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Last Active 12-15-20 7:37 am
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 Lists
12.13.20 Something Something 2020 06.12.20 Let's all cry our hearts out
12.12.18 2018 goes up to 1112.17.16 Something something 2016
10.19.16 Albums that expand the borders of music07.15.16 Coup in Turkey
02.16.15 Prog Archives Pt.II02.14.15 Prog Archives Pt.I
12.24.14 A Year And Some More Days11.21.14 Your Top 5 Bands
09.07.14 Sputnikbook Maybe?06.26.14 Digs From My Doom/gothic/folk/black Day
06.25.14 Where Are You From?06.20.14 Psychosocial Animals
05.15.14 Stories And Melodies04.09.14 Prog Bands I Should Have Known Pt.I
04.03.14 Albums For Embryonic Sleep

Something Something 2020

Mostly but not only limited to progressive, with some hidden gems that went under the radar this crazy year. Many things should have been included, but I was a lazy listener this year. List is in alphabetical order.
1A.A. Williams
Forever Blue


Why it’s Good: A.A. Williams’s debut album combines lush production with intelligent songwriting, creating little vigniettes of emotional strain that slowly but confidently lead out of the dark tunnel, ironically grinning to the album’s title. The centerpiece is of course Williams’s voice, reigning supreme the instrumental climaxes, giving glimpses of a promising career.

Check Out: Fearless
2Agnes Obel
Myopia


Why it’s Good: capitalizing on the successful recipe of Citizen of Glass, Myopia finds the artist looking for comfort rather than experimentation. The songs blend into each other, forming a soft pillow of ‘oohs’, cellos, and muffled piano keys, bathed in reverb.

Check Out: Can’t Be
3Anna von Hausswolff
All Thoughts Fly


Why it’s Good: I like when musicians don’t take any project serious in itself, rather than just embracing and fleshing out random ideas and execute them, without the burden of ‘’creating art’’. That’s when spontaneity becomes fruitful, when there’s no point of proving anything. Houswolff, inspired by Sacro Bosco, sat in front of a church organ and played her ideas, raw and improvisational. The outcome is an immersive, moving and melancholic piece, important in itself.
4Bada
Bada


Why it’s Good: Anna von Houswolff’s collective affair plays atmospheric droney stuff, resembling music played in the background of liminal spaces. Not my favourite Houswolff release this year, but surely it’s something fans of drone and noise rock would find insteresting.

Check out: Avslag
5Bohren und der Club of Gore
Patchouli Blue


Why it’s Good: I feel like this album’s worth depends on the listener even more so than the general principle that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After some great albums of atmospheric slow jazz for unfinished noir films, Bohren und der Club of Gore don’t reinvent the wheel, not even themselves for that matter, but write some fine soundtrack to turn your room in black and white. Slow music can make you lose interest pretty soon, but somehow Patchouli Blue’s ideas keep you entertained throughout the runtime.
6Buckethead
Healing Inside Outside Every Side


Why it’s Good: Buckethead’s discography is a running stream that you can’t drink. You can only take sips, and boy oh boy is this sip sweet. Somber and caring, this album is a warm light beam in a fading summer noon. Purely instrumental, of course, and with the foot on the break, Buckethead rests for a while, and it’s been really nice resting beside him.

Check out: How Much Does a Thought Weigh
7Caligula's Horse
Rise Radiant


Why it’s Good: Australian prog scene is blessed to be represented by Caligula’s Horse. Rise Radiant sees them going full force, all with the polished guitar tone, crunchy rhythm and most importantly, one of the best vocalists out there, with actual vocal lines, interwoven with the other instruments. +1 point for actual lyricism and not the run-of-the-mill cryptic prog nonsense.

