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SL THEORY

Heavy Prog • Greece


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SL Theory biography
Sotiris Lagonikas - Born 17 June 1970 (Piraeus, Greece)

SL THEORY is the solo project of Sotiris LAGONIKAS, the drummer and founding member of the Greek hard rock band WHAT'S THE BUZZ. He is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and initiated SL THEORY in the spring of 2009, a project very much based on improvisation.

LAGONIKAS released his debut album 'I' in 2010. The music is inspired by hardrock giants as well as classic artrock bands to create an interesting blend of heavy rock and prog. In 2012, he released in second album : "Progressiveley Dark" and by 2013, with long time friend Chris KISSADJEKIAN under the band name DOUBLE TREAT, their debut album "Wander Thirst".

::::Andy Webb, Andyman1125::::
Updated by rdtprog

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SL THEORY discography


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SL THEORY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
I
2010
4.09 | 4 ratings
Sotiris Lagonikas: Progressively Dark
2012
3.00 | 1 ratings
Different Space Different Time
2014
3.00 | 1 ratings
Cipher
2019

SL THEORY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Progressively Dark (A Concert For A Group & String Orchestra)
2018

SL THEORY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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SL THEORY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cipher by SL THEORY album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Cipher
SL Theory Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars "SL Theory" is the solo project of self-taught, multi-instrumentalist Sotiris Lagonikas that he formed in 2009. The project is a Heavy Prog style based on improvisation. Since 2010, he has released 4 studio albums and 1 live album. His 4th album called "Cipher" was released in December of 2019. On this album, Lagonikas plays the drums and has recruited other musicians to play all of the other instruments, namely Mike Karasoulis on lead vocals, Alex Flouros and Giannis Nigdelis on guitars, Manos Gavalas on keyboards, and Chris Kollias on bass. Margarita Papadimitriou and Anna T. Tarba both provide backing vocals. Lagonikas worked with most of these musicians on the projects previous album which was a live performance of "Progressively Dark", but other that, has always performed all the instruments on past studio albums. So, this is the first time he has recorded in studio with a complete band. The album is made up of 12 tracks and has a total run time of almost one hour.

The album starts out with the 10-part suite called "The Life and Death of Mr. Ess" which is over 13 minutes long. With part that include several voices, it begins sounding like a choral group and the beat seems to be a rocked-out ragtime, but this soon changes to a more progressive sound which reflects the heavy side of the genre, including some powerful guitar riffs and swirling synths. The vocalist is pretty good and the choral parts help add some power and variety to the vocal sections. It's hard to tell where the several sections are divided, but all 10 parts have names, and the meter, tempo and styles change several times. The music also tends to be structured as a neo-prog feel, but as I said, it is on the heavier side. However, there is a great mix of guitar and keyboard solos throughout. It's also quite ambitious to cram 10 parts into only 13 minutes, but he does so quite well as the music runs quite smoothly from one part to the next.

The other 11 tracks are individual tracks mostly staying around the 3-4 minute mark, with 2 of them going over 5 minutes. The next 4 tracks fall into a straightforward hard rock sound with not much in the way of progressive music. The song structure and sound is just a typical rock sound, upbeat with some heaviness, guitar and key solos in the instrumental breaks, nothing unique that stands out at all.

At this point, the album turns to its dark section with slower and heavier music. The music slows to a more ballad style on "If It Wasn't for You", which goes by without hardly any notice at all. "Anyone, Anymore" begins slower, but turns dark with heavy guitar chords and a bit more progressive sounds as the band comes in. It's much more interesting after sitting through the previous mediocre tracks. The band tries again for a darker sound with "If You Saw Me Dead", which has some corny lyrics, but the guitar at least reaches for some chunky chords. It's not bad if you can get around the lyrics, but tries to sound like black metal and doesn't quite pull it off. The slow-dark ballads continue for the next couple of tracks, and they all begin to sound too similar.

The next track is "Happy" and it tries to cheer you up with a upbeat track full of heavy bass and brass, but it comes off sounding like a cheap imitation of "Chicago" at their worst. The last track is an alternative version of the cheesy "If You Saw Me Dead". This time it is more washed in synths and electronic beats, but kicks in for more solidity in the chorus and has a nice guitar solo.

In the end, there are only two really great tracks here, the beginning suite which gives one a lot of hope for the rest of the album, and "Anyone Anymore". Other than that, the music is quite straightforward with the upbeat tracks in the first half and the slow, dark tracks in the 2nd half. I kind of like the choral style of the background vocals that appear throughout the album, but by the middle of the album, even these are getting tired. You won't get a lot of progressive music here either except in the two tracks that stand out. However, these almost get lost in the mediocre compositions that take up most of the album. Yes its great if you like your rock heavy, but not so great if you expect a lot of progressive sound once you get past the suite. 3 stars.

 Progressively Dark (A Concert For A Group & String Orchestra) by SL THEORY album cover Live, 2018
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Progressively Dark (A Concert For A Group & String Orchestra)
SL Theory Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars The three studio albums by SL Theory are all the work of one man, multi-instrumentalist Sotiris Lagonikas. But on this release he has restricted himself to just one instrument, drums, and is part of six-man band, to which he has added an additional four singers on top of lead singer Mike Karasoulis, and a string orchestra. Recorded live on March 3rd 2017, the band can be seen to be surrounding the ten-piece string section (conducted by Yiannis Antonopoulos), and with 21 people on the stage it must have been quite some spectacle.

The vast majority of the material is taken from the three albums, but there were also a few new pieces written which were performed that night. The strings are playing live what was layered keyboards before, adding an additional lightness and quality. Karasoulis has an emotional voice, and here he is able to work either completely solo, duetting, or to pitch himself in as part of the harmonies. There is a real confidence and sense of aplomb and achievement with this release, with the band and strings working fully together as one. Obviously this is not the first time this has been tried, but here it really works as the style of progressive rock/metal definitely fits in well. When the band want to crunch then they go for it, but when they want to be acoustic and gentle then the string overlay is quite sublime.

Heavy, symphonic, majestic, bombastic, this may be a dark album in many ways, but there are plenty of contrasts and delights over this two disc, 20 song, 104 minute long set. 'Progressively Dark: A Concert For Group & String Orchestra' is a great introduction to the music of Sotiris Lagonikas, and it will be fascinating to see what comes next. Well worth investigating for all progheads into the heavier side.

 Sotiris Lagonikas: Progressively Dark by SL THEORY album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.09 | 4 ratings

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Sotiris Lagonikas: Progressively Dark
SL Theory Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator 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.

Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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