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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 are: (15/1/2021)
Karl (bonnek)
Kevin (Necroncommander)
Mike (TCat)
Sebastian (Kempokid)
Cristi
Nick (nick_h_nz)

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 | 3064 ratings
METROPOLIS PART 2 - SCENES FROM A MEMORY
Dream Theater
4.29 | 3002 ratings
IMAGES AND WORDS
Dream Theater
4.23 | 1774 ratings
SECOND LIFE SYNDROME
Riverside
4.23 | 1218 ratings
REMEDY LANE
Pain Of Salvation
4.23 | 1140 ratings
OPERATION: MINDCRIME
Queensr che
4.23 | 1283 ratings
THE PERFECT ELEMENT - PART 1
Pain Of Salvation
4.21 | 1346 ratings
ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION
Riverside
4.19 | 1206 ratings
THE HUMAN EQUATION
Ayreon
4.19 | 1224 ratings
OUT OF MYSELF
Riverside
4.19 | 402 ratings
THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS
Sieges Even
4.14 | 2038 ratings
SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE
Dream Theater
4.13 | 2172 ratings
AWAKE
Dream Theater
4.15 | 789 ratings
INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE
Ayreon
4.16 | 428 ratings
A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY
Fates Warning
4.14 | 753 ratings
V - THE NEW MYTHOLOGY SUITE
Symphony X
4.14 | 613 ratings
THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY
Symphony X
4.28 | 114 ratings
THE TOWERS OF AVARICE
Zero Hour
4.16 | 314 ratings
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Redemption
4.21 | 162 ratings
PARADOX
Royal Hunt
4.13 | 442 ratings
PERFECT SYMMETRY
Fates Warning

Progressive Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

DARK DECEIVER
Zero Hour
WHEN TIME FADES...
Suspyre
PATHOSRAY
Pathosray
CIRCLES
Chinese Firedrill, A

Latest Progressive Metal Music Reviews


 The Persistence by KINGCROW album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.90 | 94 ratings

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The Persistence
Kingcrow Progressive Metal

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars Listening diary 16th September, 2021: Kingcrow - The Persistence (progressive metal, 2018)

This could quite easily be my favourite album from Kingcrow, even though it doesn't deviate at all from the formula they've been playing for a few albums now. I always seem to get these guys entangled with Polish group Votum in my head - they have the same mix of prog, goth and metal that owes a lot to Riverside and Tool, to the point where I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn't a Votum album. Kingcrow have always been the weaker of the two to me, but given Votum's mediocre latest effort, this signals a bit of a change of the guard. For the most part, this is exciting, energetic, melodic, and avoids the Riverside clone trappings of some of their previous albums.

7.6 (4th listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 Reviviscence by TIME MACHINE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.45 | 19 ratings

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Reviviscence
Time Machine Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

2 stars The fourth (and to date last) full-length album of Italian prog-metallers Time Machine continues the trilogy based on Valerio Evangelisti's book "Cherudek" that the band had started with their 2001's LP Evil. Released in 2004, Reviviscence also continues Time Machine's tradition of frequent personnel changes between albums. Of the line-up that had recorded Evil, only Lorenzo Deh˛ (bass) and Gianluca Ferro (guitars) remain. They are joined on the new record by drummer Luca Sigfrido Percich, guitarist Gianluca Galli and vocalist Marco Sivo, all coming from fairly unknown local metal bands. Reviviscence is also characterized by several guest spots, including solos by both Angra's guitarists Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt, and a keyboard solo by Fabio Ribeiro (Shaman, Andre Matos).

Stylistically, Reviviscence can be described as a cross between Time Machine's masterpiece Eternity Ends from 1998 and their previous record Evil from 2001. Of the latter, the new LP retains the taste for a modern approach to progressive/power music, based on beefy, groovy guitar riffs, futuristic keyboard samples, and powerfully dark melodies that remind me of bands like Kamelot. But there are also echoes of Eternity Ends on Reviviscence, partly because Marco Sivo's voice has the same high-pitch tone and mellifluous timbre of Nick Fortarezza, who had sung on the 1998's album, and partly because of the Angra influences that were very prominent on Eternity Ends and return, albeit less conspicuously, on the new album.

