Last year was a real pain in the ass trying to compile a list of my top albums of 2018. So much so, that i made a concerted effort to start tracking and building my list as I went along. Which kind of helped and kind of didn’t. I had something to start from this time, but things I had wrote up, say in February, I completely forgot about come December and I had to go back revisit everything and retype almost all of it anyway. So… I guess its a pain in the ass regardless. (Edit: and I forgot how much of the PITA it is to format lists like this in wordpress! FML!) But it is a labor of love. I love music and I love sharing music with others in hopes of helping people find their new favorite bands.
I have my list of top albums below, that are numbered, but the numbers get rather meaningless as you make your way down the list. If the album is on the list, I love it. Regardless. The ones closer to the top I definitely connected with more, though.
Also to note… I listen to a lot more than just prog. And that is reflected in this list. I have marked the genre for each entry, so if you are only looking for Prog, those are clearly marked. You can just skip over the rest.
And before anyone asks: Yes, I heard the new Tool. And no, it didn’t do much for me. Rob has it covered in his list: here.
The next section below top albums is one for top EPs.
PS- I spent waaaay too long getting the formatting right on this. Didn’t even feel like going over the thing looking for typos or grammmerrrr errorrses. So… as you were.
1. Disillusion – The Liberation (Progressive Metal)
This one came out of nowhere. Rob asked if I was interested in reviewing it. Initially, the first single released impressed me but as I was busy doing other things while listening, I kind of brushed it off for a while. I wound up giving it a concentrated listen later and holy crap. I hung on every note. The atmosphere on this one is immense. And Time to Let Go just freaking spoke to me. Though, the single they later released kind of destroyed the atmosphere for this song with the changes they made to it. So I just listen to the album version.
My review for this one: https://progressivemusicplanet.com/2019/09/02/disillusion-the-liberation/
2. Avantasia – Moonglow (Power Metal)
Channeling what you would expect from the Avantasia sound and getting the best possible out of Tate. The choruses, the melodies, the meat loafyness. Epic. Just an epic album all around. and never having experienced an Avantasia show before, i traveled to see this one as it may have been my only chance to see Tate sing these songs live. And it was amazing.
My review for this one: https://progressivemusicplanet.com/2019/02/12/avantasia-moonglow/
3. Steve Hackett – At the Edge of Light (Progressive Rock)
Prog Rock from one of the masters. The orchestration on this one is immense and the songs are all killer. Definitely check this one out if you haven’t.
4. Evergrey – The Atlantic (Prog Metal)
Monster of a progmetal album. Back at the top of their game. Lots of harmony and melodies. And kick ass riffs. The atmosphere (I talk about this a lot as it is important to me) on this one is so thick as to be oppressive. But that suits the material and subject matter. It is an emotionally heavy album. But still one of my favorites of the year. Weightless just checked all the boxes for me and loved hearing it at ProgPower USA this year. A definite highlight for me!
5. Two Steps From Hell – Dragon (Dramatic Orchestral Music)
Every time I turn around, there is a new TSFH release that I wasn’t expecting. And every time, they deliver nothing but class and atmosphere. This is the new classical music but always with an edge and beauty not found very often in others of its kind.
6. Devin Townsend – Empath (Prog Metal)
What can I say about a DT release? Epic? Yep. Eclectic? Yep. Over the top assault on the senses? Definitely. Loved this album from first listen. The Epic took a bit to grow on me but it did. I’m sure everyone has already seen this video but it is still my favorite music video for the year.
7. Cheeto’s Magazine – Amazingous (Prog Rock)
Eclectic, proggy, crazy, goofy… you name it. Freaking amazing album from Barcelona! This was my intro to them and fell in love with their stuff immediately. Totally fun album with some extremely beautiful passages. The earlier albums are name your price on bandcamp too!
8. Jon Anderson – 1000 Hands (Prog Rock)
Outside of some goofiness in the lyrics ( i mean… that is to be expected) this is a pretty flawless album. Gorgeous melodies, excellent musicianship, stellar cast of musicians. Jon spent a lot of time on this one and it shows. Definitely one of his best albums.
9. Voyager – Colours in the Sun (Prog Metal)
Voyager returned with one of their most catchy, hook filled albums to date. This album oozes style and 80’s style synth. Seriously, they sound, to me, like Duran Duran doing prog metal. I couldn’t get enough of this album.
10. Soen – Lotus (Progressive Metal)
One of the masters of Prog metal deliver again with one of their catchiest albums to date. Some songs stand out more than others but the disc as a whole is just a gem. And their set at ProgPower USA was just fantastic.
11. Mostly Autumn – White Rainbow (Prog Rock)
Prog rock with shades of Pink Floyd and Anathema at times. Some extremely beautiful passages throughout that just makes for one heck of an experience to absorb.
12. Flying Colors – Third Degree (Prog Rock)
I wound up putting this one off as I haven’t quite gotten over my Neal Morse burn out (too much content. I still have about 5 live sets that I haven’t listened to or watched that I got from the Radiant sales.) So, on a whim, I threw this one on one evening and: holy crap! What an amazingly awesome and catchy album! I’ve liked the other Flying Colors albums, but this one is a big step up. Catchy and melodic as all hell.
