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PROGRESSIVE METAL

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Progressive Metal definition

This category represents the core movement of what is called "Progressive Metal" in the literal sense. It is a subgenre of progressive rock as much as it is a subgenre of heavy metal, and this is how its sound is defined: a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositional innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. Common, but not essential to define the movement, are the frequent use of keyboards, high-pitched vocals, concept lyrical themes and tracks of longer duration. Similar to progressive rock, progressive metal draws influences from other genres, such as jazz/fusion, ethnic, classical and symphonic music.

The Origins:
The heavy sound of some of the progressive rock bands of the 70's has been one of the building blocks on which progressive metal was raised. Progressive rock pioneers such as KING CRIMSON and RUSH have often been acclaimed as the main influences of progressive metal bands. The other major influence has been the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) movement, and especially the twin-guitar arrangements of IRON MAIDEN, which have left their stamp on the early stages of the genre's development.

The Pioneers:
Often (and not unjustifiably) referred to as the "Big Three" of progressive metal, QUEENSRYCHE, FATES WARNING and DREAM THEATER have set the scene of what was to follow in the movement. The defining era for the genre was the second half of the 80's, among QUEENSRYCHE's "The Warning" (1984) and (most explicitly) "Rage for Order" (1986) along with FATES WARNING's "Awaken the Guardian" (1986) and "No Exit" (1988) releases. The former evolved on their pure American power metal beginnings, while the latter refined their technical/NWOBHM-influenced metal into more progressive forms. Although producing demos since the mid-80's as MAJESTY, DREAM THEATER's first release came in 1989 with "A Dream and Day Unite". The innovative use of keyboards along with influences from American heavy/power metal and progressive rock produced an original blend which was to be further refined in 1992's "Images and Words", which until this day remains next to "Progressive Metal" definition in any musical dictionary.

Among the pioneers of the genre, but enjoying less success and popularity, were PSYCHOTIC WALTZ and SIEGES EVEN. The former were essentially playing progressive metal as ASLAN in the mid-80's and developed a highly eclectic sound in the 90's. The latter's debut classifies them among the European prog-thrash pioneers but their music evolved to more melodic patterns and heavily influenced by RUSH in the early 90's.


Progressive metal is difficult to further divide in sub-genres but a number of tendencies or movements have been critical to the evolvement of its sound.

Traditional Progressive Metal
The style developed by the pioneers was fully established in the 1990s and includes a range of bands from the two sides of the Atlantic. Good examples in this movement are SAVATAGE, who expanded their heavy metal beginnings with operatic and progressive elements in late 80's/early 90's, while SHADOW GALLERY and SYMPHONY X emerged with a unique sound, each embodying a strong theatrical, symphonic and melodic approach. In Europe, SOUL CAGES continued the legacy of SIEGES EVEN in a more artistic path.

Power-Progressive Metal (American style)
The legacy of RIOT (the counterpart of NWOBHM sound in USA) and the early releases of QUEENSRYCHE and FATES WARNING heavily influenced a number of bands that were to develop a common sound towards the late 80's. Among the well-known representatives of what is called American Power Metal (e.g. VICIOUS RUMORS, HELSTAR), a small number of bands enriched their sound with progressive and epic elements. Probably, the most obvious examples of this movement are CRIMSON GLORY and HEIR APPARENT.

Power-Progressive Metal (European style)
This category includes a broad range of bands that could sound fairly dissimilar to each other but their music is significantly influenced by the European Power Metal (primarily German) bands of the 80's (e.g. HELLOWEEN, RAGE, RUNNING WILD). The earliest examples are probably BLIND GUARDIAN, ANGRA (although Brazilian, their sound is mainly European) and CONCEPTION. Slightly later, VANDEN PLAS, ROYAL HUNT, ELDRITCH and LABYRINTH gave rise to the popularity of the genre in Germany, Denmark and Italy respectively. The symphonic and neo-classical elements (made popular by YNGWIE MALMSTEEN) also found their way through power metal with bands like RHAPSODY OF FIRE and NIGHTWISH, whose style does not qualify as being progressive for many people. Nevertheless their music is quite demanding to play and contains many elements of serious classical composition and form.

Modern Progressive Metal
The second half of the 90's and the early 00's also saw newly formed bands expanding the boundaries of Traditional Progressive Metal via a number of ways: introducing electronic/spacey elements, investing heavily in lyricality and/or syncopation and further rhythmical experimentation. Also the idea of thematically conceptual albums has returned in accord with the practices of the Progressive Metal pioneers. Well-known examples in this category are AYREON, PAIN OF SALVATION and RIVERSIDE.


