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NEO-PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Neo-Prog definition

Neo-Progressive rock (more commonly "Neo-Prog") is a subgenre of Progressive Rock that originally was used to describe artists strongly influenced by the classic symphonic prog bands that flourished during the 1970s. At the beginning of the neo-prog movement, the primary influence was early to mid-70's Genesis. Debate over when Neo-Prog actually came into being often takes place, with some asserting it began with Marillion's Script for a Jester's Tear in 1983. Others contend it began with Twelfth Night at the dawn of the 80s, while some even suggest the popular symphonic prog band Genesis gave rise to Neo-Prog with their 1976 album, A Trick of the Tail.

If one analyses the progressive movement just before 1980, then some albums which heavily influenced the Neo-Prog movement easily come to mind: Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings, Genesis - Wind & Wuthering, Genesis - And Then There Were Three, Genesis - Seconds Out, Saga - Saga, all the Camel albums between Breathless and The Single Factor included, and some Eloy's albums, especially Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes.

This new form of progressive rock originated in the UK, and is most strongly associated with bands such as Marillion, Pendragon and IQ; and while theatrical stage antics were a part of the live performances of many artists exploring this subset of the progressive rock genre it's the musical elements that are key to the genre; typified by the use of atmospheric guitar and synth soloing with symphonic leanings, with a tendency towards floating synth layers and dreamy soloing. An additional trait is the use of modern synths rather than vintage analogue synths and keyboards. The main reasons for Neo-Progressive artists to be separated from the ones exploring Symphonic Prog in the first place are the above, as well as a heavier emphasis on song-form and melody than some of their earlier symphonic counterparts.

As time went by other artists appeared that also deviated from the norms created by the classic wave of progressive rock artists in the 70's. The late 70's had given the world punk music; the 80's gave the world new wave; and the 90's grunge. These, as well as other forms, had a tremendous amount of influence outside of the progressive rock realm. The advent of the modern synth also inspired artists like Tomita, Vangelis and Kitaro to explore dreamier musical works.

These and other forms of more or less newly made musical genres influenced artists exploring progressive rock as well. Although many artists did so within the framework of 70's progressive rock, more and more artists developed a sound and style so heavily influenced by these more recent musical developments that categorizing them within the existing subgenres of progressive rock became increasingly difficult.

While the Neo-Progressive genre initially consisted of artists exploring a modernized version of Symphonic Prog, these days artists coined as Neo-Progressive cover a multitude of musical expressions, where the common denominator is the inclusion - within a progressive rock framework - of musical elements developed just prior to and after 1980. The Neo-Progressive genre in it's refined form thus covers a vast musical territory, to some extent covering all existing subsets of progressive rock and also searching out towards genres as different as new age on one side and punk and metal on the other.

Opening paragraphs written by Stonebeard, Cygnus X-2, Greenback

Revised, edited and refined April 2009 by windhawk, The Doctor and E-Dub



The neo-prog team has also decided on 5 representative albums of neo-prog that encapsulate the essence of the genre. They are as follows:


Marillion-Script for a Jester's Tear
Collage-Moonshine
Satellite-A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset
Sylvan-Posthumous Silence
Frost-Milliontown


Current Neo-Prog Team members
as at 20/05/2016

Roger (Roj)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)
Cristi
Tony (Hercules)

Neo-Prog Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Neo-Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.27 | 932 ratings
THE ROAD OF BONES
IQ
4.24 | 1761 ratings
MISPLACED CHILDHOOD
Marillion
4.22 | 1681 ratings
SCRIPT FOR A JESTER'S TEAR
Marillion
4.17 | 540 ratings
CONTAGION
Arena
4.13 | 1084 ratings
CLUTCHING AT STRAWS
Marillion
4.10 | 773 ratings
FREQUENCY
IQ
4.14 | 411 ratings
POSTHUMOUS SILENCE
Sylvan
4.13 | 403 ratings
A TOWER OF SILENCE
Anubis
4.09 | 896 ratings
MARBLES
Marillion
4.06 | 584 ratings
THE VISITOR
Arena
4.09 | 357 ratings
EMPIRES NEVER LAST
Galahad
4.05 | 537 ratings
EVER
IQ
4.06 | 429 ratings
FANFARE & FANTASY
Comedy Of Errors
4.03 | 794 ratings
DARK MATTER
IQ
4.10 | 280 ratings
SEVEN
Magenta
4.16 | 152 ratings
COFFEE IN NEUKÖLLN
Barock Project
3.98 | 1107 ratings
FUGAZI
Marillion
4.00 | 547 ratings
THE SEVENTH HOUSE
IQ
3.98 | 842 ratings
BRAVE
Marillion
4.06 | 239 ratings
THE TALE OF THE GOLDEN KING
Psychedelic Ensemble, The

Neo-Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Neo-Prog experts team

ARGOS
Argos
TALES FROM THE DAM
Healing Road, The
TRAVELLER
Magus (The Winter Tree)
TIMANFAYA
Healing Road, The

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Latest Neo-Prog Music Reviews


 Safe Asylum by DRIFTING SUN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.27 | 17 ratings

