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The Best of 2018!

In addition to my top picks for 2018, 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.

For each of us, the listing contains 3 parts: Top 5, Honorable Mentions, and The Rest of the Field, which comprise the sum total of new releases from 2018 that we heard. There is nothing qualitative about the "Rest of the Field" section; the releases may range from good to mediocre to complete garbage. It only exists to show you what each of us considered in coming up with our Top 5 and Honorable Mentions.

Dan's Picks for the Best of 2018

The Also Rans

3.2 - The Rules Have Changed
Alcatrazz - Parole Denied (Live in Tokyo 2017)
Alcyona - Trailblazer
Alicate - Unforgiven To Be Forgiven
Amanda Somerville's Trillion - Tectonic
American Tears - Hard Core
Ammouri - Dare to be Happy
Ammunition - ST
Amorphis - Queen Of Time
Angra - Omni
Animal Drive - Bite!
AOR - More Demos from L.A
Armored Dawn - Barbarians in Black
Asenblut - Legenden
Ashes of Ares - Well of Souls
Atlas - In Pursuit of Memory
Atrocity - Okkult II
AxMinister - The Crucible of Sin EP
B4U - Dossier
Bad Bones - High Rollers
Big Mouthers - Wishes
BillyBio - Feed the Fire
Black Majesty - Children of the Abyss
Black Veil Brides - Vale
Blood Red Saints - Love Hate Conspiracies
Bonfire - Legends
Born Again - True Heavy Nation
BornBroken - The Years of Harsh Truths and Little Lies
Brainstorm - Midnight Ghost
Briar - Reach Out
Browsing Collection - Dont Want to Dance
Bullet for My Valentine - Gravity
Bulletboys - From Out of the Skies
Captain Black Beard - Struck By Lightning
Chris Caffery - Jester's Court
City of Thieves - Beast Reality
Civic Soma - Hybris
Clif Magness - Lucky Dog
CoreLeoni - The Greatest Hits Part 1
Crazy Lixx - Loud Minority Reissue
Crazy Lixx - New Religion Reissue
Crazy Lixx - Riot Avenue Reissue
Crosson - Invincible
Crystal Ball - Crystallizer
Crystal Tears - Decadence Deluxe
Crystal Viper - At the Edge of Time
Dan Trigger - Right Turn
Dare - Out of the Silence II
Dead City Ruins - Never Say Die
De-Arrow - ST
Destinia - Metal Souls
Devils Hand Featuting Slamer and Freeman
Diamorte - The Red Opera
Dimmu Borgir - Eonian
Dion Bayman - Better Days
Disturbed - Evolution (Deluxe)
Dokken - Return to the East Live 2016
Dominoe - The Lost Radio Show
Doomsday Outlaw - Hard Times
Drama Queen - ST
Drive She Said - Real Life
Enuff Znuff - Diamond Boy
Ethernity - The Human Race Extinction
Eunomia - The Chronicles of Eunomia Part 1
Fireblast - Dreams to Life
Flight - A Leap Through Matter
FM - Atomic Generation
Free From Sin - II
Gama Bomb - Speed Between the Lines
Gianluca Firmo - Rehab
Ginger Red - Donuts and Coffee
Gioeli-Castronovo - Set the World on Fire
Godsmack - When Legends Rise
Graham Bonnet Band - Meanwhile Back in the Garage
Grand Design - Viva La Paradise
Grave Digger - The Living Dead
Great Leap Skyward - Map of Broken Dreams
Greta Van Fleet - Anthem Of The Peaceful Army
Groundbreaker - ST
Guild of Ages - Rise
Gus G - Fearless
Gypsy Rose - Rosary of Tears 1988-1991
Gypsy Rose - Shattered Affair 1986-1989
Halestorm - Vicious
Hartmann - Hands on the Wheel
Heaven's Trail - Lethal Mind
Helion Prime - Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster
Holly West - Mokita
Holter - Vlad the Impaler
IMPELLITTERI - The Nature of the Beast
Imperium - Beyond the Stars
Inner Wish - Inner Strength Reissue 2006
Inner Wish - Silent Faces Reissue 2004
Inner Wish - Waiting for the Dawn Reissue 1998
Innfight - Black Dog
Into Eternity - The Sirens
Iron Will - Life is Your Labyrinth
Issa - Run With the Pack
J. K. Northrup and David Cagle - Gonna Leave a Mark
Jaded Heart - Devil's Gift
James Christian - Craving
Jari Tiura - King of Lions
Jean Beauvoir - Rock Masterpieces Vol 2.
Jim Shepard - Jaded
Jimmy Waldo and Steven Rosen - Voices from the Past
Jizzy Pearl of Love-Hate - All You Need Is Soul
Joe Cerisano's Silver Condor - Studio Cuts, Rarities & Live Across America
Johan Kihlbergs Impera - Age of Discovery
Johnny Gioeli - One Voice
Jon Butcher Axis - Stare at the Sun
Judas Priest - Firepower
Kalidia - The Frozen Throne
King Company - Queen of Hearts
Knightmare - Walk Through the Fire
Koritni - Rolling
L.A. Guns - Made in Milan
Labyrinth - Return to Live
Leather - II
Leaves Eyes - Sign of the Dragonhead
Lee Aaron - Diamond Baby Blues
Leverage - The Devil's Turn EP
Lioncage - Turn Back Time
Lione - Conte
Lipz - Scaryman
Little Caesar - Eight
Lordi - Sexorcism
Lords of Black - Icon of the New Days
Lords of the Tridents - Shadows From the Past
Mad Max - 35
Mass - When 2 Worlds Collide
MaterDea - Pyaneta
Meka Nism - The War Inside EP
Merryweather Stark - Carved in Rock
Michael Kratz - Live Your Life
Michael Ross - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind
Mike Lepond's Silent Assassins - Pawn and Prophecy
Millennial Reign - The Great Divide
Mob Rules - Beast Reborn
Monument - Hellhound
Mood Groove - ST
Motor City Mayhem - Shitfaced and Outta Luck
Mr. Big - Live from Milan
My Own Army - A Medicine Show
nancybreathing - Awake
Nazareth - Tattooed on My Brain
Necronomicon - Unleashed Bastards
Newman - Decade II
Nitrate - Real World
Nordic Union - Second Coming
North of South - New Latitudes
Northward - ST
Once - After Earth
PAL - Prime
Palace of the King - Get Right With Your Maker
Peacemaker - Concrete and Terror
Pentarium - Zwischenwelt
Perfect Plan - All Rise
Pompeii - The Secret Sessions
Prayer - Silent Soldiers
Praying Mantis - Gravity
Primal Fear - Apocalypse
Professor Black - LVPVS
Professor Black - Sunrise
QFT - Live in Space
Red Dragon Cartel - Patina
Refuge - Solitary Men
Revertigo - ST
Rexoria - Queen of Light
RIOT GRRRLS - The Riot Grrr Sessions
Ross the Boss - By Blood Sworn
Runaway - ST
Rust N Rage - Tales for the Wasteland
Saffire - Where the Monsters Dwell
Sage - Anno Domini 1573
Salty Dog - Lost Treasure
Sapphire Eyes - Breath of Ages
Saxon - Thunderbolt
Schrat - Alptraumgaenger
Sebastien - Act of Creation
Sense of Fear - As The Ages Passing By
Seventh Wonder - Tiara
Shadowkeep - ST
Shinedown - Attention Attention
Shiraz Lane - Carnival Days
Signal Red - Under the Radar
SKoR - Rubus Tellus
Snakes in Paradise - Step into the Light
Snowmen - Rock and Roll Communication 1982-83
Sonata Arctica - The Harvests 2007-2017
SoulHealer - Up From The Ashes
Southern Empire - Civilisation
Spiral Key - An Error of Judgement
Spock's Beard - Noise Floor
Squealer - Behind Closed Doors
Star Chase - Afterlife
Steelheart - Rockin Milan
Stephen Pearcy - View to a Thrill
Steve Kilbey - Sydney Rococo
Stone Leaders - ST
Stray Bullets - Shut Up
Stryper - God Damn Evil
Suidakra - Cimbric Yarns
Sunstorm - Road to Hell
Tad Morose - Chapter X
Taina - Seelenfresser
Tankard - Hymns for the Drunk
Templeton Pek - Watching the World Come Undone
Ten - Illuminati
The Cyberiam
The Dalton Correction - Beware of Yarara
The Heard - The Island
The Radio Sun - Beautiful Strange
The Sleeper - Apparatus
The Soul Exchange - Edge of Sanity
The Wizards - Rise of the Serpent
Thundermother - ST
Tony Mitchell - Beggars Gold
ToRyse - Erased
Toto - Fanfields 2
Turbo Vixen - Drive Into the Night
Two of a Kind - Rise
Tyler James EP
UDO - Steelfactory
Undertow - Reap the Storm
Universe Infinity - Rock Is Alive
Unruly Child - Unhinged Life from Milan
Valentine - The Alliance
Valyria - Into The Dying of Time
Vega - Only Human
Velvet Viper - Respice Finem
Veonity - Legend of The Starborn
Vivaldi Metal Project - The Extended Sessions
Voodoo Circle - Raised on Rock
VOJD - The Outer Ocean
White Widdow - Victory
Within the Giant's Reach - In the Beginning EP
Wonderworld - Wonderworld III
Xtasy - Second Chance

