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The Best of 2016!

In addition to my top picks for 2016, you can also read the top 5 picks from Mike, Pete, Jez, and Terry. Since we all have different tastes, it makes more sense to see different folks' opinions.

Dan's Picks for the Best of 2016

The Also Rans

0L - Decades
Acacia Avenue - Early Warning
Alberto Rigoni - Bassorama
AOR - L.A. Darkness
Apollo - Waterdevils
Asphalt Horesemen - Brotherhood
Astrakhan - Adrenaline Kiss
Astralion - Outlaw
Avantasia - Ghostlights
Bonfire - Pearls
Brainstorm - Memorial Roots Rerooted
Brainstorm - Scary Creatures
Bridge to Mars - ST
Bryan Cole - Sands of Time
Bulletrain - What You Fear the Most
Captain Blackbeard - It's a Mouthful
Cavo - Bridges
Change of Heart - Last Tiger
Chris Ousey - Dream Machine
Circa - Valley of the Windmill
Circus Maximus - Havoc
Cloudscape - Voice of Reason
Craigh of Dreams - Wishes
Crazy Lixx - Sound of the Live Minority
Crimson Moonlight - Divine Darkness
Crown of Earth - ST
Cruzh - ST
Crystal Ball - Deja Voodoo
Culver Kingz - This Time
Dalit - Descent
Dan Reed Network - Fight Another Day
Danger Angel - All the King's Horses
Danger Zone - Closer to Heaven
Dare - Sacred Ground
Dario Mollos Crossbones - Rock the Cradle
Darkest Sins - The Broken
Darkwell - Moloch
DGM - The Passage
Die Krupps - Live Im Schatten Der Ringe
Dirkschneider - Back to the Roots
Dirty Glory - Mind the Gap
Drive, She Said - Pedal to the Metal
Drunken Rollers - Boogie Generation
Eclipse - Armageddonize Deluxe Edition
Eden's Curse - Cardinal
Elm Street - Knock Em Out With a Metal Fist
Elyria - Reflection and Refraction
Emil Bulls - XX
Enuff Znuff - Clowns Lounge
Epic - Like a Phoenix
Erika - ST
Eternal Idol - The Unrevealed Secret
Evergrey - The Storm Within
Fejd - Trolldom
Flotsam and Jetsam - ST
FM - Indiscreet Rerecorded
Glenn Hughes - Resonate
Graham Bonnet Band - The Book
Hardline - Human Nature
Hardreams - Countdown Time
Hartmann - Shadows and Silhouettes
Hatesphere - New Hell
Heavy Star - Electric Overdrive
Helix - B Sides
Helix - Back for Another Taste
Helix - Half Alive
Helix - It's a Business Doing Pleasure
Helix - Live in Buffalo
Helix - Rock It Science
Helix - Rockin' in My Outer Space
Hellyeah - Unden!Able
Herman Frank - The Devil Rides Out
Hevidence - Nobodys Fault
High Spirits - Motivator
Hollow Illusion - ST
Human Fortress - Thieves of the Night
Human Zoo - My Own God
I Prevail - Lifelines
Ian Parry's Rock Emporium - Society of Friends
Illdisposed - Grey Sky Over Black Town
Imperia - Tears of Silence
Inglorious - ST
Inishmona - The Lemming Project
Inner Wish - ST
Intuitive - Reset
Iron Mask - Diabolica
Iron Savior - Titancraft
Jaded Heart - Guilty by Design
Jaded Past - Believe
JBO - 11
Jesse Damon - Southern Highway
Jorn - Heavy Rock Radio
July Reign - Here Comes the Flood
Kee Marcello - Scaling Up
King Company - One for the Road
Kryptos - Burn Up the Night
LETZTE INSTANZ - Liebe im Krieg
Life's December - Colder
Lizhard - Bigger Better Stronger
Lonewolf - The Heathen Dawn
Lordi - Monstereophonic
Lords of Black - II
LoReLey - Here We Are Again
Mad Margritt - Love Hate and Deception
Magnum - Sacred Blood 'Divine' Lies
MarysCreek - Infinity
Mecca - III
Megadeth - Dystopia (Deluxe)
Midnight Eternal - ST
Mob Rules - Tales From Beyond (Deluxe)
My Dear Addiction - Kill the Silence
Mystic Prophecy - War Brigade
Narnia - ST
Night Ranger - 35 Years and a Night in Chicago
Onslaught - Live at the Slaughterhouse
Operation Mindcrime - Resurrection
Orden Ogan - The Book of Ogan
Outlasted - Into the Night
Overland - Contagious
P J Farley - Boutique Sound Frames
Paradox - Pangea
Paris - The World Outside
Phantom 5 - ST
Pretty Maids - Kingmaker
Punky Meadows - Fallen Angel
Q5 - New World Order
Ravenia - Beyond the Walls of Death
Reckless Love - InVader
Redemption - The Art Of Loss LE
Resurrection Kings - ST
Rhapsody of Fire - Into the Legend
Roadkill - Extinct
Rob Moratti - Transcendent
Robert Pehrssons Humbucker - Long Way to the Light
Royal Hunt - Cargo
Running Wild - Riding the Storm 1983-1995
Rush - 2112 (40th Anniversary Edition)
Savage Master - With Whips and Chains
Scorpion Child - Acid Roulette
Second Rate Angels - II
Secret Sphere - One Night in Tokyo
Serenity - Codex Atlanticus
Serious Black - Mirrorworld
Seventh Wonder - Welcome to Atlanta Live 2014
Shakra - High Noon
Shotgun Justice - State of Desolation
Showbiz - Enjoy the Ride
Simple Plan - Taking One for the Team
Sinbreed - Master Creator
Sixx A.M. - Prayers For The Damned V 1
Skillet - Unleashed
Solution 45 - Nightmares in the Waking State Part II
Soto - Divak (Deluxe)
Srdjan Brankovic's Expedition - Delta 2
Star Chase - The New Day
Stefan Berggren - Stranger in a Strangeland
Stepfather Fred - Dummies Dolls and Masters
Stratovarius - The Very Best Of
Striker - Stand in the Fire
Suidakra - Realms of Odoric
Sunburst - Fragments of Creation
Sunstorm - Edge of Tomorrow
Ted Poley - Beyond the Fade
Terrafyght - Beneath
The Jelly Jam - Profit
The Last Vegas - Eat Me
The New Black - A Monsters Life
The New Roses - Dead Man's Voice
The Phans - ST
The Screaming Jets - Chrome
The Treatment - Generation Me
Thunderbeast - Debauchery & Blood God
Thunderstone - Apocalypse Again
Todtgelichter - Rooms
Tremonti - Dust
Trick or Treat - Rabbits Hill Part 2
Twins Crew - Veni Vidi Vici
Tygers Of Pan Tang - Noises From The Cathouse
Tyketto - Reach
Universal Mind Project - The Jaguar Priest
Vanlade - Wayward Sons Masters of Time V. 1
Vega - Who We Are
Violet Janine - Between Red And Blue
Visionatica - Force Of Luna
Vivaldi Metal Project - The Four Seasons
Volbeat - Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie (Deluxe)
W.A.N.T.E.D. - God's Best Sinners
Wicked Maraya - Lifetime in Hell
Wigelius - Tabula Rasa
Wild Rose - 4
Wings Of Destiny - Kings Of Terror
Withem - The Unforgiving Road
Yngwie Malmsteen - World on Fire

Honorable Mentions

Angels or Kings - Go Ask the Moon. Excellent follow-up to the debut. Vocals somewhat ragged/raspy in a Harem Scarem sort of way, but great harmonies and hooks.

First Signal - One Step Over the Line. Harem Scarem reinvented? It's like HS but with a bit more polish. Solid across the board.

Grand Slam - A New Dawn. This one almost made my top 5. Hardly any discussion about it, but one of the nicest surprises of 2016, even though the songs have trickled out gradually since 2014 and the album was finally released in mid-2016. Great use of keyboards throughout; once again it's the Swedes shining...

Kansas - The Prelude Implicit. This one was actually a surprise to me. The new vocalist is perfect for the material. Classic melodic rock with symphonic prog leanings.

Kissin Dynamite - Generation Goodbye. Another solid release from KD, sitting just outside my top 5. Not quite as memorable as the last though, as far as staying power, which is why it didn't make the cut. Whether you liked them or disliked them before, this won't change your mind either way; just more solid material in their style.