This description may sound exciting, considering how Eternity Ends and Evil are both very strong records in their own way. Alas, despite its best intentions, Reviviscence is a fairly disappointing release, mostly because a lot of the material feels very much run of the mill and uninspired. Melodically, there are very few moments of this album that stand out, even after repeated listens, and the whole album flows away without making much of an impression. The material in the second-half of the record is somewhat stronger, also thanks to some inspired guitar playing and a touch of colour given by unusual instrumentation (the sitar on "Tears of Jerusalem") and samples (the George W Bush's speech at the end of "Grains of Sand"), but it really does not go beyond the average level.

Another weakness of this record is the quality of the line-up, which I think is somewhat inferior to those of the previous two records, at least in the vocal department (in a few places, Sivo's vocals come across as tentative and fairly generic) and the drumming. On the other hand, the band has gained something in terms of guitar firepower. Both Galli and Ferro are excellent guitarists and the album contains some interesting and exciting guitar playing and solos ("Grains of Sand", "Tears of Jerusalem", "Seeds of Revolution").

Unfortunately, the production is also a step-down compared to the band's previous two records. The album does sound really poor for something recorded and produced in 2004. It is loud and noisy, with a terrible guitar and drum sound and an unbalanced mix that puts the keyboards and samples all over the place and on top of the other instruments. This truly detracts from the listening experience, especially in songs where one can hardly tell apart what's being played as everything sounds like an indistinguishable mush (the choruses on the title-track and "Angel Lucifer").

Overall, Reviviscence is a mixed bag of fairly uninspired and badly produced material. There is some saving grace in the guitar work, especially in the solos, but it is too little to lift the album beyond the "so-so" level. It is a pity because Time Machine have been a really interesting and exciting band in the Italian and European progressive metal scene, and this is a rather unfortunate way to conclude their discography. We can only hope that Deh˛ may at some point in the future decide to revive his old band and conclude the Evangelisti's trilogy with a better album than this one. Until then, I think I will stick to Eternity Ends and Evil.

 Eternity Ends by TIME MACHINE album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.04 | 17 ratings

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Eternity Ends
Time Machine Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

4 stars Eternity Ends is the second full-length release by Italian prog-metallers Time Machine. It came out in 1998, just one year after the band had released its fourth recording, the EP Shades of Time. The band's line-up underwent some changes in the space between the EP and Eternity Ends, which is not unusual for Time Machine, considering how they changed singer on every single album they ever released! Long-time guitar player Ivan Oggioni stepped down and was not replaced on the new album. Vocalist Morby also left the band, and was replaced by Nick Fortarezza. The rest of the line-up is unchanged, with Nick Rossetti on drums, Joe Taccone on guitars, and mastermind Lorenzo Dehˇ on bass. Stefano Della Giustina is also listed as a full-time band member on the record, after having featured as a guest on the 1997's EP. Alessandro de Berti (from Italian prog-metallers Enrico VIII) guests by contributing acoustic guitars.

Eternity Ends is hands down the best album Time Machine have released in their entire career. Already the previous EP Shades of Time had shown that the band had found a more convincing and mature way to express their musical ambitions, leaving behind the complex and over-fragmented sound of the origins in favour of a more accessible, chorus-based approach that still retained sufficient progressive depth. The process of maturation of the songwriting continues ? and reaches its highest point ? on Eternity Ends. The music falls squarely into the melodic prog metal camp, but it does not lack originality. Inspired by label mates Angra, Time Machine incorporate in their sound refreshing Mediterranean and Latino influences, and a strong melodic allure that draws from the Italian singer-songwriter and pop tradition. The use of percussions, sax, and acoustic guitars add further intricacies and depth to their sound. Importantly ? and this is a major improvement over earlier albums - Time Machine never lose sight of accessibility, by keeping the song structures lean and linear and by giving the right weight to choruses in the compositions.

