It’s that time of the year when writers and editors of music publications have the hardest time of going through the pile of albums released throughout the year, just to be met with a proverbial Golgotha by readers complaining how this or that release didn’t make the “best of” list.
2019 is another strong year; the amount of great releases that were put out this year is simply overwhelming, but we made it down to 20 records which in our opinion are the “creme de la creme” and the musical pinnacle of 2019. Many of these records are so far-fetched from each other in terms of musical styles, but as usual we were led by our vision of forward-thinking music.
So here it is… Top 20 albums of 2019 by Prog Sphere…
20. CONSIDER THE SOURCE – You Are Literally a Metaphor
Going into this album, I did not expect this at all. Eclectic is definitely the word for this, and so is unique and amazing. As crazy as things get sometimes, it always keeps your interest as you want to hear what happens next. The effects are excellent, the musicianship is out of this world. There are many times throughout this album I was just speechless.
19. LUNAR – Eidolon
As the time in a calendar year passes by, it often happens that many of releases that are launched late in a year are overlooked. Luckily, this was not the case with the second studio album by Sacramento prog metal project Lunar. Inspired by a tragedy that befell the project in the way of loosing guitarist Ryan Erwin, drummer and songwriter Alex Bosson has put his emotions towards honing a release that is as beautiful as angry. Helping him in his vision are guest contributions from members of Haken, Leprous, Thank You Scientist, Fallujah, etc.
18. MONO – Nowhere, Now Here
The addition of electronics to Mono‘s music gave their music the element that is needed to make their music perfect. This album is absolutely amazing and the fact that it is all instrumental except for one track should not scare you away. The music is beautiful as always, almost beyond words. Each track on this album is an experience, full of emotion and expansiveness, the traits that have always existed in Mono‘s music, yet somehow, this time they have even made it better with more dynamics, many times unpredictable this time around.
17. ARCH / MATHEOS – Winter Etheral
Winter Ethereal cranks out nine hard driving prog metal tracks rooted in the previous century but clearly designed for 21st century consumption. A bit longer than the previous one and clocking in at about 108 minutes, this album bursts into the scene with the crushing “Vermillion Moons” which delivers the expected labyrinthine guitar riffs while taking a few breathers with some slower passages. Clearly on display and man of the hour vocalist ARCH shows off his high capacity pipes in an ever daring feat of vocal majesty which never fails throughout the album’s lengthy parade through the progressively imbued compositions that seem to tackle the usual prog metal melodramatic lyrical esoterica in the fullest sonic regalia. Despite the plethora of musicians on board this time, the album comes off as a tightly woven musical experience with all eyes on the prize, that meaning the overall feel of consistency in this high quality musical sector of the prog metal universe.
16. KLONE – Le Grand Voyage
Known for its trademark dark guitar tones and epic brooding soundscapes, Le Grand Voyage is a dynamic and intense album that explores nine unique landscapes, and switches between dark, luminous, heavy and powerful sounds.
15. KAYO DOT – Blasphemy
Kayo Dot is one of the most important avant-prog and experimental bands that is still quite relevant. Blasphemy seems to be the most variant Kayo Dot release. This is one of their best albums to start on if you haven’t heard them before. It gives you a good overall picture of what to expect from the band—that is, the unexpected.
14. MONKEY3 – Sphere
Sphere is an excellent album full of a lot of dynamic, and it is easy to see why this band is so well revered and is also gaining more and more fans all the time. Their concerts are quite amazing and make for a memorable experience. Since this band has been around for quite some time now, they have become quite good at working together, especially when it comes to knowing how to create amazing jam sessions.
13. BENT KNEE – You Know What They Mean
The musicianship, instrumentation and vocal delivery on You Know What They Mean are stellar; the production is great and the use of dynamics, dissonance and unique styles is all top-notch. I love the fact that the music can easily fool you, thinking at times that you have something that is somewhat “normal” that suddenly and unpredictable becomes totally unhinged. The music is quirky, no doubt, but it is also extremely well done.
12. THE MERCURY TREE – Spidermilk
The instruments on The Mercury Tree’s newest offering were all purposefully tuned to this microtonal scale which give it the unique, yet very nice texture and sound. Spidermilk took two years to create, and much of that time must have been learning the harmonies and perfecting the sound. I know this is definitely not going to be to everyone’s liking, but you can’t deny the sound is unique, challenging and groundbreaking, and above all, 100% progressive.
11. THANK YOU SCIENTIST – Terraformer
An album of this length might be tough for many listeners, especially with the complexity of the music. But, as is the case with most of the best progressive albums, with repeated listenings and as you grow more familiar with the songs, things get better and it no longer seems like so much of an assault on your senses. Even with the lighter, jazzier sound on this album, it can seem like too much on the first few listens. But time and practice will increase your love and appreciation for this amazing album. The music is complex, yes, the album is also very long, and usually that combination can result in exhausting a listener’s head, but this album is put together quite well with the track sequence working for it when you first hear it; and later, as your familiarity with the music grows, it doesn’t come across as so much of a sonic assault.