Check Out: Valkyrie
8Crippled Black Phoenix
Ellengaest


Why it’s Good: after so many walk-ins and outs, Justin Greaves seemed to have lost the audience’s attention, and most listeners didn’t expect such a fully-fledged album from Crippled Black Phoenix in 2020. Drafting an impressive set of feature vocalists, Crippled Black Phoenix deliver on of their finest albums in a long time, marking an excellent start for the new decade. From the grim opening to the absolute post rock climax of the Invisible Past, this album offers different shades of feeling, none of which is happy.

Check Out: Lost
9Cryptic Shift
Visitations from Enceladus


Why it’s Good: you must be living under a rock if you haven’t seen this album trending in a 2020 list somewhere. One of the definitive heroes of this year, the next big thing in progressive death sci-fi metal, after Hidden History of Humankind and Terminal Redux. These bastards are writing cinematic prog death about alien worlds and we are all having a great time. It takes guts to open your debut album with a 20-minute epic,, but seriously time flies. All four songs that comprise this album riff hard, have great instrumentation (the bass is sooooo tasty), with an awesome natural sound and never overstay their welcome. An art statement, a pillar of modern prog death or a passing trend? Who cares?

Check out: Moonbelt Immolator
10Dawn of a Dark Age
La Tavola Osca


Why it’s Good: have you heard black metal? Okay… Have you heard black metal with symphonic touches? Great! Now, have you listened to symphonic black metal by a classical and jazz trained musician who brings clarinet to the center of the music? I thought so… this is for you.

Check out: Le Divinità - pt.1 (Excerpt of the much longer original track)
11Fates Warning
Long Day Good Night


Why it’s Good: Long Day Good Night is a generous album, and that’s maybe because it might be their last, as rumor has it. It’s their longest album and it contains all the songs, with nothing left on the cutting floor. That makes it a bit uneven and perhaps it ranks lower compared to the previous Theories of Flight. Last album or not, it’s still full quality, and has some of their best songs – if not ever – of the 21st century.

Check out: The Longest Shadow of the Day
12Gazpacho
Fireworker


Why it’s Good: We all love Night, Demon and Tik Tok, but I particularly enjoye when Gazpacho play shorter, more focused songs. Probably that’s why I loved both Molok and Soyuz, and why I was furious with Fireworker at first. Opening with the 20-minute epic Space Cowboy, of course I’d be skeptical. This album might not be as enjoyable to me as their previous two, but I admit it shows an artistic explosion in the Norwegians’ camp. Far riskier, with orchestral parts and choirs, this album needs engagement – not necessarily meaning multiple listens, but listens in different periods of time, so the album can grow with you.

Check out: Space Cowboy or Fireworker
13Gia Margaret
Mia Gargaret


Why it’s Good: Gia Margaret almost lost her voice and during therapy she wrote music that wouldn’t require of her to sing. The short runtime of Mia Gargaret (a title representing not recognizing yourself) doesn’t prevent it from being cathartic for both artist and audience. Almost purely instrumental, with recordings playing on top amplifying a specific feeling of noon melancholia, Mia Gargaret ends up being more comforting than a midday sleep.
14Hail Spirit Noir
Eden In Reverse


Why it’s Good: Hail Spirit Noir are already in their fourth album, having already showcased an interesting crossover between psychedelic rock and black metal. This time, Eden in Reverse is a sci-fi concept album that draws inspiration from ‘80s aesthetic and psychedelic rock. Stripping their sound of all black metal characteristics, but not sacrificing any of the heaviness, HSN create something new, but distinctively theirs.

Check out: The First Ape on New Earth
15Haken
Virus


Why it’s Good: Virus is the most aptly titled album to be released this year, only it is a thematic continuation of their previous album Vektor, rather than a too-soon joke. Tight musicianship, self-references, sci-fi story in the lyrics and lots and lots of instrumental acrobatics, shape an absolute unit of a progressive metal album, where all members sound like having fun. It does not reach the heights of previous releases, but it’s utterly enjoyable and not to be missed by any fan of a genre i

Check Out: Canary Yellow
16Igorrr
Spirituality and Distortion


Why it’s Good: rarely do experimental and progressive sound so experimental and progressive. In all his musical insanity, Igorrr has always been an idiosyncratic composer, but this time around, his work grows more mature and assured that it is scary how many different soundscapes can be woven in an album that still manages to sound cohesive. This is a style that many artists will try to emulate, but it’s highly doubtful if anyone can do it with such style and confidence as this French madman.

