As with every year, a lot of good music is released, much of which I don’t even get to hear, much to my chagrin. Ranking albums every year are also difficult, because they are often very closely rated with each other. I’m always amazed at the musicians out there who create mind-blowing albums for us to appreciate year in and year out, and this year is no exception. So without further ado, here are my Top 12 Albums for 2019:
12. Pretty Maids – Undress Your Madness
I’m a little late to the game, only since hearing Pretty Maids and loving their album Kingmaker, so I was looking forward to their new album that came out this year. Undress Your Madness continues the accessibility that the band has as their kind of AOR style, sounding as good as ever.
11. Dream Theater – Distance Over Time
I know there was a lot of negative press with Dream Theater’s last album, The Astonishing, though I liked it in its storyline and musical-like setting, but I was still looking forward to their next installment. Hearing rumors that they were going back to their roots, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Though I’m not sure they will ever quite replicate their heyday, Distance Over Time was a satisfying release.
10. Lance King – ReProgram
Hard to believe 8 years went by since Lance’s last solo album A Moment in Chiros released, he put out his second solo album this year. However, he didn’t keep the same template as his first album, and branched out with a more varied musical styles around ReProgram, focusing on his clear theme of breaking out into individual creativity and not conforming to what society thinks you should be or how you should learn.
9. Narnia – From Darkness to Light
It’s nice to see Narnia back in action, with their second album in about as many years since their comeback in 2016. Hearing From Darkness to Light surprised me, as I enjoyed it better than their last self-titled album, with a lot of catchy, accessible songs with some lovely nuances interspersed throughout.
8. Sabaton – The Great War
Sabaton’s formula is what has worked for them for so many years now, so this album isn’t new in that regard, but it is another wonderful rendition that focuses on World War I. They have a great way of communicating military history as no other artist has been able to do. Another great addition to their discography, especially with their special editions with the extra historical narration that sets up each track, The Great War delivers yet again.
7. Myrath – Shehili
Myrath has been on my radar for many years now, since their second album, and I always look forward to their releases with their original brand of oriental metal from Tunisia. Their tight, prodigious musicianship with their personal ethic influences is always refreshing to hear, though I don’t think Shehili had the same staying power for me that Legacy did. Still, they did not disappoint.
6. Vanden Plas – The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening
As a Vanden Plas fan, I always look forward to their releases. This album is another split album, the first of a double album like they did with Chronicles of the Immortals. This album focuses on a real-life story about a man who attempts paranormal experiments and their aftermath. The album feels short, because it is, really only half of the full story. Stay tuned for more…..
5 . Signum Regis – The Seal of a New World
Signum Regis is a prolific Slovakian band, releasing yet another effort this year with The Seal of a New World. This time, however, showcased their new vocalist Jota Fortinho. Even though he doesn’t have the same timbre as former vocalist Mayo Petranin, he fits very well with the Signum Regis style and brings a new vibe to the band, making this album very enjoyable to listen to indeed.
4. Leah – Ancient Winter
Ever since I first heard Leah on her album Kings and Queens, I was enthralled. When she decided to put out a winter/Christmas album, I was intrigued as usual. Her album Ancient Winter is not metal infused this time, but she incorporates ethereal songs with well-known musicians in the prog world on instruments such as hurdy gurdy, Uilleann pipes, and Irish whistles for lovely holiday fare.
3. Voyager – Colours in the Sun
Voyager has always been a fun band to listen to with their own style of pop prog electro epic metal. Though I love all of their albums independently, Colours in the Sun was a fantastic new offering that, in my book, even far surpassed their last album, Ghost Mile. With catchy tunes throughout, this was a pleasure to hear with multiple spins.
2. Evergrey – The Atlantic
Evergrey’s third album of their unofficial trilogy with Hymns for the Broken and The Storm Within, The Atlantic is a fitting bookend to the group of albums. Packing an emotional punch lyrically as well as musically, the style is very similar to the other two albums, hearing recurring motifs crop up here and there, intertwining the albums together with a very chunky, dark sound.
1. Darkwater – Human
I knew when I heard this album it was going to be my AOTY. After waiting 9 years for a new album, I was wondering how the test of time would treat Darkwater, and my expectations were not only met, they were vastly exceeded. Their comeback album in Human was truly a masterpiece, and they haven’t sounded any better.