Top 10 Progressive Metal Albums of 2015

Dec. 29, 2015


Share This Review

Before I even begin, I am aware that the hardcore proggers out there may not be entirely happy with this list.  So disclaimer: this reflects more of my own personal taste in prog and my lack of kvltness in that area.  Let's begin.

10 Laurestine See Details for Laurestine

So Hideous combine elements of classical, post-hardcore, post-rock, alternative, and a very loose, melodic take on black metal.  Each song began life as a piano piece with the orchestration soon to follow. Only then do the guitars, bass, and drums take their own positions.

9 Archivist See Details for Archivist

 The instrumentation skillfully unites some of the best elements from top post-black releases in 2015.  Verily, the resulting sound is massive: like a tsunami casting a shadow over a major city. The aesthetic is fittingly tragic, but the constant handle on hooks and dynamics provide a sense of hope as well.

8 Oblivion (Mendel) See Details for Oblivion (Mendel)

Mendel is a virtuoso for people who don’t normally go down for the usual wankery. Sure, you could easily put Oblivion on shuffle with Yngwie, Satriani, and Vai; but I don’t even keep those guys in my iTunes.  Mendel conveys more than enough emotion through his axe to engage the listener on a visceral level. Perhaps more importantly, I would say that he has stepped up his game in several areas.

7 Barús See Details for Barús

Ever wonder what would happen if Meshuggah and Nero di Marte had a baby? Just me? Well the answer to my personal fan fiction is Barús. Throw in a dash of Triptykon and perhaps even a touch of Living Sacrifice's The Hammering Process and you have yourself a recipe for some truly unique progressive death metal. Between the pulsating riffs and unusual melodies, these 4 songs are surely but a taste of what is to come from a promising future.

6 In Times See Details for In Times

All in all, this may very well be Enslaved’s chilliest album to date, but one that is still plenty enjoyable and well-written. My initial impression was to say that it had fewer memorable moments than RIITIIR but shows increased consistency. This may be true to a point, but with each subsequent listen, I find myself more and more attuned to the various hooks and melodies.

5 Blood Sacrifice Shaman See Details for Blood Sacrifice Shaman

History Channel Metal. That is my personal tag for Tengger Cavalry's latest opus. While it is true that Blood Sacrifice Shaman is a reworking of the band's debut, this is anything but a re-record. What the original sports in black metal rawness, this 2015 version counters with a vision of beauty. Gone are most of the harsh vocals, replaced with an increased focus on throat-singing and instrumental compositions. Listening to this is a journey through time and a celebration of cultural heritage. This is quality metal even your mother could appreciate.

4 The Prescient See Details for The Prescient

On their Facebook page, you'll find the tag "psychedelic," which isn't an unfair summation. But taking things a few steps further, this is some of the best technical, progressive death metal I have heard all year.  In genteral, expect effortless leads of tapping and sweeps that captivate, mystify, and induce envy in a relative noob guitar player like me.

3 Shattered Shores See Details for Shattered Shores

The killer guitar harmonies are a perfect cross between the Gothenburg sound and folk metal a la Ensiferum.  I almost too this to be an album of the latter, but such a summation is too simplistic.  The hooks, synthesizers, and clean vocals add an almost sci fi quality at times fusing Dark Tranquillity's more melodic works with Nuerotech.  But still, the mournful strings and powerful leads on tracks like "Shattered Shores I," or the understated acoustic/choral intro of "Summersong," lean heavily on the style of Wintersun.  In the end, perhaps it's niether.  Silent Line may have stumbled onto the exact crossroads between melodeath and folk.

2 Beware the Sword You Cannot See See Details for Beware the Sword You Cannot See

Peaks and valleys. If Beware the Sword You Cannot See is a landscape, it is a goddam treacherous one. A Forest of Stars crafts a brand of atmospheric black metal that champions effective use of crescendo. Fusing passages not far removed from mewithoutyou with equal parts Rush, Panopticon, and gothic prose; A Forest of Stars is unlike anything else from the genre. It’s a black metal opera without any sense of irony.

1 Coma Ecliptic See Details for Coma Ecliptic

Let me begin by saying that the cleaner prog-rock sections here are masterful. And to any detractors (I myself was worried) regarding the decrease in pure metal, breathe a sigh of relief. For it is precisely the improved builds of Rush-influenced rock that makes the explosion of harsh vocals and distortion all the heavier. The way that “The Coma Machine” lulls us into a fun-loving, “Bohemian Rhapsody” sing-along stupor with its bouncy piano and upbeat melodies...only to blast us with violent screams; it's masterful.  I think these talented musicians may have still only reached the first summit.