I'm running a couple of weeks late on my roundup for the first six months of the year. In these days, of course, that's not the only thing I'm running late on. At any rate, here's a look at my top 10 so far:
1. Heaven and Hell, "The Devil You Know." I'll be very surprised if anything unseats this in the next six months. It's the band's best work since "Heaven and Hell."
2. Alestorm, "Black Sails at Midnight." Just as much fun as the band's debut record and better musically.
3. Amorphis, "Skyforger." This one's fairly fresh, but I think it's their best since "Elegy." It hasn't left my CD player in weeks.
4. Lazarus A.D., "The Onslaught." This is one of the best records that I've heard from the new thrash movement. There's an energy that's lacking in many of the others in the genre.
5. Lacuna Coil, "Shallow Life." It's probably their most poppy record to date, but I like it.
6. God Forbid, "Earthsblood." Another solid outing from one of the most underrated bands out there.
7. Lamb of God, "Wrath." An early favorite for album of the year in my book, this one has slipped down the list. Still a really good record, though.
8. Luna Mortis, "The Absence." The blend of power, progressive and melodic death is interesting and very catchy.
9. Candlemass, "Death Magic Doom." A solid addition to the Candlemass catalog. Robert Lowe continues to impress on vocals.
10. Spheric Universe Experience, "Unreal." Nothing fancy here, but some very well-played prog metal.
Album I'm reserving judgment on for now:
Dream Theater, "Black Clouds and Silver Linings." I wrote a quick, negative review of their last record and ended up liking it after more listens. I'm going to give it some more time before reviewing it.
Disappointments so far:
Queensryche, "American Soldier." At this point, I don't know if I can call a Queensryche album a disappointment since my expectations are low. Still, it was a good concept, and I'd hoped for a better record.
Tim Owens, "Play My Game." (review coming soon) Fairly solid musical outing brought down by weak lyrics and a lack of hooks. Not a horrible record, but not what I was hoping for.
What I'm looking forward to:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, "Night Castle." Years in the coming, the most recent update was that it should arrive in October. We'll see.
Anthrax, "Worship Music." I'm a fan of John Bush, and I thought "We've Come For You All" ranked among the band's best. They'll have to really impress me with new singer Dan Morgan.
Megadeth, "Endgame." I like what I hear from "Head Crusher" and hope Mustaine and Co. continue the momentum from "United Abominations."
Slayer, "World Painted Blood." It's Slayer, what else is there to say?
Machines of Grace, "Machines of Grace." As a Savatage fan, I've got to check out this project of Zachary Stevens and Jeff Plate. Look for a review soon.
We could also possibly see new records from Ozzy (hope it's better than the last one) and Black Label Society before the year is up.