Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
SL Theory - Progressively Dark (Sotiris Lagonikas) CD (album) cover


SL Theory

Heavy Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars `Progressively Dark', the latest offering from one-man progressive/metal multi-instrumentalist artist SL.Theory (aka Sotoris Lagonikis for this solo release) is a dazzling collection of hard rocking metal and alternative prog rock technicality. Most of the flashy moments are constantly worked into tighter, more concise arrangements without being overtly commercial or watered down. The album features endless snappy fills, quick rapid-fire solos and quirky diversions in and out of verse/chorus arrangements, and it takes a talented artist to successfully achieve this. Don't worry, progressive fans, there's plenty of longer tracks on offer with extended instrumental passages and first-class soloing too. But the artist here has challenged himself to find an equal ground with both styles, and for the most part has succeeded admirably.

Despite plenty of technical virtuosity and instrumental mastery on display, one thing `Progressively Dark' achieves so well is putting just as much effort into solid lyrical writing and proper song- crafting. I was very impressed when I discovered that not only were the lyrics reproduced inside the CD booklet, but that they were all very well written, full of fascinating observations and very human feelings. The artist himself confirmed that he'd been determined to place as much emphasize on the actual song-writing arrangements rather than making them secondary to technical displays and instrumental showboating. Luckily another plus for the album is that Sotiris himself is also a decent vocalist, with a solid range and charismatic manner.

`Sickening My Mind' has proudly proggy Rick Wakeman-style keyboard runs over constant Clive Nolan-like eerie synths and gothic piano that colours the background behind melodic riffs and murky bass. Spacey treated vocals from Sotiris enhances the dark mood too, along with a quick flashy guitar solo over the final chorus before a rather abrupt ending! `Need To Be Born Again' has lovely Neo-prog styled chiming guitars before a crunchy upbeat chorus and brief tasteful instrumental middle that could have been gone on much longer. The accessible melody and Sotiris' voice actually reminds me a lot of the Nick D'Virgilio period of Spock's Beard, his voice even occasionally sounding like him. `Time Won't Matter Anymore' crams a lot of surprising twists and turns in it's 6 minutes - a heavy riffing extended intro with rattling bass, slow ghostly ambient vocal sections, big wailing guitar solos over scratchy vintage keys and a guilty-pleasure 80's AOR power chorus with huge harmonies that comes out of nowhere!

`Holding Tight' has gentle piano breaking through thick churning analogue synths, heavy bass and booming drums. The nice extended instrumental second half with a rough guitar solo and then frantic bass/drum/synth race near the end is superb, and it will make you wish there were even more moments like this on the album! The more lyrically introspective and restrained `Never Ready To Say Goodbye' has a nice heartfelt vocal and big emotional melodic guitar solo with a spacier synth ending. It's one of the simpler pieces on the album, but it's nice to hold back once in a while and simply go with a good tune. `See' is another more accessible and melodic slow rocker that also benefits from that stripped-back sound to give the listener a break from the more high-energy complicated workouts.

`If Only' almost sounds like a harder earlier Spock's Beard/Gentle Giant piece, with those quirky patterns punching through hard riffs and a catchy chorus, plus classic metal soloing in the middle. The verses of `Ghostly Train' reminds me a little of a more adult Pain Of Salvation, with similar crooned vocal phrasing to Daniel Gildenlow. The chorus features more of those multi-tracked harmonies from Sotiris, and a wonderful slightly sinister haunting finale with Black Sabbath dirge- like riffs crashing around a screeching guitar solo.

Needless to say, the highlight of the album is the stunning 10 minute `Where's My Life'. Beginning with a somber quiet vocal, it kicks in quickly with a hugely dramatic guitar solo to really introduce the piece in a big way! Lots of tempo changes back and forth, tension-filled builds and slower reflective passages. Lovely floating synths, stark piano, commanding drum-work and nice balance of vocal/instrumental sections. I really picked a big influence of Caamora/Arena main-man Clive Nolan on this one in regards to the deeply theatrical and orchestral elements, and that's a very good thing to my ears! Occasionally there's a slightly awkward transition, but the piece is highly dramatic and adventurous, and lyrically it's also one of the darker pieces with thoughtful and deeply personal honest observations.

There's only very slight factors of the album to fault. Although the vocals are of a strong quality, in some parts they become a little monotonous and samey. But I think Sotoris realized this and utilized the multi-tracked/harmony moments to break up the sound and offer a bit more variety. Some of the tracks would have benefitted from letting the music breath more and just going with longer instrumental sections, letting the music intensify and simmer. This is especially true of the few tracks that are unfairly ended just as they're about to take off! It's not a coincidence that the parts that really stick with the listener are the extended instrumental moments. Admittedly, the point was to try to achieve an equal balance of song-writing structure and technical play, so this was not the album for that.

But I can only highly recommend this album in the end, due to the level of talent on display and the effort to offer something more than typical prog-metal cliches. More grounded than Ayreon, more personal than Dream Theater, it also meant a lot to me that a progressive metal album which is constantly heavy, intense and attacking is never actually depressing, negative or nasty - much harder to achieve than you'd think!

`Progressively Dark' is well worth three and a half stars, but I'll round it up to four because I deeply admire hard-working, genuine and dedicated progressive artists like Sotiris who passionately strive to provide exciting intelligent music in a world that simply prefers vapid and shallow.

Report this review (#875609)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2012 | Review Permalink

SL THEORY Progressively Dark (Sotiris Lagonikas) ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of SL THEORY Progressively Dark (Sotiris Lagonikas)

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


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

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