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Safe Asylum
Drifting Sun Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Just a few days ago, Drifting Sun released their new album named Safe Asylum. Safe Alylum has a fantastic cover, made by A Russian artist as Pat Sanders told me, but I don't remember the name to be honest. But in comparison with "Trip" this is better by far! As for the music, it is clear to me that the band tried to create something different this time, in comparison with their previous album. 'Trip the Life Fantastic' was a lighter and more melodic album, with Pat's piano being the leading instrument in most occasions. It was included shorter compositions and more "catchy" melodies. Safe Asylum is darker, with longer and more complex compositions. Because of that, it needs a few more listening in order to appreciate it. With every listening the album "grows" in you, and then it is very hard to leave it aside. There are some similarities with the previous album of course, like for example the beautiful melodic passages and the strong guitar riffs and solos. Safe Asylum includes 8 tracks(plus 2 bonus in the limited edition). 3 of them were included in last year's EP release, under the name 'Alice'. These 3 songs are: Alice, Vagabond and Emphasis. I am not going to get into details and write about each song separately, but I will mention my most favourite songs, which are the following: The Hidden Truth, Intruder, Desolation-Retribution, Wonderland and Gods. The latter is the highlight of the album. (In my opinion, of course). Although Safe Asylum is a rather different album in comparison with 'Trip', it is equally good if not better. Definitely a very serious piece of work that deserves your attention! Recommended to the fans of modern Progressive Rock, Neo-Prog and to all those who can appreciate a well-structured album, with beautiful melodies and strong emotions in it. My Rating would be 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.
 Trip The Life Fantastic by DRIFTING SUN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.88 | 116 ratings

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Trip The Life Fantastic
Drifting Sun Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Drifting Sun released their first eponymous album in 1996. Two years later they released the very good 'On the Rebound', and then they disappeared! Now, almost 17 years later they re-appeared again, with a brand new album which is a true jewel! From the old members only Pat Sanders is remaining, who found new musicians and decided to start all over again. This new line up sounds so fresh, and it includes some very good musicians. Now, let's take a closer look on the album' 'Trip the Life Fantastic' includes 10 songs + 1 demo, and has a total running time of almost an hour. The album opens with the same - title song, which is one of the best moments of the album. It's a typical Neo - Prog song, with the keyboards having the leading role before the 3rd minute on which guitar takes over. 'Trip the Life Fantastic' is followed by the (2 -minute long) beautiful and melodic instrumental 'Peach Blossoms'. Next comes 'The Wizard' which is another typical Neo - Prog song, with mellow passages and very good guitar riffs. Another small instrumental piece comes next, the melodic 'Sunsets' with keyboards and acoustic guitar. (I must say that I really enjoyed the idea of putting small instrumental pieces among the songs, because they seem to work as a 'bridge' between the songs). The album continues with 'Lady Night' another beautiful composition, which includes some excellent guitar work. I'm not going to continue writing for each one of the songs, but I would like to mention which songs I like the most: Trip the Life Fantastic, The Wizard, Tormented, and Last Supper. Especially 'Last Supper' is the "progiest" track of the whole album. But the most important thing is that 'Trip the Life Fantastic' is one of those albums which you listen from the start 'till the end, without having to skip any of the songs. Surely there are stronger and weaker moments, but all the songs are of high synthetic standards. I strongly recommend this album to all those who are fans not only of Progressive Rock or Neo - Prog, but Rock in general. It is a really wonderful album! As for my rating, this would be 4.0 stars out of 5.00
 Are You Sitting Comfortably? by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.68 | 257 ratings

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Are You Sitting Comfortably?
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

1 stars I take pride in the fact that i always try to find something good in an album that is universally panned and often i have the exact opposite reaction to a certain type of experiment in a group's discography that doesn't sit well with hardcore fans, but there are times when an album deserves every bit of hatred that is bestowed upon it and the neo-prog pioneers IQ hit their absolute nadir on their 4th studio release ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? This is the epitome of a musical disaster in a band's career where really nothing went right. The pathetic thing about this one is the fact that the band sounds like they are so serious in trying to pull it off together.

This is the second album to feature Paul Menel on vocals after Peter Nicholls departed following "The Wake." The rest of the musical cast is the same as "Nonzamo." It does seem that the band were feeling some sort of jealousy over the success of their heroes in Genesis while they were killing it on the pop charts in the 80s and raking in the dough. IQ were also tempted by the pop side of the musical force and tried to emulate their influences by going in that direction. Unfortunately however, while Genesis and Gabriel had the chops to actually construct catchy pop albums, Orford and company weren't so lucky. This album just reeks of wannabeism and ultimately falls short in every manner. Dreadfully Menel's vocals display the first weakness and most obvious inferiority complex here. Although he tries, he just lacks the zingy passion that Nicholls dished out. Add the limp songwriting, lackadaisical keyboards, lazy percussion, flaccid guitar performances and woefully insipid overall production and we get a big fat turkey here but not the kind you wanna eat for Thanksgiving.

"War Heroes" starts off ok and while it doesn't sound like any particular peak of 80s neo-prog, it also isn't the most horrendous sounding track of the lot. It does however sound like a rather weak version of an 80s Peter Gabriel solo offering. Things go south VERY quickly on the second track "Drive On" where we're greeted (or cheated rather) with the most cheesy of synthesizers accompanied by an even cheesier drum beat. The lyrics are absolutely horrendous and the whole thing comes across as a Duran Duran reject that wouldn't have even reemerged as a bonus track. It really is just so very baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad and i do mean bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good. The next track "Nostalgia" tries to pull off some instrumental stratagem into gaining a foothold into a more progified universe, but ends up just sounding cheap because other than the attempt to create some atmospheric sounds comes across like a weak 4/4 timed attempt to sound new wave eight years too late and then the cheesy drums and lyrics come in all gussied up with synthesized dressing and ends up sounding totally lame.

I don't need to go on. This one is just the worst attempt for a prog band to enter into the pop universe that i've ever heard and i'm hugely tolerant of progressive pop. Good pop music is a talent all itself and while many a prog band had successful navigated their talents into that musical realm, IQ were clearly out of their element. In fact, it's actually the case that the band were masters of one specific sub genre only and continue shine within it, but once stepping outside of its murky boundaries find themselves playing the role of not only a fish out of water, but a fish in the party punch with a tutu on. No disrespect for any fish that wish to do so, of course, i only am pointing out a pointless musical meandering into an almost parody zone. This one is just so bad that it truly is the worst of the worst. I found life in "Nonzamo" to the point that i could give it 3 stars, but ARE YOU SITTING COMFORABLY? just makes me feel like i'm sitting in the emergency room in line with a bunch of coughing and hacking indigents while crossing my legs because i have to pee and the bathroom is closed because someone clogged up the toilets. A classic example of WTF were you thinking, guys? Luckily, IQ would come back on the next album "Ever" and never punish us with such crap again.

