Top 10 Progressive Metal Albums for 2013
2013 is coming to an end and we have had an insane number of Progressive Rock/Metal bands releasing fantastic new albums this year. If there is an album you thought should be on this list that we left off, please sound off below. There is often an argument over what is or is not progressive.
Here goes the Top 10 list:
10. Leprous – Coal (InsideOut/Century Media)
With their new album “Coal“, Leprous have set the bar up real high for the progressive metal scene, creating a unique, original identity for themselves. While I do feel the songs could have been stacked up and layered better, and that the band still has a lot to get onto the platter, this record is another whopper by these Norwegian rising stars. Deftly managing not to sound technical or bland, they sail through with flying colors. A lot of the components in the album remain the same throughout. Like the hypnotic vocals, the evident bass lines, the odd time drumming, the amazing synth giving the dark, sorrowful atmospheric feel, the album had it all and the band hit the bulls eye with what they were aiming at. The three best tracks from the album would be “Foe”, “The Valley”, and “Echo”. I always respect a band for sticking to what they love to do, and that is what Leprous have exactly done. This album is a solid proof that you can make great progressive music without sounding too technical and notice, sans any solos! A special shout out to Einar Solberg, in my opinion the shining light to the album, although the band has unanimously put in effort to make this one of the best albums of 2013. I in fact would nominate the vocal melodies for a movie’s soundtrack! It is that captivating, and it will go on to play as an infinite loop in my mind for days to come. This album is perfect for people looking out for that twang of originality in your metal, and also for a wide range of fans from the likes of Pink Floyd, to Tool. I hope to see them live, earlier next month to witness this brilliant album in front of me. So go out there and give this rejuvenating album a well deserved shot. – Vishaal G
9. Haken – The Mountain (InsideOut/Century Media)
Three stellar and consistent albums back-to-back at the beginning of one’s career is not a feat easily achievable by a band playing modern prog metal, a genre fiercely sniped at by critics. With this third effort, topping off the first Haken trilogy, the band has effectively erected a monument to its dominance on the top of the proverbial prog mountain. Haken is one of those rare bands that can write a 70-minute record that is entertaining for every minute while wandering between all sorts of different styles. The record feels fluid, flowing seamlessly from one awesome variation to the next; sometimes heavy, sometimes somber, sometimes funky or jazzy, but always excellent. Stunning technicality, fluid and enjoyable melodic development, tone variation, and gargantuan heavy parts have practically insured Haken’s reign for the foreseeable future in the hotly contested genre. – Progressivity In All
8. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) (Kscope)
Hypnotism is an art! An art of lulling a person into trance. Steven Wilson appears to master this art; he certainly has ultimate boundless superpower. With his otherworldly music he cleverly conquers the mind of a listener that comes under his will and bidding who is now a puppet whose strings are in Steven’s hand. You feel what he wants you to feel. Once you enter his psychedelic world of music the after effect is that you are tranquilized and all the emotions seem to outburst . With his stellar musical ideas for which he is long known he has manifested himself as a cult in the realm of prog rock music over the last 2 decades and one of the most eclectic artists.
This time he has given birth to his third solo studio album “The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)” consisting of six outstanding compositions which is uniquely different from his previous works. The year 2013 started on a delightful note for all progressive/Jazz lovers across the globe.“The Raven That Refused to Sing (and other stories)” is as ambitious as an album gets.This superhot record is musically rich and diverse . It reflects Steven’s multifaceted artistry and versatility. A mind-boggling artful record that will linger in your thoughts for ages and dumbfound you without leaving any choice for you. Every bit will offer you thrill. – Pallawi S.
7. Karnivool – Asymmetry (Cymatic/Density Records)
6. Dream Theater – Dream Theater (Roadrunner)
It is evident that progressive metal might be only strengthening in the last few years, but it’s the older bands like Dream Theater, that are still forging the ways for what the genre is and will be. Over 20 years into their existence, Dream Theater still shows no obvious signs of aging or slowing down, which is basically a testament to the band´s authenticity and drive. With “Dream Theater“, their 12th platter, the band once again proves that they’re seasoned elder statesmen of progressive metal with no sushi in sight. This is yet another slab of righteous, highly technical progressive music with tons of hooks and it demands the horns be raised high in homage.
Veteran status aside, Dream Theater goes the extra mile on this self-titled album to outclass and outwit most of their industry competitors and a lot of it has to with having a stabilized unit in their camp. They’ve established their own class of embellishment that strays from wanking and instead reaches to first caress the soul then throttle it once the listener has reached a certain level of coziness. Orchestration of both static and non-static elements has been Dream Theater’s forte and their painstaking craft has paid off more than not.