Manimal - Trapped in the Shadows. Judas Priest meets Cage. Very tight production and well executed; one of the top two metal albums for me this year.

Niterain - Vendetta. Nice crunchy sleazy hard rock with excellent production. The gang choruses make you wonder what ever happened to vintage Motley Crue and Crashdiet.

Nordic Union - ST. Scandinavia wins yet again. Pretty Maids meets Eclipse and who can argue with that?

Primal Fear - Rulebreaker. German. Power metal. Polished. Next?

Sick Puppies - Fury. Excellent slice of modern rock and love the vocals.

Shiraz Lane - For Crying Out Loud.... and in contrast with the above, the vocals aren't the strongest point, but musically and the sense of aggression makes this an excellent sleaze release.

The Defiants - ST. Finishing just outside my top 5, this is an impressive hard rock release. Powerful anthemic choruses, great production. Danger Danger for a modern age.

The Radio Sun - Outside Looking In. Great vocal harmonies and songwriting, but a bit samey after a while. If there was a bit more stylistic variety, it might have gotten closer to my top 5.

Theocracy - Ghost Ship. Love the polish and orchestration on this. While power metal at its instrumental core, the vocals are frequently more out of the hard rock genre. Great replay value, my top heavy metal album of 2016.

Dan's Winners

5th Place

cover Cry of Dawn, featuring Goran Edman (Frontiers). While this came out of left field and surprised me as to its quality, it really shouldn't have, given the quality of his efforts historically. Not only are the vocals stellar, but the richness of the orchestration makes this a joy for the ears.

4th Place

cover Seven - Shattered (Escape Music). A sophomore release that is IMO at least on par with the debut, if not better. Part traditional melodic rock and part Westcoast AOR, this is a great treat for the ears. Great production and mix and lush arrangements.

3rd Place

cover Treat - Ghost of Graceland (Frontiers). After we all thought that Treat was done following the epic Coup de Grace from 2010, lo and behold they're back... and hardly skipped a beat musically. While not QUITE at the level of CdG, this is without a doubt a superb album. Powerful, crunchy, and incredibly melodic.

2nd Place

cover Rage of Angels - The Devil's New Tricks (Escape Music). Let's face it: You either love Rob Morotti's vocals or you hate them. I'm in the former camp. I always find his material enjoyable. Some people were turned off by the (comparatively) extreme length of all of the songs on this album, all of them 5 minutes or longer in length. Here's the kicker... unlike many self-indulgent prog albums, the songs on this album don't FEEL long. They fly by, very engaging and enjoyable. I find myself playing this album over and over, more than just about any other album this year, which tells me there's something incredibly engaging about it.

Dan's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2016 CD of the Year

cover Palace - Master of the Universe (Frontiers). What is it with the quality of music the Swedes have been putting out the last several years? They have an absolute stranglehold on the melodic rock scene, IMO. This was another completely unexpected treat that hits all of the '80s - early'90s AOR sweet spots. Great use of keyboards throughout, with a great vintage vibe. While some songs hit the mark right out of the gate (Master of the Universe, Part of Me, Cool Runnin') it's upon repeated listens that the album as a whole really shines. I get the feeling that this album may have gotten lost amongst higher-profile releases with bigger names, but this one is an absolutely essential 2016 release!

Mike's Picks for the Best of 2016

The Also Rans

Anthrax - For All Kings
Autograph - Louder
Black Sabbath - The End
Black Stone Cherry - Kentucky
Blackthorne - Don't Kill the Thrill
Bloodbound - One Night of Blood - Live At Masters of Rock MMXV
Bon Jovi - This House is Not For Sale
Buffalo Summer - Second Sun
Candlebox - Disappearing in Airports
Cold Truth - Grindstone
Crazy Lixx - Sound of the Live Minority
Crossbones - Rock the Cradle
Cruzh - S/T
Cry of Dawn - S/T
Daughtry - It's Not Over... The Hits So Far
Dead Daisies, The - Make Some Noise
Defecto - Excluded
Defiants, The - S/T
Dirkschneider - Live ~ Back to the Roots
Dynazty - Titanic Mass
Eden's Curse - Cardinal
Epic - Like a Phoenix
Extreme - Pornograffitti Live 25
First Signal - One Step Over the Line
Frehley, Ace - Origins Vol. 1
Goo Goo Dolls - Boxes
Hansen & Friends - XXX Three Decades in Metal
Hardline - Human Nature
Headless - Melt the Ice Away
Healey, Jeff - Heal My Soul
Holy Grail - Times of Pride and Peril
Inglorious - Inglorious
Intuitive - Reset
Jaded Heart - Guilty By Design
Judas Priest - Battle Cry
Kix - Can't Stop the Show: The Return of Kix ~ A Documentary
Last In Line - Heavy Crown
Last Vegas, The - Eat Me
Legion - Last Man Standing
Love and a .38 - Nomads
Mad Margritt - Love, Hate and Deception
Maverick - Big Red
Metal Church - XI
Moratti, Rob - Transcendent
Motley Crue - The End ~ Live in Los Angeles
Night Ranger - 35 Years and a Night in Chicago
Operation: Mindcrime - Resurrection
Pell, Axel Rudi - Game Of Sins
Poley, Ted - Beyond the Fade
Pretty Maids - Kingmaker
Redemption - The Art of Loss
Roth Brock Project - S/T
Saliva - Love, Lies & Tragedy
Skarlet - S/T
Snider, Dee - We Are The Ones
Soul Seller - Matter of Faith
Sunstorm - Edge of Tomorrow
Sunstrike - Ready II Strike
Tesla - Mechanical Resonance Live
White Widdow - Silhouette

Honorable Mentions

Angels or Kings - Go Ask the Moon! I picked this one up late in the year, and am glad I did. Top notch British AOR!

Blackberry Smoke - Like An Arrow. It's country and southern rock with a dash of blues thrown in and it's all extremely catchy. Have really gotten into these guys over the last year

Bryan Cole - Sands of Time. MelodicRock Records has given us a real gem here; one of the top 2-3 AOR releases of the year. Check it out immediately if you haven't already!

Cranston - Cranston. Superb hard rock from the power trio of Phil Vincent, Paul Sabu and BF D'ercole; not alot of fanfare surrounding this release, but I think a large portion of Heavy Harmonies regulars would appreciate this one!

Dust Bowl Jokies - Dust Bowl Jokies. Excellent sleazy hard rock from Sweden's Dust Bowl Jokies. "Borderland" and "Bad Juju" are highlights from this great disc!

Enuff Z'nuff - Clowns Lounge. A collection of early demos and rare tracks that have been re-worked into a cohesive release. This is quite a bit better then the last few EZN releases and has received regular spins since its release in early December

Hell In The Club - Shadow Of The Monster. This release served as my introduction to Hell in the Club, and now I am hooked. Excellent hard rock with the title track being my fave

Jace Pawlak - Promise. The best AOR release of the year! After listening to this one, I picked up his 2015 release "Perspective" which is just as good if not better. If you're a fan of excellent AOR/melodic rock, you need to check out Jace's work pronto!

Metallica - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct. Blending the styles of previous releases, this is a much more solid effort than 08's Death Magnetic, and one of the year's better metal releases

Michael Sweet - One Sided War. Another year, another top notch release featuring Michael Sweet. "Radio" is one my favorite songs of '16. Sweet has been hitting on all cylinders for a while now

Nordic Union - Nordic Union. This union between Pretty Maids and Eclipse works quite well and delivers one of the years best albums. The ballad "Every Heartbeat" and melodic metal cut "When Death is Calling" are highlights. This one will be top 5 on many year end lists, and deservedly so!

O'Regan - Polymorphic Tragedy. Another fine hard rock release from the ever prolific Vince O'Regan; this is probably my favorite of everything he's done over the last 5-6 years

Palace - Master of the Universe. A lovely AOR/melodic rock debut from Sweden's Palace; looking forward to hearing more from these youngsters

Phantom 5 - Pantom 5. Strong debut release from German supergroup Phantom 5; solid hard rock from start to finish

Reckless Love - InVader. The band have gone in a much "poppier" direction with this effort, but they do it well

Resurrection Kings - Resurrection Kings. Chas West pops up on another of my favorites from '16; this time fronting the better of the two Dio tributes (in my opinion anyway). "Who Do You Run To" is one of my favorite songs of the year

Sixx A.M. - Prayers For the Blessed/Prayers For the Damned. Sixx AM continue to serve up great modern hard rock with this one-two punch. "Belly of the Beast" and "Wolf at Your Door" are just a couple of highlights from this two disc set

Steven Tyler - We're All Somebody From Somewhere. Like Aerosmith's last album, this release would have benefited from leaving a few fillers out and being a shorter, more concentrated listen, but overall I really enjoyed Steven's solo foray into "country rock".

