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Best Of 2011 - 2012 (Gdazegod)

ARTIST: Best Of 2011 (Gdazegod)
YEAR: 2012


A lot of people have been saying that 2011 was a pretty good year for melodic rock. I guess I'll have to go along with them. In the past, I've always used Journey as a bit of a yardstick for success. Well you can kiss that theory goodbye in 2011. 'Eclipse' was a bonafide shocker when we really get down to it. The intervening months since does not hide how bad that album was. Personally, I still think 2008 was a better year than all the years following. But that's me. Overall, it's been an up/down year for most. Airrace flew in on a breath of fresh air only to be extinguished with the next breath, like the short lifespan of a monarch butterfly. Magnum are literally on their last breath too, why are they bothering to continue? New bands to impress include Swedish fun rockers Sencelled, plus the spectacular Norwegian/Finnish combo The Magnificent. Vocalist Michael Eriksen might just win top vocal performance of the year, with his glorious Joey Tempest inspired effort. Yet, if you believe what Rock Report forum guru AORPOMPY has to say, he called Eriksen a weak singer. Yeah right Pompy. I doubt Circus Maximus fans will be putting you on their Christmas Card Lists. Big kudos to Classic Rock Presents.. AOR magazine. I think most of us have all 5 issues to date? If not, stop mucking around. Big brickbats to throw at the American entities that wiped Megaupload from the face of the Internet Map. However, be assured that when one white hair is plucked from the scalp, ten will turn up for the funeral. So, like the 9 headed Hydra, be prepared to see ready-made replacements take Kit Dotcom's place at the Cyberlocker Hall of Fame. It ain't over yet, as they say. Also, big congrats to Derek Oliver and the mighty Rock Candy Records. Where would the fun be in 2011 if it wasn't for all those fantastic RC reissues. 2012 will see many more.

And what does 2012 have to offer? Too much to mention I reckon, and I don't have all day to write them down, so instead, keep an eye on all the news reports from our compadre sites and prepare to get excited.

In Summary

The Magnificent - s/t
I'm not going to say anything about this CD other than the title.. magnificent. Hands down winner in 2011 for me.

Toby Hitchcock - Mercury's Down
Toby took a lot of flak from just about every quarter for this year. I don't know why that was. I'll guess and say 'tall poppy syndrome'. Whether it was the production, the involvement of Erik Martensson, Hitchcock's religious beliefs.. who knows. The guy couldn't buy a break from anyone. Well, he bought a break from me. This album spent weeks on my 'hard to break into' Playlist, and justifiably so, and deservedly of a 10/10 rating in my books. The man is in possession of one mighty fine voice!

Pagans Mind - Heavenly Ecstacy
Less bombastic than previous efforts, but melodic to the core. Norway's finest prog metallers are at the top of their game. Again, another album that spent weeks on my Playlist. Some spectacular songs onboard this one.

Shy - Shy
An album tinged with tragedy, since a few weeks beyond the release of this album saw the passing of band leader Steve Harris. Some truly powerful songs here, and a welcome follow up to 2005's 'Sunset And Vine' which I thought was a great album too, even though the singers are different. 'Shy' was the first true album to introduce vocalist Lee Small to a wider audience. Watch out for more from this guy in future.

Rob Moratti - Victory
Though Rob Moratti's involvement with Canadian prog legends Saga may have ended, he returned with an album that has appeared on a few reviewers Best Of lists for 2011. That can only be a good thing. Another album to spend weeks on my Playlist, some gorgeous songs with killer choruses and all round vocals. Rumoured to be returning with a new Final Frontier album in 2012, according to his website news announcements. Bring it on.

Bad Habit - Atmosphere
This one struck early in the 2011 year (January), and it remained a constant on the Playlist right throughout those early months. Songs like 'Fantasy' and 'Angel Of Mine' are outright AOR killers. A surprisingly strong album all round, much better than their previous CD's, and very reminiscent of Treat's fantastic 'Coup De Grace' album from 2010.

