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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)


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 | 2153 ratings
IMAGES AND WORDS
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4.28 | 2227 ratings
METROPOLIS PART 2: SCENES FROM A MEMORY
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4.27 | 1251 ratings
SECOND LIFE SYNDROME
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4.25 | 950 ratings
THE PERFECT ELEMENT PART 1
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4.22 | 814 ratings
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4.22 | 868 ratings
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Pain Of Salvation
4.21 | 962 ratings
ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION
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4.20 | 932 ratings
THE HUMAN EQUATION
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4.19 | 858 ratings
OUT OF MYSELF
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4.13 | 1502 ratings
SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE
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4.16 | 542 ratings
V: THE NEW MYTHOLOGY SUITE
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4.19 | 299 ratings
THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS
Sieges Even
4.20 | 235 ratings
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Redemption
4.11 | 1581 ratings
AWAKE
Dream Theater
4.13 | 704 ratings
BE
Pain Of Salvation
4.12 | 562 ratings
INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE
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4.14 | 304 ratings
PERFECT SYMMETRY
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4.13 | 356 ratings
ROOM V
Shadow Gallery
4.17 | 202 ratings
A SOCIAL GRACE
Psychotic Waltz
4.17 | 196 ratings
INTO THE EVERFLOW
Psychotic Waltz

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Latest Progressive Metal Music Reviews


 Juggernaut: Alpha by PERIPHERY album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.46 | 4 ratings

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Juggernaut: Alpha
Periphery Progressive Metal

Review by Gallifrey

2 stars Periphery, for me, have always been a 'guilty pleasure' band. They're fun, at times, and I can sure sing along loudly to 'Scarlet', because that [&*!#]'s hella catchy, but the moment anyone starts talking about them as 'progressive' and 'thinking man's metal', I have to hold my breath to stop from bursting out laughing. And this happens often. Periphery are a band who combine sugary melodies that could be in Britney Spears songs with a bit of polish, with br00tal chug chug breakdowns and screams, with some ~trendy~ electronic bleeps and bloops, with lyrics that are half pseudo-deep pretentious nonsense and half meme-seeking gimmickry. And just because their guitar leads follow absolutely no time or groove or melody or key, that suddenly makes them compositional geniuses? Nope, this is pop music, plain and simple. And sometimes, they make some pretty nice pop music.

But I'll take an aside first to talk about this release - more specifically, why the [%*!#] is this a double album? Don't get me wrong, the rockist inside me loves this - two disks, separate covers and titles, both about 40 minutes (the length of a 70's LP), and both with perfect split points for each side of the record. Fantastic, just how it should be. But then, Periphery decide to release them as separate albums, and then tell us 'you should be listening to both one after each other, to get the full story'. No. No, no, no. No, no, no. That's not how it [%*!#]ing works. You split into two disks when you don't want people to listen to it all at once. You know, like Have One on Me or Grace for Drowning. Both artists agreed that listening to it all at once would become a bit boring, so split the albums conveniently into short pieces. Here, Periphery have just done it because they want more money from their legions of 12-year-old followers (who actually legitimately purchased Periphery 'Keep Calm'' and Dolan shirts. Yes, Dolan, that uber-[&*!#]ty maymay that was making the rounds in late 2012). So instead of doing what they want, I'm not going to listen to this at the same time. I actually haven't heard Omega yet. This is a review of Alpha, which is what you should get when you release things as two disks.

This is Periphery's first bad album. Well, not really, I'm obviously ignoring their rather pathetic debut record. But that was really just Misha (the worst member of the band in terms of compositional input) making bedroom chugs that the rest of the band had to work around. This is the first bad Periphery album, with them producing material as a group. This Time It's Personal was messy, overlong, and contained some real stinkers, but was also devilishly catchy, and had some not too shabby stuff courtesy of Mark Holcomb and Spencer Sotelo (and Matt Halpern would get a mention too if it weren't for the piss-poor drum tones on that album). Even Clear had its moments, as a watered-down version of This Time It's Personal. This? It runs the dreaded line of sincerity way too hard, producing some truly laughable parts in which the band attempts to juxtapose some pretty deep ('deep') lyricism and concepts over some pretty childish musical passages. Even the parts I liked from their sound in the past have taken serious knocks this time around, with the album being rather devoid of strong hooks (there are hooks here, just they are all pretty weak), and even their best asset, Spencer Sotelo, wavers a bit with some weak performances.

