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Last Active 01-22-17 6:45 am
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 Lists
12.17.16 Something something 2016 10.19.16 Albums that expand the borders of music
07.15.16 Coup in Turkey02.16.15 Prog Archives Pt.II
02.14.15 Prog Archives Pt.I12.24.14 A Year And Some More Days
11.21.14 Your Top 5 Bands09.07.14 Sputnikbook Maybe?
06.26.14 Digs From My Doom/gothic/folk/black Day06.25.14 Where Are You From?
06.19.14 Psychosocial Animals05.15.14 Stories And Melodies
04.09.14 Prog Bands I Should Have Known Pt.I04.03.14 Albums For Embryonic Sleep

Something something 2016

Some opinions about most of the albums I've heard that came out this year. Really good year for music, still many things left to explore and listen to. In no particular order.
1Deathspell Omega
The Synarchy of Molten Bones


Why it's good: Deathspell Omega have audiences paying close attention to them. Their captivating sounds and puzzling compositions have made them famous as one of the most forward thinking bands of modern times. This album is no exception and it takes many listens till you understand what you are listening to.

Where it lacks: the question is, however, why you are listening to it. I always found DO missing a certain direction. I'm still trying to delve into their music. Are they good? Yes. Are they for me? Processing...

Rating: 3.5
2Uyama Hiroto
Freeform Jazz


Why it's good: a recent finding from the realm of jazz, where I'm relatively a newbie. Really refreshing and crystal clear, doesn't come out as tiring at all. One of the few jazz albums I can follow easily from start to finish.

Where it lacks: its replay value is a bit low, but I may have to attribute that to my taste, rather than the album itself

Rating: 4
3Agnes Obel
Citizen Of Glass


Why it's good: Agnes Obel achieved to create a loyal fanbase and steadily becomes more and more known, even if the genre of choice is a bit untouched. Her brooding voice is quite compelling and her ideas are as fresh as ever. This LP is a great continuation on her previous work and displays an aspiring musical mind that hopefully will continue to shine.

Rating: 4
4Leonard Cohen
You Want It Darker


Why it's good: it summarizes Leonard Cohen's body of work, gives us some of the best lyrics he's ever written and has such a crisp production, you can listen to every bit of his voice's vibrations. Leonard Cohen, a true poet and a musical genius, can be regarded as one of the most inspiring artists of his era, because he pointed out the contradictions of human psyche and then went on to clothe them with some of the most emotional and dim music there is.

Where it lacks: the album starts off strong with one of his best songs ever and the loses momentum, till it gains it again towards the end.

Rating: 4
5Aenaon
Hypnosophy


Why it's good: Awesome blend of music styles, technical proficiency, intelligent song-writing, addictive melodies and excellent guests. Throw in some beautiful album cover and you have this album.

Where it lacks: the vocals may alienate some, because they are more theatrical than deep and harsh. Personally, they compliment the sound.

Rating: 4.5
6Epica
The Holographic Principle


Why it's good: in a genre that things seem way too stagnated and repeated, Epica have always been a driving force. They are all skilled musicians, have a distinctive sound on which they evolve and don't mind playing with formulas now and then.

Where it lacks: the over the top character of the band and the necessary cheese may not be the worst thing. Actually, what brings this album down is the recycled themes and the hastily written lyrics.

Rating: 3.5
7Opeth
Sorceress


Why it's good: Apart from having the heaviest sound of the three later-era Opeth, it is a step up from Pale Communion, as it sounds more cohesive and worked upon. Songs are catchy and simple, yet not simplistic. Different moods throught, distinctive melodies and an awesome album cover to compensate for the lukewarm previous one.

Where it lacks: The production and mixing wasn't done by Steven Wilson this it shows. The sound is a bit dump and low. From a songwriting aspect, Opeth make their influences more apparent than they should and even if the music is good in itself, it just lacks the originality required from a 'prog' band.

Rating: 3.5
8Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree


Why it's good: the raw emotion that is displayed on this one is crushing. Knowing that Nick Cave drew inspiration from a personal tragedy makes it even more real and authentic. Dark, melancholic and yet still decent, shows the depths of human sadness without becoming cheesy once. Avoid at all costs, if you want to remain happy.

Where it lacks: not somewhere in particular, and really this album is as good as it could be. Being my first actual encounter with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, I just felt like I wanted more distinctive songs.

