ProgRocks.gr: the best albums of 2019

In a few days 2019 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 2019 according to ProgRocks.gr, a moment that we ourselves have been waiting for impatiently.

Just like 2018, 201720162015 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 119 listening suggestions, which are not limited to prog, but come largely from the undreground music scene of various genres.

This year there was no derby, and the best album of the year according to our editors came from a band we had the chance to see live in Greece during 2019 (click).

Let the countdown begin…


20. Panzerpappa – Summarisk Suite

Panzerpappa pulled off one more time to excite us with their adventurous music and it is one more addition to their already interesting back catalogue that appeals to the demanding listeners. Equally sophisticated and low-profile, serious, dedicated to their art, they present the latter in an exemplary way. Every chapter is a brand new story, well-written and animated. Their music is structured on their respectable origins with a lot of room for improvement and revitalization through an automated evolution. Panzerpappa keep growing in our estimation. If the next winter is heavy, let Summarisk Suite be its soundtrack.

– Giannis Zavradinos

-. Arch / Matheos – Winter Ethereal

Keeping our distance from the musicians that turned us into progressive metal, there is no renaissance of the genre that justifies the ambition to extend the material in excess of an hour. The album concentrates Matheos’ best moments who pulls off to craft them in a riveting way and places Winter Ethereal on the top drawer along with other similar releases. Yet the modern progressive metal which he worthily represents seem to be entangled in the evolution that himself set into motion somewhere in the beginning of 2000. Today, Winter Ethereal sounds marvelous but not as revolutionary as Sympathetic Resonance (2011).

– Christos Minos

19. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality

On their sophomore full-length album, Claypool and Lennon continue to combine their talents and craft wonderfully, producing exciting and creatively complex material, full of musical variety. Groove, progressiveness and psychedelia blend together in perfect doses. The songs flow well structurally while the overall atmosphere is very mellow and spacey. The production follows the style of the album, taking the feel back to the 70’s, but also with some modern rock freshness. The latest Beatles and early Pink Floyd periods are still the biggest influences in the songwriting process of this dream-team duo.

– Goran Petrić

18. Atlantean Kodex – The Course of Empire

Listening to the latest album of Atlantean Kodex exudes an echo from a very distant and different era. The Course of Empire seems like the end of their sound evolution. Their basic ingredients are present and the way they perceive the music are delivered in the best way till this day. Through the history of epic metal, Bathory, Manowar, Manilla Road, through the legends of the past, they forge their own style.

Epic metal, serious and mature, featuring unforgettable tunes, two guitars conversing with their destiny, and lyrics focusing on their subject, The Course of Empire is already a classic.

– Christos Minos

17. Fire! Orchestra – Arrival

Fire! Orchestra is the ensemble incarnation of the living legend Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! trio. It’s also more than that. Since 2011’s Exit! and a stunning 28-member-strong army, this year’s Arrival finds them with a stripped-down, essential core of “only” 14 superstar musicians. Compared to the ensemble’s previous albums, this one is somewhat more restrained yet deeper, warmer and personal. It’s also uniquely catchy, in line of course with the fact that most of the ensemble’s members are deeply rooted in the free jazz and experimental (rock or otherwise) traditions. I refuse to put a label to all that – other than that this is prog as prog should be. With its swirling, hypnotic and twisted grooves, freely improvised subtext, brass and strings layers, as well as cryptic lyrics and pristine yet fragile vocal performances, Arrival is a modern classic and arguably, the entity’s best output so far.

– Vangelis Christodoulou

16. Sacri Monti – Waiting Room for the Magic Hour

It is a fact that during the first few hearings this not-so-smooth transition from the inaugural hard rock of the debut to Fear and Fire‘s mid 70’s Floyd and everything that follows, the mark was anything but positive. Waiting Room for the Magic Hour needs patient listening, because these Americans have unparalleled inspiration and do not offer something over-simplified. It is also important that in this alum they do not follow the path they had carved with Sacri Monti, however they are gradually changing their compositions moving to a more relaxed mood, offering one more exciting album. Heavy as much as it should be and a thorough exploration of sound and emotions. Complex with passion and knowledge of the sound they love. Recommended for prolonged hearings.

– Thomas Sarakintsis

15. Diagonal – Arc

Arc is a very relaxed album. Everything that happens in eight tracks flows effortlessly. That’s their biggest difference compared to their “intense” musical past, a change that seems less than a conscious choice and more as a current mood of the band. For sure, what they’re playing can only be categorized as progressive rock. However, everything goes through a psychedelic prism, the aesthetic of which characterizes the taste of the whole album. Additionally, even though the ‘70s are always the basis of Diagonal’s expressive ways, the alternative approach in music and sound, blurs the timeframes of their influences.

