Now that 2001 is over, we take a retrospective look!

Kimmo: When I first started thinking about compiling my charts, it seemed like 2001 wasn't a particulary good year for melodic rock. After closer inspection I did find out that there were a lot of good releases, but the REAL highlights were far and inbetween. My favourite album - "Into" by The Rasmus - wasn't a traditional AOR album as such, but more of a "nu-breed" melodic rock album, and indeed, modern melodic rock bands like The Rasmus, Marvelous 3 and SR-71 were the thing for me this year. Also, I'm happy to say that the Finnish rock bands did really well, with nominations for The Rasmus, Urban Tale and HIM amongst others!

Bandi: When writing the summary for the year 2000 I said "it was the best year in melodic rock since 1991" and even though 2001 was not a bad one, unfortunately it was just a far cry from 2000. In order to reassure myself about this feeling of mine and to make it more precise I tried to compare 2000's top albums to 2001's and see how high the releases would have climbed if coming out in 2000. Now here's how it would have looked like:
1. Dreamhunter – Kingdom Come (Z Records)
2. T'Bell – T'Bell (AOR Heaven)
3. Kharma – Wonderland (MTM)
4. The Sign – Signs of Life (Frontiers)
5. Jim Peterik and World Stage – Jim Peterik and World Stage (W.S. International)
1. Terry Brock – Back To Eden (Frontiers)
6. Millenium – Hourglass (Frontiers)
2. Grand Illusion – The Book of How to Make it (Espace)
7. The V.U. – Phoenix Rising (Frontiers)
8. Street Talk – Transition (Point Music / AOR Heaven)
9. Two Fires – Two Fires (Frontiers)
Danger Danger – Cockroach (Sony/Low Dice)
10. Alfonzetti – Ready (MTM)

This comparison shows that only 3 of 2001's releases live up to the year before and that is quite disappointing. Add that any self-respecting Danger Danger fan already had a bootleg copy of "Cockroach" (so it was not a real novelty) and the results get even worse. Taking a look at the record labels, it's sad to see that MTM, once in the flagship position, is slowly disappearing from the list of the most notable record labels of the genre. Like in the last some years, the Frontiers/Now & Then legacy rules the market with great releases and an attitude that should be an example to follow for all the others.

As always unfortunately one can not hear all the releases he wants to. There were countless releases of the year that I haven't heard yet. I'm quite sure if I had heard Dare, Mr. Big, Journey, John Waite, Gotthard, Pink Cream 69, Pride, 91 Suite, etc. albums they most definitely would have stirred the top 10 up and it wouldn't look the way it does not.

The album and song lists speak for themselves and they are mostly dominated by well- known artists, however I would like to draw your attention on some of the less familiar names among the instrumental artists on my list. I was glad to see that (although you can find the "old" masters there) lots of new, young talents broke through. Watch out for them!

Also watch out for the usual "independent artist of the year" award winner Turn, a great new band from Germany. And why is it so important to keep an eye on the indies of the year? In 2000 it was John Taglieri (got signed to A2, then to Frontiers after), in 1999 Danny Danzi (got signed to Z Records), in 1998 David Victor and his Velocity project (D.V. ended up at MTM) and all of them already have made their names in the melodic rock world. Let's hope this year I made the right choice again…

Jorge: I have thought for the first 9 months of the year this was not a great year for melodic rock, nowhere near 2000 when it comes to quality of the material released. But then, it happened that the last three months of the year have been really full of good releases, making up things a bit. I still think 2000 was better, but all in all 2001 hasn't been that bad, and there are for sure some great albums released on this year. Some of the top positions on most list are legendary bands returning to the spotlight, and it seems 2002 will pretty much follow that path with Shy, Harem Scarem, Hardline, Dokken, etc coming back for more. We'll wait and see. Finally I would like to remark how good 2001 has been for Spanish bands. 91 Suite made it and had their debut released all over Europe and Japan too with really good reviews. And both 91 Suite and Nexx became the first Spanish bands ever to play at the Gods festival, with sensational acclaim (specially the later), which pretty much opens the door of international recognition and future success for other Spanish bands to come, and I can say for sure you will hear of quite a few Spanish bands on 2002. Watch Out!

