Novareign – Legends

There's a special place in heaven reserved for albums who don't waste their listeners time. Skipping over intro tracks and getting right to the point, these albums want you to know exactly what they're about, no frills or special announcements necessary. This works especially well for anything extreme, as the sheer shock of an album just exploding into over the top life can be a magnificent feeling. This is very much the case with Novareign's Legends. These power metal enthusiasts hailing from California waste no time with their debut album, immediately diving into a mass of riffs, powerful vocals and galloping bass. The rest of the album rides on the momentum of these initial notes to create one of the best releases in the traditional metal revival that's been going on for the past few years (and on which we posted in length not two hours ago).

Edguy – Monuments

Edguy’s Monuments does a pretty great job as far as compilations go. Not only does Edguy include an EP’s worth of new material, they also include a DVD of live performances, and a never before released track from their classic days when they weren’t the German hard rock superstars that they are today. Hardcore fans like myself will find many reasons to pick this thing up and new listeners will find this release a great starting place for Edguy. Monuments showcases the power metal/hard rock masters perfectly in currently forms and presents a unique chance to look back at the band’s impressive career.

Unleash The Archers – Apex

Crafting a great power metal album is a difficult thing. The genre is so steeped in thrills and adrenaline, it can be easy to create something too over-the-top and annoying. Writing the catchiest chorus, playing the fastest solo, and singing the highest notes aren’t going to mean anything if the music doesn’t have depth and meaning. Great power metal albums like Nightfall in Middle Earth, Land of the Free, The Metal Opera, and, more recently, Noble Beast employ subtly when necessary. They have memorable choruses and great riffs but also moments of real emotion. While less serious bands like Primal Fear, Dragonforce, and Sabaton have their proper place and legitimate enjoyment factor, they will never be remembered in the same way.

Ayreon – The Source

A small, personal preface before we begin: if you're wondering about the slew of Ayreon related content on the blog lately, this album is the reason. Ayreon has always been of my favorite artists but I've had a rough time connecting with his latest releases. Spoiler: The Source changes all that and has allowed me to reconnect with one of my all time favorite musicians. There aren't a lot of things as great as that out there, the rush of familiarity, nostalgia and enjoyment that breaks down the barriers of suspicion and anxiety that come before a beloved artist releases new work. Fortunately, in this case, my worries were completely misplaced.

Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon – The Heavy Blog Interview

Sometimes, I get to do really cool things as a music journalist. Sometimes, I get to do amazing things and this is one of them. Arjen Lucassen, AKA Ayreon, has been a musical hero of mine every since the first notes of The Human Equation played in my ears, right after I had purchased the album in Paris (I was there seeing Iron Maiden and Dream Theater. Good trip). It was a split earphone cable arrangement and I was listening to it with one of my best friends, who had insisted I get it. Sure enough, I wasn't disappointed; vocal lines by some of the my favorite singers (James LaBrie, Devin Townsend, Mikael Akerfeldt, Devon Graves, to mention just a few) echoed in my ears, set to amazing, progressive instrumentation. An obsession was born; over the next few years, I bought every single Ayreon album I could get hold of and start following him fervently.