Tango Down - Bulletproof. The introduction of Chas West on vocals really seems to have energized the band; easily my favorite TD release

Tempt - Runaway. Rock Candy's first ever original release and an outstanding one at that! Excellent melodic hard rock with big, catchy choruses and an overall vibe that harkens back to the 80s. Tracks like "Paralyzed", "Fucked Up Beautiful" and "Under My Skin" make this one a must own!

Mike's Winners

5th Place

cover Rick Springfield - Rocket Science. While many of the rockers from our youth seem to be slipping creatively as they enter their 50s/60s, Rick continues to deliver some of the best work of his career. While not up to the lofty standards of 2012's "Songs For the End of the World", "Rocket Science" still delivers some of the catchiest songs of the year. Yes, some of the instrumentation adds a definite country "flavor" to the tracks, but if you're a fan of RS, I think you'll still enjoy this one. "Down", "Light This Party Up" and "Miss Mayhem" (probably my favorite song of the year) highlight another great release!

4th Place

cover Primal Fear - Rulebreaker. Released early in the year, I've come back to this one over and over during the last eleven months. Superb metal from start to finish with "The End is Near", "The Devil in Me" and the title cut making this one a must own. I'm currently in the process of delving into this fantastic band's back catalog!

3rd Place

cover Human Zoo - My Own God. While I don't feel 2011's "Eyes of the Stranger" lived up to their previous releases, "My Own God" is a triumphant return to form for one of my favorite bands! Human Zoo produce solid, melodic hard rock accenuated by the use of saxophone on many of their tracks, without allowing its use to become overbearing. Great tracks like "Cry Baby Cry", "Love Train" and "My Own Illusion" had me returning to this one over and over throughout the year. If you've never checked these guys out before, I implore you to do so now; you will not be disappointed!

2nd Place

cover Treat - Ghost of Graceland. 2010's "Coup de Grace" topped many "best of" lists for that year, and here we are 6 years later with the follow-up again topping many people's year end write ups. Simply put, this is a superb slice of melodic hard rock. From the opening title track, to "Better The Devil You Know", "Endangered" and the closer "Everything to Everyone" this one rocks from start to finish.

Mike's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2016 CD of the Year

cover Tyketto - Reach. In a word, WOW. 2012's "Dig in Deep" just barely missed my top five that year, and now, the follow-up has completely blown me away. I can honestly say that I enjoy every single track on this album, and that is rare, as even the great releases from the 80s usually had one or two fillers. Brilliant stuff from start to finish with Danny Vaughn shining on vocals throughout. As I've stated, I enjoy the entire album, but the real standout cuts are "Reach", "Circle the Wagons", "Tearing Down the Sky" and "Scream". I've played this one over and over and enjoy it more and more each time. Big props to Tyketto, as albums this good don't come easy. ;-)

Pete's Picks for the Best of 2016

The Also Rans

Adelitas Way - Getaway
Airbourne - Breakin' Outta Hell
Alter Bridge - The Last Hero
Angels or Kings - Go Ask The Moon
The Answer - Solas
Anvil - Anvil is Anvil
Apollo Under Fire - Apollo Under Fire
AOR - L.A. Darkness
Autograph - Louder
Stefan Berggren - Stranger in a Strange Land
Black Stone Cherry - Kentucky
Blackberry Smoke - Like An Arrow
Boneyard Dog - Bluesbound Train
Bonfire - Pearls
Brainstorm - Scary Creatures
Bulletrain - What You Fear The Most
C.O.P. UK - No Place For Heaven
Candlebox - Disappearing In Airports
Circus Maximus - Havoc
Colour Of Noise - Colour Of Noise
Crosson - Spreading The Rock N Roll Disease
Cruzh - Cruzh
Cry of Dawn - Cry of Dawn
Crystal Ball - Deja Voodoo
Damage Limit - Crank
Danger Angel - All the King's Horses
Danger Zone - Closer to Heaven
Dare - Sacred Ground
Darkest Sins - The Broken
Diamond Head - Diamond Head
Dream Theater - The Astonishing
Dust Bowl Jokies - Dust Bowl Jokies
PJ Farley - Boutique Sound Frames
First Signal - One Step Over The Line
Lita Ford - Time Capsule
Ace Frehley - Origins Vol. 1
From the Fire - OctOpus
Gene The Werewolf - The Loner
Graham Bonnet Band - The Book
Hardreams - Countdown Time
Hardline - Human Nature
Hartmann - Shadows and Silhouettes
Heart - Beautiful Broken
Human Fortress - Thieves of the Night
Human Zoo - My Own God
Inglorious - Inglorious
Intuitive - Reset
Jaded Heart - Guilty By Design
Jaded Past - Believe
Jim Jidhed - Push On Through
Kissin' Dynamite - Generation Goodbye
Jorn Lande - Heavy Rock Radio
Last Autumns Dream - Paintings
Last In Line - Heavy Crown
The Last Vegas - Eat Me
Legion - Last Man Standing
Love and a .38 - Nomads
Lynam - Half Way to Hell
Magnum - Sacred Blood Divine Lies
Mitch Malloy - Making Noise
Kee Marcello - Scaling Up
Maryscreek - Infinity
Massive Wagons - Welcome to The World
Punky Meadows - Fallen Angel
Mecca - III
Miss Behaviour - Ghost Play
Mob Rules - Tales From Beyond
Rob Moratti - Transcendent
New Device - Devils On The Run
NiteRain - Vendetta
Niva - Atmospherical
Operation: Mindcrime - Resurrection
Outlasted - Into The Night
Overland - Contagious
Palace - Master of the Universe
Paris - The World Outside
Axel Rudi Pell - Game Of Sins
The Phans - The Phans
Phantom 5 - Phantom 5
Ted Poley - Beyond The Fade
Quireboys - Twisted Love
Rage of Angels - The Devil's New Tricks
Reckless Love - InVader
Resurrection Kings - Resurrection Kings
Rik Emmett and Resolution 9 - Res 9
Robert Pehrsson's Humbucker - Long Way to the Light
Royal Hunt - Cargo
Phil Rudd - Head Job
Scorpion Child - Acid Roulette
Serious Black - Mirrorworld
Seven - Shattered
Shiraz Lane - For Crying Out Loud
Shotgun - Live: Down Decadencia Drive
Showbiz - Enjoy the Ride
Soto - Divak
Stepfather Fred - Dummies, Dolls & Masters
Stone Broken - All In Time
Sunstrike - Ready II Strike
Sweet Mary Jane - Winter in Paradise
Tango Down - Bulletproof
Tempt - Runaway
Ten - Battlefield
Tigertailz - Blast
The Treatment - Generation Me
Tremonti - Dust
Tyketto - Reach
Vivaldi Metal Project - The Four Seasons
White Widdow - Silhouette
Whitford/St. Holmes - Reunion
Wild Rose - 4
Wild Souls - Game of Love

Honorable Mentions

7HY - Stories We Tell. A big step up from the debut, in both songwriting and production, Shawn sounds great vocally on it as well.

Amboaje - All About Living. Super catchy AOR from Spain, well played, well produced, and Toni's got an amazing voice.

Catalano - Dark Skies. Hair metal right out of the 80's with a killer guitar sound and super-catchy choruses.

Change of Heart - Last Tiger. Walking the line between AOR and melodic hard rock, and doing it really well.

Bryan Cole - Sands of Time. Super solid AOR, with lots of guitar, great songs, and Brian's voice is just over the top. Add in songwriting credits from Jim Peterik and Brett Walker, and you've sold me!

Dante Fox - Breathless. For me their best yet, very powerful female fronted AOR/melodic rock.

The Dead Daisies - Make Some Noise. Just a balls out fun rock'n'roll record. I absolutely love Corabi's voice, and adding Aldrich on guitar is a super easy sell for me.

The Defiants - The Defiants. About as close as you're going to get to a new D2 album, this hits all the right points with great playing from Rob Marcello and a killer production from Bruno Ravel.

