Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

The Heart of the Prog/Power Movement

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Digital Man
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Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

Postby Digital Man » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:11 pm

I think this is the first year I've felt the need to post a disclaimer or explanation about my top 10 list. While I've always liked some prog rock, over the last few years I've really been getting into it more. I have collected a lot of prog rock over the years, but until recently I'd listen to each a few times and then move on to something more metal. Somehow prog rock has really clicked with me lately and many of the bands I used to find boring are now appealing to me. So half of my top 10 this year ended up being prog rock bands. Some I've been listening to for years and some I just discovered this year as I went seeking bands similar to Anglagard, Wobbler, Anekdoten, etc. I've been enjoying the prog pioneers from the 70s as well as the newer Retro Prog bands that sound like they should have come out in the 70s. Now that I put my list together what is surprising to me is how much of my list is at one end of the heaviness spectrum or the other and how few middle ground prog metal disks are present. Whenever I get burned out on a style, I tend to expand and explore different sub-genres related to prog and metal. In the past I explored more extreme metal, now it seems I'm widening my tastes in the other direction. It seems lately many new prog metal releases are sounding stale to me and it feels like I've heard it all before, so I think that's why my listening has been elsewhere lately. Don't worry, I haven't quit listening to prog metal, I'm just expanding my listening.

1) Wobbler - From Silence To Somewhere
https://wobbler.bandcamp.com/album/from ... -somewhere
https://youtu.be/8oSoXeftEvw

This was one of my 3 most anticipated disks of the year and it really delivered. There is a reason this disk is at the top of every top prog list I've read. They are the top Retro Prog band right now in my opinion. They don't hide their influences at all. They seem to have taken the best of many of the prog greats such as Anglagard, Yes, etc. that have come before them and mixed them into an almost perfect disk.

2) Agusa - Agusa
https://agusaband.bandcamp.com/album/agusa

This is another Retro Prog band that I just discovered recently as I was looking for other bands like Anglagard and Wobbler. It's instrumental but the lack of vocals doesn't hurt it at all. I'd prefer no vocals to bad vocals any day.

3) Enslaved - E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRlhMyXmTYQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8HX_vGPCz8

This disk is one of my biggest surprises this year. I have a few of their previous disks but they never really rose above other new disks I was getting to get much playing time. They are a progressive black/death/Viking band mixing clean and harsh vocals. On the very first listen, this disk blew me away. The mixing in of clean vocals really makes this disk for me. I originally thought I'd throw this disk at the end of my list, but the more I listened to it I kept moving it up. Pretty impressive for a band I was really not familiar with until recently. Now I need to go give their previous disks more attention.

4) Ne Obliviscaris - Urn
https://neobliviscarissom.bandcamp.com/album/urn
https://youtu.be/UgUn4EKLMnU

This is another of my 3 most anticipated disks. I guess it's a bit of a letdown that this falls in the middle of my list, not at the top. When The Portal Of I came out, this progressive black metal band with violins had a unique formula and sounded unlike anyone else. That disk remains my favorite. Their next two disks, including Urn, are both great disks, but the formula is exactly the same on all disks. They remain one of my favorite recent bands and they were outstanding live recently, but I'd like to see them mix it up a bit more in the future so the formula doesn't become stale.

5) Threshold -Legends Of The Shires
https://youtu.be/e9NCuOe4zJk

This is the only typical prog metal disk that made my list this year. I like all of Threshold's vocalists, but Glynn's return really pushed this disk to be one of my favorite Threshold disks, if not my favorite. Small Dark Lines is one of the best songs I've heard in years. I initially felt that the disk was a bit uneven and had some filler. While I still feel that is true, when I went back and listened to it recently to figure out where to rank it I find myself liking it more and more. My previous listens were while working or driving so giving it my full attention recently may have helped me recognize its greatness.

6) Persefone - Aathma
https://persefone1.bandcamp.com/album/aathma
https://youtu.be/epxkiTxoHrw
This is a very technical extreme progressive death metal band. The hardcore like vocals are right on the edge of my tolerance but the music is so good I still enjoy this disk a lot. I was disappointed they didn't make PPUSA but was thrilled when they were announced for 2018.

7) Steven Wilson - To The Bone
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUF_-iSZ9kA

This was another of my 3 most anticipated disks of the year. My expectations were sky high for this one given how much I've been enjoying Steven Wilson lately. So the fact that this disk is this low in my list is disappointing. SW has always mixed prog and pop fairly successfully, but this time the pop side may be too much for me. This is still a great disk and there are some great songs but there are also some songs worth skipping. SW seems to be one of the few people that thinks you can mix prog and pop, but I hope he moves back in the prog direction in the future. To paraphrase Anthrax: They say prog and pop can never mix, well all of them can suck our dicks...

