2004 in retrospect!

Kimmo: 2004 was a rather average year. Looking back at my own reviews and other albums, there wasn't a single album that was even close to getting the full points. And frankly, a couple of the "nines" I gave were handed out a little too easily.

When it comes to AOR, I guess all those Fabrizio V. Zee Grossi-guided projects were the "thing" of 2004. He and Frontiers had a nice winning streak with them, but it seems that it might be over, since the latest project (Tommy Funderburk) was a bit bland. Well, it might be just a bump in the road.

A personal triumph for me was to see my friends' Human Temple CD released. It took a while to be completed, but it turned out great. Let's see if they can get a new one out next year and take the world by storm!

A kind of a letdown were the comeback albums: Europe, Dokken, Zero Nine, House Of Lords...all quite disappointing. Only the good ol' Scorpions succeeded with the decent "Unbreakable", and of course the Stage Dolls, who released their strongest album to date. Still, it was nice to see some of these bands returning to the scene. I finally got to see both Europe and Scorpions live last year, and on stage they didn't disappoint!

Nightwish went on to become a big international success with "Once". I wasn't totally won over by the album but again, the band was very good live and brought a major production to Turku. I also must mention W.A.S.P., another eighties' legend who stormed these shores in May - a decent show too! The 80'ies nostalgia doesn't seem to go away anytime soon, as both Judas Priest and Mötley Crüe are about to return...

What about 2005? Last year I hoped for more success for the smaller labels, and good, successful albums from the "veterans" like Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Def Leppard...It didn't exactly go as I hoped, but maybe this year!


Another year has come and gone and I believe that metal actually made a small comeback in 2004. The new Annihilator CD really surprised me as Waters must have done some of his best work ever here. Heck, even Exodus and Motörhead did some fine albums this year. Nothing from the mighty Judas Priest though and I seriously hope that 2005 will bring us a new, traditional, great, Priest album, instead of those horrible ones with Ripper Owens. Speaking of Ripper, the material of the new Iced Earth album suited him so much better.

It was otherwise a fine prog-year with Evergrey (metal) and Marillion (rock) at the top of my list. I definiteley prefer the Fish years instead of the Hog, but Marbles is a great album nontheless. I even got some pomp up there (Magnum) and two CD's with the might Glenn Hughes as lead vocalist. Not that many superb "pure" AOR albums this year, but we got some excellent classic rock/melodic hardrock ones instead. Check out that TMG album for starters.

Disappointments? Well, how about that new Europe CD, Aerosmith, House Of Lords, The Sign, Tesla, etc. Not my cup of tea I'm afraid. I must however say that 2004 was over all a slightly better year than 2003. At least if you enjoy all the genres from Thrash, Power & Heavy Metal, to Prog, Classic, and Melodic/AOR. It was otherwise a quite awful ending of the year with that horrible tsunami thing in Asia. 150.000 dead at least... and it even seems to be the worst Swedish disaster for almost 200 years. We haven't been at war since back then and now we have many tourists dead and/or missing. It can't be compared with the complete disaster for the people down there though. They need all the help they can get.

2005 kicks off in a great metal spirit style the new Masterplan and Firewind. That Shy album is quite excellent too. Let's hope for another year with lots of good and even better music.

1. Nightwish - Once (Nuclear Blast)
RockUnited.Com review: "On this album the band has been able to merge elements of classic and metal almost to perfection and they created a bombastic and powerful album that will set standards for this type of music."


2. TNT - My Religion (MTM)
3. Evergrey - The Inner Circle (InsideOut)
4. Annihilator - All For You (AFM)
5. Jeff Scott Soto - Lost In The Translation (Frontiers)

6. Private Line - 21st Century Pirates (Bad Habits)
7. Final Frontier - The Second Wave (Z Records)
8. Magnum - Brand New Morning (SPV)
9. Marillion - Marbles (Intact)
10. Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden (SPV)

11. Over The Edge - Over The Edge (Frontiers)
12. Human Temple - Insomnia (MTM)
13. Wicked Sensation - Exceptional (MTM)
14. Stan Bush - Shine (Frontiers)
15. Twilightning - Plague-House Puppet Show (Spinefarm)

16. Scorpions - Unbreakable (BMG)
17. Rhapsody - Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret (SPV)
18. Grand Illusion - Ordinary Just Won't Do (Escape)
19. Kotipelto - Coldness (Century Media)
20. Eclipse - Second To None (Frontiers)

The personal album charts of the team!