Another strength of Eternity Ends lies in the quality of the band's line-up. Nick Rossetti is a very good drummer. Already on the EP Shades of Time, his addition to the band had brought a more assured and virtuoso performance but also a vastly superior drum sound compared to previous records, and the new album is all the better for it. Nick Fortarezza, the other new element of the line-up, is a powerhouse. He has range and power, but also expressivity, something that many prog metal singers often lack. His performance on songs like "I, the Subversive Nazarene", the title-track, "I Believe Again" and "Behind the Cross" are nothing short of breath-taking. Also, Fortarezza's vocals have that typical Italian pop flavour that greatly contributes to giving a sense of originality to the material.

The album is centred on the persona of Jesus Christ and is divided in 12 songs. There are really no weak spots, but some tracks nevertheless stand out above the rest. After two short instrumentals, "I, the Subversive Nazarene" properly opens the album, and what an opener that is! The song is a robust, powerful mid-tempo graced by some fantastic vocal melodies by Nick Fortarezza, not too obvious but yet very catchy and memorable. The title-track is a bit more of a grower, but on repeated listens shows all its beauty. It has a nice Latino flavour thanks to some tasteful percussion work by Rossetti, and features three excellent guitar solos (two electric, one acoustic) by Taccone, Oggioni (the band's former guitar player) and de Berti. "Behind the Cross" is a grittier piece that, after an unusual start (with a Goblin-like keyboard motif), develops into an epic, powerful mid-tempo.

I kept last "I Believe Again", which is undoubtedly the best song of the album. Co-written with Angra's singer AndrÚ Matos, this is one of those pieces that are so good that can define a whole musical career. Unsurprisingly, it has a marked Angra flavour, especially if you listen to the version sung by Matos (not included on the album, but on the EP Secret Oceans Pt 2 released in the same year). I love the onion-like structure of this song, with the verse bookending the track and the bridge and chorus in the middle. All three parts sport fantastic vocal melodies by Fortarezza, especially the atmospheric bridge and the ethereal verse. The tasteful use of Della Giustina's sax adds further layers of atmosphere to this beautiful ballad. If you can only listen to one song written by Time Machine, this is the one you should look out for.

Eternity Ends is Time Matchine's crowning achievement. It's a great album of melodic progressive metal, with a distinct Italian / Mediterranean feel. It's original, inventive and skillfully played. It has memorable songs, including one of the best prog metal ballads ever written. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the hidden gems of progressive metal, and if you are into this genre, you ought to give it a try!

 Shades of Time by TIME MACHINE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1997
3.95 | 6 ratings

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Shades of Time
Time Machine Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

3 stars Time Machine are an Italian prog metal band from Milan and the EP Shades of Time is their fourth studio release. The band is renowned for their frequent personnel changes and Shades of Time is no exception. Antonio Rotta is replaced on the new EP by Nick Rossetti (from prog metal/rock band Enrico VIII) on drums. Vocalist Folco Orlandini also steps down to make space for Adolfo "Morby" Morviducci (Sabotage, Domine). Guitar players Ivan Oggioni and Joe Taccone stay on instead, and so does the band's bass player and main songwriter, Lorenzo Dehˇ. Stefano Della Giustina guests as keyboard and tenor sax player.

The EP has strong Queensryche vibes. A lot of the similarities come down to Morby, who on this album does one of the best Tate's impersonations you can find out there. The timbre is spot on, and also the phrasing is at times reminiscent of Queensryche's legendary singer. But it is not just the voice the reason why I am reminded of Queensryche when I listen to this EP. The music is similar too, with songs that inhabit that sweet spot between ballad and energetic mid-tempo that one can find aplenty on records such as Operation Mindcrime and Empire. The sound is dark and moody, yet also very melodic. The keyboards add the right atmosphere, while the drums and bass give the sound a solid, powerful background.