--- Definition by Thanos and the Progressive Metal Team, January 2012 ---

The Progressive Metal Team
Karl (bonnek)
Kevin (Necroncommander)
Alex (Rune2000)
Thanos (aapatsos)
Dave (Prog Sothoth)
Louis (rdtprog)


Progressive Metal Top Albums


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

4.30 | 2840 ratings
METROPOLIS PART 2 - SCENES FROM A MEMORY
Dream Theater
4.28 | 2777 ratings
IMAGES AND WORDS
Dream Theater
4.26 | 1645 ratings
SECOND LIFE SYNDROME
Riverside
4.23 | 1177 ratings
THE PERFECT ELEMENT - PART 1
Pain Of Salvation
4.23 | 1020 ratings
OPERATION: MINDCRIME
Queensr˙che
4.23 | 1113 ratings
REMEDY LANE
Pain Of Salvation
4.21 | 1250 ratings
ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION
Riverside
4.20 | 1128 ratings
OUT OF MYSELF
Riverside
4.19 | 1131 ratings
THE HUMAN EQUATION
Ayreon
4.20 | 375 ratings
THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS
Sieges Even
4.12 | 1901 ratings
SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE
Dream Theater
4.12 | 2018 ratings
AWAKE
Dream Theater
4.14 | 726 ratings
INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE
Ayreon
4.16 | 378 ratings
A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY
Fates Warning
4.13 | 686 ratings
V - THE NEW MYTHOLOGY SUITE
Symphony X
4.14 | 401 ratings
PERFECT SYMMETRY
Fates Warning
4.16 | 295 ratings
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Redemption
4.16 | 235 ratings
TEMPLE OF SHADOWS
Angra
4.10 | 549 ratings
THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY
Symphony X
4.21 | 140 ratings
PARADOX
Royal Hunt

Progressive Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Progressive Metal experts team

PATHOSRAY
Pathosray
DARK DECEIVER
Zero Hour
ABYDOS
Abydos
FROM WITHIN
Astra

Latest Progressive Metal Music Reviews


 Hel by TŨR album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Hel
Tũr Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Although it took them quite a while to get their line-up stabilized, Tyr was officially formed in 1998. This Progressive Metal band is originally from the Faroe Islands. These islands, of which there are 18 large islands, are located between Iceland and Norway somewhere between the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea and they are self-governing but considered part of Denmark. This is mentioned because it can give you reference to their sound and influence. They definitely have the Scandinavian look to them and that influences their music.

The band has released a total of 8 full length albums and 2 EPs between the years of 2000 and 2019, but their line up changed a lot in their first few years until they were signed with a major label. Once their line-up stabilized, they would release occasional albums, but spent most of their time touring. In March, 2019, they released their 8th full length album called "Hel", 6 years after their previous album. Their current line-up consists of Heri Joensen on vocals and guitars, Attila Voros on guitars, Gunnar H. Thomsen on bass, and Tadeusz Rieckmann on drums. The album consists of 13 tracks and has a total run time of nearly 70 minutes.

Vocals are an interesting combination of growling/screaming dirty vocals and memorable, melodic vocals, sometimes changing several times in one song. The style of metal is clearly the Norwegian sound you expect, with a lot of melodic hooks in the guitars, plus a lot of great solos. There are places where they even take snippets of folk influences into their melodies, both vocal and instrumental. You will find all of these traits just in the first track alone "Gates of Hel".

Even though there is only one vocalist credited, the vocals are quite varied and even well harmonized at times as in the chorus of "All Heroes Fall", which also features a killer guitar solo. They even feature a couple of tracks with their native language, but most of them are in English.

The first four tracks are pretty much heavy tracks with quick tempos and melodic progressive metal, giving you what you expect. On "Sunset Shore", there is a bit of a break from the heaviness with the more ballad-like verses and slightly heavier choruses and even a "Michael Schenker Group" style sound throughout. After this, there is a return to mostly full-blast prog metal, continuing with the melodic sound but with hints at progressiveness with passages approaching extreme metal at times. There isn't much let up from the heaviness throughout the album, and by the half-way point, you are wishing for more variety in the music and that is the main weakness here. Even though the sound and music is well-produced, some additional variation would have kept the interest higher. But those that love the melodic Norwegian metal will definitely want to check this out. The two biggest pluses of this album are the changing vocal styles and the excellent guitar solos, but the biggest minus is the overall lack of variety.

 Train Of Thought by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.58 | 1759 ratings

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Train Of Thought
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars This seems to be one of the more divisive albums in Dream Theater's discography, further developing the extremely dark, heavy sound that the previous 2 albums had begun to implement, yet also adding some more modern, alternative metal elements into the equation. The aggression present here is for the most part extremely prominent, with even the lighter songs having really heavy sections. However, despite the overall impressive sound that the album possesses, certain compositional flaws present among much of Dream Theater's material are even more common and egregious here, with almost every solo sounding very similar to one another throughout many songs, and certain songs being overlong and containing sections of pointless noodling. Despite this, I do overall find the album to be one of the better ones, despite the issues with it, as most of the songs are still massive hits for me.

