Dan & Arno’s “Best Improvements Of 2012”
As metal critics, one of the primary things that we like to watch for in our field is the development and continuation of serious talent. In an attempt to widen recognition for these artists for either a comeback or a serious upswing in quantity, we thought it’d be fun to put together this list.
5. Paragon – Force Of Destruction
Dan: Now, I realize that not everyone will agree with me here, but I found the last couple of Paragon albums to be flagging a little bit. This band has always been pretty steady, but it seemed to me that they needed an infusion of new energy into their sound. I’m not sure what happened, but Force Of Destruction has that energy, and it positively overflows.
4. Lothlöryen – Raving Souls Society
Dan: I didn’t keep track of Lothlöryen during their downtime after 2008’s Some Ways Back No More, and perhaps I should have. What greeted my ears upon hearing Raving Souls Society for the first time made me think that the album was somehow mislabeled. The snarling vocals, darkened cast to the music, and overall atmosphere of disturbed ravings is a far sight from the band’s lighthearted, Tolkienesque frolics of past releases. Blending some elements of German sounds from bands like Savage Circus, Blind Guardian, and Orden with some Brazilian tendencies, and adding a lunatic element all their own, this is more or less a complete artistic rebirth of a band that we’ll be keeping our eyes on.
3. Dragonforce – The Power Within
Dan: When’s the last time that you took Dragonforce seriously? Well, probably never, but if you’re in the dark and still haven’t heard about it, The Power Within is one of the best turnaround stories from a band that I, for one, never expected such a thing from. Replacing their singer and throwing a lot of the pointless instrumental wankery overboard, Dragonforce went back to the drawing board and crafted an album full of signature-yet-straightforward power metal, while managing to create their most varied (for Dragonforce) batch of songs yet.
2. Holy Knights – Between Daylight And Pain
Dan: Holy Knight’s first album Gate Through The Past has by now garnered a bit of a reputation as an interesting but not terribly exceptional rarity. I am lucky enough to own it myself, but was never more than mildly into it. Between Daylight And Pain, however, shows what a band can do in ten years away from the trade. For all its terrifyingly poor lyricism and English translation, this album is a melodic power metal marvel .
1. Sound Storm – Immortalia
Dan: Sure to be topping a number of people’s lists this year is Immortalia, the stunning sophomore release from Italy’s Sound Storm. I was a fan after hearing the band’s capable debut, Twilight Opera, and the band has delivered on all of that potential magnificently. The orchestral backdrop is fluent, the blend of power, progressive, and symphonics is effortless, and vocalist Philippe D’Orange sounds like a roaring amalgamation of Ronny Hemlin and Daniel Heiman. Certainly an eye-popping step up for the band, and if current work continues, sure to be a genre frontrunner in coming years.