Honorable Mentions

Airrace - Untold Stories. Better than I expected. Styx meets Led Zeppelin at times, a very classic sound.

Amaranthe - Helix. Nothing inherently groundbreaking with this release, but impeccably executed as usual.

Arion - Life Is Not Beautiful. This one took me a bit to warm up to, as the debut album was genius and the new lead vocalist initially put me off big time as the contrast from the original lead vocalist was too stark. However, after repeated listening it works.

Beyond the Black - Heart of the Hurricane. Excellent female-fronted symphonic melodic metal; was in my top 5 for a good portion of the year.

Bonfire - Temple of Lies. By far the best release this band has done since changing vocalists. If you can mentally put aside the connection with what Bonfire was for several decades and just listen to the album in and of itself, it's top notch. On the Wings of an Angel is vintage Fair Warning.

Brothers of Metal - Prophecy of Ragnarok. Campy, over the top, anthemic "Manowar done modern euro power metal" sorta thing. Very listenable.

Buckets Rebel Heart - 20 Good Summers. This one really didn't get much discussion. Well executed AOR with a classic bent, at times sounding like vintage Survivor meets Thunder.

Creye - ST. Magnificent retro synth AOR. Just outside my top 5 for the year.

Crying Steel - Stay Steel. Tony Mills fronted classic melodic metal. Straight out of 1987; somewhat predictable, but solid and enjoyable.

Dead of Night - The Evolving Science of Self. Lush female-fronted symphonic metal. Quite catchy.

DeVicious - Never Say Never. Somewhat play-by-numbers melodic hard rock that is eminently listenable due to good arrangements and solid production.

Dire Peril - The Extraterrestrial Compendium. Iced Earth meets Blind Guardian with a science fiction theme. Another one just outside my top 5. Very enjoyable.

Dukes of the Orient - ST. Classic melodic hard rock with a Praying Mantis vibe. Heavy keyboard emphasis throughout.

Ghost - Prequelle. Probably their most "commercial" and melodic effort to date. If you've not yet heard it, and are into retrosynth check out the "Carpenter Brut Remix" of Dance Macabre. Truly epic.

Grimner - Vanadrottning. Swedish folk metal? Yep. If you're into the heavier side of things, well worth checking out.

Hardcore Superstar - You Can't Kill My Rock and Roll. Anthemic sleaze. You know what you're getting, but it's a fun listen.

Heartwind - Higher and Higher. Excellent debut album of traditional melodic rock. Good use of different vocalists. It will be interesting to hear what they do moving forward.

Jerome Mazza - Outlaw Son. This one was on the cusp of making my top 5 until the 11th hour when tough decisions had to be made. I loved his work in Pinnacle Point, and this album continues in similar quality.

Kamelot - The Shadow Theory. Theatrical melodic prog metal. Very polished.

Kobra And The Lotus - Prevail II. Tasty female-fronted melodic metal. Very commercial and polished.

Lizzy Borden - My Midnight Things. This was a very nice surprise for fans of vintage Lizzy Borden. Harkens back to Master of Disguise era form.

Magic Dance - New Eyes. Enjoyable AOR with a very retro sound. Good vocals, but mediocre production quality and sameyness keep it out of the top 5.

Manimal - Purgatorio. Excellent "crunchy" heavy metal ala Judas Priest or Cage. Nothing that hasn't been done before, but superbly produced and executed.

Maverick - Cold Star Dancer. Solid 80s hard rock from this Irish band. A bit gritty in places, but infectious nonetheless.

Meliah Rage - Idol Hands. This band's been around forever, and to be honest I wasn't expecting too much... but if you're a fan of old school Megadeth or Metal Church this will be right up your alley. Excellent production/mix.

Midnite City - There Goes the Neighbourhood. Sophomore album that picks up right where the debut left off... but with better production.

No Hot Ashes - ST. This one is both excellent and odd at the same time. Songs are catchy, while the lead vocals are... unusual.

Orion's Reign - Scores of War. Greek symphonic epic power metal... think Sabbaton meets Two Steps from Hell. Very entertaining.

Sir Reg - The Underdogs. A Swedish celtic punk/hard rock band... dafuq? Yep... it is insanely catchy and listenable. Think Dropkick Murphys but better. If Sir Reg and Alestorm ever met under the same roof, the planet might not survive.

State of Salazar - Superhero. Sophomore album from this Work-of-Art-esque AOR band. Very solid, if not a bit too samey throughout that keeps it from entering the top 5.

StoneLake - Thunder and Rain. Melodic hard rock with very Tony-Mills-like lead vocals. Crunchy guitar work but also lots of layered keys.

Taste - Moral Decay. Another very retro-sounding AOR release (there were a lot this year!). The accented vocals might put some off though.

The Night Flight Orchestra - Sometimes The World Ain't Enough. Another release that was actually in my top 5 for a portion of the year, being pushed just outside. A very unique sound and composition (I would classify both TNFO and Cats in Space as modern incarnations of ELectric Light Orchestra, each with their own unique spin).

Treat - Tunguska. Another solid release, in similar vein but just a step down from the last 2 albums... or it could be that it's not a step down but too similar to these ears. The novelty has worn off a bit.

Tremonti - A Dying Machine. Absolutely stellar modern heavy metal. Melodic yet punchy at the same time.

W.E.T. - Earthrage. The lead off track set my expectations SO high for this album that I thought it would be a runaway winner of best for 2018, but sadly the album as a whole didn't rise to that same level. It's very good, just a bit nondescript. There were more standouts on Rise Up for me.

Dan's Winners

5th Place

cover Palace - Binary Music (Frontiers Records). This one didn't hit me right out of the gate; I was fairly lukewarm to it initially. But this album is the very definition of "grower" and winds up being a worthy follow-up to their debut, which was my choice for 2016 HH CD of the year. It doesn't grab you quite as much, but follow-up albums rarely capture the same reaction as debuts, simply because the music no longer has that new smell... err, sound. The first time you hear a good song, hook, or riff, the impact is usually going to be greater than when you hear it again. One of the most notable songs for me is Queen of the Prom, for the very reason it bothers other listeners: it's a pretty radical departure for them stylistically, but an excellent one, in the vein of Cats in Space. I'd love to hear them do more material in that arena.

4th Place

cover Leah - The Quest (Inner Wound Records). The record label this album is on belies the nature of this release, as the label usually caters to much heavier material. While self-described as "celtic fantasy metal", in my opinion there's very little metal about Leah... but that isn't a bad thing. This is lushly orchestrated epic hard rock, with the vocals being less "metal" than they are a blend of Lana Lane meets Enya. As long as you don't get caught up in labels or categorization, and thus open yourself up to disappointment based on the expectations of those labels, and just enjoy the music for what it is, it makes for an enrapturing listen. It's prompted me to want to go out and explore her previous 3 albums.

