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Articles Home » Best Of » Best Of 2016 - 2017 Gdazegod, George
Best Of 2016 - 2017 Gdazegod, George

CATEGORY: Best Of 2016
AUTHOR: George
YEAR: 2016


Well here we are, as we stand at the cliff edge of the 2016 calendar year, and what a year it's been. To be honest, it's been a crap year all round. Just take a look at our obituaries page, and we can see who's left through the departure lounge from January 2016 right up until the current day. It wasn't good, and to be brutally honest I can see the 2017 Year being just as bad. My personal year was a bit up and down. I haven't really enjoyed my time here in Melbourne, and I can certainly see myself moving on at some point in the future.

On a global basis, the world has been tipped upside down thanks to the Brexit issue, the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton issue, and bombings and terrorist attacks in places like Nice and Berlin. As a writer one of the things that has really pushed my buttons during 2016 was this issue to do with fake news, and what is perceived as real news. A good example being how the Russians were blamed for interfering with the American elections. I think if the Americans looked a little bit harder they probably would have found some fault on their own side rather than from Russia. Certainly, there were no rigged voting machines this time around, a la George Soros. And how many times has America interfered in other countries? I saw an interview on TV yesterday, where the Political Analyst stated that America has been known to have interfered in 81 foreign Elections in the last 50 years. So, I detect a case of the pot boiling the kettle black. Anyway..

As for the music, the AOR scene unfortunately has taken a dive in my opinion. I could count the number of quality releases on one hand during 2016. Also, I just take a look through my 2016 collection and I can see already there is a lot there that I won't listen to very often, if at all. To me this is a very bad sign. Things look like they are in decline. We talked about the scene being marginalised in the past, now that appears to have materialized. There's only a handful of record labels now that is dealing in contemporary and modern day AOR, and we know who they are. The other thing is this: there are so many releases nowadays it's hard to keep up. Any man and his dog can release a decent quality album. Unlike the old days, where releases were scheduled out of recording studios mostly, and numbers of releases were controlled that way.

Mostly I have enjoyed the heavier realms of rock music last year, and these will feature prominently in my top 10 list of 2016. Let's look at the good and the bad starting off with the bad.

I can't recall seeing or writing about any particular album that was super super bad. Mainly if it was I probably wouldn't have written anything about it. On the other hand, there wasn't anything that was super super good either. I would have been hard pressed to apply a 100% rating to any album during 2016. Some got a 95%, and they were reasonably good but I couldn't be confident in giving them the full score.

What is bad is the cost of postage and packing around the globe. Why has this become an irritant? I know in Australia for instance, that the postal service (known as Australia Post) is losing money hand over fist because the volume of goods has reduced, and also the level of competition has increased. I'm guessing it's the same situation elsewhere around the world. Suddenly, customs/duty has reared its head again, after being a non-entity for decades. Revenue must be in short supply for both postage and tax to be prominent once more.

Most of us at GDM are more interested in the reissue market, and there we can see some absolute beauties finally getting a release. Also we see many Japanese releases now with super high fidelity coming into the market, as well as the prices being very competitive. Well done to the Japanese for releasing West Coast reissues from the early eighties in particular. I just love that stuff.

Good also that some of our yesteryear heroes continued to create new music in 2016. In some cases, artists from the 70's an 80's have reunited for the cause of rock n roll. That's good to see. I am encouraged to see so many rare LP's from those decades come to light. Some of these I've never heard of previously, so surely there must be many more goodies to discover in 2017?

Top Ten

10: Rage Of Angels - The Devil's New Tricks
This was our first review for 2016, and it held up all the way through the year to feature in my list. Quite heavy, melodic and bombastic. A fantastic record.

09: Amaranthe - Maximalism
This band dropped off my radar the year before, but returned to form with a beefy album. Played it quite a bit.

08: Sunstrike - Ready To Strike
To me, one of the best exponents of melodic rock/AOR. Can't wait for a new album from these OTT Swedes.

07: Palace - Master Of The Universe
The only album from the Frontiers roster to rock my boat. Michael Palace is a talent in the making.

06: Jace Pawlak - Promise
Another pure AOR album, from the Kivel Records stable. Jeffrey343 bought this to our attention. I'm glad he did, this is wonderful stuff.

05: Whitford St Holmes - Reunion
One of my loved bands from the early 80's who reunited just recently.

04: Bryan Cole - Sands Of Time
A new contender for 2016, who delivered a pretty good melodic hard rock album. Hope Bryan's around for years to come.

03: Seven - Shattered
A big sounding Journey'esque CD from the Escape Music stable. For me, a top three album of the year.

02: Mecca - III
Coming in at #2, only the eight tracks, but this was just pure AOR. Thoroughly enjoyable.

01: Kansas - The Prelude Implicit
Their first studio album in ages, and what a goodie it was. Got top pick from me.

Just missing out: King Of Bones, Attacker, Striker (Canada), Tygers Of Pan Tang, Vomitron

Not So Good
Blackfoot - Southern Native (not so Blackfoot, but a bunch of no-names)
Billy Satellite - II (not so much the songs, but the godawful production and mix)
Reckless Love - InVader (normally a band I love, but this wasn't very good)

So there we have it..

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#1 | Murgleis on January 23 2017 02:54:42
These lists honestly are a bit sad. There's still a lot of life in both Westcoast and AOR, and even some absolute synthwave/AOR smashers such as The Midnight's Endless Summer. Plus you missed Inglorious's self-titled. Come on...
#2 | gdazegod on January 23 2017 03:54:15
I didn't miss Inglorious, and though I like some synth wave, I find a lot of it hit/miss. The two you mention (The Midnight and FM-84) are pretty good.
#3 | george_the_jack on January 27 2017 01:01:25
2016 was a rather bad year for melodic rock in my book. Very few things I will remember in the years to come that had drawn my attention. Such were the likes of the Defiants, as well as the Drive,She Said come back. The Inglorious album is one of the better ones indeed.

There were many disappointments for me throughout this year but the biggest I can recall were S.O.T.O. (absolute modern crap) and the TREAT album with its awful mix and blandness.
#4 | jeffrey343 on January 30 2017 03:33:14
I guess I'm a bit more optimistic in my assessment of the year in a musical context. I found quite a bit to like. I didn't find as many absolute killer releases, but I left a lot of good albums out of my top ten. My list contains three of these - Seven, Bryan Cole, and Jace Pawlak. I'm trying to get into that Mecca album. It sounds good, but I could use more energy from it.
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