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The Progspace Awards 2022

The Progspace Editors List 2023 – Top 5 releases from our editors. Part 4

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 fourth part of the Top 5 lists, with Marcel, Matthew and Sander presenting a wide range of releases as their favourites of 2023

Listen here to the Playlist with the best of the Top 5 from Marcel, Matthew and Sander

Marcel Slaman

(Reviewer)

1

ANUBIS GATE - Interference cover

Anubis Gate - Interference

Halfway through the year the race was run for me. Danish Progressive Metallers Anubis Gate released an album that basically drew upon their earlier work, combined all of it in a blender, and added in a few influences from artists like Pink Floyd, Steven Wilson and The Cure. It’s an album that I kept coming back for throughout the year and in years to come. I predicted in my review in June that it would top many an album of the year list, and sure enough it tops mine. The album isn’t easy to grasp fully in a single listen, but if you like your metal progressive like me, you’ll definitely keep coming back to it.

Website | Facebook

2

Unprocessed_AndEverythingInBetween

Unprocessed - ...And Everything In Between

Back in the start of December there were websites that started posting their end of year lists, quite prematurely it appeared to me. And I wasn’t wrong. December was still filled with wonderful releases, and Unprocessed shot to the top regions of my personal preferences for the year! Harsh vocals, beautiful clean vocal choruses, a sprinkle of djent, uncompromising rough passages amongst beautifully sculpted bits of guitar acrobatics, skillful bass passages and plenty of blast beats…And everything in between. This album has everything the modern progressive listener could desire, and more.

Bandcamp | Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

3

Dissona - Dreadfully Distinct

Dissona - Dreadfully Distinct

After releasing their 2016 album ‘Paleopneumatic’ a good 7 years ago, and a handful of gigs in the US, things sort of went quiet in the Dissona camp, until after what seems way too long, out of the blue they announced new music! ‘Dreadfully Distinct’ is an EP based thematically around the science-fiction classic Blade Runner, written in the Covid period, meant as an appetiser to the full album based around the same universe. If the EP is anything to go by the album will be an epic of electronically infused progressive metal full of heavily distorted guitars, but turning an almost gothic direction with the last song ‘Skinjob’. Highly recommended if you want something quite out of the ordinary!

Bandcamp | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

4

ExploringBirdsong_DancingInTheFaceOfDanger

Exploring Birdsong - Dancing in the Face of Danger

Speaking about out of the ordinary, ‘Dancing in the Face of Danger’ by Exploring Birdsong is an EP that plays more like a short album than the EP that it is. The poppy form of melodic prog rock, with heavier outbursts that never seem over the top, all without any lead guitars. The album is quite intricately layered with strings and programming, and Lynsey Ward is often heard harmonizing her vocals throughout the EP. Poppy and prog, accessible and yet intricate. I’ll easily leave this EP on repeat for quite a while and it comes as no surprise several songs from this EP made it into my top 10 most listened songs of the year.

Bandcamp | Instagram | Facebook

5

TheHirschEffekt_Urian

The Hirsch Effekt - Urian

Having had no more German in highschool than to be able to ask directions to the local bakery and order a few pints in a Oktoberfest beergarden, it took a bit of effort to get into the newest release by The Hirsch Effekt. Musically ‘Urian’ is truly a work of genius. A real rollercoaster of a record that fascinates the listener from moving from one extreme to the next. While it’s in a sense an easy-listening record that you can put on in the background, the active listener will find so many layers of depth in the album it never grows old. The album has mathcorey violent erratic outbursts, but also winding, soothing alternative pop rocky hooks. Even if you don’t speak the language, listen to Urian for many an aha-erlebnis.

Bandcamp | Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Honourable Mentions

Haken

DGM

Obsidian Tide

All my shadows

Matthew Dakoutros

(Reviewer)

1

The Chronicles of Father Robin - The Songs & Tales of Aiorea Book I

Maruja - Knocknarea

Randomly discovered this band and they deserve all the praise. Post-rock with heavy jazz influences, from bebop to cool jazz. Very experimental and leaves you craving for more!

Bandcamp | YouTube

2

Marekvist_Varde

Hypomanic Daydream - Image

I had no idea a thing called Nintendocore existed, but the album seemed interesting regardless. This is why you always have to look outside of your comfort zone for new music. This is a project that has no problem diving into absurdity and is amazingly inspired.

Bandcamp | Facebook

3

Omnerod_TheAmensalRise

BRUIT ≤ - Apologie du temps perdu

New release for BRUIT ≤ though not a full album yet. They describe it as  “a comma between our first album and the next one”, but it is a complete artistic proposal. Four tracks composed with completely different techniques are included here, it is an amazing listen from start to finish.

