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The Progspace Awards 2022

The Progspace Editors List 2023 – Top 5 releases from our editors. Part 1

These days, music lovers get flooded with tons of new releases every year. 2023 was no exception to this and sometimes it can be hard to not get overwhelmed. We at The Progspace know how you feel! Yet we have been happy to make our personal Top 5 lists plus Honourable Mentions and share them with you.

Since our team has grown during the last year, you will see a wide range of releases in our lists, covering many different genres reflecting our personal tastes. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy scrolling through them and hopefully find some inspiration to either try something new or remember that one release you still wanted to check out.

Here's the first part of the Top 5 lists, starting with Alina, Colin and Lykle showcasing already a wide range of releases from the best of 2023.

Listen here to the Playlist with the best of the Top 5 from Alina, Colin and Lykle

Alina Cruceru

(Reviewer & Interviewer)

1

Rome_GatesOfEurope

ROME - Gates of Europe

Few words could accurately describe how this album, which I’ve been fortunate enough to also experience live, has reached my very soul. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard, albeit of a bittersweet kind of beauty. A melodic, poetic, at times unbearably dark account of the ongoing, illegitimate war against Ukraine, voiced by a wonderfully complex artist who doesn’t fear speaking the truth, nor living it. Excruciating and cathartic all at once, this is one album I wish everyone would listen to.

Website | Facebook | Instagram

2

Haken_Fauna

Haken - Fauna

A glorious, jaw-dropping, repeat-play reminder that this band continues to be both boundary- and genre-breaking, effortlessly blowing listeners’ minds into kaleidoscope-shaped and colored pieces with every epic track. An absolute must-listen, whether on record, on stage, or anywhere else you’re fortunate enough to cross these guys’ path. Perhaps this account of their performance at the 2023 ARTmania Festival in Sibiu will convince you to book your ticket.

Website| Facebook | Instagram

3

Riverside_IDEntity

Riverside - ID.Entity

While it’s probably no surprise that one of my favorite bands ever has made it to my top 5, this album is truly something special. Fresh, brave, polished, sharply insightful about the world we live in. And, as someone who has been in love with synth-pop literally since childhood, there’s a nostalgia in the pervasive presence of this sound that just shakes me to the core. Learn even more about the album from this interview with mastermind Mariusz Duda himself.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp

4

Earthside_LetTheTruthSpeak

Earthside - Let The Truth Speak

A breathtaking, supremely melodic journey across the widest spectrum of sound and emotion. Unusual, yet profoundly hypnotic instrumental and vocal arrangements that flow, storm, forgive, rage; like furious waves crashing into rocks before quietly retreating into peaceful, unexpected stillness. A brilliant body of work in which every note, element, and expression has been scrupulously chosen and chiseled to perfection. Absolutely worth the wait, unquestionably worth the listen, entirely worthy of an AOTY spot.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp

5

Peter Gabriel - I/O

This album, in all its iterations, is nothing short of a work of art. Another piece added to the legacy of an artist who transcends definition and resides in a league of his own. As if barely any time has passed, he returns as strong, as imaginative, and as creative as ever, nearly 50 years since the debut of his solo career, and more than 20 since the release of his previous album. My earliest memory of Peter Gabriel is from when I was 5 years old. And he is still very much a part of my life now.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp

Honourable Mentions

Colin MacAndrew

(Reviewer & Editor)

1

TDK_Nemesta

ТДК - Nemesta

Bulgarian avant-prog/post-metal group ТДК dropped one heck of a surprising record this year with “Nemesta”. I remember coming across their 2019 sophomore release “Успех (Uspeh)” about a year ago when digging for some cool proggy sludge albums, and I thought it was very promising. I’m glad to report that not only did they surpass my expectations with this new one, but it absolutely floored me with the insane performances, the energy, the soundscapes, and the experimentation throughout this thing. Very excited for what may come from them in the future, because this is one of the best avant-prog albums I’ve ever heard.

Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

2

Ostraca - Disaster

Ostraca - Disaster

Screamo is a genre that took a bit of time for me to appreciate, but I gotta tell ya; 2023 was the year that I fell in love with the genre, and American band Ostraca contributed massively to this occurrence with their latest effort “Disaster”. Don’t let the title fool you, this is quite the opposite. However, you can hear musically how disastrous the emotions are conveyed, assisted with the combination of neocrust aggressions and atmospheric sludge metal auras, topped with even some post-rock elements and emoviolence splashes. This album is as versatile as extreme punk can get, and fans of emotional prog metal need to give this one a shot.

Bandcamp | Facebook 

3

Panopticon_TheRimeOfMemory

Panopticon - The Rime of Memory

Another band and genre that took some time for me to fully grasp. Atmospheric black metal has been as difficult for me to appreciate as death doom metal, but this new album by Panopticon just knew exactly how to pull me in. “The Rime of Memory” rises slowly with the first 7 minutes of Americana and dark folk before exploding into some of the most emotional melodies you’ll hear in the genre. Loaded with heavy post-rock/metal influences throughout, you know there will be more to offer here than your traditional atmoblack release.

