Disclaimer: This top 20 list solely reflects the views of the Amoeba that is Restless and not that of the site owner. Any review, feelings, or points of view expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the view of the website, or owner and, in fact, may contradict them drastically.
Listener Discretion is advised…
It’s that time of year again. And once again, an almost impossible task. As is usually stated, depending on the day, the order of these can change. The numbers are just there for the love of lists. The closer we get to number 1, the more cemented the order is. So let’s dive in.
20. Jason Becker – Triumphant Hearts (Guitar oriented Rock)
This one kind of snuck up on me. I had heard the Valley of Fire track with 50 guest guitarists (I am exaggerating) and it didn’t do all that much for me. It was good, but I felt there was way to much soloing. But hearing the album as a whole kind of blew me away. A lot of different styles on here and a lot of emotion. And the track that didn’t grab me before, is now. It would be worth your while to check this one out. Special Guests on this include Joe Satriani, Trevor Rabin, Guthrie Govan, Marty Friedman, and many more).
19. MaYaN – Dhyana (Symphonic Death Metal)
Monster of an album having the band returning with a full orchestra. Giving it that extra oomph. And Marcela is now a full time member. Lots to love here.
18. Haken – Vector (Progressive Metal)
Heavier Haken is not a bad thing. A more concise album that rocks out nicely. Really enjoyed this one.
17. Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog (Rock band)
AiC is back. And in old form. The previous albums with the new singer have been really good but this one takes it back up to a new “old” level. My favorite track from this one in my top songs list below.
(Note to the owner: There is no #16. This list skips to #15 ;-P)
16. Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart (metal band – put this here so it doesn’t get changed later 😉
I was sucked into this one by the lead track The Banished Heart. The raw emotion and power in this track just blew me away. Made me dig into the album as a whole and I love it. It’s not perfect by any means, but it speaks to the darker/rainier side of my emotions at the right times.
15. Subsignal – La Muerta (Progressive Rock)
My first review for Progressive Music Planet. And it turned out to be a hell of a highly anticipated album. And a really great one too, if a bit loud. But it is damn catchy.
14. Animal Drive – Bite! (Hard Rock/Power Metal)
Holy crap! A kick ass metal band from Croatia! This is heavy. Melodic. Fun. Again, catchy as hell.
13. Leah – The Quest (Symphonic Metal)
As I wrote in the review, this is a fantastic album. So much better to me than Kings and Queens. More concise and melodic. I would rate it higher but it is just so loud!
12. Coheed and Cambria – The Unheavenly Creatures (Progressive Rock/Metal)
So… I’ve LIKED C&C before but haven’t LOVED them. Mainly the singer’s voice has kind of put me off. Which is weird, because I love Rush. Go figure. But damn, this album is incredible. I actually like his voice here and the songs are catchy as hell! Great stuff!
11. Poets of the Fall – Ultraviolet (Alternate Symphonic Rock)
I had heard about these guys before and seen them advertised but for some reason I just never checked them out. And always thought they were an all growl band. Turns out I was wrong. I learned this at ProgPower USA this year when they were announced for next year’s festival. I really liked what I heard of the stuff I sampled but this is the first full album from them that I listened to and it is so freaking good. Catchy and moody stuff. The lead singer has one of those deep voices that just drill into you. But does creep me out a little when he sings the words “milk and honey”.
10. Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed (Progressive-Power Metal)
I am a late comer to Halcyon Way. I had seen their name around in places but never got around to listening to them for a long while. I was reminded to dig back into them again after meeting one of the band members at a Galactic Cowboy’s show in Houston last year. And glad I did. Another fantastic album. Even if their mascot character gives me the creeps. ;-P
9. Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs (Progressive Melodic Death Metal)
I wasn’t familiar with Orphaned Land at all before seeing them at Progpower USA in 2017, but instantly became a fan. Pre-ordered this one after that. And it does not disappoint. Another great prog metal album from the east!
8. Lost in Thought – Renascence (Progressive Metal)
I really liked the band’s first album and they seem to have taken it up a notch here. So many catchy songs. Highly recommended.