– Kostas Barbas

14. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

Michael Kiwanuka’s third album is his magnum opus to date. Its most mature artistic style, though it owes much to soul, funk and jazz of the 60s-70s, remains quite contemporary. Each song unfolds through the previous in a concept structure that is interconnected with a complex and deep dialectic between erotic, existential and politico-social thinking. The direction towards friendship, love and solidarity is non-negotiable. After all, this album is one of the highlights of black music of at least the last twenty years, not only because of its musical characteristics, but also because of its spirit and message: Kiwanuka wonders what’s going on in the world and finds the answer in love supreme.

– Nikos Filippaios

13. Mother Turtle – Three Sides to Every Story

Following their standard routine, in Three Sides In Every Story they defy the norms, not only in the frame of the whole vision they formulate, but also in each of the compositions, where pluralism, the variety in melodic and rhyrhmic escalations are charming. This mentality is usually apllied in big bands. In this case, the expressiveness of Mother Turtle works magnificently. Therefore, the question about the orchestration is answered and the success of the three-piece band lies in a consistent and fluid collaboration of the individual units, where the archetype of guitar – bass – drums, with some additional keyboards, introduce a wonderful effectiveness in the formation and implementation of the songs.

– Panagiotis Stathopoulos

12. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race

Second album for US band Blood Incantation and in Hidden History of the Human Race they show that they belong in the elite of the genre. The album is basicaly technical death metal, but it has a strong progressive element and the whole sound brings a nice mix of Morbid Angel, Death and Atheist to mind. The band has personality and inspiration and this is shown in Awakening From the Dream Of Existence…, an 18 minute epic that keeps you hooked throughout with its theme changes, while the rest of the songs are also great, away from the typical “riff / blastbeat / growl” pattern, but also include ambient / space music. If anything is missing from this album it’s a song like Starspawn (first album), but maybe this is proof that the band evolves. The Hidden History of the Human Race is not only the best death metal album of the year, but one of the best dm albums since many many years!

– Giannis Voulgaris

11. The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery

One of the major figures in the boiling contemporary British nu jazz scene is undoubtedly Shabaka Hutchings, who is mainly known for Sons of Kemet. This is until recently, because this year’s The Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery by The Comet Is Coming abruptly changed things. The trio’s unique mix we first tasted in Channel the Spirits (2016) is captured here even more vividly. Their nu jazz style is expressed through versatile fusion components ranging from spiritual jazz to jazz-rock and afro-jazz. However, The Comet Is Coming stands out for the electronic elements and the space-rock character that sometimes takes the form of progressive synth sounds and (almost ritual) neo-psych. What makes them even more interesting is that their music somehow has a form of meditation and spiritual exploration in otherwordly space environments.

– Dimitris Kaltsas

10. Jordsjø – Nattfiolen

Nattfiolen falls within a range shaped by the Trespass-era Genesis, Änglagård, White Willow (the first 3 albums), Wobbler, Jethro Tull’s ’77-’79 folk trilogy era, Sinkadus, Italian prog, Scandinavian and British folk music, as well as Camel.

The revival of Scandinavian prog is keeping on ceaselessly, contributing with albums of high caliber. It is certain that Nattfiolen will concern the prog aficionados while ideally it should constitute a must for all music lovers. Jordsjø offer a 40-minute long soundtrack to escape the decay of the modern civilization with, all the while reinstating nature’s importance in art. An album with artistic and aesthetic stature.

– Thomas Sarakintsis

09. Thank You Scientist – Terraformer

Thank You Scientist are further establishing their sound and showing that rock music can be creative and fun in 2019. Even though the album is long at 85 minutes it manages to captivate the listener with different styles, energies, pop culture references and great musicality. The band had always a great talent creating a cohesive sound while they were mixing wind instruments and big band sounds with classic rock, metal and jazz influences. From the opener Wrinkle the introduction to the Canterbury, experimental and eclectic sounds are eminent so that even the fresh listener gest introduced to what flavor the band has. Terraformer takes the creativity one step further with the band sounding more cohesive than ever and this time there is more space for the individuals to shine.

