Best of 2017 - Mandatory Posting

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Sir Exar Kun
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Best of 2017 - Mandatory Posting

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:55 am

Here goes with the obligatory best of 2017 list..... Not sure if this will be top 10, 15, 20 or what yet.....

#1 - Daydream XI "Circus of the Tattered and Torn" - Going from an unknown commodity filling a PP vacancy to the best album of the year..... Not too shabby. This album hits all the key notes for me: complexity, melody, heaviness..... It's got a warmth I associate with bands like Kingcrow or Wolverine, but with more of a Dream Theater musical score. They also incorporate enough diverse elements such as the gospel style choir to make it stand apart from the crowd.

#2 - Ayreon "The Source" - I went into this one a little bit skeptical, as the last couple of Ayreon albums didn't really hit me like I expect Arjen to. "The Source", however, delivers in spades. It's still distinctly Arjen, yet somehow has a bit of a heavier, more modern sensibility to it. Nothing dramatic, but just enough to freshen up the formula. It also features one of his strongest casts of singers to date, and returns to more of a song-oriented formula than the last disc. I expect Ayreon to always be near the top of the list each year, so was very glad to hear this return to form.

#3 - Need "Hegaiamas" - If not for the one track with nothing but spoken dialogue, this would be a spot higher. Still and all, Need have now proven to be one of the best "warm" prog metal bands on the planet, alongside the aforementioned Kingcrow and Wolverine.

#4 Adagio "Life" - I've seen a lot of negative comments on this one, due to the djenty guitar tones and the lack of similarity to their prior albums, but to me this album steps up the game BIG TIME. They've gone from being a very good neo-classical band, to a very good power metal band, to a very good prog metal band. The complexity on this album reminds me a lot of Suspyre, mixed with some serious shredding guitar work as always. This may not be for everyone, but I find it to be a refreshing change of pace.

#5 Sorcerer "Crowning of the Fire King" - Excellent recommendation from the board here! I've been pretty well done with doom metal for many years, so wasn't interested at all until I heard Andy Engberg was the vocalist, and the raving reviews from this board. I certainly hear the basis of the music in doom, but it is SO MUCH MORE than that. It's like they took a doom rhythm and layered melodic, sometimes shredding, sometimes passionate leads all over top of it. The guitar work is simply top notch, as they channel some serious vintage Chris DeGarmo leads into the songs. This is truly an album not to be missed. Definitely the SURPRISE of the year.

#6 Threshold "Legends of the Shire" - While the revolving door of singers rotates once more, the quality of writing continues to be top notch. This could have been a top three disc, if they had trimmed a couple of songs off of it that tend to drag. In an ideal world, this album should have had all three singers on it, as there are parts that are almost tailor made for each of the vocalists.

#7 The Dark Element s/t - This is just a straight up FUN disc, especially given how disappointing the last Nightwish album was. While this doesn't attempt the complexities or orchestrations of Nightwish, it allows Annette's melodic side to open up 100%, giving each song hooks galore. She definitely received undue flack for not being Tarja 2.0, but what she does she does VERY well.... And that's sing great melodic tunes. Can't wait to hear more from this band.

#8 Prospekt "The Illuminated Sky" - Perfect mix of Symphony X and Circus Maximus, hitting all the obligatory prog-power notes along the way. Vocalist definitely feels a bit out of place when you first hear him, but three to four songs in he's a perfect fit.

#9 Leprous "Malina" - Feels like Leprous HAS to be in my top whatever list with each new release...... A continuation of style on the last couple discs, the songs feel a little less predictable and maybe a little more melodic. Not as "safe" as the last couple discs either..... But still a far cry from the brilliant "Binaural".

#10 The Ferrymen s/t - Ronnie Romero plus Magnus Karlsson is a no-brainer for me. While this did not disappoint, it also did not fully meet expectations. It's a very solid album, and both players shine as usual, but Magnus has had stronger albums. I'm hoping they combine again to see if they can elevate the next release.

Biggest disappointment - Soul Secret "Babel" and Vangough "Warpaint". Both bands came off of 2-3 very good albums, but changed the formula in very unpleasant ways. Vangough tries to sound like Leprous (without the creativity), and Soul Secret sounds like Michael Buble playing lounge music with a djenty guitarist. Soul Secret was a chore to listen to twice, let alone ever revisit.

Best live album / DVD - Neal Morse "MorseFest 2015" Neal puts out a lot of live stuff, but he NEVER disappoints. Getting the full two day festival in one package, and being able to see the SICKENING level of talent his band has is always a great experience. This "festival" is on my bucket list.....

