2017 has been a musical steamroller of a year for Prog.Metal.Madness! Both the listener count and readership has gone from strength to strength, we have been guests at some amazing gigs and festivals, interviewed and met some of our favourite musicians and on the radio side have heard some of the best music the year has to offer! We thank you all!
Due to the amazing output this year it’s been ridiculously tough to compile a list of the favourite things I’ve listened to and even harder to condense it into a small enough list to do justice to the acts on it. As ever I’m not content with just listing albums when it costs so much for smaller and self-releasing acts to produce them to compete so below is a mix of both albums and EP’s. My criteria is how often I have found myself being drawn back to a release even when I’m not choosing a track for the radio or reviewing etc. Especially when I have had to buy multi formats as I NEED to hear them as often as possible wherever the hell I am.
There’s loads I missed and I apologise but I can’t possibly fit them all on…
25: HARBINGER – HUMAN DUST
Absolutely brutal yet surprisingly accessible and hypnotic, this EP is stuffed with riffs, technical guitar, intense rhythms and diverse vocal styles. An amazing EP which its impossible to hear sitting down yet too dangerous to nearby furniture not to!
24: TELEPATHY – TEMPEST
This slow slow sludgy doom of an album is absolutely beautiful. Hypnotic, spacious yet claustrophobic in its intensity Tempest create dark and brooding soundscapes over the length of this their second full length excursion.
23: MASTODON – EMPEROR OF THE SUN
I confess, when this was released I wasn’t even sure I wanted to listen to it after being disappointed with the last couple (they weren’t bad just not as much to my tastes) but for me this is a good long step in the right direction with hints of some of the classic sounds that drew me to the band originally.
22: THE SUN EXPLODES – WE ARE OF THESE WALLS
An intense eclectic ball of emotions perfectly executed with melody and rhythm, this album is a rollercoaster of tempos and melodic hooks which can’t fail to draw the listener in and has you re-picking your favourite tune with every new listen.
21: VALIS ABLAZE – INSULARITY
For fans of Tesseract this is beautifully executed melodic Tech Metal at its finest! Open and floating one minute, tight as fuck aggressive chops the next over which beautiful clean melodic vocals soar, a fantastic EP.
20: RIVIERE – HEAL
Despite being released at the beginning of the year I am still obsessed with this album! This is the bands debut release and promises a great future for them blending styles from Karnivool, The Deftones but proving they are more than the sum of their influences.
19: ARTIFICIAL LANGUAGE – THE OBSERVER
Fantastically clever writing delivered with amazing musicianship Artificial Language have burst onto the scene with an album which is beautifully immersive yet reveals its technicality over repeated listens. For fans of Native Construct.
18: POLKADOT CADAVER – GET POSSESSED
A new Polkadot album is always going to be a momentous occasion, a band which know no boundaries and always strive to bleed between styles to create the perfect soundtrack to even the hardiest of serial killers. A must!
17: PAIN OF SALVATION – PASSING LIGHT OF DAY
This one had the fans divided but for me its a fantastic album that I can’t stop playing still since its release at the beginning of the year. An amazing journey of styles and sounds which is impossible to just ‘dip in to’, this deserves your time and attention… it just annoys me I can’t play ‘Reasons’ on the radio, grrrrrrr!
16: IN SEARCH OF SUN – VIRGIN FUNK MOTHER
In Search of Sun shamelessly explore their funkier and catchy side with this release which displays less of the progressive and aggressive sounds of their debut. In a lesser band this may deter fans yet this album is so well written and consuming you come away realising that this is the band you wanted all along!
15: STONE CIRCLE – A FOREST DARK
A stunning EP made up of Progressive Death metal which explores the darker side of classic Grimm fairy tales. Some fantastic song writing ensures that this huge slab of riffs gels perfectly, a beautiful mix of bounce and circle pit frenzy!
14: CORE OF IO – PART II:EUROPA
With a mix of more old skool, organic sounding riffage and a barrage of twists and turns this EP (The third in the series…they work backwards, dont ask!) seems short with only three tracks yet will have your brain wrapped in knots and you constantly hitting repeat.
