Randy’s Top 10 Albums for 2017 – It’s About to Get a Little Prog in Here

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Goodbye, 2017. You left us some good music. I am a known Prog fan (see ITM!). This year, as usual, music with progressive tendencies rule my iPod. Let’s get into this.

1.) Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day

2017 brought us some progressive meisterwerks, but first place for me this year is the return of one of my top 3 (who can guess the other two from my previous blog posts?) favourite bands. PoS. I have been a fan of the band since Entropia. I bought it at Manifest Disc & Tapes in Cola, SC, off the recommendation of some folks on the PPM Board and took it to my best friend Jesse’s house. As per our tradition, we threw it in the CD player and sat back on his couch waiting to be delighted or disappointed. Disappointed was I not. Pain of Salvation would quickly become one of my favourite bands with each successive album. To me, In the Passing Light of Day, is an absolute return to form for the band and one of the most personally emotional albums of the year.

 

2.) Straightline – Vanishing Values

I talked about my history with Punk Rock in another post. I love skatepunk. Bands like Propagandhi  and Forus among others. I tend to like music that shows some wicked guitar playing, melodies and technical prowess. Straightline is like progressive-skatepunk-trash. Their new album Vanishing Values, is packed full of great playing, melodies and a wicked cover of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine”. Me and Kai made a fun little video for their “summer hit” “Off We Go!”. The opening track, Generation Lost, is my vote for track of the year.

3.) Leprous – Malina

Kai introduced me to Leprous a few years back and since then, we made an Into the Machine episode with the band, as well as a few movies with drummer Baard Kolstad (stay tuned for something very cool with him). These guys won me over musically and personally. With Malina, they have raised the bar on all things progressive.

4.) Caligula’s Horse – In Contact

This was a very, very late pick for me. I had had heard of Caligula’s Horse and one of my prog buddies, Dario, is always talking about them. I picked up In Contact at the end of October shortly after it came out and have listened to very little since then. There are moments of greatness on the album and even the spoken word track, which I am usually very not in to, is something amazing. I look forward to it as it leads so brilliantly into the next track. And the final track on the album absolutely blew me away. 10/10.

5.) Zeal & Ardor – Devil is Fine

I think I haven’t shared an album more often with friends than Zeal & Ardor’s Devil is Fine. Of the albums on my list, it is definitely the most unique. A pairing of African Slave Music and Black Metal. The black metal drew me in but it was the call and response of the slave music that hit me. I come from the rural South (South Carolina) and was brought up in the tradition of southern Gospel music by my mother. Racial tensions were high, to say the least, in South Carolina. People throw around words like tradition and heritage when talking about flags and statues. Zeal & Ardor’s music hit home as it is an aggressive blending of metal with slave music and puts that music into another perspective.

6.) Voyager – Ghost Mile

I helped crowdfund this record when I heard about it through The Progspace. It has become one of my most played albums of the year. Very modern prog sound with some classic 80’s pop synth vocal stylings.

7.) Body Count – Bloodlust

The least “Prog” of my choices, but you cannot deny that Bodycount have written their best record and one that spits truths all over your iPod. This record is fantastic from beginning to end and I am afraid that it is the record that 2017 (and probably the next years) needed.

8.) Steven Wilson – To the Bone

I have written a lot about Steven Wilsons work on this blog. He follows up one of my favourite records, Hand. Cannot. Erase. with a totally fresh, pop and prog record that I know will spin forevermore on my record player. To think that I really did not like the first record from Porcupine Tree to Steven Wilson becoming one of my favourite artists is a wonderful personal arc for me. He deserves every bit of the attention and success that he is finally getting.

9.) Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

I came very late to the Mastodon party. I knew of them already when Leviathan hit and made waves. But the hype around them was so great, that I just couldn’t bring myself to listen to them with a full heart. This is sometimes how it is for me. Finally with Once More Round the Sun, I jumped on the Mastodon roller coaster and haven’t gotten off. The new album is written from a personal place as the members all struggled with loss from cancer. This emotion rings through and the whole process was nicely captured in a documentary by Jimmy Hubbard.

10.) Pictures from Nadira – Self-titled

Last but certainly not least is the debut album of our own, Kai Metzner’s, post-rock band Pictures from Nadira. The self-titled album (or its also called Nadira) is, for me, a breath of fresh air in the somewhat oversaturated post-rock market. Dark, brooding, waves of sounds blast the listener for 52 minutes of pure instrumental rock bliss. Also a great band to see live as they dance around their menagerie of effect pedals. And for sure they get the award for best Cover Art for 2017.

That’s it, 2017. No time to be sentimental — Bring it on, 2018 (already have at least one pick for 2018 already =-) )!

Here’s a final recap of our teams picks!

Read Val’s 2017 review here.

Val's top 10

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Randy M. Salo

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What do you think, Freqs?