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Digital Man's Top 10 Of 2017

Discussion in 'ProgPower USA' started by DigitalMan, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Member

    Feb 11, 2002
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    Colorado Springs, Colorado
    I think this is the first year I've felt the need to post a disclaimer or explanation about my top 10 list. While I've always liked some prog rock, over the last few years I've really been getting into it more. I have collected a lot of prog rock over the years, but until recently I'd listen to each a few times and then move on to something more metal. Somehow prog rock has really clicked with me lately and many of the bands I used to find boring are now appealing to me. So half of my top 10 this year ended up being prog rock bands. Some I've been listening to for years and some I just discovered this year as I went seeking bands similar to Anglagard, Wobbler, Anekdoten, etc. I've been enjoying the prog pioneers from the 70s as well as the newer Retro Prog bands that sound like they should have come out in the 70s. Now that I put my list together what is surprising to me is how much of my list is at one end of the heaviness spectrum or the other and how few middle ground prog metal disks are present. Whenever I get burned out on a style, I tend to expand and explore different sub-genres related to prog and metal. In the past I explored more extreme metal, now it seems I'm widening my tastes in the other direction. It seems lately many new prog metal releases are sounding stale to me and it feels like I've heard it all before, so I think that's why my listening has been elsewhere lately. Don't worry, I haven't quit listening to prog metal, I'm just expanding my listening.

    1) Wobbler - From Silence To Somewhere

    This was one of my 3 most anticipated disks of the year and it really delivered. There is a reason this disk is at the top of every top prog list I've read. They are the top Retro Prog band right now in my opinion. They don't hide their influences at all. They seem to have taken the best of many of the prog greats such as Anglagard, Yes, etc. that have come before them and mixed them into an almost perfect disk.

    2) Agusa - Agusa

    This is another Retro Prog band that I just discovered recently as I was looking for other bands like Anglagard and Wobbler. It's instrumental but the lack of vocals doesn't hurt it at all. I'd prefer no vocals to bad vocals any day.

    3) Enslaved - E

    This disk is one of my biggest surprises this year. I have a few of their previous disks but they never really rose above other new disks I was getting to get much playing time. They are a progressive black/death/Viking band mixing clean and harsh vocals. On the very first listen, this disk blew me away. The mixing in of clean vocals really makes this disk for me. I originally thought I'd throw this disk at the end of my list, but the more I listened to it I kept moving it up. Pretty impressive for a band I was really not familiar with until recently. Now I need to go give their previous disks more attention.

    4) Ne Obliviscaris - Urn

    This is another of my 3 most anticipated disks. I guess it's a bit of a letdown that this falls in the middle of my list, not at the top. When The Portal Of I came out, this progressive black metal band with violins had a unique formula and sounded unlike anyone else. That disk remains my favorite. Their next two disks, including Urn, are both great disks, but the formula is exactly the same on all disks. They remain one of my favorite recent bands and they were outstanding live recently, but I'd like to see them mix it up a bit more in the future so the formula doesn't become stale.

    5) Threshold -Legends Of The Shires

    This is the only typical prog metal disk that made my list this year. I like all of Threshold's vocalists, but Glynn's return really pushed this disk to be one of my favorite Threshold disks, if not my favorite. Small Dark Lines is one of the best songs I've heard in years. I initially felt that the disk was a bit uneven and had some filler. While I still feel that is true, when I went back and listened to it recently to figure out where to rank it I find myself liking it more and more. My previous listens were while working or driving so giving it my full attention recently may have helped me recognize its greatness.

    6) Persefone - Aathma

    This is a very technical extreme progressive death metal band. The hardcore like vocals are right on the edge of my tolerance but the music is so good I still enjoy this disk a lot. I was disappointed they didn't make PPUSA but was thrilled when they were announced for 2018.

    7) Steven Wilson - To The Bone

    This was another of my 3 most anticipated disks of the year. My expectations were sky high for this one given how much I've been enjoying Steven Wilson lately. So the fact that this disk is this low in my list is disappointing. SW has always mixed prog and pop fairly successfully, but this time the pop side may be too much for me. This is still a great disk and there are some great songs but there are also some songs worth skipping. SW seems to be one of the few people that thinks you can mix prog and pop, but I hope he moves back in the prog direction in the future. To paraphrase Anthrax: They say prog and pop can never mix, well all of them can suck our dicks...

    8 ) Jordsjø - Jord

    This is another new Retro Prog band I discovered this year. The only physical media on which this was released was cassette (yes, in 2017), but at least it's available digitally on Bandcamp so that's where I bought it. The instrumental parts of this are incredible and you would be very surprised this wasn't a release from the early 70s. The only thing limiting my ability to enjoy this release is the singing is in Norwegian. There are good English vocals some songs on previous albums, so I wish they would go instrumental or switch to English. However, when a band puts out a cassette only release with Norwegian vocals, I'm guessing they are not interested in huge international success.

    9) Alestorm - No Grave But The Sea

    When you listen to as much serious, grim, melancholy music as I do, every now and then it's refreshing to listen to a disk that is just plain fun. This is a Scottish pirate themed power metal band that certainly doesn't take themselves too seriously. I'm not listening to much new power metal anymore, but this band is the exception. I was thrilled to hear they will be playing ProgPower this year. I know everyone else seems to find the Anchor song hilarious, but for me that's the only flaw in an otherwise great disk.

    10) Kaipa - Children Of The Sounds

    This band has been around since the 70s but this was the first disk of theirs I heard. This isn't Retro prog rock like my other picks. It's very polished, accessible female fronted prog rock. Not sure if it's considered neo prog, but it sounds close to me. The best way I can describe this is this sounds like something LarryD would like.
    NorseBlood likes this.
  2. spag

    spag I am a leaf on the wind

    Sep 18, 2006
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    Everywhere and nowhere
    Some nice pics that I wasn't aware of. Thanks for the list.

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