Rating: 4
9Devin Townsend Project
Transcendence


Why it's good: unanimously one of the best things that Devin has put out in years. The rest of the band had more space to develop their ideas, but more than that, Devin and co. are so skilled and inspired musicians that the final product couldn't be bad.

Where it lacks: the problem with Devin Townsend is that he is (to me, at least) the musical equivalent of a seizure. Too many things at the same time. It can be very tiring and while the songs are impressive and quite enjoyable, I don't think I've ever listened to this in one sitting.

Rating: 3
10Plini
Handmade Cities


Why it's good: Plini's career is refreshing to witness and his music's quality is undeniable. His mini trilogy was really good and his abilities and virtuosity are apparent throughout. He can come up with pretty interesting ideas and the production is just perfect. Besides, another evidence that he's really good, is that he's managed to draw many famous musicians to feature in his albums.

Where it lacks: after the mini trilogy, I believe Plini has to step up his game. He is capable of so much more, and while he deserves congratulations for his work so far, his second album should show that he is able to write more experimental songs. Not bad, just incomplete.

Rating: 2.5
11The Pineapple Thief
Your Wilderness


Why it's good: this is an album so nostalgic and warm that even when its mediocre moments are good. The band's sound is elevated by drummer proficient Gavin Harrison, who shines throughout and gives the album a tighter character. The flow is really good and I regard it as one of the best later-era Pineapple Thief works.

Where it lacks: the band sounds comfortable with their sound and don't risk much, and ultimately they stay behind in terms of innovation. The great production can't hide the fact that all these new songs sound too familiar.

Rating: 3.5
12Fates Warning
Theories of Flight


Why it's good: Fates Warning have made a strong comeback the last few years and this album is one of the cornerstones in progressive metal. It contains some of their best songs and is highly entertaining. It's encouraging to see prog metal veterans keeping it up with such quality and grace.

Where it lacks: apart from some similarities between some songs on the second half, nothing objectively bad can be said about this album

Rating: 4
13Gojira
Magma


Why it's good: First time I give Gojira a chance and they truly shine on this one. I get that this is their least heavy work, still, it's not a light one. They warned us it would be more melodic and emotional and the reasons behind this were explained by the band. Some pretty good and interesting songs here, with the omnipresent aggressive tone only complimenting the personal deposition.

Rating: 4
14Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Getaway


Why it's good: I don't want to be that guy saying RHCP are good only when John Frusciante is present, but their ups and downs follow him way too often. Fortunately, this album came to show that RHCP are still able to create nice tunes, both light-hearted and serious ones, even without him. They overcompensate for the mediocre 'I'm With You'.

Where it lacks: while the tunes are all fine, the funk factor seems to stay behind. They have polished their sound and made it more poppy, leaving us asking where all the guitar went and why Flea doesn't go crazy all the time, given his virtuosity.

Rating: 3.5
15Mother Turtle
II


Why it's good: Mother Turtle are part of the uprising prog rock scene in Greece and are excellent at what they do. Long compositions with great maturity and melody, nicely added details and much emotion, this band and album should be way more known.

Rating: 4.5
16Winterhorde
Maestro


Why it's good: a strange story is unveiled slowly, the atmosphere is as good as the cover implies and the compositions are sublime and versatile. Its highs are really high and there's also the magnum opus 'The Heart of Coryphee', which I found incredible.

Where it lacks: it takes some time to take off and towards the end it kiiiinda drags on. But that's all in an all around incredible album.

Rating: 4
17Katatonia
The Fall of Hearts


Why it's good: the album was released near summer, yet brought autumn in our minds. The atmosphere is compelling, the songs are excellent and the instrumental proficiency is ever-present. New drummer fulfilled even the greatest of expectations, the balance between slow/light - fast/heavy was spot on and generally, the album is the evidence that Katatonia are one of the most consistent bands out there, delivering high quality work.

Where it lacks: Katatonia's new album is a bit difficult to digest at first, as the tone, sound and melodies are so tightly interwoven, that their work seems a bit impenetrable at first. Once you start to distinguish the differences between songs, though, you'll understand why this album is so highly praised.