13. Thousand Sun Sky – The Aurora Complex (Instrumental Prog Metal)
This was one of the unexpected ones on my list. The djenty prog metal albums do tend to all run together at some point, but this one stood out with the songwriting. Each track held up as unique to me for the most part and kept my attention throughout. Some beautiful stuff on here.
14. Beast in Black – From Hell with Love (Power Metal)
Gloriously styled 80’s synth metal! You will be hard pressed to find a catchier metal album out there this year.
15. Monkey3 – Sphere (Instrumental Prog Metal)
Yet another our dear friend Rob introduced me to this year. Brooding prog metal with a mood and an attitude. They work in textures and know how to build up the tension. Has a kind of post-apocalyptic vibe… at times Pink Floyd-ish in tone.
16. Crazy Lixx – Forever Wild (Melodic rock/metal)
Just about a perfect Melodic rock/metal album. If you miss the 80’s era stuff like motley crue and Bon Jovi, you will dig this. If you don’t, skip down a bit.
17. Work Of Art – Exhibits (AOR)
Another that I didn’t give enough of a chance to the first time I listened to it. The AOR ballads and ballad rockers just ooze style and harmony. And one of my favorite musicians, Vince DiCola, guests on a track, though is a bit under utilized. Still fantastic though.
18. Find Me – Angels in Blue (Melodic Rock)
More catchy as hell straight up rock. In a year bloated with releases, few of these kinds of albums stand out. (Except that my list tends to have a lot of them on it. Believe me… there were a LOT more). But this one stood out to me and called for repeated listens.
19. Gin Annie – 100% Proof (Melodic Rock)
Perfect hard melodic rock. Hooks and choruses to the horizon. Another I couldn’t let go with one listen.
20. Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings (Power Metal)
Pun intended here, but this is a beast of a power metal album. Synth and hook heavy.
21. Ola Englund – Master of the Universe (progressive Instrumental)
Again, lots of releases this year, even in this genre, but this one stood out as well for the songwriting. Melodic and catchy stuff.
22. Eyala – Awaken (Prog Rock/Metal)
Hailing from Mexico, this album is a great slab of prog metal with great harmonies and melodies. Catchy songs and hard rocking tracks really grab you and don’t let go. At times reminding me of earlier Dream Theater.
23. Darkwater – Human (Progressive Metal)
Another one that i enjoyed but didn’t fully gel with on first listen but grew on me as the year went on. Originally, I had felt i had heard it all before but that was because it is a fantastic throwback to the prog metal of old (can’t believe I can use that phrase accurately now. What year is it?) but not sounding dated at all. This is a full slab of prog metal that delivers.
24. MONO – Nowhere Now Here (Instrumental Post Rock/Metal)
Another great album of glorious and brooding post rock/metal. That atmosphere I was talking about before… these guys embody that phrase.
25. Pinn Dropp – Perfectly Flawed (Prog Rock)
This one was released digitally at tail end of 2018 and the CD in 2019. Therefore it had a chance to be in a top list and has done so for this year. Prog rock reminiscent of Rush (early 80s), Enchant, and Subsignal.
26. Evan Carson – Ocipinski (Prog Rock)
Some eclectic and cinematic music right here. The vocals are haunting and beautiful at times and the music is pretty challenging too.
27. Inglorious – Ride to Nowhere (Hard Melodic Rock)
More melodic rock (it was definitely a good year for it) but with a much harder edge. This one oozes a Whitesnake feel. In a year that actually saw another Whitesnake release, this was a much better one.
28. A New Revenge – Enemies and Lovers (Hard Rock)
I am hesitant to call it an album as it is only about 36 minutes in length, but it is an action packed 36 minutes and 10 tracks. Featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens on vocals, channeling at times Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy and others Jon Oliva (primarily on Only the Pretty Ones).
29. Thomas Bergersen – Seven (Dramatic Orchestral Music)
One of the masterminds behind Two Steps from Hell released his solo symphony and it is majestic.
30. Floating Worlds – Battleship Oceania (Progressive Metal)
The songs themselves on here are great. Heavy, melodic, progressive. Almost everything I could want in an album. But the voice acting leaves me a bit wanting in places. Ok… a lot. And sadly, the voice acting is made part of the songs so I can’t just make a playlist of just the songs. That didn’t keep me from listening to it more than few times though. I pushed through. But this album would have ranked much higher without it.
1. Animal Drive – Back to the Roots (Heavy Metal with progressive tendencies)
Fresh on the heels of last year’s LP, they decided to release an EP of covers of some of their favorite songs. And they sound awesome in the Animal Drive sound.
2. Even Flow – Mother (Prog Metal (Normally))
Was hoping for another album from them this year but i will take what i can get. But this time around they opted for a more acoustically focused EP. Not fully acoustic, mind you. But there is some great piano and guitar work on display here. Always love hearing from them.
3. The Resonance Project (Prog/Djenty Metal)
Some beautiful and haunting compositions on this one with some great cinematic moments. Clocking in at 36 minutes with 6 tracks… the band seems to think this is an album… but this is flirting with album length while looking a whole lot more like an EP.
4. Two Steps From Hell – Orion (Dramatic Orchestral Music)
Only TSFH can release a 1 hour and 20 minute EP. Lol! It is really a 27 minute EP, but with multiple versions of each track that add up to that total time. They can do no wrong in my eyes. More fantastic music. And another unexpected release.