 Man Of The Moment by MARTIGAN album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.58 | 40 ratings

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Man Of The Moment
Martigan Neo-Prog

Review by poito

3 stars I first listened to their most acclaimed VISION album, which I really liked in spite of the notable borrowing of style from the great symph grandpas. I thought it was a worthy piece of classic prog with all ingredients in site and excellent instrumental mastery. This former album now looks to me as a preparatory one, meaning that the borrowed elements are already here but less compacted, it sounds less natural. The brilliant moments are scarce and at least in the first half the overall taste is cheesy and easy. It kind of improves by the second half, beginning by the most inspired track Scapegoat And Scarecrow, a piano based track with an original melody and good voices. The Feast is also a track you can save for your collection. At least this tribute bands do not hide what they are and who they worship, neither do we. It is worse to pretend one is not influenced by the Grandpas while they die in the effort of making us believe they are original.
 Pride by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.64 | 285 ratings

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Pride
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars for sure

The second album of this famous neo prog band was issued in 1996 named simply Pride. With a new vocalist Paul Wrightson and a new bassist the well known abong proggers John Jowitt from Jadis and IQ fame Arena did another worthy album in this zone, continuing the same level left on previous album, thier first baby. The musicianship is as expected solid all throughout the album, with some really nice parts. The music is solid rooted in IQ-Marillion style but with with their own twists and turns added in the mix. Pieces like opening Welcome to the cage, one of the tunes played in almost every gig since then, Empire Of A Thousand Day or Medusa show maturity in song writting and aswell confirmed once again that Arena has something to say in this scene , confirming the high level of this band gained in few years. So, to this point, Pride is regarded as one of their best, only The Visitor and few more are in front of this release so far. 3.5 stars, their next one is even better and definatly their mahgnum opus and one of the better neo prog albums ever written The visitor.

 Leaves by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.21 | 30 ratings

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Leaves
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Sombre expanses, decidedly forceful environments and desolate reactivity. Nine Stones Close (NSC) have altered their state, moved beyond the zone of calm twilight and flung themselves into a completely different sonic dominion. A rather massive shake-up of personnel was at the forefront of such an adjustment as Adrian Jones on guitars and drummer Pieter Van Hoorn have re-tooled their muse, bringing in talented Dutch keyboardist Christiaan Bruin (who has a few albums under the 'Chris' moniker), bassist Peter Groen and a versatile Irish vocalist Aio O'Shaughnessy (Frameshift) . Adrian's fabulous Jet Black Sea project obviously tailored a new and fresh direction, a stark universe loaded with intensity and gloom. While quite a new experience from their previous works, their melancholic nature is forever present, now heightened by a sharper palette as well as a more masculine vocal presence that does take a little getting used to at first.

Things start out in classic form on 'Complicated', a brooding mood swings in the atmospherics and little time is wasted to introduce Adrian's scratchy guitar and Aio's rather exalted vocals , elevating the power levels to raunch and launch, the driving bass and van Hoorn's powerful drum fills giving all the support needed. Angry and, well ''complicated'! Sinuously seductive with a dash of sonic perversity, this could have been a heavy Porcupine Tree styled song, if not for the more urgent vocal stylistics. Short and to the point, welcome to the new NSC!

The next 4 tracks are all 10 minute + affairs, so this is a dense, developed to the gills opus that provides immense depth and width. First up, 'Goldfish' is a whopping expanse of annoyed ambiance, heavily drenched in cyclical psychedelia that forges mood over matter, feeling over formula. Fizzy somnolence allied with electric rage, there is a panorama of emotions that span the gamut, from anguish to irritation, showing little penchant for platitude. Adrian laces a myriad of licks, bites and chomps to the synthesized stew, at times clanging, chiming and ringing chords to great effect, using some slide guitar phrasings to add some garnish. Bruin remains discreet, effectively coloring the arrangement with tons of modern flourishes, rich in electronic effervescence. Aio languishes in his lament, cuing the rhythm section to forcefully kick in the door and let the power enter the fray, brutally and uncompromisingly! A tremendous epic track of the highest order.

The bittersweet expression of 'Lie' is totally unexpected, an oblique, raw, almost dissonant and grungy piece that exhorts a desire to stupefy and confront. This is a heavy, greasy and unshaven colossus, hinting toward a more hurricane-like delivery that yearns for discomfort and sleaziness. The stunning vocals are desperate, almost frenetic, hence quite the polar opposite of the more feminine (but brilliant) style of Marc Atkinson. The insistent rough guitar shrapnel pains, threatens and scars the uninitiated listener, all kinds of interesting stylistic experiments that truly are progressive in terms of evolutionary context. Yes, this is more demanding and complex that the previous NSC works, requiring open-mindedness, participation and concentration. Adrian outro solo is agonizingly stellar.

The longest track, 'Spoils' clocks in over 16 minutes, an adventure in progressive mastery that may remind some fans of PTree's glorious epic 'Anesthetize', in that it stretches the scope from hushed romanticism to hysterical abandon, with every other emotion in between. The balls it takes to leave a man and a microphone alone with scarcely any accompaniment is quite the gamble, as Aio hurls forward his wounded venom, until the rage explodes like some monstrous cyclone of dread and doom. The Led Zeppelin (a la Kashmir) riff will catch you unaware (even if I gave it away), a sudden and booming elevation into the upper territories of bombastic symphonic prog, Aio bellowing and blaring with unchecked sizzle. This teeter-tottering between black and white, once soft and then hard is expertly displayed, in the most convincing manner by all the instrumentalists as well as the lead singer, each focused on the prize. The lyrical content is dour, pessimistic and flat out despondent. Another sensational but arduous ride, squeezing the soul with apparent impunity.

