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The Progspace List 2018

The Progspace List 2018

In 2018 we had an extraordinary number of quality releases, a real feast for all progressive music fans and lovers. As our team grew up, this list is a tad longer than before and it reflects very well how many releases were top of the top on so many diverse progressive genres mashups or combinations, or if you prefer, progressive sub-genres. From melodic to djent to doom to prog-death to piano-chamber music. There’s a bit for everyone!  These are the favorites of our Progspace crew – our very personal short “best of” list, if you want – purely subjective, of course!

Øystein

1

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out

The undisputed winner this year. With hefty guitars, interesting keys and captivating melodies, Distorted Harmony has pulled off a masterpiece, and cemented themselves in the top tier of modern progressive metal. Read my in-depth review here.

2

Subsignal – La Muerta

I’m a sucker for stunning vocals and gorgeous melodies, and “La Muerta” has it in abundance. A classy, passionate and engaging output from one of my favorite melodic prog rock bands.

3

Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day

Tom Englund is the new frontman, and boy does it work. Yet again Redemption has given us a masterclass in heavy, melodic and emotional progressive metal.

1

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out

The undisputed winner this year. With hefty guitars, interesting keys and captivating melodies, Distorted Harmony has pulled off a masterpiece, and cemented themselves in the top tier of modern progressive metal. Read my in-depth review here.

2

Subsignal – La Muerta

I’m a sucker for stunning vocals and gorgeous melodies, and “La Muerta” has it in abundance. A classy, passionate and engaging output from one of my favorite melodic prog rock bands.

3

Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day

Tom Englund is the new frontman, and boy does it work. Yet again Redemption has given us a masterclass in heavy, melodic and emotional progressive metal.

Luis

1

Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name

The best prog AND metal album of 2018 for me. From the moment they released ‘The Silent Life’ and I heard the saxophone and punishing guitars I knew this was going to be an excellent album and it didn’t disappoint. The guys from RoN decided to take a new approach to their music, taking in a lot of diverse influences from King Crimson all the way to Death, and they came up with an incredibly powerful listening experience.

2

Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis - Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures

What a return to form and to the epic story of The Amory Wars. This album has almost everything: great rock anthems, lovely ballads, frantic riff-driven songs, and Claudio’s enchanting high-pitched voice.

3

Kingcrow – The Persistence

Such an emotional and beautiful album. An excellent direction for the band to take, and the way more bands should strive to sound in my not-at-all-humble opinion.  Read our review here.

1

Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name

The best prog AND metal album of 2018 for me. From the moment they released ‘The Silent Life’ and I heard the saxophone and punishing guitars I knew this was going to be an excellent album and it didn’t disappoint. The guys from RoN decided to take a new approach to their music, taking in a lot of diverse influences from King Crimson all the way to Death, and they came up with an incredibly powerful listening experience.

2

Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis - Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures

What a return to form and to the epic story of The Amory Wars. This album has almost everything: great rock anthems, lovely ballads, frantic riff-driven songs, and Claudio’s enchanting high-pitched voice.

3

Kingcrow – The Persistence

Such an emotional and beautiful album. An excellent direction for the band to take, and the way more bands should strive to sound in my not-at-all-humble opinion. Read our review here.

Sander

1

Conjurer – Mire

Their debut album, released this summer. And what a debut it is! Relentless from start to finish, throwing at you one killer riff after another. By far my most listened album recently, and my clear winner for album of the year.

2

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Hugsjá

I know this is supposed to be a prog site, but I just can’t let this album slide. Ivar of Enslaved and Einar of Wardruna have created a folk-inspired masterpiece. Going through this album start to finish is a special journey, with the enchanting vocals accompanied by a variety of Norwegian folk instruments. Strongly recommended for any who want to expand their musical horizons!

3

Tesseract – Sonder

Their best release in years. This album is all I could want from Tesseract, even if it does come in a little short at only 36 minutes. Great vocal performance, and the instrumentals are on point. Return to form. Read our review here.

1

Conjurer – Mire

Their debut album, released this summer. And what a debut it is! Relentless from start to finish, throwing at you one killer riff after another. By far my most listened album recently, and my clear winner for album of the year.