Bandcamp | Facebook 

4

Jeromes Dream - The Gray in Between

Now here’s a screamo band that goes back around the time the genre gained popularity in the late 90’s, alongside emoviolence (which their debut could be argued to be more as). After drifting to post-hardcore territory with the following couple releases, they went back to their heavy roots with their new album “The Gray in Between”. Pairing alongside the likes of noise rock and mathcore, they went all out with raw aggression, tight performances, and just the angriest vocals. I would honestly argue that this is their best material to date.

Bandcamp | Website | Instagram

5

Burner - It All Returns to Nothing

UK metalcore/deathcore act Burner came out of nowhere with their debut album “It All Returns to Nothing”, and it’s some of the best sounding stuff I’ve heard in quite some time within this style. The production goes insanely hard, the riffs are impossible to not headbang to, and the drumming is impressively tight and creative. Even blending elements of mathcore, blackened crust and sludge metal in places make this release more unique than your typical hardcore album. Best debut of 2023, hands down.

Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Honourable Mentions

Lykle Thijssen

(Reviewer)

1

Decadence Dust - Lighthouse

As a fan of gothic metal, it is hard to ignore Decadence Dust. On their second album, they have found the perfect balance between the gloomy and the catchy aspects of the genre, with lovely female vocals, melancholic riffs and subtle electronic elements. Most importantly, all songs have been crafted to perfection with great hooks and melodies. It’s fairly light-weight and incredibly enjoyable!

Bandcamp | Facebook

2

Insomnium_Anno1696

Insomnium - Anno 1696

Insomnium can be considered a true melodic death metal powerhouse, but has never been shy of some doomy and folky elements. On “Anno 1696”, the Finnish band delivers once again with its signature style, enriched with elements of gothic metal and even some melodic black metal. It’s one of the strongest albums in their already impressive catalogue and has a wicked lyrical concept on top of that!

Website | Facebook | Instagram

3

The Revenants - Ghosts

Michelle Darkness (End of Green) is one of my favourite singers. His deep, dark clean voice and his fantastic vocal fry can take any album to the next level, which he proves once more with his new band The Revenants. “Ghosts” is an ambitious debut double album, which may seem daunting due to its sheer length, but the blend of americana and goth rock works surprisingly well and never gets boring. An impressive debut release!

Website | Facebook

4

Imperium Dekadenz - Into Sorrow Evermore

“Into Sorrow Evermore” was one of the first albums I’ve heard in 2023 and still one of the strongest. Imperium Dekadenz have refined their trademark sound into perfection here, surpassing their already great previous releases. Their atmospheric black metal resonates with melancholy and the love for nature without losing its blackened edge, making this band stand out in an oversaturated genre.

Bandcamp | Website | Facebook | Instagram

5

Unitcode:Machine - Critical Fault

While I mostly listen to metal, I have always enjoyed some EBM, industrial and synthpop as well. Artists like Unitcode:Machine are the reason for this with their amazing songwriting skills. “Critical Fault” is an album full of super catchy songs that radiate melancholy and introspection at the same time. Topped off by the excellent production of Christopher Hall (Stabbing Westward), this is an album that can be played on repeat all day.

Bandcamp | Facebook

Honourable Mentions

Hanging Garden

Shores of Null

Listen here to the Playlist with the best of the Top 5 from Alina, Colin and Lykle

About the Author

Alina (WuTheLotus)

Music fiend from Romania. Sometimes I write.

Colin

Colin is a progressive metal drummer who currently plays with Ashbreather and Vicarious Reality. His introduction to prog was through his father with the likes of Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and Rush back in 2007. As the years went by, he would eventually work on his taste to get into more extreme forms of prog, and now adores bands like Opeth, Persefone, Atheist, BTBAM, Serpent Column, Slugdge, and countless others.

Lykle

Lykle is the black sheep in the Progspace family. Coming from a background of gothic, doom and black metal, he joined the Progspace team to share his expertise about the dark side of progressive music. He enjoys these gloomy sounds from the Spanish Costa del Sol, where he works as a manager in the big tech industry. He has a special appreciation for Finnish melancholy, counting bands like Sentenced, Insomnium and Ghost Brigade among his favourites.

Dario

Co-Founder of The Progspace - 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

Co-Founder of The Progspace. 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 and creativity as a bag designer and maker. I like all things Prog, and listen a wide variety of styles within the "Progniverse", but what I enjoy the most are the creativity and "out-of-the-box" approach musicians can offer their listeners. I consider that to be truly Prog!

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ico-2 We’re a group of Prog-lovers who started a journey to share with you our thoughts about albums, concerts, tours and festivals, the photo galleries of the Prog concerts we visit, as well interviews with upcoming or established musicians or prog-related people. Follow our Facebook page for frequent updates and news around the Progniverse.

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