Author Topic: Favourite 2015 albums  (Read 1187 times)

Offline Teunis

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Favourite 2015 albums
« on: Mon, 2015-12-28, 19:22:34 »
The year is (almost) over, time to select (y)our favourite albums I'd say. It's been a great year with absolute highlight for me the comeback from Toto. After 9 (!) years they released the (not expected) follow-up to 'Falling In Between' called 'XIV'. And man do I love this album, it fully deserves my no. 1 spot. Here's my list, at least for now ;):

 1.   Toto - Toto XIV
 2.   Riverside - Love, Fear And The Time Machine
 3.   Arena - The Unquiet Sky
 4.   Mystery - Delusion Rain
 5.   Agent Fresco - Destrier
 6.   The Neal Morse Band - The Grand Experiment
 7.   Teramaze - Her Halo
 8.   Subsignal - The Beacons Of Somewhere Sometime
 9.   Antimatter - The Judas Table
10.   Leprous - The Congregation

Riverside was a grower, but it growed a lot as you can see ;). It certainly helped attending their gig, which was brilliant. Arena is back, they delivered a great album, really enjoy it! New music for me is Agent Fresco, it's the music that surprised me most. Really fresh and totally different. Other newcomers, at least for me, are Teramaze and I discovered Leprous ;D. They close my top-10. Here are the albums that didn't make it to my first 10:

11.   Gazpacho - Molok
12.   Lonely Robot - Please Come Home
13.   The Gentle Storm - The Diary
14.   Comedy Of Errors - Spirit
15.   Von Hertzen Brothers - New Day Rising
16.   Muse - Drones

Gazpacho and Muse usually easily make it to my top-10, but these albums don't grip me for some reason. John Mitchell's 'Lonely Robot' is a fine album, but I don't find myself playing it often.

I've attended 7 gigs in 2015. Toto, Arena and Riverside were my favourites (no particular order). Curious to your 2015 favourites ...
'I will surrender my heart to the sky
Oh, our love doesn't end here, it lives forever on the wings of time'
-------------------------------------------------------
Toto - Wings of time (Kingdom of Desire)

Offline funkster

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Re: Favourite 2015 albums
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 2016-01-08, 12:04:24 »
Some great choices there and may I add In Times by Enslaved which is another fantastic claim by this band

Offline funkster

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Re: Favourite 2015 albums
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 2016-01-08, 12:09:38 »
And hand.cannot.erase by Steven Wilson


Offline PH

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Re: Favourite 2015 albums
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 2016-02-12, 21:00:45 »
Ok, I've had a really hard time figuring out which releases are on which place in my top 10.
But most of these releases shift from third place to seventh to fifth to tenth to third... etc...
So I'll do things differently this time.

The standout albums for me are:

1. Neal Morse Band - "The Grand Experiment"
You probably guessed it. This album is making me very happy! I might have said it before, but Neal is ticking all the boxes for me. For some reason his prog albums (and the bands that he's in) can't do wrong. "The Grand Experiment" actually IS a successful experiment. Two wonderful epics and three shorter songs and no real stinkers. (I actually also like Agenda which is seen as the skip-song by many people.) In fact, the bonus songs on disc two are by no means of less quality. Man, this guy has so much energy and creativity! And I feel energised by listening to it.

2. Arena - "The Unquiet Sky"
This is really a very good album! And of course we're still an Arena forum, so it's only logical to have this high on the list. But it's regarded high in the general prog community as well. "Return to form" they say. And to be honest, it feels a bit like that. I'm not making it a secret that "Seventh Degree..." was a bit of a disappointment for me. With concept albums it's always hard to tell what the best tracks are. Because you have to listen to them in order. They're all so good! This album is a wonderful listening experience.

3. Steven Wilson - "Hand Cannot Erase"
Reviews say this is his best album ever (some even including Porcupine Tree's discography) and the absolute best album of 2015. So I was expecting to be blown away by it. It IS a good album indeed. But I think I liked "The Raven That Refused To Sing" a little bit better. He's straying more and more from his experimental album "Insurgentes", which I thought was the direction he wanted to go. But it seems he's coming back to Porcupine Tree territory. Even a bit poppier than that. But like I said it IS a really good album. It's fantastic and amazing and slightly overrated. ;) And it's in my top 3!

Then there are the good albums (in no particular order):

The Tangent - "A Spark In The Aether"
The fantastic sequel to "The Music That Died Alone" and a concept-ish album about Progressive Rock. There's a lot of catchiness on this album again. Actually, that's something that I missed in the last three albums. I mean, these albums were interesting for sure, but somehow don't make me replay them much. This new album on the other hand is much fun! The rhythm section is very tight thanks to Morgan Ågren and Jonas Reingold who are bandmates in Kaipa since 2002. It has groove and is jazzy in a lot of places. Really like the (vintage) keyboards and the wind instruments on this one.

