TPM Top 25 Albums of 2016


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Two thousand sixteen was an amazing year for prog.  I had at least 42 albums that I wrote down immediately that could have been on this list.  I had to whittle that down to 25, and it was super difficult to do that.  You’ll notice, though, that some albums that were tens are now nines, and some that were eights are now nines.  There were many small adjustments throughout the year, and this list will probably change once again within months.  Additionally, I have opted not to count Riverside’s “Eye of the Soundscape” in this list; not only because it is more of a compilation, but also because of the impossibility of being somewhat objective due to the emotional weight that accompanies it.  Had I chosen to include it, it would be in the top 5 or 10.  So, here is a snapshot of my favorite albums for 2016.

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25. Imminent Sonic Destruction – “Triumphia”

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IMS rolled into 2016 with another sidesplitting album of super progressive metal.  Featuring gigantic riffs, sweeping melodies, and fantastic grooves, “Triumphia” is, well, a triumph for the band.  Keep an eye on these guys.

Read my review here.

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24. Anima Mundi – “I Me Myself”

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Anima Mundi are notoriously difficult to hear.  Their newest album is not available anywhere except through their website, it seems.  But the album is magical with its darker tone, magnificent keys, and excellent guitars.  The new singer is a great addition, too, which was a major relief for me.

Read my review here.

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23. Wolverine – “Machina Viva”

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Fantastic vocals, subtle touches, and emotional lyrics make Wolverine’s long awaited new album something you must hear.  It seems they are stronger than ever, too, with impressively mature themes and a belief in restrain where restraint is needed.  On top of all that, they’ve added electronic accents that really set this album apart from its peers.

Read my review here.

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22. Thence – “We Are Left With a Song”

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Thence came out of no where to blow my mind this year.  Driving post-metal guitars combine with ethereal keys and jazzy sax solos to make for a phenomenal experience.  Additionally, the emotions here are out of this world, rivaling even the best from bands like Anathema.

Read my review here.

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21. Hostsonaten – “Cupid & Psyche”

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Hostsonaten doesn’t get as much attention as they deserve.  Fabio Zuffanti is a genius in my opinion, and this album is one of his best yet.  The keys are funky, the bass is incredible, and the melodies are on point.  It doesn’t get much better for instrumental albums.

Read my review here.

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20. Children in Paradise – “Morrigan”

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I was massively excited about this new Children in Paradise album when it first released.  I gave it a 10, but it probably has settled at a 9 or 9.5 now.  The album, though, is as visceral and evocative as ever: The sound is splendid, and the lyrics are as poetic as they come.  This album still scratches the right itch.

Read my review here.

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19. Maschine – “Naturalis”

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Maschine floored me with this sophomore album.  It was less technical overall, but heavier in a musical maturity sense.  Lots of space, lots of keys, and even the guitar prowess here make this album something special.

Read my review here.

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18. Isgaard – “Whiteout”

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Isgaard always amazes me with her creativity.  She excels in crafting accessible songs, but she always adds mesmerizing vocal theatrics along with ethnic accents to make something truly amazing.  I don’t listen to much Euro pop, but Isgaard is a must hear for me.

Read my review here.

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17. Hemina – “Venus”

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Hemina are always solid, even superb.  But I feel they destroyed my expectations with this new album.  The concepts were more vivid, the music expertly composed, and the vocals as gravy as ever.  This is without a doubt Hemina’s best album yet.

Read my review here.

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16. Nine Stones Close – “Leaves”

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I was originally wary of the new Nine Stones Close album because of the new singer.  What we got, though, was a fantastic album of what I call progressive grunge.  Gritty guitars, off kilter vocals, and super instrumentals await you if you give this a shot.

Read my review here.

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15. Frost* – “Falling Satellites”

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Frost* is back and as good as ever.  “Falling Satellites” is innovative, edgy, and as modern as progressive music gets.  It’s no wonder this band is legendary.

Read my review here.

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14. Tilt – “Hinterland”

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TILT was a surprise.  I was floored by the fantastic vocals and the thoughtful lyrics.  This is one of those albums that I don’t agree with, but I totally get and appreciate the themes.

Read my review here.

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13. Frequency Drift – “Last”

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Frequency Drift always delivers.  Their cinematic folk rock has been combined with some fantastic post-metal that has made this band even better.  “Last” is a gem that you need to hear.