The final and title track is the clincher, a tremendous opus stamped with genius of unparalleled proportions, displaying incredible restraint and creative intelligence, Peter Groen in particular doing some finesse work on his bass guitar, Adrian caressing his frets with vivacious delicacy, the subtle jazzy drum filling and Aio's muttering grievance, all in tune as if in a gentle and relaxed bubble, waiting for the release. When he states 'I only drink when I am drowning', the sheer brilliance hits you like a ton of bricks, the soporific voice reminding one of vocalists such as Steve Hoggarth or early Mark Hollis, undeterred by the clever electronic keyboard barrage. The impression that this fleeting feeling can go on forever is slashed by a whopping guitar solo, a crescendo slowly building up momentum and passion that is purely mesmerizing. With more astute lyrics like 'Have you ever seen the light, have you ever lived your life', the realization that both artist and spectator are in a symbiotic pleasure dome that has achieved the loftiest level of intensity: aching beauty, delirious melancholia and the coalescence of simplicity. The finale is grandiose and explosive, proof is in the undeniable impression of sonic afterglow.

If a fan of the heavy progressive scene, you will find all the challenges that you need to continually discover new twists within tracks you may hear many more times gain, it's just THAT dense. It's not an easy listen, no fluff, no respite, no ballad, no top-ten attempt. The Porcupine has chopped down its Tree, perhaps it's time to rake in the 'Leaves'.

Just plain amazing!

5 Shrubberies

 Embergép / Man Maschine by ANDROID album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 6 ratings

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Embergép / Man Maschine
Android Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Hungarian progressive rock group Android is back with its third release, the aptly titled "Man Maschine" which finally consecrates them with both respect and admiration for how they have progressed through the years. Led by keyboardist Jozsef Tozser and guitarist Janos Dudas , the band has finally lived up to its rather scientific-leaning name by producing a work that is decidedly futuristic , an ode to the android man machine that undoubtedly one day rule over our lives. With a double keyboard attack featuring both Tozser and Sandor Milesz, a tight rhythm section in bassist Zoltan Nikolin and drummer Orban Mezo as well as supremely talented electric guitarist in Dudas , the musicality of the ensemble is a non-issue as these guys can play with the best of them. The big improvement I hear from their previous works (2011's "Midnight Ball" and "East of Eden" -2009) which were most pleasing, is the mature song writing and attention to pace and detail and I even recall stating that ' their next one should consolidate them further within the prog community'. Of course, understanding Hungarian is no problem for me, which adds to my enjoyment.

The tempestuous "Dialectics" is a sprawling nearly 9 minute affair that sets the tone for the album, a delightful plunge into modern electric prog with sweeping electronics, sizzling synthesizer runs, serpentine bass and thoughtful drumming. The electric guitar bites and snarls like some unhinged bitch while the voice sweeps along in Hungarian, a fluid and unique language well suited to prog. The soloists trade blasts that utterly convince, bold, brash and confident. The crisp keys provide symphonic bombast while the flaming axe grinds like a well-oiled machine. A thrilling opener that grabs the attention and excites to no end.

The heavy and rock n' roll influenced "Who Am I?" is super greasy, so as to avoid an overtly robotic set list of songs, hearkens back to something Blue Oyster Cult would create in its most progressive profile, with loads of bluesy guitar scratches and sweltering leads , the blase vocals suitably buzzed and detached. Heavy, nasty and oily. Dudas rips off a series of pyrotechnical leads that benefit from some stellar rhythmic activity as in a driving bass and drum attack, his brief solo is a classic piece of showmanship, stating 'this is who I am!'. "Staying Empty" continues in a rockier pub-rock style, with a chorus of "Hey!" to underscore the need for drinking one more round, another liter of wine to keep up the spirits and shove the engine into overdrive with a frenetic solo and a frantic pulse. A trembling e-piano introduces "I Am the One", laying down a somber foundation for a different guitar solo, closer to a bluesy David Gilmour and then veering into Gary Moore, in its more expressive delivery. The melody is expertly sung, with powerful passion.

Definitely one of the highlights, "Recruitment Song" is a return to bombastic symphonics which is something this band does very well, there is almost a Manfred Mann's Earth Band-like feel especially with both the electric guitar and the synthesizer interplay, which should not come as a surprise as Mann was very popular in Hungary back in the day. It also has a quasi-military march mood, marshaling drums leading the parade and the keyboard work gives the arrangement a lot of depth. A killer track that should attract quite an audience. "I Will Stay Anyway" is the obligatory ballad but features a unique whistling synth solo that is quite stunning, as well as great guitar splashes and truly fabulous singing. In a more dramatic setting, "Bluebeard" is a French classic tale of an evil serial wife murderer, fuel for Bela Bartok to compose an opera, hence the Hungarian connection. Slightly Gothic in feel, the piano leads a rather dark theme, blending theatrics and dynamic flashes, until the crunching guitar takes it by the scruff of the neck and saunters onward. A slithering synth volley leads "Holes in the Skep" (skep is a kind of beehive, an open-end-down basket) into a luminous keyboard exercise that relays over to a slide guitar squawk that wins at Steve Howe. The pace slows as the growling rhythm guitar chops through, unmolested.

Back to the longer epic tracks that really give the group room to maneuver and frankly, where they excel, first with the intriguing "Casemates" loaded to the gills with marimba-sounding keys, grouchy guitar bursts and swift keep things fresh and exciting. Lots of complex passages, turn-on-a-dime pirouettes and a river of constant change that is compelling. Once again, the Manfred Mann Earth Band parallels become obvious as Dudas has a lot of Mick Rogers in him, carving shrill solos and brandishing his axe proudly, while keysmen Tozser and Milesz combine to worship the famed South African legend. A thoroughly interesting and intense piece.

