ProgRocks.gr: the best albums of 2018

In a few days 2018 will be over and the time has come to present the albums that made the cut for each and every one of us and of course the list of the 20 top albums of 2018 according to ProgRocks.gr, a moment that we ourselves have been waiting for impatiently.

Just like 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014, our preferences differed to a high degree. As a matter of fact, each one of us included, on average, nearly 3.5 unique albums, verifying once more the diversity of our tastes. Apart from the value of the lists (whichever it may be) and the sorting of albums from most to least favourite, their importance, for all it’s worth, lies in the numerous different albums chosen, regardless of their ranking. Here you can find 108 listening suggestions, which are not limited to prog, but come largely from the undreground music scene of various genres.

As it’s been commonly stated, 2018 wasn’t the best year of this decade rearding album releases. However, as you can see below, there were many relatively unknown recordings that stood well above average than most people would expect. In our top-20 list there are -as every year- some surprises and the top position belongs to a band that probably bridges all differnet tastes within the rock music field and rightfully stands at the top of the modern electric sound.   

Let the countdown begin…


20. Astral Blue – Out of the Astral Blue

Astral Blue draw on European and US school, namely heavy / prog και U.S. psych / prog. To elaborate, the Texans sound like a dismantled version of Sweet Smoke, minus the usage of wind instruments, had they joined forces with Message and Orange Peel, with fumes from the Germans Epitaph and Iron Butterfly and all of the above through the prism of a lurking 60s American West Coast feeling and not sonic slant.

The music of Astral Blue is vivd, pictorial, improvisational but above all honest, without a sign of ripping off and reheating bygone styles and aesthetic. Out of the Astral Blue is an enticing proposition from musicians who seem to create and compose with abundant love, reviving the legacy on the one hand, updating it on the other to the delight of the seasoned listeners.

– Thomas Sarakintsis

19. Riverside – Wasteland

The overall sound of the album is nicely balanced between mid-tempo songs and ballads. The songs are simple at times, indeed, but also very much heartfelt and emotional. The electronic elememts are less present than on the latest records but this is not a return to their basic prog metal sound as it was expected among the most fans of the band.

Wasteland isn’t a masterpiece but it’s truly an enjoyable journey. Despite horrible grief the album also radiates hope again and again. If anything they are giving the world a touching lesson on the importance of not giving up. After all, Riverside is alive and well and I hope they will continue to be one of the most remarkable modern progressive bands.

– Goran Petrić

18. The Pineapple Thief – Dissolution

By happenstance, this year’s release finds the band at the crest of its career. Their ongoing popularity combined with the directly proportional interest of the audience for the musical style they serve renders the album as a unique chance to gain exposure in a wider audience.

Dissolution is a magnificent melancholic album which I would liken to a picture of an urban rainy landscape in the nighttime; therefore, I think it would work better in the small hours. I pronounce myself, unexpectedly I might add, impressed.

– Petros Papadogiannis

17. Gaute Storsve Trio – Attention: This is Not A Toy | For Adult Collectors Only

The overall undertone is that of the mix between two different schools: the latin exuberance and the nordic simplicity. Combined they turn into a vivid piece of art which I hope is the first of many for this creative bunch. I would certainly welcome a more “dangerous” approach (in terms of experimentation perhaps) but that’s my own fixation. Hasta luego!

– Vangelis Christodoulou

Storsve’s mild proggy jazz is absolutely successful mainly due to the high compositional level, the priceless, exact phrases and what takes off the result is that unique coolness element which can be heard everywhere in the album. His charismatic touch, the essential and absolutely sensual play, the narrative melodies, the expressive ease and his artistic clarity and purity are rare, especially today.

– Dimitris Kaltsas

16. Sacral Rage – Beyond Celestial Echoes

Second in a row great full-length album by the Greek tech metallers Sacral Rage that now, instead of merely a great hope for this genre, they must be considered as a great band. Excellent choice of influences (Annihilator, Exodus, King Diamond / Mercyful Fate among too many), awesome technical skills, interesting themes and a characteristic love / hate voice are an explosive mix. An LP filled with thrash energy (Eternal Soltice, Vaguely Decoded), but also some interesting extreme metal and prog touches that will keep the interest of the listener for a long long time.

– Tasos Poimenidis

15. Between the Buried and Me – Automata II

The songs in Automata II are more worked than in the first part, showing that compositionally the band is at its peak. Taking also into consideration their bold sound experimentation, I can say these songs are the top of their career and certainly escape the limits of extreme sound. The four tracks of the album are mainly melodious and in many points they sound as if Between the Buried and Me are trying to play the progressive rock of The Dear Hunter.

