#1 Testament – Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast)
When their last studio album (The Formation of Damnation) came out, I didn’t think the band could release anything finer. Well, they topped themselves once again, creating a metal masterpiece that sounds fresh and modern thanks to its outstanding production. This is classic Testament all the way!!!
#2 Rush – Clockwork Angels (Roadrunner)
Rush has been my favorite band since middle school and they never disappoint. However, this album is their best since Counterparts. It opened at #2 on the Billboard charts and their tour in support of it has been a complete success. For a band that’s been around for 38 years, they show no signs of slowing down!
#3 Asia – XXX (Frontiers)
The band’s third studio album since reuniting in 2006 is their best album since their debut. Every song is incredibly catchy, with the band sounding energetic and fresh. This is a must have for any Asia fan!
#4 Black Country Communion – Afterglow (J&R Records)
This was the first album I heard by this band and was completely blown away. Every track is outstanding with a sound reminiscent of the great rock albums of the 70s. Kudos to Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian, and Jason Bonham for creating this gem!!!
#5 Aimee Mann – Charmer (SuperEgo)
Lyrically and musically this is Mann’s best solo outing of her career, with all of the songs having a 70s and 80s pop vibe. To put it simply, she hit it out of the ballpark with this one.
#6 3 Inches of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal (Century Media)
With soaring vocals, blistering guitars and a vintage heavy metal sound, this album definitely lives up to its name. It’s also the best record of this band’s career!
#7 Three Days Grace – Transit of Venus (RCA)
Three Days Grace’s “Transit of Venus.” The Canadian rock band’s sound has evolved over the years and has culminated with this release. For those who were disappointed by their last release, you shouldn’t be with this one.
#8 Accept – Stalingrad(Nuclear Blast)
This album harnesses everything that fans have grown to love about Accept: thunderous riffs, blinding guitar leads, aggressive vocals and infectious metal songs. This band is keeping heavy metal music alive in 2012!
#9 Steve Harris – British Lion (UMe)
The Iron Maiden bassist’s first solo album is a complete departure from Maiden and most critics have trashed it. But, that’s only because they were expecting it to sound like Maiden. A few production issues aside, this is a solid rock album with catchy tunes that pays homage to bands such as UFO, Thin Lizzy and even Sweet.
#10 OSI – Make Fire Thunder (Metal Blade)
The band’s fourth studio album features Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater), Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) and Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree). The album is focused and the musicianship is stellar. With this release, OSI continue to be one of the most innovative groups in the progressive metal scene.
#11 Flyleaf – New Horizons (A&M)
The final album with vocalist Lacey Sturm is different from their last two studio albums but it still has their signature sound. The songs are more melodic yet the band still displays passion, energy and raw emotion. Overall, it’s an impressive swan song for Lacey who will be sorely missed as the band carries on with a new singer.
#12 The Flower Kings – Banks of Eden (Inside Out)
Returning after a five year hiatus, The Flower Kings have recharged their creative juices with another epic release that contains enough dreamy, melodic and psychedelic elements to please their loyal fan base and more.
#13 Soundgarden – King Animal (Universal Republic)
The band’s first studio album in 16 years is remarkably solid, picking up right where they left off with Down On The Upside. The classic elements are all there musically and lyrically with a few new twists thrown in.
#14 Threshold – March of Progress (Nuclear Blast)
With great melody and elements of Yes and Asia throughout, this Threshold release is a completely solid album from start to finish.
#15 UFO – Seven Deadly (Steamhammer U.S.)
The veteran British hard rock band continue to sound fresh while never straying from their signature sound. With several tracks standing up among the best the band has recorded, UFO is still flying high!
#16 Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope)
While it’s disappointing that Michael Anthony is still not in the band, it’s great that Dave and Eddie are collaborating again. This may not be their best work but it exceeded any expectations we had.
#17 Ian Anderson – Thick As A Brick 2 (Capitol)
Anderson’s solo albums are generally hit or miss but this sequel to one of Tull’s landmark albums is actually pretty good. Sure, there is no Martin Barre so it’s not Jethro Tull, but this is still a worthy follow up to the original that was released 40 year ago.
#18 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill (Reprise)
It’s always special when Young collaborates with Crazy Horse and this double album proudly stands among their best. If you like great guitar solos and jams, this is the album for you!
#19 Geoff Tate – Kings & Thieves (Inside Out)
The former Queensryche vocalist promised a more rock orientated album than his first solo outing and he delivered the goods. While we much rather see him fronting Queensryche, this is an improvement over their last studio album Dedicated to Chaos.
#20 Lionel Richie – Tuskegee (Mercury Nashville)
This had disaster written all over it but the finished product actually works, making his classic pop hits sound fresh! It’s also one of the biggest selling albums of 2012!