Leprous - "The Congregation"
After "Coal", which was my introduction to this band, I was looking forward to "The Congregation"! Initially a bit disappointed, but this album is a grower. It was not overwhelming like "Coal" was to me. I like the contrast of the heavy outbursts and the tension-filled quiet bits. And the singer is doing a great job. The guitar is low and heavy. I tried a lot of Djent bands, but was put off by either the vocalists or the lack of a certain thread in the music. Leprous is not really Djent, but has the staccato guitar in many places, which I like. And there's enough melody and at some times it even makes me happy. :P

Symphony X - "Underworld"
So much energy in this one! Absolutely love Russel Allen's voice here. The music is very heavy but still highly melodic. Somewhere halfway it starts to become a bit samey and I get bored. Perhaps I should try listen to it with the tracklist in reverse order. Or go all the way and listen to the whole thing backwards. Might even find some sublimal messages. ;)

Kamelot - "Haven"
This album surprised me. It's very melodic and the singing is super. The whole album is interesting to me. Many of the choruses on this album got stuck in my head easily. The songs are heavy, but are still easy to follow. They are real songs. No technical stuff (like with the Symphony X album), which can be a bit too much at times.

Gazpacho - "Molok"
As always with Gazpacho, this album is a grower. They don't go for instant satisfaction. Everytime I start with a new album by this band I wonder if I will ever like it. But eventually, when the penny drops, it's beautiful to my ears.

Magic Pie - "King For A Day"
I came a bit late to the party with this one. I think it was early december when I got this. It's retro prog. Makes me think of A.C.T, Spock's Beard, Dream Theater, Flower Kings etc. This is a really good album! And it's a grower. I think this could easily make it to higher parts in my top 10 if I listen more to it. So let's see what 2016 will do to this album.

Spock's Beard - "The Oblivion Particle"
This album starts strong already with Tides Of Time. That song is a mix of old and new Spocks with some Collins-Genesis, catchy and proggy. Add quirkiness to the mix and that's Spock's Beard in a nutshell. Ted's vocals are an acquired taste. I must admit that I had some trouble first (with their previous album) but now I'm ok. The first half of the album is better than the second half.

Riverside - "Love, Fear And The Time Machine"
Secretly a Lunatic Soul album? Very mellow album. "Shrine Of New Generation Slaves" was such a good album, so it was only inevitable to be disappointed. Is this a bad album then? Absolutely not! Just don't expect Progressive Metal here. After some time I began to really like it. But it has not the same impact on me as S.O.N.G.S. did. There are again some very nice melodies. It's all very sweet and lovely.

The 'not that good' albums (but not necessarily bad):

The Gentle Storm - "The Diary"
Lonely Robot - "Please Come Home"
Sylvan - "Home"
Nightwish - "Endless Forms Most Beautiful"
Glass Hammer - "The Breaking Of The World"
ELO - "Alone In The Universe"
Neal Morse - "Morsefest! 2014"
Spock's Beard - "The First Twenty Years"
Gavin Harrison - "Cheating The Polygraph"
Subsignal - "The Beacons Of Somewhere Sometime"
Big Big Train - "Wassail"

2016 is already promising to be a very good year. Dream Theater surprised me with a really cool album. Neal Morse is writing again. Big Big Train will spoil us with a studio album, a live dvd and some sort of compilation album with reworkings of earlier songs. A.C.T will also release their first live dvd (looking forward to this very much). Frost* will release their (his?) third album which was a long wait. (I remember Jem saying he wanted to do five albums in five years (haha!)) Then there's Marillion, Haken, Blind Ego, Huis, Lonely Robot, probably forgetting some. And Anderson, Wakeman and Rabin. A lot to look forward to, and probably some future disappointments again, but that's part of the game.

Offline Teunis

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Re: Favourite 2015 albums
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 2016-02-13, 20:36:55 »
Thanks for sharing your list PH, it's a nice read 8). My list would be different now too, Gazpacho works better now for me. Top-3 would be the same though :). Neal Morse Band is indeed a 'fresh' album now the other band members are more involved in song writing, curious what the new album will sound like. And I'm also looking forward to the new Frost*, Blind Ego and Huis album.
'I will surrender my heart to the sky
Oh, our love doesn't end here, it lives forever on the wings of time'
-------------------------------------------------------
Toto - Wings of time (Kingdom of Desire)

Offline PH

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Re: Favourite 2015 albums
« Reply #5 on: Sat, 2016-02-13, 23:12:44 »
Thanks for sharing your list PH, it's a nice read 8).

Thanks! I like talking about music. :P

My list would be different now too, Gazpacho works better now for me.

I think even my list would look very different now already. It was a very strange year. A lot of fine releases and it seems they're all more or less of the same quality.

Molok is really good. When I was constructing my list, Molok has been third place, fourth or fifth place and something like eight place... Whenever I listen to it I'm intrigued. In fact, I'm going to listen to it now!

