The Best Progressive Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2017

1.  Ayreon - The Source 273
2.  Leprous - Malina 174
3.  Pain Of Salvation - In The Passing Light Of Day 156
4.  Caligula's Horse - In Contact 68
5.  Voyager - Ghost Mile 41
6.  Witherfall - Nocturnes And Requiems 39
7.  Vulture Industries - Stranger Times 34
8.  Need - Hegaiamas​: A Song For Freedom 20
9.  Threshold - Legends Of The Shires (write-in vote) 18
10.  The Thirteenth Sun - Stardust 17
  Subterranean Masquerade - Vagabond 17
12.  Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand (write-in vote) 14
Total votes:

Arjen Anthony Lucassen's latest extraterrestrial opera is pretty standard stuff. As usual, there are 20 billion lead vocalists adding limitless depth and character and feeling to every last line delivered over the course of the album. As expected, the instrumentation straddles all kinds of genres, with due homage paid to both classic progressive sounds and heavy modern offshoots. Just like everything Arjen does, The Source is a gripping and fascinating journey through extravagant realms of thought and musical insight. *sigh* Typical.

Like any old Ayreon album... it's pretty darn amazing.

Australia's Caligula's Horse's In Contact's ten tracks are as chock full of inspiring melodies and sensational instrumentation as this sentence is of possessives. Beautifully crisp, clear production and tight performances will likely raise comparisons to Leprous, as might the light quality of Jim Grey's breathy vocals. Much of the album takes after classic progressive rock in its clean and pure meandering, but In Contact does raise the bar with overwhelming layers of heavy, precise riffing and crushing percussion when need be.
With Malina, Leprous have finally mastered the forbidden art of the chorus, without losing any of their trademark polyrhythmic glitch. Equally proggy and catchy, albeit a little bit more controlled, subtle, lush, yet just as infectious. Einar may have cut down on those "AAAaaaAAAaaa"s, but he makes up for it in soothing earworms.

The fact that Need has snagged one of the spots in this (luckily) populated and competitive category will come as no shock to those who follow the prog metal genre. The Greeks have earned their stripes by flouting the part of the progressive metal tradition that demands overt technicality and keeping the good narratives and intelligent songwriting. Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom inhabits the same sonic and spiritual space as A Pleasant Shade Of Gray and Recreation Day; it's emotive, dark, gorgeous and contemplative.

After two blues rock albums, Pain Of Salvation return to their prog metal roots with their best album in ten years. With In The Passing Light Of Day, the band set the bar really high, delivering a very dark concept album that borrows from Daniel Gildenlöw's near-death experience. Demons were exorcised and the result is both heavy and deep. The music goes to vulnerable, broken, and furious places with the prog mastery only Pain Of Salvation are capable of pulling off.
Subterranean Masquerade deliver a breath of fresh air, eclectic sounds, diverse vocals (clean or harsher) and a myriad of instruments evoking a Middle Eastern heritage. They write fairy tales that progress effortlessly from world music to prog or psychedelic, something they have perfected. Subterranean Masquerade are nomads and vagabonds with their music and we are offered various rides on the different carousels. In the end, Vagabond is a journey through musical oddities that make perfect sense.

After five years in the making, The Thirteenth Sun has crafted a spacey gargantuan monolith of sound. Progressive and technical, although not to the point of technical wankery, every sound is where it is supposed to be, thanks to both the superb songwriting and the crystal-clear production.

Glowing synths continuously waft over glittering guitar progressions and mid-range clean vocals that give Voyager a calm, ultramodern feeling, a very science fiction type of progressive metal you might encounter while watching the Enterprise blast into the night sky. Of course, it's not all majesty and upbeat melody; deep-space growls and fear-mongering riffs can turn Ghost Mile into a devastating heap of heavy, math-y machinery and just as fast vanish back into the silvery sheen of technicality. Voyager handles the contrasts seamlessly and makes Ghost Mile a step up from the already strong V.

Vulture Industries are the top-hat-sporting, absinthe-sipping, pocket watch-flaunting darlings of the prog black metal scene - and the dials are showing you're about to have a good time. Naysayers were quick to dub them Arcturus-lite in the olden days, but now there's not a lot of room for that comparison, because Vulture Industries have shed their old skin and revealed a monstrous entity beneath, made of rotting flesh on metal bones.

Do you miss Nevermore? Into Eternity? This is the album for you. Nocturnes And Requiems contains the last performance of the brilliant Into Eternity drummer Adam Sagan who tragically passed just before the album was released. It's a swan song anyone would be proud of. The band's guitar prodigy, Jake Dreyer, earned himself a spot in Iced Earth's lineup in late 2016, and vocalist Joseph Michael has recently had the honor of being Sanctuary's vocalist pick for their Warrel Dane tribute tour. You'll understand why after you listen to this.