As the resident metalhead among the Progarchy editors, I offer not only my Top 10 (Prog) Albums of 2017, but also my TOP 10 METAL ALBUMS of 2017 (below). Ever since I first discovered Rush, my favorite genre is prog metal, and you’ll observe the tilt in taste in that direction below. If you like prog, then you will enjoy all the complex and satisfying metal that has made my list below.
Witherfall Nocturnes and Requiems has perfect metal vocals combined with breathtaking musicianship (the blistering guitar work and intricate drumming are astonishing), making this a truly superb album achievement.
Every few albums, Rush would include a pure instrumental showcase, but what if they had ditched Le Studio and took off to Scandinavia to record an entire album of instrumentals? That’s what sleepmakeswaves Made of Breath Only sounds like to my ears, and it puts a smile on my face every time I hear this amazing album.
Odd Logic Effigy gives you everything you want in an advanced prog metal album, woven here into an especially satisfying, coherent musical whole, and it is truly a shame that this band is not better known, because their art is magnificent.
Soen Lykaia is a distinctively original metal album that combines all the sounds you love from intricate metal into a highly unique whole, marked with upper-echelon musicianship.
Lucid Dreaming The Chronicles Part II is an incredible heavy metal concept album with populist vocals that sound like the cast of a Broadway musical, in service of the dramatization of The Chronicles of Prydain. (Dream Theater totally blew it with The Astonishing pile of crap, but Lucid Dreaming shows what a stage musical metal concept album should really be like instead.)
Leprous Malina is a mysterious and infectious slab of metal that I can thank Progarchy editor Carl for turning me on to, and its richly dark textures get better and better with each listen. Thanks, Carl!
Alter Bridge Live at the O2 Arena comes from a band also beloved by Carl, and while it delivers two solid discs of live album shenanigans, I am putting it on my top ten metal list solely because of the amazing third disc, which is a compilation of leftovers and outtakes that all together adds up to a perfect album in its own right. All killer, never filler, am I right Carl?
Helion Prime is a fantastic album of science-based metal with uniquely excellent vocals by the incredible Heather Michele who sadly left the band after this release, but you will enjoy this disc forever if you have any little bit of a geek or nerd side within you.
Pallbearer Heartless pairs up eerie clean vocals with proggish doom sludge for a creatively complex and strangely satisfying experience that hooks you with the wicked first track and never lets go.
Sweet & Lynch Unified shows that Michael Sweet of Stryper fame does nothing but get more impressive with age, as each year he releases a killer album that impresses and astonishes, this one even more so than ever, due to its considerable variety of styles across the tracks. For example, there is a healthy dose of Queen in “Walk,” perhaps my favorite song here, although it is hard to pick just one.
That list above comprises my top ten, but I add two more albums to the list, which I had already included on my Top 10 (Prog) Albums of 2017, in order to make it into a friendly imperial dozen: Unleash the Archers Apex (the title track of which is, as my friend Gilad wryly remarks, “the best song released by Iron Maiden since the 1980s”) and Sons of Apollo Psychotic Symphony, which has the best sounding drums of any album this year, thanks to Mike Portnoy’s terrific work in this supergroup of equally superb musicians.
Rock on, Progarchists! Enjoy the winter solstice with some metal. It’s the way to do it right!