'Psychosphere' is nearly good, for a few minutes. The guitar is poor and there are some rather corny chanted vocals in the background, but if you focus on Spencer's cleans and the backing synths and textural guitars, it's actually pretty cool. And for once, that wall of ambience that djent bands so often utilise sounds powerful and full rather than like a cheap soup of casios and reverb guitar. I can sense Mark Holcomb's influence in this song, given the pseudo-black metal tonality of those tremolo riffs in the background, and overall it makes a pretty nice mid-saga climax to the album. Pity about the godawful bass solo break and those rather bad cookie-cutter metalcore screams.

And there are other good moments on here, it's just that the bad drowns out the good, and whenever one instrument is playing something nice, three others are playing something awful. 'The Scourge', for the first three minutes, is the first time I've heard a heavy Periphery song that doesn't suck, with them getting some real grit into the performances and riffs here, without leaving melody behind. But, as we all predicted, it quickly dissolves into a good old fashioned chug-fest, complete with more metalcore screams. Sigh. 'Heavy Heart' is the other good one here, although I will say that my enjoyment of it is purely ironic. This is possibly the sappiest song I have ever heard. Ever. The first chorus sounds straight off a Britney Spears record, and even though I love pop Periphery, even that was a bit too much for me. Fortunately, the second chorus of the song is much better, but the improvements in the song aren't enough to counter the pure cheese. 'Alpha' is an odd one, with most of the song being pure pop metal nonsense, halfway between Disturbed and Abba, but the chorus goes further beyond that to the point when it's actually kinda catchy and good.

But the entire album is riddled with moments of garbage, and I'm not just referring to the regular inclusions of chug-chugs and Spencer's metalcore vocals. Things like the acoustic break in 'MK Ultra' or the chiptune parts in the title track. Why? What does this add to the music aside from cheap gimmick points from your fandom of 12-year-olds who like cheap gimmicks? But the most disappointing part of this album for me is how poor Spencer's vocals are. Everyone else has been going on for years about how bad his voice is, but aside from the metalcore screams, I always loved it. He has some serious pipes and can belt out some truly delicious earworms at times. Here, he misses far more than he hits. The entire opening track, which wouldn't be half bad on its own, is filled with poorly done vocal performances. Some are weak lines, some are done with some absolutely terrible accentuation, and some are actually just plain off-key. The accentuation becomes a big problem throughout the album, with Spencer trying his hand at some bad Claudio Sanchez-isms with the clean sections.

Musically Periphery are pretty much the same as they've always been, smothering every single part with as many riffs as possible, because the band members' egos are so big that they can't just play chords. I'm exaggerating of course, there are some parts in which the guitars are reasonable and well played, but once every two songs isn't enough for me. But Periphery's bad moments in the instrumentals shine out a bit more clearly on this record than ever. The two biggest offenders being 'MK Ultra' and 'Four Lights', with the latter being a completely unnecessary instrumental chug-fest competition of who can get the worst guitar tone, and the former being just a plain competition of who can write the worst song of all time. I've heard tales of the band saving their best riffs for this album, that a whole lot of the ones that should have been on This Time It's Personal were left off in favour of being on here, because they were so good. When I hear the opening riff of 'MK Ultra', I get seriously confused. Yeah guys, that's the best riff you could come up with. That combination of 0, 0 and 0 is the best riff for that situation. Right.

In the end the only times Alpha is good is when it goes beyond bad into a sort of post-ironic anthemic pop music kind of enjoyment. You only like it because of how stupidly cheesy it is. The bad here is certainly more potent than the good, and when you're making a super-deep concept album and your best asset is a bunch of sappy pop choruses, that's not really going to hold up all too well in the long run. I look forward to what Omega has for me.