3rd Place

cover Care of Night - Love Equals War (AOR Heaven Records). Lushly produced Scandi AOR, what's not to love? I know that some were put off by the length of the songs on the album, with many clocking in at over 5 minutes, but frankly they fly by so quickly you never notice. Definitely a "feel good" album that gets the toes a-tappin'. The gang choruses and prominent keyboards make for a powerful presentation.

2nd Place

cover Kissin' Dynamite - Ecstasy (Metal Blade Records). This album and my #1 pick traded places back and forth numerous times over the last several months of 2018, and if I could ever give co-winners for CD of the year, this would have been the year to do it. Man, what can I say about KD? They never disappoint, and appear to be getting better and better with every album. I think they have taken the mantle of "Quintessential 80s rock band" and brought it full strength into the 20-teens, taking no prisoners along the way. Epic rock anthems, party songs, and heart-wrenching ballads, this album has it all. If you've seen their videos and especially their live performances, they bring a welcome and long-missed '80s swagger to the modern rock scene. I can't say enough good things about this album!

Dan's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2018 CD of the Year

cover Dynazty - Firesign (AFM Records). This one hit me out of the blue, as I had not been all that aware of their previous efforts. As Spinal Tap would say, "this one goes to 11." Crunchy melodic metal but with a definite traditional hard rock style that is just in your face nonstop. The instrumentation is somewhat euro-power metal, but the vocals are all hard/melodic rock, and powerful AF. Add the layered keyboards to the mix, and it's just an insane mix of rock and metal. Bombastic, for lack of a better word. I can put this album on shuffle for hours on end and it never gets old. This album has been in my #1 or #2 position since it came out early in the year. Singer Nils Molin has been garnering attention since he joined Amaranthe, and I hope it translates into increased interest in the Dynazty material... it most certainly is worth it!

Mike's Picks for the Best of 2018

The Also Rans

Age Sten Nilsen's Ammunition - Ammunition
Alice In Chains - Rainier Fog
Anthrax - Kings Among Scotland
Babylon Shakes - Exile to the Velveteen Lounge Vol. 1
Brian Barnhouse - Sign of Life
Blackberry Smoke - The Southern Ground Sessions
Black Stone Cherry - Family Tree
Boize - S/T
Loyd Boldman - Sleep Without Dreams
Bonfire - Legends
Bugzy - Center Of Attraction
Bugzy - She's The One
Bulletboys - From Out of The Skies
Cats In Space - Cats Alive!
James Christian - Craving
Compilations - Deep Cuts And Rarities - Cover Song Compilation CD
Alice Cooper - A Paranormal Evening With Alice Cooper at the Olympia Paris
John Corabi - One Night in Nashville
CoreLeoni - The Greatest Hits Part 1
Creye - S/T
Dare Force - Callin' Your Name
Dare - Out of the Silence II
Dark Sky - Once
The Darkness - Live At Hammersmith
De-Arrow - S/T
Devil's Hand - S/T
Dokken - Return to The East Live 2016
Dream Child - Until Death Do We Meet Again
Early Warning - Radio Waves
The East Side Gamblers - The Big Machine
Electric Boys - The Ghost Ward Diaries
Enuff Z'Nuff - Diamond Boy
Erotic Psycho - The Lost Boyz
Foreigner - With The 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Ace Frehley - Spaceman
Johnny Gioeli- One Voice
Gioeli-Castronovo - Set The World on Fire
Gotthard - Defosted 2
Grand Design - Viva La Paradise
Helix - Icon
J. K. Northrup and David Cagle - That's Gonna Leave a Mark
Jaded Heart - Devil's Gift
Junkyard - Shut Up - We're Trying to Practice
Ron Keel - Metal Cowboy Reloaded
Kenny Leckremo's Spectra - Spectra
Kid Cyote - Animal Lust
Killer Dwarfs - Live No Guff
King Kobra - Sweden Rock Live
Tony Lewis - Out of the Darkness
Mass - When 2 Worlds Collide
Metal Church - Damned If You Do
Michael Schenker Fest - Resurrection
Tony Mitchell - Beggar's Gold
Mr. Big - Live From Milan
Newman - Decade II
New York - Carry the Torch / Electric Thunder
No Hot Ashes - No Hot Ashes
Nordic Union - Second Coming
Aldo Nova - Aldo Nova 2.0
Palace - Binary Music
Peacemaker - Concrete & Terror
Stephen Pearcy - View to a Thrill
Axel Rudi Pell - Knights Call
Ted Poley - Modern Art
The Poodles - Prisma
Primal Fear - Apocalypse
Prowess - Rolln With The Punches
Red Dragon Cartel - Patina
Dizzy Reed - Rock 'n Roll Ain't Easy
RevLover - Too Fast For the Competition
Rox Diamond - Let The Music Do The Talkin'
Saliva - 10 Lives
Michael Schenker - A Decade of the Mad Axeman
Shinedown - Attention Attention
Signal Red - Under The Radar
Slash - Living the Dream (1,2,3,4,5,9,12)
Snakes in Paradise - Step Into the Light
Steelcity - Fortress
Steelheart - Rock'n Milan
Sunstorm - The Road to Hell
Taz - Cold Shoulder
Mickey Thomas - Alive Alone
Thrillkiller - San Francisco Moto
Toto - 40 Trips Around The Sun
Trailer Park Vampire - Waiting For the Night
Train - Greatest Hits
Tributes - Fanfields 2 A Fans' Tribute to Toto
Ultraphonix - Original Human Music
Unruly Child Unhinged - Live From Milan
Vandenberg's MoonKings - Rugged and Unplugged
Vixen - Live Fire
W.A.S.P. ReIdolized - The Soundtrack to The Crimson Idol
W.E.T. - Earthrage
Whitesnake - The Purple Tour (Live)
Whitesnake - Unzipped... The Love Songs
White Widdow - Victory
Ann Wilson - Immortal
Y and T - Acoustic Classix Vol. 1

Honorable Mentions

Accept - Symphonic Terror (Live at Wacken 2017). Excellent live release from Accept; Part 3, which is Accept with orchestra, is simply outstanding!

Bad Touch - Shake a Leg. Bluesy hard rock from UK rockers Bad Touch. Check out "Hammer Falls" and "Skyman" to hear what these boys can do!

Dallas - S/T. It pains me to leave this one out of my top 5; consider this one 5b. Top notch AOR/melodic rock that has a definite Def Leppard influence, but with a more modern "vibe".

Daughtry - Cage to Rattle. A much "poppier" effort compared to his previous releases, but it suits him just fine. "Deep End" is excellent!

The Dead Daisies - Burn It Down. Another strong release from Corabi and company; love the title track!

Gus G. - Fearless. Another one that didn't miss my top 5 by much! With Gus' top notch guitar work, and the excellent vocals of Dennis Ward, this one has found its way back to my CD player time and time again. "Letting Go" and the beautifully crafted "Nothing to Say" are particular favorites.

Ghost - Prequelle. Checked Ghost out for the first time in 2018, and I'm glad I did! "Rats" and "Dance Macabre" are tremendous!

Judas Priest - Firepower. After back to back disappoinments (Nostradamus and Redeemer of Souls) the mighty Judas Priest have come back screaming with a vengeance! ;-) Easily their best release since Painkiller!

Koritni - Rolling. Koritni are one of my favorite bands of the last 10-15 years, and this is another rock solid release. Cuts like the title track and "Hellraiser" will keep you coming back for more!

Lizzy Borden - My Midnight Things. After 11 years, Lizzy is back with a new helping of melodic metal, and I've thoroughly enjoyed this one! The title track, "Long May They Haunt Us", and "We Belong to the Shadows" are personal faves!

