Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Various Artists (Tributes) - Honor Thy Drummer - A Tribute To Mike Portnoy CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Tributes)


Various Genres

3.88 | 16 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars A delightful digital set showcasing some of the best in modern music.

'Honor Thy Drummer: A Tribute to Mike Portnoy' contains 3 digital discs, 2 from 2010, and a bonus 2009 retrospective disc featuring choice selections from the previous digital release titled 'MPF 2009'. This mammoth undertaking is billed in a press release as follows: "Independent musicians, graphic artists, and a computer graphics demogroup have collabo-rated on a grand scale multimedia tribute to Mike Portnoy, in celebration of over a quarter of a century of highly influČential musicianship." A tribute to possibly the greatest prog metal drummer cannot be all that bad and I was delighted to be able to get hold of this through the press release. All of the bands represented are influenced by Portnoy and have deep respect for the man. The result is a 3 CD set packed with heavy prog delights, showcasing the best of new prog metal bands of more recent times. It becomes a delightful exercise in hearing new metal from many bands you are likely to have never heard of. The project is available as a free digital download to share with the world and this is a rare thing, for something of this quality to be available free and easy to access. As the press release states "The collection is, simply put, a high quality independent project available freely to all that desire the audio/visual experience." It comes with a downloadable booklet of all lyrics and info on the artists, quotes on how Portnoy has influenced their music, as well as some interviews. Is it any good musically though you may be wondering? Here is a breakdown of all the tracks.

Cd 1: The Brightest of Summers

Bad Salad: Crowded Sky (6:26) is a killer opener with breakneck power riffing and a scorching fret melting lead guitar assault, not to mention some awesome keyboard attacks. The polyrhythmic patterns are terrific and very progressive. The singing is aggressive but not growling. A very good solid prog metal track to kick things off from the Brazilian prog rockers and one of the heaviest on the compilation and one of the best. No More Pain: So They Say (4:31) is a much more subdued and melodic approach. Heartfelt singing and a faster chorus drive the song. The lead break is well structured and follows a great tune. This is from a versatile alternative prog metal band who are not into sheer brutal force but rather prefer a variety of approaches.

Hemina: And Now to Find a Friend (10:49) has an explosive opening intro that focuses on a choppy metal rhythm and high pulsating keyboards. The vocals are clean and easy to understand. There is a majestic choral feel in the background. The chorus has an odd time sig and nice harmonies. The vocals at times seem forced and out of range but this is the style preferred I believe by this artist, a pleading vocal with strong lyrics; "It's a feeling that's inside, a mutuality to find?.. save your prayers for me, a petty thief, a vagabond, and now to find a friend, if I am how he made me, a caged fool, an arrow with no direction, I'm an angel without wings, find my friend." A pleasant piano chimes in midway through and some innovative guitar picking, then a pitchy keyboard solo breaks out. This is followed by a dreamy quiet ambient section with high octave singing. A wah wah pedal guitar lick bursts forth under a terrific solo of keys and metal riffing. A great lengthy prog metal mini epic.

In Progress (feat. Mark Zonder): Leave Now (4:42) has quiet relaxed vocals and some effects machinated keyboards pump along with a straightforward chugging metal rhythm that locks in at about 2:30. The pace quickens and the textures grow darker for a moment and then it returns to the meandering slow intro style with laid back vocals. It has some good moments but overall this experimental electronica from the US is not really my style.

Halcyon: Souvenir (7:07) is a lengthy instrumental that begins with creepy howling effects that may be mistaken in some way for the opening of Hawkwind;s Silver Machine. There is a piano and some beat-heavy percussion effects. The fractured guitars are wonderfully out of sync and the dissonance is proggy along with soaring synth layers. The lead solo squeals are tremendous and it is a melodic guitar break that builds into speed picking, down sweeps and hammer ons. It builds to a crescendo and then fades to the minimalism of a piano and synth swells with swabs of mellotron. This is excellent music by any standards from prog metallers of Australia.

Fates Pride: Daughter of God (5:02) features strong vocals over a steady metal rhythm, almost old school metal in the first section apart from a few strange time sigs. Once again the lengthy twin lead break is backed by powerful drum patterns.

