I know we are only halfway through the year, but there have already been multiple works of sheer genius in the progressive community. These albums are quite diverse, but anyone with an open mind and ready ears should be excited about these records. This list is exclusively for records released between January 1st and June 30th of 2019. I have heard albums releasing in July and beyond that would make this list if I were including them; but, alas, lines have to be drawn somewhere.
15. Will of the Mountain – “The Third Silence”
Will of the Mountain returned with an album that clearly bested their debut. “The Third Silence” feels grand and overwhelming, as well as clearly Costa Rican in tone. This album is mysterious, layered, and features multiple guest singers.
14. Teeth of the Sea – “Wraith”
Teeth of the Sea came out swinging with their groovy and bluesy “Wraith”. Progressive electronic doesn’t get much better or more organic than this. The diversity in the tracks is impressive.
13. In Continuum – “Acceleration Theory”
In Continuum was formed from the remaining members of Sound of Contact, and many of the ideas on this record would have been in the second SoC album. Thus, this is an ethereal, meaningful album that feels great and sounds ever better. There are some truly otherworldly melodies on this record.
12. Darkwater – “Human”
We waited a long time for Darkwater’s new album, and its epic glory was worth the wait. The band sounds as good as ever, and the guitar work is mind-boggling. On top of that, the lyrical themes are potent and personal.
11. Daniel Tompkins – “Castles”
Daniel Tompkins is playing his cards for his solo career, and “Castles” is a success. The pop and post-prog oriented nature of the music means that this album is catchy, abstract, and alternative in approach. Some of the songs here are still stuck in my head months later.
10. Our Destiny – “Awakening”
Pretty much anything multi-instrumentalist Vikram Shankar touches turns to gold, but Our Destiny is something special. Vikram and his girlfriend Lauren wrote this album about their love and the way it has healed them. The music is reminiscent of Anathema and progressive pop, and the melodies are on point.
9. Myrath – “Shehili”
I love Tunisia’s Myrath, but was somewhat disappointed in “Legacy” after their masterpiece “Tales of the Sands”. “Shehili” has reinvigorated my interest with stunning melodies, fantastic instrumentals, and songs outside the band’s normal sound. Amazing album.
8. Courtney Swain – “Between Blood and Ocean”
Courtney is better known as the singer/keyboardist for Bent Knee, and for her latest solo outing she proves that she can write the abstract passages of Bent Knee without the crazy time signatures, while also offering her deeply meaningful lyrics in spades. This solo album is an emotional journey that you need to hear.
7. Amarok – “The Storm”
Michał Wojtas of Amarok worked hand in hand with British choreographer James Wilton to write a soundtrack for a new dance performance called “The Storm”. Therefore, this album is a bit different than Amarok’s other offering, being more ambient and electronic in nature. This album is dark and textured, and the two singles at the end are some of my favorite tracks of the year.
6. Introitus – “Shadows”
I’ve been an Introitus fan for several years now, and they always deliver. “Shadows” manages to be fresh and nostalgic at the same time, and the keyboards are once again absolutely stunning to hear. This group knows melody and atmosphere intimately.
5. Jolly – “Family”
We waited a long time for Jolly’s follow up to “Audioguide” albums, and it does not disappoint. Coming at us with songs ranging from progressive metal to alt rock to pop to R&B, “Family” welcomes us with open arms and amazing rhythms. As a Patreon supporter, I am pleased with what they have produced.
4. Mostly Autumn – “White Rainbow”
Some albums take a bit longer to strike me with their genius, and Mostly Autumn’s latest is one of those. I knew it was beautiful and amazing, but I have not been able to stop listening to it lately. The vocals are out of this world, the guitar solos bleed with emotion, and the dark tone of the album is delicious.
3. Cosmograf – “Mind Over Depth”
Cosmograf is a project that just gets better and better. Robin’s skills with riffs and electronica are especially on display on this album. While it’s not necessarily all that much heavier than other albums, the record is brilliantly conceived, has no filler, and features some of the best songs the project has ever produced.
2. Evergrey – “The Atlantic”
I thought this album was going to be #1, and in some ways it still is. “The Atlantic” shows Evergrey’s continuing devotion to excellence and emotion, and their musical ideas are getting more complex and more textured. Between Tom’s giant voice and the band’s amazing performances, this album will go down as one of their best.
1. Devin Townsend – “Empath”
Devin Townsend. I’m going to come right out and say that I’ve never been a fan of his music. Or maybe I just wasn’t ready for it mentally. “Empath” is looking to be THE album of the year for me. I just cannot get enough of its scope, meaning, madness, color, diversity, and harmony. This album, for me, should be on a list of masterpieces for all time, not just 2019. Devin has won himself a new fan. It’ll be interesting to see if anything else can beat it in the second half of the year.
Omnerod – “Arteries”
Aether – “In Embers”
O.R.k. – “Ramagehead”
Sollar – “Translucent”
The Emerald Dawn – “Nocturne”
Afterform – “Talcon Industries”