Check out: Parpaining
17Intronaut
Fluid Existential Inversions


Why it’s Good: it’s a masterful album that references many contemporary prog rock mammoths, yet still keeping its own identity and flair. Really, it’s mindless fun. Has stayed with me in different times during 2020 and has always been a good friend. Don’t miss out.

Check out: Speaking of Orbs
18Katatonia
City Burials


Why it’s Good: I really wanted to like this album, and I should have, given everything is there: the moody vocals by Renske, the mid-tempo dark rock songs, the sadness, the atmosphere. But more than ever since their 2001 album Last Fair Deal Gone Down, I felt like Katatonia didn’t offer anything new to the table, save for the more ‘80s rock Behind the Blood. All the songs are good in their own right, but in the end it sounds like business as usual. It’s the most Katatonia album Katatonia have evered Katatoniad, but that was not enough.

Check Out: Flicker
19KIP
Songs of Love


Why it’s Good: I have no idea if this is good or not, but this beast is so fucking heavy I couldn’t breathe after a while. It’s suffocating, dark as hell and NOISY. The power trio behind KIP plays bass, drums and clarinet, in a droney, chaotic and raw fashion like nothing I’ve heard before. It’s the soundtrack to a genocide.
20Lord Buffalo
Tohu Wa Bohu


Why it's Good: A masterful example of dark americana, for those looking the dread of Chelsea Wolfe's Birth of Violence, mixed with the paranoia of David Eugene Edwards. I appreciated the cacophony on some instruments at parts, really fit the grim atmosphere. Some songs will have you dancing in the moonlit desert in no time. A fun late-at-night summer album.

Check out: Raziel
21Lunatic Soul
Through Shaded Woods


Why it’s Good: after experimenting with shorter, electronic tracks and interludes in his two previous albums, Mariusz Duda turns to Slavic folk and with the use of a piccolo bass (also featured on Riverside’s Wasteland), he creates a unique bass sound that resembles traditional instruments. Where Lunatic Sould’s seventh album shines in its unique explorations, I find it lacking as far as complexity is concerned. The atmospheric compositions are quite linear and repetitive, perhaps a conscious choice, but while structures climax continuously, there is not enough meat to support the skeleton.

Check out: Through Shaded Woods
22Molitoth
The Tribunal


Why it’s Good : Molitoth is a one man prog rock act from Kansas, who seems to revive the distinct sound of Porcupine Tree, from the songs themselves, to some vocal choices, even to Kyle Brandt’s uncanny resemblance to Steven Wilson. Apart from the similarities, however, Molitoth seem to have more aces up their sleeve. The album is utterly enjoyable and with a crisp production that lets the rhythm section shine.

Check out: Verdict Cope
23Motorpsycho
The All Is One


Why it’s Good: in the same list of 2016 I was commenting on Here be Monsters with ‘’ I wonder how much more could a band like this offer’’ , thinking that 70’s inspired psychedelic prog act Motorpsycho were a bit retro and ultimately for enjoyment but wouldn’t bring anything new to the table. Man, do I suck at predictions. Their Gullvåg Trilogy is completed with The All is One, one crowning achievement for any band in the prog rock scene. A masterful album clocking at one and a half hour, with its literal centerpiece their magnum opus N.O.X., with forty minutes of prog rock orgasm, with recurring themes and sequences of movements, offering a varied palette of sounds that any artist would be jealous of.

Check out: N.O.X.
24Mrs. Piss
Self-Surgery


Why it’s Good: provocation is a card often played by female acts, reclaiming some filth for their sex and gender identity, and this band doesn’t hold back anything. A revived project between dark witch Chelsea Wolfe and old friend/bandmate Jess Gowrie, that doesn’t always hit the spot, but shows enough fury and anger that noise rock fans should keep an eye on it.

