I don’t even know where to begin here. I just checked back and saw the last album I reviewed was in May. MAY! I swear it seems like one month has passed since then. But also feels like an eternity. With everything going on, I just couldn’t muster up the words to put down for my feelings on albums after that point this year.
But I DID keep listening to music. And a LOT of music. Mostly new. There are so many releases each week that it usually takes me over a week to get through all the new stuff. All total, it seems I listened to 1800 artists this year, plus or minus whatever. The vast majority of it didn’t click with me at all. So, just know… I am somewhat picky, but picky by my own tastes.
So with that, be forewarned, I don’t ONLY listen to prog. So my list has a bit of everything in it. For those that are prog purists (and there is nothing wrong with that) I have placed a label once again next to each artist’s name to show what genre they basically fit in. So if it doesn’t say “prog” in some form, it probably isn’t.
Also, a 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, 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.
Also… I was going to cull this list down but decided… screw it! Here it is… my top 50!
Part one! So, 25 in this first round…
Lol. Also, also… I am including a link to one song each on youtube and the album’s bandcamp page if they have one.
Lionville – Magic Is Alive (Melodic Rock)
Cheesy? Yep. Gloriously melodic? Also yep. Had this one looping for days after it came out. Definitely satisfies that “80s cheesy rock” itch to a T.
Lost Symphony – Chapter 1 (Instrumental Classical Metal)
Hey! Look! Another band I haven’t heard of before this year! They released Chapters 1 and 2 this year. But Chapter 1 just grabbed me from the start. This thing rocks completely the F out. So freaking good. Lots of guests on here: Bumblefoot, Jeff Loomis, David Ellefson, Angel Vivaldi, among others…
Amahiru – Amahiru (Prog Metal)
A friend introduced me to this band this year and it immediately grabbed me with it strong power metal mixed with Shinedown vibe (yeah, I like Shinedown too… primarily early Shinedown). And Elize Ryd from Amaranthe guesting on one track doesn’t hurt either.
Katatonia – City Burials (Prog Metal)
More in the prog rock vein, the band deliver another fantastic and somber album. Some beautiful stuff in here.
Archon Angel – Fallen (Power/Prog Metal)
Another that grew on me over the year, but became a favorite. No, they aren’t Savatage, but man, the spirit of Savatage is there. And with Zak out front, its the closest we are going to get to Savatage for a while… maybe? There is a lot going on here to take in, so if it doesn’t grab you at first, give it time. Some great songs here.
Genus Ordinis Dei – Glare of Deliverance (Symphonic Death Metal)
I went into this one not know what to expect… well, expecting to not dig it actually as it takes something special for me to get on board with a mostly growl affair, but get on board I did with this. The Symphonic part is fantastic, the growls are the type that I can dig, and music overall is very beautiful when not brutal. Their videos that go with this are a bit weird though. Closet thing I can compare this to is MaYaN but without the glorious female vocals.
Mindtech – Omnipresence (Prog/Power Metal)
Another one that is kind of scratching that Scar Symmetry itch. The main vox can get a little iffy for me, but not to the point to keep me from listening to it. The melody and harmony win out.
Oceans of Slumber (Metal)
While the last album has one of my favorite songs ever in The Banished Heart, I overall love this album as a whole, more. The songs are more solid and Cammie just gets better and better.
Paralydium – Worlds Beyond (Prog Metal)
Hard to stand out in this particular genre anymore. But these guys did just that, while also showing their influences well. Shades of Dream Theater but also Teramaze.
Brothers of Metal – Emblas Saga (Symphonic Metal)
Symphonic power metal with lots of harmony and anthemic choruses really hit all the right notes for me. Loved the Celtic stylings and fist pumping rockers.
Tony Mitchell – Church of a Restless Soul (Melodic Rock)
Ok. There are just too many great releases this year. Another one drenched in melodies and hooks for miles. This one was a great step up from his last release and reminds me of what Bon Jovi could sound like if Bon Jovi could still release good music.
Karfagen – Birds of Passage (Prog Rock)
A terrifically performed, old school, prog rock album. Evoking memories of 70’s Yes, among others from that era. Two big epics are present, but are really just two parts of the same song. This is a very enjoyable album.
Delain – Apocalypse and Chill (Symphonic Metal)
Delain ramped it up a bit with this release. I liked the last couple of albums well enough, but didn’t love them. This one is so catchy just about all the way through. Taking all their strongest points and emphasizing them.
Thematic – Skyrunner ( Alt Prog Rock)
The band has an airy sound which I really dig. And has a bit of a throw back to the better parts of the 90’s rock sound, but updated… with some djentiness.
Chronus – Idols (Rock/Metal)
More melodic stuff from Sweden. The singer here has strong resemblance to Ozzy, which i like and really works here.
Black Stone Cherry – The Human Condition (Rock)
Now, this is a band that I have been aware of for a long time but never gave a chance as I always thought they were like a bar rock kind of band. But that clearly isn’t the case and it wound up being a very catchy album with relatable themes. I found myself getting more drawn in the more I listened. And the cover of Don’t Bring Me Down by ELO was a nice surprise that sold it too. These guys are some excellent musicians to boot!
Nuclear Power Trio – A Clear and Present Rager (Instrumental Metal)
Regardless of political affiliations, this EP is an excellent slice of metal. And the song titles are hilarious. But the songs are catchy as hell.
Allen/Olzon – Worlds Apart (Metal)
I’ve gotten to where I approach Frontiers releases with a bit of trepidation. There is just so much released and of varying quality that it is a bit difficult to get excited about it all. But hey, the more the merrier I guess. If I don’t like it, I’m sure someone will! But we aren’t here to talk about what I DIDN’T like. Another album that didn’t quite grab me upon first listen but grew with repeated spins until I loved it. Lots of power and emotion on this one and Annette does a fantastic job.
Nicumo – Inertia (Gothic Metal)
A recurrent theme with me: another band (from Finland no less) that I wasn’t aware of but grabbed me out of the gate. Love their Katatonia/Disillusion vibe. Definitely a gothic vibe. Full album below.
Jorn – Heavy Rock Radio 2 – Executing the Classics (Ummm… heavy rock? lol)
Can’t go wrong with Jorn. And he nails it here with some fantastic cover choices.
Haken – Virus (Prog Metal)
A great album overall that I enjoyed more than a few times this year. But the highlight of the album is definitely that Messiah suite.
Tarja – Extra Raw (Symphonic Metal)
One of the best things Tarja has released in a while. And it is sort of a leftovers album. The whole things is just so darn catchy!
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want to Live? (Prog/Post Rock)
Loved all the grooves on this one. They encompass all the things I love about post rock.
Osyron – Foundations (Symphonic Metal)
Another one that came out of nowhere for me this year. Sort of old school metal but they know how to make the big choruses and the huge symphonic sound. Only complaint I have is it is too short.
Acute Mind – Under the Empty Sky (Prog Metal)
And another surprise for me this year. A friend introduced me to these guys and I thank him for it. A great variety on here with an bit of a 90s metal feel at times. And one of the best guitar solos I heard this year in the song It’s Not Me.
Stay tuned for Part two!