bobby Kimball and Jimi Jamison : Kimball-Jamison
7 Emerald Sun : Regeneration
8 Power Quest : Blood Alliance
9 Powerwolf : Blood of the Saints
10 Bloodbound : Unholy Cross
11 Pallas : XXV
12 Pagan's Mind : Heavenly Ecstasy
13 Royal Hunt : Show Me How to Live
14 Status Quo : Quid Pro Quo
15 Anvil : Juggernaut of Justice
16 Illnath : Third Act in the Theatre of Madness
17 Yes : Fly From Here
18 Magnum : The Visitation
19 TeN : Stormwarning
20 Alestorm : Back Through Time
21 Fergie Frederiksen : Happiness Is The Road
22 Arch Enemy : Khaos Legions
23 Nemesea : The Quiet Resistance
24 Trillium : Alloy
25 Mercenary : Metamorphosis
26 Amon Amarth : Surtur Rising
27 John Wetton : Raised in Captivity
28 Astral Doors : Jerusalem
29 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events
30 Issa : The Storm
31 Turisas : Stand Up and Fight
32 HammerFall : Infected
33 The Magnificent : The Magnificent
34 Leaves' Eyes : Meredead
35 Journey : Eclipse
36 The Meads of Asphodel : The Murder of Jesus the Jew
37 The Poodles : Performocracy
38 Knight Area : Nine Paths
39 Solar Fragment : In Our Hands
40 Mike Patton : From The Film and Inspired By the Book The Solitude of Prime Numbers (La Solitudine Dei Numeri Primi)
41 Skakra : Back on Track
42 Night Ranger : Somewhere in California
43 Debauchery : Germany's Next Death Metal
44 Lance King : A Moment In Chiros
45 Anterior : Echoes of the Fallen
46 Anubis Gate : Anubis Gate
47 Arkona : Slovo
48 Symfonia : In Paradisum
49 A Day To Remember : What Separates Me From You
50 Falconer : Armod
51 Odd Dimension : Symmetrical
52 Sleletonwitch : Forever Abomination
53 Beggars and Thieves : We Are the Brokenhearted
54 Meden Agen : Erevos Aenaon
55 Wizard : ...Of Wariwulfs And Bluotvarwes
56 Awake : Forever More
57 Gregg Allman : Low Country Blues
58 Soul Seller : Back to Life
59 The Quill : Full Circle
60 Van Canto : Break the Silence
61 Airrace : Back to the Start
62 Glyder : Backroads To Byzantium
63 Eastern Front : Blood on Snow
64 The Horde : Thy Blackened Kingdom
65 Patrick Hemer : More than Meets the Eye
66 Opera IX : Strix Maledictae in Aeternum
67 Mastercastle : Dangerous Diamonds
68 Cruachan : Blood on the Black Robe
69 Boguslaw Balcerak's Crylord : Blood Of The Prophets
70 Consortium Project : Species
71 Midnattsol : The Metamorphosis Melody
72 Arrayan Path : Ira Imperium
73 Tyr : The Lay Of Thrym
74 Gigan : Quasi
75 Voodoo Circle : Broken Heart Syndrome

Gigs:

Peter Frampton at Manchester Academy 2
Richard Marx and John Parr at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Focus at Clitheroe Grand
Jorney/Foreigner/ Styx at MEN Arena
Delain and Serenity at Manchester Academy 3
Anvil at Manchester Academy 3
Europe at Manchester Academy 2



BRANDON STRADER

Best albums of 2011:


1 ChthoniC : Takasago Army
2 Devin Townsend : Deconstruction
3 Blackfield : Welcome To My DNA
4 Iced Earth : Dystopia
5 Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events
6 Kaipa : In The Wake of Evolution
7 Devin Townsend : Ghost
8 Jay-Z and Kanye West : Watch The Throne
9 Unexpect : Fables of the Sleepless Empire
10 Blink182 : Neighborhoods
11 Vader : Welcome to the Morbid Reich
12 Britney Spears : Femme Fatale
13 Yes : Fly From Here
14 Darren Korb : Bastion Original Soundtrack
15 Haken : Visions