Check out: Mrs Piss
25mutesite
re:


Why it’s Good: this is an excellent instrumental prog rock release that accompanied me during the quarantine. While nothing groundbreaking, the songs found within have distinct characters and unique ideas as basis, making re: an album with personality. Way better than similar albums by famous musicians.

Check out: broken clouds (feat. Frances Tsen)
26Myrkur
Folkesange


Why it’s Good: Myrkur is straying away from her previous black metal endeavours, and delves deeper into Scandinavian folk music, raising to the surface traditional songs that shine brighter than the all-present sun of northern summer. Her delicate voice is undeniably the center of attention, gently caressed by the lush production and poignant instrumentation.

Check out: Tor I Helheim
27Neptunian Maximalism
Eons


Why it’s Good: Eons is one of those projects that could easily have collapsed under its own weight. A phantasmic journey through time and history, with the magic carpet of art, this collective of musicians bring a breath of fresh air to the music scene where everything seems to revolve around certain structures, tropes and sounds. With Eons and its total of 123 minutes, you can be sure that the concept of album experience is not only saved, but downright elevated to a higher level.
28Nightwish
HUMAN. :II: NATURE.


Why it’s Good: we have to praise Nightwish for managing to stay somewhat relevant after two and a half decades of music, and with their best of days being far back in the past. This album signifies a certain route change as Tuomas Holopainen seems uninterested to explore further the symphonic metal genre he helped establish, but this new endeavor sounds like a solo album rather than a collective effort. The fact that the gargantuan body of work is half comprised by a symphonic composition certainly doesn’t help either. There seems to be quite enough energy to pull out such an ambitious album, and probably you’ll find some moments that hit a chord, but there is no focus and boundaries between personal and collective outings have collapsed.

Check out: Pan
29Our Oceans
While Time Disappears


Why it’s Good: it delivers one interesting blend of progressive rock, that reminds me the general aesthetic of Sieges Even. A power trio of fantastic musicians who have worked in bands like Cynic and Exivious, and bring to the table a balanced, well executed piece of art. Not easily digestible, and requiring repeated listens to sink in, but highly rewarding and with enough meat to feed you for months. A must listen for prog rock fans.

Check out: Face Them
30Ozzy Osbourne
Ordinary Man


Why it’s Good: honestly, nobody expects Ozzy Osbourne to put out a ground-breaking metal album in 2020. But as a meta album, reviewing his life and times, Ordinary Man excels in its mission. Even listeners without any emotional connection with Madman’s discography can find a warm sense of nostalgia with this album. Osbourne’s latest album is a love letter to his persona, maybe romanticized a bit, but wholeheartedly admitting his wrongdoings. I won’t rant about the general impression of this being his last album, but I want to note that in the end, Ordinary Man might be hard rock by the numbers, but in all his glorified, larger-than-life career, Ozzy Osbourne gains his significance by being one of us, importantly, an ordinary man who choses how he will be remembered.

Check out: Ordinary Man
31Pain of Salvation
Panther


Why it’s Good: nobody is surprised when PoS mastermind writes edgy lyrics. Penning emotion into lyrics hides many traps, and even great musicians like Daniel Gildenlöw can fall prey to it. But leaving the holier-than-thou attitude in the lyrics, what we have here is actually progressive thinking music. Without sacrificing one bit of the genre’s trends (chopped up rhythms, polyrhythms, longer epics, etc.), Pain of Salvation yet again show the way of sonic craftsmanship, throwing us an amalgamation of ideas, from rap on the t/t, to electronic meddling with the guitars’ sounds, and trip-hop vocoder vocals. Good job, everyone, have a PoS.

