And here is my part 2 of my top 50 for 2020. My absolute favorite first. These aren’t all prog but i have labeled each one as to “prog or not” so those of you looking for the strictly prog entries, that should make them easier to find.
Again, this disclaimer: There seems to be a consensus around these parts that numbered lists are detrimental. I know bands like being able to say “We were number 1” but just because a band on my list is in the 18th slot, or even the 40th, doesn’t necessarily mean I love it more or less than the ones on either side. So… no numbers for you! ;-p Just know that the ones toward the top of this list are probably the ones that I played more and got just a tad bit more enjoyment out of than the ones further down. But I do love all the ones on this list.
I am including a link to one song each on youtube and the album’s bandcamp page if they have one.
Thomas Bergersen – Humanity – Chapter 1 (Symphonic/Cinematic)
One of the main driving forces behind Two Steps From Hell has been hard at work on, what I can only describe as, a solo project. He released two parts of what will be a 7 part series based on the subject of Humanity. This just popped out of nowhere this year but was easily the most emotionally moving thing I heard all year. This thing is perfection from start to finish. He plans on releasing the series on CD as a boxed set once all parts are released.
Thomas Bergersen – Humanity – Chapter 2 (Symphonic/Cinematic)
Totally wasn’t expecting the 2nd part to be released this year (but was hoping). But he released it. And it is glorious, if only slightly less so than the 1st part. But my favorite track from this series (so far) is on this one: We are Legends. Which I am now finding is blocked in the US on youtube for some reason. So, another track is below.
Scardust – Strangers (Symphonic Prog Metal)
I have a feeling I was aware of this bands last release but wasn’t fully sure… but it really didn’t matter as this one just blew me away this year. Its a crazy one but rocks and has some beautiful moments as well.
Brother Firetribe – Feel the Burn (Melodic Rock)
Once again, Brother Firetribe has knocked it out of the park. Also once again, it is an album that didn’t grab me much on first listen but grew to become one of my favorites of the year. The same thing happened with the last one. Which is odd since they are immediately catchy and make you just sing along with them. One of my absolute favorite songs of the year is Bring on the Rain.
One Desire – Midnight Empire (Melodic Rock)
I remember really liking their last album, but man, this one came out swinging this year and grabbed me right out of the gate. Absolutely drenched in beautiful melodies and harmonies.
Eric Clayton – A Thousand Scars (Rock)
This one is intensely special to me and I know the singing style isn’t for everyone as Eric can get very operatic. But his is a voice that just clicked with me back when I first heard Saviour Machine and he has been responsible for some of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. And that continues on this release. It is an extremely emotional album and very intense in nature at times. This year has brought a lot of crap, but it also brought some great things. One of which was hearing Eric like he hasn’t missed a beat. Brought back so many memories but also forging new ones. Now I await the new Saviour Machine. Below is the epic final track from this release:
Ani Lo Projekt – A Time Called Forever (Symphonic Prog Metal)
Yet another band I wasn’t aware of until this year and checked all the boxes for me. The sound is like part Trans-Siberian Orchestra, part Sanctuary, and all melody and metal.
Waltari – Global Rock (Everything)
Keeping with the theme of my “favorite albums this year are from bands I didn’t know existed prior to hearing them”, comes this band from Finland that incorporates almost every style in existence into their music (Country, rap, death metal… you name it, it is probably on here). This is the very definition of all over the place. But it is excitingly so. And up beat! Below is a track that reminds me a lot of Faith No More.
Chaos Magic – Desert Rose (Symphonic Metal/Rock)
An EP of 4 cover songs, that I personally think are fantastic. I know some might not be able to get over the style differences from the originals but I appreciate what they did hear and would love to hear more like it. That said, the original Ordinary World by Duran Duran will always be the one definitive version to me and therefore the best, but I do love to hear this version too!
Royal Hunt – Dystopia (Prog Metal)
Late comer to the year but immediately grabbed me right off the bat. And it is an unusual one as DC Cooper doesn’t sing on all that many songs here. But he sounds fantastic on the ones he is on and so do the guests. Some fantastic symphonic moments here and some definite sing along choruses.
Different Light – Binary Suns Part 1 (Prog Rock)
Umm… what do you get if REO Speedwagon was prog? This. You get this. Fantastically awesome album.
