The list author says: "Hi friends! 2010 started rather unimpressively, but picked up momentum during the summer and steamrolled its way through December. There especially seemed to be a bumper crop of promising new bands, with a stronger showing than usual from Canada, the US and UK.
For your listening consideration, here is a list of my favorites from 2010, loosely grouped by sub-genre starting with the symphonic releases and ending with the extreme metal styles. My top picks for 2010:
- My Ruin, "Ghosts and Good Stories" (extreme metal) - Seven Kingdoms, "Seven Kingdoms" (power metal) - Triosphere, "The Road Less Travelled" (power metal) - Winter in Eden, "Awakening" (melodic metal) - AnsoticcA, "Rise" (symphonic metal)
If you don't mind travelling back in time to *gasp* 2008 and 2009, you might also discover some cool new bands on my incredibly-obvious-but-accurately-named ListMania "favorite female fronted metal & rock albums (2008 & 2009 releases)"
Hope you find some new bands that suit your ears. If you have or want other recommendations, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org -- Happy listening! Robin
P.S.: Come by and visit us at Sonic Cathedral webzine for new reviews and interviews (www.soniccathedral.com). \m/"
"The jaw-droppingly beautiful debut by UK newcomers, Winter in Eden. Vicky Johnson's mid-range voice is particularly fine on the symphonic tracks, but still packs an emotional wallop on the up-tempo and proggier numbers. Thematically, the album is almost unrelentingly grim … war, death, loss, betrayal … but ends on a surprisingly hopeful note. (UK, released 5/2010)"
"Samandriel’s debut EP is not your typical string-heavy symphonic album -- having little in the way of violins and cellos -- instead it the music is more driven by guitars and drums, with some mighty nice keyboard passages and quirky time signatures. Doneka Reid’s classic soprano training shines through, as her voice flexes up and down the scale with seeming ease. (Canada, released 9/2010)"
"The debut album by Diabulus in Musica is on many reviewers “Best of 2010” lists for good reason. Zuberoa Aznárez has an impressive range, with a voice that holds its warmth even on the highest notes. Throw in a second soprano, a bit of growling, a selection of guest performers from Spain’s classical music scene, and it makes for a satisfying combination. (Spain, released 5/2010)"
"Tarja Turunen arguably has one of the finest soprano voices in metal. I almost didn't pick up this album because, in my view, her previous album was an abomination of poor songwriting. She turned the tide with her sophomore release and is once again in top form, with a little help from guest artists like Phil Lebonte (All that Remains), Joe Satriani and van Canto. (Finland, released 9/2010)"
"The full-length debut by Dutch symphonic band, Magion, delivers the entire package -- Myrthe van Beest’s voice shifts effortlessly from mid-range to operatic (but tends to stay at the higher range), with superb composition and musicianship. The lovely CD booklet with artwork on every page make this an album to buy in CD format. (Holland, released 2/2010)"
"Given the small number of female-fronted bands that tour in the US, it’s always a pleasure to discover home-grown symphonic metal bands. First up is Avariel, a Boston quintet that combines American melodic metal and European symphonic metal sensibilities. The band’s full-length debut is an ambitious mix of aggression and orchestration. (US, released 12/2010)"
"Next up is Angelical Tears, fronted by Russian-born vocalist Julia Flansburg, which combines haunting vocals with keyboards and crunching guitars for a hybrid Yankee-Euro symphonic gothic sound. (US, released 8/2010)"
"Here's an album I reach for when the mood strikes to just let the music swirl around me. Not understanding the Spanish lyrics doesn’t detract from the beauty of Christine’s delicate soprano and occasional spoken-word segments floating over gentle piano and quivering string passages. There is some riffing, but the album is primarily a moody, tranquil affair. (Spain, released 4/2010)"
"AnsotticA’s debut "Rise" is a guitar-centered album that is occasionally softened by keyboard and violin passages. On balance, however, the sound is unusually heavy with crashing guitars. The highlight of "Rise" is Carie van Heden’s caressing voice that is capable of hitting ear-piercing notes, but blessedly stays in the mid-range for most of the album. (Germany/Holland, released 11/2010)"
"Fans of symphonic power metal band, Edenbridge, either love or hate their seventh album. For me, it falls somewhere in the middle. Sabine Edelsbacher’s voice is a pure and lovely as ever, and the album is lushly orchestrated. However, Solitaire does not lend itself to memorable singles, which is why I tend to play it as background music. (Austria, released 7/2010)"
"A brief but tasty blend of brooding symphonic and power metal, with a touch of electronica and an unexpected bagpipe solo. Cheryl's voice is clear and lilting, but can get sharp on the higher notes. Altogether a promising debut. Favorite tracks: Alfirin Alagos, Doom Reveil (Italy, released 3/2010)"
"The second album by power metallers Seven Kingdoms is a galloping album that keeps up a relentless pace from start to finish, with the exception of a lovely piano ballad midway through. Sabrina Valentine has a slightly throaty, mid-range voice fit for a Valkyrie. 7K's style is in the vein of Blind Guardian, for whom 7K opened during their North American tour. (US, released 7/2010)"
