This is where things started to get extremely hard for me to decide the ranking. There is plenty of albums here that are so deserving to be higher on my list in some regards, but either suffered from not being able to hear them enough to fully appreciate them or just the fate that I found other albums to strike my fancy more. These 20 are awesome albums and should definitely be checked out so don't let the number to the left of the review scare you away, like all the bands listed through Album 110, they all deserve love! So let's get to it!
80.) Symphony X- Underworld
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
This is the return album for Symphony X after Russell Allen spent focusing on Adrenaline Mob. While I'm disappointed this doesn't get a higher ranking for me, it's not a deterrent from being able to enjoy it. Yes, it is no Divine Wings Of Tragedy or Odyssey, it's much more in the veins of the Paradise Lost and on era of the band, but with a lot more clean vocals instead of the aggressive vocals really showcased of the last couple releases. Without question, it is a solid album. If I had to nitpick, I just feel that it feels like a redundant album. Extremely tight, but nothing you haven't heard before, unless this is your first SX album. Now that we know that Russell Allen is ready to take Symphony X back as a priority, hopefully that will lead to more out of the box thinking on the next release, much like Dream Theater will be doing with the upcoming The Astonishing double album.
79.) Keep Of Kalessin- Epistemology
FFO- Epic Extreme Metal
Mix Black, Death, Progressive, Symphonic, and so many other influences and you get Keep Of Kalessin! With longer epics, relentless apocalyptic sound. With incredibly crisp and clean production, it makes this album extremely enjoyable to listen to. While the album may be considered over the top, if you let it take over, you are in for one hell of a ride. Twists and turns all over for what they list themselves as: Epic Extreme Metal. If you dare take an adventure, give this a chance!
78.) Almah- Within The Last Eleven Lines
FFO: Progressive Metal, Symphonic Metal
I just discovered Almah this year after checking them out after hearing that they will be a part of ProgPower USA 2015 and when I heard the song Beyond Tomorrow, I was sucked in and became an instant fan. Having not heard what they have done previously yet, if this album is even considered mediocre in comparison, then they are one of the best Power Metal bands going right now! The mix of Melody, Harmony, Fast, Mellow, and Symphonic is blended so well and the vocals are top notch! While this is probably the least known Rhapsody offshoot, I dare say it is the best that doesn't have "Of Fire" in the band name!
77.) Alkaloid- The Malkuth Grimoire
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Progressive Metal
What happens when your old band, Obscura, has a major fallout and you're left without a band? You form an even better band! The debut album from 3/4th of the ex members of Obscura (and bassist Linus Klausenitzer who is still playing bass in Obscura) went on to form a band that goes even farther into Extreme Prog Metal territory than Obscura ever has. While the core of the sound still has that Obscura sound we all know and love, the music is filled with much more Melody and Harmony and giving no worries if the music goes too hard or soft, too simple or complex, etc. Just Progressive Death Metal done right. Now we just need a North American tour in the future, The album is too good not to hear live!
76.) Cage- Ancient Evil
FFO: Power Metal, Falsetto Vocals
This album is an absolute sufferer of not being able to listen to it more to give it a higher ranking. Had I done it right now, it would be easily Top 25 if not higher. Sean Peck is the best Falsetto vocalist this side of King Diamond, hence why Mercyful Fate Guitarist Hank Shermann and ex Mercyful Fate Guitarist Michael Denner recruited Peck for their debut EP this year (I might do a EP list when I'm done with all of this, haven't decided yet). This album is an absolute slammer of an album. When it doesn't pound, it pounds you harder and that's missing in a lot of Power Metal these days. Cage is one of the most underrated Power Metal bands running and deserve to be so much bigger than they are. Ancient Evil is a prime example of Power Metal done right!
75.) Kaddisfly- Horses Galloping On Sailboats
FFO: Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock
The first album back from the band since their Indefinite Hiatus back in 2008 proved to be a worthy cause as the band sounds stronger than ever before. The album does have some heavier moments than some of their previous work (The Butcher being a great example). The album is full of awesome tunes from start to finish if you can appreciate bands like Fair To Midland, Nothing More, Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus. Knowing about Kaddisfly, this could be a solid return for the band or this could be the last thing they ever put out. Regardless of what happens, let's be thankful they gave us this album and enjoy it until we hear anything else in the future!
