Better late than never...my top 19 and some other stuff

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Mardoch
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Better late than never...my top 19 and some other stuff

Postby Mardoch » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:34 pm

Alphabetical, because on any given day this order is fluid.

Akord - Ethereality
Kind of like Tool but without the bullshit drug-induced mysticism. On the one hand, that's a very apt descriptor, but on the other it sells short how unique and enjoyable Akord is. It's on that edge between rock and metal, excellently written, expertly performed, and pretty unique. The next closest thing I can think of would be Caligula's Horse.
Single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md8np9hzIH4 Full Album: https://akordofficial.bandcamp.com/

Anima Tempo - Caged in Memories
The first 2016 release I got (not counting Pacific Myth, since that was a monthly release that started in 2015). Think...well Hans Zimmer is what they mention, so think that. Lush symphonic soundscapes with powerprog goodies layered on top with some djenty bits as well. It's a tough fight for an early January release to make it onto the year end lists, but this debut has done it. They say they've got another release in store for 2017, too, which is genuinely exciting.
Highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVDrJPWqbj4 Full Album: https://animatempo.bandcamp.com/album/caged-in-memories

Brutai - Born
One of the glorious surprises of 2016! A mixture of pop and metal influences that comes out something like Soilwork and Voyager in a blender produces a disc that I haven't tired of in over 20 listens in under a month. A real year-end pleaser that's consistently revealing new things to love. A debut of incredible strength.
Single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrYnWehkSCQ Full Album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VESWUGqy_mA

Devin Townsend Project - Transcendence
I've never previously had luck "getting" Devin's work. I get this, though. This album kind of shows Devin in a mindspace that I'm desperately trying to reach myself. Chaos reigned in somewhat, zen self-reflection and acceptance laying on top of it all. At least that's how I perceive it, and I guess that's what matters. This is an album that makes me feel things. And on top of that, it sounds freakin amazing. Pair that with his show at PPUSA this year and you've got a special piece of music in time.
Highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhcoLO8vZZU

DGM - The Passage
Something about these Italian chaps always makes me smile. Up tempo, big displays of chops, soaring vocals...it's the perfect powerprog mix. This album is another notch higher in their development. They're the archetype for powerprog at this point. Not much else to say.
Highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPyebiLvT3k

Erra - Drift
Drift is a much different album to previous Erra output. The speed and aggression are not there in the same proportions, but the atmospheric elements are really ramped up. The abundance of tapped riffs also keeps me enthralled on every listen. This is a disc for which I can't fully identify the reasons I love it so much, but I still do and I still keep going back to it often.
Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M89t4Wge_b4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OLij3xK15s

Haken - Affinity
It's Haken! It's retro-futuristic (more emphasis on the retro part though)! It's fucking fantastic! Literally my only complaint about this album is pacing. The end of the album takes a bit of a nosedive in that regard. Other than that? Damned near perfect for me.
Highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW8nBlZZvxM

Hemina - Venus
Balancing the warm and fuzzy prog of old with the djenty touches of today is Hemina. I'm really not even sure how to describe this album. The sound is thick, almost overwhelming in spots, and the writing is superb. I just can't get enough of this Aussie outfit (which is a pattern these days...what's going on down under to fuel the prog explosion?!).
Single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoSnrpuMk60

Ihsahn - Arktis
Another album that makes me feel and encourages me to process my life in better ways. Ihsahn's music helps me grasp the beauty in the natural darkness of life, and since I have a naturally dark mindset this is a great service to me. Until I Too Dissolve is one of those songs that makes me stop and think about how I interact with my environs. In the Vaults is another song in particular that helps refocus my thoughts and reactions to events. Oh, right, the music itself is also fucking incredible. Ihsahn proves that he can do virtually whatever he feels like with whichever influences are speaking to him on that day and it'll come out the other side perfectly showing his vision and prowess.
Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68fJIuk4GpU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60jQWpPutiE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxX7higMj54