Drive She Said - Pedal To The Metal. Much harder than I would have expected from these guys, and I like it! Hooks aplenty, and driving songs.

Evergrey - The Storm Within. Proggy yet hook, intelligent metal. When I'm in the mood for it, these guys are on my short list, and this album keeps them there without question.

Faithsedge - Restoration. Giancarlo's best effort yet, great songs, great band members, and an album that walks the line between melodic and heavy.

Hand of Dimes - Raise. Discovered this one late in the year, totally in my wheelhouse. Bluesy hard rock with Nev MacDonald (SKIN) on vocals.

Hell In The Club - Shadow Of The Monster. Something about the way these guys blend sleaze and melodic hooks works for me every time, and this release is no exception.

Glenn Hughes - Resonate. It's Glenn Hughes, the guy's a god, what more can I say about that?

Idora - Wildcat. One of the best self-released albums of the year, mixed by Johnny Lima. Love to see more from these guys as they keep upping their game.

July Reign - Here Comes The Flood. Melodic metal from the mind and fingers of Sheldon Scrivner with Carsten Schulz on vocals, rock solid quality stuff.

King Company - One For the Road. I know nothing about these guys other than receiving the promo tracks to play on my show, but damn… so good… Solid melodic hard rock, big hooks, well played… super close to my top 5...

Last Call Messiahs - Sermons of Debauchery. Quality sleaze, with a great blend of rawness and polish.

Livesay - Frozen Hell. The songs and Gregg's playing bring me back to the first few Malmsteen albums… and I like it. The guy can play his ass off, and the songs are hooky enough to make it enjoyable even if you're not into shredding.

Maverick - Big Red. SO close to my top 5... I should have made it a top 10. This is yet another stellar release from Northern Ireland's finest. They do such a great job of taking the raw in your face stuff, and tempering it with melody, really a great listen.

Chris Ousey - Dream Machine. Love Chris' voice, and it's a flawless production all around, melodic rock in it's purest state, and at it's finest.

Jace Pawlak - Promise. This guy… he can write the hell out of a song, and he more than proves it with this release. Some real gems on here, well worth picking up.

Pretty Maids - Kingmaker. I can't remember a time when Pretty Maids released a sub-par album, and this is no exception. Leaning a little heavier towards the modern styling, but still packed full of hooks.

Primal Fear - Rulebreaker. Straight up well crafted power metal, they do it right. Personally I'm a real sucker for their mid-tempo stuff, they really know how to lay down a crushing riff groove, and Ralf is beyond awesome as a vocalist.

Q5 - New World Order. Raw and in your face, I loved these guys from back in the day, and their return to form is much more like the debut as opposed to the (some would say over)produced follow up.

The Radio Sun - Outside Looking In. Gigantic vocal harmonies and even bigger hooks, these guys are quickly becoming the darlings of the melodic rock genre, and a listen or two will make it easy to see why.

Roth Brock Project - Roth Brock Project. Another one super close to my top 5. I love Terry vocals, and loved his last solo album, so for me this sounds like Diamond Blue with even more guitar... count me in.

Shakra - High Noon. Like Pretty Maids, these guys just deliver what they do so well. Melodic Hard Rock with big hooks, and driving rhythms.

Sixx: A.M. - Prayers for the Blessed/Prayers for the Damned. I'll just put both of these together, because what can I say, I love this stuff, from the passionate songwriting, to James Michael's vocals. A great return to form after a mediocre previous release IMHO.

Rick Springfield - Rocket Science. Just a fun listen, he's such a freaking talent, and his songwriting translates perfectly to a more countrified rock sound you hear on this release.

Sunstorm - Edge Of Tomorrow. A lot of flak about it, but I love the heavier approach. The songs are solid and powerful, and JLT sounds great as always.

Michael Sweet - One Sided War. A surprise for me, being a fair weather Stryper fan I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but he adds a bit of a modern touch to the production and songwriting, and above all it's powerful and believable.

Tainted Nation - On The Outside. Pete Newdeck is the man, the guy can write a hook in any format. TN fits right in there with a number of more modern heavy rock bands, but Pete's melodic approach to it sets them apart for me.

Vega - Who We Are. I just love these guys, so freaking catchy... every album, they just don't let up… I have to buy two every time one comes out, because my wife loves them too.

Wigelius - Tabula Rasa. Another one out of the blue for me. Well crafted AOR, with enough guitar to satisfy the rocker in me.

Pete's Winners

5th Place

cover Dust - Soulburst. This one came out of nowhere for me late in the year, and was recommended to me by a friend who knows how much I love Badlands. Balls out and bluesy, this one is packed with heavy blues licks, driving grooves and passionate vocals. While I wouldn't call it by any stretch a Badlands clone, it's got that lazy, sexy groove that I always loved with those guys, and really with any band. Solid musicianship, and a big (but organic) production and memorable choruses have out this one in my CD player in heavy rotation. Favorite tracks: King is Coming, Bad Boy, Soul Stealer, Free.

4th Place

cover Starchase - The New Day. If you listen to a lot of Melodic Rock, you're no doubt already familiar with the vocals of The Radio Sun's Jason Old. Starchase combines the vocal talents of the aforementioned Mr. Old and Safire's Stephen Martret on guitar, creating a heady combination of blissfully melodic rock with with a solid power pop feel. Right in my wheelhouse, tons of harmonies, big hooks, super tasteful guitar work and a tight production I found myself addicted to it right out of the gate. Fav tracks: Starting All Over, The Memories Live Again, Wings of Tomorrow, Say You Love Me.

3rd Place

cover Eden's Curse - Cardinal. The Curse's best yet IMHO, from the guitar wizardry of Thorsten Koehne, to the songwriting prowess of Paul Logue, to the powerful vocals from Nikola Mijic, “Cardinal” has it all, and that's without even getting to the virtuoso musicianship of Keyboardist Chrism and Drummer John Clelland. There is no shortage of raw musical talent on this slab of melodic power metal, and I was hooked the first time I heard “Sell Your Soul”. Although I call it melodic power metal, these guys cross the lines on a regular basis, touching on AOR songwriting sensibility, prog complexity, and even a little funk without missing a beat or sounding forced. My favorite tracks: Sell Your Soul, The Great Pretender, Kingdom of Solitude, Prophets of Doom.

2nd Place

cover Nordic Union - Nordic Union. A collab between the King of Swedish Melodic Rock, Erik Martensson, and Pretty Maids' Ronnie Atkins? Sure, I'll check that out, and I'm damn glad I did. Just a hair away from being my #1 this year, I'm not sure what I expected but what I got was something I knew would be near the top of my list from the first listen. Nordic Union combines the best of Eclipse and Pretty Maids without really sounding too much like either one. Driving, melodic, and with some rough edges thanks to Ronnie's vocals, this release sounds truly much more a band than a “supergroup project” like so many do these days. Favorite tracks: Hypocrisy, Every Heartbeat, The Other Side, Point of no Return, but again, much like the Treat release I can listen to this one beginning to end… all killer, no filler… m/

Pete's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2016 CD of the Year

cover Treat - Ghost Of Graceland. When this one came out, I gave it a listen, enjoyed it, and really never thought it would end up in my top 5, much less at the number 1 position… as the year went on I found myself listening to it more and more, and not just listening to it, but craving it… it's like they started out thinking “what does Pete like in an album?” and then did exactly that… big hooks, lots of guitar, vocal harmonies, and a big fat ass production. No filler either, I can listen to this one from beginning to end every time. If I had to choose my favorite tracks: I Don't Miss the Misery, Better the Devil You Know, Inferno, Nonstop Madness.

