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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

4.29 | 2598 ratings
IMAGES AND WORDS
Dream Theater
4.29 | 2663 ratings
METROPOLIS PART 2 - SCENES FROM A MEMORY
Dream Theater
4.26 | 1510 ratings
SECOND LIFE SYNDROME
Riverside
4.23 | 1109 ratings
THE PERFECT ELEMENT - PART 1
Pain Of Salvation
4.23 | 1032 ratings
REMEDY LANE
Pain Of Salvation
4.21 | 953 ratings
OPERATION: MINDCRIME
Queensr che
4.21 | 1147 ratings
ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION
Riverside
4.19 | 1025 ratings
OUT OF MYSELF
Riverside
4.18 | 1060 ratings
THE HUMAN EQUATION
Ayreon
4.14 | 1784 ratings
SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE
Dream Theater
4.15 | 636 ratings
V - THE NEW MYTHOLOGY SUITE
Symphony X
4.18 | 347 ratings
THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS
Sieges Even
4.17 | 343 ratings
A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY
Fates Warning
4.11 | 1897 ratings
AWAKE
Dream Theater
4.18 | 276 ratings
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Redemption
4.13 | 664 ratings
INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE
Ayreon
4.15 | 363 ratings
PERFECT SYMMETRY
Fates Warning
4.11 | 797 ratings
BE
Pain Of Salvation
4.12 | 513 ratings
THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY
Symphony X
4.13 | 401 ratings
ROOM V
Shadow Gallery

Progressive Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

WAVES OF VISUAL DECAY
Communic
CODA
Octopus
BEYOND THE STARS
Ivory Tower
STRONGER THAN HATE
Memories Lab

Latest Progressive Metal Music Reviews


 The Source by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.86 | 34 ratings

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The Source
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by The Jester

4 stars The Source is a concept album, as any other album that Ayreon recorded. But unlike the previous 'The Theory of Everything', 'The Source' is a Sci-Fi Rock Opera, which is actually the prequel of 01011001, that was released in 2008. For the needs of the album, Arjen Lucarssen gathered a big number of musicians once more; including some "heavy" names among them. (There are 12 singers and 10 musicians participating in this album). In case you are wondering, here's a few names: James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Simone Simons (Epica), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Zaher Zorghati (Myrath) and Mark Kelly (Marillion). As you can understand, with such an All-Star line up, the outcome can only be good. And it is! Starting with the album's epic opening song, The Day that the World Breaks Down, we get a clear first impression what this album will sound like. The style is typical Ayreon, but this time the sound is harder, heavier and more guitar-driven than the previous album. The dominant instrument here is Guitar (acoustic and electric), followed by Bass, Drums and Keyboards. But there are also many other instruments present, which are characteristic of Ayreon's sound, such as violin and flute for example. I read an interview of Arjen Lucarssen a few days ago, when he stated that, the album he recorded with Annekke under the name Gentle Storm was kind of a "feminine" one, so after that he wanted to record something more "masculine". So, he started recording some heavy guitar riffs, which led him to record some early versions of the first songs of The Source. The album comes as a double CD or as double vinyl (including an MP3 version), and has a total running time of almost 90 minutes. It is divided into 4 parts (Chronicles), named as: Chronicle 1: The Frame, Chronicle 2: The Aligning of the Ten, Chronicle 3: The Transmigration, Chronicle 4: The Rebirth. The album is available in Digital form, double CD and double Vinyl edition. Those who will pre-order the vinyl edition (like me for example), will recieve their copies signed by Arjen. (The price is also very good). As it usually happens to me with almost every Ayreon's album, I find it very difficult to choose some songs to mention separately, because I see them as pieces of a very big puzzle. The truth is that, almost all the songs are really good compositions and even the "weaker" ones, have something to offer to the storyline and the listener. But if I had to pick some, I'd choose The Day the World Breaks Down, Sea of Machines, All that was, The Dream Dissolves, The Source will Flow and Journey to Forever. In my opinion, the best thing you can do is to put the CD into your device, press "play" and enjoy an exciting musical ride into the world that Arjen Lucarssen created. The Source is an album definitely worth buying! My rating would be 3.5 stars (But because I cannot rate it with 3.5 stars, I will put 4.0)
 The Great Unknown by GILLETTE, ERIC album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.67 | 4 ratings

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The Great Unknown
Eric Gillette Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

Apparently, this album came out last year, but it has only just come to my attention. Eric has of course been lead guitarist with the Neal Morse Band for some years, and here he is back with his second solo album. Those expecting prog in the same vein as his "day job" will find a few similarities here and there, but mostly this is melodic prog metal with influences taken from throughout that scene. I had convinced myself that the drummer just had to be his NMB compadrÚ Mike Portnoy due to what is going on behind the kit, but further investigation revealed that it was none other than Thomas Lang (John Wetton, Robert Fripp, Glenn Hughes, Robbie Williams, Kelly Clarkson and many others). Also involved are Haken members Diego Tejeida (keyboards) and Conner Green (bass), so overall this is quite some musical powerhouse.

