Alright, we’ve waited long enough, and it’s finally time to announce our nominations for the best (and even worst) of 2011. I’ve tried to include as many examples/samples as I possibly could, in case you aren’t familiar with some of our nominations and you truly want to make an informed vote. Wait, did I just say vote? Yes, I did! After battering you with endless categories and nominations, we have a very nifty voting widget that will use to submit your votes for our private mocking and amusement… and tallying, I suppose. You are not required to answer for every category (because maybe you don’t really care about knowing who has the most pretentious lyrics), and the votes are anonymous.  After finishing the poll, you can view the results so far. Be warned though, the Progulator staff is also going to vote, and our votes count for approximately 7.65 buttloads (17.8223 arse loads for users of the metric system) of votes. This should make things interesting, especially since we disagree on almost all the categories. I tried to keep the linking to a minimum, so there are no repeats.

Voting will be open until 12:00am on Feb 14th, and we will announce the winners within a week via a ridiculously heated podcast…and we’ll also post them in plain old boring text format for those who prefer it. But who would want to miss a bunch of nerds raging at each other? It will be good times.

Here are the more serious categories:

Best Album – In our opinion, the albums that were simply more awesome than other albums.

Best Production – Albums that used both composition and recording/mixing style that work together to create a coherent and moving whole.

  • White Willow – Terminal Twilight
  • Opeth – Heritage
  • Wobbler – Rites at Dawn

Most Original Album – Albums that had a unique sound we hadn’t really heard in prog before.

Best Album Presentation (packaging/artwork) – Albums that made us feel cool just holding/looking at them. Unfortunately, we can’t really convey that via pictures, so I’m just linking to the amazon page for each so the artwork can at least be seen. Make sure to look at all the pics.

Best Keyboard Performance (album) – Keyboardists who displayed superb skill in playing, writing, and sound selection.

  • Lars Fredrik Frøislie (Wobbler – Rites At Dawn)
  • Lars Fredrik Frøislie (White Willow – Terminal Twilight)
  • Lalle Larsson (Agents of Mercy – The Black Forest)
  • Andy Tillison (The Tangent – Comm)
  • Lisa LaRue (Lisa LaRue 2KX – Fast And Blue)
  • Anonymous (The Pyschedelic Ensemble – The Dream of the Magic Jongleur)
  • Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events)

Best Keyboard Solo – Those who played solos to make lesser players cry and despair.

  • Lalle Larsson (Agents of Mercy – The Black Forest, “The Black Forest” 4:27)
  • Andy Tillison (The Tangent – Comm, “Titanic Calls Carpathia” 11.48-12.45)
  • Anonymous (The Pyschedelic Ensemble – The Dream of the Magic Jongleur, “The Riddle” 3:22-4:00)

Best Drumming – Drummers who go above the need of simply time-keeping, and create musical, intricate, complex, and artistic parts that compliment and enhance the music.

  •  Martin Nordrum Kneppen (Wobbler – Rites At Dawn)
  • Mike Mangini (Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events)
  • Walle Wahlgren (Agents of Mercy – The Black Forest)
  • Martin Axenrot (Opeth – Heritage)
  • Landryx (Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Empire)

Best Percussion (those whose drumming goes beyond just drums) – Drummers that do the above, but utilize more sounds than just a drum kit.

  • Mattias Olsson (White Willow – Terminal Twilight)
  • The Guys from Ske (Ske – 1000 Autunni)
  • Sean Reinert (Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy)

Best Flute Performance – Flutists that make the flute kick ass

  • Theo Travis (The Tangent – Comm)
  • Ketil Einarsen (White Willow – Terminal Twilight)

Best Composition (song) – The best arrangement, performance, and production working together to create a coherent and moving song.

  • In Orbit (Wobbler – Rites At Dawn)
  • Floor 67 (White Willow – Terminal Twilight)
  • Fraguglie (Ske – 1000 Autunni)
  • The Black Forest (Agents of Mercy – The Black Forest)
  • Hawks Circle the Mountain (White Willow – Terminal Twilight)
  • Unsolved Ideas of a Distorted Guest (Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Empire)

Best Metal Album – Albums that made us bang our head the most/best.

