Bryan’s Best of 2022

This year has been an interesting one for me musically. For much of the middle of the year I was absorbed by older progressive metal music, primarily diving into back catalogs for Meshuggah, Pain of Salvation, TesseracT, and Caligula’s Horse. I found that I wasn’t as compelled by more traditional “prog rock,” at least not in its shorter forms. I did find myself enjoying some of the longer form tracks, like Lobate Scarp’s “Flowing Through The Change” and Ryo Okumoto’s “The Myth Of The Mostrophus.” Much of my favorite new music leaned towards post-progressive music, with a few more traditional picks thrown in as well. I’ve reviewed a lot of music this year and listened to far more, some of which would have made a best-of list in years past where I listened to less music. Alas.

The following order is relatively arbitrary apart from my top album at the end.

GH-2022-cover-1080px-PREVIEWGlass Hammer – At The Gate
The third record in Glass Hammer’s Skallagrim trilogy of fantasy albums doesn’t disappoint. In fact in may be the best of the trilogy. Equal parts heavy and proggy, I think my favorite parts are when the band goes full Rush. You don’t hear many bands really showing a mature Rush influence (as opposed to hearing elements of a Rush sound), and it was great to hear it on this album.

tangent-hard-shoulderThe Tangent – Songs From The Hard Shoulder
The Tangent returned this year with a collection of prog epics (and one R&B, disco, funk track), sure to thrill longstanding fans and possibly scare away the uninitiated. Check out my review of the album: Check out Rick Krueger’s interview with Andy Tillison, as well:

Lobate Scarp - You Have It AllLobate Scarp – You Have It All
This record was a long time in the making for Lobate Scarp and it’s mastermind, Adam Sears. The record masterfully blends prog with pop sensibility, all while bearing a strong Spock’s Beard influence. My favorite song is the 17-minute “Flowing Through The Change.” Beyond that, I’ve found many of the uplifting lyrics from other tracks running through my mind over the course of the year. Check out Time Lord’s review:

a0006828710_10Dave Brons – Return to Arda
Dave Brons recently released a follow-up to his 2020 Tolkien-influenced record, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost. Return to Arda looks at nature within Tolkien’s “Middle-Earth” through a celtic progressive rock lens. Featuring vocals from Sally Minnear, and mixing by Dave Bainbridge. Check out the album on Bandcamp:

Gabriel Keller - Clair ObscurGabriel Keller – Clair Obscur
I reviewed quite a few albums from France this year, and this record was my favorite of those. It contains a blend of English and French lyrics with multiple vocalists. The album has a variety of styles, gradually getting darker and heavier as it goes along. Check out my review:

8716059014463-cover-zoomInhalo – Sever
I reviewed this debut album from the Dutch proggers for the Dutch Progressive Rock Page earlier this year, and it was a very pleasant surprise for me. It reminded me of TesseracT if they were playing just hard rock and not metal. Very atmospheric with a mature sound. I love their wall-of-sound approach. It’s a solid record, and I look forward to more music from the band. Check out my DPRP review:

Big Big Train - Welcome to the PlanetBig Big Train – Welcome To The Planet
This record was bittersweet, being the final Big Big Train record to feature David Longdon on lead vocals. It was also an album of change for the band, with new member Carly Bryant taking a more prominent role on the record compared to Common Ground released a mere six months earlier. The record contains a pleasant blend of the band’s more accessible bits as well as their proggy moments. “Capitoline Venus” is a touching love song, while “Oak and Stone” fits in a long tradition of Big Big Train’s pastoral contemplative tracks. The title track is a bit unlike anything we’ve heard from the band, at least during Longdon’s tenure, reflecting Bryant’s new influence. It took me a few listens, as it took me by surprise at first. But once I “got” it, I really came to enjoy it. Check out my review:; and check out Rick’s review too:

Big Big Train Summer Shall Not FadeBig Big Train – Summer Shall Not Fade
The band’s 2018 performance at the Night of the Prog in Loreley, Germany, has been a bit legendary amongst the band’s fans for years, and I suspect the band decided to release it this year due to Longdon’s tragic passing last year. The concert finds the “classic” lineup of the band playing at or near their best in front of a very large crowd. We’re reminded of how great a frontman Longdon really was. It’s a pleasant way to remember this part of the band’s history. Check out my review:

