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Articles Home » Best Of » Best Of Decade 2000-2009 - 2010 englandashes
Best Of Decade 2000-2009 - 2010 englandashes

ARTICLE: Best Of Decade 2000-2009 englandashes

In the last 10 years the medium of how we hear and learn about music has changed. The good has been the Internet with the increase of MySpace to hear a selection of tunes from a particular band, although it has put me off buying a CD more times than made be buy one. Downloads of course to the music industry has had a negative effect, or though that's what we are led to believe by bleating millionaires, OK and a lot less well off of course. I for one have never downloaded an album, paid or not paid for, funny I still feel having a proper copy is the right thing to have in my collection. Again the choice is for the listener to choose what they prefer.

The other major effect is that of TV reality shows on music. In the UK, the rise of X Factor etc has had a negative effect, although even worse this genre of television now looks to be taken over by reality dance shows, hell.. The music shows have spread over the world like wildfire, with only a couple of plus points being the Finland winner Ari Koivunen, Chris Daughtry and that of Oliver Weers, who recorded a pretty good album called 'Get Ready' on the back of a relatively small amount of coverage. One plus point in the UK from the rise of these shows is that many of the public have finally woken up to Journey, only 28 years after they recorded their masterpiece. One unexpected source to provide quality music is surprising the previously flogged to death horse that is the Eurovision Song Contest ( stop sniggering at the back!). Any non-Europeans probably can't believe how popular this format has been, but the bright musicians have realised the opportunity this has become to get a wider audience without changing their beliefs. I for one feel it has helped and shows that rock music is still very popular with the public. Look at the list of these who have done well in their countries knockout shows, The Poodles, Thunderstone, Keep Of Kalessin, H.E.A.T and even Lars Safsund from Work of Art. Some have progressed to the actual final or semi finals, like Geir Ronning (more about him later), Petr Elfimov, Terasbetoni, Wig Wam and eventual winners Lordi.

Moving on to melodic music, well labels have come and gone, MTM, Vinny Records, Now And Then, Atenzia.. while the likes of Z Records, highly prolific earlier in the decade but have fallen back to just a trickle.

A number of musicians have made a significant impact, but I would single out one in particular, being Tommy Denander. Ok, none of his albums appear in my top ten 10, but if we were given the task to form a top 100, then his numerous appearances in this would had be enough for him to pick up the team gold medal. Although a reduced level of outputs recently, there was a time that he seemed to be issuing an album each week, remember Prisoner, Radioactive, Rainmaker, Deacon Street, Denander/Fredericksen and Ambition some featuring the previous mentioned Geir Ronning, where did he go? I miss him. Interesting to see Tommy's next move, maybe Toto?

We have had a number of false dawns, we lots of groups promising so much, only to disappear (but not always lost, there may still be a pulse on some of them), remember Walk The Sky, Line Of Fire, Golden Farm, Sahara, Mecca, and T'Bell, I had originally included Grand Illusion in this parade, but they seemed to have risen again, excellent news.

But we are used to that, has it always been the case in AOR history with the likes of Steeplechase, Alliance (1982) and Level etc, to release one album then disappear, which strangely enough has also been an appealing factor. Well finally let's get on with the top ten.

The Albums
10 - 91 Suite - 2002 91 Suite
You could say that La Fase laid the foundation for the Spanish AOR revolution, with the reserve troop in the shape of Seven Ltd, Golden Farm and Elyte, but just nudging ahead was the highly melodic AOR of the 91 Suite debut. Listen to the song 'Hurt And Pain' then you will see that it doesn't get much better than this.

9 - Urban Tale - 2001 Urban Tale
My only other bonafide AOR album was from these Finns. Again lots of hopes were put on the shoulders of this gentleman, especially how they displayed a marked subtlety to their songs. Many listeners got swallowed up in the ocean of AOR provided. I understand that the singer Kimmo Blom is still alive and kicking and I am hoping and expecting some great things in the new year. Couple of interesting facts about the packaging, do you notice the other Frontiers group at the time, Last Tribe whose logo appears on the cd tray, it's been attempted to be erased, but it's there. Also George get's a thank you from the early days of 'Heart of The Rock', as does one of my heroes, Tom G Warrior of Celtic Frost; you are in good company George!

8 - Kharma - 2000 Wonderland
The best album Goran Edman has appeared on? even beats the very underrated Reingold from 1999, both on MTM, they were indeed going through a purple patch, add to this Brian McDonald Group and Alfonzetti . Never to be followed up, retro AOR at the same time dropping in on Kansas.

