Dan & Arno’s “Best Debut Albums Of 2012”
With few exceptions, every passing year sees more pioneering bands fade into glory forgone. Yet as their years of service make way for deserved retirement, we see new bands spring from the same soil and ascertain that the genre’s demise isn’t anywhere near. Below we celebrate the new, even though it features at least two reborn legends, as well as a cover artist who is responsible for half the artwork out there by now.
5. Ascension – Far Beyond The Stars
Dan: I’m talking up the “extreme power metal” corner again with Ascension’s debut release. While it’s not the most consistent album in the world, there are a few great tunes here from a band that’s about more than just emulating the old Dragonforce sound. Though some of the tunes indicate that this young, energetic band is in need of some musical maturity, it’s a very strong first outing from a band that I think has the potential to garner some pretty good exposure.
4. Wind Rose – Shadows Over Lothadruin
Arno: What if Fairyland didn’t just flirt with the progressive, but fully commited to it? You might get something akin to Italy’s Wind Rose, who sprinkle elements of power metal among their prog, while it’s usually the other way around. It’s refreshing, and results in an album that engages on a very different level than Fairyland and their consorts. Despite the distracting accent in the spoken interludes, it’s a unique experience and a promising start to what could be an illustrious career.
3. Unisonic – Unisonic
Arno: Screw the Keepers. Too long Helloween has lived in the shadow of those classics, too long has their setlist suffered under it, and too bad the same fate befell Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske’s reunion project Unisonic. While most where whetting their appetite for more freely flying eagles, we got a flirtation between hard rock and power metal that proved a disappointment to some, but a very entertaining gem to others. The hooks here easily surpass anything Gamma Ray released post-Majestic and it’s good to hear Kiske thrive outside Tobias Sammet’s social circle for once. Expectations aside, Unisonic is a blast, and I hope the fresh air translates to either Gamma Ray, whatever Kiske cooks up next, or preferably more Uuu-niii-soniiic!
2. Vorpal Nomad – Hyperborea
Dan: I keep saying this, but I never expected what sounds like a purebred Germanic heavy/power album to come ripping out of Columbia. Felipe Franco Machado’s vocal skills are sometimes on par with his excellent artistic ability as, with his band behind him, he sings about everything from jack’o’lanterns to the secrets of life, and back again to mad hatters. Vorpal Nomad’s debut bristles with raw energy and spirit.
1. Stargate – Beyond Space And Time
Dan: Our pick for favorite debut is also possibly the year’s biggest surprise. Stargate was a no-name band plopping some album at our feet labeled as “progressive power”. Unlike many bands (Including the aforementioned Wind Rose, who fall heavily on the prog side of the fence, and most “progressive power metal” bands, which typically show the power metal side more love), Stargate stands expertly at the intersection of Euro-power and melodic progressive metal, granting us an extremely technically proficient, yet listenable album that stands up to the work of most veteran bands in the same field.