My Top 20 AOR/Melodic Rock album of the 00s

Date:2017-09-30 07:19:24
A list of AOR/melodic rock albums from the Noughties. A couple of the albums listed are a touch different than straight melodic rock but they are always based around a large dose of melody be they prog or neoclassical and never rely on sheer force or heaviness hence making this list. First a number of albums I deem worthy of mention that don't make the top 20. Granted I'm going by pure memory here. It's been an age since I listened to any of these and even the top 20 but you can delve into the memory banks and imagine how you felt whilst listening and come up with a list and some sort of ranking.

Slamer - Nowhere Land - Mike Slamer great songwriter and guitarist.
The Poodles - Metal Will Stand Tall - Scandi melodic rock at its best.
Leverage - Tides - Sadly missed Finnish band.
Final Frontier - Freelight - Super light but ultra melodic with Rob Moratti
Saga - Trust - my first real Saga album which I found very catchy and melodic
Frederiksen/Denander - Baptism By Fire
Whitesnake - Good To Be Bad. Cov in good form
H.e.a.t - st - great debut lite AOR classic. Gone on to become a heavier band now
Leverage - Blind Fire
Jorn - Lonely Are The Brave - Mr Lande hits hard with this melodic rock record.
Royal Hunt - Collision Course - Neo-classical lushness.
Sunstorm - House Of Dreams. JLT, can't go wrong with that dude's voice.
Praying Mantis - Sanctuary. Harder edged melodic rock/metal.
Gary Hughes - Once And Future King Pt. 1 and Pt 2. Gary in fine form.Epic melodic rock!
The Ladder - Sacred. Steve Overland genius on mic.
Presto Ballet - Peace Among The Ruins. Epic warm and fuzzy prog rock from Metal Chruch man
Josh Ramos/Hugo - The Dream. Journey copy but super slick.
Blanc Faces - st - Brilliant debut effort from AOR slicksters.
House of Lords - World Upside Down - interchangeable with Come To My Kingdom almost
W.E.T. - st. A great start no doubt but I like the follow up so much more. This should probably be in my 20 though.

20. Ambition - st
I don't know too much about Robert Berry the singer but he's been in a few AOR bands before and had a name. His voice is superb in this Frontiers project. Love this one with usual suspects of Tommy Denander and others doing the song writing.

19. Starbreaker - st
I believe this was another project set up Serufino head of Frontiers. Magnus Karlsson and Tony Harnell. You can't really go wrong and they didn't not at all! Tony's voice is instantly recognisable and Magnus is a genius songsmith.

18. Bob Catley - Immortal
There's that man Magnus again this time helping out old man Bob to release one of his best solo albums. Heavy and melodic and as usual chock full of grand tunes. I think Bob's voice is shot pretty much now so I don't know if he can do solo albums any more. The stuff he does with Magnum doesn't excite although they are very prolific. Anyway Immortal was a killer release.

17. Harem Scarem - Weight of the World
I believe the first time I really got into HS. This album had a much heavier and cooler vibe but still with a lot of melody. One day I'll play it again. But the band has currently released their best album ever so while Weight was great the new album usurps it and then some!

16. Gotthard - Lipservice
I was never a fan of Gotthard until this album or should I say I never even paid much attention to them but Lipservice was a great melodic rock record featuring the late Steve Lee. I'm not really a fan of the new version of the band though it's ok. Lipservice was a killer slice of euro hard rock though.

15. House of Lords - Come to My Kingdom
I love WUD almost as much as CTMK but I have slight preference for this record. Classic HoL fans may prefer the early Guiffria period but i wasn't into melodic rock then so had no idea. I got into the band with WUD and this oen cemented my fandom. They've been steadily solid and enjoyable since releasing regularly. ALways loved James Christian's voice. Verty earthy and melodic though still powerful and raspy. Jimi Bell is a great lead player too and very underrated. Actually one of the best in melodic rock circles.

14. Seventh Key - st
I loved this debut project when it was released and it's worthy of its spot in this list. It was like a heavier and more straight melodic rock versin of Kansas basically with Billy Greer on vocals. The song writing was fresh and joyous. Their second album also kicks ass as their last album in 2013 which is too late for this list. I hope the band has another go at this for they are great. I should say guitar genius Mike Slamer is also in this band as well as Terry Brock.

13. Marcello-Vestry - st
This was a bolt from the blue. A super slick melodic rock record which was from a put together duo of which I knew very little especially having never heard of singer Frank Vestry. Rob Marcello from Danger Danger supplied the monster guitar playing and licks whilst the songs were sung superbly by Vestry. An epic combination indeed. That a follow up never materialised was a major disappointment for melodic nutters!

12. Leverage - Circus Colossus
Perhaps my fave Leverage album. Heavy and melodic and even slightly prog at times but not too much. Peiko from Brother Firetribe's other band should still be doing something damn it but they've been missing for a long time now. I know the songwriter Torsti Spoof was in The Magnificent and I'm still waiting a follow up for that if it ever comes. Anyhow Leverage is sadly missed. All their albums are worthy of consideration though not strictly and AOR band of course.

11. Journey - Revelation
The first album with Arnel at the helm after his discovery and lo and behold I think the album is pretty great. Arnel sounds good and the band is inspired to write memorable tunes.
Very enjoyable indeed for any old time Journey fan. Well those that are still not crying for Steve Perry to come back. They've since not had the best of times though have managed one more album in 2011 called Eclipse but nothing since.