And now that all that serious business is over, there are some other choice awards we would like to give out:

Biggest Depends™ Moment  – Those moments that are so awesome, we wished we had a little foresight to buy some Depends. We (and our pants) regret that we didn’t.

  • The final 45 seconds of Wobbler’s “The River
  • The last 2 minutes of Steven Wilson’s “Sectarian” in 5.1. The stereo version is awesome. The 5.1 version requires Depends™.

Failiest Moment of Fail – Things that made us facepalm. Things that made us wonder. Things that made us angry.

  • John Petrucci’s top ten album’s of 2011 (mostly his top few)
  • John Myung’s top ten albums of 2011 (except for his first pick, his list is much better than other John’s)
  • The Rhapsody of Fire debacle. Splitting is sad, but fine. But naming both bands Rhapsody? WHY?!
  • Wintersun’s lame excuses. Ok, so this has be the band BS’ing us. First of all, unless this album is so far up the epic scale that I can’t even comprehend it, I see no reason at all, NO REASON, why they can’t use “old” technology. They say they just got the “latest” Mac Pro. The Mac Pro hasn’t been updated since mid 2010, and is running really legacy hardware as it is. But to cap it all off…THEY ARE USING CUBASE! If their music has so many tracks that it’s crashing Cubase, it’s time to invest in a Pro Tools HD rig, since that takes all the audio processing out of the computer. If they can’t get more funding because they’ve taken too long to put out another album…well…kinda hard to empathize.
  • Adrenaline Mob. Mike Portnoy’s super group that he formed to feel better for leaving the DT. Trouble is, it sucked. Hard. Any song that opens with the words, “Awwwwwww C’mon!” is probably heading in the wrong direction.
  • Dream Theater’s Drum Mix. This one has a caveat. The drums actually do sound very good, but only if they’re playing by themselves, or during a quiet section. The problem is that since they weren’t produced in a punchy in your face way (the metal way), they get lost whenever the entire band is playing. It’s such a shame, since mangini’s drumming was quite awesome. I’ll say it again: If you have to see the drummer live to be able to hear how good the drums should be, then you, sir, have a problem.

Best Mellotron Moment – The quintessential prog sound, done right.

  • Opeth (Heritage – “Folklore” 5:50 to the end)
  • Steven Wilson (Grace For Drowning – “Raider II” – 2:45-3:20. the youtube video is a different edit than the album, so the time is off)
  • Ske (1000 Autunni – Scrupoli  1:54 – 2:30)
  • Nicklas Barker (El Ultimo Fin de semana – the whole album)

Most Pretentious Lyrics – Lyrics so deep and profound that the average mortal fails to grasp any sort of meaning. The average mortal still thinks they are pretty cool though.

  • Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Empire
  • Wobbler – Rites at Dawn
    • To capture the rites, the cycle of birth
      to sow and to follow
      to harvest the fruits, from the womb of the earth
      and the seeds of the present
  • Moonsorrow – Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa
    • Darkness enters
      Descending upon the land of the dead
      Our heads pressed down by the sky
      Hiding the pillage from our eyes
      Alone from the night I reach towards the light
      Across it I scream: release me!
  • Obscura – Omnivium
    • I doubt wherever the earth’s gravity
      That is boldly presumed to extend
      Over the whole structure of the world
      Effective beyond a certain radius

Most Pretentious Band Photo – Not content with their demi-god status and screaming fan girls musical prowess, some bands provided photographic proof that they are better than you.

Most Pretentious Liner Notes – An artists way of reminding you that they have more artistic sense than you ever will. And probably more gear too.

  • Ske – 1000 Autunni. He lists everything for a given song, flaunting his well endowed keyboard collection at every turn.
  • Steven Wilson – Grace for Drowning. No lyrics. All the notes are “handwritten” on “old crumply paper.”
  • Moonsorrow – Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa. Not only did moonsorrow write their songs in finnish, a language that almost no one speaks, they appeased their fans from everywhere else and condescended to translate them to english. Even so, no one really understands them.

Best Chord Progression – Chord progressions that stood out to us because they touched us in ways other chord progressions neglected.