Troy Cole
1. NEVERMORE - This Godless Endeavor
2. MORGANA LEFAY - Grand Materia
3. HYPOCRISY - Virus
4. BIOMECHANICAL - Empires Of The Worlds
5. BRAINSTORM - Liquid Monster

"Candlemass" - CANDLEMASS
"The Black Halo" - KAMELOT
"Sideshow Symphonies" - ARCTURUS
"Freeman" - LABYRINTH
"Tyranny Of Souls" - BRUCE DICKINSON
"The Silent Force" - WITHIN TEMPTATION
"Dominaeon" - FORSAKEN
"Enemy Of God" - KREATOR
"Annihilator Of The Wicked" - NILE
"Brahamvidya - Primordial 1" - RUDRA
"Piece Of Time" - ATHEIST (Re-Issue)

Best DVD-releases:
"The Curse Of Candlemass" - CANDLEMASS
"Monsters Of Metal - Vol. 3" - (V.A.)

Best Male Vocalist:
John Gallagher (RAVEN)

Best Female Vocalist:

Best Bassist:
Fabio Fecchio (EPHEL DUATH)

Best Drummer:
Flo Mounier (CRYPTOPSY)

Best Keyboardist:
Jordan Rudess (DREAM THEATRE)

Best Guitarist:
Joe Stump

Best Live Band:

Best Sleeve-Artworks:
"Memento Mori" (WITHERED)
"Shovel Headed Kill Machine" (EXODUS)
"The Garden Of Unearthly Delights" (CATHEDRAL)

Best Films:
Kingdom Of Heaven
King Kong
Lord Of War

Personality Of The Year:
Denis 'Piggy' D'Amour (R.I.P.)

Frank Hill
I found that this year was a mighty year for hard rock and any hybrid mix of genres. If I couldn't say what style it was with one word then I probably liked it.

1. Biomechanical "The Empires of the Worlds"--Their last CD was introverted but this one is totally extroverted and brutal. John K. and his boys are putting Britian back on the metal map with this amazing prog-thrash that's hotter than a nuclear bomb.

2. Bruce Dickinson "Tyranny of Souls" --I actually listen to this one more than #1 and although it's done by Maiden's air raid siren it does have a very different sound than his main band. This one is calmer than prior releases, but the melodies he sings are fucking gold.

3. Mercenary "11 Dreams"--Fantastic meld of styles with incredible vocals and production.

4. Hypocrisy "Virus"--I don't even listen to death and I like this one.
5. Morgana Lefay "Grand Materia"--Full concept CD based on living forever; similar sounding to Savatage.
6. Volbeat "The Stength, The Sound, The Songs" - VERY unique. If Godsmack or the Misfits were transported back in time to sing with Elvis this may be the result.
7. ASG "Feeling Good is Good Enough"--Surprisingly good power-punk CD that's catchy and decently well written. This one grows on you.
8. System Of A Down "Mezmerize"--Quirky as SOAD can be.
9. Disturbed "10000 Fists"--Heavy as the first one, yet not as angry.
10. Mors Principium Est "The Unborn"--Sonically dense hybrid of death, black and goth styles.
11. Strapping Young Lad "Alien"--A very decentered sound that hard to grasp onto. You have be in the mood for this one.

1. Overloaded "Hail the Kingdom"--Hail this CD! Led by the charismatic voice of Chris Gillen and some firey guitar work, these guys have the potential to be THE kick-your-ass saviors of hard rock.

2. The Missing: "blEEd"--Industrial tinged power metal with supurb female vocals. I love this chick's style! At a time whem most female leads sound like a growling dog with a towel in its mouth or goth clone, DM can be smooth or scathing when needed.

3. Danko Jones "We Sweat Blood"--Great throwback rock with a simplistic sound like KISS and Queens of the Stone Age. These guys groove!

4. 286 "Profiled"--Searing hard rock from an L.A. band; like a heavier Faster Pussycat.
5. Twilight Oddessy "Twilight Oddessy"--Chic-led, old school British metal style from some real cool NYers.
6. Illuminatus "Aborted Revolutions"--Hybrid blend of power and gothic atmospherics.
7. Images of Eden "Sunlight of the Spirit"--Guitar-based progressive hard rock with a consistent sound and vision.
8. Engage "2005 Demo--Hyper-fast power metal
9. Milkweed "Body Floss"--Hip-hop crossed with metal; something a bit different, but well done
10. Havochate "Cycle Of Pain"--Solid groove/thrash sound.
11. Omegalord "Hammer Down"--Heavy and tough stoner.

