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My 20 Favourite Albums of 2019

Another year goes by and once again, I have catalogued my top 20 albums of the year. I thought it was going to be a lot harder to make my list this year, but when it came down to it, it really wasn't much of a decision. I mean there have been many times this year where I have said that a certain album was the best of the year, but when I really thought about it, my album of the year is the one I listen to the most. Something so captivation that it rewards repeated listens. So, that's the criteria I judge on. 2019 was a year filled with some amazing music. The records I have been listening to are one with excellent songwriting, brilliant musicianship and a lot of powerful emotions. Now, this is purely my own opinion and obviously, you are free to your own opinion, I just wanted to get my favourites out there. As always, if you haven't listened to any of the below, then please take the time to listen as it's all good music.

20. Swamp Born Assassins - Dead Man's Train

Opening up the list is the down 'n' dirty southern rock band, Swamp Born Assassins. If I had to name one album to really represent the UK underground rock scene, then this is definitely the album I want to name. The excellent riffs and catchy hooks reel the listener in and then they deliver a hard-hitting and fun record with a tonne of great tunes. I think this album is much better than their first album. The production is great and the band have really captured that fast and loose feeling of the 70's when it comes to their songwriting. I also got to check them out in concert this year and, yeah these songs really work live.

19.  Within Temptation - Resist

So, I was waiting, all the way through 2018 for this album and it didn't come. In the early days of 2019, it was finally released and I got to experience it. Within Temptation have been one of my favourite bands for a long time so, I was always going to at least try and enjoy the album. This is a very different album for the band. The production is not as focused on the orchestral side of things. It has more of an electronically produced feel to it. Not that this affects the impact of the record at all. This is an impressive album nonetheless. There are some real anthems on here and it's a worthy addition to their discography.

Ocean Wisdom - Big Talk Vol. 1

This year I was introduced to this guy by one of my closest friends. Now, I know near to nothing about the UK rap scene or Grime as a sub-genre. I have to say though, this album took me by surprise by how much I really love this album. Ocean Wisdom is such a talent. The speed that he delivers his lyrics is mind-boggling.  He goes so fast that the song is over before you realise that you have just heard something supremely clever. His machine-gun delivery and the tight beats make this a compelling listening experience. This may not be my genre, but I definitely like the sound of this and I would highly recommend it.

Avantasia - Moonglow

I said at the start of the year on Valkyrian Music that this was going to be on my end of the year list. Well, yep, it's on the list. Though lower down than I thought it would be. I have to admit, I was listening to this album a tonne at the start of the year and towards the end, as more releases came, this started to fade to the back of my mind. It's still amazing though. The production alone is definitely outstanding and once again Tobias Sammet nails the songwriting and arrangments. There are some songs on here that really deliver high emotion in a condensed package. It's Epic, large-scale and powerful. everything good about power metal.

16. Lucy Rose - No Words Left

It's no secret that I love Lucy Rose. Her music is so emotionally powerful that you always feel that she is laying her soul on an album. This one is no different. However, the further we go through Lucy's career as a songwriter, her writing becomes deeper and more personal. Like, this album is so heavily steeped in personal thought and emotion that you come away having experienced her personal views on the world. No Words Left is so well crafted. It's one of those albums that you play and sit there and just experience it. I would recommend shutting off all devices and just allowing Lucy to take you on a journey with this album. 

15. Liv Sin - Burning Sermons

I have already spoken about this album quite a bit and I have also interviewed Liv, herself, on Valkyrian Music. This album is much more atmospheric one. The first album seemed to be straight forward metal. It’s new metal music with a very old school mentality. Liv Sin is very quickly becoming one of my favourite metal bands. This album just felt more like a complete package, the new sound with the keyboards and synth work mixed in with the guitars and Liv’s forceful and powerful delivery. Liv Sin really put their best foot forward in this department, with poetic imagery and well-chosen lines.

14. Planet of Zeus - Faith In Physics

It's been so long since I have had a chance to talk about Planet of Zeus. The titans of stoner rock returned this year with an insanely great album. The riff, the tone, the ambience, everything about this album works. The bold production and powerful presence of this band will always win me over. All throughout the record the band just deliver fantastic riff after fantastic riff, with great bass lines and the hard-hitting drum work. All of this is fronted by a vocalist that delivers the lyrics with such force and power that it will blow your socks off. I was genuinely pleased with this album and it was well worth the wait for new material. 

13. Taylor Swift - Lover

And now for something completely different. Now, I was not a fan of Reputation. In my opinion, it was Taylor's worst record. The new album, Lover feels like a return to form for the pop-star. By no means is she returning to her country roots. This feels more like Red or 1989. Fun, bright and energetic pop music that's designed to lighten up your day. I have had a tonne of fun listening to this album towards the end of the year and I was genuinely surprised by how many songs immediately caught my attention on first listen and how many I wanted to return to. I have to admit, I like snarky, cheeky Taylor making comments and adding her personal flair to the way she sings. Welcome back, Taylor. Please don't go away again

12. Alter Bridge - Walk The Sky

If I really think about why I listen to Alter Bridge, I would have to say that Walk The Sky represents all of their good elements in glorious fashion. This is Alter Bridge at their best. Great writing, fabulous production, well-executed performances... All of that leads to an excellent listening experience that you won't soon forget. On my first playthrough of these songs, I was just captivated by the sheer force and power of how they sounded. The quality of the album is excellent with great messages interwoven so intricately. I do feel the last couple of albums really misfired, at least for me. However, this record put Alter Bridge firmly back on my radar.

