Dagg’s 2012 Top 20 ProgList
20. Teramaze- Anhedonia
I’d like to see a bigger resurgence of progressive thrash, because that type of aggression is sorely lacking in the prog metal scene (See: #1 entry on the list), Teramaze gave me a healthy serving of that in 2012, and for that I am thankful.
19. OSI- Fire Make Thunder
Call me shocked that OSI fell this far on the list. My review pretty much covered how great this album was, what with being an amazing fusion of electronica and progressive rock, but ultimately it didn’t do much to make me want to listen to it over their previous work Blood, but it is an excellent companion to it.
18. Diablo Swing Orchestra- Pandora’s Pinata
The Protagonist might be groaning a bit that I’m including this at all, what with his constant chirping that it is “Merely basic swing jazz with more distortion”, that doesn’t hamper the fact that it is A. a ton of fun, and B. still something that isn’t a typical fusion. I loved listening to this album, even if I had to turn a bit of my brain off to do so.
[Editor’s note: I never said it was bad, just not really as novel as a lot of metalheads want it to be.]
17. Devin Townsend Project- Epicloud
This is pretty regularly accused of being “pop-metal”, but of the numerous space-rock/prog rock fusions I heard this year (Ayreon is really inspiring a lot of clones), this was the most original and well done attempt at it.
16. Marching Mind- The Sickness And The Theory
Canadian progressive rock/metal band, I discovered this late in 2012 and felt kind of ashamed that I had ignored it for as long as I had. Delightful piano work and songwriting. It reminds me a bit of Haken’s lighter sides at times, and I fully expect subsequent releases to really draw some attention. I guess there are grunge influences on this album, but I guess you can call me ignorant for not catching them.
15. Ne Obliviscaris- Portal Of I
Some very well executed extreme/technical progressive metal, this should attract scorned Opeth fans. This was another big step in pulling me more towards a tolerance of harsher vocals. It’s becoming more and more evident that a lot of cream of the crop prog metal is coming packaged with extreme vocals.
14. Lord of Mushrooms- Perspectives
A very eclectic album that really expanded the sound palette for prog metal in delightful ways. Gus Monsanto puts on a great performance and the music is among the most enjoyable I heard last year.
13. Ocean Architecture- Animus
I hate hardcore screams so, so much, and loved the music on this album so, so, much. If you can’t stomach the aggressive screams, there’s nothing I can much say, but this album is an absolute prog-metal musical masterpiece.
12- A Forest of Stars- A Shadowplay For Yesterday
A very sharp turn in this list. Psychedelic Black Metal. Plenty of great, haunting melodies, and a musical concept that is very original. I enjoyed this a lot and encourage even those not a usual fan of black metal to give this a try, as its been slowly changing my opinions on the genre.
11. Spheric Universe Experience- The New Eve
S.U.E. rocks out pretty hard, though its liable to piss off some prog purists for not being terribly original and maybe even a bit too mainstream in its sound. My full disclosure is that upon hearing this album I expected it to end up a lot higher on the final list, but after hearing it I didn’t feel terribly compelled to go back to it often.
10. Rush- Clockwork Angels
Rounding out the top 10 is an album from a band that should be way too old to still be putting out good music, yet still insists on being relevant and doing awesome things.
9. Threshold- March Of Progress
I appreciated this album quite a bit, though perhaps not as much as some of the rest of the Black Wind staff. Very solid progressive metal, everything comes together as it should.
8. Storm Corrosion- Storm Corrosion
I’m not sure if I’d call this ambitious, but it is downright fascinating, and somewhat unsettling to listen to. An Akerfedlt/Wilson collaboration has been long in the works, and I credit them for going in a direction that nobody really expected.
7. Circus Maximus- Nine
Superb songwriting meets excellent vocal melodies and the naysayers complain that it is “Too accessible”, but Nine is a completely memorable album and I can’t wait to see them at ProgPower 2013.
6. Suspyre- Suspyre
Perhaps the most diverse grouping of influences I heard on a progressive release this year, it’s not without a few hitches and misfires, but its strengths are great enough to overcome its weaknesses.
5. Anglagard- Vilgans Oga
This album should receive an award in its own right for so beautifully embodying the sonic soul of prog. This is a very atmospheric album and it doesn’t really go far with that soul of prog, but it captures it perfectly, and then observes it like a wild animal on a documentary. For the forlorn fans of classic prog, this is like a hit of pure joy.
4. Hemina- Synthetic
Very ambitious debut with a great lyrical concept, diverse influences, and excellent presentation. Australia is showing some signs of churning out some great progressive acts, and hopefully this will strengthen the scene. It is quite a bit of music to take in all at once though, pushing the CD to its maximum capacity.
3. Anathema- Weather Systems
Tremendous aggression filtered through intricate acoustic guitars against an ethereal atmosphere of symphonic beauty, with tremendous lyrical depth and intensity. Jaw dropping dynamics and heart stopping drama. It could be said perhaps that the album is a one trick pony, but that horse is magnificent.
2. Adramelch- Lights From Oblivion
This one was in VERY close contention for the top spot, with being near-perfect in its songwriting. Not terribly ambitious, but there are few albums I enjoy listening to more than Lights From Oblivion.
1. Beardfish- The Void
Absolutely stunning fusion of raw, aggressive metal with eclectic and imaginative prog. I didn’t really think such a fusion was possible, but Beardfish proved me wrong, and with style. This certainly has continued to grow on me, even past my extremely positive initial reaction.