2

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Hugsjá

I know this is supposed to be a prog site, but I just can’t let this album slide. Ivar of Enslaved and Einar of Wardruna have created a folk-inspired masterpiece. Going through this album start to finish is a special journey, with the enchanting vocals accompanied by a variety of Norwegian folk instruments. Strongly recommended for any who want to expand their musical horizons!

3

Tesseract – Sonder

Their best release in years. This album is all I could want from Tesseract, even if it does come in a little short at only 36 minutes. Great vocal performance, and the instrumentals are on point. Return to form. Read our review here.

Rune

1

Head With Wings – From Worry To Shame

Like I said in my review: “From Worry To Shame” is brimful of emotions and humanity. The album is raw passion, delicate hope, and all-to-human pain in one graceful package”.

2

Spires – A Parting Gift

I was unsure if these Manchester lads would be able to top 2014’s amazing “The Whisperer”. I should never have doubted them. Just an extraordinary album filled with a combination of atmosphere, complexity and raw power, and graced by the outstanding voice of vocalist Paul Sadler.

3

Nauticus – Disappear in Blue

A great surprise from Finland. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard something just so authoritative and of such a dominant ambience. Potent, yet dynamic and chaotic yet restrained. It’s joyfully hard to categorize, but if you enjoy bands like Intronaut, Anciients, or the most interesting and adventurous sides of Mastodon, do yourself a favor and listen to this!

1

Head With Wings – From Worry To Shame

Like I said in my review: “From Worry To Shame” is brimful of emotions and humanity. The album is raw passion, delicate hope, and all-to-human pain in one graceful package”.

2

Spires – A Parting Gift

I was unsure if these Manchester lads would be able to top 2014’s amazing “The Whisperer”. I should never have doubted them. Just an extraordinary album filled with a combination of atmosphere, complexity and raw power, and graced by the outstanding voice of vocalist Paul Sadler.

3

Nauticus – Disappear in Blue

A great surprise from Finland. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard something just so authoritative and of such a dominant ambience. Potent, yet dynamic and chaotic yet restrained. It’s joyfully hard to categorize, but if you enjoy bands like Intronaut, Anciients, or the most interesting and adventurous sides of Mastodon, do yourself a favor and listen to this!

Pauline

1

Manes – Slow motion death sequence

The trip hop lover in me could not ask for a better album with “Slow motion death sequence“. This gem concocted by Norwegian band Manes blends trip hop, metal textures, synth pop, industrial with powerful vocals. It is definitely avant garde and experimental, like nothing you have ever heard before and that’s why I liked it so much! Rune and I also interviewed some of the members of the band in Trondheim last August, you can read all about it by clicking here. Shout out to the amazing artwork by Ashkan Honarvar.

2

Madder Mortem – Marrow

Marrow” is a complex album spanning a variety of genres, it’s heavy, doomy, melancholic at times while still being catchy and full of energy. I was personally touched by the saturnine, enraged and beautifully written lyrics exploring topics such as inner strength, longing and believing in yourself. More about it in my review.

3

Zeal and Ardor – Stranger Fruit

When Gospel meets Black Metal: the result is an unique, avant garde album with images of rituals, negro spirituals in a Louisiana bayou mixed with heavy riffs! The music of Zeal and Ardor oscillates between blastbeats and blues, delicate melodies and forceful rhythms.  I was fortunate to see the band live at Pstereo festival in Trondheim, Norway in August 2018 and despite pouring rain, their live performance was mind blowing with impeccable sound !

1

Manes – Slow motion death sequence

The trip hop lover in me could not ask for a better album with “Slow motion death sequence“. This gem concocted by Norwegian band Manes blends trip hop, metal textures, synth pop, industrial with powerful vocals. It is definitely avant garde and experimental, like nothing you have ever heard before and that’s why I liked it so much! Rune and I also interviewed some of the members of the band in Trondheim last August, you can read all about it by clicking here. Shout out to the amazing artwork by Ashkan Honarvar.