And finally, the massive title track finishes off in grand style this fine release. Molten guitar blasts give way to ambient, almost Floyd-like electronic atmospherics , slowly building up steam until the rock elements kick in, bombast and symphonics paving the way and then veering back to softer climes. The initial vocals are mostly spoken, robotic and doom-laden as the power surge widens its thrust forward. Churning organ is a most welcome addition, as the voice now starts singing the sad plight of men machines, torn between technological perfection and human deficiency. Dudas kills it with a deadly display, the man can play with the best, fast, hard, subtle and hard. The finale is way more urgent , the vocals insistent and exalted, a true classic of Hungarian prog.

Not yet the perfect album but getting there. The epic, more sci-fi pieces are stunning, while the shorter, rockier tracks are enjoyable but certainly not as rapturous. As a bass fanatic, I always would prefer a more upfront bass guitar but that's just me. Recommended.

4 Hun Automatons

 Distant Monsters by MARTIGAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.91 | 40 ratings

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Distant Monsters
Martigan Neo-Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Try to pick up the spirit and create your own thing! Since they are active for more than two decades in the meanwhile, the MARTIGAN crew have the ability to make a lasting impression, at least when it comes to such a distant monster like this. The band is mainly, but not solely, underway in the neo prog tradition. Thus, from time to time you will detect hints pointing to the likes of IQ, Marillion, Saga, RPWL, Gate6. So much for a rough orientation music-wise. What matters in the end, no wonder, touches the quality of the compositions, and the characteristics the particular members are contributing.

Concerning the latter I'd like to mention Kai Marckwordt first of all. His vocals are one of a kind really, very empathic, optimally integrated into the sound. Just starting with Theodor's Walls all the aforementioned attributes are blended here. I mean the unusual multi-variant song structure, rich guitar riffing in between, the quite simple but perfect piano loop which accompanies you over the course, and finally a singing voice which leaves me with no option but to be excited. This track appears to be outstanding, a real masterpiece!

The following songs are offering more diverse impressions, from a wonderfully relaxed and melodic appearance regarding Simplicius and TipToe to some extended instrumental parts to be found on The Lake or Fire On The Pier for example. Hell! It took some time to write my words, released in December last year the album ultimately obtained a place on my top twenty list for 2015 at least. Recommended, 'Distant Monsters' is an album of a high caliber. Don't miss that!

 The Jewel  by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.29 | 266 ratings

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The Jewel
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A semi-precious neo-prog gemstone

3.5 stars

With MARILLION's (overrated) "Misplaced Childhood" and IQ's "The Wake", 1985 was definitely important for the development of the neo-progressive genre. Nonetheless, considering the same year, my preference goes to the lesser-known rocking debut album of PENDRAGON "The Jewel". Why? Because, despite shorter compositions, this was one of the most original opus in the genre at the time, different than the two aforementioned bands, still influenced by GENESIS, and more epic than PALLAS' "The Sentinel". Concerning TWELFTH NIGHT, they're another story...

The two first songs are however not the best choices for a beginning. "Higher Circles" seems inspired by STYX, but is a little cheesy. "The Pleasure of Hope" is slightly better, even if its melody remains average. Don't leave now, the real adventure starts now with the fantasy rock "Leviathan" and its enchanting keyboards. The opening of "Alaska" may sound a bit floydian, but then become more melancholic and typically neo-prog-esque with its nervous synthesizer and guitar soli. This rocks!

"Circus" is also quite lively and possesses an enjoyable new-wave feel, a groovy bass, and other elements showing the band's various inspirations. The journey continues with the very nice "Oh Divineo", a piece alternating calm, playful and bravery. Nonetheless, the jewel of the album is clearly the mini-epic "The Black Knight". Longest composition, a true musical fairytale, and one of the best creations of the neo-prog genre! Released as a single one year before, the hard rocking heroic "Fly High Fall Far" is really powerful! Unfortunately, this deluge of epicness is stopped by "Victims of Life", also released in 1984, but a little uneven and hard to follow.

Whereas MARILLION and IQ were merging the style of the 70's prog ancients - such as GENESIS and PINK FLOYD - into the musical landscape of the 80's, which was also pleasant, I personally find that PENDRAGON took the reverse approach by painting the catchy sharp rock of the eighties with progressive colors. For sure, it contains a few moments influenced by the Gabriel-era of you-know-you, but this not the musicians' primary intention. Here you hold a refreshing neo-prog disc full of knights and legends! Not a surprise for a band whose name is Pendragon. The only thing you have to do is to cut the beginning and the ending...

Despite its typically 80's sonorities sounding a bit dated, "The Jewel" is one of the best PENDRAGON releases, more inspired than the commercial-oriented "Kowtow" and than their soapy FLOYD-inspired efforts of the 90's. One of the rock-iest albums of the neo-progressive genre!

 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.10 | 773 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars IQ's best album of the 2000's

It's a pity one of IQ's worst cover art is on one of their best records. Not frequently cited, this tenth studio album is quite inspired and modern, while preserving the band's musical identity. The musicians real entered the new millennium this time. Maybe a little less adventurous than previously, the songs are however more coherent, incorporates elements of other progressive styles such as heavy prog or prog metal, and the quality is present.

The heavy title track contains all what you can expect from IQ at the beginning of the 21st century: a dark opening, rocky passages, enchanting trademark keyboards, pretty melodies and powerful soli. Simply one the best compositions from the band! "Life Support" can be divided in two parts. The melancholic first half is dominated by piano-driven, whereas the second half displays unreal eerie music typical if IQ. The progressive "Stronger Than Friction" is also good, alternating dark, smooth and epic atmospheres. Ironically, the romantic ballad "One Fatal Mistake" is rather soapy and out of place. Fortunately, this song is also the shortest. Therefore, this little mistake is far from being fatal for the disc.

