If you’d had told me at the beginning of the year that a Middle-Eastern progressive metal album would be my clear number one, I actually would have believed you. Myrath provides a stunning, unique style you just can’t find anywhere else. Starting with the extremely catchy song “Believer”, Legacy will keep you hooked to the very end.
The Best: Jasmin/Believer. Positive and upbeat, this is simply a fantastic song. If you haven’t seen the music video made for this yet, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s the best of low-budget editing with the standard power metal cheese I have come to expect.
The Worst: Duat. There are no bad songs on this album, so choosing the worst was a challenge. Duat is one of those songs that is too similar to the rest of the songs on the album; it almost feels like a duplicate song on the album.
Special Shout-Out: The Unburnt. It’s a song about Daenerys Targaryen and dragons. Need I say more?
2. Ghost Ship – Theocracy
This time, I definitely wouldn’t have believed it if I’d been told that I would enjoy a Christian power metal album as much as I did. Even if you are not Christian, this album is well worth a listen. It’s easy enough to miss the religious themes and just be in awe of the songwriting. This is what great power metal should sound like.
The Best: Paper Tiger. It was hard to choose between this and the title track, “Ghost Ship” as they are both fantastic songs. The guitar riffs on “Paper Tiger” are superb, as is the vocal range displayed by Matt Smith. This is one I can listen to on repeat.
The Worst: A Call to Arms. After hearing “This is a revolution/This is a call to arms” in the chorus I just about face palmed. This is one of those songs that makes you realize that corny songs will never leave power metal.
3. The Passage – DGM
DGM had never been a band on my radar, so when The Passage dropped in August and the whole power and prog metal world went abuzz with how this was the definite album of the year, I just had to check it out. While I often find progressive metal to be boring, repetitive, and unnecessarily long (looking at you, “The Great Escape”), I cannot believe how fantastic this album is. “The Secret” (Parts I and II) are two amazing songs and a perfect way to begin the album, and “Animal” immediately following was enough to blow me away. The vocals on this album are not too harsh or too mellow, but just perfect to keep me interested throughout the whole album.
The Best: The Secret, Part I. While really only half an idea, and half a song, this is definitely the better half. The haunting beginning to the song with a gradual fade to the guitars playing the same melody gave me the chills. The powerful chorus is hard to forget.
The Worst: Disguise. I’m no fan of ballads, and this two-minute piano-and-vocal piece left me wondering why this song was in the album in the first place. “Disguise” is all that I hate in progressive metal, and thankfully nothing like the mercifully short piece is found anywhere else on the album.
4. Helion Prime – Helion Prime
It’s not often a band’s debut album is a strong contender for album of the year. But Helion Prime did just that with their self-titled Helion Prime. An excellently-produced album, Helion Prime’s space and science themes do not feature the excessive post-production that many similar power metal albums do. The vocals on this album were excellent, bucking the trend of many female power metal vocalists unnecessarily using vibrato. Sadly, Helion Prime went through a shakeup shortly after releasing their debut, as the vocalist left the band due to a breakup, yet another reminder that dating inside the band is a horrific idea.
The Best: Into the Black Hole. This fun song unsurprisingly has a catchy chorus, and is also (surprisingly) about flying into a black hole.
The Worst: A Place I Thought I Knew. This ballad features some annoying discordant vocal layering. It starts out slow, and then suddenly loud guitars and drums start playing along, almost drowning out the vocals. It feels as if the song does not really know what it is supposed to be, and is poor as a result.
5. Ghostlights – Avantasia
With an album cover straight out of Dark Souls, Avantasia made their triumphant return to the power metal world with Ghostlights. While certainly their best album yet, their desire to make operas out of their albums cause significant fluctuations in the quality of their songs. There’s truly spectacular songs (“Let the Storm Descend Upon You”, “Ghostlights”, and “Draconian Love”), great songs (“Master of the Pendulum”), mediocre songs (“Mystery of a Blood Red Rose”), and bad songs (“Isle of Evermore”). However, evaluating the album as a whole results in one of the better releases this year.
The Best: Let the Storm Descend Upon You. I’ll freely admit I don’t like excessively long songs. At 12 minutes long, I thought that this song would be just another I don’t like because it was stretched out too long. I was completely wrong about this song. Its excellent songwriting is displayed though its amazing bridges and chorus. There isn’t a single verse that I don’t like. There’s a reason this song was my most-played of the year.
The Worst: Isle of Evermore. Another slow ballad with almost non-existent instrumentation. I get that this song was important to the story of the album, but I always skip it. This isn’t what power metal is supposed to be.
Special Shout-Out: Ghostlights. On any other album, this song would be the best track. The vocal heights the two singers get to is absurd. This song features everything I love about power metal: fast pacing, melodic vocals, catchy lyrics, and great instrumentation