4.9

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

 Indicios by POST MORTEM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.49 | 5 ratings

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Indicios
Post Mortem Progressive Metal

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars Post Mortem are a band from Argentina and this is their first full-length album (having released an EP previously). The vocals are in Spanish while the music is not extremely metallic. There is some metal for sure but the music sounds as much like symphonic 'rock' as it does symphonic 'metal'. "Plan" is a great opener. I like the synth tones used here. Nice faux choir sounds before the vocals begin, which return throughout. "Pais" features guests on saxophone which adds to the sound. The vocal harmonies here are well done, being mixed with the 'clean' guitar sound and snare rim hitting.

"╔l sabe" is a ballad with little distorted guitar. The ten minute title track opens with the sound of coins spinning. Nice piano and acoustic guitar starts things off. After awhile some mid- paced prog metal with nice faux string sounds. The music gets busier and more varied as it goes along. "Postludio" is a nice end to the album. A melodic and easy-going 'prog metal' track . It features overdubbed spoken word and a children's toy instrument at the end.

These guys are fairly new and this is their first full-length, so as good as this album is I think they still got some better ones in them yet. The sax in "Pais" and the vocal harmonies and spoken word parts separate them from your average prog metal band. The singing, although in Spanish, can remind one of some Italian prog bands. Overall a decent effort and an enjoyable listen. I will give this 3 stars(good but not essential).

 Out Of Myself by RIVERSIDE album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.19 | 858 ratings

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Out Of Myself
Riverside Progressive Metal

Review by petrica

5 stars Incredible debut album and performance. You can count on the fingers on one hands such a devastating debut. After listening to this tens of times I could say that is one of the landmarks of the new wave of progressive rock. Aggressive parts, slow parts, beautifully crafted interludes, inspired guitar and keyboards solos all over the place. The album from the right beginning creates a dreamy atmosphere. The radio tuning from the first song makes me think of somebody waking up in the morning and continue to have lucid dreaming through music. I will not go through a song by song review because I would like to think about this as a whole and there isn't any weak part.

If we are going to talk about influences one can feel a large spectrum of styles and bands but don't think about any kind of bad copy or something. They managed to take all the good from various areas of progressive music and add an important amount of originality. I could say that Riverside managed to have their own distinguishable sound from the very start. And that's something not easy to accomplish.

When I'm writing this review this album has 10 years already. I believe they managed to pass the test of time also and their next release is at least at the same level if not even greater. I'm glad I've discovered this band and to enjoy their accomplishments in the last years. Highly recommended.

 Silk by DROPSHARD album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.17 | 36 ratings

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Silk
Dropshard Progressive Metal

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars 4.5 stars

Dropshard's "Silk" is a top ten of 2014 album for me. There: I put it out there. I do not consider 2014 a very good year for prog, with notable exceptions, of course. Dropshard's album fell into my mailbox a few months ago, and I didn't hear it until November or December due to a busy life. Once I put it on, I knew why it was sent to me, and I knew I had found one of those exceptions.

The band is made up of Enrico Scanu on vocals, guitars, and flute; Sebastiano Benatti on guitars; Valerio De Vittorio on keyboards; Alex Stucchi on bass; and Tommaso Mangione on drums. These guys instantly appealed to me with similarities to my favorite bands, like Riverside. Alex's bass is easily one of the highlights here, as is Tommaso's drumming. This rhythm section is dynamic, crazy, and all over the place in everything except quality. Add soulful guitars from Sebastiano and Enrico and peaceful, beauteous keys from Valerio, and you get a huge range of sounds. The last piece of the puzzle, though, is Enrico's emotive, expressive voice. Enrico sings gorgeously, and he is especially good at singing conversationally with perfectly placed vocal lines.

Tracks such as "Eyes", "Cell 342", and "The Endless Road" are particularly attractive with amazing instrumentals punctuated by stirring lyrics and vocals. Emotions rage and delicate feelings are expressed. Heavier in some tracks and fragile in others, "Silk" appeals to all the senses.