Jez's Picks for the Best of 2016

The Also Rans

Lee Aaron - Fire And Gasoline
Amaranthe - Maximalism
Anvil - Anvil Is Anvil
Arena - XX Live
Billy Satellite - II
Blackfoot - Southern Native
Bon Jovi - This House Is Not For Sale
Devilment - II:The Mephisto Waltzes
Dynazty - Titanic Mass
Eden's Curse - Cardinal
The Enid - Dust
Enuff Z' Nuff - Clowns Lounge
Erika - Deaf, Dumb And Blonde
Ace Frehley - Origins Vol. 1
Heart - Live At The Albert Hall with The Royal Philharmonic
Glen Hughes - Resonate
Jadis - The Fear Of Looking Down
Judas Priest - Battle Cry
Bobby Kimball - We're Not In Kansas Anymore
Kiss - Rocks Las Vegas
Kissin' Dynamite - Generation Goodbye
Livesay - Frozen Hell
Magnum - Sacred Blood 'Divine' Lies
Yngwie Malmsteen - World On Fire
Mitch Malloy - Making Noise
Megadeth - Dystopia
Metallica - Hardwired...To Self Destruct
Motley Crue - The End
Motorhead - Clean Your Clock
John Mitchell - The Nostalgia EP.
Night Ranger - 35 Years And a Night In Chicago
Outlasted - Into The Night
Overland - Contagious
Paris - The World Outside
Q5 - New World Order
Roxette - Good Karma
Saga - Live In Hamburg
Santana - IV
Saxon -Let Me Feel Your Power
Skunk Anansie - Anarchytechture
Steel Panther - Form Lexxi's Mom's Garage
Toseland - Cradle The Rage
Touchstone - Lights From The Sky EP.
Saga - Live In Hamburg
Saxon - Let Me Feel Your Power
David A. Saylor - Ship To Nowhere
Steel Panther - From Lexxi's Moms Garage
Tyketto - Reach
Steven Tyler - We're All Somebody From Somewhere
Steve Vai - Modern Primitive
White Widdow - Silhouette

Honorable Mentions

Angels Or Kings - Go Ask The Moon. The follow up to the promising 'Kings of Nowhere' which follows a similar path of Harem Scarem styled melodic rock. A good solid set of songs, nice production and generally not much to fault on this one. Album number 3, we could really be talking.

AOR - L.A Darkness. Another year, another AOR release and you've got to give main man Frederic Slama kudos for releasing albums of pretty good quality throughout, virtually every year. This follows the usual format, smooth AOR, with a Westcoast edge, and very likeable it is too. I do question some of the quality of some of the vocalists on some of the tracks (a grumble I have had with virtually every AOR release over the years) and a couple fall short on this one as well, but generally the material on offer, make this a worthwhile listen.

Babymetal - Metal Resistance. Proving categorically that the debut was no fluke, Babymetal return with an album packed to the gunnels with power metal, power ballads and some cracking death metal. The metal purists will say they hate it (whilst secretly lapping it up).

Dion Bayman - Don't Look Down. File under Stan Meissner, Bryan Adams and Rick Springfield, so if any of those guys float your boat, give this cracking little album a go. Self produced, played and released by the man himself and a thoroughly enjoyable slice of Pop/Rock it is too.

Cairo - Say. An excellent debut album from this new band formed from the ashes of prog rockers Touchstone. A striking, modern progressive rock album, with its feet firmly planted in the 'Rock' camp, featuring a beautifully delivered and recorded set of songs.

Culver Kingz - This Time. Very Nice, laid back Westcoast Pop from the duo of guitarist extraordinaire Michael Thompson and vocalist Bill Trudell. It lacks some truly great songs, but there is enough on show to keep the interest. As smooth as smooth can be for that late night listening session.

Dare - Sacred Ground. A band that has never really been able to match the brilliance of their mega debut album 'Out Of The Silence' over the course of their career, but with 'Sacred Ground', they give it their best shot, with a strong set of Celtic inspired Melodic AOR and their best album since the rockier 'Blood From Stone' from '91.

Darkhaus - When Sparks Ignite. After last years excellent 'Providence' EP, we finally get the full follow up to 2013's superb 'My Only Shelter' debut. The formula here is pretty much the same as previously and this really is a highly recommended slab of modern new wave, Industrial groove metal, synth rock... call it what you will.

The Defiants - S/T. This very nearly didn't make my final list, as after all the rave reviews from a lot of people, I was left very disappointed with it when I first heard it . I'm still not entirely won over, even now, although some of the songs have got better with subsequent spins. There is filler here, 'Lil Miss Rock 'n Roll' for example is terrible, and one of the worst songs I have heard in a long time, but there are some good tunes as well, that save it somewhat, with 'Save Me Tonight 'coming out on top. It all sounds brilliant too and is one of the best sounding discs I have heard this year, although that doesn't completely redeem it.

Demon - Cemetery Junction. Generally every year brings up a nice surprise and 2016 was no different with the new Demon opus. It's classic hard rock of the highest standard, featuring songs with depth, great lyrics and some excellent musicianship, making it an album way way above the ordinary that 2016 has thrown up on regularity. If you've never heard them before, check it out. as it's highly recommended from me.

Dream Theater - The Astonishing. A huge 2 + hour, 34 track concept album from the Prog metal pioneers. This has got everything from the typical 'Heavy' DT passages, to the lighter, heavily orchestrated, almost theatrical sections and everything in between. There is a lot to digest, but perseverance pays off with one of their finest albums in recent years.

Drive, She Said - Pedal To The Metal. This was a good return to form from for me, although it took quite a few spins to really appreciate. It's typical D,SS, 80's style AOR with those magical Mangold keys to the fore and generally most of the songs were very good, bar a couple that missed the mark somewhat (I think most people that have heard this know exactly what tracks I'm hinting at). It's not a perfect album by any means and comes nowhere near to the magical debut album, but it's one that did just enough to make the final cut.

First Signal - One Step Over The Line. For me a step up from the excellent debut album, and one that ticks all the boxes in song quality and production. If you like the feel of that 'Project' type album that Frontiers pump out with regularity (imagine the excellent Find Me project with Harry Hess on vocals) that pretty much is what you have here. Very good indeed and one of the better AOR/MR albums this year.

FM - Indiscreet 30. The big question for many was WHY re-record an absolute classic album? Well, I was sceptical at first, but after hearing the finished product, I can safely say that I really enjoyed hearing all these great songs brought into the modern age. NO! They are generally not any better, but there are some nice new touches added to some of them, 'Love Lies Dying' for example with the extended guitar solo at the end is especially notable and there are a few excellent bonus tracks included as well.. If you're still sceptical, give it a go, as you may find yourself loving it ,although maybe not quite as much as you did the original back in the day.

Frost* - Falling Satellites. Album number 3 and another absolutely blinding modern prog album. There's never a dull moment to be found on here and as with the previous releases, they manage to creatively mix many genres/subgenres into the 'Prog' melting pot with startling results. A superb mix of musicianship, diversity and top class production. Best Prog album of the year Period.

Gardner & Fuller - Original Demos (Feat. Warren Wiebe). Finely crafted songs, beautifully presented and performed, especially from the sadly departed Warren Wiebe, whos vocals are a thing of beauty on the 4 tracks he sings on here. If pure Westcoast/ Pop ala Bill Champlin, David Foster and Jay Graydon is your thing, then look no further than this superb album. It's limited to 1000 copies, so don't miss out.

Heart - Beautiful Broken. A newly recorded collection of 6 older songs, previously found on 'Babe Le Strange', 'Passionworks' and 'Private Audition', 3 brand new tracks , plus a bonus track from the 'Fanatic' album. Some of the older songs have been nicely re-worked and sound very different to their original versions from way back in the day and sound fresh and reinvigorated. The new songs work well too, making up a really enjoyable album and their best in a while.

JOANovARC - Ride Of Your Life. Heads down, no nonsense guitar rock from the female 4 piece. It's fun, it's catchy and energetic, as well as being quite diverse musically amongst its 11 tracks, but most importantly it put a smile on my face listening to it and is an absolutely cracking debut album.

Jump - Over The Top. If you like your rock at the more 'Classic' end of the spectrum with touches of prog and folk, then look no further than Jump's 13th studio release. As usual, the songs are interwoven with John Dexter Jones clever storytelling and the bands rock solid approach, making a very fine album and one of their best. If you need an introduction to this band, you could do a lot worse than start here and if you like an eclectic mix of artists such as Bad Co, Jethro Tull, Marillion and Fish, then there is much to enjoy here.

Kansas - The Prelude Implicit. Nice surprise of the year number 2. A new Kansas album after over 15 years and a really really good one it is too. It's complex, intricate and progressive in places, so if you're expecting the more melodic AOR of the John Elephante period, you may want to look elsewhere. New vocalist Ronnie Platt does an excellent 'Steve Walsh' without being a clone and generally. even though there are only 2 original members of the band left, this really does sound like the genuine Kansas of old. Superb stuff.