As I am is both the shortest and by far the most commercial track on the album, taking a lot of clear inspiration from Metallica in the pseudo-thrash riffing and the agressive, yet melodics vocal melodies dominating the song, with a fairly standard structure, but some really great keyboard work as it segues into an unfortunately dull solo, which does impact the song in a fairly negative way. This Dying Soul is both one of the greatest songs on the album, but then also one of the weakest, if it cut off at around the 9 minute mark, I'd absolutely adore the eerie, intense, downright harrowing nature of the song, especially with the distortion that comes in throughout, and the chorus, and the continuation of the 12 Step Suite with hte reprise of The Glass Prison's middle section. That said, the instrumental outro goes from boring to downright silly, with constantly teasing the prospect of it ending before becomning faster, making it feel obscenely excessive, or, as many detractors of the band would say, filled with instrumental wanking.

After these first 2 lackluster songs, the rest of the album picks up its act a lot more, with greater variation in between and much more impressive composition. Endless Sacrifice, while being the light song of the album, has a wonderfully heavy, emotional chorus with some really great guitar. The solo provides some more impressive technicality along with intensity, being quite varied throughout to maintain the enjoyable nature, which transitions into a climactic finale and an insane drum fill. Honor Thy Father is tied with In The Name Of God as my favourite song on the album, being without a doubt, the heaviest, nastiest, most angry and aggressive song the band has ever written, with lyrics equally as direct and in your face as the instrumentation, which switches between brutality and groove. I love the way the song continues building in intensity, especially with the chorus changing slightly each time, using more profane and direct vocabulary each time. While the use of movie audio samples isn't quite as effective here as in Space Dye Vest, it does still work quite well. Stream Of Consciousness is probably what I'd consider to be the best of the instrumental tracks by the band, being extremely dynamic with every instrument getting the spotlight at one point or another, sometimes extremely epic, while other times really laid back and atmospheric, essentially combining every good aspect of their previous instrumentals to make this. In The Name Of God is also an incredible song, with a middle eastern styled, crushing riff throughout most of the song, combined with constantly climactic vocals from Labrie, lyrics equally fitting of the incredibly grndiose nature of everything.

Overall, while this album is flawed in a few ways, I enjoy it a lot for its heaviness and powerful riffs throughout, even if the solos almost always end up falling flat. I find this to be one of the better Dream Theater albums overall, despite the seemingly mixed opinion people have of it. While I don't recommend anyone start with this album when delving into this band's discography, it's definitely a great album all around, especially for those who like heavier music.

Best songs: Endless Sacrifice, Honor Thy Father, In The Name of God

Weakest songs: This Dying Soul

Verdict: The heaviest album that Dream Theater have made, and one of my favourites as well. I find this to be the last truly great full album the band wrote, and would recommend it to those who like heavier music, but nothing too extreme.

 The Transcendental Journey by DIMENSION ELEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.09 | 4 ratings

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The Transcendental Journey
Dimension Eleven Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Dimension Eleven is a progressive metal band from Poland who was formed in 2013. Other than releasing 2 singles over the years, "The Transcendental Journy" is the first full length album from the band, which was released in early 2019. The two singles that were released previously are included on this album; "Point of No Return ? Part 1" was released in 2013, and "Stardust" released in 2016. All of the other tracks are original to this album. The album contains 7 tracks with a run time of almost 32 minutes.

The album begins with an introductory track "Beneath the Alien Dreams". Made up mostly of dark sounding keyboards, the track is an ominous sounding beginning that goes on for over 2 minutes before flowing into "Stardust". The lushness of the introductory track drop off, there are a few atmospherics, then the heavy guitars and drums take off with rapid fire riffs and drums. Vocals are clean but in sections, they venture close to screaming, but not quite. The guitar has the most influence on the heavy track, but synths knit everything together. The sound is definitely progressive and heavy, with some great progressive sounds. The vocals aren't bad, but stay mostly in a mid-range, venturing to a higher range every so often, and there is the occasional addition of vocal effects from time to time.

"Superreality" begins with soft piano and vocals. Suddenly the band kicks in with heaviness and a background screaming vocal that appears on occasion, but mostly for support and with short bursts. There are some interesting rhythmic patterns at times that keep things unique. Later, there are trade offs between clean and dirty vocals. As with the previous track, the guitar provides heavy riffs while the keyboard keeps it all flowing. "Delusions" is a short intermediate instrumental, mostly on piano with some dark effects. The longest track "Divine" follows with a 9+ minute runtime. The track starts with atmospheric synths and effects, a soft guitar comes in and things slowly build until a more mellow sounding vocal starts. When the electric guitar riff comes in, things become more intense and emotional. There is a good mix of thumping guitar riffs and synths which give a slightly symphonic feel. At six minutes, things calm a bit with another piano solo backed by drums and synths, but things soon quicken and intensify again. As the track continues, it almost approaches a cinematic feel.

