My Top 10 Albums of 2013 – Shawn “Animalize” Irwin

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In 2013 I was dipping into the world of Symphonic Metal. Standing strong on my usual preference of Melodic Rock here are my favorites for 2013.

My Top 10 for 2013 were:

10 – Pink Cream 69Ceremonial

After a long six-year wait, Pink Cream 69 was back in 2013 with their new album Ceremonial. On first hearing this band in early 1990’s, I have followed them through their long career. I was happy to get my hands on Ceremonial as Pink Cream 69 has never disappointed my love for their music. During the long break, lead singer David Readman released a couple of albums with Voodoo Circle while Dennis Ward was involved in many other bands and projects.

This new album (in 2013) will not disappoint any fan with their straightforward melodic hard rock sound. Their first album was released in 1989. If you have not heard of this band, you are missing out.


9 – KrokusDirty Dynamite

Krokus is a band I never really got into, as I only knew of one album from them. The Blitz from 1984 has one of my favorite 80’s songs, “Midnite Maniac”. Dirty Dynamite is their seventeenth studio album since their first release in 1976. After playing Dirty Dynamite for the first time I got hooked on their AC/DC style of music. I did go back through their discography only to find out, for me, this is their best release.

I am sure for their early fans, their first decade of music outshines anything they have done.


8 – Coney HatchFour

Having the opportunity to see Coney Hatch for the first time December 2013 it was great to hear some of the new material live. I bought their 1992 release Best Of Three in 1992 and really enjoyed their 80’s music. With their new album Four, 28 years since their last studio album I did not know what to expect. With the first song on the album “Blown Away” it sounded exactly where they left off in 1985. A remarkable effort getting the Canadian band Coney Hatch back in the market for hopefully more live shows and releases.


7 – Find MeWings Of Love

Formed in 2012, Find Me released their debut album Wings Of Love on Frontiers Records. Vocalist Robbie Lablanc (Blanc Faces) and fellow Swedish musician Daniel Flores (Issa, The Murder of My Sweet, Seventh Wonder) collaborates with songwriting in the production of the new Find Me album. The album had many great reviews upon their release, which enticed me to order the new CD. Wings Of Love is a remarkable melodic rock collaboration that we can only hope will be a live tour and not a studio project.


6 – The PoodlesTour De Force

The Poodles is another new band for me on their fifth release, Tour De Force. This has been a great year for me discovering new music with another band from Sweden. The new release brings The Poodles to a new level with high energy melodic rock to the beautiful ballad “Leaving The Past To Pass”. With the first listen I knew this would be one of my best releases of 2013.


5 – HessLiving In Yesterday

There are many great musicians around the world, but here in Canada, we have so much talent in the music industry. Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) is no stranger to the melodic world. With his second solo release, Living In Yesterday tops his debut release. Harem Scarem also released Mood Swings 2 in 2013 which is their second album Mood Swings, re-recorded. As good as Mood Swings 2 is I only put full albums and new material in my Top 10. On that note, we cannot leave out this superior solo effort. Harry Hess is one of my favorite vocalists, and I would only expect that anything he touches would be in my Top 10. This release makes his mark high up in the melodic rock style as any fan would expect.


4 – Magnus Karlsson’s Free FallMagnus Karlsson’s Free Fall

Magnus Karlsson has brought us so many incredible releases over the years with several different bands. For 2013 he puts a stellar line up together in Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall. The album consists of many guest vocalists and musicians as well as himself taking over the microphone for a handful of tracks. Karlsson also plays his regular gig as an amazing guitar player, bass and keyboards.

Having the likes of Russel Allen, Ralf Scheepers, David Readman, along with many others, he couldn’t go wrong with the Free Fall project. We can only hope there is more to come.


3 – Pretty MaidsMotherland

Pretty Maids from Denmark are no strangers in my CD collection. I first heard of Pretty Maids in the early 90’s when the grunge scene was in full force in North America. Searching for other bands and new music I turned to European bands that many of us didn’t know over here in Canada. Pretty Maids released their first album in 1984. They are back with their thirteenth release Motherland. Each release has been a hit for me and Motherland is no different. The year before they finally made it on North American soil playing in 2012 at ProgPower USA XIII and two shows on the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise. Another one of those bucket list bands I have only dreamed to see.


2 – Battle BeastBattle Beast

Battle Beast from Finland are back in 2013 with their second album S/T.

After their first release in 2011, Battle Beast brought on Noora Louhimo to take over lead vocals. The album is doing amazing not just in Finland but in many other countries. As my search continued this year for new bands I came across Battle Beast, and I couldn’t believe the power in Louhimo‘s voice. From start to finish the album shows that the band made the right decision having Louhimo take over the vocals. With all these amazing bands I have found from Europe, I hope that one day I make the trip overseas if they don’t all come here to Canada.


1 – Tobia’s Sammet’s AvantasiaThe Mystery Of Time

Hailing from Germany Tobia Sammet (Edguy) is the mastermind of Avantasia, first a studio project that turned into a worldwide touring band. This year saw Avantasia come to Canada for the first time. This project to be, brought in so many singers and musicians into Avantasia, playing on the albums with many touring with the band. The new album The Mystery of Time is no different with singers Joe Lynn Turner, Michael Kiske, Ronnie Atkins, Eric Martin, Bob Catley and more sharing the vocals with Sammet.

I first learned about Avantasia in 2013 after their show in Quebec and quickly picked up their discography on CD. This year I couldn’t wait to buy the special edition as I knew this would be one of the biggest releases for me in 2013 and sure enough, it is my number one pick. As I kick myself for not knowing about them before their only Canadian show, I can only hope the concert gods bring them back.

To finish off I’d like to mention some of the strong contenders for 2013.

In alphabetical order.

Crystal Ball – From Switzerland, after a six-year break they are back with their new album Dawnbreaker and their new singer Steven Mageney. Their first five albums were good but they came back by storm, bringing in Mageney.

Eden’s Curse – From the UK Eden’s Curse adds new singer Nikola Mijic and drummer John Clelland. Symphony Of Sin is the first album I picked up from this band and looking forward to more great releases with the new vocalist.

Harem Scarem – The new album Mood Swings 2. This would have been in my Top 10 but without a full album of new material, it goes against my rules. Love this new re-recorded album with three new tracks.

Jorn – New album Traveller is the first album I have heard of Jorn. With this amazing CD, I went back to learn of all the other amazing music he has created.

Leaves’ EyesSymphonies Of The Night is the new album of Leaves’ Eyes and once again another first introduction to a band in 2013. From Norway, this symphonic metal band has helped me learn about other styles of music around the world. I feel this their best effort to date possibly because it is the first album I have heard from them.

Shylock – From Germany, which happens to have some great hard rock bands, Shylock was back with their 6th album Walking Tall album. I first heard of them around 10 years ago, but this is the album that made me realize how good they really are. Close to getting in my Top 10 and well in this list of strong contenders for 2013.


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