Bjørn Riis Everything to EveryoneBjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone
This record dominated my listening early in the year. Riis is an excellent guitarist, and his atmospheric rock is always compelling. Every one of his solo albums is worth listening to for his music, vocals, and lyrics. His albums are melancholic, like most of the progressive rock I’ve heard from Norway. Check out my review:

dt-lightwork-front-coverDevin Townsend – Lightwork/Nightwork
Devin may have gone quieter on Lightwork, but the album displays his talent as well as any of his records. His skills as a mixer, writer, composer, guitarist, and singer are on full display. The companion album, Nightwork, has some heavier moments, perhaps to soothe parts of his fan base. Either way, both records are great. Check out my review:

meshuggah-immutableMeshuggah – Immutable
It has taken me close to a decade of listening to progressive metal before I was able to finally get into Meshuggah, and it happened this year! I’ve long known about them and respected them, but I just couldn’t get it. Maybe me getting into Devin Townsend’s more extreme side over the past couple years helped open that door, but I’m now a big Meshuggah fan. I could even hear a Meshuggah riff (from “Demiurge”) coming from my knife and cutting board when I was chopping celery last week. “Immutable” is a fantastic record, finding the band tweaking their sound a bit without changing their substance at all. “Broken Cog” is heavy, brooding, and atmospheric. The scream of “broken cog” close to the end is absolutely epic. Check out Mahesh Sreekandath’s review:

Porcupine-Tree-–-Closure-ContinuationPorcupine Tree – Closure Continuation
I didn’t get into Porcupine Tree until after their hiatus following 2009’s “The Incident” and subsequent tours. I had no real expectations for this record, since Porcupine Tree has played a lot of different styles over the course of their long career. I kept an open mind, and I was highly rewarded. This album is pure Porcupine Tree without feeling like it’s trying to create a certain sound. It’s just what came about from the members writing and playing together on occasion over the past decade. Upon reflection, I think my dislike for some of Steven Wilson’s poppier solo work might be tempered if he continues to make music like this in other outlets. Check out Rick Krueger’s review of the band’s live show in Chicago:

marillion-ahbitd-1Marillion – An Hour Before It’s Dark
Another record that dominated my listening early in the year. This record is almost as good as 2016’s F.E.A.R. Perhaps not quite, but it is close. It’s one I’ll likely enjoy for years to come. Well written music and lyrics (for the most part – I have my beefs with one track) that ponder the turmoil of the last few years. It’s a hopeful album that has some calls to reflect and change our ways. In the end, it makes you think, as all good art should. Check out my review:

Oak - The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise1. Oak – The Quiet Rebellion Of Compromise
Oak never disappoint me. Their latest record finds them evolving their sound a little bit, but it is still definitively Oak. Their layered soundscapes, haunting vocals, and thoughtful lyrics have kept them at the top of my list of favorite newer bands since I first heard them in 2016, and they’ve only confirmed that for me with this record. They’re a band that deserves far more recognition from the prog world. Check out my review:

steven-wilson_limited-edition-of-one_bookMy favorite prog book of the year was Steven Wilson’s Limited Edition of One. Breaking the mold of rock artist memoirs, Wilson (and Mick Wall, who helped him in the writing process) created a post-modern masterpiece. I typically dislike anything deconstructive (in an academic sense), but Wilson turned it into an art form. He combines memories with lists of his favorite music, books, and movies along with more philosophical commentary on his career and on music in general. Check out my full review of the book:

I only went to one concert this year: Steve Hackett. Interestingly, Hackett was the last concert I saw before governments shut everything down for Covid. The band played the Seconds Out setlist, along with some of his solo tracks. It was a brilliant show, with Hackett clearly demonstrating that his band is the best thing touring right now. He even released a live album from the tour that is well worth checking out. Check out my concert review: And check out Rick’s concert review too:

This best-of list feels woefully incomplete considering how much excellent music was released this year… Muse, The Flower Kings, Six by Six, Ryo Okumoto, The Bardic Depths, Cosmograf – all great records, but the above list really captured my attention for one reason or another.