"Awaken" is another short interlude that is a spacey track with atmospheric effects. The last track is the oldest track "Point of No Return ? Part 1: Far From Beyond Eternal Depths". It follows the same pattern of the longer tracks starting off with minimal effects and synths and soon intensifying with heavy guitar and the full band. The track sound like it has the right idea, but seems a bit choppy. There are clean and dirty vocals throughout. As before, there is a slight symphonic feel to the music.

Overall, it's not a bad album or effort, but it does feel like there could be more growth and improvement with fleshing things out a bit, improving some of the rough cuts and vocals. It does have pretty much everything it needs to be progressive metal, but could use more ingenuity to set it apart on a track by track basis. It is also too short, but in this case it might work to the benefit of the band as they expand their sound to move away from the predictable nature of the longer tracks. Otherwise, it's a good effort for a debut album. 3 stars.

 Distance Over Time by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.68 | 177 ratings

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Distance Over Time
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars 2016's double concept work `The Astonishing' proved to be a very divisive release for legendary prog-metallers Dream Theater, one that was loved and loathed in equal measure by their fanbase, and easy ammunition for those who've long disliked or ridiculed them. Its padded-out length, somewhat trite theme and show-boating excess aside, it was commendable that the band were pushing the whole album format as a still valid proper artistic musical statement in this modern era of disposable music. But despite it admirably being in the manner of the ambitious and creative classic prog double concept works, it was clear that a course-correction of sorts was necessary, so the band have bounced back in 2019 with a relatively compact 56 minute release in `Distance Over Time'.

Initial look at the often shorter running times on several tracks on the back CD cover might have some prog-snobs spitting their drink across the table in shocked outrage for fear of a more commercial release (or perhaps the streamlined songs that popped up on something like their `Falling Into Infinity' disc back in 1997), but all is not as it seems. For `Distance...', while the band have admittedly focused on punchier and more melodic tunes, they are still full of all the instrumental trickery, jagged time-changes and fancy soloing the band is known for, and it makes the album much more focused and memorable than their former release. Sure, it doesn't really do much that hasn't popped up many of their previous discs, but it's simply a reminder of what they do well, and that will absolutely do for this `comeback'.

Opener `Untethered Angel' is a tough hard rock tune with alternates a frantic momentum with grinding breaks, a rousing chorus and a giddy instrumental sprint in the middle, and the self-belief reaffirming lyric is welcome. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess' gothic piano and John Petrucci's crisp guitar soloing is a standout of the knotted heaviness of `Paralyzed', and there's a thrashy Metallica snarl with a Tony Iommi bite to much of `Fall Into The Light'. It also holds both a reflective acoustic break and refined soloing in the middle that is elegant and powerful, but the band step up for a pair of delirious instrumental races in the latter half.

Rudess works a little E.L.P-like keyboard buster into the opening of `Barstool Warrior', home to plenty of seamless tempo changes back and forth from the band, a soaring guitar theme frequently reprised throughout, and James Labrie's confident vocal perfectly conveys the tale of regret that ultimately turns defiant and uplifting. The absurdly schizo horror tale `Room 137' plods with grumbling menace powered by some intricately bashing drumming from Mike Mangini, and the band unexpectedly work in some light Beatles flavours to some of the dreamy vocal harmonies and playful bluesy soloing!

John Myung lets rip with aggressive bass spasms to open `S2N', and he powers throughout the entirety of the observation of the world state lyric, with the track constantly trailing out of control with plenty of spiralling instrumental duels between all the players, despite being anchored by a recurring chorus (and listen out for the ballsy bluesy wail that kicks in at around the 4:45 mark!). `At Wit's End' holds plenty of variety - maniacal pummelling riffing, softer ballad interludes and dirtier grooves, all laced with sparkling piano and simmering Hammond organ in between a pleading chorus. `Out Of Reach' is the obligatory `James Labrie breathy ballad' that pops on all DT discs, although it's one of the more classy examples. Closer `Pale Blue Dot' then races to the finish, a final showcase of maniacal stuttering riffs, commanding drum power and synths that move between ambient and imposing.

(Some copies of the album come with a short bonus track, and `Viper King' is a cool retro rocker that reminds of Deep Purple with its grooving riffs and deliciously murky organ)

No, it doesn't reinvent the Dream Theater wheel (let's cut them some slack, they pretty much invented a template that just about every prog-metal act has taken influence from since), nor does it do much that various parts of their discography haven't done before, but its focus on strong and compact tunes without sacrificing the expected technical display is welcome. All the exceptional musicians still get constant standout soloing moments, but they're delivered in more mature and tighter bursts so as to the avoid the...well, musically masturbatory excess that DT can often give in to! `Distance Over Time' is more a refining of everything that makes Dream Theater still stand out in the crowded prog-metal genre, and longtime fans will likely find this one an endlessly replayable and highly satisfying effort from the fellas.

Four stars.