74.) Clutch- Psychic Warfare
FFO- Hard Rock, Blues Rock, Southern Rock
Seeing as though I just reviewed this album not too long ago I'll redirect you to my review HERE http://www.thatdrummerguy.com/blog/album-review-clutch-psychic-warfare
73.) Blind Guardian- Beyond The Red Mirror
FFO- Power Metal
HERESY!!! HERESY I TELL YOU!!! HOW DARE THE ALMIGHTY BLIND GUARDIAN BE SO LOW ON A BEST OF LIST!!! Well, let me tell you. I do think it is a great album with great songs on it, but it didn't home for me as much as other albums have. At The Edge Of Time is a great example of that. And yes, I'm aware this is part 2 of At The Edge Of Time. And it's not a knock at all of how well Hansi and Co. are. Honestly I think there was a good reason why they only played one song off the album when I saw them live last month. If they ever do a show where they play both albums, I'd be so pumped. but with separate listens. it sounds like we waited 5 years to hear almost the same album as last time. I still like it a lot, but it doesn't have the draw factor I wanted. If you're new to Blind Guardian, this will suck you in for sure. but for long time fans, you either love it, or think it's ok.
72.) Fear Factory- Genexus
FFO- Industrial Metal
I could not be happier to say that Fear Factory is back on my best of list, especially after the debacle that was The Industrialist. A huge part of that is not being cheap anymore and getting a real drums recorded. Also writing extremely inspired music once again. This is the album I wish was made after Archetype (which is still my favorite Fear Factory album). In a way, this feel's like Dino's version of Archetype. It still hearkens back to the Demanufacture sound and unfortunately, some Digimortal moments. But to say that this isn't the best Fear Factory in over a decade would be a complete lie. And I'll take anything I can get! Glad to see Fear Factory at their top form as they can get without Christian and Raymond.
71.) Devil You Know- They Bleed Red
FFO- Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal
Having done an interview with Francesco Artusato while the band was in the studio recording this album. I feel a special connection with this album because I was one of the first people who got to hear what the album was going to be about. And Francesco nailed it on the head. I love the debut album a lot, but this one blows it out of the water! The brutal parts are even more brutal, the melodic parts are a lot more melodic and the band feels completely tight and ready to destroy. Say what you want. I love Howard Jones' vocals so much and it's great to be able to hear him sing/scream again. As a fellow diabetic, I know it's not easy in the slightest, yet Howard is doing better than ever vocally and the world needs that right now!
70.) Johnny B. Morbid- Fall Of The Cicada
FFO- Power Metal, Black Metal, Punk Rock
Did you read that right? Yes you did! Those are the genres involved! It is such a great combination on paper, but if you're a fan of at least 2 of the 3 genres, you will find something to love about the band. I love all three genres so it's great to see all of this combined together. It's got the Punk Rock spirit with shorter songs and punk riffs and vocals. the speed of Power Metal and the evilness, blasts, and some screams of Black Metal. I wish more bands would be THIS adventurous with their sound because that is how music progresses.
69.) Ghost Ship Octavius- Ghost Ship Octavius
FFO- Progressive Metal, Melodic Metal, Heavy Metal
Nevermore Meets Symphony X! This is an album that over time I will be sitting down with an appreciating more and more because this album is beyond spectacular. It is so full of hooks mixed with crushing riffs and soaring vocals. The pure spirit of Nevermore mixed with the soundscapes of early day Symphony X we all know and love. I wish I could rank this higher than I did because it is deserving. I can't wait to see where things go from here.
68.) Stratovarius- Eternal
FFO- Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
If I said it once, I said it an infinite amount of times. Timo Tolkki nearly killed Stratovarius to the point of DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). THANKFULLY after his departure, the band got their marbles together and have been releasing some of their strongest releases ever. Completely solid from start to finish. Great ballads, great fast songs, filled with spirit again. it's such a great feeling to see Stratovarius filled with life. Let's just hope it continues until they decide to retire.