Hopefully 2023 will be another great year for prog. As usual for me, music has been an escape, a sedative, a lighthouse in the storm. With 2022 being one of the most difficult years of my life, music provided much needed comfort and direction over the course of the year. I suspect that will continue in the new year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone. Thanks so much for reading.

Lobate Scarp Release New Single; Album Out April 1

California’s Lobate Scarp, led by Progarchy’s very own Adam Sears, has released a new single off their upcoming album, You Have It All. The song, “Our Test Tube Universe,” features special guests Ryo Okumoto and Jimmy Keegan. It isn’t every day a band releases a 7 and a half minute single! The band features Adam Sears on vocals and keyboards, Peter Matuchniak on guitar, and Andy Catt on bass. This single has some great keyboards by Okumoto, and the guitar work stands out as well. I appreciate the way the song ebbs and flows. Very nice.

The rest of the album also features guests Billy Sherwood, Jon Davison, and Eric Moore. The album will be released April 1.

Lobate Scarp – “Our Test Tube Universe” – YouTube

Lobate Scarp - You Can Have It All

Closing Hours of Crowdfunding Campaign for Lobate Scarp’s Second Album

Lobate Scarp - You Have It AllLos Angeles-based progressive rock band Lobate Scarp (which features Progarchy’s very own Adam Sears) is in the final day+ in their crowdfunding campaign for their second album. They have almost met their goal, and there are a lot of cool perks, so go check it out:

In addition to all the other great things they have in store for the new album (just check out that artwork!), they announced that Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood will be providing guest vocals on a track. Yes!

Check out their single, “Beautiful Light,” from several years ago.

And check out their update video on the new album:

Lobate Scarp Start Kickstarter for Second Studio Album

Southern California’s Lobate Scarp, headed up by Progarchy’s very own Adam Sears, recently announced a kickstarter to help fund their second studio album. From spacey album art courtesy of David A. Hardy to well-crafted progressive songs, Lobate Scarp deliver on all fronts. The band has announced that Billy Sherwood and Jon Davison of Yes, and Ryo Okumoto Spock’s Beard are scheduled to make guest appearances.   Rich Mouser, whose mixing repertoire includes Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, and The Neal Morse Band, will once again mix the album, as well as join as a producer. There are multiple pledge levels with different rewards for each level. Definitely check it out: 

It’s a tough world out there for any line of work these days. I can only imagine how tough it is to make a go of it in the music industry, particularly in a genre where the fan base is spread so thinly across the globe. Kickstarters give fans of the genre the opportunity to support their favorite artists. If you haven’t heard Lobate Scarp yet, check out their recent EP and their first album.

Progarchy’s End of Summer Round Up

There has been a lot of quality prog released this summer. Overall I’d say there isn’t as much top tier level stuff (i.e., albums that rank with some of the best ever made in the genre), but there have been a lot of solid albums worthy of your attention released lately. This list won’t be exhaustive, but it should be a good starting point for people looking for some new music. Order is completely arbitrary. Ok maybe this first one is at the top for a reason.

Nad Sylvan – The Regal Bastard

Steve Hackett’s touring vocalist released his best solo album to date this summer. It is a little more accessible than the first two albums in the Vampirate trilogy, but it retains some of the same themes and motifs. Sylvan has a lot of talent, and this album stands above the crowd this summer. If you only listen to one album off this list, choose this one. And check out my interview with Nad from earlier this summer:

Tool – Fear Inoculum

I’ve only ever passively listened to Tool, but I found this album to be quite good. Was it worth the wait for diehard Tool fans? I’m not sure, but this is a solid album that is heavy without being overpowering. Check out Rick Krueger’s review:

Continue reading “Progarchy’s End of Summer Round Up”

Lobate Scarp – Last Few Days to Pledge for the New Album

Lobate Scarp have only a few more days to reach their goal of $36,090 for the Kickstarter for their new album, You Have it All. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, the band only gets the money if the goal is met or exceeded. If the goal is not met by August 8, 2016, the band gets nothing.

If their latest song, “Beautiful Light,” as well as their first album, Time and Space, are anything to go off of, You Have it All may very well be one of the best albums of 2016. However, this can only happen if they meet their Kickstarter goal:

Check out the lyric video for “Beautiful Light.” It is a fantastic song, very much in the vein of Big Big Train, The Tangent, and Yes.