Best Reissues: In Flames "Lunar Strain/Subterranean"
Most Unique Sound: Avenged Sevenfold & Volbeat
Biggest Dissappointment: Judas Priest "Angel Of Retribution"
Biggest Trend: Virtuoso metal skillz with post-punk image & metalcore vocals.
Best Album Covers: Exodus "Shovel Headed Kill Machine", Strapping Young Lad "Alien"
Biggest News Event: Iron Maiden/Ozzfest fiasco
Best Tribute: Both to Iron Maiden--Iron Maidens (all female) & Piano Tribute To Iron Maiden (all piano)

Best Album: System of a Down - Mezmorize
Worst Album: Strapping Young Lad - Alien
Surprise Of The Year: Gamma Ray - Majestic
Best New Band: The Mars Volta
Biggest Letdown: Obituary - Frozen in Time
Best Album Cover: Nevermore - This Godless Endeavour
Worst Album Cover (and worst fucking band name): Pelican - The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Best Comeback Album: Bruce Dickinson - Tyranny of Souls
Worst Comeback Album: Mike Terrana - Man of The World (only because I thought it was going to be a metal album)
Most Anticipated 2006: Getting hard for any release from Burn Your Wishes
Best DVD: Ozzfest 10th Anniversary
Metal Single of the Year: Children of Bodom - Are You Dead Yet?

1. Corrosion of Conformity 'In the Arms of God'
2. Rob Rock 'Holy Hell'
3. Bruce Dickinson 'Tyranny of Souls'

1. any nu-metal album released by any nu-metal band

Iron Maiden 'Death on the Road'

Iron Maiden vs. Sharon Osbourne
Nobody will ever forget the treachery of Dame Osbourne, committed against the metal legends, Iron Maiden, during their last performance with 2005's 'Ozzfest.' Osbourne fired the first shot, as well as the second, third, fourth... etc., with various ill-advised interviews, while Maiden maintained a civil distance from the freak show that is the Osbourne clan.
WINNER: Iron Maiden. They kept their cool and will continue on as treasured legends of the metal scene, whereas Sharon has probably not only brought a swift end to her own 15 minutes of fame, but has more than likely tarnished her poor husband's once-stellar image beyond repair.

1. Overkill 'ReliXIV'
2. Flotsam and Jetsam 'Dreams of Death'
3. Deceased 'As the Weird Travel On'

1. Kamelot - The Black Halo - words cannot describe this masterpiece. Youngblood's riffing has gotten more intricate and his solos are still right on the mark. Roy Khan is god, that is all there is to say about him - the best vocalist in all of power metal. Seeing them live just sealed the deal, although I had this slated at #2 since March (that was when Elvenking were going to release their new one in 2005) and #1 since EK pushed their album back to 2006. Also my top power release. "

2. Korpiklaani - Voice of Wilderness - Jonne Jarvela and his motley crew of crazy Finnish humpaa-men have done it again! This was only their second release (although Jonne had a few albums under the name Shaman already) but it crushes. It's one of the most fun records of all time. Juho, their new accordion player (the kid's only 18 or 19 too) adds more folky atmosphere to music that already features fiddles, flutes, and various Finnish instruments that I can't spell for my life. Also my top folk release, top Euro release.

3. Moonsorrow - Verisäkeet - this epic five track masterpiece is really what "extreme" metal is all about. Aggression and anger and all that are just fine and dandy, but when this type of music is played with sadness and remorse as the driving forces instead, the results are breathtaking. The grandeur of this release is unprecedented. The Sorvali cousins remain Finland's most talented songwriting duo.

4. Freedom Call - The Circle of Life - This one's up here more out of personal enjoyment than from it being a great album. Don't get me wrong, Freedom Call are solid through and through, but their style of happy power metal isn't anything that hasn't been done before. They are, however, one of the best. More importantly, this album has left a deep emotional impact on me. I find the songs to be very inspiring and uplifting, and it's always what I listen to when I need a pick-up. Chris Bay's voice is beautiful and combined with all the rest of the elements in the band makes for some awesome music. It's a shame that the band's guitarist and bassist have left, hopefully replacements are found soon.