In truth, often the comparison with Queensryche is a bit too close for comfort, as in the case of the EP opener "Silent Revolution" (even the title could have been lifted off Operation Mindcrime), the anthemic "New Religion" and "Never-ending Love". "1000 Rainy Nights" is more interesting, a sort of moody ballad with a solid, powerful riffing and drums. "Past and Future" is a re-recording of a song that had originally appeared on Time Machine's debut EP (Project: Time Scanning). It was one of the highlights of that EP and the new version is perhaps even better, with Morby adding that extra dose of grit and epicness that brings to mind early Iron Maiden. Stefano Della Giustina adds a sax solo to this track, which confers the music an additional layer of colour.

I have not yet mentioned what I consider the best piece of the EP, the cover of Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell". Frankly, this song is so good that it is probably impossible to make it sound bad. Time Machine's version is slightly more direct and aggressive, but it nevertheless retains all the power and epicness of the original. Walking in the shoes of Ronnie James Dio is never an easy task, but Morby does an excellent job here. The early Iron Maiden vibes surface on this track too, especially in the speedier bits.

All in all, Shade of Times is a pleasant album that flows away smoothly, if without too many surprises or high points. In the context of Time Machine's discography, the EP is significant for two reasons. First, it is the first album that actually showcases a decent production. The guitars have finally a good, meaty sound, and so do the drums. The vocals are well produced too, probably also thanks to the experience of Morby as a singer. The second notable aspect of the record is the evident maturation in the songwriting department. Shades of Time is the first album where Dehˇ abandoned the complex, over-fragmented and frankly hard to assimilate songwriting style of his previous records, in favour of a more direct, chorus-centred approach, which perhaps may be slightly less ambitious but it is certainly more accessible and, in the end, enjoyable.

 One Small Voice by HEIR APPARENT album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.80 | 17 ratings

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One Small Voice
Heir Apparent Progressive Metal

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Holy Vocal Chords, Batman!

Steve Benito ladies and gentlemen, what a howler! Many times I surprised myself saying 'wow' under my breath. That guy can sing to Jupiter and back. In the direct vein of Goeff Tate, we can say that Benito's vocals are an hommage to Queensryche beloved singer. I can only admire such a gift and it's put to good use in this record.

The music is comparable to The Warning/Rage for Order phase of the 'ryche, so fans (like me) of this period should hurry up and give it a spin. The songs go from good to meh, with lots of axe shredding and a good layer of synthetiser to thicken up the sauce; hence, it does sounds more power metal than NWOBHM.

It's a receivable piece of work that won't drag forever and that's not too corny....but the second half has a tendency to be less inspired (read slower tempo songs). So, strong side A, not so on side B.

Solid and versatile guitar work and those 'hot-damn-that-man's-got-pipes' vocals are plenty to satisfy the Iron Maiden/Queenryche/early Dream Theater fan in you.

Put that on your list of hidden gems. Read 3 solid stars and a half.

 Union by IHLO album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.32 | 13 ratings

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Union
Ihlo Progressive Metal

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars Listening diary 11th January 2021: Ihlo - Union (djent, 2019)

It took me a few listens to get into this, and I think I know why - it opens with its two weakest songs. The title track in particular isn't a great introduction, and I'd even go as far as to call it annoying, but as you spend time with the record the rest of it opens up and proves itself to be quite creative and enjoyable. I'd even go as far as saying it's the best thing to come out of "djent" since that genre's timely demise in around 2015.

And the reasons for that is that the djenting is quite superficial - the band don't rely on the chugs or the genre cliches to write their songs, and these songs could all work perfectly well with any other style of production around them. The star here is undeniably Andy Robison, both for his vocal performance and his excellent keyboard work. The melodies here, particularly in "Starseeker" and the closing epic "Coalescence" are nothing short of fantastic, sounding more like Radiohead than Periphery. He consistently finds ways to find hooks in small twists and turns that keep the songs in the latter half of the album completely engaging, and the melodic synth lines add to it with some influence from post-rock and ambient music coming through. As someone who was never really a fan of the djent sound, this is an album that you can quite easily ignore it and focus on the songwriting and melodies.

