The great prog metal discs of this decade

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The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby introclaus » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:22 pm

... well, at least in my opinion ;)

Here are the 15 albums (I limited it to ONE only per artist) that I think best shows the quality of prog metal in this decade, and also what it is that I personally find interesting in the genre.

2010 – Pain of Salvation “Road Salt One”
This is the album everyone loves to hate, but that I think might very well be one of the best PoS discs ever. There's something so unique and so refreshing about this album (and "Road Salt Two") that I don't hear anywhere else. The fact that they listened to the nay-sayers and went back to a very forced "let's try to recapture our old sound" later on, shows me that even the band didn't realize how awesome the Road Salt discs truly were ... oh well.
https://youtu.be/bw2_XUyBXx8


2010 – Shaolin Death Squad “Five Deadly Venoms”
This album is a complete mindf*** - every time I listen to it I'm blown away by how the heck someone can come up with something as ingenious and progressive as this AND have the talent to perform it to perfection. Such an underappreciated album!
https://youtu.be/F3ak1JYjMGw


2012 – Syqem – Reflections of Elephants
Progressive metal, djent, metalcore, electronica and lots of melodies - I guess this is what would happen if Meshuggah, Sybreed, Sikth, Devin Townsend, Tesseract, Tool, Dredg, Muse and Radiohead all got together?
https://youtu.be/kQZg0QgEnNk


2013 – Leprous “Coal”
Best album of this decade - hands down!
https://youtu.be/_9o2nVY8FZ0


2013 – Boil “Axiom”
I'm not a fan of Tool at all, and this album is full of Tool-worship so what is it about it that makes me love it so much? No clue - it's just a phenomenal disc!
https://youtu.be/GdODhlEilAM


2013 – Kingcrow “In Crescendo”
Yes, we can all agree that Kingcrow has created the best sounding prog metal/prog rock discs of the decade - Diego C is an amazing visionaire and producer, and Kingcrow is a brilliant band. This album is my personal favorite, but between the trilogy of "Phlegethon", "In Crescendo" and "Eidos" you could pick any of them and I'd be happy.
https://youtu.be/g3Jidu3vql8


2014 – A.C.T “Circus Pandemonium”
Super-cheesy storyline aside, this album is a thrillride. Prog rock, metal, pop music, happy AOR and pomp rock served the Swedish way, sunny side up!
https://youtu.be/vPyUBoch5Ww


2015 – Poem “Skein Syndrome”
Another of those bands that seem to worship at the alter of Tool, and I just don't understand the appeal ... but man, I do love me some Poem! This album is just killer from start to finish.
https://youtu.be/Sb5Rj6b4rTg


2015 – Zierler “Esc”
Finn Zierler is obviously best known as the guy behind Twilight (early 90's) and Beyond Twilight (early-mid 00's), but here he is with his latest solo project, which unfortunately has already called it in again ... A shame, as this was a truly brilliant, and very original HEAVY (!!!) and technical prog album.
https://youtu.be/qM71torFNBQ


2015 – Chaos Divine “Colliding Skies”
Australian prog metal done right! I'll admit it, I'm not a fan of neither Voyager nor Caligula's Horse, but these guys in Chaos Divine gets it right for me ... musically this is somewhere between Devin Townsend, Opeth, Karnivool, Dream Theater and Katatonia
https://youtu.be/W2ncqcCOioA


2016 – Port Noir “Any Way the Wind Carries”
This band is one that I am just blown away by - they can do no wrong ... from their somewhat laid back debut "Puls" (2013), the quirky "Neon" EP (2015), the 80's throwback "Old Fashioned" (from 2018) to this 2016 album, their unique brand of progressive metal is exactly all I hope to find within this genre.
https://youtu.be/xq94mECaSYE


2016 – Cønstantine “Esthesia”
Why this album never found a record label I will never understand, and trust me, we tried ... I worked relentlessly as the bands manager on finding a home for it, and noone picked it up. I don't get it, as this album is an AMAZING blend of the very best parts of prog metal: from Tesseract to Dream Theater, from Symphony X to Protest the Hero, from Leprous to Between the Buried and Me ... it's all in here.
https://youtu.be/yooOzSKawpk
https://youtu.be/___qKhlqTJs