Maverick - Firebird. Hailing from Australia, these bluesy hard rockers have put out a great slab of rock. "The Road" is a good tune to check out to hear what Maverick are all about!

The Night Flight Orchestra - Sometimes The World Ain't Enough. After last year's absolutely superb "Amber Galactic", I was suprised to see a new release from NFO so soon; striking while the iron is hot I suppose? While not as good as the aforementioned release, this one is still quite enjoyable with "Turn to Miami", the title track, "Speedwagon", and "Lovers in the Rain" being personal faves.

Nitrate - Real World. Joss Mennen is one of my favorite vocalists ever, so I was extremely excited when details of this project surfaced. It did not disappoint! This is very well-crafted AOR/melodic rock that should appeal to most folks reading this. "Insane" is a particular fave.

Roxanne - Radio Silence. Well, it only took 30 years, but here we have the follow-up to 1988's self titled release from Roxanne, and what a release it is! Great hard rock on offer here, with a little help from KXM along the way. Check out "Super Bad", "Someone to Kill", "Go Fuck Yourself" and their great cover of The Scream's "Man in the Moon" to hear what Roxanne are currently up to!

The Screaming Jets - Gotcha Covered. I enjoy a well done covers CD, and this one is definitely well done, with The Screaming Jets doing covers of nothing but other Aussie bands. Their song choices are not what you would immediately expect either, making for some very entertaining listening.

Dee Snider - For the Love of Metal. Dee's foray into straight up metal is a damn fine one! Bringing in musicians from Hatebreed and Kingdom of Sorrow to do the writing seems to have energized Dee's vocals big time! Check out the title track and "Tomorrow's No Concern"!

Rick Springfield - The Snake King. I've seen alot of hate directed at this one over the course of the year, and while true, it's nowhere near his previous two releases, I still enjoy quite a few of the tracks, particularly the excellent title cut.

TNT - XIII. After a string of simply dreadful releases since Tony Harnell's departure, TNT return with an effort that finally has some resemblance to the TNT of past. Hopefully they can keep new vocalist Baol Bulsara and maintain this momentum on their next release!

Treat - Tunguska. While not up to the lofty levels of their previous two efforts, this is still a great release, and falls right in line with what they've been doing since their return in 2006.

UDO - Steelfactory. Consistency thy name is UDO. Another solid release chock full of metal goodness. I enjoy the majority of the disc, but its his anthemic "One Heart, One Soul" that really shines here.

Mike's Winners

5th Place

cover Straight Six - Full Circle (Self-Released). Straight forward hard rock that I've played over and over since picking it up a few months ago. While there are many highlights, it's the ballad "What Would I Give" that really shines here, and I think most HH regulars would love it if they checked it out. On a side note, Straight Six features current XYZ drummer Joey Shapiro!

4th Place

cover Jerome Mazza - Outlaw Son (Escape Music). Without a doubt, the surprise of the year for me! The voice of Pinnacle Point has released a tremendous solo effort that is brimming with AOR/melodic rock excellence! The opener, "Neverland", "Undercover Love", "Song For the People", and the absolutely superb "Save the Best Til Last" are my faves, but honestly, I don't think there's a bad song here. If you haven't checked this one out, please give the song below a listen; you'll be happy you did!

3rd Place

cover Blackberry Smoke - Find a Light (3 Legged Records). Take southern rock, blues, country, hard rock, etc.. throw it all into a blender, and out comes Blackberry Smoke. I'd enjoyed their last couple of releases, but they've gone over the top with this one. "Run Away From It All" and "Best Seat in the House" are great, and quite representative of this fine release! Well done!

2nd Place

cover Stryper - God Damn Evil (Frontiers Records). Once I got passed the initial shock of hearing the chorus to "Take It to the Cross" , I was able to dig in and thoroughly enjoy the latest offering from hard rock's "God Squad". While not quite as good as 2013's "No More Hell to Pay", this one bests their previous effort, 2015's "Fallen" by quite a bit in my opinion. Excellent tracks like "Sorry", the title track, "The Valley", and "Can't Live Without Your Love" have kept this one in my CD player on and off for most of the year.

Mike's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2018 CD of the Year

cover The Struts - Young & Dangerous (Interscope Records ). Take Queen, Bowie, the Stones, and late 70s/early 80s Rod Stewart, throw em all in a blender, and out pops The Struts! This release is full of some of the catchiest power pop/melodic rock I've heard in quite a while. From the opener "Body Talks" (the version featuring Kesha is also excellent!), "In Love With the Camera", and "Who Am I?", to "Ashes", this one is just great from start to finish. While it would be hard for me to imagine them bettering this one, I'm definitely excited to see what they do next; well done gents!