Rating: 4.5
18Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool


Why it's good: I was never into Radiohead, yet this album managed to catch my attention. It was melodic, soothing and personal. The different gimmicks and sounds were masterfully controlled, so as the album sounds varied. Thom Yorke's voice and lyrics are puzzling and still manage to connect with us. Organic and natural, makes the listener feel like he shares a common secret with the band.

Where it lacks: it is - from what I've read - seemingly their least experimental work in ages and many fans were left disappointed by the simplicity of the songs.

Rating: 4.5
19Vektor
Terminal Redux


Why it's good: Vektor are in the forefront of modern thrash metal and a much needed boost the genre certainly needs. Every album they've released is top notch and they are willing to be risky, while they's also the musical proficiency, which is a bonus.

Where it lacks: took me a bit to digest and some songs have more similarities than needed. But, I'm willing to let that pass, because there's a unifying story behind it, so they're 'concept melodies'. Also, maybe it disappointed many because of the hype surrounding it, but when approaching it sober, it can be really rewarding.

Rating: 3.5
20September Code
III


Why it's good: it is a rare thing in modern progressive rock scene to find a band that wants to stay song-oriented, avoiding the endless musical and instrumental navel-gazing. September Code stay true to their sound and deliver us some pretty dark and melodic songs, with a variety of sounds, walking the same path with bands like Votum, Wolverine, Klone and recent Riverside.

Where it lacks: the band manages to keep their signature sound, yet the music itself is not all too experimental and progressive. The compositions are pretty interesting, though you can find a filler or two.

Rating: 3.5
21Fallujah
Dreamless


Why it's good: Fallujah have managed to keep audiences at the edge of their seats with their last two releases and there's a reason behind it. 'Dreamless' has improved over some problems that 'The Flesh Prevails' suffered from, the atmosphere is great and the instrumental level of the band leaves no dubiety, yet still avoids becoming too self-indulgent.

Where it lacks: The production has some unresolved problems, even if it sounds less compressed. The compositions are all great but at times repeat themselves and even if the so-called ''cookie monster vocals'' are not the problem, I'd still like to hear some experimentation on the vocalist's side.

Rating: 3.5
22Haken
Affinity


Why it's good: One of the best prog metal acts of their time, Haken knew they shouldn't aim for a second ''The Mountain'' and they should be praised for that alone. Their new offering has its own value in their discography, a distinctive sound and excellent song structures. On their fourth album, Haken keep things fresh and keep looking ahead.

Where it lacks: The 80's oriented music can sound a bit silly at times and Haken should decide if they want to keep the 'cheese factor' or discard it.

Rating: 3.5
23Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas
Mariner


Why it's good: the marrying of CoL's music with the voice of Julie Christmas was really interesting and I'm very glad I gave it a chance. The songs were crushing and groovy, with much atmosphere and a very beautiful album cover that kind of puts across the greenish, ill feeling of the music.

Rating: 4
24Colin Stetson
Sorrow - Reimagining of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony


Why it's good: the original script was already impressive and the modifications were only a bonus. It was an interesting, albeit risky experiment, that actually worked.

Where it lacks: it may alienate those who were familiar with the original. I had never heard it before listening to this one, so I was able to enjoy it without prejudice.

Rating: 3.5
25Novembre
Ursa


Why it's good: freshman to the Novembre School, I was very excited at first, the songs were really good, with the darkness I wanted and the length was satisfying. I really liked the vocals.

Where it lacked: the 'riff after riff' logic wears off quickly, but I respect their work and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I come back to it time after time and I guess there is a redeeming quality to it that attracts me. Maybe my opinion will change.

Rating: 3
26iamthemorning
Lighthouse


Why it's good: iamthemorning have two great assets, a sublime voice and a wonderful music to support it. The Russian duo creates one of their best - if not the best - album of their career so far, with a subject and experimentation that fits their sound, having some excellent guests to compliment the finished product, including Gavin Harrison on drums, Colin Edwin on bass (it's good to hear from that guy again) and Mariusz Duda singing on the title track.

Rating: 4.5
27Spiritual Beggars
Sunrise to Sundown


Why it's good: it's laid back, it's simple and catcy, it has some more experimental moments (see: I Turn to Stone) and generally, Spiritual Beggars do what they always did. The 'Whitesnake' factor is more apparent than before, especially on the vocals, but that's not a bad thing. I loved the organ.

