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Best Of 2008 - 2008 englandashes


Hi again, please find below my best of 2008, thanks for putting my reviews on line over the past months, much appreciated, really enjoyed it!


Chris (englandashes)

An orderly selection of some surprises.

1 - Opeth - Watershed
My most fulfilling CD of the year. Haunting, beautiful and essential. Try listening to the opening,'Coil', one of the most tender, melodic tunes of the year, with Mikael Akerfeldt expressing his 'clean vocals' accompanied by the mesmerising voice of Natalie Lorichs. I've even brought the T'Shirt which looks like a slab of green mould (nice!).

2 - The Feeling - Join With Us
They just make it look so easy. Complete pop songs, all different, each one having a classic melody lines. Hooks that catch you on the hop and yank you out of everyday life. Toured this year with the wonderful The Hoosiers, who's debut alas, released in 2007, but I only got wind of it in 2008.

3 - Scars On Broadway - Scars On Broadway
Simply my most played CD of the year. At times as unsettling as the England Cricket Team, but entertainment at every turn, helps relieve pent up anger. Exhilarating and vicious, but deceptively catchy songs, not one for the faint hearted.

4 - Septicflesh - Communion
I thought long and hard whether to include this or not. The off-putting name doesn't represent the extraordinary lengths this Greek band have reached to produce such an intelligent, intense recording. Symphonic Black Metal with classical film soundtrack imagery.

5 - Tobias Sammet's Avantasia - The Scarecrow
To bring such luminaries such as Roy Khan, Jorn Lande and Bob Catley together to record such a consistent, flowing CD, Tobias must be congratulated. Exceptional melodic hard rock that even eclipses Tinnitus Sanctus, being the latest from Edguy. Contains my song of the year being 'I Don't Believe In Your Love' where Oliver Hartmann has never sounding better.

6 - Cynic - Traced In Air
Where do I start?, growls mixed with very high pitched melodic vocals, (not screams) mixed with the melodrama of Coheed & Cambria. Perplexing in the extreme, with melody buried deep in the groups progressive soundings.

7 - RC2 - Future Awaits
RC2 provides an extension of space which is reached by a platform of piano keys. They go down many avenues that are signposted with the street names such as Sun Caged and early Dream Theater and snippets of Styx. A reflected beauty, progressive music that flows with clinical songwriting overlaid with heartfelt vocals.

8 - Journey - Revelation
I very much doubted the performance of Arnel, (yes, after seeing Jeff Scott Soto live I was a strong supporter), going as far as not taking an opportunity to see them live this year, what I fool I've been as my initial suspicious were totally unfounded. 'Revelation', the best since 'Raised On Radio', get used to it, enjoy it for what it is, it won't get any better. Tell me of any AOR heroes who have toured so much in the last couple of years? Appreciate them before they disappear.

9 - Silent Call - Creations From A Chosen Path
A step back in history to the sound of the Shotgun Symphony debut. Highly melodic, with one arm on a intravenous drip of AOR while the other arm is pulling ideas from the progressive metal field. An experimental step and an eureka moment for Escape Records.

10 - H.E.A.T - H.E.A.T
A supreme AOR album, one that will still be played in 10 years time, lets hope they will be stick around. Do yourself a favour and investigate the cause of such merriment in melodic rock hearts.

Honourable Mentions
Blackstone Cherry - Folklore and Superstition
Blackmore's Night - Secret Voyage
Daylight Dies - Lost In The Living
Elevener - When Kaleidoscopes Collide
Guns N Roses - The Chinese Democracy
Kingfisher Sky - Hallway Of Dreams

In Summary
While I have enjoyed the likes of good AOR brought to 2008 by the likes of Hungry Heart, Elevener and Marcel/Vestry I just haven't played them in the quantity as my choices. Also found them not as interesting or challenging as some of my ten picks. While the recordings of Seventh Wonder, Edguy and Overland have arrived to my ears too late in the year but I am certain would had figured higher.

On the whole though, AOR has had a pretty good year, with releases on smaller labels from H.E.A.T, Frozen Rain, Myland and Oz Knozz being more appealing and impressive than the output from the normal stable of labels. With the current financial predicament are they just banking on the home runs like Jimi Jamison, Crown Of Thorns and Bob Catley rather than fresh new talent?

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#1 | Eric on January 12 2009 19:55:42
Interesting point raised in the last paragraph, but I wonder if the AOR labels have always been in some sort of financial 'hard times'? hmm!
#2 | gdazegod on January 12 2009 20:03:22
I agree Eric. The other thing also, is that most of the releases are manufactured on a limited run, say 1000 to 2000 copies only. Certainly nothing like what was being manufactured in the good old days of vinyl back in the 70's.

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