Urban: Another year has come and gone and unfortunately will music not be the strongest memory of 2001. I know, I know... this is supposed to be a hardrock webzine and we're all about music here. Still, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York shocked us all! It's not all about America you know! It's the whole world united against terrorism. Please do spare a minute of your time, thinking about all unjustifiable victims of war, terror, starvation etc. After all... we're all citizens of the world. [soft mode off]

2001 - Where have all the Heavy Metal albums gone? And I'm not talking about all those (horrible) Helloween, Stratovarius, Blind Guardian wannabe's out there. No, I'm talkin' about, good, old metal. The way it should be! Where's the next Accept, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or even The Rods? Hey! Don't laugh! I actually miss those crazy "Let Them Eat Metal" dudes! What's that you say? Heavy Metal has been dead and gone for over 10 years by now. Funny! That's what they usually say about AOR! Still, dino bands like Journey, Giant, Mr.Big, Asia, Styx etc. Are still out there or have done a comeback. And new bands like Grand Illusion, 91 Suite, Urban Tale etc. Continues to carry the torch, with the releases of some good AOR albums. In other words... I want my "Restless and Wild" or "Defenders Of The Faith" right here and right now. A "Classic Heavy Metal" label would by my wish for 2002. Since the AOR/Melodic Hardrock labels out there are doing a pretty good work.

AOR-EUROPE'S Top 20 Albums of 2001:

1. Giant: III (Frontiers)
The return of the masters of the genre, part one. An all-around favourite. "...a collection of older, unreleased songs, but it surely doesn't sound like that! The production is great, and the one cover track not withstanding, this really sounds like a "real" album..." full review in the Archives!

2. Journey: Arrival - US/Euro version (Sony)
The return of the masters of the genre, part two. "This is melodic rock at its best. Soft and easy tunes and then some really good rockin' tunes. It's all here. I'm getting too excited..." full review in the Archives!

3. Danger Danger: Cockroach (Sony/Low Dice)
Just like Giant, a case of "cleaning up the archives". "I just can't take this record out of my go and do yourself a favour and buy this record. It's worth every penny." full review in the Archives!

4. Nikolo Kotzev's Nostradamus (SPV)
5. Urban Tale-ST (Frontiers)
6. Terry Brock - Back To Eden (Frontiers)
7. Seventh Key: ST (Frontiers)
8. Grand Illusion - The Book Of How To Make It (Escape)
9. Ten: Far Beyond The World (Frontiers)
10. Mr. Big: Actual Size (Atlantic)
11. Dreamhunter: Bad Attitude (Z Records)
12. Keagy, Kelly: Time Passes (Frontiers)
13. 91 Suite - s/t (Vinny Records)
14. Radioactive - Ceremony Of Innocence (MTM)
15. Sonata Arctica-Silence (Spinefarm)
16. The Rasmus: Into (Playground)
17. Edguy: Mandrake (AFM)
18. Broke [n] Blue: Northern Light (Maple Leaf)
19. Von Groove - The Seventh Day (Z Records)
20. Blackmore's Night - Fires at midnight (SPV/Steamhammer)


1. The Rasmus: Into (Playground)
Former Chili Peppers wannabes took the world by surprise and released the catchiest album of the year! Very melodic "nu-breed" melodic rock.
2. Journey: Arrival (Sony)
The band that epitomises AOR returned with probably their best album in my books!
3. Ten: Far Beyond The World (Frontiers)
A true return to form for Ten. The hooks are back in a big way.
4. Dreamhunter: Bad Attitude (Z Records)
Their first album was good, but this is even better! Awesome hookladen hard rock!
5. Brock, Terry: Back From Eden (Frontiers)
The voice of Strangeways shows how it is done. Slight productional problems, but otherwise, a fine album.
6. 91 Suite: 1 (Vinny Records)
Spanish newcomers with a cool, classic AOR sound.
7. Edguy: Mandrake (AFM)
Melodic Metal doesn't get much better than this!
8. Giant: III (Frontiers)
Another big AOR band returns...these may be old songs, but they have aged well!
9. Seventh Key: 1 (Frontiers)
Great powerful AOR from Billy (Greer of Kansas) and producer guru Mike Slamer.
10. Keagy, Kelly: Time Passes (Frontiers)
By far the best of the many Nightranger solo projects. I prefer this to most NR albums, actually!

