Luke’s Top Ten Albums Of 2020


Twenty-twenty was a difficult year in many respects. For one thing, during the lockdown, I lost motivation to do most anything, and this unfortunately included my gig at The PROG Mind. I received many albums, but reviewed few. In the music community at large, we lost two of our greatest modern virtuosos this year, Neil Peart and Eddie Van Halen, the former’s death affecting me strongly. However, it was apparently a very productive year for many great musicians, as multiple instant classics came to fruition in this historic and unpleasant year. Let’s discuss a few!

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10: Anubis Gate – Covered In Colours

If I felt like this counted, it would be in my top three. I don’t really, though, so it winds up here. Featuring covers of classics by Voïvod, King Crimson, Genesis, Steely Dan, and The Beatles, few albums this year have made my old soul happier. And it’s about the only time I’ve enjoyed “Back In Black,” so there’s that.

Favorite track: “Entangled”

Read Jason’s review here.

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9: The Flower Kings – Islands


This was my second impression of The Flower Kings, and I found it to be an enjoyable, whimsical tour de force with some excellent songs and some really fantastic guitar work. And of course, the vocal harmonies were very rich. (Not to mention, it shares a title with a King Crimson classic, as does another record on this list.) I intend to check out the back catalogue.

Favorite track: “Black Swan”

Album being considered for review. In the meantime, read my friend and colleague Rob from Progressive Music Planet’s review here.

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8: Tesa – C O N T R O L

A Crimson-esque progressive metal superjam, it’s not the sort of thing you listen to every day, but it’s absolutely worthwhile. The instrumental performances are masterful and the feel is deliciously dark.

Favorite track: N/A

Read my Triple Feature (in which C O N T R O L was included) here.

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7: Kansas – The Absence Of Presence

It doesn’t sound quite like old Kansas, I grant you, but it’s still great. Featuring solid instrumental performances, songs you hum for days, and top-notch production, it’s more of a work of modern prog and another thrilling chapter in the history of this legendary band.

Favorite track: “Throwing Mountains”

A review may or may not come. Heaven knows the guys who wrote “Carry On Wayward Son” aren’t desperate for publicity!

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6: Pattern-Seeking Animals

Prehensile Tales

This is a fantastic bit of modern progressive rock, featuring awesome melodies, creative touches, and (my favorite!) smoking hot basslines. I hate to put it at 6 and it has been higher in earlier drafts.

Favorite track: “Why Don’t We Run”

Read my review here.

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5: Quel Che Disse Il Tuono

Il Velo Dei Riflessi

Who doesn’t love RPI? While I at one time considered it a sub-subgenre of the distant seventies, Quel Che Disse Il Tuono have changed my mind with a dark but catchy record that showcases the four members’ instrumental skill. The mysterious organ chords and gritty vocals remind one Van der Graaf Generator, while ominous basslines and searing guitar solos benefit from incredible tone. It could have been released in the seventies, and like most seventies prog masterpieces, it’s best enjoyed in a single sitting.

Favorite track: “Figlio dell’Uomo (Secondo Specchio)

Review coming soon.

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4: Ring Van Möbius – The 3rd Majesty

Speaking of albums that could’ve been made in the seventies, check out Ring Van Möbius! They are unabashedly retro-prog and play like your favorite Golden Age prog musicians (bassist Håvard Rasmussen is among my favorites in progressive rock today). The 3rd Majesty is a dark and dramatic power trip which becomes more intricate after every listen. It’s sure to please the most crotchety of classic prog reactionaries, while having treasures aplenty for new listeners as well.

Favorite track: “Distant Sphere”

Review coming soon.

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3: Pendragon – Love Over Fear

Pendragon, unlike Ring Van Möbius, is not so much classic prog being made today as it is a part of the unique neo-prog movement, which builds off the seventies Golden Age scene. (It’s what mainstream modern prog would be if Genesis, not Rush, had been the turning point in the genre’s history.) Singer Nick Barrett does, in fact, sound rather like Peter Gabriel, and this album carries much of the whimsy of Islands. What sets Love Over Fear apart is the fantastic songwriting and stellar production.

Favorite track: “Truth And Lies”

Read Jason’s review here.

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2: Haken – Virus

Yes, the name is bad under the circumstances, but they picked it before COVID-19 happened, so there. This has become my second-favorite Haken album, a concise fusion of their classic-prog side and their djentier side which works every time. It also includes a lead single which would be a top-ten hit in a perfect world.

Favorite track: “Prosthetic”

Read Jason’s review here.

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1: Gravity Machine – Red

Intense and searingly emotional, more blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this record than any that have crossed my dashboard in a long, long time. Niall Parker’s brilliant songwriting, great instrumentation, and heart-wrenching vocals combine with Bob Shoesmith’s solid drumming to get this decade off to a great start musically.

Favorite track: “Standing Stones”

Read my review here.

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All-Star Prog Band 2020

As I did last year, I would like to recognize some individual musicians who have made the aforementioned albums special. I do this in the style of college football, with a first-team including one player per instrument and a second-team with two honorable mentions apiece. Without further ado, I present to you my favorite musicians of 2020.

Bass: Dave Meros (Pattern-Seeking Animals)

Second-team: Roberto Bernasconi (Quel Che Disse Il Tuono), Billy Greer (Kansas)

Drums: Janis Burmeisters (Tesa)

Second-team: Bob Shoesmith (Gravity Machine), Morten Sørensen (Anubis Gate)

Vocals: Niall Parker (Gravity Machine)

Second-team: Nick Barrett (Pendragon), Thor Erik Helgesen (Ring Van Möbius)

Keys: Niccolò Gallani (Quel Che Disse Il Tuono)

Second-team: Thor Erik Helgesen (Ring Van Möbius), John Boegehold (Pattern-Seeking Animals)

Guitar: Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings)

Second-team: Francesca Zanetta (Quel Che Disse Il Tuono), Richard Henshall (Haken)

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Thank you all for reading! May 2021 be better.

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