2

Madder Mortem – Marrow

Marrow” is a complex album spanning a variety of genres, it’s heavy, doomy, melancholic at times while still being catchy and full of energy. I was personally touched by the saturnine, enraged and beautifully written lyrics exploring topics such as inner strength, longing and believing in yourself. More about it in my review.

3

Zeal and Ardor – Stranger Fruit

When Gospel meets Black Metal: the result is an unique, avant garde album with images of rituals, negro spirituals in a Louisiana bayou mixed with heavy riffs! The music of Zeal and Ardor oscillates between blastbeats and blues, delicate melodies and forceful rhythms.  I was fortunate to see the band live at Pstereo festival in Trondheim, Norway in August 2018 and despite pouring rain, their live performance was mind blowing with impeccable sound !

Matthias

1

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Hugsjá

You won’t find “Hugsjá” by Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (Wardruna) sorted under “Prog”, probably, but still it is an progressive album in its own way, and my favorite record of 2018. Bjørnson and Selvik combine ancient instruments and enchanting singing with rock and electronic music, creating their own wonderful soundscapes that take us to the cold coasts of Norway and all the way to Iceland. Living in the only Viking area in Germany I always had an interest in old Nordic culture and this music takes me back in time.

2

Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd

Fresh is the word that comes to mind. Danish modern proggers Vola blend electronic sounds, keyboard scapes and grand melodies and top it with the distinctive voice of Asger Mygind and super heavy parts. In “Applause of a Distant Crowd” they masterfully mix grand soundscapes with a light, poppy overall feeling, and created an album that is a sheer joy to listen to. This is not only appealing to hardcore prog fans, but simply extremely well done progressive music that should be attractive to wider audiences. Read our review here.

3

Perfect Beings – Vier

Vier” is like a journey through the world of progressive rock. Perfect Beings explore so many different influences that it is almost hard to keep track, but they manage to create a very round album out of that. It might be confusing in the end, but “Vier” is an album that grows on the listener, and almost one year after reviewing it I still find joy in exploring it. Read my review here.

1

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Hugsjá

You won’t find “Hugsjá” by Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (Wardruna) sorted under “Prog”, probably, but still it is an progressive album in its own way, and my favorite record of 2018. Bjørnson and Selvik combine ancient instruments and enchanting singing with rock and electronic music, creating their own wonderful soundscapes that take us to the cold coasts of Norway and all the way to Iceland. Living in the only Viking area in Germany I always had an interest in old Nordic culture and this music takes me back in time.

2

Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd

Fresh is the word that comes to mind. Danish modern proggers Vola blend electronic sounds, keyboard scapes and grand melodies and top it with the distinctive voice of Asger Mygind and super heavy parts. In “Applause of a Distant Crowd” they masterfully mix grand soundscapes with a light, poppy overall feeling, and created an album that is a sheer joy to listen to. This is not only appealing to hardcore prog fans, but simply extremely well done progressive music that should be attractive to wider audiences. Read our review here.

3

Perfect Beings – Vier

Vier” is like a journey through the world of progressive rock. Perfect Beings explore so many different influences that it is almost hard to keep track, but they manage to create a very round album out of that. It might be confusing in the end, but “Vier” is an album that grows on the listener, and almost one year after reviewing it I still find joy in exploring it. Read my review here.

Dario

1

Haken – Vector

I don’t care if it is ‘just’ 45 minutes or over an hour long, “Vector” is already chock full of mind bending, jaw dropping progressive awesomeness as it is. Haken have truly proven themselves to be an unstoppable force in the scene. ‘Nuff said. Read my review here.

2

Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd

Their debut was praised as Pink Floyd meets Rammstein and Meshuggah, this stunning sophomore effort goes way deeper, adding Interstellar-like soundtrack vibes and atmospheres, gargantuan riffing a la Gojira and pop sensibilities Coldplay can only dream of to their musical palette. Music that crawls under your skin but would still work in a stadium live setting.   Read my review here.

3

Phi – Cycles

By far my most listened album in the first half of 2018. Killer riffs, killer hook lines and perfect songwriting: six hit singles, even though all songs clock in between just short of 7 and almost 9 minutes. A genre-defining album in my book for heavy alternative prog rock.  Read my review here.

