10. Fragment Soul – Axiom of Choice
I found the story behind this album to be mature and thought-provoking. The concept follows a journey through love, fear, torment, and even deliverance. It’s almost like the thoughts of a person as they mentally follow the path that two sets of decisions would create. One way leads to tranquility, and the other to despair.
9. The Vicious Head Society
– Extinction Level Event
The Vicious Head Society really brought the social commentary on this one. The long-necessary fall of an old world is at hand here. Graham’s writing is really, really good, so much so that the ending, though actually sad, is somehow inspiring still. The story is engaging, abstract, and emotional.
8. Ross Jennings
– A Shadow of My Future Self
Ross is known for amazing lyrics and concepts under Haken, but with this solo record he has given us more of a window into his personal world. This album has some fun, some emotional, and some pensive songs, all of them showing us a bit more about Ross himself. As expected, the lyrics are always poetic and always well-written.
7. Steven Wilson – The Future Bites
I know many fans took jabs at Steven for the lyrics on this record. In a way, he was admitting that he and his fan base were part of this problem of commercialization and identity through consumerism. He mocked limited edition box sets, and then sold a limited edition box set for this album. I’m sure they sold out, which reinforces his point. Still, the lyrics here are well-written and potent for our day and age.
6. Transport Aerian – Skywound
Transport Aerian always features intelligent lyrics, and this album might have been the most emotional of them all. The album follows tortured lovers as they wade, or maybe drown, in the sea of calamity, political bullshit, and ruin that is the human condition. It is a far-reaching album, one that hits close to home, and one that has some biting things to say.
5. Swallow the Sun – Moonflowers
The new Swallow the Sun album is certainly an emotional work, like a delicate painting of great depth. Since the passing of guitarist Juha’s wife, Aleah Starbridge (as the fans call her), I feel like Juha’s lyrical content has become even more expressive, gloomy, and piercingly effective. Not only is his writing excellent, but the metaphors and poetry that he uses stay with me. I still find myself tearing up as I listen to this record.
4. Kristoffer Gildenlöw
– Let Me Be a Ghost
This record possesses great patience for both the composer and the listener. It is careful and sensitive, and the lyrics represent that tone well. Kristoffer takes us to spectral and hidden places within ourselves. The album talks about life struggles and that feeling of wanting to give up. It talks about “choices on the edge of life and death, about the ghosts who roam both realms”.
3. The Paradox Twin
– Silence from Signals
This record surprised me with its depth. It spills out of vocalist Danny’s heart on a more personal basis, relating to the birth of his second child and his concurrent firstborn child’s autism diagnosis. The album itself follows identical twins, one who is disabled and one who is not. The disabled boy finds life difficult and cruel, even from his own father, and he struggles to understand why the world is the way it is. The sister is a soothing balm to him, however, and this dynamic is captured in the vocals as Danny and Nicole speak to each other.
2. ISON – Aurora
This is an album structured much like a guided meditation. Some of the tracks have voiceovers that lead us through calming our minds, claiming our higher selves, and finding a peace that transcends reality itself; that is the foundation of all of the emotion, hope, and introspection that takes place here. In the end, the album feels very much like an emancipation of every regret, sorrow, unmet desire, and inhibition. Like a liberation of the soul and mind. And all of this is done with grace.
1. Justin Stewart Cotta
– Melodies for Eulogies
JSC has always written lyrics that are haunting in their effects on our minds, no matter the topic. Even if a song may simply be about lost love, like so many other songs out there, the writing is still more poetic, flowing, and striking. They are also precise, fitting tightly together, like a perfect puzzle. Sometimes they feel like a journey, other times a wordsmith’s passionate game. Every track features poetry and eccentricity, and so these words have clung to me.