 Tiara by SEVENTH WONDER album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.83 | 45 ratings

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Tiara
Seventh Wonder Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars It has been eight years since the last album from Seventh Wonder, but they are finally back with their fifth studio album with just one line-up change from 'The Great Escape'. I am not really sure why it has taken so long for them to release this, but I presume the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of singer Tommy Karevik who also joined Kamelot with whom he has released three albums. But they are back, and in many ways it is almost as if they have never been away. This is very polished melodic rock with symphonic overtones and great vocals (yes, I know they are often classed as prog metal, but while this is a great album, prog metal it isn't).

Tommy Karevik is recognised as being one of the best frontmen around, and here he is being given the perfect playground. Given that bass player Andreas Blomqvist, guitarist Johan Liefvendahl and drummer keyboard player Andreas 'Kyrt' S'derin have all been in the band since 2000 it should be no surprise they lock in well, while drummer Stefan Norgren (ex: Lion's Share) drives the music along with a much more powerful and dynamic approach to many in this field. This is melodic and powerful, and far heavier than would often be expected from bands on the Frontiers label. Let's hope it isn't quite so long until the next one.

 Be by PAIN OF SALVATION album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.09 | 844 ratings

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Be
Pain Of Salvation Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nē 241

'Be' is the fifth studio album of Pain Of Salvation and was released in 2004. It's one more conceptual album, this time focused on the existence of God and the Humankind. This was the first time that a Pain Of Salvation's album divided fans and critics, because of its experimental and philosophical nature, and also because it isn't properly a typical progressive metal album. We can consider that from this studio album, the controversy nevermore abandoned the group on their future studio works, until today, which was more evident on their next sixth studio album, 'Scarsick'.

'Be' represents also a landmark for the group. This was the last album featuring the participation of Daniel Gildenlow's brother, the bassist of the group Kristoffer Gildenlow. In 2006, it was asked to him to leave the band because it wasn't possible to him attends rehearsals, due he lived in Holland since he was married. So, the line up on this album is Daniel Gildenl'w, Kristoffer Gildenl'w, Johan Hallgren, Fredrik Hermansson and Johan Langell. The album had also the participation of Mats Stenlund, Cecilia Ringkvist and The Orchestra Of Eternity, as guests.

The concept of 'Be' is based in the human existence in its various forms before God. The album begins with the narration of 'Animae', self-titled God (He or She), pictured without form, sex and age, coming of the 'Silent Darkness' and formed by 'It', contemplating its natural existence and a beginning eternal question for self- understanding. The story continues with the creation of 'Imago' and multiplying them by 'Animae' accelerated to current time. Fascinated (He or She), concludes that 'Animae' can learn through their own creation. This is a very complex concept indeed.

The story has some characters: 'Animae' (is the representation of God, or his mind), 'Nauticus' (is the name of the most intelligent universal creation, which moves through space, looking for answers to save Earth), 'Imago' (is the image of humanity in its natural form and is associated to the reflections of 'Animae'), 'Dea Pecuniae' (is the feminine form of 'Mr. Money' in addition to representing human sins and wickedness) and 'Mr. Money' (is the main character in the story and is the man with the greatest wealth of the land that spend fortunes on cryogenic to his wish to be frozen and not be woken before reaching the immortality, and he represents also the evil and darkest side of the humanity).

The music and the style of the album are somewhat more varied than their previous studio works, but at the same time, it calls upon those previous albums and its musical influences. However, musically speaking, 'Be' is an album totally different from their other previous studio workings. On the album we can listen to, beyond the progressive metal songs, many other varied type of songs like a folk song, a gospel song, a church song, a classical piano piece of music and also some narrative passages, news readings, a conversation with a radio in the background, voice messages left on 'God's Answering Machine', beyond The Orchestra of Eternity, which features prominently through the album.

'Be' has fifteen tracks that are divided in a prologue and five chapters. The album is very experimental and non commercial, and Daniel expresses his feelings when and as he wants all over the album. The composition is as good as ever, complex and strong, giving all kinds of atmospheres, moods and feelings. There is classical music, folk tunes, deeply philosophical voiceovers, power ballads, symphonic instrumentals, traditional pieces, heavy Latin percussion passages, spoken verses that border on rap, baroque music, blues, hard rock, symphonic prog, gospel and country. Considering the group's background, a progressive metal band, metal is the style that appears least often on the album.

So, what Pain Of salvation have made musically, is a mix of a million styles, yet somehow making them sound coherent. What is so amazing is that they use so many styles and that all sounds are so natural and in the right place. This is truly progressive music. This is what progressive music is all about. We don't can get individual songs from this album, as is usual on many conceptual albums. This is easily one of the most necessary to listen to all the way through albums I've ever heard before. Although, all the songs have their own identities, and some songs could still stand alone as some of the best songs ever written. However, it's just best that they be listened together in the real context of the all album.