Myrath - Legacy
Myrath has upped the catchiness several notches, as if it were required. This is their most approachable work to date, and will hopefully garner them legions of fans. Their native influences shine strong, and their writing prowess stronger still. I just love these guys and hope for them all the best success. Zaher showing up on the upcoming Ayreon disc is testament to the swell they're generating, methinks.
Single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM1d7C8aOWk

Periphery - Periphery III: Select Difficulty
I am a fanboy. Unashamed. The music these guys crank out just lights up all of my metal receptors. Aggression, beauty, complexity galore, etc. If you know Periphery you know what you're getting into here. If you don't, then it's djent at its pinnacle (imo). As the genre progenitors they are still its foremost standard-bearers.
Highlights: Aggression: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSPw6QtDcCs All-rounder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmtU2WJfPgU

Plini - Handmade Cities
All of Plini's releases have been good. Handmade Cities is Transdimensional Spacegoat amazing. Jazzy fusion, outright chops, and writing that's just sublime. When I saw him live in December it was a set of pure happiness for me. His music just makes me feel good.
Highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv_a6rlRjZk Full Album: https://plini.bandcamp.com/album/handmade-cities

Polyphia - Renaissance
Another instrumental album (this year has been incredibly good for them). These young chaps from Texas are cranking out music that just oozes feeling. The grooves are incredible, the writing is astounding, and the playing is impeccable. I just can't get tired of this album.
Highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWqsgEYNii4

Protest the Hero - Pacific Myth
I bought into this one at the top level when they were doing the once a month release thing, and I don't regret it a bit. It's another incredible, and more varied, block of music from these very fun Canadians. Not much to say about them that hasn't been said over their now pretty lengthy career other than that they show no signs of slowing, nor are they losing their luster.
Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-L29nmKHMg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crE9NgC1CVo

Sithu Aye - Set Course for Andromeda
Another block of happy instrumental progressive metal in my list! I love Sithu Aye for a lot of the same reasons I love Plini. High level playing, excellent writing, grooves galore, etc. Sithu Aye is another that never fails to make me smile. Hopefully he makes it to my area someday like Plini did this year.
Highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3oPa0wu94I Full Album: https://sithuayemusic.bandcamp.com/albu ... -andromeda

Sunburst - Fragments of Creation
What if Nevermore were fronted by Roy Khan? That sorta gets you in the ballpark for this band. Blistering guitars, beautiful vocals, yes and yes. When I need music that satisfies both melody and heavy this is one of my goto discs. I haven't gotten enough of it yet.
Single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FObmzEYpAQ

Textures - Phenotype
Technical metal madpeople. Brutality and beauty in not quite equal measures, but huge portions of each. Every time I get a new Textures release I'm not sure how they're going to up the ante over the last slab, but they get it done. As amazing as this album is it makes me wonder what the hell is coming next. These guys are just plain exciting.
Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwiyRbbRrDI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKtvJUyFX5U

Thank You Scientist - Stranger Heads Prevail
Wow, uh...so yeah there's a lot going on here. Some rock, metal, jazz, and other stuff for good meausure. The funky grooves are outstanding. The musicianship is incredible. The whole disc just makes me want to find the list of positive superlatives and put them all on it. It's been a persistent presence in my listening despite not standing up to my usual preference for heaviness.
Single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv1ypynSLzY

Twelve Foot Ninja - Outlier
More crazy Aussies. These guys must be a blast to hang out with. Their music is all over the place, but somehow they tie it up into a cohesive listening experience. I'm not really even sure how to describe what it is that they do, so I'll just let the music speak for themselves. I will say that this is a more focused effort than their last disc, and that focus really pays off. It's much more repeat-listenable for me. One thing's for certain, no one else sounds like these guys.
Highlights (also hilarious videos): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-v9Aeb7Pr0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHQ121jygSo


Not Top X, but still stuff I want to evangelize:

Andy Hauck - Autumn Fades
His work started out djenty, and he retains some of that writing style, but mostly it's this sort of Western rock groovy thing. I enjoy this far more than I would expect to given my usual proclivities. It's fun and doesn't take itself too seriously.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z1sJ-S-E7w https://andyhauck.bandcamp.com/album/autumn-fades

Noveria - Forsaken
Like Symphony X and DGM had a lovechild. Very good, very fun, and full of promise for the future.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPvIEHuL5LU

Tactus - Bending Light
Unabashedly crazy and disjointed djenty madness. It takes a bit to wrap one's head around, but is quite worth it to me. Quite the debut.
https://tactusband.bandcamp.com/album/bending-light

S.T.E.A.M - Warp
Djent! But so solidly executed that it always disappoints me when the EP is over. Something about the prog coming from Poland these days is just...it's for me. I'm just loving the sounds from that region lately.
https://st3am.bandcamp.com/releases

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ToddS
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Re: Better late than never...my top 19 and some other stuff

Postby ToddS » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:36 pm

We share many of the same favorites. It was great to see that show with Plini in December. Dude is awesome! Feel good music indeed.

There are several bands on your list I'm not familiar with, and will definitely be doing some research.

Glad you posted your list Doug. Great stuff!
"My songs become my freedom, and my freedom turns to gold"

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Mardoch
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Re: Better late than never...my top 19 and some other stuff

Postby Mardoch » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:33 pm

ToddS wrote:We share many of the same favorites. It was great to see that show with Plini in December. Dude is awesome! Feel good music indeed.

There are several bands on your list I'm not familiar with, and will definitely be doing some research.

Glad you posted your list Doug. Great stuff!

Plini was fantastic. I was in such a happy place during that set. I sure would love to see him again soon.

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LarryD
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Re: Better late than never...my top 19 and some other stuff

Postby LarryD » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:24 am

Great list Doug .... we have 3 in common although there would be 5 or 6 if I wasn't such a stubborn dude........

I've been thinking about getting more into instrumentals, but I realize that is a futile effort because of 2 things. I crave vocals, and I haven't found anything in the same vein as Joseph Magazine. I can't get into pure technical metal, but I can do melodic progressive metal if it's done superbly, like Joseph Magazine or Art of Illusion. Than again, those discs have at least one song with vocals in them, so there I go again....... :wink:

Funny, as I'm writing this -- last week I was watching a video from Animals as Leaders, and thinking how awesome these guys are technically, but I was also thinking that I could not just sit there and listen to a whole disc of it. In a live setting, I can do it. (think Morgbl at Prog Power), but to sit there and just listen to material like that intently, I cannot do. I find myself getting bored quickly.

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Mardoch
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Re: Better late than never...my top 19 and some other stuff

Postby Mardoch » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:38 pm

LarryD wrote:Great list Doug .... we have 3 in common although there would be 5 or 6 if I wasn't such a stubborn dude........

I've been thinking about getting more into instrumentals, but I realize that is a futile effort because of 2 things. I crave vocals, and I haven't found anything in the same vein as Joseph Magazine. I can't get into pure technical metal, but I can do melodic progressive metal if it's done superbly, like Joseph Magazine or Art of Illusion. Than again, those discs have at least one song with vocals in them, so there I go again....... :wink:

Funny, as I'm writing this -- last week I was watching a video from Animals as Leaders, and thinking how awesome these guys are technically, but I was also thinking that I could not just sit there and listen to a whole disc of it. In a live setting, I can do it. (think Morgbl at Prog Power), but to sit there and just listen to material like that intently, I cannot do. I find myself getting bored quickly.

I have to be in a mood to listen to Animals as Leaders on disc. They're so...overpowering. I have to be ready to focus on the ride otherwise it's just distracting. I have no idea how they come up with their music. It's on another plane of being from where most of us live.

Did you give Plini a shot? It doesn't have vocals (which, I agree, usually add to the package), but it's pretty melodic stuff. I would say Sithu Aye and Polyphia have a lot in common in that arena as well.


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