10. Pride Of Lions - st
Debut effort of soaring theatrical AOR from Jim Peterik and Toby Hitchcock. Jim needs no introduction but Toby his young side kick turned out to have a magnificent voice for AOR. Their seocnd album the Roaring of Dreams is also worthy but I'll go with the lush and pure smooth AOR debut. the guitar edge is dampened here but if you want to be soothed with majestic melodies you're in the right place.

09. Brother Firetribe - Heart Full Of Fire
The Finnish band put together by Empuu, the guitarist of Nightwish. Their debut album False Metal is also great and worthy of mention of course but HFoF is when they upped the ante IMO and started to make a name in AOR circles. Peika is a great singer no doubt. Everything clicked on this to release a melodic gem. Don't forget this year they've probably released their best album ever in Sunbound. More mature and more melodic than ever.

08. Praying Mantis - Nowhere To Hide
I'll be honest I had never heard 80s Mantis at all before hearing NtH, but I immediately fell in love with this record. It was so lush and melodic as melodies weaved here and there whilst cementing themselves into your brain. I find Mantis a hard band to truly categorise. they are a bit more prog and heavier than typical AOR, but their choruses are drenched in sugar coated melody. Plus they have this slightly epic sound which removes them as well. A mention for Tony O'Hora. This was the first I'd ever heard the guy sing and his vocals blew me away. A beautiful mid range baritone and so melodic. Top effort although their Sanctuary album from 2008 was probably just as good.

07. Blanc Faces - Falling From The Moon
This was the second Blanc Faces album after the self titled debut. Both are good but this one is a little more polished, heavier and better. Robbie's voice is something else. The guy is just a superb AOR vocalist as he has proved since in the two Find Me albums from Frontiers. Anyway I hope he makes another BF album with his brother too one day. Just love the songs here and Robbie can sing any old crap and I'll like it.

06. Work of Art - Artwork
The full on Toto worship of the debut from these Swedes was so damn pleasing on the ear. The thing was they had only just started but what a start. I hang on every move I hear from WoA these days but at the time it was all a bit wondrous and new. Their sound was absolutely superb though for a debut. They had obviously worked a lot on the songs before hitting the studio. Oh and of course I must mention Lars Safsund who has gone on to become one of the best vocalists in AOR today.

05. TNT - My Religion
I must admit I am not an old time TNT fan although I did hear those classic early albums much later and became a big fan later even after hearing this album first. The press at the time was that Ronnie LeTekro had recruited Tony Harnell again and that the band was going back to its early roots. Boy were they not wrong! This was at the time topping everyone's end of year list wirth regard to the melodic rock angle. Tony's unmistakeable high pitched vocals were in full throttle and the song writing was memorable as fuck. Welcome back TNT said the old fans. Of course Tony would soon leave again and the band lost the plot with one totally disastrous album and one OK album, but now Tony has decided to come back again and I do expect to see a great TNT album. ALthough everyone is much older now and I do wonder how much their heart is in it anymore, but I'm here to be surprised.

04. Danger Danger - Revolve
This album was quite a shock to me. I was never into any of DD's previous albums in any big way. I found them a bit cheesy and weak and I never really got into Singer Ted Poley's whuny vocals. Then what was this I thought to myself as I'm playing the album? This kicks ass! Ted sound the best he's ever sounded and the songs are just absolutely the best that they can be as far as the melodic rock genre goes. Sadly they've never released a follow up due to being bust with other projects although they did relase the superb The Defiants album with Paul Laine their previous singer last year. So I guess we can call that the actual follow up to Revolve.

03. Harem Scarem - Higher
The second HS disk in my top 20 and another personal fave of mine. Some people don't really recognise the album is being all that, but I just love this record. They stripped away some of the weight and put the vocal hooks right at the fore front making repeat plays mandatory. A very underrated record in their discography IMO.

02. Place Vendome - Streets of Fire
A manufactured project with Kiske and a myriad of song writers. This was their second release after the rather pleasing debut. The debut was great in its own right but I just feel they got everything to click on this release. The production was a whole ton heavier and better. Michi Kiske turned in a superb effort and sounded engaged with the songs. And speaking of the songs they were all pretty much perfect. The 3rd PV album was ok but softer and more AOR than this one and strangely the album released this year is their heaviest of all and more power metal at times. So their record goes very soft, heavier, soft, heaviest! All their albums have a lot of songs worthy of repeat listens but I still find Streets nothing short of a magnificent melodic rock record.

01. Eclipse - Are You Ready To Rock
Finally here it is the first time Erik and co this decided to break out from shackles of AOR and burst forth the heaviness of true gold plated melodic rock. Their first two albums are good but they were just stepping stones to the greatness that we see today. Even from the title of the album you can tell that Erik means business this time. He's cut loose so to speak. Eclipse maybe a small band but ERik thinks big in his mind. He said this many times in interviews. When he writes songs he imagines the punters punching the air and singing a long in a stadium of 1000s! His mentality is thing BIG and this is the first time you could sense what he really envisaged fo his band. The songs are tighter, have that manic edge that all Eclipse has, and that endless sense of melody. Of course the band has gone on to release superb albums which eclipse this one but at the time the album was like a shot of adrenaline in the arm. I'm just wondering when Erik will start to run out of riffs and melodies! Guy is something else.. wonder what he's working on at the moment. There was talk of an Eclipse EP, but I guess it's the new W.E.T. which is next on the horizon which will have melodic rock nutters salivating no doubt! Well I am anyway!

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