Automata II is  much better than its predecessor. Between the Buried and Me put the icing on the cake of their releases, as Automata II is their best album so far, their magnum opus. An album that gives the feeling that the best is yet to come. A record that will please both band fans and those who are passionate about the progressive sound in general. One of the best albums of the year!

– Giannis Voulgaris

14. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth

Kamasi Washington’s music vision is our absolute access to it without preconditions. And in order to maintain the purity of his music, parallel to his quality without using the easy pop tricks, he has tried to achieve the impossible in Heaven and Earth. That is, to create a three-hour journey that can stand as one solid release. And not only does he succeed. He manages to surpasses The Epic, which was a sacred totem of all music lovers. This album sets the contemporary jazz to start anew and a new era of “apocalyptic music” begins. An era that goes beyond all attitude boundaries and predeterminations that exist in what jazz stands for in the year 2018.

– Alexandros Topintzis

13. Judas Priest – Firepower

Firepower is the fourth album of Priest after Rob Halford’s return to the band and it ay be considered as the best that has been released since the return of their legendary frontman. The 18th album in Priest’s career is -after a long time- very close to their classic sound and at the same time has the freshness offered by the presence of a young guitarist like Richie Faulkner. Judas Priest finally created an album that leaves its mark on modern metal. Firepower honors the past and the roots of the band and on the other hand it stands in the present where it manages to present the way this music should sound. Songs with great riffs, great solos and a voice -despite the advanced age of Halford- that can transform them into a set that is hard to be compared to anything else this year.

– Christos Minos

12. Haken – Vector

The vector is an oriented straight segment, i.e. one point is declared as the beginning of the section and the other is the end. In this case orientation is the key word. This is exactly the case with Haken. The album is focused, it is very heavy, less adventurous than the previous two, more compact but also inspired and shows a band in its peak. There is an artistic vision from a group of over-talented musicians and performers where no one lags behind. Haken is one of the best progressive metal bands out there. The record stands worthy of the two previous ones, although their magnum opus, The Mountain, might be impossible to repeat. Vector points to the direction of all of us. Do not ignore it.

– Tasos Poimenidis

11. A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant

The return of A Perfect Circle was received with mixed feelings by the friends of Maynard and his band. Eat the Elephant is neither Mer de Noms nor Thirtheenth Step and it would be wrong for them to try and repeat themselves. What they give us in the year 2018 is a dozen songs, ranging from decent to amazing, always alternative rock, with the piano making its appearance, many electronic elements, strong guitars leads and a post-rock or even shoegaze feel in the depth of the sound frame with the lyrics having a remarkable political and social depth. More than enough dose of Maynard, shortly before entering the studio with Tool … Ha!

– Kostas Barbas

10. Methexis – Topos

When you want to get the listener through a diverse musical journey, obviously you have to equip him with a guiding compass. In this record, the role of this compass is played by the amazing connection between the different themes and moods. This unparalleled flow is also the greatest asset of this magnificent musical proposal. Both compositions have a clear path and goal, which at the end manage to fulfill it, leaving a sense of accomplishment. Emotions alternate effortlessly and the peaks are convincing. The way Kissonas handles the symphonic element is quite unique, personal and subtle.

– Kostas Barbas

09. Koenji Hyakkei – Dhorimviskha

The fact that all eight intriguing songs are compositions exclusively written by the leader and visionary Tatsuya Yoshida gives even greater prestige to a living legend of avant-prog. A single glance at Koenji Hyakkei’s history leads to inevitable conclusions. As great as the first four albums may be, Dhorimviskhais obviously the band’s best album in every respect and of course it’s not only that. This is one of the top zeuhl samples in general and one of the best progressive albums released after 2000. The only misfortune here is that the extreme, uncompromising and perfectionistic character of Dhorimviskhamay sound repulsive to many. Such a pity…

– Dimitris Kaltsas

08. Voivod – The Wake

In spite of the difficult first steps since excluding Dennis “Piggy” D’Amour the remaining three members were of limited musical capacity, they pulled off to evolve into one of the most intelligent and interesting bands in the metal scene, ever. The Wake released in September is an addition to their long catalogue and it seems it will keep us engaged for a long time.