Pete's Picks for the Best of 2018

The Also Rans

Acacia Avenue - Worlds Apart
Accept - Symphonic Terror
Ace Mafia - Ace Mafia
Across the Board - Sonic Boom
Afire - On the Road From Nowhere
Airrace - Untold Stories
Alcatrazz - Parole Denied
Alcyona - Trailblazer
Aldo Nova - 2
The Almas - Back to Bad
Altitudes & Attitude - Get It Out
Amanda Somerville's Trillion - Tectonic
American Tears - Hard Core
Animal Drive - Bite!
Anvil - Pounding the Pavement
Arion - Life Is Not Beautiful
Armored Dawn - Barbarians in Black
Ashes of Ares - Well of Souls
Atlas - In Pursuit of Memory
Barros - More Humanity Please
Chris Bay - Chasing the Sun
Jean Beauvoir - Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1
Jean Beauvoir - Rock Masterpieces Vol. 2
Beggars - The Day I Lost My Head
Steve Bello - Marblehead
Big City - Big City Life
Black Ink River - Headstrong
Black Majesty - Children of the Abyss
Black Tiger - Black Tiger
Black Veil Brides - Vale
BlitZ - BlitZ
Blood Red Saints - Love Hate Conspiracies
Bloodlost - Diary of Death
Bloody Times - On a Mission
Bonfire - Legends
Graham Bonnet Band - Meanwhile Back in the Garage
Borealis - The Offering
Born Again - True Heavy Nation
Brainstorm - Midnight Ghost
Brothers of Metal - Prophecy of Ragnarok
Browsing Collection - Don't Want to Dance
Buckets Rebel Heart - 20 Good Summers
Bugzy - Center Of Attraction
Bugzy - She's The One
Bullet - Dust to Gold
Bulletboys - From Out of The Skies
Bullets and Octane - Waking Up Dead
Captain Black Beard - Struck by Lightning
Care Of Night - Love Equals War
Christian Tolle Project - Point Blank
James Christian - Craving
City of Thieves - Beast Reality
CoreLeoni - The Greatest Hits Part 1
Creye - Creye
Crosson - Invincible
The Cruel Intentions - No Sign of Relief
Crying Steel - Stay Steel
Crystal Ball - Crystallizer
Crystal Tears - Decadence Deluxe
Crystal Viper - At the Edge of Time
The Cyberiam - The Cyberiam
D'Ercole - Made to Burn
Dallas - Dallas
The Dan Reed Network - Origins
Dangerous Curves - So Dirty Right
Darby Mills Project - Flying Solo
Darby Mills Project - Live
Dare Force - Callin' Your Name
Dare - Out of the Silence II
Dark Sky - Once
The Darker My Horizon - Phoenix: Volume One
Daughtry - Cage to Rattle
DC4 - Atomic Highway
De-Arrow - De-Arrow
Dead City Ruins - Never Say Die
Dead of Night - The Evolving Science of Self
Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius - Guilty of Innocence
Destinia - Metal Souls
Devil's Hand - Devil's Hand
Diamante - Coming in Hot
Bruce Dickinson - Scream For Me Sarajevo
Dogface - Releashed
Dominoe - The Lost Radio Show
Doomsday Outlaw - Hard Times
Doomsday Outlaw - Suffer More
Dyecrest - Are You Not Entertained?
Emperors of the Wasteland - Begin
Enuff Z'Nuff - Diamond Boy
Hank Erix - Nothing But Trouble
Eternal Dream - Daementia
Ethernity - The Human Race Extinction
The Exploding Boy - Alarms!
External - The Blurry Horizon
Federal Charm - Passenger
Felskinn - Mind Over Matter
Fire Tiger - Suddenly Heavenly
Firmo - Rehab
Flat Earth - None For One
Flight - A Leap Through Matter
Fragile Things - Echo Chambers
Free From Sin - II
Full House Brew Crew - Me Against You
Gus G. - Fearless
Ginger Red - Donuts and Coffee
God's Army - Demoncracy
Gotthard - Defrosted 2
Grand Design - Viva La Paradise
Groundbreaker - Groundbreaker
Guardians of Time - Tearing Up The World
Guild Of Ages - Rise
Hartmann - Hands on the Wheel
The Heard - The Island
Hearts on Fire - Call of Destiny
Heartwind - Higher and Higher
Heaven's Trail - Lethal Mind
Helion Prime - Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster
Hogjaw - Way Down Yonder
Holter - Vlad the Impaler
The Howling Tides - The Howling Tides
Impellitteri - The Nature of The Beast
Imperium - Beyond the Stars
Innfight - Black Dog
J. K. Northrup and David Cagle - That's Gonna Leave a Mark
Kenny Leckremo’s Spectra - Spectra
Kilmara - Across the Realm of Time
King Company - Queen of Hearts
Mia Klose - Stronger
Phil Lanzon - If You Think I'm Crazy
Leather - II
Lioncage - Turn Back Time
Lipz - Scaryman
Little Caesar - Eight
Lizzy Borden - My Midnight Things
London - Call That Girl
Lordi - Sexorcism
Lords of Black - Icon of the New Days
Mad Max - 35
Madison - Best in Show
Cliff Magness - Lucky Dog
Magnum - Lost on The Road to Eternity
Manimal - Purgatorio
Mass - When 2 Worlds Collide
Maxxwell - Metalized
Jerome Mazza - Outlaw Son
Marco Mendoza - Viva La Rock
Melodius Deite - Episode III The Archangels and the Olympians
Michael Schenker Fest - Resurrection
Michael Schinkel's Eternal Flame - Smoke on the Mountain
Mission in Black - Anthems of a Dying Breed
Mood Groove - Mood Groove
Motor City Mayhem - Shitfaced and Outta Luck
MotorJesus - Race To Resurrection
Nazareth - Tattooed On My Brain
Newman - Decade II
The Night Flight Orchestra - Sometimes The World Ain't Enough
Peter H. Nilsson - Little American Dream
Nitrate - Real World
Northward - Northward
Null'O'Zero - Instructions to Dominate
Once - After Earth
Orion's Reign - Scores of War
Osukaru - House of Mirrors
Palace - Binary Music
Stephen Pearcy - View to a Thrill
Jizzy Pearl - All You Need Is Soul
Axel Rudi Pell - Knights Call
Steve Perry - Traces
Pleasure Maker - Dancin' With Danger
Ted Poley - Modern Art
The Poodles - Prisma
Prayer - Silent Soldiers
Praying Mantis - Gravity
Primal Fear - Apocalypse
The Radio Sun - Beautiful Strange
Rainlight - Lost in Time
RebelHot - Uncomfortableness
Dizzy Reed - Rock 'n Roll Ain't Easy
Refuge - Solitary Men
Revertigo - Revertigo
Riot Grrrls - The Riot Grrrl Sessions
Ross the Boss - By Blood Sworn
Ryan Roxie - Imagine Your Reality
Rylos - Solarwoks Pt. 1
Rust n' Rage - Tales From the Wasteland
Sacrosanct - Necropolis
Saffire - Where the Monsters Dwell
Sainted Sinners - Back With a Vengeance
Salty Dog - Lost Treasure
Dale Sanders - Handle With Care
Sapphire Eyes - Breath of Ages
Screaming Beast - Our New Narrative of Hate
The Senior Management - Heart and Soul
Serpico - Rock Tattoo
Seven Thorns - Castaway
Seventh Wonder - Tiara
Shadowkeep - Shadowkeep
Jim Shepard - Jaded
Shinedown - Attention Attention
Shyboy - Just Wanna Rock!
Sign of the Jackal - Breaking the Spell
Silver Condor - Studio Cuts, Rarities and Live Across America
Six Foot Six - The Six Foot Six Project
Sixgun Renegades - Sixgun Renegades
Slash - Living The Dream
Smoke the Sky - The Human Maze
Snakebite - Rise of the Snake
Snakes in Paradise - Step Into The Light
SnakeyeS - Metal Monster
Dee Snider - For the Love of Metal
Soldiers of Solace - We Are Immortal
Soul Exchange - Edge of Sanity
Rick Springfield - The Snake King
Squealer - Behind Closed Doors
State of Salazar - Superhero
Station - More Than the Moon
Stevie R. Pearce & The Hooligans - Stevie R. Pearce & The Hooligans
Stone Broken - Ain't Always Easy
Stoneface - Stoneface
Stonelake - Thunder and Rain
Strÿkenine - Nowhere to Run
Stryper - God Damn Evil
Sunstorm - The Road to Hell
Andy Susemihl - Elevation
Taste - Moral Decay
Ten - Illuminati
Theia - The Ghost Light
Thorium - Thorium
The Three Tremors - The Three Tremors
Thundermother - Thundermother
Jari Tiura - King of Lions
Tremonti - A Dying Machine
Daniel Trigger - Right Turn
U.D.O. - Steelfactory
Universe Infinity - Rock Is Alive
Uriah Heep - Living The Dream
Vandenberg's MoonKings - Rugged and Unplugged
Velvet Viper - Respice Finem
Volster - Perfect Storm
Von Baltzer - Cultural Daze
Voodoo Circle - Raised On Rock
Holly West - Mokita
Whoskey Grin - Whiskey Grin
White Widdow - Victory
The Wizards - Rise of the Serpent
Xtasy - Second Chance

Honorable Mentions

Angeline - Shadowlands. Great songwriting and a solid production make this a winner for me. Lots of feeling.

Bonfire - Temple of Lies. A solid album walking the line between melodic rock and metal, and doing both quite well.

Burn - Ice Age. A great hard rock band with excellent songs, plus Steve Newman on vocals and Chris Green on lead guitar… ‘nuff said.

Dream Child - Until Death Do We Meet Again. All the memories of Goldy-era Dio come flooding back, an enjoyable listen.

Dynazty - Firesign. Getting a little more modern with each release, but still kicking ass.

Fifth Angel - The Third Secret. Excellent comeback, although maybe not as powerful in the songwriting department as the first two.

Ghost - Prequelle. Injecting something completely new into melodic rock, I like it.

Gioeli-Castronovo - Set The World on Fire. Two great voices for the price of one, great songs, and not too lightweight.

Johnny Gioeli - One Voice. Love the voice, love the songs, more hooks than a tackle box.

Kissin' Dynamite - Ecstasy. Man I love this, powerful songs, this is my favorite early morning wakeup album by far… I’ve Got the Fire!

Maverick - Cold Star Dancer. Great hard rock, and just a hint more mature than the previous release. Super catchy choruses and lots of guitar.

Midnite City - There Goes the Neighbourhood. Picking up where the first album left off, big singalong choruses, heartfelt lyrics and a fine Pete Newdeck production.

Mike Lepond's Silent Assassins - Pawn and Prophecy. Driving, powerful and METAL. Not just a showcase for Lepond’s legendary bass skills, some great songs and Tecchio’s vocals are perfect for them.

Monument - Hellhound. Straight outta NWOBHM, it almost reminds me of Dianno-era Maiden with Dickinson on vocals. It also makes me drive fast.

Palace of the King - Get Right With Your Maker. Blues soaked rock’n’roll, like a cross between Led Zeppelin and the Black Crowes at times.

Perfect Plan - All Rise. Just a great melodic hard rock record right here. Very well written, excellent musicianship and production.

Reach - The Great Divine. Singer change and more modern direction than the first release, but they’re owning it and it sounds great.

