As 2019 is upon us here is a list of my favourite albums from the year that was. These are not the best just my favourites, the albums I found myself revisiting time and time again. As such this list was seriously tough, with each record swapping positions numerous times.
5) Suede – The Blue Hour
Two years after the wondrous Night Thoughts, Suede continued their renaissance with The Blue Hour – which matches its predecessor in its grand, cinematic scope but instead of one feature film it is a series of rurally set stories. It is a sombre and brooding recording full of dark, mournful but utterly engrossing tales, be they the bittersweet love affair of ‘Mistress’, the beautiful despair of ‘The Invisibles’ or the hope of ‘Life is Golden’. Click here for the full review.
4) Amorphis – Queen of Time
A band I only really got into last year, Amorphis’ thirteenth album Queen of Time encapsulates everything that is great about the Finnish metallers. It mixes the differing elements of Death, Folk and Symphonic Metal, Prog Rock and a huge slice of bombast into one homogeneous and bloody brilliant whole. ‘The Bee’, ‘Message in the Amber’ and ‘Wrong Direction’ are just tasters of the albums size and sheer, unbridled force. Click here for the full review.
3) Judas Priest – Firepower
Fifty years on the clock and eighteen albums in Judas Priest are still cranking out fantastic material. It may not be anything new but like 2014s Redeemer of Souls, Firepower is their classic Heavy Metal done to perfection and – with ‘Firepower’, ‘Lightning Strike’ and ‘Evil Never Dies’ – their best start to an album since the mighty Painkiller. Helped in no small part by the production skills of Andy Sneap, who has worked wonders on recent albums by Accept, Testament and Saxon.
2) Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd
With Applause of a Distant Crowd Danish proggers Vola have created a captivating album which manages to mix metal, rock, prog, electronica and pop elements into one compelling 42 minute long journey. ‘Smartfriend’ and ‘Whaler’s impressively brutal groove, ‘We Are Thin Air’s soaring chorus, ‘Ghosts’ progressive pop sensibilities and the melancholia of ‘Green Screen Mother’ all help tell the concept; that being social media, its effects on us and our relationships. It may not be as heavy as Inmazes but its diverse, textured sound mean you will find yourself repeatedly coming back for more. Click here for the full review.
1) The Temperance Movement – A Deeper Cut
I am a sucker for genuine, well made and catchy classic rock and much like Black Star Riders Heavy Fire the year before, The Temperance Movement third album A Deeper Cut is a bloody fantastic example of this. Made in the wake of long term band mates Luke Potashnick and Damon Wilson leaving and lead singer Phil Campbell nearly succumbing to his ol’ demon drink, the resultant record is a superbly heartfelt 45 minutes of bluesy rock and roll. They struck the right mix between lively bundles of joy, like ‘Caught in the Middle’ and ‘Backwater Zoo’, and emotive lighter waving balladry, like the title track and ‘The Wonders We’ve Seen’. Part Humble Pie, part Faces, 100 percent marvellous. Click here for the full review