10) Blind Guardian, The God Machine (Nuclear Blast)
A true return-to-form for the power metal kings in Blind Guardian, and in my opinion, capturing some of that “Imaginations from the Other Side” greatness. Relentlessly fast with great production, and some incredibly catchy moments. Can’t wait to see some of this played live sometime next year!
Key Track: “Blood of the Elves”



09) Brymir, Voices in the Sky (Napalm Records)
Fresh melodic death metal from (where else) Finland. Not doom-and-gloom by any means; “Voices” contains some very uplifting feelings within – think more like Omnium Gatherum rather than Insomnium through most of the disc.
Key Track: “Herald of Aegir”




08) Aeternam, Heir of the Rising Sun
Wonderfully cinematic progressive melodeath with heavy amounts of Middle-Eastern influences and instrument selection. Very much like what you would get by mixing Fleshgod Apocalypse, Myrath, and Orphaned Land in the world’s most metal blender. Beautiful textures and quiet moments erupting into massive sound are the kind of things that got me to fall down the rabbit hole of metal with Middle Eastern overtones in the first place, and “Heir of the Rising Sun” delivers in spades!
Key Track: “Beneath the Nightfall”


07) Lords of the Trident, The Offering
Lords of the Trident are an independent power metal band hailing from the cold and desolate lands of Madison, Wisconsin. They’ve chosen to pursue a very “DIY” approach to releasing music and engaging with fans, by means of Patreon, and even to the point of throwing their own festival, “Mad With Power” every August. Their latest and most polished release to date, “The Offering,” follows the story of a boy sold into servitude and pressed into the duty of protecting his city, who then betrays him. There’s a diverse array of moods in “The Offering,” from triumphant to utter sadness, and the pivot to a more progressive style serves very well here.
Key Track:”Acolyte”



06) Seventh Wonder, The Testament (Frontiers)
Seventh Wonder return with another progressive metal jewel in “The Testament!” Seventh Wonder have always been a band that elicits wonderful emotions with the passionate vocals of Tommy Karevik combined with some brilliant songwriting and catchy choruses, but seemingly always betrayed by production. “The Testament” marks a change in the challenging production; with the move to Jacob Hansen for mixing and mastering duties, things have gotten even more enjoyable on account of their latest being easier on the ears. The same artful portrayal of human emotions in the lyrics is still around as in their previous releases, and tracks like “The Light” are incredibly catchy.
Key Track: “The Light”