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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 | 2035 ratings
IMAGES AND WORDS
Dream Theater
4.29 | 2087 ratings
METROPOLIS PART 2: SCENES FROM A MEMORY
Dream Theater
4.27 | 1181 ratings
SECOND LIFE SYNDROME
Riverside
4.26 | 899 ratings
THE PERFECT ELEMENT PART 1
Pain Of Salvation
4.22 | 766 ratings
OPERATION: MINDCRIME
Queensr che
4.21 | 900 ratings
ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION
Riverside
4.21 | 833 ratings
REMEDY LANE
Pain Of Salvation
4.20 | 811 ratings
OUT OF MYSELF
Riverside
4.19 | 895 ratings
THE HUMAN EQUATION
Ayreon
4.13 | 1418 ratings
SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE
Dream Theater
4.15 | 521 ratings
V: THE NEW MYTHOLOGY SUITE
Symphony X
4.11 | 1489 ratings
AWAKE
Dream Theater
4.19 | 224 ratings
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Redemption
4.17 | 283 ratings
THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS
Sieges Even
4.12 | 680 ratings
BE
Pain Of Salvation
4.11 | 532 ratings
INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE
Ayreon
4.13 | 293 ratings
PERFECT SYMMETRY
Fates Warning
4.13 | 268 ratings
PARALLELS
Fates Warning
4.16 | 195 ratings
A SOCIAL GRACE
Psychotic Waltz
4.11 | 345 ratings
ROOM V
Shadow Gallery
4.10 | 443 ratings
LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT 2
Liquid Tension Experiment
4.16 | 190 ratings
INTO THE EVERFLOW
Psychotic Waltz
4.11 | 269 ratings
A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY
Fates Warning
4.09 | 407 ratings
ENTROPIA
Pain Of Salvation
4.15 | 181 ratings
TEMPLE OF SHADOWS
Angra
4.11 | 242 ratings
TYRANNY
Shadow Gallery
4.06 | 661 ratings
SHRINE OF NEW GENERATION SLAVES
Riverside
4.15 | 155 ratings
STREETS - A ROCK OPERA
Savatage
4.07 | 428 ratings
THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY
Symphony X
4.10 | 244 ratings
THE BLACK HALO
Kamelot
4.21 | 95 ratings
PARADOX
Royal Hunt
4.19 | 94 ratings
THE TOWERS OF AVARICE
Zero Hour
4.15 | 118 ratings
MERCY FALLS
Seventh Wonder
4.25 | 72 ratings
RITUAL
Shaman / Shaaman
4.05 | 310 ratings
MARCH OF PROGRESS
Threshold
4.06 | 259 ratings
DISCONNECTED
Fates Warning
4.03 | 392 ratings
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Ayreon
4.08 | 165 ratings
A GENTLEMAN'S HURRICANE
Mind's Eye
4.10 | 131 ratings
THELI
Therion
4.06 | 200 ratings
CRITICAL MASS
Threshold
4.10 | 128 ratings
CELESTIAL ENTRANCE
Pagan's Mind
4.10 | 122 ratings
VOVIN
Therion
4.03 | 208 ratings
BURN THE SUN
Ark
4.01 | 244 ratings
SYMPATHETIC RESONANCE
Arch / Matheos
4.07 | 121 ratings
CALLING THE EARTH TO WITNESS
Darkwater
4.04 | 155 ratings
THE ORIGINS OF RUIN
Redemption
4.01 | 191 ratings
THE GREAT ESCAPE
Seventh Wonder
3.97 | 386 ratings
ONE HOUR BY THE CONCRETE LAKE
Pain Of Salvation
4.06 | 117 ratings
FIVE DEADLY VENOMS
Shaolin Death Squad
4.17 | 62 ratings
INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Shaolin Death Squad
3.99 | 257 ratings
RAGE FOR ORDER
Queensr che
4.02 | 158 ratings
HOLY LAND
Angra
4.14 | 67 ratings
GRITAR╔
Matraz
3.99 | 198 ratings
NIGHTFALL IN MIDDLE-EARTH
Blind Guardian
3.97 | 272 ratings
PROMISED LAND
Queensr che
4.00 | 172 ratings
OCEANBORN
Nightwish
4.01 | 137 ratings
IN SEARCH OF TRUTH
Evergrey
3.99 | 183 ratings
CHRIST 0
Vanden Plas
3.99 | 156 ratings
SING-ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED & DELIRIOUS
Diablo Swing Orchestra
3.97 | 196 ratings
TALES OF THE SANDS
Myrath
3.93 | 436 ratings
THE ODYSSEY
Symphony X
4.06 | 85 ratings
IN YOUR MULTITUDE
Conception
4.05 | 87 ratings
DELUSIONS
To-Mera
4.00 | 127 ratings
BEYOND DAYLIGHT
Vanden Plas
3.90 | 1207 ratings
A DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS
Dream Theater
3.98 | 151 ratings
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
Blind Guardian
4.03 | 97 ratings
ABYDOS
Abydos
3.96 | 199 ratings
HYPOTHETICAL
Threshold
3.99 | 118 ratings
A SENSE OF CHANGE
Sieges Even
3.99 | 121 ratings
TRANSCENDENCE
Crimson Glory
3.94 | 209 ratings
SYNTHETIC
Hemina
4.00 | 105 ratings
UNDERWORLD
Adagio
3.95 | 184 ratings
UTOPIA
Distorted Harmony
4.07 | 67 ratings
MENTAL TORMENTS
Spheric Universe Experience
4.11 | 55 ratings
JUST THE TWO OF US ME AND THEM
Mindflow
3.96 | 142 ratings
HARVEST AORTA
Ephemeral Sun
3.98 | 111 ratings
EDGE OF THORNS
Savatage
3.97 | 126 ratings
GUTTER BALLET
Savatage
4.02 | 84 ratings
SANCTUS IGNIS
Adagio
3.96 | 141 ratings
FOR THE LOVE OF ART AND THE MAKING
Beyond Twilight
4.09 | 55 ratings
MI KUBBESI
Nekropsi
3.98 | 104 ratings
HOPE
Myrath
4.00 | 87 ratings
SECTION X
Beyond Twilight
3.95 | 145 ratings
IMAGINATIONS FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Blind Guardian
3.98 | 106 ratings
JEREMIAS - FORESHADOW OF FORGOTTEN REALMS
Circle of Illusion
3.93 | 157 ratings
VOICE IN THE LIGHT
Amaran's Plight
3.92 | 187 ratings
SUBSURFACE
Threshold
4.23 | 31 ratings
TO DIMENSION LOGIC
Vauxdvihl
4.05 | 58 ratings
COSMOGENESIS
Gru
3.93 | 132 ratings
THE BUTCHER'S BALLROOM
Diablo Swing Orchestra
4.07 | 51 ratings
JOURNEY OF A ROUGH DIAMOND
Mind Key
3.97 | 91 ratings
ANDROMEDA UNCHAINED
Anubis Gate
3.93 | 119 ratings
KARMA
Kamelot
3.95 | 101 ratings
ARK
Ark
3.89 | 209 ratings
DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT
Fates Warning
3.99 | 72 ratings
GAIA
Mago de Oz
3.95 | 92 ratings
BLEEDING
Psychotic Waltz
4.03 | 54 ratings
THE GREAT DIVIDE
Ice Age
4.33 | 21 ratings
EMOCEAN
Meisel, Hubi
3.87 | 199 ratings
AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN
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