13: THUMPERMONKEY – ELECTRICITY
Never ones to do anything by the book, unless it seems that book has a particularly cool cover which inspires in you a concept EP which is as intriguing as the eclectic music accompaniment! A mind-blowing journey of musical inventiveness not to be missed.
12: THE PARALLAX METHOD – THE SQUID
We’d been waiting for this for some time and wow it was worth it! A beautiful instrumental EP with a wonderful mix of Prog, Rock, Jazz done with a sense of humour and drowning in envy inducing musicianship. Noone makes music like these guys!
11: THE HIRSCH EFFEKT – ESKAPIST
A relentless barrage of noise and inventiveness! This album is insanely well written with constant shifts in tone and style The Hirsch Effekt have yet again come out with a flawless release! Be sure to check it out.
10: AMPLIFIER – TRIPPIN’ WITH DR FAUSTUS
A perfect blend of the many different shades of the band we have seen over their many many releases and still coming out with new inventive ideas along the way. Amplifier have proved yet again that they are the best progressive space rock band on the planet.
9: LOATHE – THE COLD SUN
With their first full length Loathe have gone above and beyond to prove they are more than just a gimmick. A beautiful blend of Hardcore and Industrial with soaring choruses and progressive elements its understandable why these guys are rising so rapidly on the scene…they deserve to!
8: CALIGULA’S HORSE – IN CONTACT
Slightly chunkier riffs than 2015’s ‘Bloom’ but still as emotional and sweeping in style make this a superb release! This gets a regular spin on my record player and each time I find myself discovering more to it… and the massive prog epic ‘Graves’ puts the proverbial cherry on top for me!
7: PTEROGLYPH – DEATH OF A PRINCE
A good healthy mix of thrash, death, tech and prog metal have gone into this beauty. There’s a glorious variety of sounds on this album, brutal one minute yet melodic the next, you’ll be banging your head one moment and crooning along the next! Another fantastic debut album makes the list!
6: PERSEFONE – AATHAMA
An immensely absorbing slab of progressive death which just doesn’t hold back! Any fan of the genre must check this album out, hell anyone with ears should. Drenched in synths, riffs, gutteral growls and some beautiful cleans…something for everyone!
5: AYREON – THE SOURCE
spanning over two discs telling the tale of mans survival after the machines claim our planet! For fans of over the top and amazingly executed music.
4: SIKTH – THE FUTURE IN WHO’S EYES?
After so many years they still have it in them! Sikth return with a massive album full of all the tricks, riffs and quirks that made you fall in love with them in the first place. Vocal play-offs, insane rythmical twists and immense musicianship make this one of the top albums of the year.
3: GLASSJAW – MATERIAL CONTROL
Another massive comeback and one that just snuck in at the end of the year to jump straight to the top. Glassjaw are back and sounding as fresh as ever despite it being 15 years since the awesome ‘Worship and Tribute’. They’ve lost nothing in that time this is an album packed with everything you’ve been waiting for!
2: BARRABUS – BARRABUS
I have never been so happy to get to a gig early to catch the supports than when I went to see Mutation in London this year. I was blown away by Barrabus hearing them live, bought the CD at the merch stand and have listened to it at least once nearly every day since. A beautiful fusion of Punk, Metal and more!
1: LEPROUS – MALINA
OK, theres no secret here, I am a massive Leprous fan and a new release from them for me is a huge deal…and thank fuck it lived up to my expectations and more. It’s not heavy like Tall Poppy Syndrome or as doom laden as Coal but bloody hell its powerful and emotive! It seems a natural step from The Congregation beautifully written and executed songs that I just can’t stop listening to!
So there we go, that’s my list, hope you dug it! It’s always a contentious topic and this year has been harder than many, feel free to drop your own in the comments or tell me where I’m wrong and why.
PS, not everyone in the PMM team agrees with me either, but they didn’t write lists so nur!