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get ready to ROCK! Pick of 2003
It's that time of the year again...bleary-eyed from their midnight CD Player thrashing our reviewers bring you their best...

Jason Ritchie

1 The Darkness 'Permission to Land' - brings the smile back to rock.

2 Styx 'Cyclorama' - their best album since the 70's.

3 Devin Townsend Band 'Accelerated Evolution' - more riffs than Motorhead! Sheer aural bliss...

4 Brian McDonald Group 'Voyager' - glorious harmonies & tunes.

5 Newman 'Sign of the Modern Times' - classy melodic hard rock.

David Randall

Steve Tilston 'Such And Such' (Market Square)
He’s been crafting superb songs for three decades for a folk audience, this could be the album to break him mainstream.

The Tangent 'The Music That Died Alone' (Inside Out)
Unashamedly harks back to the golden age of prog rock. Great musicianship and an uncanny and uncompromising grasp of this genre.

Melanie C 'Reason'
She may be an ex-Spice Girl but ‘Reason’ has a pop rock undercurrent and a sophistication that may entice those who would normally avoid like the plague.

Dishwalla 'Opaline' (Silverline)
If you like this band and album, you couldn’t wish for much more. Pristine sound quality and bonus features, such as the track by track audio commentary and studio footage, make this a DVD-A to set the standard.

Mo Foster 'Bel Assis' (Angel Air)
Reissue of a 1988 album, featuring master bass person Mo and stellar support in the shape of Gary Moore, Ray Russell and Rod Argent. A mix of jazz and rock, and a thankful reprise for a forgotten gem.

John Stefanis

Queensryche - "Tribe": What can I say about this band... If I was asked to stick with one band for the rest of my life, it would definitely be them.

Morbid Angel - "The Heretic". The Pioneers! Probably the best Death Metal band ever and a great album too!

Nevermore - "The Enemies of Reality". Warell Dane is one of my favourite vocalists, ever since his Sanctuary days. The new Nevermore album kicks a**.

Dead Soul Tribe - "A Murder of Crows". For all the Psychotic Waltz fans and people that love "uncompromised" music

Kreator - " Live Creation". The best German Thrash Metal Band doing what they know best...playing live!!! - Awesome!

Ian Pollard

1: Mostly Autumn 'Passengers' - Seven of the most gifted musicians I've ever seen or heard, now maturing nicely. They haven't peaked yet, but this will take some beating.

2: Gary Hughes 'Once And Future King' (both parts) - A great cast of musicians brought together to perform a truly epic concept written by Gary - how could it not be awesome?

3: Stratovarius 'Elements Part 1' - Their best yet, technically brilliant and some of the best drum riffs I've ever heard.

4: Dragonforce 'Valley Of The Damned' - It doesn't get any faster than this, play loud and really annoy the neighbours.

5: Royal Hunt 'Eyewitness' - One of the best screamers in the business, John West gives it his all, and even finds room for a bit of lounge jazz (honest).

Charlie Farrell

1. The Gathering - Souvenirs (Pyschonaut Records)
Just when I thought I was about to give up on this band and their 'new direction', they pull this rabbit out of the hat. Stripped down instrumentally but with the haunting poetic vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen, who can resist? Simply gorgeous.

2. Evanescence - Fallen (Wind-Up)
The best Rock act to get lucky in the pop charts this year. This disk shows them to be far more than an MTV 'rock' band.

3. Karnataka - Delicate Flame of Desire (Immrama Records)
Great tunes, great harmonies allied with great production. The best effort to come out of the UK this year.

4. Arch Enemy - Anthems of Rebellion (Century Media)
Crunchy riffs, top notch playing and Angela on vocals - the perfect stress management disk after a bad day at the office.

5. John Arch - A Twist of Fate (Metal Blade)
A unique vocal talent returns from the wilderness and delivers a disk thats a breath of fresh air. More please!

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