– Lefteris Statharas

08. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum

The major question is whether the Swedes dared, if the new phase of their career found their personal musical stigma. The answer is almost. The variety of the disc shows such an essence. An essence which, despite the very pure intentions, cannot shake off the love that Åkrfeldt has for the 70s. We hear very nice compositions, it is certainly not a clear tribute like Heritage was or some moments of its predecessors,  but we hear material that has been played 50 years ago, it is not enough to be considered as the new identity of Opeth. If We had more of CharlatanThe Garroter or Dignity we would be talking about a really great record. The mark is positive and it is certainly one of the albums that will be appreciated even more in the long run, perhaps it is the beginning for the recovery of Opeth. This has many of the required elements, but not everything is there.

– Meletis Doulgeroglou

07. Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis

The debut of the collaborative project of Waste of Space Orchestra is not just an album. It is a narrative eerie story, a cinematic experience, interconnected in a grandiose combination of styles, overflowing into a trippy voyage.

Syntheosis is an occult ceremony of avant-garde black metal embracing psychedelia and progressive as the central components and harnessing the cosmic energy of krautrock. The Shaman, The Seeker, and The Possessor each possess a voice that contributes to the progressive sludgy rhythms, the electronic effects along with the complex rock jams and the atmospheric blackened guitar trills, creating a result that will make you feel uneasy.

– Dina Dede

06. Disillusion – The Liberation

On the new record, Disillusion remember their origins. Progressive death metal is back assisted by tons of melody and ambiance. The overall sound might bring to mind bands like Opeth and possibly the classic Swedish death metal and its respective tendency towards melody. It covers a wide spectrum, both encircling metal as well as other influences, referencing for example bands like Pink Floyd. It’s a developed sound that is capable of channeling its inspirations in order to create its own footprint.

The Liberation contains music from an outstanding band which made their comeback through adversities that kept them ashore for many years. It is the unquenched will for creation that is evident within every single track. It is heavy music that involves experience and thus it sounds solid. It is the inevitable step forward from Gloria and the age of maturity that follows that of amazement. Gloria heralded how metal should sound like in the 21st century, while this one is not as charged. It is, however, as great.

– Christos Minos

05. Krokofant – Q

Here, the jazzy developments have a different dynamic, the real feel is 70s and yet -almost paradoxically- contemporary (only Norwegians can do this perfectly) and the rock melodies have a significantly higher gravity. The plot interest in the developments of the five musicians can only be compared to those of Elephant9 and -as incredible as it sounds- they are at least equal. The band’s distinctive energetic style is no longer a concern. The flow of the songs is unmatched and the magnificent structure guarantees that every listening is a different, equally exciting experience. Brutal prog is more melodic and more epic jazz-rock is brilliantly more avant-garde, and there’s not a single dull moment. Pure delight!.

– Dimitris Kaltsas

04. Magma – Zess: Le jour du neant

Compared to the classic works by Magma, Zëss is not as groundbreaking but I doubt that would be a rational expectation. It is rather repetitive and it does take time to appreciate, while it certainly shows the band in top form (although the newcomer Rudy Blas’ guitar is practically inaudible). The orchestra reveals a missing element in Magma’s music and I would really love to listen to a similar treatment on Theusz Hamtaahk, for example, which has not been properly recorded yet. I enjoyed Zëss’ spiritual and cathartic quality and I imagine it holds a dear place in Christian Vander’s heart, hence the decision to go with it.

– Vangelis Christodoulou

03. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You

Although not a concept album, the band states that The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You is about navigating a world in flux, as if you were reading a 1976-1979 spy novel and you want to find out where it is all heading.

Where many prog bands fail, Hooffoot triumph. The expressive pluralism, the smoothness of changes and the flawless orchestration are simply rare. In answering the original question, it’s really hard to tell which of the two Hooffoot albums is the best. That alone is enough to make The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You a future classic.

– Dimitris Kaltsas

02. Leprous – Pitfalls

In whole, the album is characterized by a melancholic atmosphere, while the stressful, claustrophobic orchestral parts that run through the compositions, bring out the introversion and the intense psychological mood of the composer. Under these circumstances, the strings reappear and enrich the songs with the electronic drums in many parts. Leprous manage with their every discographic suggestion to refresh the expectations and their ambitions towards the “progressive” like a stance and not as a genre. Pitfalls is a daring step towards a direction, that the Norwegians define, not follow.

– Panos Papazoglou

01. Motorpsycho – The Crucible

The Crucible gives to the listener exactly what the title promises: a crucible of influences, personal identity and talent of three of the best musicians. Every note in this album has not only been placed wisely, but in the correct ratios. Hence, the album bears the perfect seal of Motorpsycho, the seal of classic and indestructible.

