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The Best of 2004!

I'll be honest: I slacked off in 2004 and haven't listened to as wide a variety of new music as I have in years past. I guess I've been going retro as of late. Instead of having separate categories for Hard Rock and Metal, I'm combining them this year.

The Field:

7th Heaven - Sampler - Vol. 1. Self-Released
AK-47 - Damage Limitation (demo EP). Self-Released
Sam Alex - Pieces. Sky Productions (Germany)
Angra - Temple of Shadows (CD + DVD). Atrheia Records (Italy)
Annica - Badly Dreaming + 5. MTM Classix (originally released in 1986)
Asia - Silent Nation (Ltd. Edition, CD + DVD). InsideOut/SPV
Axxis - Time Machine. AFM Records (Germany)
Black Jacks - American Independents: Complete Recordings 1984-1989. Retrospect Records
Blind Date - Blind Date. Perris Records
Bon Jovi - 100,000,000 Fans Can't Be Wrong (Box Set). Island Records
Boned - Up at the Crack. Perris Records
Boogie Stuff - Have Mercy! Sky Studio (Germany)
Broken Teeth - Blood on the Radio. Perris Records
Cacumen - Bad Widow + 2. LZ Records (Germany) (Originally released in 1983)
Cacumen - Cacumen + 3. LZ Records (Germany) (Originally released in 1982)
Cacumen - Down to Hell + 2. LZ Records (Germany) (Originally released in 1984)
Chastain - In an Outrage. Leviathan Records
Chastain - The 7th of Never/The Voice of the Cult. Leviathan Records (Originally released in 1987 and 1988)
The Creek - The Creek/Storm the Gate. Escape Music (United Kingdom)
Crossfade - White on Blue. MTM Music
Dare - Beneath the Shining Water. MTM Music (Germany)
Dimmu Borgir - Death Cult Armageddon (CD + DVD). Nuclear Blast
Eclipse - Second to None. Frontiers (Italy)
Edge of Forever - Feeding the Fire. MTM Music
Edguy - Hellfire Club. Nuclear Blast
Enuff Z'Nuff - ?. Perris Records
Exodus - Tempo of the Damned. Nuclear Blast
Grand Illusion - Ordinary Just Won't Do. Escape Music (UK)
House of Shakira - First Class. Lion Music
Human Temple - Insomnia. MTM Music
Iced Earth - The Blessed and the Damned. Century Media
Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden (Ltd. Edition). Steamhammer/SPV
Jaded Heart - Trust. Ulftone Music (Germany)
Judas Priest - Metalogy (Boxed Set). Legacy
Kick Axe - IV. MTM Music
Krokus - Fire and Gasoline Live! (2CD + DVD). Warner Music (Switzerland)
The Last Act - No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. TLA Holdings
Richard Marx - My Own Best Enemy. EMI-Manhattan
Miles Beyond - Miles Beyond. Rock Revolution Records
OK Panic - Deafinition. Retrospect Records
Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome. Steamhammer/SPV
Praying Mantis - The Best of Praying Mantis. Frontiers (Italy)
Pulse - Worlds Apart. MTM Music
Queen - Greatest Hits (CD + DVD Best Buy Edition). Hollywood Records
R.A.W - First. MTM Classix
Renegade - On the Edge. Self-Released
Rhapsody - Symphony of Enchanted Lands II. Steamhammer/SPV
Rhapsody - Tales from the Emerald Sword Saga (Ltd. Boxed Edition). LMP (Germany)
Rhapsody - The Dark secret (CD + DVD Ltd. Edition). SPV (Germany)
The Ring - Tales from Midgard. Scarlet Records (Italy)
Samael - Reign of Light. Regain/Galactical Records
Scorpions - Unbreakable. Sanctuary Records
Seventh Key - The Raging Fire. Frontiers (Italy)
Shadow's Fall - The War Within (CD + DVD). Century Media
Stephen Shaw - Good Times. Retrospect Records. Originally recorded in 1985
Shylock - Welcome to Illusion. MTM Music
Silver - Intruder. AOR Heaven/Point Music
Sirenia - An Elixir for Existence. Napalm Records (EU)
Jeff Scott Soto - Lost in the Translation. Frontiers (Italy)
Stormwind - Legacy. Massacre Records (Germany)
Street Talk - Destination. MTM Music
TNT - New Religion. MTM Music
The Sins of Thy Beloved - Live. Napalm/Scarecrow Records
Threshold - Replica. NSM Records
Threshold - Subsurface + 1. InsideOut Music
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Lost Christmas Eve. Lava Records
Tribute - AC/DC - We Salute You (CD + DVD). Rufftown Entertainment
Underride - Necessary Evil. Self-Released
W.A.S.P. - The Neon God: Part 1 - The Rise. Sanctuary Records
W.A.S.P. - The Neon God: Part 2 - The Demise. Sanctuary Records
Wicked Sensation - Exceptional. MTM Music
Within Temptation - The Silent Force + 2. Gun Records (EU)

Honorable Mentions:

Cacumen Reissues on LZ Records. Absolute must-haves for any Bonfire fan. Kudos to LZ for making these available on CD for the first time.

W.A.S.P. - The Neon God, Parts I and II. I thought that the first half of this 2-cd release was absolutely stellar, harkening back to my favorite W.A.S.P. effort, Crimson Idol. Unfortunately, Part II didn't maintain the magic. Otherwise, this set would have featured prominantly in this year's winner list.