1

Haken – Vector

I don’t care if it is ‘just’ 45 minutes or over an hour long, “Vector” is already chock full of mind bending, jaw dropping progressive awesomeness as it is. Haken have truly proven themselves to be an unstoppable force in the scene. ‘Nuff said. Read my review here.

2

Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd

Their debut was praised as Pink Floyd meets Rammstein and Meshuggah, this stunning sophomore effort goes way deeper, adding Interstellar-like soundtrack vibes and atmospheres, gargantuan riffing a la Gojira and pop sensibilities Coldplay can only dream of to their musical palette. Music that crawls under your skin but would still work in a stadium live setting.   Read my review here.

3

Phi – Cycles

By far my most listened album in the first half of 2018. Killer riffs, killer hook lines and perfect songwriting: six hit singles, even though all songs clock in between just short of 7 and almost 9 minutes. A genre-defining album in my book for heavy alternative prog rock. Read my review here.

Van

1

Gleb Kolyadin - Gleb Kolyadin

This album is a masterpiece. Gleb managed to bring together his classical piano and composition upbringing and the world of progressive rock, a combination that was clearly maturing up through the years as one half of prog-chamber duo Iamthemorning. Now he was ready to go solo in a masterful almost instrumental album which is the perfect combination of progressive creativity and piano mastery. Cleverly interwoven melodies and rhythmic patterns lead by his piano or electronic keyboards, accompanied by drums, bass and guitars with the luxury of having guest musicians the calibre of Gavin Harrison, Theo Travis, Nick Beggs and Jordan Rudess. By far my most played album of the year. A rare jewel amidst the endless homogeneous world of mainstream progressive music. Read my review here.

2

Kingcrow - The Persistence

The italian band was a surprise for many. Their previous album “Eidos” was already on my favorites of that year list, so I never expected to see them back on my top albums. “The Persistence” is a roller-coaster of emotions, melodies and words that go straight to the heart and soul. Though it is an easy-to-listen experience, thanks to the many catchy melodies, this is in fact a very well composed progressive rock album, of those that the more you listen, the more intricate patterns start to appear. It is about time that Kingcrow have a seat among the best bands out there.

3

Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd

This is only their second album, and VOLA has already gained themselves a spot among the top bands of the genre, thanks to their fresh approach to progressive rock with elements of metal, combining the best of both trends. In this album they topped their game creating catchy, at times, pop melodies, to throw in sudden massive metal patterns of the most brutal kind, then Asger‘s voice, sweet and melancholic, throw you back to the emotional road we were before. Ah what the hell was that!? This is prog at its highest expression. Music very well composed, easy to dig into your skin but so well crafted that it could very well be heard in radio, but then you notice those bits here and there which makes progressive rock the music we love.  Read our review here.

1

Gleb Kolyadin - Gleb Kolyadin

This album is a masterpiece. Gleb managed to bring together his classical piano and composition upbringing and the world of progressive rock, a combination that was clearly maturing up through the years as one half of prog-chamber duo Iamthemorning. Now he was ready to go solo in a masterful almost instrumental album which is the perfect combination of progressive creativity and piano mastery. Cleverly interwoven melodies and rhythmic patterns lead by his piano or electronic keyboards, accompanied by drums, bass and guitars with the luxury of having guest musicians the calibre of Gavin Harrison, Theo Travis, Nick Beggs and Jordan Rudess. By far my most played album of the year. A rare jewel amidst the endless homogeneous world of mainstream progressive music. Read my review here.

2

Kingcrow - The Persistence

The italian band was a surprise for many. Their previous album “Eidos” was already on my favorites of that year list, so I never expected to see them back on my top albums. “The Persistence” is a roller-coaster of emotions, melodies and words that go straight to the heart and soul. Though it is an easy-to-listen experience, thanks to the many catchy melodies, this is in fact a very well composed progressive rock album, of those that the more you listen, the more intricate patterns start to appear. It is about time that Kingcrow have a seat among the best bands out there.  Read my review here.