In short, I can clearly say this album covers the entire discography of Dream Theater, a collage of progressive music, a hallmark album for a gifted team of artisans that has plenty of them already. “Dream Theater” is one of the most invested albums Dream Theater has yet conceived. Prepare to be not only submerged but actually touched by this album. – Owais ‘Vitek’ Nabi
5. Levin Minnemann Rudess – LMR (Lazy Bones Recordings)
Levin Minnemann Rudess – It sounds like a law firm, but it’s a band. It is one of those albums that you almost have to buy on merit alone. Named simply after the last names of the three musicians involved (Tony Levin, Marco Minnemann, Jordan Rudess), the album is a fantastic display of the musical potential that comes when three talented musicians put their heads together. All have carved their own legacy into the prog rock world through bands and projects such as Dream Theater, the Liquid Tension Experiment, The Aristocrats, and so on, and the outcome of Levin Minnemann Rudess is just what you’d expect—mind blowing.
One thing I was particularly impressed with was the ability of each musician to leave a vast amount of open space for their fellow artist to grab onto and play around with. It’s almost as if this were a live studio album where everyone was just playing off each other and feeling the environment, while keeping recurring themes present in every track. And the three LMR players are the musical analog of actors who perform their own stunts. They’ve got experience and passion aplenty to stir emotions with sound, and their considerable instrumental chops (and nifty toys) allow them to pull off mind-blowing feats without calling in the cavalry.
They are a self-contained space-rock circus troupe. – Owais ‘Vitek’ Nabi
4. TesseracT – Altered State (Century Media)
“Altered State” can be summed up in a few words: Beautiful. Majestic. Emotional. Although many folks wouldn’t consider it to be metal, I see it as the opposite side of the spectrum that metal has been placed, but still contained within it. This album is all about atmosphere, progression, and a different kind of heaviness you don’t find in many other albums. This album is composed of four sections, that traverse all these characteristics stated above, and more.
Overall, this album provides a whole new view, whether it is about music genres, composition, etc. or comparable to the events of life and other philosophically related subjects. “Altered State“ is a journey and is set in redefining progressive metal. Forget about time signatures or different sounds, TesseracT is going for something much more with this album. Altered State is an ethereal experience, uplifting and saddening.
Album of the Year contender, hands down. – Jeffrey Allee
3. The Ocean – Pelagial (Metal Blade)
2. Queensrÿche – Queensrÿche (Century Media)
The current line-up is revitalized and more excited than they’ve been in years. That enthusiasm shines through on this record, which clearly marks a rebirth for Queensrÿche. That is why the band chose to self-title this effort. All that is old is new again. Wilton says the band is “firing on all cylinders;” a statement proven out over the 11 tracks represented on this record. As impressive as “Queensrÿche” was upon first listen, it was not until I found it still cycling my Jeep’s disc player weeks and repeated listens later that I realized how substantial and monumental it truly is. There is real depth here, and the subtleties resonate more loudly with each listen. This is not merely an album that recalls the majesty of Queensrÿche’s seminal and iconic works, it stands head and shoulders with its legendary brethren: A top 5 effort.
For some the frequency may be unknown, but this Queensrÿche is all dialed in: The real Rÿche hath returned. – Rustyn Rose
Check out our recent interview with Whip Wilton and Todd La Torre.
1. Ayreon – The Theory Of Everything (InsideOut Music)
Ayreon‘s new album “The Theory Of Everything” is way more than a concept album. Genius isn’t a word I throw around too often, but I can’t really think of a better way to put it. I’ve never heard a story told through such beautiful composition, while being so intelligent in both the psychological aspect and the mathematical/physical one. This album, as is life, is full of pain, anger, jealousy, love, triumph, and sadness. It’s the best movie I’ve never seen. It’s one of the best albums I have ever heard. The fact that Lucassen was able to take the story of a Savant and turn it in to such an intriguing and inspiring tale is something I will never be able to forget.
If you sit down and listen to it, listen to it from start to finish. Pay close attention to what each character is saying and how each instrument is cleverly interacting with the others, as the composition is truly flawless. Ultimately, this isn’t background music. It will demand your full attention. However, once you hit play, the album will fly by and you will be begging for more. At first listen, when the album came to a close I had chills running down my spine, and an unbelievable amount of emotion in me that very few albums have ever been able to do.
It’s pompous, it’s cocky, but progressive music is indeed “intelligent music for intelligent people”. I am arguing that this may be the best example of that line that I have ever had the opportunity to hear. – Mattie Jensen