Top 30 Progressive Metal Albums of 2010s So Far by Prog Sphere

Top 30 Progressive Metal Albums of 2010s So Far by Prog Sphere
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Mastodon – The Hunter (2011)

Mastodon’s sludgy riff work and distinctive tone are both here, but it works at its best when they are able to find the fine balance between hooks and heaviness. ‘Curl Of The Burl’ is an example of a song that tends to stray a little too far into hook territory, and probably best exemplifies why I feared ‘The Hunter’ would sound like. It may be memorable as a track, but there is no depth to it; and even before the first listen is done, I had the impression that there was now a big void in Mastodon’s sound. The only two songs that really realize this ‘accessible’ rock sound are ‘Curl’, and ‘Dry Bone Valley’. Neither gave me much of a rush, and they do feel like what’s keeping me from calling ‘The Hunter’ a masterpiece, because some of the other material on the album makes me want to make that leap. Mastodon have virtually perfected their spacey sound here, best represented by the album’s highlight ‘Stargasm’, and ‘The Sparrow’, a sombre track that closes the album in classic prog rock tradition; a trippy hymn that builds and lets the listener off on a perfect note. It is a perfect track for this album, because it gives me great motivation to experience the album all over again. I understand full well that many who are first listening to this album are already Mastodon fans, so taking for the fact that I- someone who never cared for them much in the past- am truly digging this album is a great sign for ‘The Hunter’. It is not a full step above ‘Crack The Skye’ in every way, but as the overall musical experience goes, it looks like Mastodon has a new record to outdo with anything they may release in the future.

Intronaut – Valley of Smoke (2010)

While the songwriting on ‘Valley Of Smoke’ is very commendable, it would be nothing without a passionate performance from the musicians. Unlike many bands, Intronaut manages to balance each member’s presence equally, so that a listener can hear the bassist’s contribution just as much as the drummer, or experimental guitar work. With that being said, the album is mixed perfectly, and allows the listener to hear these tracks through the perfect lens. Of special note is the beautifully intricate drum work of Danny Walker, which never seems to be content with a simplistic beat, and the clean vocalist on the album, whose droning baritone works perfectly for the band’s existing style. As an added bonus, the musical talents of Tool bassist Justin Chancellor are also heard, whose distinct tone can be heard in the album’s title track.

Arch / Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance (2011)

‘Sympathetic Resonance’ may as well be considered a Fate’s Warning album, and perhaps the best one to come along in some time. With Matheos’ aggressive style of playing and signature sound of Fate’s Warning once again paired with the haunting acrobatic vocals of Arch, this sounds quite familiar. Musically, this is virtually everything I might expect from a Fate’s Warning album; dark atmosphere, and some of the best musicianship that the genre of progressive metal has to offer. In particular, Bobby Jarzombek’s skills at the drums are immense, and there are plenty of flourishes that each band member gives to the performance to make things sound all the more intense. The songwriting contrasts dark acoustics with thrashy technical displays; things sometimes feel chaotic, but it is controlled. Of special note are the melodies employed here, which are pleasantly challenging to decipher at first.

Anathema – Weather Systems (2012)

‘Weather Systems’ doesn’t see ANATHEMA quite reaching an inhuman perfection with their music, the significant proportion where the music does become inhumanly perfect is reason enough to give it the highest recommendation. Although ANATHEMA do not challenge the listener with this music, they excel at doing what music is most meant to do; evoke emotion. It’s easy to say that music is emotional, but when listening to an album can change someone’s mood so profoundly, it’s reason enough to call it something special.

Omb – SwineSong (2013)

For an album that tries so many things at once however, it’s a marvel that Swinesong turned out as well as it did. Most of the musical experiments here are a ton of fun, and it’s one of the rare cases where an outright rejection of song structure has actually helped the music become more engaging. In short, Omb have started off on an excellent foot, although their constant genre-hopping may have the unfortunate side-effect of limiting their audience. Swinesong is possibly the most exciting metal debut I’ve heard in a year. In a word, it is unique, and given the current metal standard of emulation over innovation, that trait alone should warrant checking it out.

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  1. ziter

    June 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Pretty good list.
    But… where’s Nine?? That album is simply awesome!

  2. Sacul

    June 9, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    While I absolutely love Weather Systems, it isn’t metal at all – I don’t know what it is doing on this list.

  3. Michael Stallings

    June 10, 2014 at 3:55 am

    OK…Steven Wilson, Pineapple Thief…not metal, but still…

  4. Errolin

    June 11, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    I recommend listening to Tempel’s debut album “On The Steps Of The Temple” and adding it this list!

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