11. Urban Tale: 1 (Frontiers)
12. Radioactive: Ceremony Of Innocence (MTM)
13. Dreamtide: Here Comes The Flood (Frontiers)
14. Eclipse: The Truth & Little More (Z Records)
15. Broke [n] Blue: Northern Light (Maple Leaf)
16. Grand Illusion: The Book Of How To Make It (Escape)
17. Masi: Eternal Struggle (Lion Music)
18. Pink Cream 69: Endangered (Massacre)
19. Dare: Belief (Legend)
20. Von Groove: The Seventh Day (Z Records)


1. Grand Illusion - The Book Of How To Make It (Escape)
Yes Sir! We (The Swede's) have done it again and Mr.Turk gets away with the big prize this year! They sure know how to write 'em by the book. Marvelous AOR with big hooks and major vocal harmonies.
2. Pride - Far From The Edge (AOR Heaven)
One of the better, British, hardrock bands in the last 10 years or so. Awesome rock with Harem Scarem, C.I.T.A. & Ten similarities.
3. Jean Beauvoir – Bare To The Bones (Point/Voodoo Island)
Lovely, stripped down, acoustic album. Old hits mixed with some newer stuff! Very underrated vocalist/songwriter.
4. Blackmore's Night - Fires at midnight (SPV/Steamhammer)
I guess you'll either love it or hate it! The perfect soundtrack for "The Fellowship of The Ring"
5. Journey - Arrival (Columbia - Euro/US version.)
Only released in Japan back in 2000. For the rest of the world, this IS a 2001 release. Perfect, yet a bit laid-back AOR. Steve Perry ? Who ???
6. Abramis Brama - Nδr Tystnaden Har Lagt Sig (Record Heaven)
Back to basics 70's hardrock! Only in Swedish tho'
7. Mr.Big - Actual Size (Atlantic)
Eric Martin is better than ever. Let's hope Kotzen keeps his hands away from the cookie jar. And let's not even mention the Billy Sheehan episode.
8. Giant - III (Frontiers)
There΄s something about this Dan Druff fellow, that really makes my skin crawl. On the other hand, Giant has always been one of my favorite bands and their comeback album is really something out of the ordinary. Even if the songs were recorded some 10 years ago! Still, I always end up scratching my head over this vocalist /guitarist /producer. Not sure why though, but my hairdo is all itchy and.... what? his name is what? Dann Huff, really ??? are you sure??? oh... my bad... quick! somebody, pass me the shampoo bottle.
9. Broke-N-Blue - Northern Light (Maple Leaf)
Scandinavian go-go! Gotta' love the mix with one female & one male vocalist.
10. Masi - Eternal Struggle (Lion Music)
Italian guitar hero Alex Masi recorded a "Yngwie" album a-la late 80's.

11. Kelly Keagy - Time Passes (Frontiers)
12. Eclipse - The Truth & A Little More (Z-Records)
13. Von Groove - The Seventh Day (Z-Records)
14. Nikolo Kotzev's Nostradamus (SPV/Steamhammer)
15. Terry Brock - Back To Eden (Frontiers)
16. Backyard Babies - Making Enemies Is Good (BMG)
17. Urban Tale - S/T (Frontiers)
18. Radioactive - Ceremony Of Innocence (MTM)
19. Edguy - Mandrake (AFM)
20. Demon - Spaced Out Monkey (Record Heaven)
21. [Bonus CD/ For rainy days] Creed - Wheatered