What we’ve got here is a band that flourishes and a great album that keeps the core style of the band intact. Voivod even up to this day deliver gratifying music which won’t be absorbed easily, will intrigue and after multiple listens –necessary even for a seasoned listener – will reveal its unique moments to those who will invest the time to let it grow in their mind; a true prog (in every sense of the word) gem and one of the best albums in the last few years.

– Tasos Poimenidis

07. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice

One would say how the neo-prog / symphonic style of their debut has almost disappeared, while the jazz-rock / Canterbury elements of II have been adorned by psych / prog touches that bring to mind the best moments of the 90s era of Ozric Tentacles and Porcupine Tree. The giant step that we waited for has been made and it is called Zea Mice, an album that will certainly be included in any serious 2018 prog list.

– Paris Gravouniotis

This is their most mature and targeted album to date. The jazz-fusion and Canterbury elements of their previous album really take off here. The six-member line-up is definitely tighter this time. With their third album, the Turtles seem to come out of the ‘shell’ of a prog fan and create a personal musical proposition.

– Kostas Barbas

06. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships

No matter how well prepared someone can be by being aware of the background, the past and present of the three musicians, listening to the debut of Amgala Temple causes a mixture of surprise and impressiveness, which is consolidated into an absolutely positive mark. This partnership led to a result very much alive, fresh, dynamic, flowing, but also dark, untamed, mysterious, heavy, psychedelic, endoscopic. It is an ideal instrumental setting to combine the music of the past with that of the present. This is instantly perceived when someone gives in and lets the album play repeatedly, discovering new unexplored corners upon each consecutive hearing. I don’t know how the band would perform in a somewhat stricter compositional context or how smoother their sound would be if the saxophone and clarinet by Horntveth were included, but that is something that we might enjoy in the future, because Amgala Temple are here to stay.

– Dimitris Kaltsas

05. Mildlife – Phase

Within the 40 minutes of the duration of Phase, the quartet of young musicians puts their own musical proposal and yes, indeed, these guys are not afraid to experiment and they are particularly interesting. Two things are achieved through controlled improvisations. On the one hand the groove is kept in high levels and on the other hand the album rolls evenly and pleasantly. It does not sound the least tiring, while the clear production and the whole analogue sound contribute to highlighting each instrument, and thus the great technical skills of the musicians.

The cosmic journey in Phase is one of the most enjoyable of the year. Four well-trained musicians who enthralled different influences and sounds in their kaleidoscope. A modern band that sounds as if it came straight from the 70s without a trace of anachronism and pretence.

– Petros Papadogiannis

04. VAK – Budo

The absolute zeuhl character of VAK emerges from the beginning of the self-titled song that covers almost half the length of the album, satisfying to the highest degree even the highest demands anyone would have from a top-level band. Yes, VAK really fall into this category, as unexpected as it may sound for such a new band.

Based on this album as a whole, it is very difficult to imagine what VAK can do in the future. And it probably does not matter at all. Even if they had disbanded after Budo, what they’ve already given artistically is enormous and, most importantly, unique. Fortunately, everything shows that the band from Paris has just begun its course in top class prog rock. This is one of the top zeuhl records of all time and one of the best prog albums of the last decades.

– Dimitris Kaltsas

03. All Traps on Earth – A Drop of Light

A Drop of Light burst like thunder in the midst of the rather mediocre 2018 regarding prog releases, reminding all friends of the progressive sound what the real DNA of our favourite rock subgenre is. Perfect technique, melodies, rhythmic changes, gripping atmosphere and experimental mood blend and uniquely combine to achieve an excellent result that sounds dreamlike and nightmarish at the same time.

I do not know if this album will have a follow-up, or if this was just a parenthesis in the careers of the participants. However, I personally would not mind at all if All Traps on Earth would be the dark side of Änglagård and Johan Brand’s experimental field of action, much less if they continue to record such great albums as this year’s A Drop of Light. Those who prefer the uncompromising and groundbreaking side of prog rock, they most likely have the best album of the year in front of them.

– Paris Gravouniotis

02. Soft Machine – Hidden Details

All these elements that Soft Machine had brought to music and pop culture as a whole are present, filtered through the maturity of the band members. Here is an album where no composition is sub-standard and jazz flirts constantly with psychedelia under a veil of progressive British acuity and exciting experimentation in a time no less when the big spirits of the past are of one mind during the entire venture.

