Looking for lush melodies, soaring solos and some of the most uplifting rock music on the planet? Look no further than Rushonrock’s Top 10 AOR/Melodic Rock albums of 2020. Editor Simon Rushworth dusted off the faux leather and retuned his air guitar to wrap up the very best of this year’s releases.
10. Lionheart – The Reality Of Miracles (Metalville)
Forty years after Lionheart made their name at the Marquee Club pedalling a more melodic take on the NWOBHM movement, Dennis Stratton and co. celebrated that landmark anniversary with The Reality Of Miracles. The follow up to Second Nature didn’t disappoint — staying true to the band’s celebrated roots and bringing Lionheart’s sound bang up to date with one of the year’s most complete rock albums.
9. One Desire – Midnight Empire (Frontiers)
Two years in the making and a bold attempt at besting 2017’s self-titled debut, One Desire didn’t quite make it with Midnight Empire. But that’s not to say this impeccably produced set of AOR goodness disappointed. Far from it. Down And Dirty, When I Breathe and After You’re Gone evoke the genre giants with effortless cool.
Read the full Rushonrock review here.
8. Palace – Rock And Roll Radio (Frontiers)
Michael Palace doesn’t rest on his laurels and his third solo album raised the bar again for all things melodic rock. Rock And Roll Radio was an unashamed 80s throwback and all the better for it. Dreamy keys jostled for position with riffs hewn from an era when self-confidence and wild excess were the norm. The Palace playlist was essential listening in 2020.
7. Gotthard – Steve Lee: The Eyes Of A Tiger (Nuclear Blast)
This moving tribute to the much-missed Steve Lee hit the sweet spot for fans of Gotthard past and present. Switzerland’s finest melodic rock export carefully curated a collection of lost gems and fused the late Lee’s saccharine tones with current frontman Nic Maeder’s vocals to pay a fitting tribute to the former. Both versions of Eye Of The Tiger — one of Lee’s all-time favourites — blew the original out of the water.
6. Vega – Grit Your Teeth (Frontiers)
In a year that stopped so many great bands in their tracks, Vega gritted their teeth and ploughed on with their best album to date. One of the UK’s most underrated melodic rock staples, it’s high time this brilliant band broke into the big leagues. Consequence Of Having A Heart proved to be one of the AOR tracks of the year and adding DeeVer six-stringer Billy Taylor to the mix proved a smart move.
5. FM – Synchronized (Frontiers)
The pretenders to the melodic rock throne might be gaining fast but FM are still undisputed kings of the genre. And Synchronized saw Steve Overland and co. remind allcomers of their impeccable AOR credentials. Ballads Ghost Of You and Angels Cried could move grown men to tears (and probably did) as one of 2020’s glossiest adverts for radio friendly rock maintained their rich vein of form.
4. Landfall – The Turning Point (Frontiers)
Love classic Mr Big, White Lion and Extreme? You’ll love Landfall. The Cuban newbies burst onto the melodic rock scene with The Turning Point and all roads surely lead to global success for Gui Oliver (think Eric Martin at his peak) and co. Tracks like No Way Out and Distant Love oozed AOR goodness and hinted at a brilliant future for one of the finds of the year.
3. Gotthard – 13 (Nuclear Blast)
A second entry for the Swiss masters and if 13 is unlucky for some then it proved to be an unexpected bonus for fans of classy, driven, evocative rock. Nic Maeder never had it easy replacing fan favourite Steve Lee but the talented frontman has gone about his business with impeccable professionalism and 13 was a career high. Man On A Mission said it all.
Read the full Rushonrock review here
2. House Of Lords – New World, New Eyes (Frontiers)
House about that? James Christian and the gang built on the foundations of 1990’s Sahara to blow the roof off with New World, New Eyes. House Of Lords’ fifth album since 2011 proved to be their most assured as the LA crew fused their hair metal heritage with something altogether more serious. New World, New Eyes proved the old ones are still the best.
Read the full Rushonrock review here
1. Brother Firetribe – Feel The Burn (Odyssey Music)
Oh Brother! Finland’s finest almost eclipsed the shimmering Sunbound with a record that epitomised the unbridled joy of AOR at its most emotive. Feel The Burn’s simmering melodies and flaming solos combined to create the hottest sound of the year as frontman Pekka Heino revelled in his role as melodic rock ringmaster. Night Drive, Rock In The City and Love Is A Beautiful Lie dazzled in a set that demanded to be heard live. Here’s hoping.