Do you have something to say about Prog...
...and would you like to submit it as material for this blog, apply for membership at the ProgRockin blog planning Google group.
Recent Comments

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best of 2008

Yes, I know most other music related sites are doing the same, but still...I couldn't resist.

Lets keep the list to the top 3 and have a small description for each.

If any of you (co-authors or readers) would like to join, please add you own top 3 as a comment and I will move it to the main article.

Below are the current contributors (click on [+/-] to show/hide):

BG [+/-]

1. Ayreon - 01011001
This is an amazing album. At first I was disappointed since I expected more guitars and a heavier sound, but the songs grew on me and this quickly became my most listened to album of the year. The most compelling side of this production is the range of vocalist that mr. Lucassen got involved and especially the way he managed to "use" never feels like a case of too many cooks spoiling the meal. This album also has references (through the lyrics) to other Ayreon releases, which made me revisit all of them...just to connect the dots
2. Jupiter Society - First Contact / Last Warning
Sometimes not liking something at all is a good start. I suppose the music and vocals found on this album is so atypical that it may put you off at first. For me this is also it's strength....the emotion and atmosphere is crunching and demands your attention from beginning to end. It is dark, brooding and gives you a constant feeling of impending doom...I like it :)
3. Opeth - Watershed
What is it with Sweden and prog rock/metal? It seems they spawn buckets full of great bands and albums on a yearly basis. Opeth is, by no means, new...but they keep renewing themselves with every album. This is not as good as the previous one, but far better than anything else that aspires to become something in the same category. As a kid I sometimes listened to death metal but never really liked the growling and grunts. Opeth has found the perfect balance between harsness of "death" and the beauty and intricateness of prog.
Foster [+/-]

1. Ayreon - 01011001
I'm a big Ayreon fan, and this album didn't disappoint. There are some incredible moments on here, and there's just something about that signature Ayreon sound that is so appealing.
2. Paul Gilbert - Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar

An incredible album from one of my favourite guitarists. So many different sounding songs on this album, all with amazing fretwork. I would have bought this for Progulus by now if it wasn't for the fact that I have no money. Same goes for his Get Out Of My Yard album.
3. Opeth - Watershed
I wasn't really a big Opeth fan (the growling put me off) until earlier this year, when I got hold of Ghost Reveries.. And then my opinion changed. I really like this album, but it's only really making this list because this year was a little bit disappointing in terms of releases compared to last year.

1. Amaseffer - Exodus - Slaves For Life
The blend of jewish music, prog metal and "soundtrack" is extremely well done. I love it's tragical style (despite the bible theme). The album is full of great suspense curves, from rather cheesy elements through several emotional states, up to almost death metal and back. On top of that some awesome solo guitar playing at a highest level tone and not to mention Mats Leven's outstanding vocals, combined with oriental vocal performances by Kobi Farhi.
Also best newcomer 2008!
2. Mindflow - Destructive Device
After 2 albums I didn't spend much attention for, here it comes: a mainly metal oriented piece with fine crafted vocal melodies, a couple of prog elements in it, containing time signatures that make most people stumble, but kicking me into heavy grooving.
The cocept works quite well; the production output is a perfect metal sound that makes aggresion physical through bashing airwaves at my body.
I skip the "binaural tracks", but that's really a minor minus.
3. Andromeda - The Immunity Zone
It took me years to recognize the band at all and now I'm totally in love with their music. Their delight in writing and playing is addictive to me, I love how they simply have fun in juggling notes just for the joy of doing it, and stil they manage to create fine tunes that way that don't seem to 'noodle' along at any time.
For me they're the band that comes closest to the good old Kansas, who I tend to call my prog roots.

This was a hard decision for me this year, because there were two albums that I think both deserve the #1 spot, and in the end my choice came down to a right brain vs. left brain decision.

1. Karmakanic - Who's The Boss in the Factory
Highly complex, technically difficult, seamlessly interwoven, these are the things that I crave. Karmakanic finally delivers more than 2 years after their announced release date. This music could be described as Flower Kings for people who hate the Flower Kings, because it's an idealized version that seems superior in almost every way and still has the brilliant Jonas Rheingold touch.
2. Everon - North
This must have been a very difficult album for Oliver Phillips to write and record, because he touches on some of his very personal emotional experiences. But I guess he always does that. This album (and band) is so brilliant because they are so adept at sharing the human experience in a way that touches us without being too mushy (well except for 'Islanders' anyway). There's great songwriting here and great production as well.
3. Fromuz - Overlook
I had the hardest time picking the #3 slot because there's a lot of good releases this year that I could have put here but nothing that really stood out as more exceptional than the others. I went with the album that has received the most spin time in my car. I've already reviewed the album here in detail so there's no reason to repeat myself. Brilliant.

Arcarneiro [+/-]

From the few '08 albums that I have (most of them I got from my friends!!! thx!!!), here are my top 3 fave ones....

1. Zero Hour - Dark Deceiver
On every album, they get better and better. After the very good Specs of Picture Burnt Beyond, these heroes of tech-metal come with another fine release. Hopefully, now they got settled with a singer, and a quite good one, they can get more tight and improve their sound. At 1st, didn't enjoy Chris voice, but now thinks that he's perfect of ZH!!! Awesome technical display by all band members, specially Troy on the bass and his Tendoniti
2. Presto Ballet - The Lost Art Of Time Travel
Delightful prog-rock album! Very enjoyable from start to finish!!! Great keyboard work, with all the Hammonds, Mellotrons and all that...
3. 7for4 - Diffusion
Another mix of different kinds of music styles and another awesome fusion album. Didn't top my fave album Time, but it's just great. Very cohesive album with no weakness. Even tho the work is based mainly on Wolfgang Zenk's guitar, every one have space to breathe and contribute for this great instrumental album.
Runner-up for the 3rd: Mindflow - Destructive Device.
Was quite surprised by it. Even tho liked their 2 1st albums, always thought that they lack a bit of identity. Plenty of hooks on the album, something that was somewhat missing on the previous. It continues the Alternate Reality Game started on the previous album, adding a very interesting touch with the 2 binaural tracks, which may also be a annoying thing, if the person don't know what it is about or doesn't care for the game. A very good Metal album with a bit of Prog-Metal flavor here and there... My only complain about it is that it almost looks like that that Ben Grosse wrote, recorded, played, and sung the whole album... you almost see his name everywhere... didn't like this move by the band. It seems they are trying to catch some "outside" attention to the album by all means... it feels really strange to me see his name directly in the cover of the album.