1. Dreamhunter - Bad Attitude (Z Records)
Unbelievable! They did it again. I only got the album 2 days before putting this issue online and I had to rewrite all my lists. Dreamhunter came, and like last year, they took the title like a stormwind.
2. Terry Brock - Back to Eden (Frontiers)
I'm sorry Terry. You held the position till the very last day. Great album, a must for fans of The Sign and Strangeways.
3. Grand Illusion - The Book of How to Make It (Escape)
Yep, that crystal clear air in Scandinavia still has its effects on rock music. An album to live up to its title!
4. Danger Danger - Cockroach (Sony/Low Dice)
Kinda weird to see it here as most of us have the bootlegs for ages but definitely a great D2 album and finally available for everybody. Worth it!
5. Nikolo Kotzev's Nostradamus (Steamhammer)
Disappointed that Queensryche never wrote Operation part 2? Well, this one is no part 2 either but it's in the same leage as the classic Queensryche album.
6. Brad Gillis - Alligator (Frontiers)
Some were disappointed by this release but it grabbed me somehow and climber quite high in my list. Great stripped down melodic rock release, no verproduction just good songs and soulful playing/singing.
7. Melodica - Lovemetal (Frontiers)
Finally Ted is there again! After the disappointment of the first effort, this one lives up to what we expect from the name.
8. Giant - III (Frontiers)
The most anticipated album of the year. It does not live up to the first two but it's mostly a collection of the leftovers from them anyway. Definitely an appetizer for a real new album.
9. Eclipse - The Truth and a Little More (Z Records)
Another great new band from Z Records. I only wish their marketing would live up to their A&R! Some of their bands are really worth the attention of the big public but somehow they fail to introduce them to a wide enough audience... Eclipse is another name that we all should learn.
10. Urban Tale - Urban Tale (Frontiers)
First time ever a Finnish band in my list. Urban Tale proved that there's more to Finland than reindeers, snow, lakes, and drunken fishermen; there's sunshine, attitude, fun, and melodies and lyrics other than the Kalevala.
11. Von Groove - The Seventh Day (Z Records)
12. Hush - II (Frontiers)
13. Baileys Comet - Judgement Day (Frontiers)
14. Radioactive - Ceremony of Innocence (MTM)
15. Seventh Key - Seventh Key (Frontiers)
16. David Glen Eisley - The Lost Tapes (Frontiers)
17. Kelly Keagy - Time Passes (Frontiers)



1. Radioactive - Ceremony Of Innocence (MTM)
Ever since I listened to this gem for the first time, I knew it would be tough to beat as album of the year contender. In fact is one of the best soft AOR/westcoast albums I've listened to in years. Taking a look at the rest of the staff's lists one could feel a bit like a Lone Ranger but it's right when you stick to what you believe in! :)
2. Silver - Silver (AOR Heaven)
I would give this album the honorific title of most innovative album of the year. Michael Voss, Gary Barden, Don Airey, Andreas Broon, etc... They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, well, just give this album a close spin and see what the future of melodic rock can be like... A solid wall of keyboards and guitars only Barden can go through.
3. Giant - III (Frontiers)
I gave this album a suitable position according to its title :) Seriously enough, a great return, (even though it's made of leftovers), which is IMO just one step behind their two classic albums.
4. Journey - Arrival (Sony)
Fancy me, a huge Journey fan, giving their lattest album such a "bad" position as #4, but I guess time played against it, I mean, should the album have been released in the last third of the year it would probably been even higher.
5. 91 Suite - s/t (Vinny Records)
The dream come true, my (and I guess the band's too) highest expectations on this band surpassed, now all I can say is these guys really deserve it. And there's more to come. WARNING: watch out for Spanish bands in 2002! :)
6. Nikolo Kotzev's Nostradamus (SPV/Steamhammer)
Great rock opera and a tremendous effort from Mr Kotzev to make it all come true (credit where it's due). It has probably the best bunch of melodic rock vocalists out there on the present day.
7. Paradise - Light The Fire (Escape)
This album is meant to be a minor gem or one of those obscure, cult albums. Mr Turk got it right this time!
8. Million - Detonator (A2 Records)
Excellent melodic hard rock with a well balance mix of edge and melody. Well done guys!
9. Broke N Blue - Northern Light (Maple Leaf)
And out of the blue came these Swedes. The combination of a male and a female vocalists may be new to the AOR scene (except for some duets once in a while) but it's not by any means new to my as a gothic rock/metal fan. I was more than willing than this formula was "exported" to melodic rock and I must admit they've done really well.
10. Grand Illusion - The Book Of How To Make It (Escape)
The vocalist doesn't do it for me, but I have to give up to the excellent songwritting and performance by this Swedes.
11. Golden Farm - Angel's Tears (Avispa Records)
12. Adrian Gale - Feel The Fire (Kivel)
13. Royal Hunt - The Mission (Frontiers)
14. Dreamtide - Here Comes The Flood (Frontiers)
15. Under Suspicion - s/t (Frontiers)
16. Seventh Key - s/t (Frontiers)
17. Kelly Keagy - Time Passes (Frontiers)