Check Out: Panther
32Plini
Impulse Voices


Why it’s Good: Australian guitar hero Plini, with an impressive career and worldwide fame returns four years after his debut album with another set of polished, vibrant compositions. Impulsive Voices strength lies on the fact that it doesn’t sound like your typical guitar album, but like an instrumental djent/jazz album. On this account, it’s a highly enjoyable, albeit a bit predictable album, played with astonishing dexterity, that works perfectly as background music.

Check out: Pan
33Protest the Hero
Palimpsest


Why it’s Good: what impresses me most about Palimpsest is not the musical prowess, it’s not the compositions, it’s not the production or the album cover - all top notch mind you… What I found to be a breath of fresh air with Protest the Hero’s latest album is the lyrical content. It’s just so fulfilling reading and listening to those lyrics, who all paint little vigniettes from USA’s modern history, that everything else was really the icing on the cake.

Check out: The Canary
34Psychotic Waltz
The God-Shaped Void


Why it’s Good: it’s a trend, from cinema, to books, to music, to capitalize heavily on nostalgia, but more often than not the result pales compared to what came first. That’s not the case with The God-Shaped Void, an album 25 years late, but still so remarkably fresh, that it’s head-scratching. Psychotic Waltz deliver their own formula of progressive metal, abstaining from all clichés and modern trends, showcasing what it means to be honest to your art.

Check out: Pull the Pin
35Pure Reason Revolution
Eupnea


Why it’s Good: Pure Reason Revolution make a come-back with one of the most interesting alternative prog rock albums of the year. Pop sensibilities, dual vocals as canon, keyboards high up in the mix, progressive rock education and a production team up to create Eupnea, giving progressive rock a breath of fresh air (all puns intended).

Check out: Silent Genesis
36Radiant Knife
The Body


Why it’s Good: this is a late discovery in 2020, a raw, dynamic and sludgy EP, that brings back memories of Remission-days Mastodon. It has everything a sludge fan would want: riffs, attitude and the well-intended filth. The duo has also put out another EP in 2020, and two LPs since 2017, so there’s plenty of music to discover.

Check out: The Body
37Soccer Mommy
Color Theory


Why it’s Good: it’s airy, it’s soft, it’s mellow, it’s gentle, and it has a stronger second part. It’s an indie record with interesting aesthetic, than can cover the general lack of personality. There’s talent in here, but it just needs a push. The emotional expression is direct and can touch many people in need of a hug.

Check out: Yellow is the Colour of her Eyes
38Solstafir
Endless Twilight of Codependent Love


Why it’s Good: this is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, period. Impulsive, colorful, atmospheric, raw and ultimately creative, has been on heavy rotation the past week, for showing how much an album can pack without being tiring. Despite the length of some songs, none feels forced, as ideas merge with each other effortlessly. From the lush keyboard chords, to the crunchy bass lines and tasty guitar licks, the spotlight is won by Aðalbjörn "Addi" Tryggvason’s voice. While the Icelandic sounds weird to me, I have no problem listening him deliver the lyrics, in one of the most sensitive, fragile and raw performances of this list.

Check out: Hrollkalda Þoka Einmanaleikans
39Spanish Love Songs
Brave Faces Everyone


Why it’s Good: it’s only recently I’ve started searching pop punk groups, and the timing of Spanish Love Songs was the best possible. We all know the social disruptions and seismic shifts we experienced in 2020 were merely amplified by the virus, but were not because of it. The ‘20s have become synonym with existential crisis in our late capitalist years, and there’s nothing better than coming together under songs that celebrate perseverance.

Check out: Losers
40The Hirsch Effekt
Kollaps


Why it’s Good: spastic, impulsive compositions, instrumental dexterity, foot stepping on the gas and a great production make up for one great introduction to the German band, who might tone it down a bit this time around, but still offer one great album, rewarding to the last note.

Check out: Allmende
41The Ocean
Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic


Why it’s Good: few bands have the maturity and consistency of The Ocean, as they have been devoted to their project for over a decade. Weaving geological eras with existential themes could easily derail into a cheesy, pretentious lump of overly long concept albums, but Ocean manage to pull it off with ease. Phanerozoic II is more varied than its predecessor, allowing more electronic and quite moments to take the lead, without sacrificing any of the complexity and heaviness. Another monumental album by a very, very charismatic band.

