The Prog Mind was founded on the idea that lyrics and concepts are important to music. There are albums that have literally changed my life due to the lyrical content. This year gave us some more amazing lyrics and concepts. Here are my top ten of 2016.
10. Nosound – “Scintilla”
It’s been a while since I’ve heard an album with some good alternative lyrics. I love the raw power and emotions in that type of music, and Nosound has hit that vibe perfectly in a way that really grabbed my nostalgic heart. This record is just a joy to hear, despite how melancholy it might sound.
9. David Bowie – “Blackstar”
No words can describe the heartbreaking emotions and the brilliant social commentary available on Bowie’s swansong. His words are chosen specifically to make us feel strange, but also to make us feel something in this cold dead life of ours. In some ways, Bowie was more alive in his last sickly moments than any of us ever will be.
8. Evergrey – “The Storm Within”
Everygrey is known for emotional lyrics and performances. It’s like their calling card. I feel the band has stepped out of their comfort zone with this sci-fi epic of lost love and long distances. The concept is great, and the lyrics are potent.
7. Isgaard – “Whiteout”
Isgaard is a poet, pure and simple. Her words are written with grace and heart, even if the subject is usually love stories and the like. However, she always puts an interesting spin or angle on it, in brilliant fashion.
6. Wolverine – “Machina Viva”
Wolverine is one of those progressive metal bands that give us emotional, expansive concepts and lyrics. The lyrics this time around are incredibly sad at times, and really reach the human side of our listening ears. Vocalist Stefan is as expressive as can be, as well.
5. Georgius – “String Theory”
Throughout this gorgeous album from Georgius, we are treated to lyrics that push us further and harder. Thematically, the lyrics center on this idea of not being just another follower in this world. When it comes to life and especially religion, the album digs deep, accusing many of simply following and being “little ants”, always working without any real purpose or understanding. The album asks us to think; to pursue understanding and truth. All of this is portrayed with incredible passion and energy.
4. Fates Warning – “Theories of Flight”
Fates Warning always gives us giant themes or concepts that make their albums a landmark in their year of release. “Theories of Flight” is no different. The album is not a concept album, but contains themes centered on imminent changes in life. Ray wrote most of the lyrics for the album, and they concern changes that he has chosen for the future. The title “Theories of Flight”, then, is equal parts anxious and searching, uplifting and hopeful; unlike the straight sorrow of past albums. So, rather than the grey anxiety of past albums, “Theories of Flight” is all about looking to the skies for your life destination.
3. TILT – “Hinterland”
Tilt’s album is a journey. The main theme behind this album is a journey through and out of religion. At the beginning, we see the protagonist worn down and weary, full of guilt and shame. Slowly, he sees the “truth” and emerges into the air of freedom and, I suppose, atheism. The final declaration is that we are alone, and that Jesus is a myth. It’s very vivid and succinct in its message. Obviously, I take issue with this message, but the lyrics and emotions involved are top notch and communicate feelings that are so very relatable.
2. Iamthemorning – “Lighthouse”
Iamthemorning is another band that writes pure poetry. While the music is beautiful in bright and striking fashion; the lyrics are grey, melancholy, and full of tragic grace. The theme revolves around mental brokenness and depression, and also the sadness in succumbing to the green sea of tragedy. It’s a grim and gorgeous concept.
1. Cosmograf – “The Unreasonable Silence”
Probably the most thought-provoking album of the year, Cosmograf’s “The Unreasonable Silence” is good old fashioned storytelling with a strong central theme. The story revolves around a man who is increasingly unsure of his place and purpose in this mundane world. As far as I can tell, this uneasiness results from an epiphany granted him by an extraterrestrial being that he meets in a field one night. As he becomes more and more detached from reality and from his family and friends, he starts to look to the stars as an otherworldly destiny for himself. While this is definitely a sci-fi story, it also touches on important themes, such as societal conformity, the purpose of life, and paranoia. Ultimately, this very interesting story is a call to action for us to live our lives with purpose and gusto, not as robots conforming to the norm.