Red Dragon Cartel - Patina. A real grower for me, with all the attitude and looseness of later Badlands. I hope Jake keeps building on this, I think it’s going in the right direction.

Reece - Resilient Heart. Possibly David’s best solo work to date, big powerful songs and a notch up in the heaviness department.

Shiraz Lane - Carnival Days. Easily their best yet, it just sounds like they’re on fire, it’s like a different band, driving and fun!

Signal Red - Under The Radar. Really an apt title for this one, I wish more people were talking about it, if even just for the amazingly great “Moster Truck” song.

Star Chase - Afterlife. I already love Jason’s vocals and they pair perfectly with Martret’s incredibly tasteful guitar work.

The Dead Daisies - Burn It Down. Solid hard rock, and you can’t go wrong with any of the veteran rockers in this band. Better songs could’ve cracked the top 5.

The Lazys - Tropical Hazards. Just a fun listen here, gritty riffs and big hooks with lots of swagger.

Treat - Tunguska. Very close to a top 5 pick for me, everything you’d want from Treat but maybe slightly less amazing than Ghost of Graceland.

Valentino Francavilla - Heavy Chains. New shredder on the scene, reminds me of early Impellitteri. Just in your face metallic riffing and powerful hooks.

W.E.T. - Earthrage. These guys do not disappoint, with players like these involved. Slightly better than Rise Up IMO, but not as good as the debut.

Pete's Winners

5th Place

cover Nordic Union - Second Coming (Frontiers Records). I loved their first release, and at first didn’t think Second Coming was at the same level. Fortunately it was a real grower and I found myself listening to it more and more as the year went on. The songs are what really get me with these guys. Kinda like the best parts of both bands. Standout tracks for me include It Burns, New Life Begins, Die Together.

4th Place

cover Judas Priest - Firepower (Epic/Sony Music). Priest is BACK! A few personnel changes over the years, but the Priest marches on with their most cohesive and powerful album in years. Just straight up twin guitar action here, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be complaining about it. Standout tracks include, Lightning Strike, Firepower, Never the Heroes.

3rd Place

cover Striker - Play to Win (Factor/Avalon). I’m a latecomer to this Canadian Metal powerhouse, but these guys are killing it with Play to Win. If you like your metal old school, with giant riffs, soaring vocals, and excellent guitar work, this is for you. Standout tracks for me include Head First, The Front, Play to Win.

2nd Place

cover Tony Mitchell - Beggars Gold (Melodic Rock Records). I’m probably a little biased on this one, because I’ve been a fan of Kiss of the Gypsy forever. This is some of Tony’s best work since the iconic KOTG album was released in 1992. Great songs, well executed, it just rocks. Standout Tracks for me are Never Say Die, Stone By Stone, What You Make It, In Everyone of Us.

Pete's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2018 CD of the Year

cover Vega - Only Human (Frontiers Records). What can I say, I love everything they’ve put out, and I can honestly say each release just gets better. Only Human is no exception packed with big hooks, tons of feeling, and a great production. Standout tracks for me include Let's Have Fun Tonight, Worth Dying For, Only Human, but really I love the whole thing straight through.

Jez's Picks for the Best of 2018

The Also Rans

3.2 – The Rules Have Changed
Accept –Symphonic Terror: Live At Wacken
Alcatrazz – Parole Denied -Tokyo 2017
Alcatrazz -Official Bootleg Box 1983 - 1986
Amaranthe - Helix
American Tears – Hardcore
Age Sten Nilsen’s Ammunition – Ammunition
Anvil - Pounding the Pavement
AOR – More Demos from L.A
Black Veil Brides – Vale
Bonfire – Legends
Bonfire – Temple Of Lies
Graham Bonnet Band – Meanwhile Back In The Garage
James Christian - Craving
Alice Cooper – A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper
Dare – Out Of Silence II
The Darkness – Live At Hammersmith
Daughtry - A Cage to Rattle
Drive, She Said – Real Life (2018 Remaster/Remix)
Dynazty - Firesign
Emigrate – A Million Degrees
Hank Erix – Nothing but Trouble
Fire Tiger – Suddenly Heavenly
Foreigner – Foreigner with the 21st Century Orchestra and Chorus
Ace Frehley - Spaceman
Goeli/ Castronovo – Set the World On Fire
Hearts on Fire – Call Of Destiny
Issa – Run With the Pack
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Leaves’ Eyes – Sign Of The Dragonhead
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Live In Atlantic City
Magic Dance – New Eyes
Midnite City – There Goes the Neighbourhood
Muse – Simulation Theory
Newman – Decade II
Nightrate – Real World
Nightwish – Decades
No Hot Ashes – NHA
Nordic Union – Second Coming
Aldo Nova – Aldo Nova 2.0
Joe Perry – Sweetzerland Manifesto
The Poodles – Prism
Ross the Boss – My Blood Sworn
Saga – So Good So Far
Slash – Living the Dream
Michael W. Smith – Surrounded
Michael W. Smith – A Million Lights
Dee Snider – For the Love of Metal
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Roine Stolt’s The Flower King – Manifesto Of An Alchemist
Stryper – God Damn Evil
Ten - Illuminati
Thirty Seconds to Mars – America
Thunder – Stage
Toto – 40 Trips Around the Sun
Whitesnake – The Purple Tour
White Widdow – Victory

Honorable Mentions

Lee Aaron – Diamond Baby Blues. Excellent bluesy hard rock, from the 'Metal Queen'. A big return to form, after 2016's patchy 'Fire and Gasoline'

Airrace – Untold Stories. A revamped line up and a revamped sound for this pioneering UK AOR Band and a good quality album to boot. A nice mix of 70's/80's AOR with a tougher edge and some fine song writing.

Arena – Double Vision. The latest in a long line of top quality releases from one of the UK's top Prog bands. One of the genre's best this year

Auri - Auri. Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish and his latest project. Don't expect the traditional Nightwish sound on here, as this is a different beast altogether. Celtic, Folk and Rock mixed with Haunting/ethereal vocals to stunning effect.

Beyond The Black – Heart of The Hurricane. 3rd and best album yet from the German Symphonic metallers, For fans of Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Nightwish and female fronted Sympho in general. An absolute must buy

Care of Night – Love Equals War. Album number 2 from this Swedish AOR outfit and an excellent follow up to the highly regarded 'Connected' from 2015.

Cats in Space – Cats Alive. Cracking live album from the 2017 tour with Thunder. It's short and sweet at only 35 minutes, but captures the band perfectly at their live best

Creye - Creye. One of the most anticipated AOR albums of the year and an absolute belter it is too. Everything a fan of this type of music would want and then some. Pretty much the benchmark of its type this year

Dimmu Borgir - Eonian. Heavy, melodic and symphonic in equal doses, that sees the band venturing into new territories. A brilliant slice of operatic metal

Dukes of the Orient – Dukes of the Orient. Pretty much a John Payne era Asia release in all but name and a very well produced album of melodic prog rock

FM – Atomic Generation. Another year, another top quality FM album. Showcasing the band doing what they do best

GIG (Goodrum, Innis, Gaitsch) – Brave New World. A must have release for the lovers of West Coast pop and soft-rock, featuring 3 of the West coast music scene's finest exponents. Limited to 1000 copies, so get one while you can,

Groundbreaker – Groundbreaker. Work Of Art guitarist Robert Sall and FM's Steve Overland's AOR project,. Groundbreaking it certainly isn't, but fans of their aforementioned bands and good, solid melodic rock in general should check this one out, as it's one of the genres best this year

It Bites – Live In London. A superb 5 disc box set, featuring 3 gigs recorded at iconic London venues (The Marquee Club, The Astoria and Hammersmith Odeon) over a 14-year time span, with tracks from the unreleased 4th Album included! One of THE most underrated English bands of the 80's and this box set proves that fact in spades

Judas Priest – Firepower. Album number 18 and a real return to their heavy metal best, proving that, as with Saxon, the old guard can still be relevant and deliver top quality releases

Kissin' Dynamite – Ecstasy. Another band pitching in the same ball park as Eclipse and H.E.A.T etc and a very impressive release it is. Catchy, classy melodic hard rock and without a doubt the best album of their career so far. Excellent

LeBrock – Real Thing EP. As with the previous 'Action and Romance' release, a great mix of, tasty guitars, lush keys and some top drawer songs, One of the best Rock/Synthwave bands around at present. Next time, a full album please.

