Dan and Arno’s 2013 in Review: Best Album Openers
It’s that time again. The exciting turn of the calendar page when we metalheads get the urge to rate things, make lists, and generally bask in the collected splendor of another glorious year. Arno and I have put together another mini-series on our favorites from there, and will probably continue to do so for as long as we can keep it up. Without further ado, here are our favorite opening tracks from various albums throughout 2013:
1. Keldian – “Burn The Sky”, from the album Outbound
Arno: In typical minimalistic fashion Keldian works from a mid-paced riff to a splendid chorus and an even more glorious bridge. “Crusader” and “The Final Frontier” are tough acts to follow, but with this one Keldian destroyed the stage. Few words are left to say, except maybe ‘repeat’ and ‘button’.
2. Avantasia – “Spectres”, from the album The Mystery Of Time
Arno: Openers on Avantasia-albums are detectors of quality. “Reach Out For The Light”, “The Seven Angels”, “Twisted Mind” and “The Wicked Symphony” all cleared the path for their respective excellent records. The so-so “Stargazers”, on the contrary, rang in the letdown that was Angel Of Babylon. Therefore, a lot of pressure rested on “Spectres”‘ shoulders, but the song is more than up to the task. Mesmerizing verses, huge choruses, and Tobias Sammet at the top of his voice: after hearing this song, I knew this one was going to be good, and lo and behold it was.
3. Stratovarius – “Abandon”, from the album Nemesis
Arno: There wasn’t a single riff last year that stuck with me as much as “Abandon”‘s. Such a surge of energy, atypical aggression, and all to arrive at that most soaring of choruses. ‘FREEDOOOM!’ hasn’t sounded so sweet since William Wallace died in Braveheart. This song also features one of my favorite lyrical passages of 2013, namely “When it’s time to go, I’m already there.”
4. Helloween – “Nabataea”, from the album Straight Out Of Hell
Dan: I’m no die-hard Helloween fan. In fact, I’m not that much of a Helloween fan at all. But this song is absolutely fantastic by any measure. Distinct sections, interesting lyrics, captivating melody, and some of Deris’ finest screams make for a complete barn-burner that, along with “Burning Sun”, became an instant favorite of not only 2013, but Helloween’s entire catalog.
5. Gloryhammer – “The Unicorn Invasion Of Dundee”, from the album Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife
Arno: Just look at that title. How on Earth is this song even on this list? Because we all collectively lost our minds to Gloryhammer, that’s why. Tongue firmly in cheek, these Scots pay homage to their country and the cliches of the genre with an opener carved right out of seventeen other songs, brought together with such joy and enthusiasm that it renders the inherent ridiculousness of the concept a mere afterthought. One of the most infectious albums of the year starts right here.
6. Dreamtale – “Island Of My Heart”, from the album World Changed Forever
Dan: There’s not much I like better than a strong shot of Dreamtale’s keyboard-galvanized power metal. The melody is absolutely infectious, and this song kicks off an album full of tracks that show the band at its heaviest (relatively speaking, mind you) and most consistent point since the debut.
7. Evertale – “In The Sign Of The Valiant Warrior”, from the album Of Dragons And Elves
Dan: This song pretty much disrupted our entire autumn – I’m not kidding. For about two weeks, I went through the stages of desperately wanting Evertale’s debut, rejoicing that we finally had the album, riding a wave of power metal glory, and then twitching with the aftershocks of power metal bliss. It all started with little clips of this track, and it’s still every bit as thrilling as the day I first heard it.
8. Dark Moor – “First Lance Of Spain”, from the album Ars Musica
Dan: I wrote something really flowery about this song when I reviewed the album, and I stand by that assessment. “First Lance Of Spain” kicks off the latest Dark Moor with effortless grace and melodicism that only these Spaniards are capable from. Maybe it’s not the most exciting album they’ve ever put out, but it sure has its highlights, and this is possibly the best of them.
9. Dragonhammer – “The End Of The World”, from the album The X Experiment
Arno: Dragonhammer set the bar for album openers high with “Eternal Sinner” from Time For Expiation, which to date is one of my favorite songs of all time. So they hired Roberto Tiranti from Labyrinth to help them out. Not that they needed him, because “The End Of The World” is in itself a splendid power metal song, with catchy leads and a chorus to almost match that pinnacle of yore. The fact that they came close is a miracle in itself.
10. Mindfeeder – “The Call”, from the album Endless Storm
Dan: We saved the obscure ones for last, but they’re every bit as good. Mindfeeder came out of nowhere with a strong, guest star-studded debut, and “The Call” has an energetic opening riff to rival the best of them. The telephone samples seem a bit silly, but these Portuguese fellows can kick up a power metal gallop so good that it’s capable of summoning Piet Sielck into their midst. This one’s not on youtube, but you can listen to it on the band’s SoundCloud page.