Those who have seen NMB will know already that Eric is a strong singer in his own right, and this is very much an album of songs as opposed to mass instrumental workouts. Of course, there are times when the note density is incredible, and he does his best John Petrucci impression, but there is way more on here than just Dream Theater complexity and long songs. Of course, he is used to the odd epic here and there when working with Neal, and it would have been surprising for there not to be one included, and the eighteen-minute-long "Escape" is stunning in the way it moved and folds. This is an album that will certainly appeal to those who enjoy prog metal, but it is way more than "just" that, with elements from Haken, DT and the softer sides of Neal Morse all being blended together in a way that is both immediate and makes for compulsive listening. This is superb from start to end.

 Sentenced To Solitude by ENIGMATIC INFINITY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.13 | 4 ratings

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Sentenced To Solitude
Enigmatic Infinity Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Enigmatic Infinity is a young prog metal band from Hungary conducted by guitarist, backing vocalist, etc Nandor Tombor. He done everything is to be heared on the first offering of the band named Senteced to solitude issued in 2016. Aswell he is helped by the vocalist Mate Horvath who done a good job here. Now, this is the type of prog metal that I like, ok has plenty of influences from well known names in this field but is not a problem, the sound, the compositions are tight, we talking about one man band, besides vocalist. The guitar chops are towards John Petrucci kinda feeling or even Vai but are well composed. Imagine you listen to a combination of Dream Theater around Train of thought era with his own ideas, the result is quite enjoyble for sure. The pieces are lenghty , the title track has nearly 18 min, with some nice duels between guitar and keyboards and above all Mate Horvath has a pleasent voice for this type of music. All in all more then decent modern prog metal, I like it, 3.5 stars. If you like for example last album of Eric Gillette this is rtight there for prog metal fans.

 Falling Home by PAIN OF SALVATION album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.27 | 97 ratings

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Falling Home
Pain Of Salvation Progressive Metal

Review by TheMasterMofo

3 stars A lot of progressive metal doesn't translate well to an acoustic format, but that's not the case here. I've had friends who don't like progressive music at all compliment the acoustic cover renditions of Holy Diver and Perfect Day. Obviously if you're a fan of POS, the other songs will be familiar and yet different enough to be pretty fun! This was a surprising gem for me; I wasn't expecting much when I gave it my first listen, but I came away very impressed.

Stress doesn't seem like a song that would sound good in this format, but somehow it sounds amazing. The clean, twangy guitars actually give the song a different kind of life, and hearing the various time signatures and crazy rhythms like this reinvigorated my love for this classic POS song.

Linoleum actually sounds better on this album than it does on Road Salt One IMO. The more laid back approach without the bluesy electric guitar in your face makes this song come across far more subtly but more enjoyably also. Gildenlow's emotional singing is perfect for this song.

To The Shoreline is another Road Salt Song, this one from RS2. Honestly while I like the way this song sounds it's one of the least impressive on the album only because it sounds almost exactly like the original. Its saving grace is the final chorus, which comes across as stronger in this version than on the original track, as the vocals are more dominant in the mix.

Holy Diver is a very strange anomaly. The original Dio version is one of the most classic heavy metal anthems from a time when heavy metal was truly coming into its own. Killswitch Engage did a modern metal cover true to the original that was well-received, too. Well, this is absolutely nothing like either one of those versions. Imagine if Bob Marley was still alive and decided he wanted to write a cover of Holy Diver and have Gildenlow sing... That's basically what you have here. This song has some old school Frank Sinatra-styled vocals and some very reggae funky music going on, and for some reason it works. Really well. The tricky thing about doing a cover is that most bands choose to either cover it exactly like the original or completely do a different take on it. There are inherent risks with both approaches, especially when taking a completely different approach, but this is a risk that paid off.

1979 is another great RS2 song that sounds very similar to the original. With it being their most recent album those songs were really too fresh to try to redo. Just like To the Shoreline, this one still sounds great, but it seemed unnecessary to redo so soon after it was released.

Chain Sling is one of my favorite POS songs of all time; it's almost a perfect song so to change anything is a risky endeavor. This version carries over the spirit of the original really well and is probably the least acoustic-sounding song on the entire album. There's more emphasis on the vocals in this format so I wind up appreciating even more the various harmonies going on.

