Ranking the albums, always a nice task at the end of the year. Unless my first shortlist of albums that should absolutely enter the list is twice as big as the 17 I am allowing myself. So this list represents how I felt Friday 22 December and might have been slightly different any other day. So sorry My Soliloquy, Riverdogs, Iris Divine, Vandale, Portrait, Hourswill, Night Demon, Persefone, Cosmograf, Lee Abraham, Warrior, Prayers of Sanity, Solitary, Steven Wilson and many more, today my list opted for others. A special mention to A Sense of Gravity who released one of my favorite albums received this year, but was in the mail too long in 2016. Same might go next year for Perihelion Ship whose pledge has not arrived yet.
17. Horisont - About Time
Sweden is onmipresent in all the syles I love and this retro hard rock band was a new discovery to me. Slightly softer than countrymen Dead Lord this hardrock with 70's vibe is played so well and packed in such good songs that they became for me one of the first big discoveries of the year.
16. Need - Hegaiamas
A song for Freedom. One of the better progmetal albums of the year in good old style. This means long songs, great playing and vocals and based upon metal. Live they weer brilliant in Diest and I am sure they will rock Progpower. If only they would stop including spoken word songs.
15. Fen - Winter
Andrew tipped me on Fen already before, but this was the first album I heard of them. Long epic UK Black Metal songs with progressive and post whatever touches. A perfect soundtrack for the season that just started and seldom six songs in 75 minutes fly by as beautiful.
14. Anubis - The Second Hand / Tim Bowness - Lost in the Ghost light
This might seem an attempt to slip in an extra album, but in reality these two prog rock concept albums made a very similar impact on me. Anubis with a story on an ageing media mogul and Tim Bowness (mr Melancholy) sings about an aging rock star looking back on his life. Both beautiful albums filled with emotional songs.
13. Moonspell - 1755
Now I never was a big Moonspell fan, hardly knowing them really. But this album on the great Lisbon earthquake in 1755 sung in Portuguese is perfect. Bombastic, epic, glorious while staying away from cheesy. A history lesson and musical masterclass combined in one. Far from a Desastre.
12. Exist - So True, So Bound
This one is a grower. So after several spins the beauty came to the surface and what an album we have. With members passing Cynic and Death to All, their is some progressive death metal here, but it sounds different really. Not humming along music, but definitely pleased I gave them the time needed.
11. The Contortionist - Clairvoyant
The Contortionist proof that slowing down is not always a loss of quality. From a hardcore-prog past they now are calm and clear. Still the songs are that good, that we don't miss the energy from the past. They just evolved, but unlike others keep their strenght.
10. Reuben Archer's Personal Sin - Petrolhead
Yes, of course I am biased towards anything Stampede related and this album is only two weeks old, so not sure if they should be higher or lower on the list. But my god what an album filled with earwurms. And playing it in the car made it even better indeed.
9. Vice - The First Chapter
Many styles are mentioned for this band, but let's call them metal. Filling an album with great guitars is one thing, but packing it all in songs s catchy as dengue in a Brazilian wetland is another thing. One of the least known surprises of the year.playing Belgium next April, so we can see this live.
8. Trial - Motherless
Their previous album Vessel made it to my number one of the 2015 list. The surprise is gone, but the quality is not. Old school heavy metal blended with some doom and progressive metal. I am reminded at times of Psychotic Waltz at their quiet moments. They come in February to Holland with Portrait and RAM, already the Heavy Metal package of the year.
7. IT - We're all in this Together
An old band, but new to me and the prog rock surprise of the year. Well they mix some hard rock and AOR at times. Their politically themed songs describe what is worng with the world in a very right way. Canadian/British progressive rock which should attract rock fans in general as proven by Peter.
6. Witherfall - Nocturnes and Requiems
Another album filled with good old metal. This one should appeal to Savatage fans as well. This is the album of the passed away drummer, but should also be reminded for the great songs and performances on it. Not afraid to blend in some external influences (spanish guitar) the album comes down to headbanging really.
5. Threshold - Legends of the Shires.
How would Threshold come out of the loss of Pete Morten and Damian Wilson? Well glorious it was. A double album which goes from proggy ballads to their signature metal epics. Glynn Morgan doing a great job back on vocals. They have been the stable factor in UK Prog metal for over 25 years and showing they still are on top of the game.
4. Pain of Salvation - In the Passing Light of Day
Pain of Salvation was amongst my favorite bands around the beginning of this century. And then they started experimenting (too much for my taste). Now here is one return to old form album I can say. Telling the emotional story of Daniel's fight against a life threatening disease, I recognized more than a bit in the lyrics. If the music then also is back to progmetal mode we have a winner.
3. Fleshkiller - Awaken
Fleshkiller continue where Extol left us some years ago. This is Technical Death Metal, but than blended with melodic hard rock choirs in the best King's X style. Only playing the first minute of opening song Parallel Kingdom convinced me already. This album is all about the songs and the melodic breaks make it really accessable as well.
2. Twisted Illusion - Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces
When Brian Mear(fest) talks about a progmetal band he loves, my interest was risen as he is more a NWOBHM man. This is not typical by any means. Don't you dare to box me in Matt sung on their debut, so I won't either. This band seem to release music constantly, with next year three albums planned. I was completely overwhelmed when I recieved their debut together with this double album. Prog rock, Melodic rock, Hair metal, Guitar shredders, You name it you find it. Go listen to this great band on bandcamp or whatever streaming you find and then buy their albums.
1. Cormorant - Diaspora
Thank you Angry Metal Guy for pointing me towards album number four of Cormorant. So I missed them in the past and corrected this pretty well this year. What an album crossing all extreme genres. We get four songs lasting one hour in total where we pas Death, Black, Doom and Progressive metal. While these are the dominant styles per song, the variation is such that you go all over the place all the time. I have problems picking my favorite track, but believe the album is best heard in one go. Even the artwork is beautifull with hints of Jeroen Bosch. Pure art in it's heaviest form by all means.