The Best Extreme Progressive Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2019





Allegaeon are as consistent in their quality as they are in their productivity. Apoptosis is the band's fifth album in a decade and, like the previous four, beats its way to the top of progressive death metal with riffs that are far too complex to be as accessible as they are. This time around, Allegaeon is eager to show off its new bass player and some new influences that have accumulated over the last few years, resulting in an album that is a little more technical, though no less finely crafted. Apoptosis is the stellar science-core pillar to round out this year's extreme prog crop, finely calculated to satisfy extremophiles such as ourselves.

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2019 was the year for comebacks; just like Tool, Disillusion released their first album since 2006. However, instead of rehashing the sound of either of their first two records, Disillusion offered up something quite different on The Liberation, moving their quirky progressive melodeath sound in a more epic and Nordic metal-inspired direction. The influence of acts such as Arcturus and Borknagar feels present at various points in the album, and yet the spirit of Back To The Times Of Splendour clearly remains. The combination of these approaches results in fantastic songs such as "Wintertide" and "The Mountain", which rival anything from before the group's extended hiatus.

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The 'fire' entry into Dreadnought's elemental series of albums, Emergence sees the band refine the melting pot of musical approaches that defined their previous offerings. Their eclectic prog approach, which combines extreme metal riffs, ethereal soft sections, delicate keyboards, unsettling clean vocals, and intelligent implementation of various orchestral instruments, has been tightened, with more natural transitions between louder and softer sections and more memorable riffs. Dreadnought have a unique musical sound, and Emergence, and the song "Tempered" in particular, is the most accomplished realization of that sound yet.

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You know [guitar solo] how sometimes [guitar solo] you get those proggy tech death bands [guitar solo] that are just [guitar solo] one gigantic [guitar solo] guitar solo [guitar solo] from start to [guitar solo] finish? Well, for a lot of those bands [guitar solo], that formula can be exhausting [guitar solo], but Equipoise have figured out [guitar solo] how to make an album full of [guitar solo] guitar solos into an exciting piece of [guitar solo] death metal that does way more than simply [guitar solo] show off how technically skilled the members are [drum solo] (that's right, that's the trick, there are other instruments that do solos). But seriously, folks - Demiurgus is that rare piece of infinitely technical metal that never gets boring, with every individual piece of the band contributing something to every track (often all at once). It must be the Fullmetal Alchemist-inspired lyrics that taught these guys a little something about teamwork and creativity.

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Looking over Hannes Grossmann's CV, it comes as no surprise that his self-titled pet project follows the progressive and technical path of death metal with a horde of equally talented special guest musicians at his beck and call to provide their own signature sounds. Despite the myriad personalities and style clashes, his releases have maintained a seamless cadence and flow. Apophenia is by no means an exception to this standard, but it is by far the guitar and drum virtuoso's most streamlined material to date.

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A truly modern death metal band cut from similar cloth to Slugdge, Hath delivers a sound that contains ample tech-death elements whilst still retaining a good amount of atmosphere and melody, most notably delivered courtesy of the effectively employed clean vocals that hover in the periphery of a number of songs. Of Rot And Ruin is rampant, complex, and frenetic, but without sacrificing coherence, and the relentless aggression that dominates much of this album is offset by enough changes in tempo and intensity to prevent staleness creeping into what is a substantial track list for such an in-your-face musical approach.

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Kaleikr, the Icelandic duo that rose from the ashes of Draugsól, takes bits of that typical Icelandic black metal dissonance and sprinkles it over some Opeth-and-Enslaved-at-their-heaviest, with some damn gurgly growls, some violin, and a bunch of post-rock atmospheres, enough to make an album concerned with both the atmospheres it creates and its progressive melodies that never tries too hard to be technical.

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Oh, it's a metalcore record. No, sorry, it's a tech death metal record. No, sorry, it's a prog rock record. No, sorry, it's an alt metal record. No, sorry, it's a djent record. No, sorry, it's a math rock record. No, sorry, it's a... funk? For Christ's sake, The Odious, can you please sit down and decide on a single sound? Oh, you did, but it sounds like all of those? I guess that works if you really want to create an extreme prog album that completely defies established norms and bludgeons the listener. Heck, we might even enjoy it.

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I: Voice is an ebb and flow, a constant exchange between eerie, blackened sci-fi death and delicate instrumentals. Warforged boasts the technical virtuosity and stylistic fluidity of a much older band; it's hard to believe that this project makes its debut with this collection of death metal-rooted explorations into the proggy beyond. Warforged invites comparison to a number of other well-loved technical/progressive death metal bands (and, in fact, borrows a lot of their members for an impressive guest list), so you may know how these songs start - but like any good prog album, you never know where it's going to end.

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These Americans may not have a lengthy resume or decades of service to the metal scene yet, but their musical comprehension skills are pro-grade in every aspect. Interdimensional Invocations is a masterfully executed piece of technically charged death metal that gallops, bulldozes, and soars through every standard by which this style's devout followers have come to judge so critically. Not to be pigeon-holed as another generic tech death outfit, Xoth are also keen observers of melody and variation.

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