So, if you like modern progressive rock with a bit of an edge, get "Silk" as soon as possible. Dropshard has their own sound and their own footprint. Don't miss this, as I think you'll be hearing the name of this band more and more in the near future.

 Inferno by FRIEDMAN, MARTY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.89 | 9 ratings

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Inferno
Marty Friedman Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars MARTY FRIEDMAN displays his most diverse album yet on his 11th album INFERNO. The secret to the wide array of sounds on this one is not only does MARTY mine his entire output of the past for sounds and ideas but also includes a whole army of guest musicians to make a highly successful solo album that doesn't sound as such. Despite it officially being a solo album this is a true collaborative effort of many different talents on board with MARTY on board as the official director of the project. I can suspect that he may have gotten this idea from Buckethead's "Enter The Chicken" from 2005 which takes this same approach.

As with his usual solo albums INFERNO displays aspects of thrash and progressive metal with his unique virtuosic neoclassical solo skills in full display. MARTY has been a favorite guitarist of mine for some time because he doesn't rely on technical skills alone but rather deftly intertwines them with brilliant ideas with emotional depth well beyond the average guitar wankery. There is flamenco / metal fusion on "Wicked Panacea" with Rodrigo y Gariela, industrial metal sounding pounding on "Steroidhead," the punk inspired "I Can't Relax," the John Zorn meets groove metal track "Meat Hook" with J°rgen Munkeby delivering an absolutely killer sax frenzy, the death metal meets melodic trad on "Sociopaths" with David Davidson screaming on vocals, the sublime guest vocals of Alexi Laiho of Children Of Bodom on "Lycanthrop" and "Horrors" which somehow compiles guitar action from Jason Becker who is now paralyzed from Lou Gehrig's Disease (probably an archival thing).

If you love the high energy intensity of his debut "Dragon's Kiss" and the Cacophany albums with all the influences from the experimental fusion albums ranging from "Scenes" to "Tokyo Jukebox" then you will love this. I have to say that MARTY FRIEDMAN never rests on his laurels and despite an album or two that gets bogged down in a pool of stagnate reservoirs, more often than not MARTY knows how to up his game delivering some seriously intensely creative metal guitar with smokin' sizzlin' solos that blow away most of the competition. I personally think this is one of MARTY's best despite having a very consistent discography on his hands.

 L'uomo Infinito by LAMANA¤F album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 2 ratings

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L'uomo Infinito
Lamana´f Progressive Metal

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars This Italian quartet was formed by university students back in 2008 with the goal of mixing music and theatre. Judging by the pictures in the booklet and the CD case looking like a DVD case (at least my copy does), they do like to emphasize the visual aspect of what they do. This is their first and so far only album. This was released on the Italian label Lizard Records, which has released some interesting prog albums in the last few years. The vocals are in Italian and sound both like some vocals in RPI but also more metal-like as well. The music itself is generally prog metal but with some punky energy here and there. They also make room for some more subdued moments.

Like Nu Metal and Post Metal there is not a lot of guitar soloing here (but there is some). There is some use of wah-wah (both on the guitar and bass) and some percussion at times. They sound almost like a keyboardless, Italian version of The Mars Volta but less experimental and noisy. The album begins with the short opener "L'ipnotico salto" which has some nature sounds and didgeridoo being joined by tribal drumming and wah-wahed bass. The singer makes some animal-like noises as the guitar shows up. A scream is let out and away we go. "Rane" is in melodic prog metal territory. Sometimes there is a riff that reminds me of Iron Maiden. "(In) Stabile" features some versatile singing (mostly multitracked) while the music is more punk sounding than the previous track.

In contrast to what came before, "Magnolia" is more acoustic and laid-back in the verse sections while the chorus section is heavy with the most aggressive vocals on the album yet. Great varied drumming in this track which adds a lot. The title track is a highlight. Love the main riff; simple but effective. Features tom-tom centred drumming and varied but emotive vocals. Some good crosspicking on guitar with a delay effect at one point. "Girotondo" is another highlight and the longest track at 7 minutes. Nice Tool-like basswork in the beginning. I like the vocalist's "whacka-it-whacka" noises he makes (along with a high-pitch squeal). Harder-edged and more mellower moments throughout the track, both in the music and the vocals.