Matt Barker: Mystery (3:44) is a quiet jazzy electric piano solo with some funky vocals. There are interesting lyrics; "And then you'll see I'll hide your scheme?.. got a little mystery still unsolved to me?. Insatiable appetite?. you call that living free, makes no sense to me but it opens up my eyes I guess it's no surprise you found what you wanna' be, but it opens up my eyes." The feel is almost jazz fusion in this track including some scat vocal work. A real fish out of water here.

Liam Gaughan: Mind's Lazer (4:06) explodes with a lead riff from the beginning and some crazy drumming. The main melody is strong with keyboards and guitar trade offs. This is a heavier approach with fast chord changes and a strange electro percussive rhythm and a very cool metal riff that chugs and chops. The instrumental detours in many directions but always maintains a heavy prog influence.

CD 2: Occupied

Relocator (feat. Derek Sherinian): 13 Reasons (6:31) is the first of 2 tracks on this set by Relocator. It is a great instrumental that moves from dark metal riffs to upbeat transient organic keyboard motifs. There is a nice feel to this with a pleasant melody and innovative rhythmic patterns throughout.

No More Pain: Hell is Home (8:53) is another great track from the prog metal group with fast rhythms and heavier intense guitar riffs. I really liked this track for its innovative melodies and easy to understand vocals. The lyrics are quite intriguing; "Can you survive this life, Living in smoke and fire? I think you'll figure out this, Living hell is just a nightmare". There is a powerful lead break with twin guitar playing and a pulsing bassline. This section is full of creative playing and has many inventive approaches to speed riffing and power metal.

In Progress (feat. Mark Zonder): Counting Down (5:51) is the second track from this group, and once again has some heavy sections blended with quieter as a great contrast with light and dark textures.

Matt Loveridge: Welcome Home?Mate (5:50) is a quiet piano driven track. There are some strange distorted guitar melodies thrown in over the relaxed singing style. Matt is a progressive musician from the UK who has a real flair for the prog music scene and is only 22 years of age.

Effloresce: Sear (9:58) is speed power metal riffing broken by slabs of beautiful female vocals. They chime in wonderfully after all the male dominated heaviness. Nicki's vocals are crystal clean and operatic, not like Tarja but still very well performed and working beautifully in contrast to the brutal riffing. Later she indulges in Kittie-like nasty growling that trades off with the operatic Gothic vocals. She actually does sound like Astarte here but it is not overused, more for a different effect than just operatic Goth vocals. The lyrics are very dark; "Leaving world behind, dreams are wafts of mist, death is just a path, on which I wander now, drink my untasted blood, free my unholy soul, carry me to the secret place". There is an ethereal quality to the mellotron soaked ambient sections that break the intensity of the metal. I am reminded of Goth metal bands Epica, Nightwish and After Forever.

S.A. Adams: Down The Drain (4:12) has a choppy little rhythm and funky vocals, sounding very different to most bands heard thus far on this set.

Vaylum: Haunting Darkness (9:03) is an instrumental that features Slayer-esque speed riffs, and very powerful guitar melodies. I really like the way this is structured with breakneck riffing and strong power chord changes over very sporadic drumming. A great proggy metal sound throughout and I love the quiet twin guitar section that breaks into the lengthy track as an ethereal soundscape. The music changes feel towards the last moments into a melodic structure. This intense music comes from a bunch of young uni students who recorded this in one of their breaks. Laura Marie: What It's Like (4:11) comes from a singer songwriter with smooth sweet vocals. Once again she feels like a cat among the pigeons here as a contrast to all the metal. She is more folky and contemporary but is still influenced by Portnoy, showing the diversity of his influence on musicians. She sounds like Norah Jones and it is perhaps a strategic influence that she has been plonked at the end of the CD so that all the metal heads can avoid her. For me, it was kind of a nice respite from the loudness, even though her style is not for me. CD3: Retrospective 2009

Halcyon: Rockyprog (08:08) is another instrumental from these virtuoso proggers to kick off the last CD which is a bonus from 2009. The Sydney Australia band certainly have a diverse style, with touches of metal blasts and a heap of electronic percussive beats. It is a great sound and without vocals should appeal to a wide audience in the same way as Visual Cliff in their instrumental days. It is heavy, but never overbearing, with some virtuoso lead guitar flourishes. There is a sweet little acoustic break with gentle piano sounding like Pink Floyd. Then it breaks into a chugging metal riff with loud key pads soaring over. It all ends with an atmospheric rain storm.