7.1 (4th listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 The Fall Of Hearts by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.03 | 215 ratings

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The Fall Of Hearts
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by progtime1234567

4 stars I will never understand how and why Katatonia is so good. Is it their willingness to change their sound without pressure? Or maybe it's their thirst to experiment and play around with their music. Who knows? What we do know, (or at least me) is that Katatonia is a beautiful and amazing band.

Katatonia flirted with progressive rock on their previous couple of albums, but they never fully embraced it until The Fall Of Hearts. What we have here is a beautiful piece of progressive rock/metal that never gets boring, even with its hour plus length. The album evokes, at least for me, a cold winter's morning or a gloomy, rainy and foggy day. That would be the perfect environment to set the tone for The Fall Of Hearts. Musically, the band shows an impressive ability when it comes to performing, handling complex and extended - length songs with relative ease. The vocals are amazing too, and they fit almost perfectly with the overall timbre of the album.

Love darker progressive rock/metal, look no further. I certainly do. Are you a fan of Porcupine Tree? Do you enjoy the softer parts of Opeth's music? If you said yes to one or both of these, this album should be the perfect fit. Is The Fall Of Hearts a modern progressive rock classic? I think so. Is Katatonia worth your time? Hard yes.

 Shrine of New Generation Slaves by RIVERSIDE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.06 | 1079 ratings

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Shrine of New Generation Slaves
Riverside Progressive Metal

Review by ElChanclas

4 stars Love at first sight? just the title they chose for this album is enough both hooky, interesting and inviting, no happy places here. New Generation Slave opens the album "no I don't have a stomach ache, its just my face" sings an angry Duda while driving the wheels of this unstoppable train with his funky and powerful bass lines, while Lapaj keys bring a not so obvious symphonic feeling to the mix and late late Grudziński floods the atmosphere with his exquisite and heavy playing. Somehow they merge into the second song, The Depth of Self-Delusion, a radio-friendly song that delivers the classic Riverside sound and melody combining tight bass and drums, acoustic and electric guitars, and minimal and eclectic sounds like truing to explain to the listener what's happening and what's about to happen ?"I could be foreign forever to your other land, I could be foreign forevermore to your promise land", exquisite. Celebrity Touch follows with a more heavy rock riffing and feeling to it, showcasing both Piotr's guitar riffing and Mariusz deep vocal performance; again the Hammond comes before entering one of those Porcupine Tree-like atmospheric and heavy musical blueprints. Guitars here are hypnotizing, same as the melodies, kind of dark and haunting but beautiful at the same time? how can they accomplish such greatness in melody crafting? We got used to us strikes in like the mellow song from this album, piano and vocals lead the mood to a more poppy rhythm feel but never abandoning the depth and darkness that Riverside applies to even their more romantic (if any) tunes. Guitar licks and riffing are backstage letting the keys and rhythmic section become curators to the amazing lyrics, "silence fallen between, all the doors are locked, all the words unsaid and we are still afraid of time".

