Sunday, 6 January 2013

The top 15 of 2012

I decided this year to go for a list of all styles in one go. This gives me the chance to keep more CD's out. There are the ones I have not heard enough or at all (Speaking to Stones, The Moor, Heretic and Mystery), the ones that just did not make it (Gojira, Ihsahn, A Liquid Landscape, Stealing Axion, the Contortionist) or even did not impress enough (Rush). New discoveries that were nice are Flying Colors and Rak to me, but one band stands out on not making the list this year. The reason is that their CD is not available on CD. I heard it through bandcamp and grooveshark, but still did not pay them to download it. Shattered Skies: one of the great discoveries of 2012 thanks to Progpower, but bringing  no or not enough CD's costs them a potential top three spot.

15. In Mourning - The Weight of Oceans
After blasting last years Progpower with their classic Monolith material, the new one is almost as good. Even if compared with the old Opeth I do like this still. After all my favorite Opeth album remains Still Life. They almost came playing live fairly close to home together with amongst others Myrath. Than the place went bust and the show was cancelled.

14. Riversea - Out of an Ancient World
Easy listening prog rock. Some very good songs although overweighing on ballads a great CD.

13. Threshold - March of Progress
A solid performance by Threshold yet again. Damian Wilson back on vocals is very welcome and the songs are typically Threshold. I must admit though that I like Threshold live (even) more than on CD.

12. Big Big Train - The English Electric part 1
This band put out another great album. While not as good as the previous two releases to me, but storytelling prog from the highest level. Similiar to Riversea style very quiet, but very good for listening, reading along and dreaming away.

11. OSI - Fire Make Thunder
Dark atmospheric music for the moody days. One of this year's disappointments to me was Storm Corrosion (two of such talents should have done better) while OSI came back stronger than expected. Kevin Moore is not the worlds greatest vocalist, but his dark murmles add nice to the not too happy music.

10. Lillian Axe - The Day Before Tomorrow
Just as a rule Lillian Axe always make my top ten. The only band I know in the Melodic Rock scene, that after coming back already released 4 top level albums just as strong as their history. Maybe not their best album ever, but great songs and yet another new vocalist performing at standard high level.

9. Dark Empire - From Refuge to Ruin
I don't know how many albums they released before, but this was the first time I heard some of their music. American Metal, mixed with epic songs and occasional grunts. The title song on the other hand is a pure prog rock classic. Diverse, heavy and impressive an album that deserves a listen

8. It Bites - Map of the Past
I am not sure but John Mitchell might just have released this CD in 2012 (probably I am wrong knowing his normal rhythm). Since he usually only releases very good CD's this one is not different. No "This is England" this time, but with concept style a great album.

7. Alarum - Natural Causes
Surpisingly strong return of this Ausie Jazz-thrash outfit. And in "For New Creation" they do have probably the catchiest song of 2012 on their album.
Come to think of it forgot to bring the T-shirt of continents collide, while being on my second continent.

6. Marillion - Sounds that can't be Made
After some more listens this album grew on me and I am pleased to see that Marillion came back with a top ten album (Anoraknophobia was the last sure one, Marbles maybe). Some very good songs on this album and Ok H makes them softer and softer, but with songs like Lucky man, the Sky above the rain I can live with that.

5. Alan Reed - First in a Field of One
I saw him live last year and found him still with a great voice, but too acoustic and too little rock. Still no heavy rocking here, but this CD is spot on. Great songs, great voice and a celtic Fish-like vibe that makes it one of the more pleasant surprises of the year.

4. The Haarp Machine - Disclosure
Sitar djent aggresive bulldozering, with good clean vocals inbetween. They open the door for me to a whole lot of these modern djent bands, Curious to see if they are so tight live. Curious planning live detail for 2013. 3 March they play Holland with Monument and two others. Within 50 km that same day I can also go to Threshold or Devon Graves (Psychotic Waltz) solo. Who plans these dates?

3. Linear Sphere - Manvantara
While I thought they silently disappeared after their long ago released debut album, they are back with the most enthiusiastic opening riff heard in a long time. Six songs telling a complicated story over even more complicated music and I love it.

2. Galahad - Battle Scars / Beyond the Realms of Euphoria
A double hit by Galahad the different prog band. Battle Scars being my favorite for the heavier balance I do appreciate both albums and you just got to have respect for a band obviously making music they like, without being worried about upsetting listeners with a very wide range of influences.

1. Headspace - I Am Anonymous
What a beautiful album and how well played live as well. Some very good musicians here at work and songs that stay in the head for a long time. Damian Wilson even more impressive than on the Threshold CD showing he might be the voice of progmetal nowadays.  

So after reading back I can only conclude my taste is very British indeed. Probably since many of the American or Scandinavian progmetal bands had no new album in 2012.  On the live front the UK also seems tempting with Y-prog, HRH Prog/AOR or Celebr8. I did learn my lessons the hard way though with this year's last minute cancelling of the Fused festival and afraid to buy tickets up front for either one of them.

If 2013 can only be as good as 2012 on the CD and live front I am pretty sure we have a happy New Year.

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