Today, on the threshold of Brexit and AI, with the odometer of music industry back to zero and the days of flowers and hallucinations seeming as distant and faded memories, the sound of Soft Machine is not just up-to-date; it is glorious, and no two ways about that. Without a trace of exaggeration Hidden Detailsis just as good as the 70s masterpieces and it is a good reason to relapse into smoking habits, be it for an hour which is the duration of the album. Rothmans blue, strictly.

– Ilias Goumagias

01. Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog

If Black Gives Way to Blue was one of the biggest comebacks of modern rock music history, if The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here stamped their new identity, then Rainier Fog is a unique record of a band in its second peak of artistic creation. In this album all the elements that characterize Alice in Chains are here, from the melancholic double vocals, the sickness, the vulnerability, the passion and the dependence that, as invisible forces, influence human psyche, the ethereal vocals and the huge guitar sound but with a difference. An evolution. It is their only record in which redemption takes place, the only album that is permeated with a sense of optimism and not an endless prolonged dead end. There is no first or second phase of the band. There is only the monolith called Alice in Chains and this is their most emphatic statement.

– Dimitris Anastasiadis


 

Dimitris Anastasiadis

01. Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog
02. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
03. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
04. Mildlife – Phase
05. Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots
06. Ry Cooder – Prodigal Son
07. Sonar with David Torn – Vortex
08. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
09. Judas Priest – Firepower
10. Joe Satriani – What Happens Next

Kostas Barbas

01. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
02. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
03. VAK – Budo
04. Koenji Hyakkei –  Dhorimviskha
05. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
06. Mildlife – Phase
07. Methexis – Topos
08. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
09. Gösta Berlings Saga – Et Ex
10. Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile

Meletis Doulgeroglou

01. Haken – Vector
02. Between the Buried and Me – Automata II
03. Mildlife – Phase
04. Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
05. Obscura – Diluvium
06. Tribulation – Down Below
07. Ihsahn – Amr
08. Judas Priest – Firepower
09. Beyond Creation – Algorythm
10. Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Light

Nikos Filippaios

01. Bato Bato – Bato Bato
02. RÅÅ ‎- Skånes Järnvägar
03. Dungen, Woods – Myths 003
04. Cayetano – Melanie
05. A.A.L. – 2012-2017
06. Les Cyclades – Les Cyclades
07. Mr. Fingers – Cerebral Hemispheres
08. Mildlife – Phase
09. Robohands – Green
10. Shakarchi & Stranéus – Steal Chickens From Men and the Future From God

Ilias Goumagias

01. A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant
02. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
03. VAK – Budo
04. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
05. Mildlife – Phase
06. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
07. Judas Priest – Firepower
08. Gösta Berlings Saga – Et Ex
09. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
10. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth

Paris Gravouniotis

01. All Traps on Earth – A Drop of Light
02. Koenji Hyakkei – Dhorismvishka
03. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
04. VAK – Budo
05. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
06. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
07. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
08. Methexis – Topos
09. Judas Priest – Firepower
10. Mythic Sunship – Another Shape Of Psychedelic Music

Dimitris Kaltsas

01. VAK – Budo
02. Koenji Hyakkei – Dhorimviskha
03. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
04. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
05. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
06. All Traps on Earth – A Drop of Light
07. Methexis – Topos
08. Mildlife – Phase
09. Mythic Sunship – Another Shape Of Psychedelic Music
10. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice

Vasilis Korolis

01. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
02. At The Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself
03. Funeral Mist – Hekatomb
04. Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit
05. Ghost BC – Prequelle
06. A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant
07. Cultes Des Ghoules – Sinister
08. Architects – Holy Hell
09. Voivod – The Wake
10. Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name

Alexandros Mantas

01. Methexis – Topos
02. Empty Frame – Who Wants to Ride the Horse
03. Arena – Double Vision
04. Pymlico – Nightscape
05. Riversea – The Tide
06. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
07. Damanek – In Flight
08. The Windmill – Tribus
09. Evership – Evership II
10. Magnum – Lost on the Road to Eternity

Christos Minos

01. Judas Priest – Firepower
02. Voivod – The Wake
03. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
04. All Traps on Earth – A Drop of Light 
05. Sacral Rage – Beyond Celestial Echoes
06. Sleep – The Sciences
07. Jason Becker – Triumphant Hearts
08. Horrendous – Idol
09. Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
10. Heir Apparent – The View From Below

Eleni Panayiotou

01. The Pineapple Thief – Dissolution
02. Riverside – Wasteland
03. Gazpacho – Soyuz
04. Bend Sinister – Foolish Games
05. The Sea Within – The Sea Within
06. Son Lux – Brighter Wounds
07. Slash – Living the Dream
08. Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures
09. Atrium – The Equation of Beauty
10. The Tangent – Proxy