Check out: Jurassic| Cretaceous
42The Pineapple Thief
Versions of the Truth


Why it’s Good: after a great streak of albums since 2014’s Magnolia, The Pineapple Thief go for a bunch of mid-tempo balladsy tunes, as much enjoyable as they are forgettable. Even the pop sensibilities that could help the band churn out highly addictive songs have subsided, and the result is half-baked with no sense of direction. While the production is stellar as always, and the instrumentation is balanced, even Gavin Harisson’s drumming can’t make this more interesting.

Check out: Driving Like Maniacs
43The Sorcerers
In Search of the Lost City of the Monkey God


Why it’s Good: a proud devotion to instrumental background music, which flows like water, has interesting passages and cinematic moments, that really feels like a soundtrack to the search of a lost city, with emphasis on storytelling and narration.

Check out: Beneath The City Of The Monkey God
44Titan to Tachyons
Cactides


Why it’s Good: the invisible presence in all progressive death jazz instrumental post anything lists, Titan to Tachyons is one of the best albums to come out in 2020. With magnificent skill and balance, interplays gloriously between heavy riffs and jazzy spasms, it is the perfect example of what jazzy death metal can mean. Without giving in to any particular genre, Titan to Tachyons manage to be innovative without exaggerated show-offs, melodic without being mellow. With Jazz as a state of mind and metal as the general aesthetic, Titan to Tachyons come off as nothing of the two, and gift us with one of the most promising debut albums of the new decade.

Check out: The Starthinker is Obsolete
45Trivium
What The Dead Men Say


Why it’s Good: after a serious of not so good albums, Trivium have returned with a one-two punch, the second being What the Dead Men Say. Although a (half) step down from the last one, it is still an album that delivers everything it promises, heavy riffs, great choruses, dual solos, intricate drumming and an enjoyable set-list that would drive any audience off the fence. Matt’s improved vocals are a huge plus as well. Trivium have their ups and downs, but have been soaring high the laste few years, crafting epic after epic, and most of all staying loyal to their art and audience. A hard working band that is reaping the fruits of their labor.

Check out: The Defiant
46Ulver
Flowers of Evil


Why it’s Good: Ulver’s idiosyncratic discography was an example of subverting expectation. With unexpectedness becoming repetitive, Ulver outdid themselves. They put another album in the same vein as 2016’s Assassination of Julius Caesar. ‘80s synth laden songs, mid-tempo compositions and dark lyricism is back again, only this time less adventurous and way more homogenous. If it wasn’t for Garm’s voice, I doubt I would return to it.

Check out: Little Boy
47Yovel
Forthcoming Humanity


Why it’s Good: fuck this album, in a good way. It’s fucked me up. Harsh, realistic images from the Greek civil war in ’49, are narrated by the somber voice of Antriana Andreovits, above black metal music. The collective memory of the injustice, the horrors and the amorality of the war between the communists and the far-right state bleed out of the music. It can be probably targeted to a smaller audience than most black metal releases, but do give it a try with the translated lyrics.

Ckeck out: Chapter VI - So, our Flags were born
48Ta Paidia Tis Paleotitas
Enthimion Neanikon Sintrofion


Why it’s Good: in the huge pool of greek rock and art rock, this band has rised from the ashes of former collective Kore. Ydro. The unmatched lyricism of Pantelis Dimitriadis is definitely the highlight, while his trembling voice can be an acquired taste, but I couldn’t imagine a proper voice delivering those words with the same passion and anguish as him. The climactic structure of the songs aid in this direction of catharsis and redemption, and the production is so vivid and clean that opens a whole new perspective to DIY releases. Greece needs artists who stay local and perform art, and I need TPTP in my life.

Check out: Πυροτεχνήματα στα Γενέθλιά της
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