Best concert of the year - Dream Theater "Images, Words and Beyond" This show exceeded my every expectation. I've seen DT probably 15-20 times over the years, and this was one of the very best performances to date. The set list was nearly flawless, but the inclusion of the old B-side / demos for "To Live Forever" and "Don't Look Past Me" put it over the top. Having seen Haken just a few weeks before, the bar was set VERY high and DT exceeded it.

That's it for now!
Capitalism: God's way of separating the smart from the poor. -Ron Swanson

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Nos
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Re: Best of 2017 - Mandatory Posting

Postby Nos » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:52 am

Sir Exar Kun wrote:#7 The Dark Element s/t - This is just a straight up FUN disc, especially given how disappointing the last Nightwish album was. While this doesn't attempt the complexities or orchestrations of Nightwish, it allows Annette's melodic side to open up 100%, giving each song hooks galore. She definitely received undue flack for not being Tarja 2.0, but what she does she does VERY well.... And that's sing great melodic tunes. Can't wait to hear more from this band.


Totally. It's another case of where a band picked a singer who is good at one thing, just not what they were chosen for. Anette does this poppier stuff amazingly well. I keep saying her phenomenal performances everywhere else shows that Tuomas is no genius. If he was, he either wouldn't have picked her, or he would have known how to write for her.

Biggest disappointment - Vangough "Warpaint".


Completely agree. That album was horrible. It was half Leprous, and half whatever the hell the new Pain Of Salvation was. Combine them, and it was all failure.

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Re: Best of 2017 - Mandatory Posting

Postby ToddS » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:36 pm

Wow, we have so many in common! Love it!

Really happy to see Need so high on another list. :D

The one release where we really differ is Vangough. I can understand this one being polarizing. It isn't the lush, warm and fuzzy Vangough. I was put off at first too. I stuck with it, and it eventually clicked. The Leprous is there I agree, but is contained to a song or 2 to my ears. Anyway I get it. See my 2017 list for more.

Again fantastic list!
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Sir Exar Kun
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Re: Best of 2017 - Mandatory Posting

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:56 pm

Totally. It's another case of where a band picked a singer who is good at one thing, just not what they were chosen for. Anette does this poppier stuff amazingly well. I keep saying her phenomenal performances everywhere else shows that Tuomas is no genius. If he was, he either wouldn't have picked her, or he would have known how to write for her.


I think Tuomas did a GREAT job writing for her.... The two albums with Annette are both excellent, IMHO.... Much better than Floor's for sure! I think he's running out of creative juices, and I'm hoping the extended break helps him out.
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introclaus
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Re: Best of 2017 - Mandatory Posting

Postby introclaus » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:21 pm

Sir Exar Kun wrote:#3 - Need "Hegaiamas" - If not for the one track with nothing but spoken dialogue, this would be a spot higher. Still and all, Need have now proven to be one of the best "warm" prog metal bands on the planet, alongside the aforementioned Kingcrow and Wolverine.


I actually thought the spoken word tune was the best part of the album - sounded really dramatic and I had hoped for as much drama in the album. The previous disc was killer but this one just left me “meh”. I should probably give it another shot now as I haven’t listened to it in a long time.
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gazinwales
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Re: Best of 2017 - Mandatory Posting

Postby gazinwales » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:57 pm

DPP was already written and demo'd with Marco's vox even before Anette was chosen.
Both her NW albums were pretty good, it's live where she was found wanting, with the old Tarja era material really not suited to her range.
It was almost as if Tuomas deliberately went for a direct opposite to Tarja style rather than go for a Tarja clone.
As SEK said, I really hope the extended break brings NW with some fresh ideas and make a killer album.

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Re: Best of 2017 - Mandatory Posting

Postby Hearing Aid Man » Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:19 pm

Biggest disappointment - Soul Secret "Babel" sounds like Michael Buble playing lounge music with a djenty guitarist. Soul Secret was a chore to listen to twice, let alone ever revisit.


Completely disagree on this one as it actually was by far my #1 CD of 2017 and nothing even came close. Of course I'm a fanboy. Soul Secret -4 might be a desert island CD for me. While it didn't strike me like 4 it was definitely a solid follow up. I did find 2017 about as disappointing of year as I can ever remember for new music. I couldn't even think of enough CD's to make a top 5. I guess Anubis Gate would be my #2 and Odd Logic & Tetrafusion & Prospekt caught my interest some. I'm guessing more agree with you since I haven't really noticed Babel on anyone's lists. Oh well I sure love it!


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