2017 – Adagio “Life”
I had given up on this band after the first two albums, and I didn't even care to check out this album until after 2017 had passed. And lo and behold, it ended up being the one album I listened to the most in all of 2018! What on earth!!!???!!! Such an incredible album of dark super-intense prog METAL! Kelly Sundown might just have delivered the vocal performance of a life time on this album. Such a shame the band broke up after this disc :(
https://youtu.be/7zzNMpTdOvY


2017 – Soen “Lykaia”
Yet again the Tool references seem to creep up in what makes for the most interesting prog metal of this decade and once again I'll state that I don't like Tool, haha. Oh well, Soen actually sounds more like Opeth/Katatonia here than ever before AND they also has something very much of their own, which is a great sense of melody that makes "Lykaia" such a splendid album.
https://youtu.be/FRH9ADDqLIM


2018 – Good Tiger “We Will All Be Gone”
I think I've said plenty about this disc - my favorite album of 2018 - but I'll be happy to say it again; I wouldn't mind seeing this as the benchmark for progressive metal going forward.
https://youtu.be/tH0t6sM2X20

Now ... what are YOUR favorite prog metal discs from this decade and why?
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby elendil » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:14 pm

I like this thread because (a) when it comes to music most people overrate the present and don't hunt down greats from the past nearly as much as they should (the economist Tyler Cowen has written on this), and (b) I wasn't really in "the scene" most of the last decade, so I expect to learn about some things I've personally missed.

Here are my personal favorite progressive metal albums, broadly defined, since 2010, in band alpha order.

Alcest - _Les Voyages de l'Ame_ (2012) - sensitive, lyrical, & atmospheric "blackgaze," should count as "progressive" in the broad sense of "innovative," but will also appeal to fans of stuff like Anathema and Atoma, which was mentioned here a few weeks ago. IMO this is their best album, but their next, purely shoegaze album, _Shelter_, is also pretty amazing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksRBfsz53Eg

Diablo Swing Orchestra - _Pacifisticuffs_ (2017) - overflowing with ideas and energy, from disco metal to their original swing-metal sound. Horns! Fits firmly into the "experimental" slot, and the experiments work.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tWgttKhQyY

EX EYE - _EX EYE_ (2017) - mindblowing technical avant-garde madness with famed saxophone experimentalist Colin Stetson. Might be album of the decade for me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Xq9enRx18

Kingcrow - _The Persistence_ (2018) - it's always hard to weigh originality against quality. For me this is the album where they put it all together and firmly developed their own sound. Yes, there are some parallels to previous work, but no musical themes have actually been plagiarized here. We'll see if I think of this album so highly in a year or so - the excitement of something fresh can sometimes catapult an album beyond its long-term level of appeal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQzh4BQBnas

Korekyojinn - _Tundra_ (2011) - unlike Tatsuya Yoshida's other work, even with this band, this really does verge on metal. Instrumental. Manages to combine insane polyrhythms with overt hooks in a way that I find irresistible. Discovered recently, so my views on it have also not yet reached long-run equilibrium.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTYyCMVb8J8

Leprous - _Coal_ (2013) - maybe just edges _Malina_. One of the best "modern prog metal" albums out there. Influenced by Ihsahn, but I think they've surpassed the master.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9o2nVY8FZ0

Mekong Delta - _In a Mirror Darkly_ (2014) - chunky technothrash, their best album since reforming in the 2000s. Always been an underrated band and I suppose always will be.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc799tHY8N4

Merkabah - _Million Miles_ (2017) - remarkably similar to EX EYE as avant-garde metal with saxophone. More meandering, not everything works, but some of it is brilliant.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t76wLI74stc

Soen - _Lykaia_ (2017) - just great, tight songs. Should have wide appeal beyond prog. Borderline hard rock r/t metal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSgWb_gvChs

Vektor - _Outer Isolation_ (2012) - the best album from this outstanding U.S. technothrash band. Blistering solos and riffs, and I even like the blowtorch trebly vocals. I certainly hope they can put the band back together, because they had the whole metal world in their hands for a moment there.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxf_t3h_Rvc

I've excluded stuff like Anathema and Steven Wilson that appeals to prog metal fans, but which I can find no way of shoehorning into "metal."