Read my review here.

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12. We Are Kin – “…and I know…”

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Bad Elephant had many great releases this year (Nine Stones Close is another one).  We Are Kin’s brand of prog is pop and electronic oriented, but the prog rock is strong here, too.  The female vocals, too, are fantastic here and really stand out in the prog community.

Read my review here.

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11. Cosmograf – “The Unreasonable Silence”

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Robin Armstrong’s Cosmograf is always a fantastic experience of storytelling and prog rock.  “The Unreasonable Silence” is no different, offering a wilder side to Robin’s composition skills, as well as an awesome concept, too.  This is thought-provoking music at its finest.

Read my review here.

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10. Haken – “Affinity”

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Haken is Haken.  Their concepts are lofty, their guitars are top notch, and Ross’ vocals get better with each album.  “Affinity” is probably their best since “Aquarius”, and that’s the highest praise I can offer.

Read my review here.

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9. The Pineapple Thief – “Your Wilderness”

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The Pineapple Thief always offers beautiful music, but this new release has set the bar higher than ever for them.  The songs feel more like prog rock this time, and Bruce outdoes himself vocally.  This is their best album yet, in my opinion.

Read my review here.

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8. Airbag – “Disconnected”

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While I’ve liked Airbag albums in the past, this new offering is head and shoulders above the rest.  Like usual, the guitars are the standout, but the rest of the band really gets into it this time, too.  I feel like the songs are just better overall, from musicianship to composition.

Read my review here.

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7. Evergrey – “The Storm Within”

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Much like Haken, you know what you’re going to get with Evergrey, and that’s perfectly okay with me.  In what is definitely one of their best albums, the classic line-up has reunited and offered one of the most emotional, energetic albums of the year.

Read my review here.

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6. Cyril – “Paralyzed”

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I love Cyril’s concept-drive debut something fierce, but this sophomore album from the prog rock band is even better.  Featuring new backing vocals, their usual amazing keys and guitars, as well as the fantastic sax; Cyril’s latest is a smooth as butter album of great songs.  Each and every song is the definition of mature composition.

Read my review here.

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5. Odd Logic – “Penny For Your Thoughts”

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Horrendous cover aside, Odd Logic’s newest album, being mostly a solo effort, is simply breath-taking.  Thundering drums and bass, along with inventive songwriting and amazing vocals, set the tone for an exploratory album of prog metal with prog rock trappings.  Sean has single-handedly crafted one of the most interesting albums of the year.

Read my review here.

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4. Oddland – “Origin”

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It was quite some time since Oddland’s debut, but this sophomore album is even better (a theme of 2016?).  Huge, meaty riffs meet addictive grooves and a huge vocal presence to craft one of the big surprises of the year for me.  This album has hypnotized me for many months now.

Read my review here.

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3. Javier Sepúlveda – “Pulse of Nature”

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This year was full of surprises.  Javier sent me his album out of nowhere, and there were several  reasons why his vision has hypnotized me.  Primarily, I love the spirit and gusto of this instrumental album, as well as the obvious passion Javier has for his home country of Chile.  This is a beautiful album of massive prog metal riffs, world music, gorgeous waves of keys, and very particular and addictive guitar licks.  This came close to being album of the year for me.

Read my review here.

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2. Iamthemorning – “Lighthouse”

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I’ve been following Iamthemorning for years now, and this new album is the height of what they’ve accomplished.  Illustrious keys, passionate vocals, and a dark concept all make this album their most complete and most beautiful to date.  I hope to see this band succeed on a massive level someday.

Read my review here.

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1. Georgius – “String Theory”

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Georgius’ sophomore album is exactly what I wanted to hear this year.  This album surprised me, and I’m sitting here still amazed at where I placed it on this list.  It completely and utterly deserves it.  Magnificent guitars, deep themes, gorgeous movements of keys and electronic accents, and tons of personality make this the most unique and addictive album of the year.  I love this album like few others from 2016.

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Honorable Mentions

Big Big Train – “Folklore”

Fates Warning – “Theories of Flight”

Votum – “:KTONIK:”

Meller Gołyźniak Duda – “Breaking Habits”

Celluloid Winter – “Everything Exists”

Statua – “Celestial Bleakness”

Gravitysays_i – “Quantum Unknown”

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Looking forward to more prog in 2017!

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