67.) Abigail Williams- The Accuser
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal
Once again, a sufferer of not being able to listen to it more due to it's late year release. I am a huge supporter of these guys and don't see them as the trend hoppers that the internet accuses (hahaha see what I did there?) them to be. They just make the music they want to make and are inspired by it. That's what any band should do. Never be afraid to try! The Accuser takes a different approach to Black Metal than their previous masterpiece Becoming. The biggest noticeable difference is the inclusion of very distinct clean vocals used sparingly. I think it fits perfectly with the despair displayed in the music. There are no monster epics on this album like on Becoming so it's a little less daunting of a task to sit through for the average listener so they can have some breaths in between songs. I also say that with Beyond The Veil being my FAVORITE Abigail Williams song. The Accuser sounds like Abigail Williams at it's most inspired and that is most definitely a good thing! Wherever the band goes, as long as Ken Sorceron and Co. keep making the albums they actually wanna make, I'll be there to listen!
66.) Solution .45- Nightmares In The Waking State- Part I
FFO- Progressive Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Once again a victim of a late release date and not being able to fully appreciate the album as I should. This album is far and beyond one of the best representations of Christian Alvestram vocal ability. The majestic cleans and the brutal growls really sell the band if the melodic hooks, heavy riffs, and amazing musicianship doesn't do it for you alone. THANKFULLY, Part II will be coming out next year and I personally can't wait. This is just an amazing example of modern metal in 2015, the way it should be done.
65.) The Aristocrats- Tres Caballeros
FFO- Instrumental Rock, Experimental
Guthrie Govan, Bryan Bellar, and Marco Minnemann are at it again with their 3rd album. This time, they take on a more southern approach to the songwriting, containing a lot of feelings of being in the North American South on both sides of the coast. The songwriting is quirky, yet expertly done. Of course with a band like The Aristocrats the real power of the band is in the live show. The studio albums are amazing in and of themselves, but without the live show, it wouldn't feel as complete. I know the 4th installment of The Aristocrats will happen in the future, and I can't wait to see where they go from here.
64.) The Black Dahlia Murder- Abysmal
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
I'm honestly pretty bummed to see the album ranked this low on my top 100, but I just happened to hear 63 albums I enjoyed more. That says nothing about the quality of the album as it is some of their strongest material ever. It's not a groundbreaking album or their greatest work, but it is unquestionably solid. That's what matters most. Brutal, Melodic, Catchy, Chaotic, and overall what we need in Melodic Death Metal.
63.) Enforcer- From Beyond
FFO- Speed Metal, Heavy Metal
Enforcer is the best typical 80s Metal band that never existed in the 80s this side of Steel Panther. Enforcer perfectly captures the spirit of the late 70s-early 80s Heavy Metal spirit. Not a groundbreaking album in the slightest, but so very, very solid. If you can appreciate Speed Metal, you will love Enforcer!
62.) Amiensus- Ascension
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal, Symphonic Metal
From closer to my neck of the woods, Rochester, MN. These guys and False are the two best Black Metal bands Minnesota has to offer. with False (who you'll see later in the list) who is more of the straight up Black Metal with some Atmospheric elements to them. Amiensus is more of the Atmospheric and Symphonic elements in their Black Metal. It makes for an amazing combination. The production is awesome, the songs are so very well crafted and just a great, fresh, spirit is in this band. Starting to get some proper notoriety around here and with some touring under their belt with this moniker, these guys could become huge if this quality can be maintained. Let's hope they can keep this momentum going!
61.) Metal Allegiance- Metal Allegiance
It's really hard to call this anything other than a Metal album because it does incorporate so many different genres (Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Groove Metal, Death Metal). This supergroup has made a huge impact with their live shows and now they have finally sat down and recorded an album with an all star cast of vocalists from Chuck Billy to Randy Blythe to Christina Scabbia. This album really captures the spirit of Metal in 2015. Is it a novelty album? Yes and No. Yes because it may be really hard to capture the magic this album has with all of the members involved. But no because it's meant to be a tribute to the power that is Metal. Showing that all styles of Metal can come together and create some amazing music. That goal has been achieved. Can it be captured again for a second album? time will tell....
COMING SOON PART IV- 60-41
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.