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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby GaetanL » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:36 pm

elendil wrote:I like this thread because (a) when it comes to music most people overrate the present and don't hunt down greats from the past nearly as much as they should (the economist Tyler Cowen has written on this)

Only about 10% of my 2018 music purchases are 2018 releases... But I have to say that I still have 2018 releases I want to purchase... Probably in 2019...
Last edited by GaetanL on Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby elendil » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:44 pm

GaetanL wrote:
elendil wrote:I like this thread because (a) when it comes to music most people overrate the present and don't hunt down greats from the past nearly as much as they should (the economist Tyler Cowen has written on this)

Only about 1% of my 2018 music purchases are 2018 releases... But I have to say that I still have 2018 releases I want to purchase... Probably in 2019...


You've...made a lot of purchases! I probably listen to ~100 albums a year on Amazon Music and Bandcamp, but buy only about 30 or 40. A little over half of what I bought was released in 2018. I bought more albums in 2017 - probably close to 60, and the proportion of that-year releases was lower. I was going through an early 70s prog jag.

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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby GaetanL » Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:39 am

I made a mistake, it's about 10% 2018 releases, not 1%, I edited my post...
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby elendil » Sun Jan 20, 2019 3:36 pm

GaetanL wrote:I made a mistake, it's about 10% 2018 releases, not 1%, I edited my post...


That mollifies my envy somewhat. ;)

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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:46 am

Great list..... I want to call out the inclusion of Adagio, as I think this was a MASSIVELY overlooked album when it came out. Folks seemed to expect "more of the same" from the band, and instead they took a definite turn in the more technical / prog approach that turned off a lot of folks.

Bold call putting "Road Salt" on this list. I can appreciate a portion of the albums (I think combining "One" and "Two" with some selective editing would have made for a stronger output), but can't imagine it making a "top anything" list for me....

Kingcrow..... Couldn't agree more. Take your pick of those three albums and any would qualify.

I know how much you LOVE Haken's vocals, but I'd be hard pressed to not include some Haken on this list. To me, Haken and Leprous are the heart and soul of "young" prog metal right now.
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby elendil » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:41 am

Sir Exar Kun wrote:Great list..... I want to call out the inclusion of Adagio, as I think this was a MASSIVELY overlooked album when it came out. Folks seemed to expect "more of the same" from the band, and instead they took a definite turn in the more technical / prog approach that turned off a lot of folks.

Bold call putting "Road Salt" on this list. I can appreciate a portion of the albums (I think combining "One" and "Two" with some selective editing would have made for a stronger output), but can't imagine it making a "top anything" list for me....

Kingcrow..... Couldn't agree more. Take your pick of those three albums and any would qualify.

I know how much you LOVE Haken's vocals, but I'd be hard pressed to not include some Haken on this list. To me, Haken and Leprous are the heart and soul of "young" prog metal right now.


Yes, and if we define "progressive metal" narrowly, I'd say the Arch/Matheos album and a Redemption album of one's choice also belong somewhere on the list...

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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:39 pm

Yes, and if we define "progressive metal" narrowly, I'd say the Arch/Matheos album and a Redemption album of one's choice also belong somewhere on the list...


Redemption for sure!

I'd take the John Arch EP over the Arch/Matheos, but that's nitpicking..... :)
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby GaetanL » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:03 pm

introclaus wrote:2015 – Zierler “Esc”
Finn Zierler is obviously best known as the guy behind Twilight (early 90's) and Beyond Twilight (early-mid 00's), but here he is with his latest solo project, which unfortunately has already called it in again ... A shame, as this was a truly brilliant, and very original HEAVY (!!!) and technical prog album.
https://youtu.be/qM71torFNBQ

I love this album!
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby elendil » Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:13 am

Sir Exar Kun wrote:
Yes, and if we define "progressive metal" narrowly, I'd say the Arch/Matheos album and a Redemption album of one's choice also belong somewhere on the list...