7. Witherfall – A Prelude to Sorrow (Melodic Metal)
Being a fan of the band Sanctuary since the early 90’s, there hasn’t been much else like it, outside of Nevermore, of course. Witherfall steps in to fill that void. They hearken back to the old Sanctuary feel while still imprinting their own sound. This album, while rooted in pain for the band since it revolves around the loss of their drummer who passed after losing his battle with Lymphoma. It is a dark album but with shades of hope. And Joseph Michael is a beast of a vocalist. It’s no wonder Sanctuary tapped him to fill in vocal duties after Warrel passed and have asked him to continue on with them too.
I’m working on a review for this but haven’t quite finished it yet.
6. Myles Kennedy – Year of the Tiger (Hard Blues Rock)
Myles is just one of those guys where the phrase “I could listen to them sing the phonebook” applies. He has THE perfect rock voice. So much power and emotion. He kills it with Alter Bridge and he is great with Slash, though I feel a little misused at times. With the exception of the last Slash album, he sings at a higher register than I like. Still sounds great. Just not my taste. But what we have here is a raw, emotional, blues rock album, with a Johnny Cash vibe through out. It deals with the passing of his father at a young age and as such is a fairly dark album. But such a fantastic one.
5. Amorphis – Queen of Time (Progressive Metal)
Prog Metal behemoths released an album that is catchy as hell. I was hooked from the first song.
4. The Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough (70’s/80’s style rock)
I think these guys can do no wrong as well. They do one thing and they do it oh, so well. Perfect 70’s/80’s rock with a dance vibe at times. But my favorite track has to be the epic (for them) closer, The Last of the Independent Romantics.
3. Lux Terminus – The Courage to Be (Jazz/Fusion Instrumental prog rock/metal)
Instrumental albums have to be something special to hold my attention. And this one is. Heavy as heck in places, even with very little guitar. Vikram (Redemption as of this year) and his band mates really shine. Stellar work for a debut album. I spin this one every couple of weeks. Definitely top instrumental album of the year.
2. Ostura – The Room (Progressive Metal)
Another one that came out of nowhere. Stellar production. Stellar musicianship. Stellar songs. This one was an oddity as it was released streaming only in the US at first. And then myself and a bunch of others started harassing the band for a physical release. And they did so in the most hilarious fashion. You can see my name pop up a couple of times in the video. hahaha!
Infamous video announcement of the CD version.
Tied at number one
Xenoverse – The Fall – Part 1 (Progressive/Theatrical Metal)
This one popped up out of nowhere. Cinematic, theatrical metal. Ticking all the boxes for me. Of course, they’re from Finland. Where most of the symphonic metal I like comes from.
Southern Empire – Civilisation (Progressive Rock)
I swear these guys can do no wrong. Was looking forward to this album, heavy with anticipation. And it blew me away. As I said in the review, the song order could use a little tweaking, I think… but a fantastic album, nonetheless. Recommended if you love Transatlantic as they carry on that feel and vibe in their music. I am posting their lead single below, but definitely checkout Crossroads, a 30 minute beast of a track that is epic in every way (live version linked in top songs below). It was first released on their live DVD and has been up on youtube a while but this is the first time it is released on an album. I will tell you, it does NOT feel like it is 30 minutes. It is that good.
Top Songs (In addition to the ones linked above)
Southern Empire – Crossroads
Xenoverse – One Can Rule The Sky
Ostura – Deathless
Poets of the Fall – My Dark Disquiet
Alice in Chains – Maybe – a throw back to Jar of Flies. Love this song!
Amorphis – The Golden Elk
Dynazty – Closing Doors
Alkaloid – Kernel Panic
Haken – Nil by Mouth
Night Flight Orchestra – The Last of the Independent Romantics
Kayak – All That I Want – From Seventeen
Myles Kennedy – Songbird (no version on youtube that isn’t live, so here is one of those)
Tremonti – Take You With Me (ballad/rocker)
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart