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Various Artists (Tributes) Honor Thy Drummer - A Tribute To Mike Portnoy album cover
3.88 | 16 ratings | 3 reviews | 13% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1: The Brightest of Summers
1. Crowded Sky (Bad Salad) 6:26
2. So They Say (No More Pain) 4:31
3. And Now to Find a Friend (Hemina) 10:49
4. Leave Now (In Progress feat. Mark Zonder) 4:42
5. Souvenir (Halcyon) 7:07
6. Daughter of God (Fate's Pride) 5:02
7. Mystery (Matt Barker) 3:44
8. Mind's Lazer (Liam Gaughan) 4:06

Disc 2: Occupied
9. 13 Reasons (Relocator feat. Derek Sherinian) 6:31
10. Hell is Home (No More Pain) 8:53
11. Counting Down (In Progress feat. Mark Zonder) 5:51
12. Welcome Home... Mate (Matt Loveridge) 5:50
13. Sear (Effloresce) 9:58
14. Down the Drain (S.A. Adams) 4:12
15. Haunting Darkness (Vaylum) 9:03
16. What's it Like (Laura Marie) 4:11

Disc 3: Retrospective 2009
17. Rockyprog (Halcyon) 8:08
18. Sunset in the Snowdome (Effloresce) 8:27
19. The Alchemist (Relocator feat. Derek Sherinian) 11:25
20. Kiss of Death (S.A. Adams feat. Mike Portnoy) 3:20
21. Futuro Senza Regole (Atonika) 4:42
22. Coffee Stained Gild (Matt Barker) 3:22
23. Cloudburst (Prophecy Within) 2:32

Total Time: 139:22

Releases information

Independent Digital December 25, 2010

Can be downloaded for free at the album's official website:

Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition
and to andyman1125 for the last updates
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VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) Honor Thy Drummer - A Tribute To Mike Portnoy ratings distribution

(16 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (13%)

VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) Honor Thy Drummer - A Tribute To Mike Portnoy reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
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.

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars A tribute to a master full of masterful music!

One September 8, 2010, Mike Portnoy left the legend known as Dream Theater. Now I don't know if this album is a tribute to him because he left or just because Mike Portnoy is awesome (probably the latter). The album consists of nearly two dozen independent artists, most of which don't yet have legitimate record deals but have made a small name for themselves in the modern progressive metal world, most notably Bad Salad, Hemina, and Relocator. These guys got together somehow to compile a bunch of their music to release a tribute to the guy who influenced a lot of their styles. Well, it definitely was a success. In great charity, the many artists put their hard work and effort up for free download so everyone could appreciate and enjoy this impressive collection of studio material. Two music videos were even made to help promote the album, both of which can be found on the Various Artists artist page. Overall, the production and compilation of all this great music was a fantastic success. Now reviewing each song would take an eternity, so I'll review each entire disc (of which there are 3) individually.

The Brightest of Summers is the name given to the first disc, referencing The Best of Times, Portnoy's tribute to his father. The disc contains some great upbeat and fun music, with dark twists and light twists and long epic and short epics and everything in between! Some of the sounds from the music, especially the drumming, are obvious influences from Mike, and some are harder to hear, but overall the entire disc is really great. The best highlights would be Crowded Sky, by Bad Salad, Leave Now, by In Progress, and Souvenir, by Halcyon.

Occupied is the name of the second disk, which contains some more fun songs, with another collection of a great diverse population of proggin' tracks. This disc focuses more on Portnoy's metal influences, with heavy metal tracks like 13 Reasons, Hell is Home, and Sear, which all have traces of Dream Theater dark days and other bands that are heavy that Mike has something to do with. The highlights of this disc are 13 Reasons, by Relocator, Counting Down, by In Progress and Sear, by Effloresce.

Retrospective 2009 is the title of the third and final disc, and it contains more direct "prog" than metal. Apparently one track even features Mike Portnoy when he was at the ripe age of 18, nearly 30 years ago. The entire disc is a little weaker than the previous two, featuring yes more prog but at the same time also more pop, seen in songs like Coffee Stained Gild. However, this disc does keep the impressive tracklisting that precedes it, making a nice close for a great 3-disc tribute to a drumming god. The highlights on this disc are Rockyprog, by Halcyon, Sunset in the Snowdome, by Effloresce and The Alchemist, by Relocator.

ALBUM OVERALL: A wonderful collection of fantastic tracks in tribute to Mike Portnoy. The artists obviously had taken a great deal of time and energy to write such great songs, even though a few were edging on radio-friendly pop rather than true prog. Production and execution are fantastic, as are all the artists who are featured on the album. The album presents a real great tribute to Mike and the music that he made. 4+ stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Honor Thy Drummer - A Tribute To Mike Portnoy' - Various Artists (Compilation)

As one of the prog and metal communities biggest headlines of 2010, the departure of drummer Mike Portnoy from progressive metal giants Dream Theater was nothing short of a shock to many people, including myself. Things went as far as to spawn doubts that Dream Theater would even survive this schism, and that the godheads of progressive metal for the better part of two decades were finally going to part ways for good. Since then, Dream Theater has found a new drummer and will be starting work on a new album any day now. As for Mike Portnoy, it's obvious to anyone who has been keeping up with the news that he is bearing the brunt of his mistake, and having been ostracized from his former-flagship band, it appears the once-ultimate rock drummer's fate hangs in the balance.

In this dark time for Portnoy, this project was created. Meant as a tribute to herald the efforts and legacy of Portnoy and his career, musicians in the progressive metal and rock scene from around the world have gotten together to contribute to what ultimately grew into a three disc multimedia monster of a compilation. While very few of these tracks or bands involved have direct ties to Portnoy or his side projects, it's clear from virtually every band's contribution, what great influence this man and his music have had on people. However, while none of these tracks have a visible connection to Portnoy, what better excuse is there for a compilation like this, other then the dawn of a new era of progressive metal?

While the bands here do range quite a bit in their quality, this is- for the most part- an interesting cross-section of the latest wave in progressive metal bands. With the exception of the mellow singer-songwriting of Matt Barker, and the hair metal leanings of S.A Adams (included for a youthful appearance by Portnoy himself), all of the bands here fall into the realm of melodic progressive metal, be they downright Dream Theater clones, or something a bit different. The two tracks here by No More Pain for example, are very anthemic, proggy hard rock. Bad Salad's 'Crowded Sky' (the compilation's opener) on the other hand, is very Dream Theater derived progressive metal. Ireland's Prophecy Within still has the progressive metal sound, but takes it in a fresher, instrumental direction, although their track 'Cloudburst' does end the third disc rather abruptly.

On top of the music are included CGI videos to make 'Honor Thy Drummer' a truly multisensory experience. While they do not add a great deal to the package, they are very futuristic in the way they have been designed, and a very attractive visualization for the music at hand. Suffice to say, this is a vast project that has been undertaken, and many of these artists no doubt hold the contributions of drummer Mike Portnoy close to their hearts. While the entire three discs can be quite cumbersome to digest all in one sitting, this is a compilation that should be mandatory listening for a modern progressive metal fan.

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