Serious business comes back with the GENESIS-influenced "Ryker Skies", however darker and more modern. Another nice composition in the style of the band, with a good progression, futuristic beat and a spacey passage. "The Province" is the longest track of the record. It first starts with beautiful delicate guitars to then surprising become more ferocious and heavy. I bet you were not expecting that. The contrast is striking, and the dream is turning into a nightmare! Really efficient. Unfortunately, this nearly flawless hour of music concludes with the insipid and repetitive "Closer". The dark side of neo-prog...

Containing only two weak tracks, more convincing and personal than its predecessor, "Dark Matter", "Frequency" finally shows the musicians modernizing their style while preserving their soul and composition quality. Melancholic and somber, smooth and oppressive, nonetheless recommended to IQ fans, this opus is one of the best neo-progressive albums of the 21st century! Also adapted to discover the band if you're not familiar with this genre.

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Neo-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
25 YARD SCREAMER United Kingdom
ABACAB France
ABEL GANZ United Kingdom
ABRAXAS Poland
ACCEPT Japan
AD INFINITUM United States
ADN France
AELIAN Italy
AETHELLIS United States
AFTERGLOW France
AGENESS Finland
AGENTS OF MERCY Sweden
AHMSHERE Netherlands
AIRBAG Norway
AIRBRIDGE United Kingdom
AISLES Chile
ALBION Poland
ALKOZAUR France
ALMA SIDERIS Italy
ALSO EDEN United Kingdom
ALTAVIA Italy
AMANDA Belgium
AMON RA Germany
ANAMOR Poland
ANANKE Poland
ANDROID Hungary
ANIMATOR United States
ANNALIST Poland
ANUBIS Australia
APPLE PIE Russia
ARAGON Australia
ARCANSIEL Italy
ARCHANGEL Italy
ARENA United Kingdom
ARENAL Chile
ARGOS Germany
FINN ARILD Norway
ARK United Kingdom
ARKUS Netherlands
ARLEKIN Ukraine
ARLON Poland
ARRAKEEN France
ARVE Germany
ASGARD Italy
ASSAL Poland
ASTRALIS Chile
ASTURIAS Japan
ATEMPO Argentina
ATRIA France
ATRIUM Portugal
AUDITE Germany
AUFKLARUNG Italy
AVALON USA United States
SIMON AYRES United Kingdom
BACKYARDS France
BALLOON ASTRONOMY United States
BAROCK PROJECT Italy
NICK BARRETT & CLIVE NOLAN United Kingdom
KEVIN BARTLETT United States
SAULO BATTESINI Brazil
BEING & TIME Japan
BEL AIR Germany
BELIEVE Poland
STEWART BELL United Kingdom
BELLAPHON Japan
BIG PICTURE United States
BIJOU Spain
BLACK PAGE Japan
BLIND EGO Germany
BLIND OWL United States
BLUE MAMMOTH Brazil
BOLUS Canada
FABRICE BONY France
XAVIER BOSCHER France
BRASSÉ Netherlands
DEC BURKE United Kingdom
TIM BURNESS United Kingdom
CAAMORA United Kingdom
CARPTREE Sweden
ALAN CASE Netherlands
RICH CASEY United States
CASINO United Kingdom
CASTANARC United Kingdom
CATAFALCHI DEL CYBER Italy
CATHEDRAL United States
CATWEAZLE Sweden
MARC CECCOTTI France
CENTAUR RODEO United States
CHANDELIER Germany
CHANETON Argentina
CHEST ROCKWELL United States
CHILDREN OF NOVA United States
CHRIS Netherlands
CINDERELLA SEARCH Japan
CIRKEL Netherlands
CIRRUS BAY United States
CLEPSYDRA Switzerland
CLIFFHANGER Netherlands
COALITION United Kingdom
COLD FAIRYLAND China
COLLAGE Poland
COMBINATION HEAD United Kingdom
COMEDY OF ERRORS United Kingdom
CONTEMPORARY DEAD FINNISH MUSIC ENSEMBLE Finland
COSMIC DANGER United States
COSMOGRAF United Kingdom
COSMOS Switzerland
CRAYON PHASE Germany
CREDO United Kingdom
CRIMSON SKY United Kingdom
CRISÁLIDA Chile
CROMWELL Germany
CRUZ DE HIERRO Mexico
CRYSTAL MAZE Germany
CRYSTAL PALACE Germany
CYAN United Kingdom
THE D PROJECT Canada
DARIUS Germany
DARWIN'S RADIO United Kingdom
DAYS BEFORE TOMORROW United States
DEAD HEROES CLUB Ireland
DEAD LETTER CIRCUS Australia
DEEP THOUGHT Switzerland
DELTA CYPHEI PROJECT Germany
DEYSS Switzerland
DIAL Netherlands
DIFFERENCES Netherlands
DIFFERENT STRINGS Malta
DIRECTION Canada
DISPERSE Poland
DISTANT DREAM United States
DOCKER'S GUILD Italy
TROY DONOCKLEY United Kingdom
DR. NO Spain
DRACMA Spain
DRAMA Uruguay
DREAM ARIA Canada
DRIFTING SUN Multi-National
DUSTER United States
EARTHSTONE United Kingdom
EAST Hungary
ECHO US United States
EDEN SHADOW United Kingdom
EDHELS Monaco
EDISON'S CHILDREN Multi-National
EDITH Italy
EGDON HEATH Netherlands
EGOBAND Italy