Redemption for sure!

I'd take the John Arch EP over the Arch/Matheos, but that's nitpicking..... :)


De gustibus non est disputandum. :) I like the Arch EP too, but it's pre 2010.

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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby introclaus » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:20 pm

Sir Exar Kun wrote:Great list..... I want to call out the inclusion of Adagio, as I think this was a MASSIVELY overlooked album when it came out. Folks seemed to expect "more of the same" from the band, and instead they took a definite turn in the more technical / prog approach that turned off a lot of folks.


Yes, I shamefully regret that I totally overlooked it myself and it took me until January 2018 to realize I needed it in my life ... and THEN I was obviously hooked from there on out.

Sir Exar Kun wrote:Bold call putting "Road Salt" on this list. I can appreciate a portion of the albums (I think combining "One" and "Two" with some selective editing would have made for a stronger output), but can't imagine it making a "top anything" list for me....


Man, "Road Salt" is soooo underappreciated it's not even funny.

Sir Exar Kun wrote:Kingcrow..... Couldn't agree more. Take your pick of those three albums and any would qualify.


Yup.

Sir Exar Kun wrote:I know how much you LOVE Haken's vocals, but I'd be hard pressed to not include some Haken on this list. To me, Haken and Leprous are the heart and soul of "young" prog metal right now.


Haha, I'll leave that one alone :)
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby introclaus » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:22 pm

Sir Exar Kun wrote:I'd take the John Arch EP over the Arch/Matheos, but that's nitpicking..... :)


That EP was something special for sure - two incredible songs, and just to hear him back was so "emotional" an experience for us fanboys. The album in itself was superb for sure, but in all honesty, I haven't been revisiting it much lately - guess it's overdue for another spin about now, huh?
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby introclaus » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:47 pm

elendil wrote:I like this thread because (a) when it comes to music most people overrate the present and don't hunt down greats from the past nearly as much as they should (the economist Tyler Cowen has written on this), and (b) I wasn't really in "the scene" most of the last decade, so I expect to learn about some things I've personally missed.


Really? I think people here have a tendency to appreciate the "golden classics" of the prog metal hey day (early 90's) too much to see the quality in the last decade's releases - hence this thread!

elendil wrote:Alcest - _Les Voyages de l'Ame_ (2012) - sensitive, lyrical, & atmospheric "blackgaze," should count as "progressive" in the broad sense of "innovative," but will also appeal to fans of stuff like Anathema and Atoma, which was mentioned here a few weeks ago. IMO this is their best album, but their next, purely shoegaze album, _Shelter_, is also pretty amazing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksRBfsz53Eg


Not a fan of Alcest, but I appreciate their quality in what they do. It just never appealed to me. I enjoy very little shoegaze/blackgaze (Vaura is one of the few bands in the genre that I really dig).

elendil wrote:Diablo Swing Orchestra - _Pacifisticuffs_ (2017) - overflowing with ideas and energy, from disco metal to their original swing-metal sound. Horns! Fits firmly into the "experimental" slot, and the experiments work.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tWgttKhQyY


I enjoyed the first album tremendously, the second less, and then I stopped caring.

elendil wrote:EX EYE - _EX EYE_ (2017) - mindblowing technical avant-garde madness with famed saxophone experimentalist Colin Stetson. Might be album of the decade for me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Xq9enRx18


Musically I like this, but I guess I have too short of an attention span for instrumental music. Very little of it works for me for longer periods of time. I might pick up one or two instrumental albums a year (Polyphia was it in 2018) but that's about it ...

elendil wrote:Kingcrow - _The Persistence_ (2018) - it's always hard to weigh originality against quality. For me this is the album where they put it all together and firmly developed their own sound. Yes, there are some parallels to previous work, but no musical themes have actually been plagiarized here. We'll see if I think of this album so highly in a year or so - the excitement of something fresh can sometimes catapult an album beyond its long-term level of appeal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQzh4BQBnas


My least favorite of their last 4 discs - still great stuff!

