TPM Top 30 Albums of 2018


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Here it is, my top albums of the year.  Obviously, this is just my opinion.  There will be albums that you love that aren’t here.  There will be albums here that you thought were crap.  I get that.  The main purpose of the TPM Awards is to provide more coverage for these bands, not to lord it over the community with my opinions.  Plus, the ratings during the year might not matter at all, as this list is purely gut decision-making.  To be honest, most of these albums are a hair-breadth from each other, so the numbering doesn’t mean that much, either.  Enjoy!

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30. Coma Rossi – “Coma Rossi”

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Coma Rossi released their album near the end of 2018, and it immediately pushed its way into my list.  The pure ethereality of their melodies and the overall quality of the writing is undeniable.

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29. The Dark Third

– “Even As the Light Grows”

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The Dark Third is fronted by TPM’s own Daniel Hay.  This album may be difficult to process at first, offering elements from all sorts of genres.  The strong structures and fantastic transitions make this far more accessible than it has any right to be.

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28. Leah – “The Quest”

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This was my first foray into LEAH’s music, and I’m sold.  She has a wonderful voice, tight melodies, and an accessible progressive style that makes this album a joy to hear.

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27. Electric Mud

– “The Deconstruction of Light”

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One of the more diverse albums last year, Electric Mud’s latest is a spellbinding combination of electronica and progressive rock, with plenty of experimentation thrown in, too.  The grooves created here are pretty much second to none last year.

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26. Echoes of Giants – “The Way to Us”

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Echoes of Giants offers an emotional journey on both of their albums, and this one might be the hardest to experience for me personally.  Yes, that means I won’t be listening to it often, but it is also means that I will be crying when I do.

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25. Saul Blease – “The Great War”

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Saul Blease’s album was a surprise to me.  I was not expecting the Nine Inch Nails industrial sound or the sharp synthetic grooves, either.  In the end, the music perfectly fits the raw nature of the lyrical content.

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24. Lo Moon – “Lo Moon”

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Lo Moon’s debut is evocative, crystal clear progressive pop, and I love every minute of it.  The thundering drums and the fantastic bass lines sound so amazing up against the casual atmosphere.

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23. Stupid Cosmonaut – “Digitalis”

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Stupid Cosmonaut offer unapologetically electronic music, and the vivid abstractions and movement-based, Vangelis-inspired sounds draw me back quite often.

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22. Oak – “False Memory Archive”

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Oak’s latest is one of those albums that just misses being on some of the other lists, but it is every bit as powerful and poetic as anything else in 2018.  The cover offers a clear picture of what you will hear on this momentous album.

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21. Antimatter

– “Black Market Enlightenment”

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Antimatter’s latest is dark, dark, dark; and all the better for it.  The stark melancholy on here is something that feels more 00’s, and that’s exactly what I wanted.

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20. Jet Black Sea – “The Overview Effect”

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Jet Black Sea’s new album is an absolute journey to hear.  You will hear feelings and feel colors, and it’s unlike anything else I heard in 2018.

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19. Borealis – “The Offering”

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I’ve loved Borealis’ progressive brand of power metal for years, and “The Offering” is their greatest album to date.  The gigantic melodies, huge vocals, and awesome instrumentals show the maturity of the band.

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18. IO Earth – “Solitude”

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I really thought IO Earth’s latest would be higher on my list, but I thought the same for most of these albums, too.  This one is a juggernaut of melody and passion, and Dave’s guitars are the best of 2018.

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17. Kingcrow – “The Persistence”

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Kingcrow are the masters of consistency and emotion.  “The Persistence” is their best album yet, offering not only the emotion I wanted, but the best kinetic instrumental portions that they’ve ever offered.

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16. Anima Mundi – “Insomnia”

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I have followed Anima Mundi for several years, and I never expected such an abstract, textured album from them.  Gone are the joyous progressive rock strains, and in are dark and unpredictable grooves and feelings.  It’s fantastic.

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15. Auri – “Auri”

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Auri’s debut is one of those albums that is a breezy joy to put in your player.  It is unashamed of its folksy, atmospheric approach, and its reliance on awesome vocal melodies is one of its strengths.