CARL SEDERHOLM

Best albums of 2011:


1 Mastodon : The Hunter - I've noticed that some people really want to hate this album. What's the point? This is great stuff: Awesome sound, great songwriting, and superb musicianship. Mastodon has developed a sound that is changing heavy metal.
2 Red Fang : Murder the Mountains - My favorite "new" band of 2011. They are also superb live.
3 Anthrax : Worship Music - Some people consider this their best album to date. I've always been fond of Spreading the Disease, but this isn't far off. It was worth the long wait and gave Anthrax fans the hope that the best is yet to come. Wish I could have seen them on the Big Four tour, but these shows don't always find their way to Utah.
4 Arch / Matheos : Sympathetic Resonance - I came to this album too late to really savor it, but I love it. These guys are a perfect combination of voice and guitar.
5 Megadeth : Th1rt3en - Who would've thought Medgadeth would still have this much strength after all these years? I'm discovering their new stuff to be as good as any of their classics.

Top 5 Wish list:

1. Opeth, Heritage (I hear about this band all the time, but haven't slowed down to experience them).
2. Amon Amarth, Surtur Rising
3. Arch Enemy, Khaos Legions
4. Within Temptation, The Unforgiving
5. Symphony X, Iconoclast (I haven't listened to these guys since The Odyssey, but I hear they've gotten better and better).

Reissues worth another look:

1. Twisted Sister, Under the Blade
2. Twisted Sister, You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll (Before the deluge that was Stay Hungry, Twisted Sister showed that they could write powerful heavy metal songs that still sound great after all these years. These guys really had something).
3. Armored Saint, Delirious Nomad (Long considered their best work, this CD is now available for those who need another listen to the band John Bush was meant to be in. I know he played in Anthrax for a while and was considered for Metallica, but this guy burns it up with Armored Saint. Why didn't they break it big?)
4. Ozzy Osbourne, Blizzard of Ozz
5. Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman (No comment needed. It's about damn time they did right by these classics.)



JASON GUEST

Best albums of 2011:


1 Opeth : Heritage - What Morbid Angel and Metallica with Lou Reed mistakenly thought they would achieve with their respective musical "experimentations", Opeth did so with Heritage. Eschewing death metal vocals and riffs in favour of his 70s prog influences, Akerfeldt may have ruffled a few feathers but the finished work is something that metal had been waiting for. Magnificent.
2 Hammers of Misfortune : 17th Street - Hammers of Misfortune have never been the same band on any of their records, either in terms of both line-up and sound. John Cobbett's ability to surround himself with phenomenal musicians to write amazing music and powerful and poetic lyrics means the band continues to grow. Thus, 17th Street is the embodiment of musical and artistic integrity.
3 Blut Aus Nord : 777 Sect(S) & 777 The Desanctification - Okay, so this is two albums but they are parts 1 and 2 of a trilogy (with part 3 arriving in 2012) so I'll count them as one album (or two thirds if you want). Dissonant, dark, black, bleak, twisted, haunting : mere adjectives are inadequate to describe this as a sonic experience. Both played back to back and individually, they are simply stunning.
4 3 : The Ghost You Gave To Me - Having heard none of their work at all and only come across their name in passing, this was a complete surprise. Having no expectations whatsoever, subsequent listens to this have proven to be as mind-blowing as the first.
5 The Haunted : Unseen - Another band that annoyed most by not producing a "metal" album, it's difficult to fault Unseen. Musically and lyrically, it reminds me of Faith No More in that musical genres : and their bounds : are to be explored, exploited, and exploded, not adhered to.
6 The Devil's Blood : The Thousandfold Epicentre - Arriving late in the year and amid much hype, this was another surprise. Combining the occult with psychedelia, 70s rock, and a fantastic vocal, this looks set to be stuck on play for most of 2012 (along with Ghost's Opus Eponymous from 2010).
7 Smohalla : Resilience - Avant-garde black metal. Atmospheric, ghostly, chaotic, disorienting, experimental, this is the eye of the tempest. This is not a collection of songs, but of layers and depths that reveal more upon every listen. Unbelievable.
8 Aenaon : Cendres et Sang - Intense, innovative, and consummate in experimentalism, this is David Lynch-inspired Greek avant-garde black metal that is unafraid to explore the nuances of sound and structure for depth and dimension.
9 Mastodon : The Hunter - After four "concept" albums, Mastodon stripped their sound back to make an album of killer tunes, one after another. Fantastic.
10 Anthrax : Worship Music - Bush is a great singer but Joey Belladonna, for me, is Anthrax's frontman so to hear that he was back in the band was great news. And this is not just a great Anthrax album; it's a great album. Full stop.