Beggars & Thieves - We Are The Broken Hearted
A ridiciously cool and easy on the ear album, invoking reminders of past greats Diving For Pearls and Tall Stories. And we haven't even gotten around to reviewing it yet. Very soon I promise.. It's hard to believe that Louis Merlino sounds this good after so many years in the business. It's not an out-and-out energetic rabble rouser fuelled by an endless supply of Red Bull (Demi Moore, are you reading this?), more a gentle knock back of the finest Tennessee Bourbon a man can buy. Released at the tail end of 2011, this one is a late inclusion but a derseved one.

Presto Ballet - Invisible Places
Though this band have only released sporadic albums since 2005, the quality still remains at an all time high. Released early during 2011, there were few prog crossover albums that were as good as this during the year. It doesn't matter if Kurt Vanderhoof is doing straight out classic 80's heavy metal or mind-bending melodic prog, the man can do no wrong. Which probably reminds me, it's time for another Arthur Offen and Flag album!!

White Widdow - Serenade
These guys have reinvented pompous heavy AOR from the 80's with renewed vigour and style. Hard to believe they hail from the land of AFL and Koala Bears, but with a bunch of songs like 'Cry Wolf', 'Strangers In The Night' and 'Reckless Nights', their future is assured.

Coldspell - Out From The Cold / XorigiN - State Of The Art
Tied together (so both could be in my top 10), both these Scandi bands punched well above their weight. Coldspell are perhaps one of Escape Music's top rostered bands (forget about Heartland, Shadowman etc), they deliver heavy melodic rock with a bit of oomph, just how I like it. XorigiN featuring Johannes Stole formerly of Pedestrians Of Blue and Slaves To Fashion go all out with a bombastic style of AOR. Totally unexpected, totally surprising, totally cool. Both albums well worth their 9.5/10 ratings.

Coming in just under the radar:
Work Of Art - In Progress
Grand Illusion - Prince Of Paupers
Megaton Blonde - s/t (an oldie given new a digital lease of life. OTT melodic hard rock bordering on metal)
Bullet - Highway Pirates (just love this band..)
The Bright - Objects Of My Affection (Texan favourites. Julie Lange.. sigh..)
Angeline - Disconnected (liked this a lot)
Issa - The Storm (pretty good really.. she has an interesting career ahead of her)
House Of Lords - Big Money (couldn't not include this in my year end wrap)

Disappointed would be an understatement
Journey - Eclipse (it was crap to start with, shit to end with)
Saracen - Marilyn (pick some better subject matter guys.. you're far too talented to waste it on some blonde bimbo)
Magnum - The Visitation (an album I won't be visiting any time soon)
Myland - Light Of A New Day (nowhere near as good as 'No Mans Land'. The singer ruined it for me)
John Wetton - Raised In Captivity (the album should've been left in captivity)

Reissues of the Year:
Riggs - Riggs (thank you Wounded Bird!)
Le Roux - Up (Rock Candy, woah!)

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#1 | swazi on February 01 2012 15:36:05
Great choices, George! clap I haven't heard a few them yet (Pagan's Mind, BandT and Presto Ballet - thanks for the heads-up!), but the order of the others is about right as well.
#2 | jeffrey343 on February 01 2012 20:13:25
A few of these made my top 10, with some others just a bit below. I need to get that Bad Habit album.
#3 | opbrekke on February 01 2012 21:01:04
Of these I have The Magnificent, on my top ten, though not close to number one. Pagans Mind, Shy, White Widdow, might make my top ten, but honestly, wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be. Coldspell.Work of art, way ahead of the similar White Widdow in my book. Grand Illusion,Bullet, they are way too predictable for me. Candidates on my list would be TNT,Reckless Love, Electric Boys. My top 3 in the shoutbox was. Airrace, Nightranger and Uriah Heep, and I am sure I've forgotten a couple.
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