After Five Years Of Metal: My Top 20 Favorite Albums

The end of 2013 marks the end of the fifth year of my journey into metal. I had listened to a select few songs prior to that, but around five years ago, I started to delve into the genre and I've discovered a lot of great music as a result. Much of my success I owe to Metalstorm for providing such an excellent platform. I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who keeps this site running. I mostly enjoy the more melodic genres of metal, so don't expect a lot of extreme stuff. Also, please keep in mind that the following list is not a list of what I consider to be the best metal albums of all time or anything like it. It is simply a collection or a countdown of the albums that I have enjoyed the most during my journey so far.

Created by: ZGoten | 10.12.2013

1. Kamelot - The Black Halo
Never before have I had a favorite band for as long as this, but ever since I discovered 'The Human Stain' on a Devil May Cry combo video, Kamelot have just continued to move me emotionally in so many different ways. They are epic, catchy, melancholic, evil, uplifiting, philosophical, beautiful, classy and so much more. Just like with Rush, this album actually serves as a represantative of a number of Kamelot records for this list. 'The Fourth Legacy', 'Karma', 'Epica' and 'Ghost Opera' as well as this album probably constitute one of the finest collections of music that I have listened to in my life. It's a relative young life, to be fair, but I doubt there will ever be another metal band as enjoyable as Kamelot. My personal highlight: Roy Khan's magnificent lyrics.
2. Rush - Hemispheres
It's true that Rush isn't really a metal band at all. However, without Metalstorm, I probably would have never found out about this amazing trio. I had been struggling for a very long time to find the definite progressive rock or metal group, that would suit my personal preferences, and with Rush, I finally found it. There is so much variety, complexity, passion and just honesty in their songs, that you simply have to love them. 'Hemispheres' is the Rush album that I currently enjoy the most, but on this list it's really a represantative of the band's amazing seven album streak from '2112' to 'Grace Under Pressure'. My personal highlight: the whole metaphorical and deconstructional concept of 'The Trees'.
3. Blind Guardian - Imaginations From The Other Side
While Blind Guardian is among my favorite bands, there is something frustrating about their catalog. Every single album that they have ever released has a few legendary tracks, that all power metal fans love and cherish, and that sell entire concerts on their own. But with each record, there are also a number of songs that are "just" good and not necessarily outstanding. Well, this album is the obligatory exception to the rule. There is no better classical power metal record than 'Imaginations From The Other Side'. My personal highlight: 'Mordred's Song'.
4. Crimson Glory - Transcendence
Just like it's a crime that Harrison Ford still hasn't won an Oscar, it is absolutely preposterous, that this 80's jewel isn't on the Top 200 list. Well, it just doesn't have enough votes. I guess there just aren't enough people who know about Crimson Glory, which is a damned shame. This heavy metal record features some of the best tracks of the decade and one of the best metal singers who have ever lived. My personal highlight: Midnight's high-pitched vocals.
5. Immortal - At The Heart of Winter
This album is a masterpiece of thrashy black metal with an atmosphere that is second to none among its kind. You really feel like you're in the coldest place on earth and the fiercest battle of your life while listening to it. I don't have a single gripe with this album. As far as its genre goes and what it wants to achieve, 'At The Heart of Winter' is pretty much perfect. I also love the combination of the harsh black metal sound with fantasy orientated lyrics. My personal higlight: the freezing cold intro to the title track.
6. Nightwish - Once
While many people claim 'Oceanborn' or 'Wishmaster' as their favorite Nightwish record, I prefer the more cinematic and operatic approach of 'Once'. It starts off with a fast-paced arrangement that throws you right into an imaginary fantasy battle of epic proportions. There are also some wonderful slow and emotional moments on there and not one dull one. My personal highlight: 'Ghost Love Score'.
7. Demons And Wizards - Demons And Wizards
What I love about this particular project, is how two great musicians have managed to create a sound that is both different from Blind Guardian and Iced Earth. The album maintains this underlying sense of melancholy throughout all the tracks, that is connected to the overall premise, while still offering a lot of variety. My personal highlight: the finale of 'Fiddler On The Green'.
8. Be'lakor - Of Breath And Bone
Do not ask me, why I like this album as much as I do, I seriously can't tell. When it first came out in 2012, I immediately recognized its quality but didn't think it was for me. Slowly, but steadily, this album just keeps growing on me, to the point where I can listen to it the whole day without it ever getting old. This is just a hunch, but it might be the specific combination of meldoy, aggressiveness, technicality and catchiness, that is just right for my taste. My personal highlight: 'Abeyance'.
9. DragonForce - Inhuman Rampage
Please don't hate me for putting this on the list. I know that there is a lot of dislike for this band out there, and while I can understand where most of it is coming from, I just cannot deny the absolute fun this album is. Yes, it's cheesy as all hell, needlessly and overly complex as well as quite repetitive, but trust me, there are moments in my life, where this is exactly what I need. Ever since I discovered the band in an old World of Warcraft pvp video, this album has been among my favorites. My personal highlight: the nostalgia I feel towards playing WoW while listening to the album.
10. Dark Empire - Distant Tides
