The Prog Magazine Writers' Albums Of 2019

Prog Critics Choice 2019
(Image credit: Future)

We started with a list as long as the headiest prog rock epic, and finally we’ve narrowed it down to a manageable, bona fide classic. Prog’s writers have had the unenviable task of whittling down 12 months’ worth of fine proggy releases into their own Top 20s, for Prog’s master list. And it’s when you check out what didn’t make the grade that you realise what a stonker 2019 has been!

20) Tim Bowness - Flowers At The Scene  (InsideOut)

We said: “Literate heart-aching art-rock at its finest. Flowers… will hoover up the bouquets.” – Chris Roberts, Prog 95

19) Elbow - Giants Of All Sizes (Polydor)

We said: “Its mood is sanguine, a tribute to experience and the bonds that continue to bind us.” – Rob Hughes, Prog 102

18) The Flaming Lips - Kings Mouth (Bella Union)

We said: “This challenges, even startles. Flaming Lips’ oral fixations make for aural fascination.” – Chris Roberts, Prog 100

17: Iamthemorning - The Bell (Kscope)

We said: “The Bell tolls with tension and truth: Iamthemorning’s last record
was no false dawn.” – Chris Roberts, Prog 101

16. Tool - Fear Inoculum (Music For Nations)

We said: “It’s hard not to feel their magic, but those moments are fleeting. ”
– Philip Wilding, Prog 101

15. Steve Hackett - At The Edge Of Light (InsideOut)

We said: “Neat arpeggios, dazzling solo runs... Goodness, he can play.”
– Rachel Mann, Prog 94

14. Russian Circles - Blood Year (Sargent House)

We said: “Russian Circles are among those who’ve become adept at creating bold statements” – Natasha Scharf, Prog 100

13. Bent Knee - You Know What They Mean (InsideOut)

We said: You’re left in no doubt you’ve encountered one of the finest albums of the year.” – Sid Smith, Prog 103 

12. Motorpscyho - The Crucible (Rune Grammofon)

We said: “Even in the shadow of 2017’s epic double album The Tower, Motorpsycho continue to shine.” – David West, Prog 95

11. Jane Weaver - Loops In The Secret Society (Fire)

We said:  “Swirling cosmotronica forged from inside the Big Bang. Surrender to it to appreciate it.” – Joe Banks, Prog 99

10. The Claypool Lennon Delirium - South Of Reality (ATO)

We said: “South Of Reality for sure, but close enough to home to keep you coming back.” – Johnny Sharp, Prog 95

9. Flying Colors - Third Degree (Mascot)

We said: “Beautifully arranged classic rock filtered through a progressive prism.” – David West, Prog 103

8. Dream Theater - Distance Over Time (InsideOut)

We said: “The hallmarks of a band reborn, rediscovering their heritage and making accomplished, ingenious music.” – Rich Wilson, Prog 95

7. Gong - The Universe Also Collapses (Kscope)

We said: “Combines the whimsical with the serious in a way that Allen would approve.” – Joe Banks, Prog 98

6. Magma - Zess (Seventh)

We said: “Impossibly compelling and spectacularly spirit-lifting, Zëss is Vander’s life masterpiece.” – Kris Needs, Prog 100

5. Devin Townsend - Empath (InsideOut)

We said: “Strap yourselves in and say hello to one of your albums of the year, folks.”
– Dom Lawson, Prog 96

4. Leprous - Pitfalls (InsideOut)

“It’s an album that changes and matures with every listen. And it’s an absolutely stunning achievement.” – Fraser Lewry, Prog 103

3. Rosalie Cunningham - Rosalie Cunningham (Esoteric)

We said: “A personal and powerful album from one of the scene’s vivid performers.” – Claudia Elliott, Prog 100

2. Big Big Train - Grand Tour (English Electric)

We said: “It’s no coincidence that this album seems more suffused in light than usual and full of colour.” – Mike Barnes, Prog 98

1. Opeth - In Cauda Venenum (Moderbolaget)

We said: “The stringently high standards to which Åkerfeldt holds himself and
 his band remain intact.” – Dave Everley, Prog 102

They said: “Very humbled by the news of In Cauda Venenum being picked by the critics of Prog Magazine as the album of the year. I haven’t paid anyone off, but our manager might have. With that said, it’s not the worst record ever released. I’m quite fond of it myself. So to our friends over there: thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We’re collectively chuffed!”

Mikael Åkerfeldt

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.