It is that time again. If you showed up for wanking and frilly pirate shirts then look elsewhere, so no Dream Theater clones or really anything close.It has to go somewhere not the same noodling album after album. The score from my reviews to help determine the ranking , but also how many times Last FM told me I listened to each album.An album can have all the critical acclaim in the world but if it does not inspire multiple listens then how good can it actually be ?
This year it leans more heavily on the side of between new blood being spilled and more well established acts . Rather than posting media of a track from each band I am leaving a link to the review, which will contain Bandcamp or Full Album Streams. Ok enough talking about it, the time has come to dig into the top 10 Prog albums of 2018.
10- Arabrot- "Who Do You Love"
This album finds the project taking on more more conventional rock slant, even their tendency to drone and the odd touch of quirk to the vocals on the first song, you can also hear traces of Led Zeppelin. The sonic oddities and genre jerking that have been reigned in for the sake of songwriting and are not missed as long as they are keeping this heading in a darker direction. I think this album is such it's own thing that it becomes most endearing over time.
9-Megaton Leviathan - "Mage"
Another band that has changed this year. When I heard the first track off this album, I thought "Oh My God , they have turned into Jesu" . I am fine with this as I miss Jesu . In other words there is more of a dreamy shoe gaze haze over this album and it barely touches upon metal, yet it does have rock in it's veins to the point that I am not putting this on an indie rock or post-punk list. It gets a lot of props for the surreal adventure it takes you on.
8- Crippled Black Phoenix - "Great Escape"
This project of Justin Greaves the drummer for Iron Monkey and Electric Wizard, typically embarks on a more psychedelic rock vein. This is still the case with ample doses of progressive rock which is still in the 70s rock zip code. Melodic vocals and a bong laden mood, allow the opening song to coast with the relaxed Pink Floyd like vibe. When it comes to prog rock these guys do it smoother than most.
The ex Emperor master mind's last few album's drifted further into progressive rock. There are plenty of moments that are not only metal but closer to even black metal,with his choked croak almost picking up where his first solo album left off. Synths are more to the forefront. Not just any synths , but very retro synths that sound like they are from an 80s horror movie. Its a shade better than what most other artists in progressive metal are doing, though the progressive side is what breaks up the dark aggression that we came to know and love him by. The bar is set pretty high and my threshold for darkness is at the level of soul sucking so if you like darker progressive metal it might be your album so far year. I am a step away from being vampiric in my lust for darkness never be quenched by the metal of mere mortals, so take that into consideration
6-Sigh- "Heir to Despair"
This band really defines progressive rock. There shit is not a bunch of notes it goes somewhere and actually makes progress. While I was surprised that it sounded like a space age take on Jethro Tull as a metal band, it makes perfect sense. Yes , I know they used to be a black metal band. They are still heavy,
5- Lychgate" The Contagion in Nine Steps"
Fans of the band who showed up for black metal might have found this to be jarring. It's also really dark and interesting so if you don't recognize that and want just blast beats so eat more glue and chase it with a bullet. This is not to say I approve of every movement in this shifting landscape of angular chaos. I do approve of the sense of adventure and rebellion against the black metal status quo even at risk of not being black metal anymore.
4-Vanishing Kids " Heavy Dreamer"
This band features former members of Jex Thoth and draws influences from a wider web. The over driven guitar waking sluggishly from the hazy murk of occult rock while bathing with lusher atmosphere. Despite the occasional rock god guitar solo that puts it's foot upon on the monitor to remind you where they came from, both the title track and "Without a Sun" both sound like they could have come from 4AD's catalog in the late 80s.
3- Manes - "Slow Motion Death Sequence"
This album finds the band going further in a direction that is more electronic than metal. I like the vocals right from the jump. They are moody and the female vocals remind me of Bjork. While this might not be metal, there are rock elements t with distorted power chords creating a driving pulse. The male vocals continue to get weirder reminding me of Peter Gabriel.
2-Voivod- "the Wake"
The 14th album from these legends finds them embracing all of their sides. The album takes you through a wide array of dark and melodic places, with more of a proggy "Nothing Face" like drive rather than the thrash aggression of their earlier work.In terms of heavy it's more like "Dimension Hatross" than "War& Pain". Snake's voice sounds great on this album, where many of his peers feel the effects of time. I think while it only comes close to the very peak of the Piggy years , you are talking about the best albums by one of the very best metal bands, so that is a high fucking bat. It does however holds ground against their body of work as a whole and is clear they are not content to fall back into rehashing the past , but continuing to progress.
Former members of Akercocke formed this progressive metal band. The dark sense of melody further into this album with each listen . It has a wide array of vocal colors. The metal core of what these musicians creates from doesn't hamper it from bringing other elements ranging from post-punk to post- hardcore, though I guess these post-men aren't just ringing twice as any other post-sub genre can also be found. This album is very impressive, when I got it back in April it was what I thought to be one of the first contenders for album of the year as I could not imagine someone bringing it in the dark and aggressive fashion these guys do.