Conclusion: This is, without any doubt, the most ambitious, difficult, challenging, complex, adventurous, risky and powerful conceptual album released by Pain Of Salvation, until now. 'Be' is a conceptual album, varied, original, very controversial about abstract, philosophical, metaphysical and existential thoughts, questions without responses about ethical values like life, death and the concept of God itself. There isn't the slightest doubt that when Daniel says that Pain Of Salvation is a different band he is talking very seriously. These guys are really different. The concept of their albums, the several musical influences of the band and the ever-changing of their music, actually it makes of them a unique progressive rock band, whether we love or hate them. You should give to 'Be', three to four auditions, at least.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Voice In The Light by AMARAN'S PLIGHT album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 175 ratings

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Voice In The Light
Amaran's Plight Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The supegroup consisting of experienced metal and progressive rock musicians delivers a mature effort with enough dynamism and variety. The vocals sometimes more metal-like, sometimes have a more prog-rock edge but are always powerful and are best suited to melodic tracks. Harmonies are really well constructed.

Most of the tracks are hard enough to be called metal; not unusually for American prog metal acts, there are influences from other metal shops - in this case it is power and heavy metal.

Overall a good but not very memorable effort and it drags on for a bit too long. Three stars for this not too original and distinctive offering.

 Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.12 | 1901 ratings

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Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars After the masterpiece that was Metropolis Part 2, Dream Theater continued their trajectory into darker, heavier music with their followup, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, which as you can immediately see from the album art, is not going to be mistaken for something happy any time soon. While I do personally prefer this sort of sound more when compared to their early, synth heavy lighter music, I do think that compositionally, this album is quite a bit weaker in many places when compared to Awake and Images and Words, mostly in terms of its formidable length combined with DT's habit of dragging out a song for a few minutes too long hindering the overall enjoyment I have of the album.

Despite my criticisms, The Glass Prison shows no signs of this in the slightest, being by far the best song on the album, and one of my favourite songs by the band, wonderfully fusing thrash metal into their sound to create an amazingly powerful, oppressive, and downright brutal song. I absolutely love the 12 step suite in general, and think that it's easily one of the band's greatest achievements, and the one that kicks all of that off is definitely a strong one, with the insane instrumental breakdown being perfectly chaotic and carrying on for the perfect amount of time, with enough variation to maintain interest. Furthermore, the rest of the song is equally as excellent, especially the desperate chorus. Past this point the album falls on its face for a bit, with Blind Faith being nothing more than a standard rock track that happens to carry on for far too long, and Misunderstood has a very similar issue, especially with the outro that feels quite pointless and repetitive, not having the hypnotic effect that many great, repetitive pieces have to them, making it instead boring. The Great Debate is my least favourite song here for quite a few reasons. The biggest one is that while I normally don't care too much about lyrics, I really don't like when bands such as Dream Theater get political, it just doesn't feel right at all and really takes me out of the music. What makes this track worse to me is that I don't even find the music itself to be particularly interesting, sure, it sounds different in ways such as James Labrie singing with a strange robotic voice in sections, along with the chorus which completely halts the groove and pace being set in favour of some really passionate screams, but on the whole, this song doesn't do much for me at all, mostly due to the extremely lackluster vocal melodies, which dominate a lot of the song, but just don't sound good at all.The album gets back on track aftre this, with Disappear, which I find to be extremely good due to its atmosphere and melancholy tone, being an all around lovely track.

The second half of the album is really what most people think of when they thik of this album, the 42 minute long title suite. I personally find it to be somewhat too long, but to have so many amazing sections in it, along with an interesting lyrical concept running through, focusing on the topic of mental illness. The suite has a far more symphonic sound to it compared to essentially anything else they've ever written, which works to varying degrees of success. On one hand, I'm personally not a fan of Overture, finding it to drag and have an overly cheesy sound to it, while Solitary Shell has a strong Yes influence to it, and while I'm not the biggest fan of Yes, this track still works quite well. I definitely find it to be the best when things are on the heavier, more frantic side, specifically War Inside My Head and The Test That Stumped Them All, both of which showcase their heavy side exceptionally well, the former focusing on slightly slower, heavier riffs (still quite fast paced), and the latter being all about insane rhythms with frenetic keyboard playing and drumming. It ends in a satisfying enough way, but overall, while certain aspects of it work, I'm still not too keen on Overture and find the reprise of About To Crash to be fairly uninteresting, although I still stand by many aspects being great.

Overall, this is an extremely uneven albums, with moments of brilliance, but also aspects of wasted potential. My bigget issue with it is undoubtedly the fact that I feel like this could have been easily made into a single disc album and have been one of the band's better efforts, but as it stands, I can't rate it highly, as there are too many moments of boredom found within, at least to me. The biggest positive I can say about this album is that I really love the direction they began to take that becomes more developed in their next album.

