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The Best of 2002!

Musically, 2002 didn't suck. :) I actually spent more time, money, and energy working on filling in classic holes in my collection as opposed to new material, so it may seem like the field to choose from in each category is a bit sparse. Oh well. :) 3 categories this year: live, metal, and AOR/hard rock.

Live Discs

The Field:

Cradle of Filth - Live Bait for the Dead. Abbracadaver (UK).
Kansas - Device-Voice-Drum. Compendia Music Group.
Lillian Axe - Live 2002. Red and Gold International.
Axel Rudi Pell - Knights Live. Steamhammer/SPV.
Sonata Artica - Songs of Silence (Live in Tokyo). Pony Canyon (Korea)
Thrills - Live from My Father's Place. Rewind

The Winners:

cover Kansas - Device-Voice-Drum. Campomedia Music Group. This 2-CD live album brings out the best that Kansas has to offer. The sound quality is excellent, and the performances are energetic. Yes, Walsh's voice shows its age, but this is still damned good stuff.


cover Sonata Artica - Songs of Silence (Live in Tokyo). Pony Canyon (Korea). Sonata Artica pumps out an excellent blend of melodic power metal; very rich and layered, very harmonic. All of their material translates extreemely well live. If you can, find the version that has the 3-track bonus 2nd disc (the European version does not).

Heavy Metal

The Field:

All Too Human - Entropy. RR Records
Angel Dust - Of Human Bondage. Century Media
Archetype - Dawning. Self-released
Dream Evil - Dragon Slayer. Century Media
Falconer - Chapters From a Vale Forlorn. Metal Blade
Fear Factory - Concrete. Roadrunner
Firewind - Between Heaven and Hell. Leviathan
Flowing Tears - Serpentine. Century Media The Forsaken - Arts of Desolation. Century Media
Freedom Call - Eternity. Steamhammer/SPV
Halford - Crucible. Metal-Is Records
In Flames - Reroute to Remain. Nuclear Blast
Iron Savior - Condition Red. Noise Records
Kotipelto - Waiting for the Dawn. Century Media
Limbonic Art - The Ultimate Death Worship. Candlelight USA
Manowar - Warriors of the World. Metal Blade
Metalium - Hero Nation Chapter Three. Massacre Records
Mob Rules - Hallowed Be Thy Name. Steamhammer/SPV
Onward - Reawaken. Century Media
Opeth - Deliverance. Koch/Music for Nations
Rage - Unity. Steamhammer/SPV
Rhapsody - Power of the Dragon Flame. LMP
Saxon - Heavy Metal Thunder. Steamhammer/SPV
Sentenced - The Cold White Light. Century Media
Seven Witches - Xiled to Infinity and One. Noise Records
Sirenia - At Sixes and Sevens. Napalm Records
Star One - Space Metal. InsideOut Music
Steel Prophet - Unseen. Nuclear Blast
Symphony X - The Odyssey. Steamhammer/SPV
Threshold - Critical Mass. InsideOut America
Thunderstone - Thunderstone. Nuclear Blast
Luca Turilli - Demonheart. LMP
Luca Turilli - Prophet of the Last Eclipse. LMP
Vanden Plas - Beyond Daylight. InsideOut
Various Artists - The Keepers of Jericho II. Arise
Virgin Steele - The Book of Burning. Noise Records

Honorable Mention:

Rhapsody - Power of the Dragon Flame for once again providing gorgeous packaging. I would have liked to see some live footage flesh out the DVD somewhat, but it was cool to see their videos... <BEAVIS>hot goth chicks..hehe hehe</BEAVIS>.

The Winners:

Third Place

cover Threshold - Critical Mass. InsideOut America. Yet another stellar release from this prog rock/metal act. Very harmonic choruses; unlike most prog, this never grows old.

Second Place

cover Sirenia - At Sixes and Sevens. Napalm Records. Wonderful gothic metal from the brains behind Tristania. Ethereal female vocals counterpointed by death vocals, all set against a symphonic metal backdrop.

2002 Heavy Metal Album of the Year

cover Angel Dust - Of Human Bondage. Century Media. Their best yet; phenomenal modern heavy metal, a blend of Savatage and Nevermore. Heavy, intense, melodic, all the elements are here.