"Puzzle!" opens with some wah-wahed bass and jazzy drumming. Then it goes into more punky territory with playful vocals. Some goofy sound effects at one point. "Insonne (Pavor Nocturnus)" is a ballad which is also the most straight-forward metal song on the album (despite it being a ballad). It includes a traditional guitar solo. "Un amore Chirurgico" is a short track with what sounds like a film projector and some spoken word. Ambient guitars play soundscapes which leads directly into...

"L'Amami," basically another straight-forward metal track with very emotive Italian singing. "I/O" closes the album starting with a bit more spoken word and the sound of rain. The verses are very punk sounding while the chorus is more metal oriented. The singing does not sound like either punk or metal though. This is an album which I enjoy the more I listen to it. A very good debut album that hopefully leads to more albums in the future. Recommended to those who enjoy the harder edged variety of prog but who also enjoy Italian vocals. I will give this a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

 Indicios by POST MORTEM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.49 | 5 ratings

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Indicios
Post Mortem Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I was asked by fellow PA reviewer and band member Marcos to review this album.

This is the first full album by the band Post Mortem and is labeled as post metal. There is, as a matter of fact, a good amount of metal in the album, but it seems to be closer to a Hard Progressive because the metal passages, although well done, are not as constant as I have heard in most progressive metal albums. There is also a good presence of keyboards here. The variety of both is very good and balanced throughout the album.

Post Mortem comes from Argentina and the lyrics are in their native language I believe, there is no English, but for someone that doesn't understand the language, I wasn't bothered by it much. The vocals were well done and matched the music quite well. I did enjoy listening to the album and it is obvious the band members are all excellent musicians. The song writing however, was pretty standard heavy progressive fare, nothing really surprising, but there was a good share of tempo and meter changes throughout to keep things interesting. The music seems dramatic enough, but it falls into the trap of letting the addition and subtraction of instruments be the element that dictates dynamic sound instead of doing it through harder or softer playing. I'm not sure if that is because of the production or if it is how the instruments are being played. It is easy enough to hear all that is going on in the mix, but there is something that just isn't right in the delivery and I believe it is in the dynamics and the way they are delivered.

That being said, this is a very good effort for the band, especially seeing as it is their first full album. They did produce an E.P. (which I haven't heard), but I would assume they have a more mature sound here. There are some really great stand out tracks that I like, namely "Pais" with a tastefully done saxophone solo that fits right in to the music. Don't let that scare you because it is a great solo that doesn't sound at all tacky in this setting, it really is a nice addition. "Sed" is another great track that starts out with a nice piano introduction and flows nicely into the song. "Indicios" is a well-written progressive song that lasts a little over 10 minutes and is the epic of the album. It has 3 sections that flow together well and reminds me of a more well-seasoned band. The other tracks are also well done and the biggest issue I have is with the dynamics.

As I said, I really enjoyed this album and would listen to it again. I would also be happy to recommend it to others, especially those who love Dream Theatre or Ayreon, as long as you don't mind the lyrics not being in English. That doesn't really bother me because I am used to hearing music in other languages, especially Italian, and the lyrics seem to flow very well. I would consider this a 3.5 star rating, but because of the musicianship and composition, I will round it up to 4 stars. Great music from a band that shows a lot of promise.

 For The Journey by THRESHOLD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.51 | 65 ratings

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For The Journey
Threshold Progressive Metal

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Perhaps because March Of Progress was such a strong album and a great return to form for a band that while never less than good, had been treading water for the few previous releases, I was initially a little disappointed with For The Journey. A few plays failed to ignite any great enthusiasm and it sat on my shelf unplayed again for a few months until now. Revisiting it has left me pleasantly surprised; perhaps as I'm returning to it with no expectations it's actually much better than I originally thought.

