7) Opeth, Sorceress (Nuclear Blast)
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with Sorceress at first listen. Most of the reason why is because I consider its predecessor, Pale Communion, one of the most well crafted albums Opeth has ever made, so it had a tough act to follow. But a week or so later I found I was singing “The Wilde Flowers” absentmindedly to myself, and decided that it merited a few more spins. I’ve now come to enjoy Sorceress as another fine entry from Opeth without needing to compare it to the band’s previous works. Many fans may still lament the band’s continued distancing from metal, but I still love this proggy iteration of Opeth.
Key Track: “The Wilde Flowers”
6) ONI, Ironshore (Metal Blade)
ONI’s debut album was a last-minute surprise for me. Where other technical metal acts run the risk of being boring, ONI keeps their brand of progressive technical death metal fresh with little flourishes such as the use of a xylo-synth to complement the insane guitar work. The result is a strong debut album that is straightforward but engaging, and it stands a cut above the rest it its class. Plus, they got Randy Blythe to make a guest appearance.
Key Track: “Barn Burner”
5) Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (Neurot)
The newest dark, introspective journey from Neurosis is on the shorter side compared to the rest of their discography, but that only guarantees quality from the band. I caught onto Neurosis back when Honor In Decay came out, but I think this album finally bumped me up from “like them” to “love them.” When I need to wind down on the nightly drive home from work, this is the album I go to.
Key Track: “Broken Ground”
4) Haken, Affinity (Inside Out)
When I heard Haken’s 2013 LP The Mountain, I couldn’t believe I’d somehow missed out on the band the first time around. So I jumped on Affinity immediately and happily enjoyed one of the best progressive albums of the year. The 80’s aesthetic works overwhelmingly well in Haken’s favor and continues their streak of fresh and inspired prog rock/metal.
Key Track: “Lapse”