ELEGANT SIMPLICITY United Kingdom
ELEPHANT & CASTLE France
ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND United States
ELIXIR France
EMERALD Netherlands
THE EMERALD DAWN United Kingdom
ENDLICH ALLEIN Italy
EPILOGUE United Kingdom
EQUINOX Panama
ERASMUS United Kingdom
ESKAPE Germany
ESTHETIC PALE Germany
ETERNAL WANDERERS Russia
EUREKA Germany
EURHYBIA France
EVERY WAKING HOUR United States
EVOLUTION United Kingdom
EVOLUTIVE France
EXHIBIT A United Kingdom
EXOUSTIA United States
EYE 2 EYE France
EYESBERG Germany
EYESTRINGS United States
EZRA United Kingdom
FACTORY OF DREAMS Portugal
FANCYFLUID Italy
THE FAR MEADOW United Kingdom
FAUN Germany
FINAL CONFLICT United Kingdom
FISH United Kingdom
FIVE-O-ONE AM Netherlands
FJIERI Italy
FLAMBOROUGH HEAD Netherlands
FLAMMARION Portugal
FLUTTR EFFECT United States
FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Netherlands
FOR YOUR PLEASURE Germany
JACK FOSTER III United States
FRACTAL United States
FRAMAURO Poland
FRAMES Germany
FRAMEWORK United Kingdom
SALLY FRENCH United Kingdom
FROST* United Kingdom
FRUITCAKE Norway
THE FYREWORKS United Kingdom
GAILLION United States
GALADRIEL Spain
GALAHAD United Kingdom
GALLANT FARM Italy
GALLEON Sweden
GAMBIT France
GANDALF'S FIST United Kingdom
DANIEL GAUTHIER Canada
PETER GEE United Kingdom
GERARD Japan
GHIRIBIZZI Belgium
IL GIARDINO DEI VIZI CONTINUI Italy
JIM GILMOUR Canada
GLACIER United Kingdom
GOOD AUTHORITY Netherlands
ANDREW GORCZYCA United States
IAN GORDON United Kingdom
GPS United States
GRACE United Kingdom
LE GRAND BATON Guadeloupe
GRAND TOUR United Kingdom
GREEN SPACE France
JEFF GREEN Ireland
GRENDEL Poland
GREY LADY DOWN United Kingdom
HANGOVER PARADISE Netherlands
HARNAKIS Spain
HARVEST Spain
HAZE United Kingdom
THE HEALING ROAD Germany
HELLO MADNESS Mexico
HIDDEN LANDS Sweden
HIGH SPY United Kingdom
HIGHER CIRCLES United States
TRACY HITCHINGS United Kingdom
LALO HUBER Argentina
STEVE HUGHES United Kingdom
HUIS Canada
HYBRID United Kingdom
I AND THOU United States
ICE Netherlands
THE ID Multi-National
ILLUMION Netherlands
ILUVATAR United States
IN NOMINE Spain
INDISCIPLINED LUCY Sweden
INES Germany
INIOR Italy
THE INSTITUTE OF MODERN LOVE United Kingdom
INTROITUS Sweden
INVERTIGO Germany
INVISIGOTH United States
IQ United Kingdom
IRIS France
IT United Kingdom
VELISLAV IVANOV Bulgaria
IXION Netherlands
JADIS United Kingdom
JANISON EDGE United Kingdom
JESETER Czech Republic
JOLLY United States
JUMP United Kingdom
K2 United States
KAMPAI Germany
KEN'S NOVEL Belgium
KINETIC ELEMENT United States
KING OF AGOGIK Germany
KNIGHT AREA Netherlands
KONCHORDAT United Kingdom
KRAMER Netherlands
LAHOST United Kingdom
LANDMARQ United Kingdom
THE LAST PLACID DAYS OF PLENTY Canada
LEAP DAY Netherlands
LEGEND United Kingdom
LEGGAT Canada
THE LENS United Kingdom
LEVIATHAN Italy
LIFESIGNS United Kingdom
LIGHT Netherlands
LIGHT DAMAGE Luxembourg
LIKE WENDY Netherlands
LITTLE ATLAS United States
LONGSHOT France
LOOKING-GLASS LANTERN United Kingdom
LORIEN United Kingdom
LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA Finland
LUNAR CHATEAU United States
MACROMARCO Italy
MAD PUPPET Italy
MAD TEA PARTY Germany
MADELGAIRE Belgium
MAGENTA United Kingdom
MAGNÉSIS France
MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) United States
MAJESTIC United States
MALOMENOS Chile
MANDRAGORA Argentina
GEOFF MANN United Kingdom
MARATHON Netherlands
MARATHON Italy
MARILLION United Kingdom
MARTIGAN Germany
MARYSON Netherlands
MASCARADA Spain
MASQUE Sweden
MASTER OF CEREMONY Italy
MAYBE France
MICHAEL MAYER & DEAN ROUCH United States
MEDICINE MAN United Kingdom
MENAYERI Puerto Rico
MENTAUR United Kingdom
MERCHANTS VICE United Kingdom
MERCY TRAIN United Kingdom
METAMORPHOSIS Switzerland
METAPHOR United States
MILLENIUM Poland
MINDGAMES Belgium
MINOR GIANT Netherlands
MK II United Kingdom
MONARCH TRAIL Canada
MONTECRISTO Indonesia
MOONRISE Poland
MORIA FALLS United Kingdom
MORPHELIA Germany
MOTHS United Kingdom
MR. GIL Poland
MR. SO & SO United Kingdom
MUDWAY Italy
MULTI-STORY United Kingdom
MUTE ALBINO Belgium
MYSTERKAH France
MYSTERY Canada
BADER NANA Kuwait
NAOS France
NAVIGATOR United States
NEGUA Spain
NEMEZIS Poland
NEO-PROPHET Belgium
NEON LEAVES United Kingdom