Lordi - Sexorcism. A band that has stuck pretty much to the same tried and tested formula with every album and this one is no different. Razor sharp riffs, huge choruses' slightly crass lyrics and naff image. What's not to like

Clif Magness – Lucky Dog. First solo release in nearly 25 years and a top quality slice of well crafted melodic rock/ AOR. It's not as good as the much superior 'Solo' classic from 1994. but a very welcome return all the same

Magnum -Lost On the Road To Eternity. This album sees the band back on course after a few patchy albums over the last few years and features a stellar set of songs with the fully orchestrated title track and the wonderful 'Storm Baby' stealing the show for album highlights. A good, solid return to form, in typical Magnum fashion

Northward – Northward. Northward is Floor Jansen (Nightwish) and Jorn Viggo Loftsad (Pagan's Mind) and their S/T album. 10 years in the making (many of these songs were written when the pair met back in 2008) but the wait has been well worthwhile with this highly impressive album .Consistently good hard rocking songs, fantastic vocals and some tasty guitar work feature on this debut album of much merit

Palace – Binary Code. Palace's sophomore release, although a much more exploratory sound than the debut, offering much more variety. AOR, Hi-Tech, West coast and melodic rock, it's all there and it all works extremely well for the most part.

Rick Parfitt – Over And Out. Rick's posthumous solo album and a very fitting tribute to the great man. It's an eclectic album of varying styles, with the highlight being the very wonderful 'Without You' which will bring a lump to your throat. Gone but not forgotten.

Perfect Plan – All Rise. A nice mix of old school and modern AOR with some superb vocals from this new Scandinavian band. Very impressive, especially for a debut album, so let's hope it's not a one off.

Steve Perry – Traces. The Voice is back, with a poignant album written in memory of his wife, who sadly passed away in 2012. Most of the tracks are sombre, emotional ballads, which border on the melancholic at times, so this certainly isn't an album to get your 'Rock On' to, rather an album about the lyrics and the emotion of the voice, which Steve still has in spades, Without a doubt, the surprise release of the year and a beautiful one at that

Ted Poley – Modern Art. Mix together Degreed's excellent modern melodic rock songs and add Ted Poley on vox and you have the end result presented here. Top quality stuff, which for the most part, works exceptionally well.

Praying Mantis – Gravity. Great 'Old School' melodic hard rock release from the NWOBHM veterans.

Presto Ballet – The Days Between. This one just crept into the end of year list by a matter of 2 weeks and an accomplished slice of Pomp/ Prog it is too. 'I Am Wire' is worthy of purchase alone with the other 6 songs following on close behind in excellent fashion.

Dan Reed Network – Origins. Something old and something new on the latest DRN album. Firstly we get 4 old tracks, newly recorded, which all sound great with new modern production and sonic punch, or in the case of 'Let It Go, a complete re-arrangement too, whilst the new tracks carry on where 'Fight Another Day' left us back in 2016, all 4 being top quality songs too.

Joe Satriani – What Happens Next. Another excellent set, pretty much following his usual musical path, this time ably backed by the killer rhythm section of Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith

Saxon – Thunderbolt. "A storming, smashing thundering collection of songs”. Classic metal at its best and Saxon firing on all cylinders

Michael Schenker Fest – Resurrection. All the previous Schenker vocalists, all together on one album. Some sound better than others, with full marks going to Doogie White and Robin McAuley of the four (the same could be said for the live show too when I saw it), but the whole project generally fares really well with the bonus of some strong material, great band (Chris Glenn, Ted McKenna & Steve Mann) and Schenkers playing, with is right back to top form

State Of Salazar – Superhero. Album number 2 and pretty much a continuation of the excellent debut. A nice collection of 80's styled AOR, perfectly played and executed

Treat – Tunguska. Not as immediate as the previous couple of releases, but still a very good album and one that will please most melodic hard rock fans out there

Trust – Dans Le Meme Sang. The return for France's finest rock band and a great album of blues tinged hard rock, with Bernie's typical poetic, political and incisive lyrics. One of the surprises of the year for me and a very very welcome return to the scene

Uriah Heep – Living The Dream. 25 albums into their career and still going strong. Classic Uriah Heep and classic rock at its best

Vega – Only Human. This 5th release sees Vega doing what they do best, pure melodic hard rock, with their own stamp, although initially, this left me a little cold if I'm honest. After subsequent listens, I've warmed to it considerably and there are a handful of gems to be found on here. It's certainly not their best album, but still a strong statement from one of the UK's top melodic bands

W.A.S.P – Reidolized: The Soundtrack To The Crimson Idol. A really excellent polished and pristine re-recorded version (sonically this sounds absolutely superb) of the brilliant original concept album and whilst it doesn't better the original, this version certainly breathes new life into it and pushes the original all the way

W.E.T – Earthrage. W.E.T return with another excellent offering of polished modern melodic hard rock. Great songs, huge guitars, JSS on top form and a great production on here, so it sounds a million bucks too. Their best yet? I'll leave that one for you to decide

Warren Wiebe – Original Demos. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Warren Wiebe's passing, so this is a timely reminder of what an absolutely exceptionally talented vocalist he really was. A collection of high quality demo tracks recorded for the likes of David Foster, Burt Bacharach, Tom Snow and Tim Feehan amongst others. A very cool mix of West coast and soft rock of absolute top quality.

Kim Wilde – Here Come the Aliens. The queen of the 80's returns fully rejuvenated with a belting album full to the brim of catchy rock/ pop anthems with its foot firmly in the Rock camp One of THE big surprises of the year and a seriously good album

Jez's Winners

5th Place

cover Michael Kratz - Live Your Life (Art of Melody Music). Michael's debut album 'Cross That Line'' was a very promising slice of West Coast AOR/Pop rock that seemed to pass most people by at the time. Album number 2 sees the Dane deliver the same style as before, although he’s upped his game in every department this time, especially the quality of the songs. which are of a very high standard throughout. There's a nice line up of guests too, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, Dom Brown and David Garfield all stamp their mark on a very impressive, albeit laidback, set of West coast style AOR/Soft rock.

4th Place

cover Young Gun Silver Fox – AM Waves (P-Vine Records). A continuation from 2016's excellent 'West End Coast' debut and another superbly crafted and performed slice of 70s/ 80s Cali West Coast, Pop Rock/ Soft Rock call it what you will. Anyone with a penchant for Steely Dan, Doobie Bros. England Dan & John Ford Coley and Ambrosia should check this one out pronto, as it is a quite joyous 40 odd minutes.

3rd Place

cover Robby Valentine – The Alliance (AOR Heaven). The new Valentine album once again sees Robby treading a familiar path as with his previous work. I'll start by saying it's is not his best album, but anything he puts his name to always has that stamp of quality and 'The Alliance' is no different. Modern melodic rock with more than a nod to Queen, The Beatles and ELO, all wrapped up with Robby's trademark sound of those gloriously intricate, multi layered harmonies/guitars and the perfectly smooth production. The many highlights include the bittersweet ode to his daughter 'Eleanor Robyn' and the excellent orchestral pop concerto of 'Running On Empty'.

2nd Place

cover Ghost - Prequelle (Loma Vista Recordings). This album sees the band develop and move into a slightly more, dare I say, commercial area than previously, but with spectacular results it must be said. 'Rats' and 'Dance Macabre' are 2 of the best tracks of the year and perfectly sum up what is on offer here. Highly infectious and catchy, whilst retaining an element of originality and bags of atmosphere. The 2 instrumentals 'Miasma' and 'Helvetesfonster' are excellent too, and add even more to a quite superb album from start to finish.