Feel like Falling is for sure (or at least must be) one of the highlights of the album for any new and old listener, any new or old Riverside fan, it just sounds like? it sounds like Riverside. The bass lines are simply all over the place same as the vocal harmonies and different guitar layers, a very powerful song with all the ingredients to become a hit single, even though that's not what the band is looking for when they craft their music, but is definitely one of the easy-listeners from this record. What a guitar player Piotr was, so talented and precise? and after being pulled up by the band with their sound, again they manage to bring us down to earth (and below) with the melodic but obscure Deprived, 8 plus minutes of genius, dark and beautiful genius with a Radiohead-like feel at times but always with the same Riverside sound that simply wraps the listener without ever letting go or breaking the spell?basically away from the world, from this world. Escalator shine is this album's epic, with musical textures a little different from the previous band's work, kind of jazzy and classical, with Duda's bass slowly leading the band into the mid-tempo atmosphere filled with tons of guitar and piano, letting every member of the band to have their 15secs of fame, until heaviness strikes back again and the song enters this early 70's Deep Purple like scenario for a moment, and why not some doom with a Sabbath feel, and the back to the deep and melodic Riverside again, and everything happens within only 1 minute or so, fantastic mood change leading into an not so unexpected ending for the song, like a cicle closing itself without any harm or scars left. Coda brings the album to an end, in an acoustic way? beautiful, melodic and somehow brighter than anything that sounded prior to it, like bringing light at the end of the tunnel? pure magic.

 Evil by TIME MACHINE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.03 | 9 ratings

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Evil
Time Machine Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

3 stars After two LPs and a string of shorter EPs, in October 2001Italian prog metallers Time Machine released their third full-length album, "Evil", a concept album based on the novel "Cherudek" by Italian writer Valerio Evangelisti. The record marks yet another revolution in the band's line-up, with three new members appearing on "Evil" relative to the previous release: guitarist Gianluca Ferro, drummer Claudio Riotti, and singer Pino Tozzi (all coming from Italian prog metal band ArkhŔ). The new members join long-time members Lorenzo Dehˇ (bass) and Joe Taccone (guitars), as well as a small number of guest musicians, including long-term band collaborator Roberto Gramegna on keyboards and Eddy Antonini (Skylark) on piano in "Eyes of Fire".

"Evil" is a rather accomplished release, especially when compared to those early, roughly produced Time Machine albums. The album contains ten tracks of melodic progressive / symphonic power metal, pretty much in the vein of bands like Royal Hunt, Savatage and Threshold. There are also hints of more traditional prog metal (Dream Theater) as well as neoclassical metal (Rainbow). The tracks revolve around excellent vocal melodies and big, singalong choruses that are masterfully crafted to immediately prick up the ears. The song structures are fairly simple and never stray too far from the verse/chorus repetition, plus the occasional guitar solo. The arrangements, though, are rich and multi-layered, with a good contrast between a modern, edgy guitar sound and lush symphonic keyboard arrangements. The spotlight is often on the vocal lines, which in many tracks are really excellent. Pino Tozzi has a warm, moody voice, and he cleverly stays in a comfortable mid-range that allows for maximum expressivity.

The album contains some great songs, but also a couple of duller moments that detract a bit from the overall listening experience. The powerful, uptempo "Where's My Heaven?" is a great way to open the album, energizing and melancholic at the same time. "Eyes of Fire" is one of the album's highlights: propelled forward by a gritty guitar riff, this song sports a very catchy chorus and a great solo spot by Eddy Antonini on piano. "Evil Lies" is the other highlight of the album. It is a rich song, containing another excellent chorus, a nice alternation between male and female vocals (provided by guest singer Melody Castellari), a Latin choir, and an awesome dissonant guitar solo by guest musician Max Lotti. The instrumental piece "Ecclesia Spiritualis" is also interesting, with its spooky ambient sections and cool atmosphere. I also like the album closer, "Hailing Souls", which recreates the combination of power and moodiness of the opening track. "Army of the Dead" (with its strong Royal Hunt vibes) and especially "Angel of Death" are instead somewhat less interesting and are bogged down by weaker vocal melodies and excessive repetition.

Overall, "Evil" is a thoroughly enjoyable album of modern melodic progressive metal. Blessed by a very warm and organic production and some great melodic ideas, the album flows away pleasantly and with more than a few moments of brilliance. If I were to nit-pick, perhaps the biggest downside here is that on this record Time Machine have somewhat lost those peculiar sound characteristics that had made their early records stand out from the rest of the prog metal scene (complex, multi-part songwriting driven by bass riffs and arpeggios; a distinctive "Italian" melodic flair). "Evil" sounds instead much closer to the international prog metal standard of those years, which is both a good and bad thing. It is a good thing because it shows that the band has made enormous progress compared to the uncertain, slightly amateurish early recordings. But, at the same time, this also means that Time Machine have lost along the way those characteristics that had made their initial sound unique and original. Nevertheless, "Evil" is a strong album, and if melodic prog / power metal is your poison of choice, you won't regret giving it a try.

