4. Iced Earth – Incorruptible
Iced Earth may have had a revolving door of vocalists over the years but Iced Earth mainman Jon Schaffer has always steadied the helm, delivering power/thrash masterpiece after masterpiece often amidst turmoil and chaos.
After 2014’s relatively disappointing Plagues Of Babylon (an album that had its moments but failed to live up to previous career highs), a return to form was in order…..and a return to scintillating form is what we received!
Incorruptible found frontman Stu Block finally bedded in and his is a versatile voice that fits the Iced Earth modus operandi perfectly. Sure, he sounds remarkably like ex-vocalist Matt Barlow for much of Incorruptible‘s duration, but there’s something reliably familiar about his delivery that makes this instantly recognisable as an Iced Earth cut.
Fortunately, Jon Schaffer was also firing on all cylinders, peeling off triplets like there was no tomorrow and echoing the power and grandeur found on the sublime Framing Armageddon – Something Wicked Part 1.
Iced Earth were back in a big way!
3. Ancestral – Master Of Fate
10 years between albums is a long time to wait but Italy’s Ancestral made it all worthwhile with the release of the outstanding Master Of Fate!
Featuring over 50 minutes of cutting power metal played at breakneck speed, it appeared as though the last decade ad not been spent standing idle. Instead, Ancestral burst forth with a no-bullshit approach, dialling down all the cheesy aspects of power metal to deliver a focused, thrill ride and a show of supreme strength.
Sharing an ideology with Helloween and Blind Guardian at their most ferocious, the shred-heavy riffs and rapid-fire beats of Master Of Fate lent it a strong ‘metal’ cred and Ancestral won the award of heaviest power metal album of 2017, hands down!
2. Coldspell – A New World Arise
Sweden’s Coldspell specialise in melodic heavy metal and after releasing 3 albums of increasing quality since their formation in 2005, the time had well and truly come to make the world sit up and take heed; Coldspell are here to stay and they’re fuckin’ great at what they do!
Each track (and we mean each track, there’s simply not a duff moment in sight) packed a massive chorus, a vocal hook that immediately ingrained itself in your brain and an infinite number of classic, catchy riffs that recaledl the 80’s – but never once sound dated – and the epic title track is just the start of a series of heckle-raising, fist-pumping, arena-friendly anthems of the highest order!
If you hadn’t already guessed, Coldspell couldn’t give two shits about testing the boundaries of extemity. Instead, they channeled the chart bothering behemoths of metal’s heyday resulting in accessible songs backed by meaty riffing. This is an album for those still in thrall to the huge anthems of the 1980’s and tracks such as “Get To The Top” (a fitting mantra about never giving up) and “It Hurts” are chock-full of crunchy riffs, insistent melodies and keyboard flourishes.
Whether they’re rocking out, shredding like madmen, hitting new levels of grandiose splendour or unleashing the kind of soaring melodic metal the likes of Hammerfall and Masterplan deliver so well, Coldspell rarely faltered; hitting the mark each and every time. The entire album was a consistently majestic affair which also happened to be the finest collection of songs Coldspell have ever put their name to.
A melodic heavy metal masterclass…..and easily one of the finest melodic metal/power metal albums of 2017!