1. James Christian: Meet The Man (Frontiers)
I bet many of us didn't expect an album as good as this was after the rather poor House Of Lords "comeback". A classy album from one of the best vocalists out there, with solid production and a set of quality songs.
2. Stage Dolls: Get A Life (Musicbusiness Norway)
A very impressive album from a band that many had counted out. In a perfect world, some of the songs wolud have been huge international hits. Great production.
3. Human Temple: Insomnia (MTM Music/Marquee Avalon)
Okay, I may be a part of the Temple organisation but that won't prevent me from enjoying this album...the Japanese edition is just a bit stronger thanks to a different running order (and the fact that "Animal" has been replaced...)
4. Stan Bush: Shine (Frontiers)
Very solid stuff from the first track to the last, with no weak links inbetween. Good to hear Stan rocking again!
5. From The Inside: s/t (Frontiers)
A great vocalist like Danny Vaughn deserves great songs, and on this album he had more than a few of them. Astonishing results!

6. Last Autumn's Dream: s/t (Frontiers)
7. Over The Edge: s/t (Frontiers)
8. Wig Wam: 667 The Neighbour Of The Beast (Global Music)
9. Final Frontier: The Second Wave (Z Records)
10. Jeff Scott Soto: Lost In Translation (Frontiers)

11. Pride Of Lions: The Destiny Stone (Frontiers)
12. Alyson Avenue: Omega (AOR Heaven)
13. Jaded Heart: Trust (Ulftone)
14. Grand Illusion: Ordinary Just Won't Do (Escape Music)
15. Wicked Sensation: Exceptional (MTM Music)
16. Eclipse: Second To None (Frontiers)
17. TNT: My Religion (MTM Music)
18. Magnum: Brand New Morning (SPV)
19. Spin Gallery: Standing Tall (Atenzia)
20. M.Ill.Ion: King Size (Majestic Rock)

21. Deacon Street: s/t (AOR Heaven)
22. Richard Marx: My Own Best Enemy (EMI)
23. Bowling For Soup: Hangover You Didn't Deserve (Zomba/BMG)
24. London Calling: You're So Lucky (Atenzia)
25. Tak Matsumoto Group: TMG 1 (Frontiers)


1. Evergrey - The Inner Circle (InsideOut)
Complex, melodic, progressive metal of today, with atmospheric keyboards and a certain auora of goth. The 2004 "Operation Mindcrime" (Queensryche) album? You can definitely find similarities and compare notes as the concept story goes on. There's even a female part included, much like 'Sister Mary' from above mentioned 'Mindcrime'.
2. Annihilator - All For You (AFM)
Finally a g-r-e-a-t Thrash album again and Dave Mustaine could pick up a trick or two from Jeff Waters. This my friend... is darn catchy and brutal at the same time!!! Mosh! Mosh!
3. Tak Matsumoto Group - TMG 1 (Frontiers)
Eric Martin (Mr.Big) and Jack Blades (Nightranger) hooks up with japanese guitarist 'Tak' of the B'z and creates a great classic/melodic hardrock album. It's Bad Company, Mr.Big, and overall a great mixture of 70's & 80's rock.
4. Magnum - Brand New Morning (SPV)
The best Magnum album since the 80's and it's even classic pomp rock again. The production is kind of raw and not as polished as in the past. But the songs, the songs are all good!!!
5. Voodoo Hill [Hughes] - Wild Seed Of Mother Earth (Frontiers)
Holy Crap! People need to know about this album! Most people do not know 'Voodoo Hill'... but Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Hughes/Thrall, Phenomena, Trapeze, etc) is the vocalist and that's all you need to know really. It's big, classic, moody, and dark at the same time.
6. Iommi [Hughes] - The 1996 Dep Sessions (Sanctuary)
Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) and Glenn Hughes (again? see above info) gets into the studio and lovely music accrues. originally recorded back in 1996 but no release until 2004. And they'll be working together on yet another album!!! can't wait...
7. TNT - My Religion (MTM)
The finest TNT album ever in my books. A fine mixture of 80's melodic hardrock with a touch of modern rock influences.
8. Million - Kingsize (Majestic Rock)
The album that Million (of) fans have mulled over for years and now we can finally hear what these Swedes are really made of. Gonad-endangering riffs, killer hooks and big choruses. The approach that Europe should have gone for really. Try the kingsize formula if you (like me) got very disappointed with 'Start From The Dark'.
9. Marillion - Marbles (Intact)
The best Marillion album since the marvelous Fish years and the best hit-song (Don't Hurt Yourself) since "Misplaced Childhood". Prog-Rock supreme!
10. Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden (SPV)
Ripper Owens (ex-Judas Priest) adds another dimension to Iced Earth. The blue & the grey concept is something out of the ordinary too.