 Act II: Galileo by TIME MACHINE album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.54 | 22 ratings

BUY
Act II: Galileo
Time Machine Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

2 stars Released in 1995, "Act II: Galileo" is the debut full-length release of Italian prog metallers Time Machine. Hailing from Milan, the band had actually released already an EP ("Project: Time Scanning") with a similar line-up, hence why they titled the album "Act II". The band's driving force is bass player Lorenzo Dehˇ, who is the main songwriter and lyricist. Joe Taccone and Ivan Oggioni play guitars and new band member Antonio Rotta sits behind the drum kit. Another new member, Folco Orlandini (who will later appear on a couple of Skylark's records), takes charge of the vocal department.

"Act II: Galileo" is a concept album about Galileo Galilei, the so-called "father of modern science" who lived in the 17th century. The album narrates his trial for heresy by the Inquisition which ended with his condemnation to house arrests, where Galileo spent the rest of his life. It is an interesting theme, especially for those who, like me, are suckers for history-tinged conceptual albums.

Musically, the album is divided into nine tracks, which are further divided across nineteen interconnected sub-tracks, some of which are short instrumental and others longer pieces with vocals. Many sub-tracks are interconnected and flow seamlessly into one another, which fits well with the conceptual nature of the record. The music can be described as melodic progressive metal, built around complex song structures and virtuoso playing in the vein of Queensryche and, less obviously, Dream Theater. One unusual aspect of the album is that many of the songs revolve around bass riffs, reflecting the role of Lorenzo Dehˇ as main composer of the material. Guitars arpeggios, riffs and leads and lush keyboard arrangements also play a very prominent role, giving the album a rich and multi-layered sound which fits well with its progressive ambitions. Folco Orlandini's vocals are quite good, too. He has a standard, high-pitched prog metal voice, halfway between LaBrie, Matos and Tate. He uses his voice very well, alternating between balls-to-the-wall singing and more atmospheric, mid-range passages, offering an overall nuanced and sophisticated performance.

"Act II: Galileo" is a huge improvement over the debut EP, with some excellent compositions such as the sinister, partly ambient instrumental "Dungeons of the Vatican", and "Cold Flames of Faith", an inventive tour-de-force that develops between mellow ballad and full-blown Queensryche-like prog monster. "White Collars" sports an interesting finale with a cool guitar and moog solos. "Prisoner of Dreams" is another good track that harks back to the classic Queensryche balladry. Other songs contain also interesting moments, but one defect of the LP - which was also present in the debut EP - is that often these ideas are not fully developed, as the band is (too) quick to move on to the next idea. There are so many moments on this album where I just wish the band could stay just a bit longer on each musical idea to develop it in full. Instead, Dehˇ's tendency to cram each song with a myriad of different parts (some good, some less good) makes the album feel too fragmented and rushed. It is a pity, because the talent is obviously there and, with some guidance from an expert producer, this album could have been a much more assured release.

The production is the other downside of this record. The sound has hugely improved relative to the debut EP, but the production is still too rough, especially when it comes to the guitar and drum sound, which are barely above the level one would expect from a demo. The mix is also somewhat awkward, with the keyboards sitting way too high in the overall mix of many songs.

It is a pity, because "Act II: Galileo" contains some very good material which shows that Time Machine are a band full of ideas and talent. However, the subpar sound production and a not yet fully mature songwriting bog down this release considerably. With a bit more quality control, some careful pruning of the less valid material, and a better sound production and mix, this album could have been a much more impressive release than what it actually is.

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