Petros Papadogiannis

01. Anna Von Hausswolff – Dead Magic
02. A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant
03. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
04. VAK – Budo
05. Astral Blue – Out of the Astral Blue
06. Mildlife – Phase
07. Ghost BC – Prequlle
08. Weedpecker – III
09. Voivod – The Wake
10. Soft Machine – Hidden Details

Goran Petrić

01. Voivod – The Wake
02. All Traps On Earth – A Drop of Light
03. Haken – Vector
04. Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog
05. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
06. Judas Priest –  Firepower
07. Riverside – Wasteland
08. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
09. Sisare – Leaving the Land
10. Sleep –  The Sciences

Tasos Poimenidis

01. Voivod – The Wake
02. Sacral Rage – Beyond Celestial Echoes
03. The Ocean – Phaneroic I: Palaezoic
04. Haken – Vector
05. Weedpecker – III
06. All Traps on Earth – A Drop of Light
07. The Winstons – Pictures at an Exhibition
08. Koenji Hyakkei – Dhorimviskha
09. Michael Romeo – War of the Worlds Pt. 1
10. VAK – Budo

Kostas Rokas

01. All Traps on Earth – A Drop of Light
02. The Bevis Frond – We’re Your Friends, Man
03. Mythic Sunship – Another Shape Of Psychedelic Music
04. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
05. Seven That Spells – The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: OMEGA
06. Haken – Vector
07. Träden (Träd Gräs och Stenar) – Träden
08. Methexis – Topos
09. Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile
10. Koenji Hyakkei –  Dhorimviskha

Thomas Sarakintsis

01. All Traps on Earth – A Drop of Light
02. Blå Lotus – Tube Alloys
03. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
04. Astral Blue – Out of the Astral Blue
05. Malady – Toinen Toista
06. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
07. Sammal – Suuliekki
08. Mildlife – Phase
09. Second Sun – Eländes Elände
10. Tusmørke –  Fjernsyn I Farver

Lefteris Statharas

01. Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog
02. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
03. A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant
04. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
05. Gaute Storsve Trio – Attention: This is Not A Toy | For Adult Collectors Only
06. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
07. Methexis – Topos
08. The Pineapple Thief – Dissolution
09. Between the Buried and Me – Automata II
10. Dead Letter Circus – Dead Letter Circus

Panagiotis Stathopoulos

01. Gogo Penguin – A Humdrum Star
02. Nils Frahm – All Melody
03. Nanook Of The North – Nanook Of The North
04. Gösta Berlings Saga – Et Ex
05. Methexis – Topos
06. Emanative – Earth
07. Sonar With David Torn – Vortex
08. Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death In Meatspace
09. The Steams – Wild Ferment
10. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice

Alexandros Topintzis

01. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
02. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
03. Chapel of Disease – …And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye
04. Low – Double Negative
05. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
06. Ambrose Akinmusire – Origami Harvest
07. Tomb Mold – Manor of Infinite Forms
08. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
09. Träden (Träd Gräs och Stenar) – Träden
10. Black Crucifixion – Lightless Violent Chaos

Giannis Voulgaris

01. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
02. Between the Buried and Me – Automata II
03. VAK – Budo
04. Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd
05. TesseracT – Sonder
06. Mildlife – Phase
07. Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog
08. Mother Turtle – Zea Mice
09. Mestis – Eikasia
10. Weedpecker – III

Giannis Zavradinos

01. Voivod – The Wake
02. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships
03. Gaute Storsve Trio – Attention: This is Not A Toy | For Adult Collectors Only
04. Peggy Lee – Echo Painting
05. All Traps on Earth – A Drop of Light 
06. Koenji Hyakkei –  Dhorimviskha
07. Soft Machine – Hidden Details
08. Malady – Toinen Toista
09. Mildlife – Phase
10. Far Corner – Risk

Giorgos Zoukas

01. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids – An Angel Fell
02. Calibro 35 – Decade
03. Loop Vertigo – Neocortex
04. The Lewis Express – The Lewis Express
05. Mr. Fingers – Cerebral Hemispheres
06. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
07. Camp Cope – How to Socialize & Make Friends
08. Kadhja Bonet – Childqueen
09. Cosmic Analog Ensemble – Une Vie Cent Detours
10. Shawn Lee And The Soul Surfers – Shawn Lee and The Soul Surfers