KIM JENSEN

Best albums of 2011:

Mostly metal, because that's what I've been listening to primarily this year, but there are a couple of prog rock and jazz releases, too

1 Arch / Matheos : Sympathetic Resonance
2 Artillery : My Blood
3 Anubis Gate : Anubis Gate
4 Agnostic Front : My Life My Way
5 Dark Forest : Beyond Infinity
6 Tubax : Il Mondo Stava Finendo
7 Animals as Leaders : Weightless
8 Obscura : Omnivium
9 Hell : Human Remains
10 Cage : Supremacy of Steel
11 The House of Capricorn : In the Devil's Days
12 Adrenaline Mob : Adrenaline Mob
13 Touchstone : The City Sleeps
14 Charred Walls of the Damned : Cold Winds on Timeless Days
15 Sectu : Inundate
16 Neuraxis : Asylon
17 Arkan : Salam
18 Chthonic : Takasago Army
19 Tornado : Amsterdamn, Hellsinki
20 Morkobot : Morbo
21 Yes : Fly From Here
22 Falconer : Armod
23 Anthrax : Worship Music
24 Pentagram : Last Rites
25 Andromeda : Manifest Tyranny
26 Ashen Reign : An Angels Burden
27 Artizan : Curse of the Artizan
28 Sulaco : Build & Burn
29 Nervecell : Psychogenocide
30 Circle of Silence : The Blackened Halo



MIKHAIL MADNANI

Best albums of 2011:


1 The Devin Townsend Project : Ghost - Devin Townsend always delivers in a big way with each new release and Ghost is his best work since KI and it is one of those desert island albums that you can listen to over and over again.
2 Ulver : Wars of the Roses - I absolutely love the new direction Ulver have gone in since Perdition City and Wars of the Roses is amazing. It lost out to number 1 by a very small margin on my list.
3 The Devin Townsend Project : Deconstruction - The heaviest album involving Devin Townsend since his SYL days with guest stars on almost each song is brilliant and has his signature humour thrown in.
4 Wolf : Legions of Bastards - Wolf have been the flag bearers for the New Wave of traditional heavy metal (NWOTHM) for a while now and have absolutely killed it with their latest offering. It is a near perfect album with vocals that are Dio level.
5 Stratovarius : Elysium - Elysium is by far the greatest Stratovarius album ever and is easily one of the best power metal albums of all time. Everything about this album is awesome.
6 Cynic : Carbon Based Anatomy - I know it is an EP but what the hell, Cynic's latest offering has everything a Cynic fan would want in new material. My only complaint is that it is too short. RELEASE A FULL LENGTH ALBUM ALREADY!
7 Turisas : Stand Up and Fight - Can't go wrong with a battle metal band that has a brilliant vocalist and class song writing. Turisas have really matured on this release and the end result is a cracker of an album that is their best effort so far.
8 Amon Amarth : Surtur Rising - When Amon Amarth released Twilight in 2008 I didn't think they would ever top it but they have more than done that with Surtur Rising. Top notch songs with top notch artwork is what Amon Amarth are known for and they have delivered again here.
9 Sepultura : Kairos - Kairos is the best post-Max Sepultura album and I will even rate it alongside Beneath the Remains. Roy Z has done a stellar job with the sound on this one.
10 Opeth : Heritage - Heritage has been a hit or miss with many fans. I absolutely love when bands try new things and it was clear Opeth was headed in this direction. Easily one of the best prog albums in the last 10 years.
11 Decapitated : Carnival is Forever
12 Amorphis : The Beginning of Times
13 In Flames : Sounds of a Playground Fading
14 Insomnium : One for Sorrow
15 Warbringer : Worlds Torn Asunder



