On Tuesday I went through the first half of this year’s top 10 record list, which you can find here. However whilst positions 10 to 6 are of course very important, there’s really only one number we care about…
5 – Riverside – Love, Fear & The Time Machine
This Polish prog band began life with Porcupine Tree comparisons, but only over the last three albums have they begun to step out of that shadow and emerge as a progressive force in their own right. Their sixth album sees the band taking their first big risk. The metal riffage has been severely reduced, replaced with gorgeous atmospheres and relaxed tones, creating a soundtrack for a daydream. Yes, this album can rock, but you’ll find most enjoyment from the beautiful musicality hidden within.
4 – Clutch – Psychic Warfare
How to follow up Earth Rocker was the key question on every Clutch fan’s mind. The answer, it turned out, was simple; follow the same formula, but add just enough new ideas to keep it sounding fresh – and it worked! Psychic Warfare is even more relentless than Earth Rocker was. Thick, blues inspired hard rock riffs, with simple, yet hard hitting rhythm sections, topped off with Neil Fallon’s unique vocal style make Psychic Warfare the best hard rock album of the year. Clutch are a band that just keep on giving.
3 – Between the Buried & Me – Coma Ecliptic
Between the Buried & Me (BTBAM) have always been superb musicians, in regards to both their technical proficiency and their songwriting skills. However, they have never truly grabbed the attention of the progressive world because of their heavy leanings toward death metal. With Coma Ecliptic that has all changed. Yes, there’s still growled vocals and riffs that decay into sheer noise, but the album is also populated with bubbling keyboards, clean vocals, unusual tempos and excellent guitar work; everything to make fans of progressive music swoon. Coma Ecliptic is BTBAM’s masterpiece thus far and is quite an imperious statement of intent.
2 – Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor
Marilyn Manson may no longer be the infamous pop culture rebel of the nineties, but when he’s making music this good, he doesn’t need to be. The majority of his post-best of work has seen Manson haphazardly stumbling from album to album, as he has tried to adopt a more artistic persona. This matured Manson has long been considered out for the count, but The Pale Emperor is an exciting rebirth that takes the spark of his early work and combines it with the greater artistry he’s developed over the last ten years. There’s music to shock, music to make you think, music to rock out to and most importantly music to get you excited. If it wasn’t for his croaky, drug-hurt voice, The Pale Emperor could easily be placed alongside his triptych work (Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, Holy Wood).
1 – Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.
It seems impossible, but Wilson’s output just keeps improving with time. Hand. Cannot. Erase. somehow manages to take the classic prog sound he has developed over his last few records and make it sound fresh and modern to fit the album’s concept. Hand. Cannot. Erase. still contains lengthy instrumental sections with swelling keyboards and organs, twiddly guitar solos, flute cameos and nods to King Crimson, but Wilson has woven in gentle electronics, female vocals, rich atmospheres and lively percussion to lift his traditional prog into the 21st century. His team of virtuosi execute his ambitious music perfectly, adding character to complex segments and creating musical moments to savour. Steven Wilson has finished his classic prog nostalgia and is now making what can only be described as a new-wave of progressive music – and it’s superb!
That concludes the 2015 countdown. Do you agree with my choices? Who do you think deserves the number one spot? Please comment, favourite, share and subscribe if you enjoyed this post. Thank you for reading.