Top-3 would be the same though :). Neal Morse Band is indeed a 'fresh' album now the other band members are more involved in song writing, curious what the new album will sound like.

Yeah! And he also has a worship album coming up. I don't have any of his worship albums. (I'm not really into worship music). But I'll listen to his new album anyway, perhaps it's more like his "God Won't Give Up" album, which I do have and like quite a bit when I'm in the mood for it. What's your take on it?

And I'm also looking forward to the new Frost*, Blind Ego and Huis album.

Yeah man, Huis really surprised me with their debut album. Still thankful that you brought them to my attention. I hope their second album will be not too much of a disappointment since it would be very hard to top this album. ;)
That reminds me, I still need to listen to the new Mystery album...

Offline Nicky007

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Re: Favourite 2015 albums
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 2016-02-15, 20:55:59 »
Thanx from me too, Paxi, I too found it an interesting read.

Yes, Christian rock has definitely come a long way during recent years. Neal Morse was to me the first really convincing effort. While his lyrics run deep, his music isn't just stock tralala, as Christian rock used to be, but he's really upfront with the best, in fact one can easily omit the lyrics at times and just go with the exciting music *horns*

Another great Christian rock album, in fact fresh from 2015, so it fits in well in this thread, is W.A.S.P.s Golgatha. Not prog exactly, but the passion, melody and depth that radiate from it - whew !!! And some very tasty guitar play. Try it out, guys ;)

And yes, I too noticed the djent in Coal and Congregation. Not only that, Leprous as a child of Emperor is steeped in black metal, but they use it sparingly to have a broad appeal. And that counterpoint between Einar Solberg's unearthly voice and the djent - whew *horns*

I'm not a year by year collector, the albums I've purchased in recent years mostly spread quite evenly over the 00's, and a few from earlier, one set being the classics from my youth; so it wouldn't make much sense for me to try to patch together a best of 2015.

My most recent crush is Wintersun, basically a one-man effort by Finnish Jari Mäenpää (those Finnish names ::) ), altho drummer Kai Hahto adds a lot to the excitement, and Jari has added two more Finnish musicians along the way.

His/their Time I from 2012 is an overwhelming tour-de-force, in structure harking back to early Mike Oldfield, with repetitive folk themes and atmosphere building up, except that Jari as a child of our times takes it much further, with dramatic contrasts and blasts coming in from all sides. He spent years overdubbing and adding fx. It's definitely worth all that effort, a very extraordinary experience *horns*

- Nicky
« Last Edit: Mon, 2016-02-15, 21:16:45 by Nicky007 »
So you've come of age
And so you want to meet God
Sure you can
He's right here next to me

Offline PH

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Re: Favourite 2015 albums
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 2016-02-16, 10:53:36 »
Thanx from me too, Paxi, I too found it an interesting read.

Thanks, glad you liked it. :)

Yes, Christian rock has definitely come a long way during recent years.

I don't know many christian rock artists, so I wouldn't really know. Most christian artists avoid Prog Rock, probably because it's not mainstream enough and they want to reach as many people as possible... Same for Metal actually, although I guess there are more metalheads than progheads. I know of a few christian artists, but their music is mostly very simple and predictable Pop Rock, or perhaps Alternative Rock at best. I can recommend the Canadian band Downhere (now defunct) with the 2008 album "Ending Is Beginning": very nice Alternative/Pop Rock with two excellent vocalists and extremely catchy melodies. But man, we are totally going off topic now. ;D

Neal Morse was to me the first really convincing effort. While his lyrics run deep, his music isn't just stock tralala, as Christian rock used to be, but he's really upfront with the best, in fact one can easily omit the lyrics at times and just go with the exciting music *horns*

In Neal's case you can even omit the music and just read the lyrics, which is really deep indeed. Sometimes even prophetic. It really reaches my soul. My problem with most christian music (besides the simple music) is the shallow lyrics. (so what's there left to like?) Most of the time it's like love songs, without addressing all the other aspects of life and theological questions that one can have.

Another great Christian rock album, in fact fresh from 2015, so it fits in well in this thread, is W.A.S.P.s Golgatha. Not prog exactly, but the passion, melody and depth that radiate from it - whew !!! And some very tasty guitar play. Try it out, guys ;)

Never heard of them. I'll put them on my exploration list.

My most recent crush is Wintersun, basically a one-man effort by Finnish Jari Mäenpää (those Finnish names ::) ), altho drummer Kai Hahto adds a lot to the excitement, and Jari has added two more Finnish musicians along the way.

His/their Time I from 2012 is an overwhelming tour-de-force, in structure harking back to early Mike Oldfield, with repetitive folk themes and atmosphere building up, except that Jari as a child of our times takes it much further, with dramatic contrasts and blasts coming in from all sides. He spent years overdubbing and adding fx. It's definitely worth all that effort, a very extraordinary experience *horns*

Sounds interesting. Will investigate.



2015 seems to be a difficult year. Too many good albums to actually decide which is better than the next.