Enzo and the Glory Ensemble – in the Name of the World Spirit (Prog Metal)
Very theatrical, which is right up my alley. Lots of different genre influences here too. One of their best releases for me so far.
Dead End Finland – Inter Vivos (Melodic Death Metal)
Fantastic melodic metal with some great use of growls. Very much reminds me of Scar Symmetry. But they are their own thing too. This is scratching that Scar Symmetry itch very nicely. Has loads of harmony and melody.
Orbit Culture – Nija (Melodic Death Metal)
Never heard of this band before this year, but holy crap, what an introduction. Melodic Death Metal with hints of Metallica. Catchy and brutal. Love it!
Kansas – The Absence of Presence (Prog Rock)
Wow. Who knew Kansas could still keep coming out with fantastic music and still sound like Kansas! And mostly written by the new guy! This album just keeps getting better.
Nightwish – Human Nature (Symphonic Metal)
I was highly anticipating this release because, full disclosure, Nightwish is my favorite band. They just tick all the boxes for me in what I look for in music. That said, while I love this album, it isn’t my favorite of theirs. There is some great stuff on it, but there are a few missteps. I think they “overcorrected” in the “doesn’t use Floor properly” department. It just feels like there are a lot of forced melodies in the vocal lines at times. And the last track on the 1st disc just doesn’t feel like an album closer… which it isn’t because there is a second disc. But the second disc seems more like a Tuomas solo project rather than Nigthwish. So, I love it, but not my favorite of the year. My favorite song on it is this one:
Pyramaze – Epitaph (Melodic Metal)
Pyramaze released another great slice of melodic metal. Though this one is more focused on the melody this time around.
Burden of Life – The Makeshift Conquerer (Melodic Death Prog Metal)
This album is fantastically all over the place too but never losing sight of the song. Yep, there are growls. But also a lot of melody.
Ghost Toast – Shape Without Form (Instrumental Prog Rock/Metal)
Progressive, (mostly)Instrumental prog rock/metal that just… well… rocks. This is some catchy, hook laden stuff right here. And the samples work really well with the songs too. Very moody. Full album length below. Why not?
Zio – Flower Toriana (Prog Rock)
I bought this one without knowing what it was going to sound like. Something I RARELY do nowadays. But it had the great Halley Griffiths (Ex-Karnataka) so I had to. And it did NOT disappoint. This is one of the more lively and upbeat albums this year and knows how to let the prog out.
Silent Skies – Satellites (Cinematic/Orchestral)
Ever wanted to hear Tom Englund (Evergrey/Redemption) in a more stripped back, orchestral/cinematic context? Well, here is your chance. He has teamed up with Vikram Shankar (multi-instrumentalist/songwriter from Lux Terminus and most recently, keys for Redemption) and came up with an excellent album of songs to take you through a gamut of emotions. Included here is a cover of Evergrey’s Distance with a completely different feel as well as an excellent cover of Here Comes the Rain Again by Eurythmics. I can listen to Tom sing the phonebook and Vikram’s keys are always glorious.
Dynazty – The Dark Delight (Power Metal)
Not so sure it is exactly power metal, but it is metal and there is a lot of power. So there is that! These songs are drenched in melody and harmony and hooks for miles. What is not to love.
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant (Prog Metal)
Rise Radiant is another logical step in the band’s evolution. While the core of what make them them is still present, you can hear along the way through their discography that they seem to ever inch their way heavier and heavier and this album is no exception. There are some fantastically heavier moments on this one but still some of their signature softer ones.
Moon Halo – Chroma (Prog Rock)
A very synth heavy, 80’s style pop/rock album with prog tendencies. I love these albums that come out of nowhere for me and just get their hooks in. The melodies, harmonies, and lush orchestrations really shot this one to the top of my favorites for the year.
Lunatic Soul (Prog Rock/Folk)
Lunatic Soul albums have never really grabbed me much like Riverside has, though I have liked some songs. But this album, with its more folk direction and acoustic/percussive elements had me hooked from the start. Think I’ll go back and revisit the LS discography soon an see if I still feel like I did before.
Well… there ya go. If you made it this far, I thank you for giving this list some time and and let me know your thoughts too! What were some of YOUR favorite albums this year?