– Petros Papadogiannis

The Crucible is the young (and slightly more progressive) sibling of The Tower and another jewel in their discography, reinforcing the idea that rock in our days needs Motorpsycho and all of the things they represent.

– Kostas Barbas


 

Dimitris Anastasiadis

01. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
02. Theon Cross – Fyah
03. Snurky Puppy – Immigrance
04. The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
05. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
06. Ghalia – Mississippi Blend
07. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
08. Magma – Zess: Le jour du neant
09. Kenny Wayne Shepherd – The Traveler
10. Walter Trout – Survivor Blues

Kostas Barbas

01. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
02. Magma – Zess: Le jour du neant
03. Leprous – Pitfalls
04. Krokofant – Q
05. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
06. The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
07. Tonbruket – Masters of Fog
08. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
09. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
10. Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis

Vangelis Christodoulou

01. Jaimie Branch – FLY or DIE II: Bird Dogs of Paradise
02. Christian Lillinger – Open Form for Society
03. Esperanza Spalding – 12 Little Spells
04. Marker – New Industries
05. Fire! Orchestra – Arrival
06. Ikarus – Mosaismic
07. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
08. Tonbruket – Masters of Fog
09. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
10. Krokofant – Q

Dina Dede

01. Lana del Ray – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
02. Big Business – The Beast You Are
03. Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis
04. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
05. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
06. Blut aus Nord – Hallucinogen
07. Fontaines D.C. – Boys in the Better Land
08. Tyler, the Creator – Igor
09. Filmmaker – Love Market
10. Overkill – The Wings of War

Meletis Doulgeroglou

01. Darkwater – Human
02. Disillusion – The Liberation
03. Voyager – Colors In the Sun
04. Leprous – Pitfalls
05. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
06. Soen – Lotus
07. Devin Townsend – Empath
08. Allegaeon – Apoptosis
09. Hypno5e – A Distant (Dark) Source
10. Turilli/Lione Rhapsody – Zero Gravity

Nikos Filippaios

01. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
02. Blind Delon – Discipline
03. Aura Safari – Aura Safari
04. Collard – Unholy
05. Floating Points – Crush
06. Laughing Eye – Laughing Eye
07. Black Midi – Schlagenheim
08. Moodymann – Sinner
09. Benjamin Fröhlich – Amiata
10. Dave – Psychodrama

Paris Gravouniotis

01. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
02. Magma – Zess: Le jour du neant
03. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
04. Leprous – Pitfalls
05. Mother Turtle – Three Sides to Every Story
06. On the Raw– Climbing the Air
07. Jordsjø – Nattfiolen
08. Lucy in Blue – In Flight
09. DiZZY DiZiGN – Repeatedly L
10. Sacri Monti – Waiting Room for the Magic Hour

Dimitris Kaltsas

01. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
02. Magma – Zess: Le jour du neant
03. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
04. Krokofant – Q
05. Leprous – Pitfalls
06. Sacri Monti – Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
07. Tonbruket – Masters of Fog
08. The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
09. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
10. Cheeto’s Magazine – Amazingous

Vasilis Korolis

01. Slipknot – We are Not Your Kind
02. Mgła – Age of Excuse
03. Atlantean Kodex – The Course of Empire
04. Rammstein – Rammstein
05. Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q.
06. Ioanna Gika – Thalassa
07. Blut aus Nord – Hallucinogen
08. Misþyrming – Algleymi
09. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
10. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas

Christos Minos

01. Disillusion – The Liberation
02. Atlantean Kodex -The Course Of Empire
03. Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis
04. Arch / Matheos -Winter Ethereal
05. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
06. Motorpsycho -The Crucible
07. Traveler – Traveler
08. Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q.
09. Schammasch – Hearts of No Light
10. Baroness – Gold & Grey

Eleni Panayiotou

01. Tool – Fear Inoculum
02. IQ – Resistance
03. Leprous – Pitfalls
04. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
05. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
06. The Tea Club – If/When
07. Steve Unruh – Precipice
08. Big Big Train – Grand Tour
09. Voyager – Colors In the Sun
10. Millenium – The Web

Panos Papazoglou

01. Disillusion – The Liberation
02. Leprous – Pitfalls
03. Thank You Scientist – Terraformer
04. Cult of Luna – A Dawn To Fear
05. Refused – War Music
06. Baroness – Gold & Grey
07. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
08. Devin Townsend – Empath
09. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South Of Reality
10. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats’ Nest