Jez's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2018 CD of the Year

cover The Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes the World Ain't Enough (Nuclear Blast). To say I'm pretty overwhelmed with STWAE after last year's mighty fine 'Amber Galactic', is an understatement. This album has everything that album had, and more. It has been really well put together, with fantastic songs that, as well as being super catchy, offer variation in spades. There's AOR, melodic rock, pomp, a smattering of prog and even a hint of disco on one or 2, all wrapped up with that 80s retro vibe, yet still managing to remain fresh and original in its overall sound. All you need to know is its brilliant and its one of the best records I've heard in a very very long time

Terry's Picks for the Best of 2018

Honorable Mentions

Barbarossastraße - Waiting In The Wing. If this one was in my hot little hands it would be top five easily. Great hard rock, glammy rock, whatever you'd like to tag it its a very tasty release. A shame a package from Italy can take sooo log, 4 weeks and counting...

Bullet For My Valentine - Gravity. This one is super modern and my daughter enjoyed it too. Certainly EMO'ish with huge vocals, nothing screamo thank goodness, and a production to end all productions.

Big City - Life. Certainly a contender for the top 5 but heck they all can't be up there. For those not familiar this band is brilliant. VERY proficient MHR.

Lesbian Bed Death - Evil Never Dies. Female fronted hard rock, big production and they cover Lizzy Borden to boot.

FerreTT - Snow On FerreTT Mountain. FereTT is a hoot and a half. I can only elaborate that they are a cross breed of Wild Dogs and Steel Panther.

Sixgun Renegades - S/T. A solid hard rock album done well, big loud guitars and even bigger chorus.

Terry's Winners

5th Place

cover Love Stallion - Unforgettable Ride (Self-Released). These lads from Denver, Colorado certainly know how to craft some super tasty glam/sleaze/arena hard rock and be damned if they don't look mahvelous doing so. Well crafted songs, big guitars and a great glob of swagger make the debut from Love Stallion a very formidable and worthy addition to your collection.

4th Place

cover Bad Mankeys - Black Bonus (Self-Released). Another excellent release from these Finnish lads. I heralded their debut as it was outstanding, but heavenly days they trumped that release with their sophomore release Black Bonus. For those familiar with the 2016 album Case Conflict it was all about Skid Row with horns ala Love on Ice. Well Black Bonus is the same minus the horns just all in your face hard rock from start to finish. A very good album. Guitarist Tommy and vocalist are both superior at their craft. If the boys keep up this pace 2020's 3rd release should be enough to stop your hearts.

3rd Place

cover Saints of Sin - Welcome To The Circus (3MS Music). This one TECHNICALLY came out in December of 2017, but hell no way for it to count in the 2017 polls and Welcome To The Circus could easily be a "best of" for many years. MASSIVE vocals and guitars on this album with so many hooks, lines and NO stinkers anywhere as this album delivers on all fronts and all tracks with so much arena hard rock power you'll be stymied. The twin guitar attack from Marcus and Sophie is ridiculously proficient and the vocals and remaining members are just perfect for this style of MHR. EXCELLENT release.

2nd Place

cover Gambles Bride - Flesh (Urban Renaissance Music Group). This album goes so very deep undercover it took me to unearth its excellence. Yep. Not many if any are familiar with this dynamic duo from Maryland. Mike Gamble and Gene McBride have put together with the mega assist from producer Maurice Chevalier to treat us all with 11 tracks of hard rock excellence! This release is a deep indie, silver pressed in a digipac and if you dig soulful, very well structured and played hard rock ala Kings X, LIving Colour, et al than this album is a must have for you. This one still spins regularly as I love Gene's voice and Mike's playing and I could listen to Letters everyday as I could Let This Be The Last Time, but there isn't a jam herein that I don't dig.

Terry's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2018 CD of the Year

cover Pavement Princess - First Night Out (Self-Released). And in the numero uno slot is another dynamic duo, the Simon and Garfunkle (well Simon and Simon) of MHR. The true "Dutch Brothers" Rene and Erwin and their band Pavement Princess with their smoldering, red hot debut First Night Out. Not going to prattle too lengthy on this one but if you are a true hard rock, melodic rock fanatic that thinks bans like Stryper and Poison are quintessential than Pavement Princess are your band. Simply stunning debut with immense appeal. Round 2 is HIGHLY anticipated.

Existing comments about Best of 2018

From: 123charpenay Date: February 2, 2019 at 9:49
2018 has been a very good year for melodic rock.best song of 2018 "the burning pain of love" from w e t my top 13. 1 bonfire "legends" 2 nitrate "real world" 3 perfect plan "all rise" 4 aerodyne "breaking free" 5 striker "play to win" 6 taste "moral decay" 7 creye 8 thundermother 9 white widdow "victory" 10 wet "earthrage" 11 grand design "viva la paradise" 12 universe infinity "rock is alive" 13 maverick "cold star dancer".

From: omdsl Date: February 2, 2019 at 18:58
Lot of albums listed that I have not heard of. That's why I wait for these best of's every year. I'm sure I'll find a couple that I'm going to buy. Already digging the Leah and just ordered it, Thanks guys!

From: Doug Date: February 4, 2019 at 12:22
Love the best of lists on the mighty HH! For me, in 2018: 1. Stone Temple Pilots – “S/T” (what a GREAT return) 2. Judas Priest – “Firepower” (Fantastic!) 3. Godsmack – “When Legends Rise” (Smack purists probably quibble over this one, since it’s more commercial sounding, but I liked it). 4. Kissin' Dynamite – “Ecstasy” (a real gem, check it out) 5. Slash – “Living the Dream” (Myles with Slash, 'nuff said) 6. Halestorm – “Vicious” (Lzzy Hale, heck yeah!) 7. Dead Daisies – “Burn it Down” (Doug Aldrich, such a talented and sought after guitarist) 8. W.E.T. – “Earthrage” (I'm a big fan of Erik Martensson)

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 4, 2019 at 18:01
My top 10: 1) Judas Priest - Firepower; 2) Orange Goblin - The Wolf Bites Back; 3) Corrosion Of Conformity - No Cross, No Crown; 4) Bullet - Dust To Gold; 5) Clutch - Book Of Bad Decisions; 6) High On Fire - Electric Messiah; 7) Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest; 8) Soulfly - Ritual; 9) Black Stone Cherry - Family Tree; 10) Dee Snider - For The Love Of Metal. Honorable mentions go to Cannibal Corpse, Kataklysm, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet and Slash. If live albums count, then Night Demon. If reissues/remixes, then Kix.

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 4, 2019 at 18:03
Leftovers from very late in 2917 that I probably mentioned last year: Circus of Power and the Atomic Bitchwax.

From: Scandiman Date: February 5, 2019 at 15:07
Great lists guys (as always)! Here is what I ended up with: 1>> W.E.T. "Earthrage" 2>> Creye "S/T" 3>> Nordic Union "Second Coming" 4>> Shinedown "Attention Attention" 5>> Treat "Tunguska" 6>> The Struts "Young & Dangerous" 7>> Smash Into Pieces "Evolver" 8>> Black Paisley "Perennials" 9>> Six Foot Six "The Six Foot Six Project" 10>> Ammunition "S/T" A very long list of honorable mentions given the numerous releases in 2018.

From: CC Date: February 9, 2019 at 17:11
Must admit I did not buy a huge amount of new albums last year, but my top 5 is fairly easy. In no particular order: Midnite City - There goes the neighbourhood, Halestorm - Vicious, Dee Snider - For the love of metal, Diamante - Coming in hot & Maverick - Cold star dancer. Now while I have had a download of it since last year, I would have loved to put the new Donnie Vie album on the list, but as it has not been officially released yet, I will save that for my 2019 list as that beats most if not all of that top 5 for me.

From: guitarrizer Date: June 18, 2019 at 5:52
Seventh Wonder "Tiara" was the most impressive release of 2018 in my opinion.

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