elendil wrote:Korekyojinn - _Tundra_ (2011) - unlike Tatsuya Yoshida's other work, even with this band, this really does verge on metal. Instrumental. Manages to combine insane polyrhythms with overt hooks in a way that I find irresistible. Discovered recently, so my views on it have also not yet reached long-run equilibrium.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTYyCMVb8J8


Instrumental ...

elendil wrote:Leprous - _Coal_ (2013) - maybe just edges _Malina_. One of the best "modern prog metal" albums out there. Influenced by Ihsahn, but I think they've surpassed the master.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9o2nVY8FZ0


Agreed - album of the decade!

elendil wrote:Mekong Delta - _In a Mirror Darkly_ (2014) - chunky technothrash, their best album since reforming in the 2000s. Always been an underrated band and I suppose always will be.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc799tHY8N4


Love this band - "Lurking Fear" is however their best since reforming. Also, they've always had horrible productions, and "In a Mirror Darkly" REALLY suffers from being badly produced.

elendil wrote:Merkabah - _Million Miles_ (2017) - remarkably similar to EX EYE as avant-garde metal with saxophone. More meandering, not everything works, but some of it is brilliant.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t76wLI74stc


More instrumental stuff? No thanks :)

elendil wrote:Soen - _Lykaia_ (2017) - just great, tight songs. Should have wide appeal beyond prog. Borderline hard rock r/t metal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSgWb_gvChs


Yup!

elendil wrote:Vektor - _Outer Isolation_ (2012) - the best album from this outstanding U.S. technothrash band. Blistering solos and riffs, and I even like the blowtorch trebly vocals. I certainly hope they can put the band back together, because they had the whole metal world in their hands for a moment there.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxf_t3h_Rvc


There's only one Voivod!!!

elendil wrote:I've excluded stuff like Anathema and Steven Wilson that appeals to prog metal fans, but which I can find no way of shoehorning into "metal."


I think Anathema is - perhaps not Steven Wilson, but definitely Anathema :)
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Re: The great prog metal discs of this decade

Postby elendil » Thu Jan 24, 2019 3:47 pm

introclaus wrote:Not a fan of Alcest, but I appreciate their quality in what they do. It just never appealed to me. I enjoy very little shoegaze/blackgaze (Vaura is one of the few bands in the genre that I really dig).


Never heard. I'll check 'em out.

elendil wrote:Diablo Swing Orchestra - _Pacifisticuffs_ (2017) - overflowing with ideas and energy, from disco metal to their original swing-metal sound. Horns! Fits firmly into the "experimental" slot, and the experiments work.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tWgttKhQyY


I enjoyed the first album tremendously, the second less, and then I stopped caring.


Yeah, the second album is mediocre.

elendil wrote:Mekong Delta - _In a Mirror Darkly_ (2014) - chunky technothrash, their best album since reforming in the 2000s. Always been an underrated band and I suppose always will be.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc799tHY8N4


Love this band - "Lurking Fear" is however their best since reforming. Also, they've always had horrible productions, and "In a Mirror Darkly" REALLY suffers from being badly produced.


Admitted. I somehow find it a lovable aspect of the band. Almost all of their albums suffer from "off" production in some way. Dances of Death might be the one exception.

elendil wrote:Vektor - _Outer Isolation_ (2012) - the best album from this outstanding U.S. technothrash band. Blistering solos and riffs, and I even like the blowtorch trebly vocals. I certainly hope they can put the band back together, because they had the whole metal world in their hands for a moment there.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxf_t3h_Rvc


There's only one Voivod!!!


Haha I actually don't think they sound much like Voivod. Yes, here and there the influence is evident, but Vektor is far more intense, has a lot more soloing, and I hear other things in there too, like Coroner and Bay Area thrash.

elendil wrote:I've excluded stuff like Anathema and Steven Wilson that appeals to prog metal fans, but which I can find no way of shoehorning into "metal."


I think Anathema is - perhaps not Steven Wilson, but definitely Anathema :)


Really?? Their early stuff, yeah, but I'd class them as "atmospheric rock" since about... Judgement, give or take an album.


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