11. Grand Illusion - Ordinary Just Won't Do (Escape)
12. Scorpions - Unbreakable (BMG)
13. Shiva - Desert Dreams (MTM)
14. Dream Evil - The Book Of Heavy Metal (Century Media)
15. Exodus - Tempo Of The Damned (Nuclear Blast)
16. Stan Bush - Shine (Frontiers)
17. Seventh Key - The Raging Fire (Frontiers)
18. Motörhead - Inferno (SPV)
19. Wicked Sensation - Exceptional (MTM)
20. Silent Force - Worlds Apart (Sanctuary/Noise)

21. Final Frontier - The Second Wave
22. Pride Of Lions - The Destiny Stone (Frontiers)
23. Dokken - Hell To Pay (Sanctuary/Noise)
24. Pink Cream - Thunderdome (SPV)
25. Nightwish - Once (Nuclear Blast)

Bonus CD for a rainy day: Green Day - American Idiot


1. Jeff Scott Soto - Lost In The Translation (Frontiers)
2. Shadowman - Land Of The Living (Escape)
3. Crossfade - White On Blue (MTM)
4. Final Frontier - The Second Wave (Z Records)
5. TNT - My Religion (MTM)
6. Snakeryder - Snakeryder (Z Records)
7. Roxx - Outlaws, Fools, & Thieves (Perris)
8. Barry Sparks - Can't Look Back (Moonbema)
9. Over The Edge - Over The Edge (Frontiers)
10. Eclipse - Second To None (Frontiers)

11. Wicked Sensation - Exceptional (MTM)
12. Safe Haven - Safe Haven (MTM)
13. Pulse - Worlds Apart (MTM)
14. Seventh Key - The Raging Fire (Frontiers)
15. House of Shakira - First Class (Lion Music)

Disappointments of the year: the new Heart and Europe albums.


1. Nightwish - Once (Spinefarm)
2. Within Temptation - The Silent Force (BMG)
3. Silent Voices - Infernal (Low Frequency)
4. Angra - Temple Of Shadows (SPV)
5. Sonata Arctica - Reckoning Night (Nuclear Blast)
6. Thunderstone - The Burning (Nuclear Blast)
7. Dragonforce - Sonic Firestorm (Noise)
8. Edguy - Hellfire Club (Nuclear Blast)
9. Frameshift - Unweaving The Rainbow (Frontiers)
10. Evil Masquerade - Welcome To The Show (Frontiers)

11. Private Line - 21st Century Pirates (Bad Habits)
12. Alan Lennon - Heaven's Call (Guitar Nine)
13. Kotipelto - Coldness (Century Media)
14. Sick Trigger - The Stand (Mind Shank)
15. Human Temple - Insomnia (MTM)
16. Twilightning - Plague-House Puppet Show (Spinefarm)
17. TNT - My Religion (MTM)
18. Magnum - Brand New Morning (SPV)
19. Iced Earth - The Glorious Burden (SPV)
20. Entwine - DiEversity (Spikefarm)

21. Rhapsody - Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret (SPV)
22. Silent Force - Worlds Apart (Noise)
23. Empty Tremor - The Alien Inside (Frontiers)
24. Marillion - Marbles (Intact Recordings)
25. Cans - Beyond The Gates (Noise)


1. Private Line - 21st Century Pirates (Bad Habits)
2. Nightwish - Once (Spinefarm)
3. Tesla – Into the Now (Sanctuary)
4. Twilightning - Plague-House Puppet Show (Spinefarm)
5. Lordi - The Monsterican Dream (BMG)
6. Zero Nine – NE Files (Poko Rekords)
7. ZILLION: "S/t" (Frontiers)
8. Negative: Sweet & Deceitful (GBFam Records)
9. Scorpions - Unbreakable (BMG)
10. WASP – The Neon God Part 1 & 2 (Sanctuary)
11. Velvet Revolver – Contraband (BMG)
12. Kotipelto - Coldness (Century Media)
13. Dokken – Hell to Pay (Sanctuary)
14. Brides of Destruction – Here Come the Brides (Sanctuary)
15. Dio - Master of the Moon (Sanctuary)



1. Cris Caffery - Faces
2. Rhapsody - Symphony of enchanted lands part 2
3. Threshold - Subsurface
4. Magnitude 9 - Decoding the soul
5. Fates Warning - FWX
6. Evergrey - The Inner Circle
7. Jon Oliva's Pain - Tage Mahal
8. Marillion - Marbles
9. Annihilator - All for you
10. Abydos - Abydos

11. Nightwish - Once
12. Perzonal War - Faces
13. Iced Earth - The glorious burden
14.Ayreon - The Human Equation
15.Patrick Rondat - An ephemeral world


1. The Human Equation - Ayreon
2. My Religion - TNT
3. Marbles - Marillion
4. The Silent Force - Within Temptation
5. The Inner Circle - Evergrey
6. Start From The Dark - Europe
7. Lionheart - Saxon
8. Once - Nightwish
9. The Second Wave - Final Frontier
10. Deacon Street Project

11. Sleepy Buildings - The Gathering
12. Mo's Barbeque - Bowes & Morley
13. From Now On - Jorge Salán
14. Primer Acto - Stravaganzza
15. Last Autumn's Dream
16. El Clan de la Lucha - Saratoga
17. Soundtrack To You Escape - In Flames
18. Lost In The Translation - Jeff Scott Soto
19. Lovelorn - Leaves Eyes
20. Ravenheart - Xandria