The Best Extreme Progressive Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016


1.  Ihsahn - Arktis. 247
2.  Borknagar - Winter Thrice 243
3.  Novembre - URSA 108
4.  Hail Spirit Noir - Mayhem In Blue 97
5.  Gorguts - Pleiades' Dust [EP] 93
6.  Hypno5e - Shores Of The Abstract Line 46
7.  Lascaille's Shroud - The Roads Leading North 20
8.  A Sense Of Gravity - Atrament 15
9.  The Levitation Hex - Cohesion 10
10.  Obscura - Akróasis (write-in vote) 6
11.  Black Crown Initiate - Selves We Cannot Forgive (write-in vote) 5
12.  Aleph - Thanatos 4
Total votes:
914



They say, "don't judge an album by its cover," but in this case, both go hand-in-hand in terms of grandiosity and ambition. A Sense Of Gravity's Atrament is a complex piece of music but also very creative. Djent/math, symphonic, tech, death metal, progressive, are all thrown up in there cohesively. This is cutting-edge, jaw-dropping prog.

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Aleph's mix of old school death metal, Rigor Mortis-style thrash, and horror movie soundtrack doom makes for one potent blood offering. Thanatos is saturated with a sophisticated, gothic sense of evil foreboding that makes it feel almost like the winds whistling through an old, vampiric castle, but the real kicker is how well Aleph knows its way around a hook. Mentality and aura are nothing without songs to back them up, and Aleph is full of twisting, turning tales of doomy, thrashy wickedness; Thanatos feels just like a long-lost gem from the late '80s, and for all we know, it could be, so you shouldn't keep it waiting any longer.

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Borknagar has been in the business for 20 years and has carved out a unique niche for itself which straddles avant-garde, black, symphonic and folk metal. Old fans will be delighted to know that all four vocalists have been brought abroad to record the album, each bringing his distinct flavour to this simmering pot of melodic metal goodness. New listeners can brace themselves for a lush musical journey of black metal fury, multi-layered choirs, soaring vocal leads and folk-inspired melodies through the heart of Winter.

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Jarring chord progressions, uncomfortable keys, and warm, swampy tones make Pleiades' Dust as thoroughly Gorguts a release as you'll ever hear. Comprising one single half-hour-long song, this EP wanders all over scales, modes, and good vibrations in far-flung regions of musical theory where most metal bands fear to tread. Pleiades' Dust has an avalanche for a time signature and a limitless horde of fascinating ideas to draw on, proving once again why Gorguts is one of the biggest names in extreme prog metal.

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Hail Spirit Noir offers us the label "psychoprog black metal" if we wish to put words to the ever-changing form of Mayhem In Blue. There doesn't seem to be any better way to describe these trippy, star-gazing passages of keyboard-bounded, blues-tinged atmosphere-building laced with touches of that ol' black magic... or the oddly-placed folksy theatrics that pop up from time to time... or the haunting explorations of more old school prog. Yeah, "psychoprog black metal" it is.

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As the band's rather L33t name suggests, Hypno5e is definitely among the cream of the crop, especially when it comes to the seamless yet irregular interplay of lush ambient and extreme metal. Shores Of The Abstract Line has become the new textbook on mind-blowing modern metal.

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Hard to believe, but Arktis. is the sixth solo album from Vegard Sverre Tveitan, also known as Ihsahn. He is a master, on the wall, hall of famer in the extreme prog/avant-garde pantheon. Arktis. is another trophy for any fan's collection. The music prospers from plenty of weird, deconstructed, technical guitars, tasteful clean vocals, and of course his vaunted black metal-style shrieking. Electronic and orchestral injections, plenty of guest session musicians and perfect production make Arktis. an authentic work of art.

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Look, we'll give it to you straight: two hours is a long time to devote to an album, and some people don't feel justified in spending that much time on a single piece of music. If you've got a free weekend, though, we can't stress enough how much The Roads Leading North would change your music library for the better. This vast monolith of sci-fi death-power-prog is like the soundtrack to an engrossing and heavily atmospheric film; the emotions are real and deep, the musicianship is impressive and versatile, and the songs are vast. Ah, who are we kidding? You're in the extreme prog category! Two hours is nothing to you freaks, especially when you spend them with such an entrancing album as this.

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Italy's Novembre has returned from a nine-year hiatus and brought us URSA, a progressive, gothic, death/doom masterpiece. A spiritually epic and uplifting traverse through this album also reveals remarkable soundscapes and atmosphere. Radiant production by none other than Dan Swanö illuminates many sonic templates and lush time changes. With so many different styles to digest, URSA will require frequent returns, but the point of a journey is not to arrive.

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Since the long-running Australian band Alchemist disbanded, Adam Agius has soldiered on, and The Levitation Hex is his way of continuing his musical vision of a brash and unapologetic amalgam of atmosphere, groove, riffs and unusual melody perhaps influenced by aboriginal music. Cohesion certainly combines all things awesome to form this juggernaut of an album.

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