TOM DE VAL

Best albums of 2011:


1 Steven Wilson : Grace for Drowning - Wonderful, varied album that hangs together much better than 'Insurgentes' and is stronger than the last couple of PT releases as well
2 Arch / Matheos : Sympathetic Resonance - I've never been a massive Fates Warning fan, but this album just clicked - a superb mix of traditional and modern progressive metal, topped by John Arch's unique and highly effective vocals - some of the vocal melodies are jaw dropping
3 Amplifier : The Octopus - A masterpiece by the Manchester trio, returning in triumph after their difficult second album some four years ago. This double mixes elements of space rock, post rock, prog, ambient and just plain rock to superb effect
4 Mastodon : The Hunter - A return to shorter songs but no let up in quality from these metallers, pretty much every song is memorable and unique
5 Kate Bush : 50 Words for Snow - Even more low key and dreamy than Aerial, but an effective return from one of my favourite artists
6 Jonathan Wilson : Gentle Spirit - Laid back, 70's tinged tunes from this LA singer songwriter, best appreciated on a warm summer's day with a cold glass of something in hand!
7 Opeth : Heritage - Largely successful foray into folk and jazz tinged progressive rock; I do miss the growls and heavier elements at times, though
8 Haken : Visions - Visions . Not as strong or quirky as their debut 'Aquarius' but still an excellent second full-length from this rising UK prog band
9 Textures : Dualism - Their last album (Silhouettes) and this one have seen this Dutch band move away from being seen (however unfairly) as a 'Meshuggah-lite' clone and creating a unique sound of their own, with strong songs to boot
10 Hammers of Misfortune : 17th Street - This hard-working band's latest fusues prog metal elements with a more vintage hard rock sound; perhaps concentrates more on shorter, poppier songs than before, but this is still a strong album


SUMMARIZED LIST OF THE TOP 50 CDS, FROM ALL OF THE SoT STAFF


Best albums of 2011:

1. Opeth : Heritage
2. Dream Theater : A Dramatic Turn Of Events
3. Mastodon : The Hunter
4. Symphony X : Iconoclast
5. Haken : Visions
6. Steven Wilson : Grace for Drowning
7. Yes : Fly From Here
8. Arch / Matheos : Sympathetic Resonance
9. Mars Hollow : World In Front Of Me
10. Pallas : XXV
11. Anthrax : Worship Music
12. Journey : Eclipse
13. Devin Townsend : Deconstruction
14. Black Country Communion : 2
15. Neal Morse : Testimony 2
16. The Tangent : COMM
17. Phideaux : Snowtorch
18. Pagan's Mind : Heavenly Ecstasy
19. Magnum : The Visitation
20. Chickenfoot : III
21. Anubis Gate : Anubis Gate
22. Iced Earth : Dystopia
23. Beardfish : Mammoth
24. Within Temptation : The Unforgiving
25. TCP : Fantastic Dreamer
26. Amorphis : The Beginning of Times
27. Man on Fire : Chrysalis
28. Hell : Human Remains
29. Black Stone Cherry : Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
30. Riverside : Memories in My Head
31. Whitesnake : Forevermore
32. Wolverine : Communication Lost
33. Pain Of Salvation : Road Salt Two
34. Obscura : Omnivium
35. Magic Pie : The Suffering Joy
36. Nightwish : Imaginaerum
37. Alice Cooper : Welcome 2 My Nightmare
38. Blackfield : Welcome To My DNA
39. Sky Architect : A Dying Man's Hymn
40. Amon Amarth : Surtur Rising
41. Arena : The Seventh Degree of Separation
42. Unexpect : Fables of the Sleepless Empire
43. Devin Townsend : Ghost
44. Wobbler : Rites At Dawn
45. Myrath : Tales Of The Sands
46. Pendragon : Passion
47. Manning : Margaret's Children
48. Anathema : Falling Deeper
49. Cynthesis : DeEvolution
50. Evergrey : Glorious Collision

  

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