So far this year, there haven't been any albums I consider to be spectacular. There has been a whole slew of good albums, but nothing I'd consider an instant classic. This is unusual, considering we are half way into the year... By this time last year, we had three.
Not to worry, though; there are a few slated for release later this year that I'm pretty hopeful about.
The first one that comes to mind is Pain of Salvation's Road Salt Two. This is a sort of sequel to last year's Road Salt One, which was one of my favorite albums last year. Hopefully this builds on the new style and techniques Gildenlow utilized for RS1.
Next, there is Steven Wilson's second solo album, Grace for Drowning. His first solo album, Insurgentes, was absolutely superb. I love pretty much anything Wilson gets his hands on, so I have no doubt this will be good, too. It's actually two separate albums packaged together; they are allegedly called Deform To Form A Star and Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye.
Finally is Opeth's Heritage. Many consider Opeth to have peaked around Blackwater Park, and there are certainly some good reasons for that view. I thought their last album, 2008's Watershed, was actually a positive step. Heritage apparently has no death metal vocals at all, which invites both intrigue and trepidation. Intrigue because it sounds like they're trying something they haven't done before, but trepidation because you would hate to see them lose what distinguishes them from boring, run-of-the-mill American metal. I am optimistic, however, if only because Steven Wilson is mixing it, and his involvement has never been a bad thing.
Interestingly, all three of these albums are slated for September. Now some of the artists I like who don't play progressive metal need to announce some new albums.