5. Black Stone Cherry - "Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea"
The third album from the Kentucky rockers sits stylistically between their first two, and progresses them onto a whole new plain. The hard rock tinged with southern charm sits perfectly alongside those big Black Stone Cherry ballads. "Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea" is a stunning piece of work.
4. Courtney Marie Andrews - "No One's Slate Is Clean"
The fourth album in as many years from 21 year old Phoenix singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews arrived in December, and instantly became one of the best of the year. The intricate lyrics sung in Andrews' hauntingly angelic voice are complemented beautifully by the sparse production. An absolutely beautiful album.
3. Dream Theater - "A Dramatic Turn of Events"
The first album since the departure of drummer, founding member and lynchpin Mike Portnoy was an absolute triumph. New drummer Mike Mangini slots in perfectly, playing like his life depended on it on a collection of stunning progressive metal songs that wouldn't sound out of place on any of their best works.
2. Foo Fighters - "Wasting Light"
Recorded entirely on analogue tape in Dave Grohl's garage, "Wasting Light", the seventh studio album from the Foo Fighters is one of the best hard rock records of a generation. Combining raw aggression with beautiful melody - often in the same song - the album captures the power of this incredible band. Including a remarkable reunion of the three surviving men responsible for "Nevermind" on the incredible "I Should Have Known", from the first note to the very last, "Wasting Light" is an utterly astounding album.
1. Machine Head - "Unto the Locust"
To follow up 2007's "The Blackening" was never going to be an easy task. How do you follow up perfection? With more perfection. "Unto the Locust" is all of the following; brutal, melodic, angry, delicate. Everything here is just outstanding. There is no comparison at this time, if this band can continue to produce albums of this quality, they will go down as one of the greatest of all time.