Perfect Day is a wonderful cover of a classic Lou Reed song. After the whole Lulu travesty I felt pretty ornery towards Lou Reed, but Walk on the Wild Side and Perfect Day are great songs. POS's rendition is so much better in so many ways though. Gildenlow's vocals are so much more nuanced and deliberate. The music behind is smoother than the original. The climax near the end of the song is more dramatic and emotional. It's a great cover.

Mrs. Modern Mother Mary is a toned down version of the Scarsick song. Scarsick gets a lot of hate, so if you hated its in-your-face -rap approach, you'll probably like this version better.

Flame to the Moth is overall my favorite POS re-imagining on this album. It has an almost flamenco feel with the acoustic strumming and the vocal melodies translate amazingly well with the acoustic music. This is definitely a much improved song.

Spitfall is the third and final acoustic Scarsick song and.... It's very amusing to hear Gildenlow delivering spoken word over an acoustic guitar saying things like, "Yeah right. f*ck you. F*ck you right down to the core" and "When you're rappin' your sh*t y'all". This song is meant to essentially attack celebrity culture but it somehow seems more effective in this format because it's so ridiculous to hear someone rapping spoken word over acoustic music. Still, it honestly sounds good.

Falling Home. If you're not interested in hearing covers, you should still listen to this original masterpiece. It's a folky, sad song with absolutely perfect vocals. This song blends the voices of Ragnar and Gildenlow better than any other song I've heard them do together, including newer tracks like Meaningless. If you're a fan of POS's less metal songs, it doesn't really get much better than this.

Overall is this album going to blow anyone away? No. Does it really do a whole lot of new, exciting things? No, it's mostly a self-cover album. Regardless, it's an enjoyable experience that any POS fan should enjoy.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.51 | 536 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by TheMasterMofo

4 stars It took me a long time to review this. As a long time DT fan I had mixed emotions when this album came out. While there are plenty of excellent, standout songs on this double concept album, I also felt like it was too long and had too many filler tracks that took away from the overall quality of the album. Still, overall I think this is a worthwhile album to give 5-10 full listens before passing judgment. Most prog fans understand that not all great music jumps out at you right away; sometimes prog music takes a few listens to fully appreciate what you're hearing. When Haken's "The Mountain" came out, I remember actually being disappointed my first listen, finding Aquarius and Visions to be better at the time.... That feeling didn't last very long as it's one of my favorite albums now. So don't be turned off by the negative reviews of this album until you've given it a fair chance. This album doesn't have as much constant heavy metal riffing and mind-blowing shred sessions as the rest of DT's body of work, but those moments are absolutely still present, just in shorter supply. It has plenty of ballads and soft interludes that, while perhaps overdone, are a nice change of pace coming from DT. This is definitely not my favorite DT album by any means, but it's also not my least favorite. Here's my take:

The Excellent:

The Gift of Music Lord Nafaryus Three Days A New Beginning Moment of Betrayal

The Good: Dystopian Overture A Better Life Brother Can You Hear Me? A Life Left Behind Ravenskill The Path That Divides The Walking Shadow My Last Farewell Our New World

The OK: All of the NOMAC tracks (For obvious reasons) A Savior in the Square When Your Time Has Come Act of Faythe Chosen The X Aspect The Road to Revolution Heaven's Cove Begin Again Losing Faythe Whispers On the Wind Hymn of a Thousand Voices Astonishing

As you can see, there are a lot of songs that I consider just OK... Most of those songs aren't bad songs, they're just arranged in a similar manner with similar melodies, tempo, and lightness. If you take away all but three or four of these OK ballads, suddenly the remaining ones sound a lot better because they aren't watered down. One of the things that stood out to me was a conversation I had with my dad after we saw The Astonishing Live tour in Atlanta back in December (Yes, I'm a 28 year old that still goes to metal concerts with my 58 year old dad, and proud of it!) . He was describing a ballad he really liked and when he described it asking me which song it was I responded with, "Dad, that could be like 8 different songs on the album." With all of that being said, I still listen to the Astonishing on a regular basis because it has so many good things to offer, it's worth it.

I'd recommend giving it enough listens to sort out what you enjoy and what you don't and create a playlist with just the songs you enjoy if you feel like there's too much filler. Some of Dream Theater's most unique and exciting songs in a decade can be found on The Astonishing and it'd be a shame for anyone to miss out on them just because this double album is a little lengthy.

