Welcome to Valhalla.
The hall of fame of the most remarkable records that crossed our hawse to date. It’s the RockmusicRaider version of the feasting hall, where the mead flows in streams, meat comes in abundance, and earthly pleasures of the flesh beckon you at every table end. And you don’t even need to die with a sword in your hand to get there.
Sounds good, huh? Free, eternal props and laurels galore. Only and as always, there is a catch to it. Rulez, always those friggin’ rulez, I tell ya.
For your divine right to appear on this list and bathe in its golden glory, you MUST be a musician (or band) AND reach the lofty heights of a 10/10 on an official, full review. And those are painfully sparse and horribly difficult to come by.
To add to the torture, the upper echelons of the RMR management floor decided that rankings will only ever be attributed to LPs. So, all you EP jokers, single dispensers and other sinners, begone.
Just to give you an idea, at the time of the last update of this blurb, we had 477 full reviews on board. Out of which 9 held a rank of a straight 10. That’s roughly 1.9% all told. Oh, and for the record, this is not a top ten of any kind, but a list of pretty stellar albums that we had the pleasure to review.
But let’s cut this short and get down to it. The show must go on.
AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)
The bell tolls and Angus Young chimes in with that trademark riff. And off goes Brian Johnson like a fucking rocket. Holy Metal Cow! I can’t describe this feeling we had once that record roared out of the loudspeakers of our private club we ran at that time. Releasing this album with so many changes after Bon Scott’s demise truly was some crazy shit the band pulled off in 1980. Yet, this record is without any doubt THE masterpiece AC/DC so carelessly threw at the audience and never equaled since. A well-balanced piece that we still like to have roaring out of our boomboxes today. And before I forget it, get off my back with remarks that some of the texts are sexist or glorify violence. I am sure that’s all true depending on the eyes of the beholder, but it’s AC/DC, silly.
Arven – Black is the Colour (2013)
It is interesting how this band evolved from a somewhat unsure and breathless Music of Light to the dark and sometimes evil tunes on this record. I was and still am blown away by the maturity that Arven brought to the table with their sophomore and – sadly – last album. So, this is a 10/10 well deserved. A sure sign of a band that still had great potential before them, but never went further. A true loss of talent, if there ever was one.
Black Sabbath – 13 (2013)
Okay, stop the howling. I know that some of you positively detest this last record of a world-famous and now seriously defunct band. Yet, it is exactly that last record that is the essence of all that experience Black Sabbath amassed during their long career. Even their first record or Paranoid for that matter contained lots of clutter, so they won’t qualify. But 13 – in contrast – didn’t. And besides, they finally added the power, oomph, and a tasty cheekiness to their game that we found truly irresistible. A bunch of grumpy old wiseasses, whining away their woes and offering salty bits of wisdom on true metallic, seasoned rock ‘n’ roll. It won’t get any better.
Death of a Dryad – Hameln (2021)
I agree. This record ain’t hunting for graceful melodies and it won’t till the fields of those grand soundscapes that should dazzle you either. But then, it really shouldn’t. Because it tells the terrifying story of the Pied Piper from a time long past. So, the somber, haunted, and almost melancholy atmosphere that Death of a Dryad project is exactly spot on. And the piece sports absolute killer material on the storyline, mood, arrangement, and – last but not least – musicianship. A pitch-black tale that almost shoegazes itself through its frightening mists with darkly menacing and monotonous lyrics that will freeze you to the core. In short, Death of a Dryad expertly throw a boatload of emotion at ye. At a scale that befits the terrors that the tale of the Pied Piper so ardently tells. And for that, the band deserves its place in RMR’s Hall of Fame.
Halestorm – The strange case of … (2012)
“Welcome to the nightmare in my head, say hello to something scary…”! Lzzy Hale truly unchained – and in full form. This record perfectly showcased what this band is capable of. Before they got lazy and careless with Into the Wild Life, that is. So, this record makes complicated rock arrangements look easy. The contents are so good, it’s almost appalling. So, get off your chair and spin the disk. You’ll be bouncing off the walls the same as we did after a few listens.
Nightwish – Dark Passion Play (2007)
Dark Passion Play rebuilt Nightwish after that bloody mess with Tarja’s departure. And they did this with a stellar contribution of Anette Olzon and some pretty cool ideas. Imaginaerum – the follow-on – already sported a few more flaws than this record ever mustered. But let’s never forget: This is not an Anette or Tuomas thing, it’s a Nightwish thing. The record projected stardom through an unprecedented bout of teamwork by the whole band. And they truly had fun doing this. Oh, and the album doesn’t solely exist only because The Islander somehow appeared. Dark Passion Play is a complete work of art and not something the band ever matched again. Maybe they will in the future, and we’re still waiting.
Sorcerer – The Crowning of the Fire King (2017)
If ever you looked for Heavy and Doom Metal reloaded back in 2017, Sorcerer – famously – was your band. Crowning gets you everything your Heavy Metal heart might crave. And this without any theatrical shenanigans or undue geekery. A lot of the glory goes to Anders Engberg, without whom this result would not have materialized. As a Heavy Metal vocalist must, he dominates the record to its juicy end. Combine this with almost flawless riffing and soloing, a crystal clear drum work, and a throaty bass, and you got yourself the key to this hall of fame. Stellar then, and still stellar now.
The Gentle Storm – The Diary (2015)
Beautiful. That’s the word that comes to mind once the record starts. This is one of the most underrated records ever made. The dream team Arjen Lucassen and Anneke van Giersbergen concocted a true masterpiece – and somehow forgot to market it to its bitter end. To this day certain passages send shivers down my spine. This is one record that so far blows pretty much anything out of the water in artful wizardry. I could go on gushing for hours like that. But that’s not a good use of your time. So, instead, why don’t you just listen to the damn thing and tell me what you think below.
Wilderun – Veil of Imagination (2019)
After Sleep at the Edge of the World hit our shores, we kind of wondered if anything would be able to boot Wilderun‘s first-born off its stage. And damn straight, Veil of Imagination did just that. If you look for dramatic landscapes expressed through terrific metal, then this is your place. A true Progressive Metal piece, this thing continued to blow us away. A record that will keep you in its metallic grip until the last note lost itself in your eardrums. True, the piece is complex and not an easy listen. But once you really drowned in its depths, this is when you start to appreciate its beauty. Truly stellar.
Okay, that’s it for this list. Whenever a new band hits the 10/10 mark, they will be added to this truly remarkable Hall of Fame. An almost unachievable feat. But it can be done. Like the lottery in a way.