Bandcamp | Instagram  | Facebook

4

Helga_WrappedInMist

Spectral Lore - 11 Days

This is a project that is not very close to my tastes, but this EP was mesmerising. It is a protest against the immigration policies that result in the death of countless people in the Mediterranean waters. It is a story based on true events, three men survived for 11 days on a ship rudder. The rage against this injustice is evident all over. From the first notes, it grabs you and it forces you to relive this journey. A very emotional release that deserves a lot more attention.

Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

5

Enslaved_Heimdal

Daniel Pemberton - Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

A good soundtrack does not distract you from the movie you’re watching, they blend perfectly with the visuals and usually they feel incomplete without them. But there are a few that even though they can stand as standalone albums. Such is the case for this soundtrack, which might be even better than the one for the first film. In a way, it doesn’t need the visuals to tell the story! Instead of staying unnoticed in the background, making you emotionally attached to what you see, the music is what does the heavy lifting in many scenes. I wonder if those movies would be as good with a less engaging soundtrack.

X  | Website | Spotify

Honourable Mentions

earthburial

The Ocean

Mask of Prospero

afterbirth

Peter Gabriel

dreamwell

On Thorns I Lay

Sander Neset

(Reviewer)

1

Omnerod_TheAmensalRise

Spiritbox - The Fear of Fear

It’s not often that an EP tops my album of the year list. But in just 25 minutes, Spiritbox here manages to capture all the variety of a full progressive metalcore album. It’s crushingly heavy. It’s melancholic. It’s poppy. It’s breakdown-y. Vocals all over the spectrum. A full, beautiful, and neck breaking journey, beginning to end, in less than half the time. I’m extremely excited for what’s to come with this band in 2024, because they are at the top of their game!

Website | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

2

Night Verses - Every Sound Has A Color In The Valley Of Night

Night Verses - Every Sound Has a Color in the Valley of Night: Part 1

Night Verses came out of nowhere and captivated me on the first listen. With their brand of psychedelic art rock gone metal, they are an absolutely must-listen to any fan of instrumental heavy music. For a 3-man group, they know how to make a lot of sound. And it sounds fantastic!

Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

3

SleepToken_TakeMeBackToEden

Sleep Token - Take Me Back to Eden

Speaking of a beautiful journey, Sleep Token seem to be masters of the topic. 2023 was a true breakout year for them with Take Me Back to Eden. There is so much to this album, I can’t even properly describe it. There are a lot of genres mashed into it, and yet it doesn’t feel out of place. Though there is a firm root in progressive metal, and they always return to it. Sleep Token is a band that must be experienced, and though their brand of mysterious genre-defying worship may not be for everybody, I’m certainly happy they are on the scene.

Website | Youtube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

4

Omnerod_TheAmensalRise

Omnerod - The Amensal Rise

Omnerod was one of the most intriguing discoveries of the year. You never know what awaits you on The Amensal Rise, and I love that. Fantastic bit of avant-garde technical metal that never gets boring, performed by extremely talented musicians. The vibe is all over the place, dynamics switch all the time, but it comes together to form a captivating listen. Omnerod is really a band to watch out for, and you cannot go wrong with giving The Amensal Rise a listen if you missed it!

Bandcamp | Youtube | Facebook | Instagram

5

TheOcean_Holocene

Dirge - DIRGE

Indian post metal band Dirge (not to be confused with the now-split French band of the same name) only got on my radar this year, but has now firmly cemented their spot on it. At times they are reminiscent of Belgian legends Amenra, blending post and sludge metal with a very doom-y vibe, but without being too similar. I think they have more to give with future releases, but their self-titled sophomore album is a solid post metal release that has me wanting more.

Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Honourable Mentions

svalbard

Humanity’s Last Breath

svalbard

Steven Wilson

The Ocean

Enslaved

Listen here to the Playlist with the best of the Top 5 from Marcel, Matthew and Sander

About the Author

Marcel

Marcel is an insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the Netherlands. Yes, even people in insurance like progressive music! He grew up on his parents’ collection of Queen, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Scorpions and eventually made his own way into the metal scene with first a love for all things power metal. Slowly his developing tastes lead him into the progressive metal scene and now has an eclectic taste ranging from progressive rock to tech death metal.

Matthew Dakoutros

Matthew is a professional violinist and composer from Greece. He was introduced to Pink Floyd early in his life, and later embraced the prog metal explosion of the early 00s, which led him to discover more experimental music. He is the lead songwriter of art of simplicity, was part of Wastefall and has appeared on many recordings.

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.

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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