As far as the band members go, James Labrie easily steals the show, displaying a ridiculous range of vocal techniques and notes. He delivers an emotional, inspiring performance in line with how amazing he's been live for the last few years. Labrie gets a lot of trash talking for some reason, but every time I've seen Dream Theater live (The first Gigantour with Megadeth, the Score DVD show in NYC, The Dramatic Events Tour, and the Astonishing Tour) he's been absolutely on point.

John Petrucci is obviously toned down a bit on this album overall, but he still delivers some fantastic guitar solos, both in speed and in melody, and he has some very different approaches to his metal riffs on this album compared to everything else he's done in the past. Hearing Petrucci play some lighter chord progressions and acoustic guitar in general is a nice change up.

One of the biggest changes in terms of sound on this album is Jordan Rudess. I've always preferred Rudess' playing when it's a more traditional-sounding piano style rather than a layered keyboard sound with lots of shredding and bends. Rudess truly shines throughout the entire album, providing subtle but very valuable additions to virtually every single song. This is honestly my favorite DT album when it comes to Rudess' keyboards. I hope he goes forward with the same basic approach and style because it suits both him and DT.

John Myung in recent years has become know for providing a steady rhythmic bass that is so low in the mix that it's often hard to hear without turning up the bass on your equalizer. That's not the case on the Astonishing. In fact, as far as the overall mix goes, I can't think of another Dream Theater album where the bass is more perfectly balanced. You can actually hear Myung on just about every song and he sounds great. The bass adds a lot to each song, especially the ballads where Myung is often one of the highlights.

Mike Mangini is a wonderful drummer and he's had the basically impossible task of living up to Mike Portnoy after joining DT. Mangini doesn't really do a whole lot that wows me on the Astonishing but everything he plays seems to fit the music really well and his rhythm is extremely tight. For an album like this, that's what you're looking for in a drummer.

In summary, this is a good album with some amazing songs, a lot of good songs, and a few songs that blend together. At more than two hours long, it's not something you can just jump straight into and make rash decisions about. This isn't an album for the casual listener, though many of the individual songs would appeal to casual listeners. I can't fathom the people I've seen who say the songs aren't tied together... Almost every song has motifs, riffs, melodies, even lyrics from other songs on the album. It's honestly tied together very neatly musically. The extreme metal heads who started listening to DT after Train of Thought might not be big fans of this album, but I feel like most fans of symphonic or classic prog will come away with great enjoyment from The Astonishing.

 The Great Unknown by GILLETTE, ERIC album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.67 | 4 ratings

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The Great Unknown
Eric Gillette Progressive Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Eric is known as the guitar player for Neal Morse band, but he is also a great singer and in this album, he shows his talent. He surrounded himself with Haken bass player Connor Green and keyboardist Diego Tejeida. The result is spectacular with this powerful and melodic Progressive Metal in the lines of Dream Theater, Haken, and NMB. The first song takes you in the pure John Petrucci style with the guitar riffs."The Aftermath" delivers a typical keyboard break Haken style and a guitar sound that is not without reference from the powerful style of Threshold. "The Escape" is the gorgeous epic of the album starting slowly to gets heavier and faster after 5 minutes and for the first time, you can almost hear Eric vocals like he sing in NMB. This song has some complex instrumental parts with the symphonic arrangements in the background and the multiple breaks led by Diego Tejeida in a jazzy style. The second part of the album starting with the song "Empty" is in a more relaxing mood but still intense emotionally where Eric shows his great voice. "All I Am" is to me the best of the last semi-ballad tracks of the last three, and how can you resist to a singer that put his heart out like that in a love song. This is not the most original album, but for those like me who enjoys that kind of melodic Progressive Metal, it's a nice addition to your Prog Metal albums alongside with the best ones of that genre.
 The Great Unknown by GILLETTE, ERIC album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.67 | 4 ratings

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The Great Unknown
Eric Gillette Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Eric Gillete is for sure one of the new talented multi instrumentalist in prog rock/metal world who was taken under the wings of famous Neal Morse in last years. Being part on Neal Morse Band in The grand experiment, where he already showing a great potential in guitar department, and vocal aswell. Under his name he released two albums one in 2013 and second this year 2016 named The great unkown. Well what we have here on this lates album is quite competent, complex prog metal with fine musicianship all around. He gathered around him some top players, the keyboards and drums from Haken fame and the bassis was and is part of Peter Gabriel band. So, The great unkown is a blistering, energic prog metal release who will pleases all fans of the genre, I was hooked from first listen. His playing, on his main instrument guitar is exemplary here, he is playing with an amazing ease, on all pieces. Aswell his voice is fiting perfectly into dis kind of music, I really like his vocal parts here. The first part of the album is the best from here and among the most intresting tunes in prog metal field from this year for sure, pieces like title track with almosta Neal Morse attitude in places but infused with prog metal passages, the lenghty 18 min plus Escape where Gillette truly shines an effectiv and well done combination of Haken/Dream Theater. The second part of the album is only ok, here he slows down little bit the pace and even is quite entertaining, the overall experince for me is only good and nothing groundbreaking like first part of the album. So, in the end even the influences are evident here from Haken, Dream Thater or Neal Morse, Eric Gillette's The great unkown is a true prog metal release who needs to be discovered, worth it from start to finish. Solid musicinship and intresting pieces. 3.5 stars for sure.
 The Holographic Principle by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.06 | 41 ratings