"Ida Haukland, vocalist for the power metal band Triosphere, has a MASSIVE rock-metal voice. No elves or fairies or dragons inhabit this album ... just full-throttle metal with some glorious double-guitar riffing. The lyrics won't lower your IQ either. (Norway, released 6/2010)"
"The debut by N.Y. power metal band, HolyHell, has FINALLY been released domestically. Maria Breon has a muscular voice that evokes Sarah Brightman (if she wore leather pants and drank human blood), and guitarist Joe Stump is a master shredder. Some folks may find the Paradise Lost theme a bit overdone, but it suited me just fine. (US, released 6/2010)"
"Here's an album that will make you want to grab a sword and jump around like an idiot. Pure power metal ŕ la Rhapsody (of Fire) with the big, warm voice of Sara Squadrani telling Part 1 of the Black Crystal Sword Saga. The lyrics and story guide are available from the band's website, which I recommend downloading because Sara’s accent leads to some “huh?” moments. (Italy, released 4/2010)"
"If you're in the mood for barbaric growls overlaid by operatic vocals (Leeni-Maria Hovila), this is an album for you. The sophomore album by Finnish extreme fantasy metal band, Kivimetsän Druidi, continues the fantasy-inspired theme of their debut album, but with a harder, more aggressive sound. (Finland, released 5/2010)"
"Mandrake’s fifth album is a strange beastie that may take some getting used to. The guitars shift from a low-tuned and liquid (Cowboy Junkies, anyone?) to typical metal riffing. The vocals have a similarly schizophrenic rift, with Birgit Lau’s girlish voice (which would sound at home in a Celtic or folk band) playing against Lutz de Putter’s growls. (Germany, released 6/2010)"
"Fans of melodic metal band, Magica, can expect top-notch production values on their fifth album, with Ana Mladinovici’s vocals and each instrument standing out clearly. Instead of the mythical themes presented of previous albums, “Dark Diary” tells the story of a teenage lost in her struggle with a ruthless society. (Romania, released 5/2010)"
"This little gem from melodic metal/rock band, Elysion, is a great listen from start to finish. One of the most infectious releases I've heard in the last year. The melodies are fairly simple, with a few touches of electronica. Christianna's mid-range voice, which alternates between powerful and tender, basically carries the album. (Greece, released 1/2010)"
"The debut by symphonic/gothic rock band, The Murder of My Sweet, has a decidedly film noir vibe to it. Angelica Rylin's big mid-range voice will keep your ears entertained throughout the 13 melodic, up-tempo tracks. (Sweden, released 1/2010)"
"If you're looking for an album on the melodic rock end of the spectrum, the duet album between Amanda Somerville (best known for her work with Epica and Avantasia) and Michael Kiske (Helloween) is an excellent choice. Both have clear, powerful voices that play off each other beautifully. (US/Germany, released 9/2010)"
"A perfectly lovely album from ethereal rock band, Dyonisis. What stands out most is the interplay between Nel Cave's folk-oriented voice and Louisa Welsby's operatic voice -- sometimes the voices intertwine, sometimes they take separate narrative paths, and sometimes follow a more typical lead and chorus approach. (UK, released 6/2010)"
"The five-song debut EP by Canadian melodic rock band, Modified. Tricia Stanley has a mid-range voice that shifts from sweet to sultry to aggressive. The songs are catchy and have great radio appeal. (Canada, released 3/2010)"
"There's no getting around the fact that American goth rock band, We Are The Fallen, sounds a whole lot like Evanescence on some tracks. Still, the band is more than an EV clone and experiments with different styles while never venturing far beyond the mainstream. (US, released 5/2010)"
"This album is an energetic one that I pull out when grumping off to work on Monday morning. Grog Rox's voice reminds me of Siouxsie (always a favorite), and the music is lean and stripped down. (UK/US, released 6/7/2010)"
"Once upon a time in a land far away (the UK, actually), a fire-eating dominatrix married Cradle of Filth's drummer. After a long night of Jack Daniels and cheese toasties, they formed a gritty punk band so the local serfs would buy them drinks after gigs. Good plan. The end. (UK, released 1/22/2010)"
"If I were making a horror movie that would make you sleep with the lights on for a week, the debut album by the dark goth band, Dimlight, would be the soundtrack. Beautiful and menacing and frankly creepy. (Greece, released 11/3/2009)"
"Here's an interesting industrial/electronic/metal band with both male and female vocals, although female vocals predominate. Charlotte Kelli has a smooth melodic voice in "clean" mode, but also does the guttural howling on the album. I rather like the switch-up of hearing a guy singing only in "clean" voice, while the woman gets the growling bits. (US, released 7/2010)"
"My Ruin's sixth album is the aural equivalent of being whacked upside the head with a slapjack ... it's black, brutal and may make your ears ring for a few hours after the assault ends. My dogs find Tairrie B's screaming to be more terrifying than the vacuum cleaner, and hide behind the couch when the album comes on. (US, released 8/2010)"
"Screamy goodness from LA metalcore band, In This Moment. Maria Brink and her mates have returned to the harder sound of their debut album, with a few ballads to let your ears rest before her soul-eating screams resume. The album is loosely a concept album that chronicles the push and pull of starcrossed lovers in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. (US, released 7/2010)"