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14. Oceans of Slumber

– “The Banished Heart”

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Oceans of Slumber’s latest produced two of my favorite songs of 2018.  The rest of the album is also wonderful, but the album finds its passionate strength when the metal moves aside to allow Cammie’s massive, theatrical vocals to shine.

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13. Haken – “Vector”

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Haken never lets me down, and “Vector” is no exception.  While it may not be the best they’ve every produced, it is super strong from beginning to end, and offers Easter eggs for their previous albums that is pure fan service.  I love it.

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12. Frequency Drift – “Letters to Maro”

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I’ve been a Frequency Drift fan for years through all the line-up changes and the style progressions.  The band may have finally found their greatest iteration with the best singer yet, crystal clear musical ideas, and an overall feeling of wholeness and growth.

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11. Distorted Harmony – “A Way Out”

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Distorted Harmony is only three albums into their existence, but they feel like a mainstay to me.  They had the balls to release an album that might go over the heads of “normal” prog metal fans, and it did exactly that.  Yes, the riffs and beats can be difficult to follow, but this album has rewarded me more and more as I gave it a fair chance.

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10. Dam Kat – “Alawn”

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From the beginning of 2018, I know Dam Kat’s debut solo album would make my top 10 at the end of the year.  Her dark, fantastical, personal style might feel blackened and even strange at times, but her strong choruses and abstract instrumentals bring the whole thing together.

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9. Albion – “You’ll Be Mine”

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Albion has been around for a very long time, and their original singer is back after years of absence.  The elongated guitars, deep melancholy, and beautiful vocal harmonies sent this one sprawling up my list pretty quickly.

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8. Riversea – “The Tide”

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We waited several years for Riversea’s follow up album, and it does not disappoint.  Combining vocal power, somber lyrics, and beautiful melodies; the album passes like a graceful mist of depth and earnestness.

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7. Dead Can Dance – “Dionysus”

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Dead Can Dance are legendary, and “Dionysus” shows exactly why.  It doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it doesn’t offer any more notes or ideas than it intends.  It is a perfect nugget of DCD mythos that no one else can produce.

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6. Zoungla – “There Will Be Dub”

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Zoungla released two albums in 2018, both of which were great.  “There Will Be Dub”, however, is a truly addictive experience that I listen to weekly if not more often than that.  The combination of progressive electronic with classic dub grooves is something that I hadn’t heard before, and the added accents make for an atmosphere that you never want to leave.

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5. A Perfect Circle – “Eat the Elephant”

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APC are legends, but I was a bit wary of what they might sound like now.  My expectations were simultaneously high and reserved, and the album exceeded even what I thought was possible.  The incredibly relevant lyrics, the pounding rhythms, and the gloriously mature vocals from Maynard all served to make this one of APC’s best yet.

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4. Riverside – “Wasteland”

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Riverside is my favorite band, and I was, like everyone else, wondering about their future.  My fears were eliminated when I heard the consistency, lyrical structure, and continued accessibility of the band’s sound.  Like always, the band has produced an album that has grabbed hold of my family.

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3. Ostura – “The Room”

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Ostura released what can only be described as a towering epic of progressive madness.  The hugely cinematic flair behind this incredible work still makes my jaw drop every time I hear it; and, yes, I’m still awaiting a vinyl release announcement.  I will be there for that one, absolutely.

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2. Lux Terminus – “The Courage To Be”

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I struggled with my #2 and #1 spots for the last few weeks.  They are pretty much interchangeable for me.  That said, Lux Terminus’ debut is a true work of art in every conceivable fashion.  From the jazz trappings to the synth pop elements to the overarching progressive cinematics, the album is an adventure in life and spirit, and the performances are truly stunning.  You need this album.

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1. Amorphis – “Queen of Time”

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I never thought that Amorphis’ new album would be my #1, but here we are.  When I sat down to think about my list, I realized that “Queen of Time” is the most addictive, consistently melodic, most playable album of 2018.  I am still bewildered by just how great this album is every time I hear it.  Every single song could have been included on my list of favorites this year, and that alone made the decision easy in the end.

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One response to “TPM Top 30 Albums of 2018

  1. LUX TERMINUS!! Holy Mother of God! Thank you so much for posting this year-end list – I had heard of this band, but had heard their music. What a great band, and a great album. Thank you so much, Prog Mind, for turning me on to them!

    Like

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