AOR/Hard Rock

The Field:

Airless - Airless. Vinny Records
Aquila - Say Yeah. Starlight Publishing
Arc Angel - Tamorok. Oxford Circus
Atello - Welcome to the Wrecking Ball. Self-Released
Mark Boals - Edge of the World. Frontiers
Bon Jovi - Bounce. Island Records
Boston - Corporate America. Artemis Records
Chain Link Faith - Chain Link Faith. Full Well Records
Dark Sky - Edge of Time. Good Life Music
Def Leppard - X. Island Records
Dio - Killing the Dragon. Spitfire Records
Doro - Fight. Steamhammer/SPV
Fire Alley - Fire Alley. Self-Released
Robert Fleischman - World in Your Eyes. Frontiers
Fury - Fury. Escape Music
Great White - Recover. DeadLine Records
Hardline - II. Frontiers
Ice Blue - Ice Blue. Vinny Records
Impellitteri - System X. Steamhammer/SPV
Innuendo - Raining in Mexico. XLR8 Records
Jaded Heart - The Journey Will Never End. MTM Records
Journey - Red 13. Frontiers
Lana Lane - Project Shangri-La. LMP Records
Yngwie Malmsteen - Attack!. Steamhammer/SPV
Benny Mardones - A Journey Through Time. Crazy Boy Records
Eric Martin - I'm Goin' Sane. Frontiers
Axel Rudi Pell - Shadow Zone. Steamhammer/SPV
Pretty Maids - Planet Panic. Massacre Records
Royal Hunt - The Watchers. Century Media
Soldier - The Definitive Collection 1985-89. Millenium Eight
Soul Doctor - Systems Go Wild! Point Music
Total Stranger - Obsession. Escape Music
Vicious Mary - Vicious Mary. Frontiers
W.A.S.P. - Dying for the World. Metal-Is Records
Butch Walker - Left of Self-Centered. Arista

The Winners:

Fourth Place

cover Def Leppard - X. Island Records. Excellent comeback album. Quite a few people complained that it was too light, but I enjoyed it just fine. The best mix/production of any Leppard album yet, and the trademark harmonies are still there in spades.

Third Place

cover Arc Angel - Tamorok. Oxford Circus. The 1983 self-titled Arcangel album is considered quintessential AOR by most people. This 2002 album contains remastered and rerecorded material from that album, Jeff Cannata's two solo albums, and new material. Lush production and incredible melodies. No self-respecting AOR fan should be without this album.

Second Place

cover Dark Sky - Edge of Time. Good Life Music. I really enjoyed their debut, and thought it would be nearly impossible to top, but they surprised me and released a sophomore effort that knocked my socks off. Crunchier and more robust, no fillers, great production, and hooks and harmonies everywhere you look! (a good enough CD that there almost was a tie for album of the year).

2002 AOR/Hard Rock Album of the Year

cover Jaded Heart - The Journey Will Never End. MTM Records. This one came out of left field and knocked me over. Clearly the best album in their discography. Very strong harmonies and hooks galore. Strong album from start to end. Their cover of "Larger Than Life" absolutely rocks.

Existing comments about Best of 2002

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 8, 2014 at 13:13
Shadows Fall: The Art Of Balance; L.A. Guns: Waking The Dead; Arch Enemy: Wages Of Sin; Symphony X: The Odyssey; Sixty Watt Shaman: Reason To Live; Nashville Pussy: Say Something Nasty; Black Label Society: 1919 Eternal; Brand New Sin: s/t; Nile: In Their Darkened Shrines; Opeth: Deliverance.

Heavy Harmonies Volunteer
From: whiplash1972 Date: February 6, 2017 at 15:35
My top 5 for 2002 was: Dokken - Long Way Home, Def Leppard - X, AdrianGale - Reprogram, Vicious Mary - S/T, Westworld - Cyberdreams with honorable mentions going to: Bon Jovi - Bounce, Dio - Killing the Dragon, Iced Earth - Tribute To The Gods, Meniketti - S/T, Paul Shortino's The Cutt - Sacred Place, and Twenty 4 Seven - Destination Everywhere

From: Scandiman Date: February 7, 2018 at 15:38
A bit late but here was my top releases of 2002. Threshold - Critical Mass, Shy - Unfinished Business, Street Talk - Restoration, Silence - Utopia, Harem Scarem - Weight of the World. Honorable mentions: 91 Suite, Final Frontier, Def Leppard, 101 South, and Arc Angel.

From: MetalllianStallion Date: February 15, 2018 at 1:52
@Scandiman, you just reminded me of my back taxes. Where's the link for your best of 1989-1999?

From: Auslander Date: February 3, 2020 at 4:56
Underrated CD from 2002: Disc-connected by Loud & Clear

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