3

Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd

This is only their second album, and VOLA has already gained themselves a spot among the top bands of the genre, thanks to their fresh approach to progressive rock with elements of metal, combining the best of both trends. In this album they topped their game creating catchy, at times, pop melodies, to throw in sudden massive metal patterns of the most brutal kind, then Asger‘s voice, sweet and melancholic, throw you back to the emotional road we were before. Ah what the hell was that!? This is prog at its highest expression. Music very well composed, easy to dig into your skin but so well crafted that it could very well be heard in radio, but then you notice those bits here and there which makes progressive rock the music we love. Read our review here.

About the Author

Oystein

Oystein

Born and bred on the west coast of Norway, Øystein has been a proghead since 2009, when he fell in love with Symphony X. Since then, he has discovered plenty of bands, many which he has seen live, somewhere in Europe. His favorite style is melodic progressive metal, but he also enjoys other genres such as power metal, neo-prog, and classic progressive rock, to name a few. Øystein considers a great melody more important than a cool riff, and greatly prefers bands with keyboards. Besides travelling and listening to music, he likes to watch soccer, read (mostly) non-fiction books and spending time with his nephew and nieces.

Luis Gerardo

Luis Gerardo

Luis Gerardo is a Venezuelan-born German who enjoys playing guitar and bass in his bedroom, and going to any concert or festival happening anywhere near the small, uneventful city where he lives. He occasionally writes concert reviews, and occasionally records half-assed covers of metal songs to put on his Facebook page. His biggest fan is his mom.

Sander

Sander

Sander is a web developer, game designer and metalhead from Horten, Norway. Having already discovered progressive music through bands like Dream Theater, Rush and Opeth, his real passion for the genre was sparked when his dad introduced him to Porcupine Tree around the age of 17. He enjoys most genres within metal, but particularly more extreme, technical progressive metal, and he also has a soft spot for post rock. Apart from listening to music, going to concerts and playing a little bit of guitar, his other hobbies are mainly of the nerdy kind. Especially computer gaming, but also reading fantasy literature and playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Rune

Rune

Hailing from Trondheim, Norway, Rune has been a fan of everything hard and heavy since he got his first real taste of music in the early 80's. Originally a fan of the more extreme genres of metal, like thrash, death and blackmetal, he always enjoyed the more technical, progressive and avant-garde side of music. When he's not working, collecting and listening to albums, or attending concerts, Rune enjoys one of his many other nerdy hobbies, including games, comics, and sci-fi and fantasy literature.

Pauline

Pauline

Bonjour ! I am Pauline from France, an English teacher by day and a rock 'n roll, prog metal lover by night with a black cat as my side kick. I was raised in a family of musicians, my father was a drummer who provided the soundtrack of my childhood with ELP, Yes, Rush, The Beatles, Pink Floyd... I enjoy all things prog related from music (as long as it's not too aggressive), to art covers, stage, light & sound design and I have soft spot for French metal, post rock & power metal. When I am not working, I enjoy travelling, reading, tea, spending time with my family drinking wine & eating cheese with baguette!

Matt

Matt

Co-founder of "The Prog Space". Enthusiastic concert visitor - especially if there are good photo opportunities. Loves all kind of progressive rock and metal, as long as it is original and not too technical or aggressive. News journalist and passionate nature photographer.

Dario

Dario

Dario discovered the world of Prog upon hearing "Shine on you crazy diamond" for the first time at the tender age of 12 around the turn of the millennium. Coming from a musical family and brought up with classical music, this seemed to be the logical next step. Attended the school of www.progulus.com from 2002, delving into both directions: catching up with the history of already more than 30 years of progressive music as well as always staying up to date with the newest prog sounds. He loves meeting like-minded people and enjoying live music at a concert somewhere in Europe.

Van

Van

Co-Founder of "The Prog Space". Coming from a musical family, and long time Prog and Metal lover. One of my passions is Photography and Web Design (16+ years career path), sharing this passion since 6 years as bag designer and maker. I like all things Prog, and listen a wide variety of styles within the "Progniverse", but what I enjoy most are the creativity and "out-of-the-box" approach musicians can offer us, their listeners. I consider that to be truly Prog!

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