For The Journey is the second album since vocalist Damian Wilson's return and once again he turns in a fine performance with a strong ear for a good vocal melody. Musically it's their typically melodic prog metal with a number of up-tempo songs, an unexceptional ballad and The Box is the obligatory epic. Whilst there's nothing wrong with The Box, there are no great surprises and there are many better ones, Critical Mass for example, scattered throughout their previous nine studio albums. Much better are the opening two tracks - Watchtower On The Moon with a great driving riff and a strong melodic half tempo chorus. Unforgiven is darker and more dynamic with a strong hook - classic Threshold at their best. The other killer is Siren Sky for its slow brooding riff.

Anyone who's familiar with Threshold will know what to expect. The musicianship is as always spot on and the production typical Karl Groom and Richard West, powerful, clear if a little clinical. Overall a very good album with a few unexceptional tracks robbing it of great status. For The Journey sits in the middle of the league table of Threshold albums. 3 Ż stars.

 An Endless Sporadic by ENDLESS SPORADIC, AN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.95 | 50 ratings

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An Endless Sporadic
An Endless Sporadic Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is a short album just over 33 minutes long, but it is packed full of great instrumental progressive music which is varied in texture, sound and style. It is a very good collection of jazz fusion instrumentals. The band is listed as a Progressive Metal act, and there are some short bursts that approach a slight progressive metal sound, but in this album, they have advanced to a huge variety of sounds, so the real style here is closer to a Rock/Jazz fusion. Some passages are surprisingly well orchestrated and beautifully executed. From mellow and expansive ballads to hard, fast and technical jams, this album has all sorts of styles and sounds. The tracks each have a lot of progressive elements such as changing meters which are anything but standard. The shortcoming of the album is in the shortness of the tracks and the overall album. Because of this, the songs are underdeveloped. But what you have here is a collection of mature and well executed instrumentals that at times become quite complex. The variety is awesome and it never gets boring, so this music would be easy to expand on without worrying about overstaying it's welcome. This is great music that deserves a 4 star rating, and with some more development of the songs, this could have easily been a masterpiece.
 Elements Of Persuasion by LABRIE, JAMES album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.55 | 132 ratings

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Elements Of Persuasion
James Labrie Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This album is James LaBrie's first solo album after being one of Dream Theatre's vocalsits. The album is definitely not as adventurous as Dream Theatre, though there are a few hints at the sound of the band. The songs are shorter for the most part, are more rock-oriented with hardly anything adventurous enough to be considered progressive.

There is a lot of variety here which is probably the main thing the album has got going for it. There are a good share of great guitar solos, no doubt about that. But everything is pretty straightforward for a pop/rock album. There are hard driving songs and there are pop songs, but nothing really that interesting.

Instead of a track by track analysis which I usually don't like to do, I will take a few examples that are representative of the songs all throughout the album. "Alone" is okay, but the drums are programmed and they sound that way. It's okay to use programming for certain effects, but they take over pretty much all of the rhythm section on this track. At least there is a decent guitar solo.

"Lost" is merely a pop-oriented song of which there are several on here. Nothing stands out here at all, not even the vocals. It's just another song to get lost in the endless list of radio friendly music that never really even makes it to the radio.

"Pretender" is just straight ahead hard rock track that really doesn't stand out. It's one of many instances of this on the album.

In other words, these are all just ordinary songs that can pretty much be listened to alone. That fits in well with the digital download age, but not fit for those who love album oriented rock.

There really isn't nothing on here that you can't hear on other rock albums. The production is great, the vocals and instrumentals are good, but there is nothing challenging and nothing stands out when the album is over. There is nothing progressive about it other than the lead singer being in DT. I haven't really listened to his other solo albums to see if they are more prog oriented, but as of this album, there is nothing much that can be considered progressive here. It's a good listen, but there are so many good listens out there already that this album just easily falls in between the cracks that lead to ambiguity. 3 stars. For DT fans that don't mind if the music is watered-down and for straightforward rock fans who don't mind a non-challenging album.

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