This year has been exceptional, to say the least. Making this list of top 10 albums for the first six months of 2016 was unusually difficult this time. Most of these albums are separated by half points or maybe just my current mood. Honestly, many of the honorable mentions at the bottom could be swapped into the list, too. It’ll be interesting to see what this list looks like at the end of the year.
10. Nine Stones Close – “Leaves”
It seems like most reviewers were afraid to use the “g” word about this new album from Nine Stones Close. Yes, it is basically progressive grunge music, and I love every second of it. The band sounds absolutely fresh, but completely nostalgic, too.
9. Wolverine – “Machina Viva”
We’ve been waiting for this new Wolverine album for a long time, and it does not disappoint. This band is one of the few progressive metal bands that really know the art of restraint, and Stefan on vocals sounds immense.
8. Cosmograf – “The Unreasonable Silence”
Cosmograf is back and swinging for the fences (did I just use a sports metaphor?). This new album feels mysterious and even a little mad at times, and Robin’s overall album concept is second to none this year. Warning: Only listen to this album if you like meaningful experiences.
7. Children in Paradise – “Morrigan”
Children in Paradise released their much anticipated second album, and the sheer heaviness and poetic nature of the art here is simply astounding. Not only have they brought the emotion and dark folk vibes of the debut, but they have expanded their palettes and revealed huge potential for the future.
6. Frequency Drift – “Last”
Frequency Drift has been rather productive the last few years, but this album represents something of a shift in their style and sound. Introducing post metal into their folksy progressive rock and cinematic soundscapes was a genius move, and they make it seem like a no-brainer. This is an album you must hear this year.
5. Haken – “Affinity”
Surprised to see this so soon? So am I. “Affinity” is my favorite Haken album since “Aquarius”, and they really went out on a limb playing this 80s infused style. Of course, it always comes down to songs, and this album has some incredible moments—probably even some of the best moments of the year. This album is quite a journey. I’m not entirely sure why I have it so low, but it just feels right at the #5 spot.
4. Cyril – “Paralyzed”
Cyril’s sophomore album has been playing in my house for weeks now, and I still can’t get enough. It’s one of those albums that is so subtle, but continues to expand and reveal more and more every time you hear it. From the amazing solos to the stupendous keys to the sublime woodwinds, this album has the chops, but then it goes out there and gives us addictive, catchy songs. This album won’t leave my playlist for a long time, I’m guessing.
3. Airbag – “Disconnected”
Having an Airbag album in my top ten is honestly a surprise for me, but I am even more surprised how high it is. “Disconnected” is nothing short of a masterpiece from beginning to end. This is not high energy stuff. No, it is instead evocative, layered, and emotional, and I have really connected with both the music and the message. I love this album, plain and simple.
2. Odd Logic – “Penny for Your Thoughts”
I found this Odd Logic through a reader recommendation, and I have not been able to stop listening to this masterpiece. I am still absolutely floored by everything from the outstanding vocals to the very raw riffs and drumming. The melodies, too, are catchy and stay with you, making this an album that hits you on all fronts, and always where it counts. This is insanely good.
1. Iamthemorning – “Lighthouse”
Iamthemorning’s latest is my favorite this year for a few reasons. First, the sheer artistry is second to none. Second, I would daresay that this album is more technical than most of even the progressive metal albums this year. Third, technicality on this album translates to waves of gorgeous, haunting, slightly odd songs that have simply captured my heart. Oh, and having Mariusz Duda on one of the songs definitely helps, too. I have high hopes that Iamthemorning will become mega stars someday. They deserve it.
great list – nothing i do not enjoy – the odd logic is my no 1 – thanks
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Warum ist es nur so furchtbar schwer, solch phantastische Alben kennen zu lernen?
Was würde ich nur ohne Seiten wie theprogmind machen? Ich würde verzweifeln.
I really hope you enjoy all these albums! There are lots of other great albums that have released, too!