1. Pink Cream 69: Endangered (Massacre)
2. Sonata Arctica: Silence
3. Gotthard: Homerun
4. Dare: Belief (Legend)
5. Nikolo Kotzev: Nostradamus (Steamhammer)
6. Soul Doctor: Soul Doctor (Massacre)
7. Melodica: Lovemetal (Frontiers)
8. Danger Danger: Cockroach
9. Urban Tale: ST (Frontiers)
10. Bonfire: Strike X (BMG)
11. Seventh Key: ST (Frontiers)
12. Terry Brock: Back To Eden (Frontiers)
13. 91 Suite: ST (Vinny Records)
14. Axxis: Eyes Of Darkness (Massacre)
15. MSG: Be Aware Of The Scorpions
16. The Cult: Beyond Good And Evil
17. Dreamhunter: Bad Attitude (Z Records)
18. Smilek: Sentimental Highway (Kivel)
19. Journey: Arrival (Sony)
20. Hurricane: Liquifury (Frontiers)



1. Danger Danger - Cockroach (Sony/Low Dice)
2. Giant - III (Frontiers)
3. Kip Winger - Songs From The Ocean Floor (Avalon)
4. Journey - Arrival (Sony/Columbia)
5. Seventh Key - Seventh Key (Frontiers)
6. Urban Tale - Urban Tale (Frontiers)
7. Ten - Far Beyond The World (JVC)
8. Mr. Big - Actual Size (Atlantic)
9. Kelly Keagy - Time Passes (Frontiers)
10. Von Groove - The Seventh Day (Z Records)
11. Terry Brock - Back to Eden (Frontiers)
12. John Waite - Figure In A Landscape (Gold Circle)
13. Joe Lynn Turner - Slam (Pony Canyon)
14. Gotthard - Homerun (Avalon)



1. Backyard Babies: Making Enemies Is Good (BMG)
2. Danger Danger: Cockroach (Sony/Low Dice)
3. The Traceelords: Sex, Money, Rock 'n' Roll (Massacre)
4. Hardcore Superstar: Thank You (for letting us be ourselves) (MFN)

5. Mr. Big: Actual Size (Atlantic)
6. The Rasmus: Into (Playground)
7. Ten: Far Beyond The World (Frontiers)
8. W.A.S.P.: Unholy Terror (Metal-Is)
9. Lance Keltner: Last of the Cowboy Vampires (Mascot)



1. Sonata Arctica-Silence (Spinefarm)
2. Shadow Gallery-Legacy (Magna Carta)
3. Edguy-Mandrake (AFM)
4. Stratovarius-Intermission (Nuclear Blast)
5. Urban Tale-ST (Frontiers)
6. Nikolo Kotzev's Nostradamus (SPV)
7. Supreme Majesty-Tales of a tragic kingdom (Massacre)
8. Lost Horizon-Awakening the world (Music For Nations)
9. Insania-Sunrise in riverland (No Fashion)
10. Virgo-ST (SPV)
11. Silent Force-Infatuator (Massacre)
12. Blackmore's Night-Fires at midnight (SPV)
13. Entwine-Gone (Spikefarm)
14. Kamelot-Karma (Noise)
15. Saxon-Killing ground (SPV)
16. Warmen-Beyond abilities (Spinefarm)
17. Lullacry-Be my God (Spinefarm)
18. Dreamtide-Here comes the flood (Frontiers)



1. Danger Danger: Cockroach
2. Rick Springfield: Alive
3. Journey: Arrival
4. Mr. Big: Actual Size
5. Sons Of Angels: Slumber With The Lion
6. The Rasmus: Into
7. Giant: III
8. Dare: Belief
9. The Cult: Beyond Good And Evil
10. Alice Cooper: Dragontown
11. Ted Nugent: Full Bluntal Nugity
12. Beautiful Creatures: S/T
13. Burning Rain: Pleasure To Burn
14. Henry Lee Summer. Big Drum
15. Judas Priest: Demolition
16. Hurricane: Liquifury