As my Top 25 of 2011 has been one of the most popular articles on this blog, I thought I'd better do it again for 2012.
For over four years I've been presenting the weekly Progressive music show on StroudFM in association with DPRP.net, one of the world's biggest prog websites for whom I have written for almost a decade.
Covering progressive rock and metal from around the world, the show is broadcast live every Monday at 10pm. You can download podcasts of every show from the DPRP radio page and also via iTunes (search in podcats for "DPRP Radio").
So please read the Top 20 of 2011 list below with YouTube links for every album.
You can also download the progcasts for the two radio shows in which I run through all of the Top20 albums. Part one (numbers 20-11) is available to download here. Part two (numbers 10-1) is available here
And as ever please support any of this music you enjoy by buying the albums from the bands or their labels.
THE TOP 20
One of the better melodic djent albums this year with probably the best singer in the business – Daniel Tomkins (Tesseract). Not sure that having the same songs as instrumentals on the same album adds anything though. Would have preferred it as a mini-album. Some great instrumental bursts of complexity among the central melodies.
This is the solid opener Nocturnus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk9u91o-aCg
19 Oddland – Treachery of Senses
Love the groove and the singer on this. Not quite the hooks and the riffs across the whole album to be a Top10 album this year but a great debut album offering promise for the future. For those missing Pain of Salvation.
Official label video of the great opening track Above and Beyond. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuYgrvXUgSQ
18 Teramaze – Anhedonia
Every year at least one great new band jumps onto my list from Australia. Debut album from this Melbourne bunch offers some face-punching melodic ProgPower metal which often reminds me of a cross between Mercenary and Megadeth with clean melodic vocals.
This is the official video for the wonderful fist-punching title track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYZ8bXhWWos
17 Effloresce – Coma Ghosts
Very varied album and another new band with heaps of potential. Melancholy mixes with death metal growls and an almost folky air at times. Female fronted gives it a different vibe. Plenty of crunch and some great little details.
I love the groove on this one and the imagery from a song entitled Swimming Through Deserts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoMpGcKOqrM
16 In The Silence – A Fair Dream Gone Mad
Eleven debut albums in my top 20. This has been a year where new bands really broke onto the scene – most with independent releases. One reviewer said of this: "Great, moody music that has plenty of depth. Good mix of riffs and atmosphere." Spot on.
This is the cracking opening track – Ever Closer - one of my favourite songs of 2012
15 IOEarth – Moments
Second album from eclectic UK Prog band. This really mixes up the styles – they have a clarinet player! - but with nice crunch to the guitar. A disc for the quieter moments that you need to sit down and really absorb.
This decent live video gives a great idea of the band’s style playing both parts of Live Your Life – gets heavier as it progresses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozRpjzalhbk
14 Threshold – The March Of Progress
A band that doesn’t release a dud album of even a dud song. Only reason it being this low for me, is that I don't think they’ve really evolved over the last four albums.
This is Ashes – my favourite ‘single’ of the year. Killer melody. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uLKKm_EGjg
13 Shattered Skies – Re-animation
The best unsigned band on the planet. This Irish quartet of groove metallers went down a storm at Progpower Europe - where their demo cd sold out halfway through the set!!
This is a top class live video from their PPE set playing Attrition. Stick with the guitar solo at around 3 mins. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5BX8y6iIss
12 Fen – Of Losing Interest
This is a great young Canadian band. More direct and less atmospheric than their last album, Trails Out Of Gloom, but highly enjoyable and with lasting appeal. Reminds me of a less quirky Fair To Midland.
Interesting live video of Light Up The End – this band really should be playing bigger venues than their local pub though! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmGYe4_BQtg
11 Minerals – White Tones
The band quotes the alternative British rock scene as their main inspiration and certainly fans of Coldplay and Radiohead will find much to stomp along to here. If you take your play lists from a little further back in time then Simple Minds, Talk Talk and U2 would be comfortable bedfellows. A bit derivative but for some reason this just clicks with me.
Here is a live radio recording for a Polish station of the rockier Is This Love
10 Overhead – Of Sun and Moon
Finish heavy proggers go more heavy and direct with their fourth album. Still has its quirky moments and some great melodies.
This is a new one – a 3D music video for their song Angels and Demons. Dig out those specs!
9 Southern Cross – From Tragedy
This album took almost the full year to really sink in for me but I knew there was something there and my patience has been rewarded. Love the singer and tone of this disc – the growlies do seem entirely out of place though.
This is the first single Carousel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3ZVmTqXqk4
8 Soen – Cognitive
Another album that has got better as the year has gone by. Billed as an extreme metal supergroup with a lineup consisting of former Opeth drummer Martin Lopez and Willowtree vocalist Joel Ekelöf. This has been described a shoe-gaze Tool. I never liked Tool but love this. The drumming is mega creative.
This is the official high def video of the track Savia – lots of snow! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1Rlc_DFqdM
7 Speaking To Stones – Elements
Really this is a different band to the debut album - only the guitarist remains - but it damn well works. Reminds me a lot of Redemption. Trad ProgMetal with five long songs with plenty of complexity. Any band that can turn the words ‘Quinta Essentia’ into my favourite chorus of the year, deserves top marks. Hope they get to play this live.
This is the track Water http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeDcbKFYD7M
6 Mystery – The World Is A Game
Last two albums from this Canadian combo have been a great mix of NeoProg and heavy melodic rock. This is on an equal par. Shame that it took their singer to appear behind the mic' with prog legends Yes to really get them noticed.
Great live video of the best song Pride – shows what a great singer Beniot David is – hoping to see them play Europe in the spring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKCXE2mtFBo
5 Gazpacho – March of Ghosts
I always had these Norwegians down as Marillion clones but their last three albums have established their own sound. Post Rock meets Prog. The four part Hell Freezes Over is one of the top pieces of music from 2012.
Official video for Black Lilly featuring Morph https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZPA-3v-Cj4
Great live band too as this video of Hell Freezes Over pt2 shows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOjeyN0AUwY
4 Slyde – New World Sympathy
Big thanks to the excellent pmrising forum for bringing this excellent Canadian band to my attention. Highly melodic rock with some pop prog touches and a political conscience. Just an EP but these four sets of infectious melodies are my most played songs of 2012. Available for a free download along with their three previous albums – which are also pretty good.
This is an interesting take on bringing politics and rock together – a sort of rock protest video for their song Lies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeStDROnQFc
3 The Addiction Dream – Essence
This is an amazing debut album from a synth-based progressive rock trio from Portland, Oregon. Think Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, Radiohead, Aeon Spoke, latter-day Opeth, the ambient passages of Floyd, and the lighter moments of Green Carnation or Thence and the vibe of Talk Talk and Gazpacho. For the mellow moments in life. Sounds simple but keep peeling away the layers as you listen again and again.
This is my favourite track (by a millimetre) Dark Skies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVcIOAfha5M
2. Headspace – I am Anonymous
So much critical praise for a debut album from all quarters says it all. A 10 out of 10 classic of the Prog Metal genre.
Sadly I was on holiday when they played live in the UK. This is the quiet song, Soldier, with the best ever use of a church bell in rock history! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8MeurNUQLY
1. A Liquid Landscape – A Nightingale Express
Another wonderful debut from another young Dutch band. Post Rock meets Neo Prog with a level a songwriting complexity which belies their youth. Went down a storm at ProgPower Europe where they were my favourite band.
This is an excellent movie made by an independent director which mixes some music from the disc with some striking cinematography to tell the album’s story. Well worth watching as a piece of art in its own right. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM4vu5cWwJk
This is a shorter version for the track Phases : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAmqnYmJ7Og