Lordi - Monstereophonic (Theaterror Vs. Demonarchy). A bit of a 'Jeckyll and Hyde' this one. The first half is chock full of the typical Lordi anthems we have come to expect and they really are a superb set of songs and the main reason this is getting a general thumbs up from me. The second half of the album is decidedly heavier, darker and very different to anything the band have done previously and apart from 'The Night The Monsters Died' I was initially left slightly let down. Even now, I'm not completely convinced with the other 5 songs on offer, but the first 7 more than makes up for the general disappointment of the second half.

Lovex - Dust Into Diamonds: 10th Anniversary Album. A real treat for all Lovex fans with this timely 10th anniversary (aready??) release. 20 tracks, including 3 brand new cuts ('Dust Into Diamonds' and 'The Game' especially are absolute killer songs), as well as 11 songs from the 4 albums and another 6 previously unreleased goodies from various album sessions, including a great cover of Backstreet Boys 'Larger Than Life'. So, a great compilation with lots of new stuff to get your teeth into until album number 5 arrives.

Steve Lukather/ Larry Carlton - At Blue Note Tokyo. If you're into your jazz fusion/rock, then look no further than this live set, recorded live in Japan in 2015. This is an absolute master class, as you would expect from two of the world's top guitarists, as they play through a fine set, including 'Crossroads' 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' and a stunning version of Miles Davis' 'Tutu' amongst others. Listen and be amazed.

Magic Dance - Vanishings. 5th release (2nd full album,) from Jon Siejka and one that crept into my 'Best Of' list at the very last minute, seeing as it was only released mid December. It's generally a little more straight AOR than the previous synthwave sound, but equally engaging and enjoyable and pretty much how I like my pure AOR to sound these days.

Maglev - Overwrite The Sin. If you're a fan of Robby Valentine (who is featured here on piano on some songs), Valensia or the mighty Queen, then this is definitely one for you to check out. There's only 5 tracks in total, with the shortest being 8 odd minutes, so it is quite complex in nature, although highly melodic too, so definitely a case of the more you listen, the more it pays off. If you like your Pomp rock with added 'Pomp', then look no further.

Marillion - F.E.A.R. Fuck Everything And Run revolves around 5 excellently constructed pieces, especially the lengthy epics 'The Leavers' 'El Dorado' and 'The New Kings', which all feature some quite brilliant moments, especially from Messrs Hogarth, Kelly and Rothery, who all really shine on this album. If you're an existing Marillion fan, or like modern progressive rock, then you will find much to commend here.

Punky Meadows - Fallen Angel. We had Angel vocalist Frank Dimino's solo album last year and now finally we have one from guitarist Punky Meadows and a bit of a good one it is too. It's Classic US hard rock with more than a nod to his old band with some very strong songs throughout. He's assembled a good band too with notable appearances from ex Angel bassist Felix Robinson and Shotgun Symphony's Charlie Calv. Really good this one.

Mecca - III. Very classy, well written and performed and definitely up there with the very best pure AOR albums this year without doubt., although It's a little on the short side at 8 tracks and a touch above 34 minutes and could have done with a couple of more up tempo tracks to really get the pulse racing. Absolutely no doubting though this is a very well done and a top class release.

Miss Behaviour - Ghost Play. One of the better crop of Swedish MR bands around at the moment, who have consistently released very good albums over the course of their (relatively) short career and 'Ghost Play' is no different if slightly heavier in spots and another little gem of an album.

New England - Live At The Regent Theatre. A long awaited re-union from a band that deserved so much more the first time around. A storming 14 song live set featuring songs from all 3 of their studio albums, with the added bonus of new studio track 'I Know There's Something Here' which promises much for the future. A great live album which shows they still have what it takes.

Nordic Union - S/T. Basically this is Eclipse with Pretty Maids Ronnie Atkins on vocals, add a bit of. W.E.T and H.E.A.T into the mix and there you have Nordic Union. You know exactly what it is going to sound like even before you've heard it and a lot of the material does have that familiarity about it, but it's still a very good album, without being mindblowing.

Palace - Master Of The Universe. A great vehicle for the talents of Michael Palace (first seen on the excellent First Signal 'One Step Over The Line' album and a name you will be hearing a lot of in future i dare say) and Daniel Flores (Find Me, Issa, Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall) and a nice mix of Modern day AOR/MR with an 80's touch. Big choruses, big ballads and a big sound in general make up one of the better releases of it's type and I look forward to a follow up.

Jace Pawlak - Promise. Jace is a well known song writer for lots of the Kivel artists (FarCry, Tango Down, Goodbye Thrill etc ) so that will give you a bit of a clue as to where he is pitching this album. It is a very good album of radio friendly arena rock ala Nelson,Night Ranger and Foreigner, lovingly played (mostly) and produced all by himself. A nice surprise this one and one he should be duly proud of.

Pretty Maids - Kingmaker. A band still on a roll after the superb 'Pandemonium' (still my fave ever PM release) and 'Motherland', which follows pretty much the same formula as before, Heavy melodic rock with plenty of crunch as well as melody and some outstanding songs.

Reckless Love - InVader. Pretty much sticking to the formula that has generally worked so well on their 3 previous releases, although maybe not quite as consistent this time around. There is still plenty on offer here from the ultra catchy/commercial tracks (which generally are my preference with this band) like 'Scandinavian Girls' and the excellent 'Child of the Sun' through to the more Van Halen styled rockers like 'Bulletproof'. It's a good release and comes recommended from me, even if it isn't their strongest.

Dan Reed Network - Fight Another Day. Quite a few people have been waiting a long time for a new DRN album and this one seemed to divide opinion on whether it was excellent (which in my opinion it is) or disappointing. 'Champion' for me was one of the best tracks of thel year and along with 'Infected' and 'Divided', gave us the unmistakeable DRN sound, albeit with slightly less rock/funk vibe than on previous releases. It's maybe short of a couple of other killer tracks towards the end, but no denying this is a very very good album that slips in proudly with their previous albums.

Michael Riesenbeck & Friends - Fanfields 2: A Fans Tribute To Toto. What more could any Toto fan want than a 4 disc 'Tribute' to one of the best bands ever. There's a good choice of stuff on here (not all the obvious songs), very well done for the most part and not necessarily note for note copies either. There's a lot to get through, but with an end product that is superbly done by some excellent musicians and also beautifully presented too, this comes very highly recommended indeed.

Rossington - Take It On Faith. One for the Skynyrd/ Rossington Collins Band/ Southern Rock aficionados. Gary Rossington really is one of the most underrated players there is and his guitar work here really does stand out. Couple that with Dale Rossington's excellent vocals, this really is a great slab of southern, soulful blues rock at it's best.

Seven - Shattered. Thankfully a follow up to the fantastic debut album from a couple of years ago, which if i'm honest, I never thought we'd see. Gladly it has seen the light of day, so If you liked the first one (which I know a lot of people did), then this is going to be a bit of a no brainer, as it is absolute top class AOR that you won't hear done much better anywhere else.

Sixx: A.M - Prayers For The Damned/ Prayers For The Blessed. 2 albums in one year, so we have been royally spoilt when it comes to Sixx: A.M this year. The good news is, they are both top quality albums and both way way better than the disappointing previous release 'Modern Vintage, which was a major let down after the brilliant 'This Is Gonna Hurt''. I found it hard to choose between the 2 volumes and the 22 tracks presented, as both contain some excellent modern hard rock., with 2 of my favourite tracks of the year 'Better Man' and the superb 'Helicopters' featuring on both volumes.....there are plenty of other great songs on here too, so plenty for everyone to get their teeth into over the course of it's 90 odd minutes.

Rick Springfield - Rocket Science. A perfect Pop rock/New country crossover, typically RS, but with a bit of a twist with the instrumentation used, which, at the end of the day, is pretty much the difference between a lot of the new country stuff and some of the more melodic/AOR records that are coming out. Anyway, banjos or no banjos, this is a superb record and a fine addition to Mr. Springfield's legacy.

Tarja - The Brightest Void/ The Shadow Self. Brilliant with Nightwish, a bit lacking material wise as a solo performer would be my quick summation of Tarja's career up to now. '2013's 'Colours In The Dark' was an improvement and left me with hope that she would finally release a great solo album, so i'm happy to report that she has finally released not one, but two in the same year. 'The Brightest Void' came first and was a bit of a warm up to what comes next, but as a stand-alone disc, still fares very well. Part 2 'The Shadow Self' surpasses it and then some and is a quite brilliant mix of orchestral metal, opera, a hint of classical music and more besides, as well as being some of the heaviest material she has ever done. An absolute top recommended release.

