You’re damn right I’m going to combine my 2011 Proggies™ picks with a bi-weekly news update! You’re also damn right that it’s pretentious, dare I say PROGRESSIVE to trademark my awards name without filing any of the necessary paperwork to do so. I personally believe that if the readership of this site is truly honest with themselves, they would admit that they, well, have little patience for lengthy, verbose articles. And that trend of lengthy articles will… um… probably not end today! I give you… Markus’ 2011 Proggies™:

  • Best Guitar Work – Michael Romeo (Iconoclast): Each year that Symphony X releases an album, this award will be Romeo’s to lose. His combination of elite skill and creativity is unparalleled in this reviewer’s opinion, and once again we are graced with an onslaught of brilliant riffing, innovative rhythm work, and solos that continue to push the boundaries of shredding. Every guitar enthusiast should own a copy of Iconoclast.
  • Best Bass Work – Kristian Karl Hultgren (Rites At Dawn): There were plenty of good choices for this award. My first instinct was to go for “blow your mind” -type skill, which would have meant either the Super Freaky option (Les Claypool, Primus) or the Refined Freaky option (ChaotH, Unexpect). Both bassists possess undeniable skill and play somewhat of a lead role in their respective groups, contrary to the typical “rhythm section” bass player. That being said, Wobbler’s Kristian Karl played that rhythm section role to near perfection. The bass lines throughout Rites At Dawn fit remarkably well within the context of the composition, and the playing style was a refreshing medley of the driving force of classic rock with the refined grace of modern progressive bass.
  • Best Keyboard Work – Lalle Larsson (The Black Forest): An exemplary combination of great support playing, interesting melodies and preposterous solos. I repeat: the keyboard solos in this Agents of Mercy album are preposterous. Do yourself a favor, keyboard players: take a lesson from a master.
  • Best Percussion Work – Mattias Olsson (Terminal Twilight): Pay close attention to the title of this Proggie™: Best Percussion Work. Who else deserves this award other than the pied piper of percussion himself, White Willow’s Mattias Olsson. Sean Reinert was also considered here because of the unique percussive elements present on Cynic’s Carbon-Based Anatomy, but I feel that Olsson is more than deserving.
  • Best Prog Album – Rites At Dawn (Wobbler): Old school nostalgia meets the improved production and composition of today’s Progressive Rock. This album has it all. Older fans can appreciate the throwback style, hearkening back to the magic present on Relayer-era Yes and capturing the spirit of early Prog. Newer fans will enjoy an organic, well-conceived composition, filled with plenty of examples of intense musicianship but never going into those frenetic stretches that tend to plague so much of modern Art Rock. Perfection is a strong word, and I can’t bring myself to use it, but this album is close. Congratulations to Wobbler for this fantastic release.
  • Worst Moment of 2011 – Wintersun: Last and most definitely least, I’d like to offer a humble Progberry™ to Wintersun for once again delaying the release of their highly anticipated sophomore release. Like so many metal fans out there, I thoroughly enjoyed their self-titled debut, but it has now been seven years since that album was released and we’ve been hearing about Time, the supposed new album, for years now. I’m sick of hearing about delays resulting from a lack of suitable computer hardware; just get it done.

And without further ado… THE NEWS:

  • ProgSphere Promotions has launched a channel called ProgSphere live that you can check out here. According to ProgSphere, the channel is currently in the “testing phase,” but I encourage you to check it out because, hey, it’s free progressive rock video content. Go nuts, kids.
  • In other freeloader news, Tetrafusion is releasing their third record, titled “Horizons EP,” gratis, or “free” for those of you who don’t speak Spanish. Details for the release can be found over here. Mark from Tetrafusion wished for anybody reading the release announcement to “share this with everyone you know who enjoys progressive music.” Well… I assume you all like progressive music. You’re welcome.