Prog Sphere’s Top 40 Albums of 2017

Best Albums of 2017 by Prog Sphere
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20. Soen – Lykaia (UDR)

While Soen do not pretend to be reinventing the wheel, Lykaia is a classy offering, showcasing the work of a band brimming with an enthusiasm and love of their craft that have become increasingly rare in the music world, and whose compositional skills are growing by leaps and bounds.

19. The Contortionist – Clairvoyant (eOne Music)

Clairvoyant is one of the most interesting releases of 2017. It provides further proof that – in spite of the many practical hurdles facing musicians that do not subscribe to a mainstream view of things – the progressive scene is very much alive, and has a lot to offer to devotees of genuinely challenging music.

18. Pallbearer – Heartless (Nuclear Blast)

A masterful blend of intriguing atmospheres and stunning instrumental and vocal performances, this is a unique album that is warmly recommended to progressive music fans.

17. Coraxo – Sol (Snow Wave Records)

Instead of an in-your-face adventurous feel, Sol has a pervasive sense of subtle complexity. The feel of adventure is still here, however, but instead of sounding like “the thrill of adventure” expressed through music it seems more like the idea of “contemplation over what you’ve experienced on your journeys”. That’s what I get out of it, at least. If you love your death metal with saxophones and inspired by 1970s and 1980s science fiction, give this a try.

16. The Thirteenth Sun – Stardust (Aural Music)

The music on Stardust is relentless, yet restrained; heavy, yet soaring; familiar, but adventurous. It is passionate, melancholy, tragic, stellar, and occasionally euphoric. It is definitely one of the densest offerings out this year, and it takes more than a couple casual listens to fully appreciate it. But once you sit back, close your eyes, and really experience the album, you will catch a glimpse of the spark of genius that inspired this album.

15. Immolation – Atonement (Nuclear Blast)

Immolation‘s Atonement is a fairly interesting creature for death metal. With equal parts death metal and something else altogether, the band has crafted an hour’s worth of dissonant music that certainly grinds against the nerves at times, but for the time being, the album has given me back some faith into what I perceived was a dying genre.

14. Steven Wilson – To the Bone (Caroline)

This is Wilson’s wholehearted dive into singer-songwriter waters, right down to the rather individualistic (even somewhat egocentric) nature of the artwork and rediscovering the “art of writing songs.” As far as the songwriting goes, this is pretty much an art rock record with various layers of pop aesthetics.

13. The Stone – Teatar Apsurda (Mizantropeon Records)

Teatar Apsurda grabs the listener by the throat and throws them head first into it, with no hint of an escape until the dying moments of the title track. With its penchant for vast track lengths, dizzying riffs and terrifyingly atmospheric leads, whatever words you may use to describe Teatar Apsurda — “easy” is certainly not one of them.

12. Leprous – Malina (InsideOut Music)

There’s no denial that Malina is a monster of a work; a thick and towering beast that takes quite a few listens to really sink in. Like all of Leprous‘ music, there is a great deal of atmosphere here, as well as a forlorn and existential worldview that certainly won’t be brightening one’s spirits anytime soon. While being so excited and eager to listen to an album can very abundantly lead to disappointment, Malina comes only a shard away from reaching the perfection that Bilateral achieved, and for once, despite my anticipation, my expectations have all been exceeded.

11. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (Reprise Records)

Emperor of Sand may very well be a rival of Crack the Skye for Mastodon‘s greatest work to date. Despite having one or two songs that feel a bit less inspired than the rest, Emperor of Sand is a true definition of the “thinking man’s metal”; highly complex and frenetic, mixed with a truly ambitious scope.

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