The Theander Expresssion - Wonderful Anticiption. Follow up to the impressive 'Strange Nostalgia' and another nice slice of Swedish AOR ala Street Talk and Sonic Station. It's a couple of tracks being short of being great, but there are enough good/ great songs on here to recommend.

Toto - Live In Montreux. A rare live treat (CD & DVD) of a concert from Montreux 1991, just before the release of their superb 'Kingdom Of Desire' album and one of the last performances of the late great Jeff Porcaro, which is worth the price of admission alone, just to see him and brother Mike Porcaro lay down the grooves. Tight, funky, rocky and a band at the absolute top of their game.

Tygers Of Pan Tang - S/T. The NWOBHM stalwarts return with another rock solid album of classic old school heavy metal with barely a bad moment in sight. As with the new Demon release, it's great to see this legendary band still competing with the best of them and releasing one of their best albums in ages.

Vega - Who We Are. One of the best melodic bands from the UK right now and another super consistent set of songs, packed with driving hooks and melodies courtesy of the Martin Bros. Not much else to be said really except if you haven't heard it why?

Whitford/ St. Homes - Reunion. 35 years after the debut (no rush lads) and a very fine sophomore release it is. Hard rock, southern blues, as well as a few twists and turns along the way too. Classic rock with a capital 'C'. As an added bonus, you get the excellent debut album, lovingly remastered, which is the icing on top of a very tasty cake.

Wigelius - Tabla Rasa. The debut album was a decent, if not mind blowing slice of AOR/Melodic rock, which promised much for the future. With the follow up, they have upped the ante, and delivered a fine album, choc to the gills with memorable moments, with special note going to the excellent harmonies and stunning guitar work from Jakob Svensson. Very impressive indeed.

Jez's Winners

5th Place

cover Santa Ana Winds - S/T. This is about as retro AOR as you are going to get in this day and age. Remember the days of 8/9 track 30 odd minute 'old school' AOR albums? That is exactly what you get here, but, as with many of those records, the quality on show outweighs the short playing time. Some of these songs on here maybe familiar to some, Charlie 'Don't Stand In My Way', Stan Bush 'Blinded', Sad Cafe 'Clocks' and Outside Edge 'Teardrop' are all featured, as well as a couple of lesser known songs from Bill Quateman and Janet Minto. Of note also are the 3 equally talented vocalists on show, namely the superb Brad Henshaw (pin your ears back for his vocal on 'You', quite superb), Rebecca Owen and the sadly departed David A. Saylor, who also put in excellent performances throughout. Don't expect the big production values here, as this was done on a very tight budget and it does show in places, especially with the programmed rhythm section, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment one bit of this excellent album.

4th Place

cover Ted Poley - Beyond The Fade. A great mix of names here with Ted Poley, Alessandro Del Vecchio and the superb Martin Bros. writing most of the material, so what could really go wrong? Not a lot is the answer. As expected, It is pretty much your typical Frontiers release and what you would expect it to be sound like, call it Danger Danger with a more AOR slant, but there are some superb songs throughout...the sublime AOR of 'You Won't See Me Cry', the magical pairing of Poley and Issa on the duet 'The Perfect Crime' and stunning album closer 'Beneath The Stars' and those are just for starters. Production is crisp, without making it all too 'AOR fluffy' and features excellent performances from all the players involved. All in all, hugely enjoyable and definitely one of the genres major releases of the year.

3rd Place

cover Treat - Ghosts Of Graceland. Consistently one of the best bands over the years to come out of Sweden (or anywhere else for that matter) and a great follow up to the impressive 'Coup De Grace' 6 years ago. Personally, I think this is a better record over all and contains all their hallmarks, huge choruses, big, bombastic production and generally fantastic song writing. 'Coup De Grace' sat atop many a persons list back in 2010 and I dare say 'Ghosts Of Graceland' will do exactly the same thing this year. If Heineken made Melodic Rock albums...

2nd Place

cover Steve Porcaro - Someday/Somehow. Surprisingly over such a long career, this is Steve Porcaro's debut solo album and an absolute gem it is too.. All the compositions are beautifully written as you would expect and there are some very fine songs on show. 'Swing Street', featuring the wonderful vocals of Michael McDonald and some nice Steve Lukather guitar is a highlight, as well as the gorgeous soulful ballad 'Painting By Numbers' sung by Mabvuto Carpenter and 'Back To You' which is the most Toto like track on the album. Of note also is hearing the late Mike and Jeff Porcaro, who both make appearances on the album, which is a nice touch. If you're expecting a full on 'Rock' album, then you may want to look elsewhere, but if you like Westcoast Pop/ Smooth jazz, you are are going to love this pretty much flawless, beautiful album from a musician absolutely at the top of his game.

Jez's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2016 CD of the Year

cover Cheap Trick - Bang Zoom Crazy.... Hello. 40 years into their career, the boys release their 17th studio album and judging from what they have produced here, they have most definitely still got the magic. The first 3 tracks are classic CT at their very best, with 'No Direction Home taking my award for one of the very best songs of the year (if given a push, we have a big hit I reckon) and the more reflective 'Bowiesque 'When I Wake Up Tomorrow' being not far behind. All the Cheap Trick trademarks are here, from Robin Zander's amazing vocals, which it has to be said are still absolutely spot on, even after all these years, Rick Nielsen's unkistakeable guitar parts and Tom Petersson's thundering bass lines which all adds up to a band on fire here... It's big, it's brash It's bloomin' brilliant.

Terry's Picks for the Best of 2016

The Also Rans

Bad Mankeys - Case Conflict
Blackdraft - Recipe of Pain
Crimson Hall - Haunting Desire
Dan Logoluso - Back From A Journey
Deck Janiels - II
Dirty Action - Best of Volume 1 The Singles Collection
Edge of Reality - Vicious Circle
Eyestral - Beware The Rat King
Fifth Freedom - Heartbreak & Hellfire
Grandhour - Bombs & Bullets
Gun Machine - Balls To The Wall
Gundacker - Jekyll & Hyde
Neon Alley - S/T
Raff Sangiorgio - Rebirth
Rossometile - Alchemica
Santa Sangre - Ali D' Amianto
Sheldon Scrivner's July Reign - Here Comes The Flood
Sick N Flaw - Train To Paradise
Sister Rose - S/T
Stolen Rhodes - Bend With The Wind
The Tracy G Group - Tramp
Tombeto Centrale - Il Silenzion Della Collina
Velocity - The King Will Die
Voodoo Vegas - Freak Show Candy Floss

Honorable Mentions

Axid Rain - One Way Run. A nice grouping of hard egde Brian Adams fueled rock numbers.

Bad Remedy - Eternalize. Ohio natives churning out modern hard rock with a southern flair and a bit of growl, super heavy, harmonic and quite like able.

Bailout - ...As The Winds Blow On. A solid by the numbers hard rock album from these Scandi lads. Sound effort.

Blackfoot - Southern Native. This years most hated album for no other reason than the band name, but after a hundred spins these southern fried rockers are quite tight and sound very nice.

Blaze Out - Backlash. Hugely heavy hard rock with nice ungrowled vocals and consistent catchy rhythms. They have a Cowboy's era Pantera thing going for them.

Disharmonic Fields - Devil's Weapon Shop. Heavy hard rock/metal ala early Accept and Metal Church, nothing bad here.

Ratchet - A Bad Case of Rock N Roll. Nice 'bout of hard rock in that Anvil, Airborne, AC/DC vein. Fun stuff and very very early 80'd production on this one.

Scattered Hamlet Swamp Rebel Machine. Just as the album title suggests this disc is a sleazy Junkyard meets Pantera with a heapin' helping of Haggard and Straight. Very kewl.

Tempt - Runaway. Everyone should be familiar with this Rock Candy release of Tom Wagganer produced 80's melodic rock. Proficiently played on all levels and as period perfect as can be.

Warning Sign - Left To The Sharks. Classic old school metal/trash on this Quebec's metallers 2nd release, first long play.

Wings of Pegasus - Persistence. Very period/vintage sounding melodic hard rock outing from this one man band Fil Henley. For fans of Deep Purple, Dokken, Alice Cooper, some Satriani and all the others from 1979 to tomorrow.