'Distant Tides' has got to be one of be the best hidden gems that I have managed to discover thanks to Metalstorm. What makes the sound of the first two albums of the band so great is the rather classical power metal composition in combination with Jens Carlsson's amazing harsh vocals. It makes for a very unique quality, that obviously Persuader comes closest to, but doesn't reach. My personal highlight: 'The Alchemist'.
11. Iron Maiden - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
SSOASS comes as close to perfection as only very, very few albums do. Every song on here is a masterpiece with its own distinct identity, immediately recognizable features and memorable choruses. While most people would probably agree that 'The Number Of The Beast' is the band's magnus opus, I am of the opinion, that this their best piece of work. My personal highlight: pretty much every chorus on the album.
12. Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
Another new album, but a really unique one. Right off the bat, the lyrics to this were a huge plus for me, when I first listened to them. They echo a lot of sentiments and personal views, that I feel should be much more present in society's collective awareness. There are some very powerful moments on here that are both beautiful and sad at the same time. My personal highlight: 'Adora Vivos'.
13. Wintersun - Time I
Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of the overproduction on this particular album and orchestras in general. I can definitely understand the gripes that some people have with 'Time I', but it's almost as if the band tailored the sound of this record just around my personal preferences. It's still a pretty new album, so naturally I haven't had the time to listen to it a lot, but it's growing on me quickly. My personal highlight: the "I am the one who seeks vengeance" line in 'Sons Of Winter And Stars', where "vengeance" sounds like "spreadsheets".
14. Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell
Although I'm not a big fan of Dio's solo work, I absolutely adore this man's voice. He was the perfect fit for Black Sabbath back in the day, that allowed the band to change their style quite significantly and come up with fresh material. Some of 80's metal's best stuff is on this very record. My personal highlight: 'Die Young'.
15. Mastodon - Crack The Skye
Mastodon is not a band that I enjoy a lot in general. However, 'Crack The Skye" feels so completely different from everything else they've done, and I love it. This album is a journey that traps your mind in a weird zen-like state, that doesn't end until all seven tracks have run. You better disable auto-repeat before listening to this, or you may be trapped forever! My personal highlight 'The Last Baron'.
16. Dream Theater - Train of Thought
This may not be the definite Dream Theater album, just because it doesn't really represent the overall style of the band well, but it's still the one that I enjoy the most. It has just the perfect amount of aggressiveness and heaviness, that I miss so desperately on all their other records, and one of the greatest instrumental tracks in history. My personal highlight: 'Stream Of Consciousness'.
17. Nevermore - Dead Heart, In A Dead World
Nevermore is a difficult band for me to like. I really want to, but their focus on these distorded melodies doesn't make it easy. On this particular album, however, I feel that this element isn't present as much, which allows other parts of their music to shine much clearer. You can really feel the pain, that's sometimes conveyed aggressively and sometimes very beautifully. My personal highlight: 'The Heart Collector'.
18. Agalloch - The Mantle
To be honest, the only reason why this album isn't higher on the list is because I still haven't listened to enough Agalloch, yet. I need to be in a certain mood to be able to delve into the sad and lonely tone of the band's music and especially this album. But whenever do, I'm in a different world, it's unbelievable. My personal highlight: 'In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion'.
19. Arch Enemy - Wages Of Sin
Arch Enemy have got to be the kings (and the queen) of the chorus-solo-chorus pattern. Like 'Blood of the Saints', this record is a great adrenaline rush. It's not quite as consistant and has its ups and downs with most of the good stuff in the beginning, but that also means that there are some very impressive standout tracks on this album. My personal highlight: the finale of 'Heart Of Darkness'.
20. Powerwolf - Blood Of The Saints
This album is just pure fun. Nearly every track on here has a killer chorus. It gets old rather quickly, to be frank, but still serves as an amazing adrenaline rush while it lasts. It's a perfect collection of simple but fun power metal hymns. My personal highlight: the beautiful intro to 'Murder At Midnight'.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by ZGoten ]


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Comments: 3   Visited by: 25 users
12.12.2013 - 16:09

Fantastic list, dude. Great words you've chosen to write, great sharing of insight and highlights. What you say about Rush - I've only listened to the 2112 album in full, but indeed, after a few listens my appreciation for the whole thing grew to include it amongst the favourite 50 in my CD collection. Your comments re: the band? That's probably why I consider NY, JTull and early Deep Purple to be my all-time favs. If you're at all into finding obscure-ish things online (say, Youtube, etc) I have to recommend Cathedral from the early 90s, Kingdom of Ends and There in the Shadows (out of America, not England) perhaps similar to #16 (though may suffer the noted DT criticism)
deaththrashdeath/doom/prog ‡ Hail Zoldon!

he's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
12.12.2013 - 16:42
Account deleted
Nice list, definitely some great albums in here (I admit I dislike a few).
12.12.2013 - 17:56
Au Pays Natal
Nice work man, I love the little write-ups for each album.

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