NEPENTHE United States
NEW EDEN ORCHESTRA United States
NIADEM'S GHOST United Kingdom
THE NIGHT WATCH Italy
NINE STONES CLOSE United Kingdom
NO NAME / THE NO NAME EXPERIENCE Luxembourg
NO RESTRAINTS United States
NOLAN & WAKEMAN United Kingdom
CLIVE NOLAN United Kingdom
ERIK NORLANDER United States
NORTH STAR United States
NOSTALGIA Italy
NOVEMBER Netherlands
NOVOX Netherlands
NOW Belgium
NTH ASCENSION United Kingdom
NUANCE France
NUMEN Spain
NURKOSTAM Finland
NYL Russia
OCEAN Norway
ONZA Spain
OORT France
OPUS EST Sweden
MARTIN ORFORD United Kingdom
ORPHEUS Japan
OSIRIS Bahrain
THE OTHER SIDE United States
OUTSIDE France
OVERDRIVE Italy
OVERLOAD Pakistan
OVNI El Salvador
PALLAS United Kingdom
PANDORAS.BOX Germany
PANGAEA United States
PANTOKRAATOR Estonia
MATTHEW PARMENTER United States
PARZIVALS EYE Multi-National
JAKE PASHKIN Russia
INDREK PATTE Estonia
PAX ROMANA Finland
PBII Netherlands
PENDRAGON United Kingdom
PETER PAN Poland
PHAESIS France
PHENOM India
PHOENIX AGAIN Italy
PHREEWORLD United States
PI XPRNC Venezuela
PICKLELEGAZ Netherlands
PICTURES Italy
PILGRYM United Kingdom
PLACKBAND Netherlands
PRELUDE Belgium
PRIMITIVE INSTINCT United Kingdom
PRODUCT United States
PROFUNA OCEAN Netherlands
PROTEO Italy
PROTOS United Kingdom
PROVIDENCE Japan
PROXIMAL DISTANCE United States
THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE United States
PTS Netherlands
Q Chile
QANTUM France
QUADRA France
QUASAR United Kingdom
QUIDAM Poland
QUMMA CONNECTION Finland
QWAARN Canada
RADAVIQUE Netherlands
RAEL Argentina
RED SAND Canada
REVELATION United Kingdom
RICOCHER Netherlands
RIVENDEL Spain
RIVERSEA United Kingdom
RIVERYMAN Finland
RIZENGARD Mexico
STEVE ROTHERY United Kingdom
RPWL Germany
SAENS France
SAGITTARIAN Japan
MOTOI SAKURABA Japan
SALEM HILL United States
SANGUINE HUM United Kingdom
SAQQARAH France
SARIS Germany
SATELLITE Poland
SCAPELAND WISH United States
SCHEHERAZADE Japan
SEA VINE Poland
SEASONS OF TIME Germany
SECRET CINEMA Italy
SETI Chile
SEVEN DAY HUNT Netherlands
SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR Germany
P.J. SHADOWHAWK United States
SHADOWLAND United Kingdom
SHAKARY Switzerland
SHAMALL Germany
SILENT AGREEMENT Netherlands
SILHOUETTE Netherlands
SILVER KEY Italy
SINISTER STREET Netherlands
SINUS Poland
SIX ELEMENTS United States
SKEEM France
SKYFOX 8 Brazil
SLOW MOTION REIGN United States
SLYCHOSIS United States
MARK SMOOT United States
SNOWDONIA Spain
SOLIS Brazil
SOLSTICE United Kingdom
SPEKTRUM Sweden
SPLINTER Netherlands
STEALING THE FIRE United Kingdom
STEP AHEAD France
STRANGEFISH United Kingdom
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN United Kingdom
SUBSIGNAL Germany
SUBTERRA Chile
SUPERDRAMA Germany
SUPPER'S READY Luxembourg
ROBERT SVILPA United States
SYLVAN Germany
SYRIAK Venezuela
T Germany
TALE Multi-National
TALE Italy
TALE CUE Italy
TALE OF DIFFUSION Poland
TALIESYN Germany
TAMARISK United Kingdom
STEVE TASSLER United States
TAURUS AND PISCES Netherlands
TEA IN THE SAHARA Germany
TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER) Japan
THALASSA France
THEATRE Italy
THIRD QUADRANT United Kingdom
TIGER MOTH TALES United Kingdom
TIME AND TIDE United States
TIME HORIZON United States
TIMELOCK Netherlands
TMP (TOON MARTENS PROJECT) Belgium
TOP LEFT CORNER Italy
TOWER Italy
TR3NITY United Kingdom
TRAMA Italy
TRANSIENCE United States
TRIANGLE Netherlands
TRISTAN PARK United States
TSUKI-USAGI Japan
TSUNAMI Germany
LA TULIPE NOIRE Greece
TWELFTH NIGHT United Kingdom
TWIN AGE Sweden
ULTIME ATOME France
ULTRA VIOLET RAYS United States
UNICORN Sweden
UNISPHERE Canada
US Netherlands
UTOPIAN FIELDS Norway
VANTASMA Indonesia
VESTAL United States
VIENNA CIRCLE United Kingdom
VINTAGE Spain
VIOLET DISTRICT Germany
THE VIOLET HOUR United Kingdom
MIKE VISAGGIO United States
VISIBLE WIND Canada
THE VOW Germany
THE WATCH Italy
WATER GARDEN Japan
WHITECHAPEL France
WILTON SAID Canada
WINTER United Kingdom
XENN Poland
YACOBS Germany
YAK United Kingdom
YLECLIPSE Italy
DAVID YOUNGER United Kingdom
YUKA & CHRONOSHIP Japan
YWIS Netherlands
ZENIT Switzerland
ZENOBIA Germany
ZIFF Germany
ZONK MONK Japan
TOMMY ZVONCHECK United States

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