Petros Papadogiannis

01. Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis
02. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
03. Trojka – Τre Ut
04. Jordsjø – Nattfiolen
05. Krokofant – Q
06. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
07. Magma – Zess: Le jour du neant
08. Sharon van Etten – Seventeen
09. Disillusion – The Liberation
10. Monograf – Nadir

Goran Petrić

01. Diagonal – Arc
02. Jordsjø – Nattfiolen
03. Sacri Monti – Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
04. Ray Alder – What The Water Wants
05. Magma – Zess: Le jour du neant
06. Horizon’s End – Skeleton Keys
07. Farmhouse Odyssey – Fertile Ground
08. On the Raw – Climbing the Air
09. Disillusion – The Liberation
10. Soen – Lotus

Tasos Poimenidis

01. Rival Sons – Feral Roots
02. Arch / Matheos -Winter Ethereal
03. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
04. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
05. Leprous – Pitfalls
06. Thank you Scientist – Terraformer
07. Green Lung – Woodland Rites
08. Crypt Sermon – The Ruins of Fading Light
09. Riot City – Burn the Night
10. Candlemass – The Door to Doom

Kostas Rokas

01. Art Ensemble Of Chicago – We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary
02. Krokofant – Q
03. Fire! Orchestra – Arrival
04. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
05. Magma – Zess: Le jour du neant
06. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
07. Jordsjø – Nattfiolen
08. Dury Dava – Dury Dava
09. Eye Make the Horizon – Dim Sun
10. Leprous – Pitfalls

Thomas Sarakintsis

01. Diagonal – Arc
02. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
03. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
04. Panzerpappa – Summarisk Suite
05. On the Raw – Climbing the Air
06. Mother Turtle – Three Sides to Every Story
07. Sacri Monti – Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
08. Jordsjø – Nattfiolen
09. Lucy in Blue – In Flight
10. Fvneral Fvkk – Carnal Confessions

Lefteris Statharas

01. Thank You Scientist – Terraformer
02. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
03. Leprous – Pitfalls
04. Devin Townsend – Empath
05. Mother Turtle – Three Sides to Every Story
06. Krokofant – Q
07. Alfa Mist – Structuralism
08. Bent Knee – You Know What They Mean
09. Cheeto’s Magazine – Amazingous
10. Atsuko Chiba- Trace

Panagiotis Stathopoulos

01. These New Puritans – Inside the Rose
02. Teeth of the Sea – Wraith
03. Krokofant – Q
04. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
05. Kolida Babo – Kolida Babo
06. Fire! Orchestra – Arrival
07. Κarl Hector and the Malcouns – Non Ex Orbis
08. Richard Dawson – 2020
09. Oiseaux-Tempête – From Somewhere Invisible
10. Black Midi – Schlagenheim

Alexandros Topintzis

01. The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
02. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
03. Black Midi – Schlagenheim
04. Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
05. Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis
06. Leprous – Pitfalls
07. Bent Knee – You Know What They Mean
08. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
09. Blood Incantation – Hiden History of the Human Race
10. Schammasch – Hearts of No Light

Giannis Voulgaris

01. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
02. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
03. Thank You Scientist – Terraformer
04. Blood Incantation – Hiden History of the Human Race
05. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
06. Riot City – Burn the Night
07. Mother Turtle – Three Sides to Every Story
08. Queensrÿche – The Verdict
09. Umpfel – As the Waters Cover the Sea
10. Mother of Millions – Artifacts

Giannis Zavradinos

01. Farmhouse Odyssey – Fertile Ground
02. Panzerpappa – Summarisk Suite
03. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
04. Trojka – Tre Ut
05. Cheeto’s Magazine – Amazingous
06. The Winstons – Smith
07. Hooffoot – The Lights in the Aisle Will Guide You
08. Glutton – Eating Music
09. Dury Darva – Dury Darva
10. Sacri Monti – Waiting Room for the Magic Hour

Giorgos Zoukas

01. Sarathy Korwar – More Arriving
02. Karl Hector & The Malcouns – Non Ex Orbis
03. J.J. Whitefield – Brother All Alone
04. Madmadmad – Madmadmad
05. The Natural Yogurt Band – Braille, Slate & Stylus
06. Ριζά – Ριζά
07. Sven Wunder – Doğu Çiçekleri
08. The Heavy Twelves – Beats Of Trash
09. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
10. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality

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