8 ) Jordsjø - Jord
https://jordsjo.bandcamp.com/album/jord

This is another new Retro Prog band I discovered this year. The only physical media on which this was released was cassette (yes, in 2017), but at least it's available digitally on Bandcamp so that's where I bought it. The instrumental parts of this are incredible and you would be very surprised this wasn't a release from the early 70s. The only thing limiting my ability to enjoy this release is the singing is in Norwegian. There are good English vocals some songs on previous albums, so I wish they would go instrumental or switch to English. However, when a band puts out a cassette only release with Norwegian vocals, I'm guessing they are not interested in huge international success.

9) Alestorm - No Grave But The Sea
https://alestorm.bandcamp.com/album/no- ... ut-the-sea
https://youtu.be/-r8jlHDBMsw

When you listen to as much serious, grim, melancholy music as I do, every now and then it's refreshing to listen to a disk that is just plain fun. This is a Scottish pirate themed power metal band that certainly doesn't take themselves too seriously. I'm not listening to much new power metal anymore, but this band is the exception. I was thrilled to hear they will be playing ProgPower this year. I know everyone else seems to find the Anchor song hilarious, but for me that's the only flaw in an otherwise great disk.

10) Kaipa - Children Of The Sounds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlSDKpP2lCQ

This band has been around since the 70s but this was the first disk of theirs I heard. This isn't Retro prog rock like my other picks. It's very polished, accessible female fronted prog rock. Not sure if it's considered neo prog, but it sounds close to me. The best way I can describe this is this sounds like something LarryD would like.
Güy

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Chris R
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Re: Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

Postby Chris R » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:15 pm

Persefone-Aathma might he the best technical prog/death style disk tor ever be released ...
This says a lot with how much I love Cynic-Focus and the Extol St disks

It's about as close to perfection as you can come in this subject genre
Tarja is a female woman
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elendil
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Re: Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

Postby elendil » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:55 pm

Good call on Enslaved. They will be top 3 for me this year as well, which is really surprising, because they've always been "pretty good but not outstanding" for me in the past.

The Wobbler is a fun one. Might not make my top 10-15, but definitely something I'll listen to now & again.

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Re: Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

Postby LarryD » Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:59 am

Guy --

We have zero discs in common on our top list ....... but each year it's cool to see which direction you're going in musically. Of course, I can't keep up that pace as I'm stuck in certain genres and likes, but I can talk to some of those discs on your list.

WOBBLER -
If you're into Prog Rock, ( anyone that is ), especially that Retro sound that you speak of, Wobbler should be on the list. Ken took me to see them at one of the Nearfests of old, and I was amazed at their talent and quality. While I can appreciate that style, it is very hard for me to listen to discs like that on a regular basis. I'd rather see bands like that in a live setting, rather than listen to them on disc. Weird, I know. I think Knight Area was on the same bill - another Prog Rock band, and yet, I have every one of their discs and can listen to them anytime. The styles are different, but the concept is the same. I think melodies have a lot to do with it.
While you're at it - check out a band called The Watch. An Italian band I believe, that is a spitting image of early Genesis. I've been to many Nearfests, but The Watch was one of those bands that stick out in my mind ...... amazing show and quality. Add them to your list at some point.


THRESHOLD -
It was the only prog metal band that made your list - and the prog metal band that I love that didn't make my list. This will go down as one of the great mysteries in my musical life. While I have disliked some Threshold discs in the past (Subsurface & Dead Reckoning come to mind) for the most part I'm a Threshold whore and always have been. Every ingredient I love about this particular disc is present. Glynn Morgan - concept disc - Hobbits - Threshold. Yet, each time I play it, I find myself fast forwarding through so many songs that I just give up on it in the end and realize that the disc just isn't doing it for me. I remember many years ago - Threshold had a question and answer session online. I forget who hosted it, but one of my questions was "when will Threshold write a 2-CD concept disc" ..... I think it was Richard West who answered the question and pretty much laughed at the idea of it and said Threshold isn't into concept discs and not to hold my breath ...... well, here it is finally and I don't care for it. In contrast, I took their "For the Journey" disc with me for 2 days recently back and forth to work - and to me, this disc is way better than Shires. It's heavier, more epic, and what I consider classic Threshold sound. Shires - is just missing something. Too many boring songs along the way possibly.


STEVEN WILSON -
Brilliant musician. That said, I have bought most of his solo material, and I have stopped. I just cannot get into his solo stuff. It's slow, depressing, and dry.......Cool to see you digging him so much.


KAIPA -
Another cool band to see you into ..... if you like, I can recommend some other bands in this style if you're really digging them. I've had 1 or 2 of their discs, and I didn't find myself going back to them too many times for some reason. You are correct, I love this type of music - but this band just kept on putting me to sleep for some reason. I'll go back and check this one out and see what happens.

