Rather than do an exhaustive list of the great progressive rock and metal albums released in 2017, I decided to give out some (maybe slightly silly) awards for some interesting or notable albums that I really enjoyed this year.
The Yngwie Malmsteen Classical Arpeggio Award
Artificial Language – The Observer
Some guitarists use sweeps and complex arpeggios to show off during an intro or solo section, but not Artificial Language. Between the two guitarists and the keyboardist, Artificial Language weaves one long unending arpeggio the length of the entire album.
Best Album to Demonstrate Your Weird Taste in Music to Your Friends
Wind Rose – Stonehymn
This album by the Italian symphonic/folk/power metal band splits its songs between themes of the American Old West and the dwarves of Middle Earth. The band performs in full armor. It’s pretty much all you ever needed from a symphonic/folk/power metal band.
Best Album to Have a Good Cry To
Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes to an End
A beautiful album filled with gorgeous soundscapes and lyrics telling a story of loss, longing, and loneliness. You might have something in your eye by the time you’re done listening.
Most Uncomfortable, Yet Insightful Lyrics
Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day
Pain of Salvation has always had a way with raw, honest lyrics that dealt with personal, sometimes uncomfortable subjects. “In the Passing Light of Day” continues this trend with musings on life, faith, and relationships.
Best Concept Album about the Alien Precursors to Humanity Who Became Machines and Seeded Life on Earth
Ayreon – The Source
It was really the only concept album about the alien precursors to humanity who became machines and seeded life on Earth, but it was also the best.
Album of the Year
Threshold – Legend of the Shires
Now for the serious award. No other album defined my listening this year like “Legend of the Shires”. Every time I’d give it another spin, I’d find some nuance that I’d missed before: a repeated theme, a parallel between two songs, or just an example of exquisite playing or arranging. This was hands down my album of 2017.