Where it lacks: It's a bit more mainstream than their previous work. It is certainly a weird thing to say for a band that is so shamelessly catchy and accessible, yet I feel that their approach on this was a bit lazier. It's certainly not on par with Ad Astra. Of course, that's a completely subjective opinion.

Rating: 3.5
28Ihsahn
Arktis.


Why it's good: the answer could simply be ''Because it's Ihsahn'', but it goes beyond that. Each and every song here has something to display, be it a weird vocal line, an electronic/synth riff or a technical riff, but it goes beyond that. The atmosphere is really dark and stressful at times, yet sad at others, keeping the listener interested, but it goes beyond that. Lyricism is quite poetic and wonderful, but it goes beyond that. I gave it a 4, but it goes beyond that.

Rating: 4
29Esperanza Spalding
Emily's D+Evolution


Why it's good: being a newcomer to the jazz scene, I opted to listen to this album and I found it quite rewarding. Esperanza is a great musician (and a beautiful person, I may add) that has worked hard and deserves every bit of her success. The songs are very mind boggling and yet catchy, the vocals are superb, while every instrument has the chance to shine. A truly refreshing jazz album.

Where it lacks: the forward-thinking mindset of the album can be a bit tiring after a while and difficult to digest at once, if you're not an experienced jazz listener.

Rating: 3.5
30Oceans of Slumber
Winter


Why it's good: because it shows that the term 'Female fronted metal' is dumb. Women sing in so many different genres that restricting them to Symphonic Metal is stupid. The band takes us to a ride from proto-prog to death metal and back to more classical music and does it mostly masterfully. New singer is incredible.

Where it lacks: sometimes, I feel like the genre-hopping trick wears thin. I wait to see what they do next.

Rating: 3.5
31Vespero
Lique Mekwas


Why it's good: it's a very fun album, great for summer, with musical virtuosity and cathy rhythm

Where it lacks: not much replay value. It's excellent, but becomes background music way too often.

Rating: 2.5
32Votum
:KTONIK:


Why it's good: because the vocals are great. There, I said it. I find Votum's new vocalist to be their best part. Yes, they have made some pretty god-damned awesome songs, yet the vocals still steal the show. Dark, smooth, melancholic and ultimately pleasing, the music and bass tone of the album, woven with these vocals, create the best album this band has to offer.

Where it lacks: I don't know. I don't care, even, and neither should you.

Rating: 4
33Hypno5e
Shores of the Abstract Line


Why it's good: Hypno5e's new album was one of the best discoveries I made early this year. Their cinematic atmosphere is what makes them special. Djent-y but not masturbatory, sad but not ''teen-angst'' sad, raw and experimental to its core, it's one of the best releases of its kind for 2016.

Where it lacks: apparently, there could be too much of a good thing and the album's length can be tiring for all the stimuli and tricks it offers. Plus, there are some segments where the spoken words could be less and the substance more. Don't be discouraged to be engaged, though.

Rating: 4
34Rotting Christ
Rituals


Why it's good: Rotting Christ continue to draw inspiration from folklore and tradition around the world, creating something different that can please all audiences, even to strangers to black metal. The fusion of original context and old songs, the variety of languages, the number of guest vocalists and different approaches to sounds, make for a great album with the character of a veteran that has nothing to prove.

Where it lacks: when compared to previous albums in their catalogue, the riffs are absent and the aggression has lost much of its momentum. What we should think, however, is ''were they aiming for face-melting compositions anyway?''

Rating: 3.5
35Myrath
Legacy


Why it's good: I learned about Myrath when I was digging deep into prog metal and I really liked their eastern touches. This album continues in the same vein, with many catchy tunes and great instrumentation. A really decent album.

Where it lacks: I think that, while in terms of production this is better, the music has taken a step back. Nice songs and all, but it left me wanting more.

Rating: 3
36Motorpsycho
Here Be Monsters


Why it's good: another act that I was introduced to this year, Motorpshycho are one of those bands that stay greatly consistent over the years and do so with ease. 'Here be Monsters' is an album with cohesion, well-thought melodies and transitions, catchy tunes and the superb ''Big Black Dog'' at the end, to prove they are not an ordinary prog rock band.

Where it lacks: while the album is very good - and there's no question about it - I wonder how much more could a band like this offer.