The Agonist - Orphans

Wow, what a ride this album was. I think ever since Vicky Psarakis took over the responsibility of vocals in the band, The Agonist has gone from strength to strength. Every album that comes out, more energy, more ferocity and more intensity. Orphans, as an album hits a guttural punch and then just keeps on driving it home. Every time I have played this album this year, I have rocked out and headbanged away (one reason this doesn't go on in the car). From the opening notes, this is an album that grabs a hold of you and shakes you around and spits you out on the other side, begging for more.

10. Sabaton - The Great War

I have loved sticking on this album this year. Even more so, I have really enjoyed the Sabaton History Channel, where the band teach you about the historical events that the band sing about. It's always awesome working your way through a Sabaton record because you're not only entertained but educated at the same time. This album is surrounding the history of World War 1 and some of the stories that you learn from this album are excellent. Coupled with some excellent musicianship and fantastic production you get something extraordinary. I love the powerful conviction that they perform the music with, you always feel like you're getting something special.

Dragonforce - Extreme Power Metal

I think a big theme of the year for me has been rediscovering old favourites with new music. Wh would have ever thought that I would be listening to Dragonforce again. I have really paid much attention to them since 2012. With their new album, I was driven into more nostalgia. This album is a bunch of guys tearing through their childhood at breakneck speed. Extreme Power Metal is Dragonforce showing their passion for their nerdy side. This is the album for the nerd that grew up in the late '90s and through the 2000's. Hell, Dragonforce is the perfect band to represent that!.

08. Master Sword - The Final Door

Speaking of nerdy metal, how about a metal band that exclusively makes songs inspired by The Legend of Zelda. Now I have just reviewed this album on the blog, so there isn't really a lot to add. Just read my review. I will add that this is a great album and more than deserving of being on the list. 


07. As I Lay Dying - Shaped In Fire

Where did this album come from? No, seriously. Where did the reunion of As I Lay Dying come from? I remember scrolling through YouTube one day and just coming across their new material. I was flabbergasted. I mean, I grew up listening to their music and then the lead singer went through legal troubles and we never heard from them. I thought that was them done. Low and behold they're back and with, probably, their best record ever. The production, outstanding. The writing, deeply personal. The overall feel? Outstanding. This album completely blew me away and all I can say is... When is the UK tour?...

06. Crypt - Tales From The Crypt

It's always awesome to see a YouTuber put their money where their mouth is. Crypt is most known for reacting to rap music and giving his thoughts. His fans knew he was a dope rapper too. However, to put out an album of original material takes balls and Tales From The Crypt is a very well done album and one that I have not been able to stop playing. The songs are great with lots of hype and bars for days. This guy has a motor-mouth and getting out a tonne of lyrics in a relatively short song. The punchlines mostly hit and when he wants you to get the point of what he's saying, he makes sure you get it. I have had a blast listening to this record and I would others check it out.

05. Carrie Underwood - Cry Pretty

Wow, only one album representing Country music this year. Kinda shocked about that. Well, yeah it had to be this one, didn't it? This album is monumental. It's Carrie at her best.  With powerful emotions and grandiose statements. The production is pretty much flawless with a good mix of songs. Emotional ballads, country part tunes and easy-listening jams. Carrie's voice is just one of those voices that I instantly gravitate towards. It's so pure, clear and powerful and that woman can belt out lyrics like nobodies business. I had the great honour of seeing her in concert. Holy cow, I don't mind saying that she is one of the best singers you can hear on stage.

Visions of Atlantis - Wanderers

I was reintroduced to Visions of Atlantis this year. A band that I have not listened to since my Dad passed away. Visions of Atlantis were one of his favourite bands, so when I listen to them, it's hard. The biggest compliment I can give is, my Dad would have absolutely loved this album. This album sounds so damn good. With sweeping ballads with poetic imagery to heavier metal songs, that allows the listener to get caught up in the energy of the moment. The duelling vocals are some of the best I have heard with both vocalists working off of one another and sharing great chemistry. This is a superb album and one that I would recommend to anyone looking for something in the symphonic metal genre.

03. Shura - Forevher

If there was one album that I shared like crazy this year, it was this one. I mean, I really want Shura to be bigger than she is. By the way, I'm sure she's happy with the level of fame she has. The creativity and passion she puts into her music is outstanding. Also, the fact she has completely reinvented her style for this album. The first record was far more pop ready. With hits ready to go. Whereas this album feels like she was going to do whatever felt right, regardless of popular opinion. The smooth tones and heartfelt lyrics really paint a picture of her view of the world. This album is an artistic vision come to life and I was enthralled by this album at every moment.

Evergrey - The Atlantic

This album was my first review on the blog of 2019 and all year it has not left my playlist. This has to be one of their most intense and most emotional albums they have put out. the concept of being lost at sea. really drives home and the darkly poetic lyrics sell the emotion of the concept. The production is stellar with every instrument coming through nice and clear. I am super impressed with The Atlantic. The big sounding production and beautiful writing make for an entertaining and compelling listening experience. I love the way this album sounds, the massive sounding choruses and wonderful melodies are well integrated and when Evergrey decide to go heavy, it becomes a great album to rock out to. I have to say not a bad way to kick off 2019! 

Nina Nesbitt - The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change

And my number one album of the year has to be this one. It couldn't have been anything else. I mean, I don't think there is another album this year I have listened to more than this. I had waited so long for a second album from Nina Nesbitt that I had almost given up hope that she would actually release it!. As soon as it dropped I was impressed. The songwriting was so emotionally powerful that some songs like "Last December" and "Somebody Special" still get to me. Nina has come one so much as a performer and a songwriter. All of the songs include sharp details that let the listener know she is talking about a specific thing and not being generic to maximise appeal. Her understanding of songwriting has come along too. Not just including killer hooks, but utilising the drop perfectly. I feel comfortable saying that everyone should at least listen to The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change as it was one of those albums that just floored me.


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