Best songs: The Glass Prison, Disappear, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence

Worst songs: The Great Debate, Blind Faith

Verdict: A much heavier and darker album than previous efforts, but also a very uneven one. I'd highly recommend listening to the best songs here, as they are incredibly good for the most part, but I couldn't really recommend the middle 3 tracks on the first half.

 Distance Over Time by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.68 | 177 ratings

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Distance Over Time
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

3 stars After the Octavarium album, I have lost a bit of my enthusiasm towards the band's music. I was not expecting something amazing with this new album. I saw the reviews of the album before it was out. Some said the band was back with some of their best music of the past. When I give a spin to the album at first was a bit disappointed. But if I do this review, it's because, after more listening, the music has grown a little on me enough to justify a review. From the first 2 songs, we are in familiar territory with the band's style over the last 20 years. "Fall into the Light" brings some trash metal Metallica style, but the songs have many rhythms change displaying some impressive playing from every player and some cool melodic parts. There are some vocals effects on James voice in the song "Room 137" and "S2N", the latter show some Rush inspired parts and a more inspired Mangini on drums. "At Wit's End" has a heavy first part, a lighter and melodic second part, a song that starts to fade away at the 7 minutes mark. "Out of Reach" is what I don't like in Dream Theater, another boring ballad like you have in every album. In the song"Pale Blue Dot" we have some cool keys and drums parts and that typical John Petrucci heroic on guitar. The bonus track is a surprise with some groovy more standard rock style kind of music that made me think of Deep Purple. So I think this album is a natural evolution of the band's music in the last two decades. After so many years of great music, we could expect that the band is starting to run out of ideas, but a good band that they are they can't release a bad album. 3.4 stars
 Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes From A Memory by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.30 | 2840 ratings

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Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes From A Memory
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

5 stars I'd like to preface this review with a quick list of the good and bad of this album.

The bad:

This is more or less the genesis of almost every Petrucci solo being nothing more than shredding

Occasionally clunky lyrics, notably in Beyond This Life

The good:

Literally everything else.

Without any question at all, this is my favourite Dream Theater album by a mile, and one of my favourite concept albums full stop. This marked the shift in the band's sound that would stick with them for the rest of their career with Portnoy, a much darker, more brooding and heavy band with greater focus on the metal aspect of their sound. What this album does differently is add a theatrical edge to everything, all the way down to the song titles containing a scene number, all the grandiose melodies making everything more fun and epic, while the dark storyline about a murder suicide causes the music to have points in which there is a sense of urgency or discomfort, providing a lot of complexity to the album.

From the first track, interest is already piqued, with a mysterious voice talking about hyponotherapy to the main character, before the vocals kick in and already make the listener ask questions about what is happening. The opener is just quite nice in general, but it's from Overture 1928 that things really get going, borrowing a lot of musical inspiration from Metropolis Part 1, with a few additions throughout, making it a great guitar led instrumental track. This transitions into Strange Deja Vu, with an awesome, heavy riff that as the song goes on, drags out certain notes for longer, which slowly darkens the atmosphere, all before it lightens up and brings forth a soaring melody, with vocal harmonies that seem to represent Victoria, hence the much higher register they're sung in. The song ebbs and flows between majesty and music that complements headbanging extremely well, all before completely dying down into the next scene. Through Her Words is a pleasant little piano ballad that continues into one of my favourite songs on the album (although honestly, a lot of these could be considered my favourites), Fatal Tragedy, which builds into a truly foreboding section, with intense, but not over the top vocals combined with a slow creeping riff, staccato piano chords in the background, which builds into more standard prog metal before upping the intensity considerably with a hint of sadness mixed in for good measure, fitting considering the topic of murder. After this, the song then shifts into its second half, which is nothing more than a completely insane, fast paced instrumental section, with duelling solos between John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess, while Mike Portnoy smashes away at hit drums. It continues building further and further, essentially being a constant explosion, with so much latent energy that even when it cuts to just the piano, it still segues perfectly into Beyond This Life, one of the fastest songs on the album, with sections where the drumming could quite easily be considered blast beats. This is definitely the most energetic, urgent songs on the album, sounding as if it simply cannot stop with the intensity, with the main verses, despite being relatively quiet, maintain this intense pace, the only moments of respite being the chorus, which has a psychedelic feel to it, with extremely spacey sounding vocal effects on it. I also really like the part where an isolated riff begins jumping between the left and right ears on headphones, which then transitions into the downright groovy second half of the song, using it to somewhat control the energy present in order to then transition into Through Her Eyes, another absolutely beautiful ballad, with some nice female vocals added. Not too much to say about this particular song, it's just really nice all around.