5. Redemption - The Fullness of Time - Songwriter Nick Van Dyk is an genius of a man. The Fullness of Time contains what every prog metal release should - great keyboards, intricate guitars, some acoustic parts, and epic vocals courtesy of Ray Adler of Fates Warning. This should have been Dream Theater's spot, and while Octavarium was very good, Redemption are MUCH better. Also top prog release, top US release (technically Kamelot should have this, but since they now have two European members and are based in Europe, I'm not giving it to them. They got #1, that should be enough!).

6. Masterplan - Aeronautics - Roland Grapow is still the man, and with Masterplan he's making better music than Helloween currently are. Their first record was labeled too cheesy, and mayhaps it was, but this one is anything but. Songs like Crimson Rider and Into the Arena will never cease to make my toes curl.

7. Ram-Zet - Intra - Our friend Zet has once again provied us with some super psychedelic Gothic/Black Metal/Industrial crossover metal that blew me away. A big step up from Escape, which I found mediocre. And I loved to see my old favorite Sareeta with an increased role on violin and backing vocals, which were often harmonized with Sfinx's for fantastic results.

8. Slough Feg - Atavism - What can I say about this other than that it is some truly funky traditional metal with Celtic overtones and really weird themes (some of which touch on the Odyssey, that's not so weird). Most of the tracks are very short, with only one or two reaching 4 minutes, but there are 16 of them so I'm not complaining.

9. Taake - Doedskvad - After taking the #1 most ridiculous black metal picture of all time for rocking out with his cock out, Hoest has now released 2005's best black metal album. It's raw and haunting with just a touch of Viking influence (but by no means at all is it folksy), a perfect combination. Also best black release.

10. TIE - Leaves' Eyes - Elegy AND Midnattsol - Where Twilight Dwells - these two bands are fronted by the Espanaes sisters and while they have much in common, there is also a lot separating them. Liv (in Leaves' Eyes) has a strong, experienced backing band in that of husband Alexander Krull's Atrocity, and Alex provides some nice harsh vocals in some of the songs. On the other hand, Carmen has a younger, less experienced band in Midnattsol playing a more folky style of gothic metal. Both albums are winners and I honestly couldn't pick one over the other - and it's no coincidence that this occurred since the two are sisters. They have similar sounding voices, although Carmen's is a bit more accented (which I love) while Liv's a bit fuller and stronger.

Honorable mentions go to these fine bands, who released CDs I enjoyed but did not make the top 10.
Hammerfall - Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken
Nevermore - This Godless Endeavour
Opeth - Ghost Reveries
High on Fire - Blessed Black Wings
1349 - Hellfire
Children of Bodom - Are You Dead Yet?
God Forbid - Constitution of Treason
Dream Theater - Octavarium
Unshine - Earth Magick
Strapping Young Lad – Alien
Sun O))) - Black One
Vinterriket - Der Letze Winter - Der Ewigkeit Entgegen
Galloglass - Heavenseeker

Best EP - Edguy - Superheroes
Best Demo - Sothis - s/t
Best Independent release - Future is Tomorrow - The New Messiah
Best Song – “The Haunting” – Kamelot
Best Video – “The Haunting” - Kamelot

In (Very) Rough Order of Preference
Angra: Temple Of Shadows
Soul SirkUs: WorldPlay
Allen-Lande: The Battle
Journey: Generations
Bruce Dickinson: Tyranny of Souls
220 Volt: Made In Jamtland
TNT: All The Way To The Sun
Yngwie Malmsteen: Unleash the Fury
L.A. Guns: Tales From The Strip
Deep Purple: Rapture Of The Deep
Diamond Head: All Will Be Revealed
Force of Evil: Black Empire
John Norum: Optimus
MasterPlan: Aeronautics
Russell Allen's Atomic Soul: S/T
Starbreaker: S/T
Judas Priest: Angel of Retribution
Blitzkrieg: Sins And Greed
Donnerkopf: Krachmaschine (Full-length version)
HammerFall: Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken

Great DVD's of the Year:
UFO: Too Hot To Handle (Reissue)
Dio: We Rock
Judas Priest: Rising In The East

New Talent To Watch:
Orange Sky
Storm Tribe

Great Gigs Seen:
UFO, Mountain, Rick Derringer @ Hampden Beach Casino, NH
Yngwie Malmsteen, Orange Sky @ Premiere Entertainment Venue, Danbury, CT

Best Surprise: Lots of reunion tours.

Worst Surprise: Lots of reunion tours...Doh! Oh, and the new Primal Fear- they set expectations so high with all that pre-release hype, but this is the first album of theirs that didn't knock me on my arse.

No Surprise: No new Guns 'n Roses studio album-what a friggin' joke!