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The Holographic Principle
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars I can't put my finger on it, but there is definitely something that lifts this 2016 album to a higher plane than the one that came out just two years earlier. The intensity is still at the very high level, but Simone seems to be more in control on this one, as opposed to sometimes being swept away. It is bombastic, it is massively over the top, and the guitars have reined in just ever so slightly, although at times they still race off like bolting horses that have been given their heads. It is an overpowering aural assault on the senses, and I love it. The closest way I can think of describing it is like being at a version of Handel's "Messiah" with full choir and orchestra, but with Slipknot also being involved!

I was playing these two albums back to back the other day, and even without looking I knew when this one had started as there is a definite lift, a step up in just about everything. Symphonic over the top progressive metal just doesn't get any better than this. This is not something that can be played as background music, but rather demands full attention of the listener at all times, as this is all-consuming, and not for the fainthearted. I really do hope that the guys decided to come down to this part of the world for a show one day, as they must be incredible in concert. This is essential, nothing more, nothing less.

 The Quantum Enigma by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.81 | 77 ratings

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The Quantum Enigma
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars There is one word to describe this 2014 album that rises clearly above all others, "Intensity". The production on this album seems to have brought everything together at the highest volume possible, so much so that the listener is quite drained by all of it. Singer Simone Simons has a quite stunning voice, but to be honest she is sometimes drained out by the choir and also by the rest of the band so that she actually loses some of the impact. This is a real shame, as the album as a whole is an incredible piece of work, much more metallic than the band to which they are most often compared, Nightwish, with the twin guitars locked in and riffing hard. They are also more downtuned and there is the feeling that this a guitar based-band first and foremost, as opposed to keyboard-based. Of course, Epica have a second singer in Mark Jansen who favours death growls as opposed to the 'proper' singing of Marco Hietala, so there is a very different feel between the two acts.

In many ways I actually prefer Epica, as the intensity is palpable: here is a band that are all firing on all cylinders, rushing to the end, taking no prisoners. Sure, I would have preferred to have Simone's vocals higher in the mix, but perhaps I'm being just a little picky? This is a symphonic metal band who concentrate on the latter more than the former, and that's just fine with me.Yes, they slow it down here and there, but it is when they are at full gallop with the band playing hard and the choir singing their hearts out, and Simone striving to rise above it all, that they are at their very best

 Warpaint by VANGOUGH album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.37 | 11 ratings

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Warpaint
Vangough Progressive Metal

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars This is quite an impressing new statement from the Oklahoma based VANGOUGH. Sometimes close to Fates Warning in style, though missing any keyboard input on the other hand. Clay Withrow has an unique singing voice available for sure and adds some doomy guitar riffs here as well. This will be recognized soon when starting with the song Morphine. Also subtle growls, which won't spoil the feel though, when it comes to my taste. While constantly alternating between heavy and atmospheric impressions, this additionally reminds me at the likes of Tool, Pain Of Salvation, Opeth at some point.

So the following Dust confirms at best where the influences are coming from. 'We are the children of machines' ... eh, I do not hope so, a metaphor for sure ... catchy, a nearly charming exemplar is on the run. The Suffering appears as a rather eclectic implementation then. Instruments and vocals are damn variating, for example we are faced with contrasting innocent acoustic and crashing electric guitars. Excellent one! The extended Black Rabbit always makes my day too, just a wonderful exploration into exclusive song writing heights.

Being about one year in the making 'Warpaint' represents a song collection of much thoughtfulness. Really enjoyable. Sorta melodic prog metal stuff I often came back to in recent times. Double tracked guitars are remarkable overall, as if they were a quartet actually. That means, regarding the stage appearance at least, they definitely will need a second guitarist to accomplish their objectives during their next tour, which is still in preparation. Attention, the rabbit is alive and on the run again!

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Progressive Metal bands/artists list

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