The band writes on the upcoming album,

You Have It All is centered on the 15+ minute title track. It’s a strong, uplifting piece made up of several parts. The album will consist of 7-8 tracks totaling to about an hour in length. It will contain some powerful tracks such as “Conduit” our first instrumental piece, and “Nothing Wrong”, an anthem of individuality and freedom. In the mix will be some prog-ballads such as our new single “Beautiful Light” and a story of love-lost-but-found-once-more in “And We Tried”. The final track will be the grandiose 9-minute “Flowing With the Change”, which deals with acceptance of the past and looking into the future with exciting possibilities.

For all prog fans out there, Lobate Scarp is a band not to be missed. Please consider pledging your support for their upcoming album – they have whole levels of goodies available for people who pledge their support. The prog world needs innovative bands like Lobate Scarp to keep the genre going, and that can only happen when the fans support the music.

Check out this video for more info on the album campaign:


Lobate Scarp: You Have It All @LobateScarp

Get in early on what promises to be another amazing Lobate Scarp album, and a true highlight of 2016!

Their teaser single “Beautiful Light” is magnificent and it will surely leave you wanting more. I myself have been listening to it a lot lately!

Come on, all good people! Find out more details from the Kickstarter video below.

Yes is Still Epic

It seems to me the headline (“Yes: ‘No Epics’ on New Album“) gets the story wrong:

Drummer Alan White shed a little light on the new music during a recent interview, sharing his satisfaction with producer Roy Thomas Baker’s work behind the boards. Looking back on a botched attempt to record with Baker in the ’70s, White called it “A blessing in disguise, because it wasn’t turning out like we wanted it, but this one is. Roy’s doing fine. He’s doing a great job. He’s getting some great sounds on the instruments.”

Baker’s getting those sounds the old-fashioned way, too. As White put it, “We spent quite a while getting the drum sound right. Roy is quite meticulous about which microphones get the right sound. We were using about $50,000 worth of microphones on the drums alone.”

As for the songs, White added, “It’s all fresh music. Everything on the album was conceived within the last year or so. No epics on this album. There are some longer pieces with intricate parts to them, but there are some shorter tracks too which are right to the point.”

Well, that just sounds like it is more 90125 and less Topographic Oceans. So what!

90125 is one of their best albums. So… no reason to panic, Yes fans!

By the way, I find it annoying that the sensationalist headline makes White into the official spokesman for Yes.

How misleading.

At least the original story has a less misleading (although equally sensational) headline.

Speculation mode:

Perhaps the songs from the 70s’ Baker sessions may give us something of a taste of what is in store?

All of the songs associated with the Paris sessions have eventually surfaced, in one form or another. Two (“Tango” and a song once known as “Flower Girl” that was retitled “Never Done Before”) found a home on the 2002 In a Word box set. Four others — including “Dancing with the Light” and “In the Tower” — were part of an expanded remaster of Drama, the 1980 follow up to Tormato. “Everybody Loves You” was later reworked for Anderson’s 1980 solo album Song of Seven.

Additional material from the subsequent Drama sessions also made up the lengthy title track for Yes’ 2011 project Fly From Here, though White says this Yes new album will include all new songs. Don’t look for a similar suite of songs, either.

“It’s all fresh music,” White confirms. “Everything on the album was conceived within the last year or so. No epics on this album. There are some longer pieces with intricate parts to them, but there are some shorter tracks too which are right to the point.”

The title of that one song is actually “Dancing Through the Light.” There is also “Golden Age” and “Friend of a Friend.” These are all great bonus tracks on the Drama reissue.

A tip of the Progarchy hat to our friends in Lobate Scarp for the heads up about this news! (Follow them on Twitter.)

Don’t forget… Yes visits Canada starting next week!

Great Photos and Writeup of PROGRESSIVE NATION AT SEA

Our friend Adam Sears of Lobate Scarp alerted us to an excellent photo diary of the Progressive Nation at Sea cruise.  Enjoy.