Rating: 4
37Obscura
Akróasis


Why it's good: it was my first contact with the band and took me much time to get into. Still, I can appreciate the really good structure and the amounts of inspiration it contains. The compositions are all wonderful and sometimes it gave me the idea of a truly open mind when it comes to music.

Where it lacks: it's difficult to avoid comparison with the mammoth tech death scene that exists. Obscura have managed to distinct themselves from the pile, but they have to come up with something different next time, in order to keep me interested, something in the likes of the magnifiscent Weltseele.

Rating: 4
38Dream Theater
The Astonishing


Why it's good: Dream Theater have nothing to prove and that's a fact, but one can't help but think how much better this album would be if it were trimmed down to only 40 minutes.

Where it lacks: everywhere. Inspiration-wise, this is filled with musical and plot cliches, the production could be better and John Myung could offer so much more. The vocals, while not bad in themselves, sound so whiny and unnecessary. Songs have no flow and momentum is ruined but power ballad after power ballad.

Rating: 2
39Diamonds of Mankind
God Is a Woman


Why it's good: because it shows great potential and has some excellent female vocals. Reminds me a bit of Saltillo.

Where it lacks: given it's a one man project, you can understand that there can be many improvements here and there, production-wise and compositionally. Other than that, I can't wait to see what comes next.

Rating: 3
40Ulver
ATGCLVLSSCAP


Why it's good: Ulver re-imagine some of the best songs in their career and record them live. The production is stellar and the new versions are even better than the originals. The album goes from really dark to very disturbing and from emotional to cold. Ulver deliver once again.

Where it lacks: three years after ''Messe...'', I would have wanted some original content from them and I'd also like to hear Garm sing more, as his voice is very brooding and warm.

Rating: 3.5
41Steven Wilson
4 1/2


Why it's Good: Because it manages to take discarded songs from his last three albums and make them interesting in a new frame. Gives insight to the quality of some songs that couldn't be included into previous LP's and also reimagines ''Don't Hate Me'' in the best way possible, featuring Ninet Tayeb.

Where it lacks: Steven Wilson seems quite the case of hit or miss. Some will say this release wasn't needed, others will disagree. In the end, you know who he is and what he does, so it's up to you.

Rating: 4
42An Ocean Of Void
The Great Escape


Why it's good: An Ocean of Void are a post metal band from France and they are reminiscent of Cult of Luna. Where they differ, though, is that they have incorporated a more Pink Floyd-esque element, that shapes nice dynamics between harsh and smooth. The vocals are really good and the guitar work excellent. The atmosphere is really crushing and cathartic, all at once. This band has a great future if it keeps it up this level.

Rating: 4.5
43David Bowie
Blackstar


Why it's good: A star on the cover, its shine on the inside.

Why it's bad: because it will remind us always that stars do go out.

Rating: 4
44Regina Spektor
Remember Us To Life


Why it's good: Regina Spektor is one of the most likeable musicians. She is relaxed, interesting, goofy and all around pleasant. Hadn't heard a whole album of hers before, only individual songs, but I'm glad I finally did. Here we have top quality pop music that is actually complex, fused with many other genres and pleasant ideas and details. The album is very consistent, even if I think the second half is way better than the first half. I even got some Kate Bush from her and that's a plus.

Rating: 4
45Vangelis
Rosetta


Why it's good: because Vangelis. He may not release albums frequently anymore and he can't be as innovative as he used to be, but damn, he still releases some of the most interesting and futuristic/classical music there is. His approach is just so distinctive that you can recognize it's him. Also, there's one piece with the best piano/synth parts I've heard this year.

Where it lacks: are you kidding me? When you think of Mars and you like electronic music, you think of Vangelis. Now, when you think of a comet, you think of Vangelis. He's the de facto et de jure signature sound of space.

Rating: 4
46Riverside
Eye of the Soundscape


Why it's good: Riverside lived through a serious tragedy, when Piotr Grudzinski, their guitarist and key member, passed away in January, 2016. At the time they were working on this compilation and many months later we got the last work this guy would be heard. So, here you can find half hour of original work, plus some re-imagined songs and others that were bonuses on previous releases. And they are all superb. It sets an example on how Compilation Albums should be like (minus the tragic backstory).

Where it lacks: nowhere. One year after their latest LP and they gave us even more music, they experimented on their sounds and used this as a mourning vehicle to cope with their loss. ARTISTS in the true sense of the word.

Rating: 5
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