Effloresce: Sunset in the Snowdome (08:27) is another from the Gothic female lead metallers. The gorgeous Nicki once again is a highlight on vocals who also lends her talents here on an ice chilled flute. The mood is unreservedly haunting as soon as the band begin to play and they focus here on death and dreams; "Now and then I wake up and hear the pain, snow turns into red immediately, as I stop staring at your peaceful gift, at memories I just observed too long." The acoustic flourishes are quite ethereal and this is a quieter approach from the group with short bursts of very fast precise machine gun attacks on guitar; intense infernal guitar riffs with only a few raw death vocals from Nicki. She informs us it is all "just a dream" at the end.

Relocator (feat. Derek Sherinian): The Alchemist (11:25) is the longest piece on the set so you might expect a lot of lead breaks and virtuoso playing from the group. This is what you get from the likes of Bartek Strycharski on electric violin, new talent Frank Tinge who comes from the Netherlands on drums, and special guest star from the US is Derek Sherinian who plays all keyboards. They are a tight unit and produce some incredible diverse music, with powerful riffs and lead breaks, along with ambient keyboards. It does have a lot of various time changes and mood swings and even some dissonance with keys competing with choppy riffs on an odd signature. A fairly full on piece of music that has some complexities of polyrhythmic nuances scattered throughout. The hyper lead break at the end is incredible.

S.A. Adams (w/ Mike Portnoy @ 18 Yrs Old): Kiss of Death (3:20) is a nice surprise and sounds a bit like old school metal. Here we can hear Portnoy at the tender age of 18 blasting up a storm on the skins with some straight beats and double kicks. This is a real curio and one can easily see the potential of Portnoy even at this early stage. The lyrics are interesting; "Going from the light into the black, Prepare yourself for incoming attack, Gonna wish you never had the kiss of death." The lead break is akin to the 80s glam metal sound even like 80s Kiss in some ways.

Atonika: Futuro Senza Regole (4:42) are a band from Milan with female vocalist Anna Bernocco who croons in a sexy voice. This song is sung in their own language and there is a strong Milan feel that works well; "Come un lampo che attraversa il cielo mio, Luci che trapassano ogni sguardo tuo." The metal sound is generated with the help of distorted guitar licks, but I really like the melody on this one. This is so different from the other songs and it jumps out as a highlight for me. Anna's vocals are executed well and are powerful over the soundscape of guitars and keys. The instrumental break is choppy and atmospheric complete with a solo piano and dreamy vocals.

Matt Barker: Coffee Stained Gidl (3:22) is another of the least heavy tracks on the set. There is a reggae feel and emotive vocals with a strong percussive outlay. The confident vocals are a feature, but this is nothing like any of the previous tracks on this CD, as far removed from metal as one can get. The man even has a spoken interlude on this. It is a quirky interim though between all the metal mayhem. Prophecy Within: Cloudburst (2:32) is an instrumental from an Irish prog rock quartet to close off the set. This short sharp shock of prog begins with ambient keys, and a thunder storm is heard. The music builds to a blazing metal riff and some crashing drums. Then there is a twin acoustic segment to balance out the intensity. The metal returns in force with some absolutely dynamic melodic riffs.

In conclusion this is a great set that focuses on some of the best prog metal on the scene with a few strange oddities thrown in that deserve to be here merely because they were influenced equally as much by the great drummer himself. As with all compilations not everything resonated with me but this is still a well packaged treasure and the free download makes it all the more appealing. I was able to hear bands I had never heard of before and it peaked my interest to hearing more from some of these artists, so in that case the compilation is successful. This compilation does indeed serve to honour thy drummer: Mike Portnoy.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password


Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.