7th Heaven - Sampler, Vol. 1. If you haven't heard the band 7th Heaven (www.7thheavenband.com), you need to. This independent band tours constantly, performing several hundred dates a year all over the midwest, doing everything from '80s covers to their host of original material. Their 2003 2-CD release "Silver" is a phenomenal blend of material ranging from pop/AOR to heavy modern hard rock, and both the performances and production are top notch. This CD contains their 20+ minute long medley of 80s hard rock songs,containing hits from Bon Jovi, Rush, Loverboy, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Scorpions, Whitesnake, Metallica, Guns N Roses, Ozzy, Van Halen, Twisted Sister, Poison, Black Sabbath, Night Ranger, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. The CD also contains 8 other complete covers from Phil Collins, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, The Police, Sting, Enrique Eglesis, and Dead or Alive.

Bon Jovi - 100,000,000 Fans Can't Be Wrong (Box Set). Finally! A box set that isn't just a re-packaged greatest hits set. The vast majority of tracks in this box are unreleased or alternate version songs (demos, acoustic, live, etc). There have been complaints about the emphasis on latter-era Bon Jovi rather than early material, but hey, there may be another box set coming! (one can hope). For what it is, this is very antertaining material and well worth picking up.

The Winners:

Sixth Place

cover Exodus - Tempo of the Damned. Nuclear Blast Records. Excellent comeback album that has stellar production. Good crunchy classic thrash metal.

Fifth Place

cover Dare - Beneath the Shining Water. MTM Music. A lot of people slagged on this for being too light, but I heartily enjoy all of Dare's material, and especially this new one. Light? Yes, but very lush and extremely melodic. A great "kick back and chill" album for the end of a long day/week/month/year.

Fourth Place

cover Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden. SPV. With Matt Barlow departing the band, there was a big question as to whether any replacement could possibly measure up. Enter Tim "Ripper" Owens, formerly of Judas Priest. Wow! What a "Glorious" album after the lacklustre Horror Show. True traditional heavy metal in every sense. The epic Gettysburg trilogy on disc 2 is a phenomenal work in and of itself.

Third Place

cover TNT - My Religion. MTM Music. The best traditional AOR/Hard Rock release of 2004! If you were disappointed by Firefly and/or Transistor, never fear! This is a solid vintage 80s melodic hard rock album through and through, with excellent choruses throughout.

Second Place

cover Threshold - Subsurface + 1. InsideOut Music. Threshold is about the only true prog band I listen to. Their choruses and melodies are beyond compare, along with the lush production. 2001's Hypothetical had been my favorite album of theirs, but this album has surpassed it in terms of across-the-board consistency. Also released this year, checkout the fanclub release Replica, which as 2 previously unreleased tracks as well as acoustic/remix/alternate versions of several classic Threshold tracks.

Heavy Harmonies/Brutal Metal 2004 CD of the Year!

cover Within Temptation - The Silent Force + 2. Gun Music (EU). Wow! I'll say it again: Wow! As much as I loved Mother Earth, this album is at a whole different level, a much more consistent relase, and more polished. From start to end, there is not a single filler on the album. The ethereal beauty of Sharon den Adel's vocals and the lush orchestration are pure magic! (it doesn't hurt that she's a hottie as well). I've read some people making the comparison to Evanescence, but there is no comparison. Evenescence is a poor-quality imitation that doesn't even come close. If you can find the limited edition with the 2 bonus tracks it is well worth picking up over the regular release. As far as I know, Gun Records has no major distribution deal in the U.S., so you'll most likely have to find it via Ebay, TheEndRecords.Com, or DarkSymphonies.Com. The replay factor on this is extremely high. Beyond expectations!!!

If you want a taste, I have 3 tracks from this album in the current Heavy Harmonies Radio playlist)

Existing comments about Best of 2004

Heavy Harmonies Volunteer
From: whiplash1972 Date: February 7, 2014 at 23:40
My five favorite release from 2004 (in no particular order) were: Dokken - Hell To Pay, Mennen - Freakazoid, Jaded Heart -Trust, Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome and Tesla - Into The Now. Honorable mentions to: Y&T - UnEarthed Vol. 2, Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden, Fastback - The Pain Of Beauty (a little known gem!) and TMG - TMG 1.

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 8, 2014 at 10:21
I remember 2004 being a lot like 2013, in that it was a pretty good year for BrutalMetal music but not so much for HeavyHarmonies. My top five: Exodus, Tempo Of The Damned; Kataklysm, Serenity In Fire; Clutch, Blast Tyrant; Into Eternity, Buried In Oblivion; and Tesla, Into The Now.

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 8, 2014 at 13:06
Dmn! I forgot Shadows Falll, The War Within.

From: Scandiman Date: February 7, 2018 at 15:56
Here is my best of list for 2004: Silence - Nostalgia, Pink Cream 69 - Thunderdome, Seventh Key - The Raging Fire, Within Temptation - The Silent Force, From the Inside - S/T. Honorable mentions: TNT - My Religion, Pride of Lions - The Destiny Stone, Eclipse - Second To None, Asia - Silent Nation, and Second Heat - S/T.

From: Auslander Date: February 3, 2020 at 5:03
Underrated CD from 2004: If it Ain't Broke, Break It! by Starwood

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