The second act of the album begins with what I consider to be one of DT's greatest songs of all time, up there with the likes of Space Dye Vest, Octavarium, and In The Name of God. The songs starts off with a mysterious, exotic intro that build so perfectly, maintaining the style it has even once the amazingly heavy guitar comes in, in a similar fashion to Iron Maiden's Powerslave. Each riff introduced is nothing short of incredible. I also adore how the song switches perspectives between various characters, each with their own issues perfectly fitting in with the general lyrical theme, and definitely fitting in with the dark, desperate nature of it, with an incredibly passionate vocal performance. What follows after this is easily the most ridiculous song the band has ever made, The Dance Of Eternity. The amount of time signature changes in this is absolutely absurd, pompous, excessive, yet unlike an extended solo from a band like ELP, this song manages to continue shifting gears throughout, making the angular nature of the rhythm work really well with some really groovy sections. Looking at this from a technical stadpoint, this song is insane, and looking at it from an enjoyment standpoint, it's still really fun all around, and I've never found it to be dull at all. One Last Time is a powerful, lovely softer song that I find really sticks with me for some reason, which then leads into The Spirit Carries On. Up to this point, there have been multiple instances of reprise, being parts of Metropolis Part 1 making appearances in both Overture 1928 and Dance of Eternity, Overture 1928 having sections found in both Strange Deja Vu and Dance of Eternity, and now this, reprising the opener to the album, but expanding it into a full fledged song complete with a gospel choir and an incredibly happy, optimistic tone to it. Finally Free makes for a perfect finale, with the first half showing each characters' perspective, each now feeling fulfilled, each repeating the same chorus, which if you've followed along with the story, will feel off if oyu've followed the story. The song progresses into a single riff repeated ad nauseum, with a clear focus on mood and atmosphere, before completely cutting out and then ending in a somewhat shocking way, which I won't disclose here, mostly due to the long winded explanation it would warrant to properly convey.

Overall, this is definitely one of my favourite albums, and even though I barely listen to Dream Theater at all these days, this album will still make it onto my rotation fairly regularly. Each song is excellent, but also importantly, the songs work together perfectly as a whole, leading to a listening experience that I feel never falters. I understand that this review is quite excessive, but I judt adore this album too much to make it any shorter. I seriously recommend that if you haven't listened to this album, and enjoy prog metal to any extent whatsoever, that you listen to this album, as I honestly believe that it is close to perfection as long as you can get behind some excess and pompousness.

Best songs: All of them, but especially Fatal Tragedy, Beyond This Life, Home and Dance of Eternity

Weakest songs: none

Verdict: My absolute favourite pure prog metal album, with everything not only being consistently great, but amazing me extremely frequently. This is definitely a good starting point into the band, and more importantly, a must listen album if you can get behind some pretentious moments.

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Progressive Metal bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
5R6 Ukraine
7 MONTHS United States
7DAYS Sweden
AAXSKFG Italy
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ABSTRAKT Poland
ABYDOS Germany
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AD ASTRA United States
ADAGIO France
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AEBSENCE Hungary
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AFFECTOR Multi-National
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AGHARTA Netherlands
AGNESIS Australia
AGNOSIA Greece
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AGORA Mexico
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ALKEMYST France
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ALTONA Turkey
ALTURA United States
ALY Mexico
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AMASEFFER Israel
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AMERICAN HOLLOW United States
ANACHRONOS Chile
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ANDRAGONIA Brazil
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ANGRA Brazil
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ANIMA TEMPO Mexico
ANIMATIONS Poland
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ANOTHER LIFE Sweden
ANOTHER WORLD Switzerland
ANSATA Brazil
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ANTHRIEL Finland
ANTHROPIA France
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APHELION Italy
APPEARANCE OF NOTHING Switzerland
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ARITY United States
ARK Norway
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ART AGAINST AGONY Germany
ART OF ILLUSION Poland
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ARTENSION Multi-National
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ASHENT Italy
ASHLER Ecuador
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THE AURORA PROJECT Netherlands
AUSPEX France
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AVALON Germany
AVELION Italy
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AMADEUS AWAD'S EON Lebanon
AWAITING DAWN Germany
AWAX France
AXIAL LEAD Romania
AXIOM United States
AXIOS United States
SITHU AYE United Kingdom
AYREON Netherlands
AZAZELLO Russia
AZTEC JADE United States
AZURE AGONY Italy
BAD SALAD Brazil
AGAH BAHARI Iran
BALANCE OF POWER United Kingdom
THE BARSTOOL PHILOSOPHERS Netherlands
DANIEL BAUTISTA Spain
BEHIND THE CURTAIN Denmark
BELLA & PUTANA Chile
IVAN BERTOLLA Australia
BETWEEN 11 Canada
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THE BIPOLAR DISORDER PROJECT Romania
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THE BLACK MAGES Japan
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LA BOTTEGA DEL TEMPO A VAPORE Italy
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THE BRAINWASH MACHINE Colombia
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CUEROCK Germany
HITTAR CUESTA Ecuador
CYDEMIND Canada
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DAY SIX Netherlands
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THE DEADSTATION. United States
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DEGREE ABSOLUTE United States
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DREAM THEATER United States
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