7 - Negura Bunget - 2006 Om
Folk, Atmospheric Black Metal even Progressive take you pick, originating from Romania they easily delivered one of the most accomplished albums in my collection. Contains my favourite song of the decade with. 'Cunoasterea tacuta' which translate to 'Silenced Knowledge', the video to it has you flying across the tops of snow lines forests. Totally mystifying and a very special album indeed.

6 - Sonata Arctica - 2001 Silence
My favourite sons, Silence just sneaks ahead of their last couple of releases and also gives their debut Ecliptica (2000) a good run for its money. One of the most consistent and some might also contradict that with the unpredictable group of the last 10 years. Tony Kakko, a magnificent songwriter and vocalist and an important part of the Northern Kings quartet, a very nice sideline. I can't really add to my case for these guys, that I haven't already mentioned in my two articles concentrating on their recent displays.

5 - Coheed and Cambria - 2005 Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV. Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness
From the beginnings of sci-fi characters, I became aware of this group while flicking through the music TV channels one morning. Before me lay a casserole of Rush, Led Zep, Faith No More and CITA (Guild of Ages) with the song 'Welcome Home' blasting from the silver screen. It is an album to really sink your teeth into as it contains many excellent tunes that stand up on their own, but together it turns into a rock opera. There are a significant array of melodic and thoroughly catchy songs, probably my most played album of the decade.

4 - Edguy - 2001 Mandrake
It was a toss up between this and 'The Scarecrow', from the very talented Tobias Sammet under his Avantasia vehicle. My suggestion would be to buy both; anyway this is a seriously good album. Majestic symphonies that are not overloaded with complex time changes that contain a melodic pulse running through the centre of the recording. Pinching bits from Iron Maiden, but always savouring a more melodic (even AOR in some respects) lines to provide some of the best meticulous memorable anthems.' Follow Mr Hopkins, get insane'

3 - Sun Caged - 2007 Artemisia
This album contains my favourite vocal performance of the decade. This is provided by Canadian (how on earth did he get connected up with a group from Holland?) Paul Adrian Villarreal. Whatever the geographic complications there are, he is one significant discovery, and if Styx ever what to replace Tommy Shaw, then Paul is the ideal replacement. Excellent refined prog metal, but inserting enough melody to keep even AOR listeners interested. Add to this the musicianship of Marcel Coenen, professional to the end; I saw them live with the mighty Seventh Wonder (Waiting In The Wings just missing out again) to an audience of 15 - 20 people.

2 - Shining - 2007 V Halmstad
'As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn't there, he wasn't there again today, I wish, I wish he go away', these spoken lyrics open the most extreme album by far in my choices. Hauntingly horrifyingly, 'The Clockwork Orange' of musical recordings. This is just not a 100mph black metal thrash, but steeped in suspense filled passages, even manages to out fox the mighty Celtic Frost album of the period, 'Monotheist'. The shuddering second track (when I tell you its called 'Langtar Bort Fran Mitt Hjarta', you can see that song titles are not important) even puts Black Sabbath to shame, a masterpiece, but not for everyone.

1 - Moonsorrow - 2003 Kivenkantaja
Once upon a time, I only would listen to nice and safe songs, so I suppose at some time in the last decade I had a mid life crisis, and rather than buying a flash car, (or a new wife) I got interested in more extreme music and Moonsorrow were probably the root to this. Over the decade they have released many exceptional albums, but I have picked out my favourite with 'Kivenkantaja'. It contains moments of beauty, with powerful stirring anthems, here they achieved the pinnacle. When the likes of Korpiklanni and to a lesser extent Turisas inject fun, Moonsorrow are serious. An album to penetrate the senses.

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#1 | gdazegod on February 28 2010 11:51:17
There are some interesting selections here Chris. I might have to check some of these out. Re; Urban Tale, yes we did quite a bit of PR work for the band back in the day. Kimmo is still active, while Erkka Korhonen is involved in production work these days (he did the Firenote album from last year). I was meant to follow up that Sun Caged album back in 2007, as we did a number of Lion Music reviews at the time, plus Marcel's solo CD a few years earlier. Tobias Sammet is a pretty unusual fellow but he can sing and has provided moments of brilliance over the last decade, no disagreement there. A few years back, I used to correspond with this girl from Europe via the Soulseek portal. She was a HUGE Korpiklanni fan, somehow, visions of forest creatures, gnomes and lots of beer drinking didn't quite make it into my grey matter! lol!
#2 | Eric on February 28 2010 14:10:52
Coheed and Cambria- a big prog following for these guys, interesting videos and good tunes.
#3 | englandashes on March 07 2010 16:12:49
Sun Caged are going back into the studio during March 2010, hoping for a summer release of their third album with the name of 'The Lotus Effect', I assume a return visit to play in Rushden again is out of the question!
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