Terry's Winners

5th Place

cover Black Star Furies - Vamps In Paradise. Sleazy hard rock goodness lies in this Italian bands long play slathered with catchy as hell riffage that could match up to some of Halens and Lynch's. They have a 69 Eyes/Suicide Bombers vibe at times and again the 80's sunset strip hard rock they emulate is period perfect and they go out of their way to be as kool as fuck and even crush Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. These guys are so swaggerlicuous.

4th Place

cover SteelRush - Through The Night EP. Man do I love this little EP of fluffy puffy key coated 80's AOR, however some nicely solo'd elements exist in here as well. This talented duo from India certainly show heaps of promise in this EP and once they get some more momentum and some well deserved backing these kids will be on Frontiers and out on the road with Night Ranger. Sure it's a self produced demo but see through the lack of big bucked production and enjoy the saccharine. Great things are a foot for these lads I guarantee.

3rd Place

cover Nitro Force 9 - Heat of the Downtown. These Helsinki alumns crush with another long play of catchy as all get out TPOH, New American Shame, AC/DC rockers. Heat of the Downtown alone is worthy of cult status toe tapping, air guitaring, head bobbin' goodness.

2nd Place

cover King of Bones - Don't Mess With The King. Raved about this one and how bad ass it is. Guitar work to threaten the manhood of Wilde and E Lee and songs and players that are very good indeed. 2 tons of harmonies on a 50 gram plastic disc, staggering. This one is a pleaser for sure and the video cut is song of the year!

Terry's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2016 CD of the Year

cover Magick Touch - Electrick Sorcery. Love, love, love this one. Super catchy, riff driven melodic hard rock that fans of Kings X, Dokken, Thin Lizzy and for those unfamiliar they are a good portion of Faith Circus so they have the pedigree to back up their playing. Very solid 70's, 80's and beyond classically tinged hard rock album. To quote the Weasel Pauly Shore these guys "are so greeeeaaasy".

Existing comments about Best of 2016

From: backster Date: February 5, 2017 at 11:18
Interesting reading. Diverse lists.

From: Scandiman Date: February 5, 2017 at 11:53
It is so cool to see others' views of music. It shows we are all wired a bit differently but have enough overlap to appreciate it all (at least I do). Thank you all for putting the time and effort into posting these each year! My top 5 --> 1. Treat - Ghosts of Graceland 2. Pretty Maids - Kingmaker 3. Nordic Union - Nordic Union 4. Vega - Who We Are 5. Enbound - The Blackened Heart

From: 123charpenay Date: February 6, 2017 at 13:06
2016 has been a fantastic year for our music.this is the best year since s an orgy of exceptional it s impossible for me to choose only 5 records.sorry.i propose you my top 15. 1 WIGELIUS tabula rasa" 2 DANGER ZONE closer to heaven 3 DRIVE SHE SAID pedal to the metal 4 HARDLINE human nature 5 KING COMPANY one for the road 6 SEVEN shattered 7 WILD ROSE four 8 AMBOAJE all about living 9 SUNSTORM edge of tomorrow 10 SHAKRA high noon 11 MAVERICK big red 12 RECKLESS LOVE invader 13 CRUZH same 14 PHANTOM 5 15 FIRST SIGNAL one step over the line.

From: Doug Date: February 13, 2017 at 13:46
My Top 5: 1. The Pretty Reckless - Who You Selling For? (This album and their two previous, should be on the mighty HH). 2. SIXX: A.M. - Prayers For The Damned/Prayers For The Blessed 3. Whitford/ St. Holmes - Reunion 4. Alter Bridge - The Last Hero 5. Hardline - Human Nature

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 14, 2017 at 15:31
ENough with the also-rans, already! Yay, Dan listened toeach of the half-dozen Helix releases this past year--big whoop! My top-five are mostly in the camp, but here they are anyway: Evergrey--The Storm Within; Testament--Brotherhood Of The Snake; Crowbar--The Serpent Only Lies; King Company--s/t; Spiritual Beggars--Sunrise To SUndown. Honorable mentions: Death-Angel--The Evil Divide; Pretty Maids--Kingmaker; Gojira--Magma; Also-rans: everything else.

From: MetalllianStallion Date: February 22, 2017 at 0:53
Doghouse makes a valid point on Dan vs. the Also-Rans, as it looks like he and other reviewers are on auto-pilot, just pasting off a list of releases of 2016. Did they actually listen to them? Along with Helix, Brainstorm re-issued a couple new albums in 2016 so obviously that should void posting them. My suggestion is just list all the releases for the year as a starting point under Metal/Melodic Metal, HR,AOR, MR. Shouldn't there be a best of list on Brutal Metal, or pop rock sites for some of the chosen bands? Just because I like a country rock band should it be listed on HH? Another annoying thing here is band's that make it on the best of lists, even if they are in the HH genre, are sometimes not listed on HH album releases. "Kaato - S/T (2016)" for example and in my top 5 for 2016 "Striker- Stand in the Fire (2016)" which would fall under the category of Melodic Metal. It's no secret this site is dying on the vine based on the comments section,maybe paying little more attention t

Heavy Harmonies Volunteer
From: Jez Date: February 22, 2017 at 9:02
Only albums I have personally Bought make it onto any of my end of year lists. Anything I haven't heard or bought doesnt't.

Heavy Harmonies Volunteer
From: whiplash1972 Date: February 24, 2017 at 17:42
I own the physical CD of every release in my year end review, from the also rans all the way through number one. I will agree with the notion that if a HH moderator/reviewer has a HH appropriate CD listed in their year end review that it should cerainly be on the main site; if you like it that much, take a few minutes to add it. As for the site "dying on the vine", while there aren't as many new comments made daily as say 5-10 years ago, I assure you HH is far from dead.

Heavy Harmonies Owner
From: Dan Date: February 24, 2017 at 18:09

Metallianstallion, you've been bitching about things here for years now. What you're not comprehending is that for each of us, the Also Rans + Honorable Mentions + Top 5 are "the field of new release albums" that each of us listened to in a given year. Since we all have listened to different albums, it's important to list the ones that MIGHT have been contenders for the year for each of us. In other words, if it's not at least in My Also Rans, it means I didn't hear it, which would explain why Album X or Album Y were not considered for the my Best Of list.

As far as an album not being on HH that you find worthy, THEN SUBMIT THE DAMNED THING! There's been a page on the site to submit albums for over 15 years now. It's not tough to find.

Everything I listed above, I listened to in 2016, either as a CD I purchased, a digital version I purchased, or that a band or label submitted to me. I don't consider songs on Spotify, Pandora, Amazon samples, or any other non-full-album acquisition as being eligible. As far as the Helix titles are concerned, their reissues were submitted to me by the label, and since I listened to them they are included on the list, whether you like it or not.

If you don't care for the way things are organized or run here, you are welcome to register and set it up your own way.

From: Doug Date: February 25, 2017 at 14:46
Well said, Dan (and whiplash). Some rather mean comments posted the last few days. HH is a tremendous site. I am not one of the "insiders" of HH, but I enjoy it. I learn a lot about my favorite music (hard rock and heavy metal) and when the comments are productive, they help me to make informed decisions about what to find next.

From: Dr_Funk Date: February 27, 2017 at 15:04
Yeah... Bunch of nonsense above. The also-rans are necessary so we have an idea of what their gauge is. This is why Terry's picks are all wrong, because we can see that he didn't listen to anything relevant last year. ;}

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: April 26, 2017 at 14:22
We're getting a bit far afield here, but regarding Risk, I'm not into splitting up a band's discography between two sites. It just doesn't make good sense to me to take a band like Megadeth, whom everyone recognizes as predominantly a BrutalMetal band, and shift a couple more hard-rock albums over to HH. I would even argue fo rkeeping Pantera's albums together, just because their early glam releases are mostly just a curiosity, and only a minority of fans would even know they exist were it not for the band's later success as a completely different animal. Now extend it to Priest: you really think British Steel and Point of Entry should be on one site, and Painkiller and Defenders of the Faith on another? The line between "hard rock" and "heavy metal" is just too blurry (and even depends on the context of the time when a record came out), and too many bands have straddled it at various points in their careers. If you'll pardon the phrase "straddled it" ...

From: Auslander Date: February 10, 2020 at 2:58
Long time reader, short time commenter. My favourite album/s of this year were the dual releases from SixxAM. I've grown to love that band over the years. Those two cds were in heavy rotation in my player that year. Guns N Roses have a lot to answer for with being the first by doing Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 instead of just doing a double album!

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