The cruise has now ended. As I write this, I’m walking the two miles from the Port of Miami toward downtown so that I can catch a train to Fort Lauderdale for my flight home. It’s a beautiful Miami morning. The walk is providing me time to reflect on the week and create a rough draft/outline of this chronicle. I expect to clean it up some on the plane. Once I get home, I’ll add some final touches, photos and videos.

I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe the experience of the last few days. Perhaps the word joyous would work best. At least that’s what I think separated this festival from other concerts I’ve attended. Pure joy. From both fans and artists. Everyone on board knew that this was something unique and unprecedented. The bands knew it wasn’t “just another gig” or “just another meet and greet.”

As I detail my day-to-day experience, I’ve decided to write for myself. I’m not sure who else might read this – friends, family, other prog fans. I’ll include enough information that even a non-fan would know what I’m talking about, but I am my main audience. I want to ensure that this memory stays with me as vivid in 40 years as it is now. I’ll likely include many seemingly insignificant, uninteresting details and encounters. Also, in some special moments, like the second Spock’s Beard set, I plan to include some backstory to help capture how the show made me feel. Let’s see if I’m successful.

Successful it is.  To keep reading Kris McCoy’s take, go here:

Time and Space (Best of 2013 — Part 12)

Continuing with the final three albums of my Top Thirteen of 2013, I now reveal that the #12 slot is reserved for:

Lobate Scarp

Their excellent “Time and Space” disc was actually released on December 12, 2012 (12-12-12) and although it is therefore technically ineligible for a Best of 2013 list, just as I found a loophole to get Chasing Dragons into the #11 slot for 2013, I have found a place at #12 for Lobate Scarp in my Top Thirteen of 2013.

In addition to my riffing on the band’s harmonious use of the number 12 by placing them at #12, my logic of inclusion is that I actually did not get this album until 2013, when somehow the band found a way to make the CD magically appear at home in a bundle of my snail mail. Captivated by the beautiful packaging and lyric booklet, I soon learned that what Carl concluded earlier on this year is absolutely true: this album is a first-rate achievement that deserves wider recognition.

The first track is the title track, “Time and Space.” While other bands will save their longest and most epic prog track for last (two examples from 2013’s best would be Dream Theater’s “Illumination Theory” and Sound of Contact’s “Mobius Slip”), Lobate Scarp instead kicks things off by putting their most epic track first! Wow. It’s a great way to establish their prog bona fides right from the get-go. Nicely done!

Next up is “Jacob’s Ladder,” the only track that is shorter than five minutes long. But it’s really catchy and gives us a chance to catch our breath after the epic opening.

The third track is the excellent “Beginning of Us,” which has an enchanting melody that hooks you in slowly. Then the excitement builds and soon you find yourself either singing or humming along. By the time we hit the second verse, things have gotten so funky, and the tasty synth is so perfect, we hardly expect the stratospheric guitar launch of the instrumental section that soon ensues. But off we go! Again, wow. This is a magnificent song that takes us on quite an interstellar journey in just under seven minutes.

The fourth track, “The Contradiction,” is also a supremely interesting musical journey that showcases the astonishing abilities of these fabulous musicians. These folks have supreme jazz sensibilities that really distinguish them as musicians and that mark their compositions with a peculiar brand of proggy individuality.

My favorite track on the album turns out to be the fifth track, “Save My Soul,” which starts out with an awesome heavy riff before pulling back and then slowly building up to yet more excitement. The track then goes on to have so many interesting changes and contrasts, including an epic horn freakout, that you want to stand up and cheer at the end of the thing. Amazing!

Track six, “Moment,” slows things down, but only for the first few minutes. Pretty soon Lobate Scarp finds their way into yet another one of their trademark grooves, and we get to go on another exhilarating ride with them. Zoom!

The concluding seventh track, “The Mirror,” is an ambitious musical extravaganza that even includes a gigantic choir singing in Latin. Whoa! Man, you have got to give this band kudos. They do not shy away from any sort of daring musical enterprise. Instead, propelled by their wonderful grooves, they boldly go… where no prog has gone before.

Do yourself a huge favor and buy a copy of this album. It is lovingly crafted by people who are obviously musicians’ musicians. Only rarely do ambitious projects like this succeed. But Lobate Scarp has made the jump to hyperspace and you are invited to come along for the ride to the higher musical dimensions of this upper-echelon labor of love.