- Avantasia - The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon Following his worst release yet (Edguy - Tinnitus Sanctus) Tobias Sammet returns with a great offering. These two are great albums that maintain the new hard-rock style of The Scarecrow, and if he would have put a tremendous amount of extra effort and condensed them into one album I think one of the best albums of metal history could have resulted.
- Star One - Victims of the Modern Age Although I didn't get into it immediately I find myself listening to it time and time again. I guess it helps that songs are inspired by SF cult classic movies.
- Rhapsody of Fire - The Frozen Tears of Angels This is the best Rhapsody album I have listened too, even better than the ones which made them famous and overall a power metal masterpiece.
- Vanden Plas - The Seraphic Clockwork A new band for me and this, their best album, got my attention and I loved it.
- Cynic - Re-Traced A curious, new, less metal mixing of Traced in Air. Couldn't be as good as that one though.
- Orpahned Land - The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR Not as good as Mabool. but one of the best pieces of strange folkish metal.
- Allen/Lande - The Showdown Not as good as the previous 2 albums, but still pretty solid.
- Nachtgeschrei - Ardeo Not their best, but a folk metal album I enjoyed very much. Fejd's debut Eifur seems ok too, but Swedish just doesn't do anything for me. Heljareyga also are worth mentioning for the same considerations.
- Alter Bridge - AB III Liking this one makes me feel like a poser.
- Tarja Turunen - What Lies Beneath The style didn't change but this was surprisingly likeable.
- Therion - Sitra Ahra Strangely, I don't really like the band but this seemed like their best album to date.
- Joe Satriani - Black Holes and Wormhole Wizards Don't really like Satriani either, or any solo guitarists for that matter, but again this seemed his best album to date.
Albums which, surprisingly, didn't do much for me although I had high hopes:
- Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier (still expecting another Number of the Beast)
- Apocalyptica - 7th Symphony
- Masterplan - Time to be King (Jorn Lande is back but Masterplan isn't)
- Scorpions - Sting in the Tail
- Blind Guardian - At the Edge of Time (it's supposed to be a big deal but I don't see it, yet)
- Pain of Salvation - Road Salt One
- Anathema - We're here because we're here (maybe I'll give it another go)
- Sabaton - Coat of Arms (they raised the bar a lot with the Art of War, well they lowered it again)
- Rhapsody of Fire - The Cold Embrace of Fear (not a great follow-up to their other album of the year)
- James LaBrie - Static Impulse (how does he go with death growls? sad year for Dream Theater)
- Grave Digger - The Clans Will Rise Again (I think this is their cheesiest stuff)
Special award for live album goes to Opeth - Live at the Royal Albert Hall. I don't generally like live albums but this one was great.
Another special award is going to bands who give out their stuff for free. These would be Iron Thrones, Torture Division and Ironwood (from worst to best), although they are all in the black-death area which I don't find quite enjoyable. A special award goes to How to Destroy Angels for most disturbing video I have ever seen:
If you like this kind of music I would also recommend Ice Ages - Buried Silence which I discovered this year. But I don't think that it can stir any healthy emotions.
Conclusion? more disappointing than not, with a lot of delays (lots for next year), so let's hope for a better new year :)