The best prog albums of 2023

Sections of the sleeves of albums by Peter Gabriel, Yes, Haken and Steven Wilson
(Image credit: Peter Gabriel Ltd/InsideOut Music/Virgin)

The modern prog scene went from strength to strength in 2023. A slew of veteran artists released hugely impressive albums, but they were matched by a generation of newer bands picking up their torches and heading off into deep space. These are the 10 most essential prog releses of the last 12 months. 


Big Big Train – Ingenious Devices

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Big Big Train’s past, present and future unite here. A 17-piece orchestra, recorded in the hallowed Abbey Road, elevates transcendent material sung by the late, great David Longdon, including that stunner, East Coast Racer. New frontman Alberto Bravin is introduced via Atlantic Cable, performed live in Aylesbury 2022. The word ‘poignant’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

Buy Ingenious Devices

Crown Lands – Fearless


With their stellar second album, Crown Lands fill the Rush-shaped gap in music with a person to spare. Fearless finds the duo venturing light years away from their blues rock roots into sonic deep space. Reference points span The Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Magnum and every album Geddy Lee and co released between 1975 and 1985, but the Canadians transcended their influences to become their own unashamedly and outrageously ambitious thing. 

Buy Fearless

The Fierce & The Dead – News From The Invisible World


Instrumental shapeshifters TFATD took a simple but unexpected left turn on their fourth album by adding vocals, courtesy of bassist Kevin Feazey. Thankfully, their determinedly maverick streak remains intact. News From The Invisible World finds them pinballing between the sparse ’90s atmospherics of Nostalgia Now, Golden Head’s scraping alt-rock and the wild-eyed, sax-propelled mania of Wonderful. 

Buy News From The Invisible World

Peter Gabriel – i/o


Outfoxing social media’s daily tidal waves, Peter Gabriel teased out this new album – his first collection of originals in twenty years – by releasing a single with every full moon. And appropriately, the songs, full of grace and gravity, surround his age-defying voice with reflective halos and glowing arrangements, harkening back to everything from Lamb-era Genesis to the world beats of Security. ‘Stuff going out, stuff going in/I’m just a part of everything,’ Gabriel sings. Indeed, a record of profound connection.

Buy i/o

Gong – Unending Ascending


Daevid Allen may be eight years gone, but his cosmic spirit still inhabits the band he bequeathed to guitarist/singer Kavus Torabi. Gong’s latest album does him proud, weaving itse way through psychedelic flights of fan, riff-heavy onslaughts and head-spinning mini-concepts about moon goddesses. As delightfully unhinged as ever.

Buy Unending Ascending

Haken – Fauna


Drawing inspiration from both the animal kingdom and visionary sci-fi authors such as Phillip K Dick, Haken’s seventh album is a commentary on the world around us and our place in it. The chin stroking concept is yoked to songs that veer between the wilfully awkward (Elephants Never Forget) and the effortless poppy (the glitchy Beneath The White Rainbow). Playfully ominous, in the best sense.

Buy Fauna

Jethro Tull – Rökflöte


This isn’t the only concept album ever made about Norse mythology, but we don’t know of any better ones than Jethro Tull’s 23rd studio set. The selfmocking title (Rock Flute – does what it says on the tin, with added umlauts, yeah?) belies a record full of Ian Anderson’s trademark maverick intelligence allied to exuberant, idiosyncratic art rock – with Scando attitude shot through it.

Buy Rökflöte

Seven Impale – Summit


The name might suggest rampaging, sword-wielding metal barbarians, but Norwegian heavy jazz-skronkers are more out there than ever on their first album in seven years. All shades of madness are here, from lunatic blasts of sax to noirish shuffles. Van der Graaf Generator fans will recognise something in them.

Buy Summit

Steven Wilson – The Harmony Codex


Steven Wilson often gives the impression of a man determined to deliver what his audience least expect. The Harmony Codex, on the other hand, sounds like Wilson operating at his least contrarian, just doing whatever the hell comes naturally, and doing it extremely well. Rock Bottom sounds like a deliberate, fanboy attempt to combine both The Great Gig In The Sky and Comfortably Numb and the multi-part Impossible Tightrope races from one state of transcendence to the next via a series of stuttering riffs and scattergun rhythms, embellished by strings, seagulls and choirs of celestial angels.

Buy The Harmony Codex

Yes - Mirror To The Sky


Band linchpins such as Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman may have moved on, and Chris Squire and Alan White sadly passed on, but under Steve Howe’s leadership the Yes flame endures, as frontman Jon Davison once again stamps his own vocal identity on the band, co-writing much of the band’s 23rd studio album and jousting with lively licks from Steve Howe (who also produced) and Billy Sherwood’s reliably limber bass lines. 

Buy Mirror To The Sky

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