The rest of those discs - I either don't like, or don't know ....... I'm sure when I see you at Prog Power, your listening will have changed 10 times over, and it's cool to see you covering any and all genres .......just please, don't Dweeb out on us ....... :cry: I WILL jump on an plane at that time - hunt you down - and bring you back to the light side ........ :wink:

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Digital Man
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Re: Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

Postby Digital Man » Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:19 am

LarryD wrote:Guy --

While you're at it - check out a band called The Watch. An Italian band I believe, that is a spitting image of early Genesis. I've been to many Nearfests, but The Watch was one of those bands that stick out in my mind ...... amazing show and quality. Add them to your list at some point.



Thanks! I found some videos on Youtube and boy are you ever correct. Very much like old Genesis. That makes the time I spent typing this up worth it, love discovering new bands. I'll dig into them more.

LarryD wrote:THRESHOLD -
It was the only prog metal band that made your list - and the prog metal band that I love that didn't make my list. This will go down as one of the great mysteries in my musical life. While I have disliked some Threshold discs in the past (Subsurface & Dead Reckoning come to mind) for the most part I'm a Threshold whore and always have been. Every ingredient I love about this particular disc is present. Glynn Morgan - concept disc - Hobbits - Threshold. Yet, each time I play it, I find myself fast forwarding through so many songs that I just give up on it in the end and realize that the disc just isn't doing it for me. I remember many years ago - Threshold had a question and answer session online. I forget who hosted it, but one of my questions was "when will Threshold write a 2-CD concept disc" ..... I think it was Richard West who answered the question and pretty much laughed at the idea of it and said Threshold isn't into concept discs and not to hold my breath ...... well, here it is finally and I don't care for it. In contrast, I took their "For the Journey" disc with me for 2 days recently back and forth to work - and to me, this disc is way better than Shires. It's heavier, more epic, and what I consider classic Threshold sound. Shires - is just missing something. Too many boring songs along the way possibly.


Understood, music is so personal in how it impacts us. There are certain bands that have all the elements such that I should like them, but I just don't for some reason. For instance, Haken and Leprous have everything I should like but they just don't click with me for some reason. For years people told me I should like Yes and Genesis, but they did nothing for me. Part of that is that my first exposure to the bands were their more commercial videos on MTV. Now after trying for so many years these bands are all of a sudden starting to click with me. In some cases I haven't liked a disk at one point in my life and then come back to it later and love it, so there's still hope for you. Put it on the shelf and try it again in a few years.

LarryD wrote:KAIPA -
Another cool band to see you into ..... if you like, I can recommend some other bands in this style if you're really digging them. I've had 1 or 2 of their discs, and I didn't find myself going back to them too many times for some reason. You are correct, I love this type of music - but this band just kept on putting me to sleep for some reason. I'll go back and check this one out and see what happens.


Thanks. I have so much to explore right now since I'm listening to all the prog greats from the 70's as well as the modern retro prog bands. So far I'm not a huge neo prog fan, but I suspect that after I've thoroughly explored what I'm enjoying now I'll be looking to expand again.

LarryD wrote:The rest of those discs - I either don't like, or don't know ....... I'm sure when I see you at Prog Power, your listening will have changed 10 times over, and it's cool to see you covering any and all genres .......just please, don't Dweeb out on us ....... :cry: I WILL jump on an plane at that time - hunt you down - and bring you back to the light side ........ :wink:


I think there is a significant difference in how Dweeb and I explore new music. With me, I never quit listening to the bands and styles I've listened to in the past. I may temporarily put a style on the back burner but I usually eventually circle back. I never get rid of disks because I know that if something isn't currently my thing that at some time in the future it likely will be again. With Dweeb it seemed he completely lost interest in what he used to like, whereas with me I just keep expanding.
Güy

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elendil
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Re: Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

Postby elendil » Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:39 pm

LarryD wrote:STEVEN WILSON -
Brilliant musician. That said, I have bought most of his solo material, and I have stopped. I just cannot get into his solo stuff. It's slow, depressing, and dry.......Cool to see you digging him so much.


+1

Wish he'd do more PT-type stuff, but I get the feeling he sees that kind of thing as insufficiently cutting-edge now.

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Re: Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

Postby ToddS » Tue Dec 26, 2017 6:01 pm

Wobbler
I never did get around to checking out this one. Like all their previous. Huge back log for me this year.

Persephone
Crazy good musically. Technical and melodic. The death vox do tend to put me on edge after a while.

Steve Wilson
Has pretty much lost me. Where the prog man? The rock too for that matter. Would love another Porcupine Tree as well.

Alestorm
Makes me want to drink rum.

Threshold
Felt it could have been shortened into something more powerful. There are some standout tracks but some filler too I think. Will revisit.

Very different list Guy. Nothing wrong with that.
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