WAVES OF VISUAL DECAY
Communic
MANIFESTO FOR FUTURISM
Dali's Dilemma
PRINCIPLES OF TRANSFORMATION
Super String Theory
STRONGER THAN HATE
Memories Lab

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Latest Progressive Metal Music Reviews


 No Exit  by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.85 | 175 ratings

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No Exit
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars Ray Alder is an excellent vocalist. John Arch is also fantastic, so you cannot go wrong with either. Their vocals sound different, but they both fit well into the progressive metal genre. No Exit is a fresh start with a new vocalist, but it is hard hitting with lots of bite delivered in epic fashion. It is easily Fates Warning's most underrated album and a strong candidate as one of their best. Jim Matheos and company have delivered another solid album that starts off a bevy of other future masterpieces. The highlight of course is the 22 minute epic The Ivory Gate Of Dreams, which was actually broken up into 8 separate tracks on my expanded edition. This is a must buy for anyone that likes Fates Warning or Progressive Metal.
 Nebulae by HEMINA album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.96 | 5 ratings

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Nebulae
Hemina Progressive Metal

Review by ProgolateCookie

5 stars Something of a departure in style but equally as exciting as what "Synthetic" had to offer. I thought the debut was very special considering the quality of the EP that came before and the big step up it made. This is a whole new level of sheen. Where Synthetic lacked like in the drums that were very undynamic and the sometimes fuzzy guitars and young sounding vocals - nebulae is a whole new level of maturity. There seems to be some evidence of djent on this album which I like cos I like Periphery and I like Animals as Leaders but there are no growls like most bands who do this and there are heaps of solos. Nice vocals by the male voice and female voice and there are lots of lush choirs. Many bands now are just all guitar and forget about the keys, not these guys. There are even bits that are a bit funk.

This is almost a surprising shift in style but it's still Prog Metal but perhaps less quirky than before? The Pain of Salvationish vocals are a little different on this one with a bit more of a gothic/melodic rock approach. I like my Circus Maximus and melodic prog but with a smarter emotional edge and this does it for me. My favourite moments are the ending strings and riff of Promise and the chorus of Nightlives which is huge and uplifting. 90%

 The Clarity Of Chaos by PRAVDA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.38 | 7 ratings

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The Clarity Of Chaos
Pravda Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars This is my first experience of Pravda, although this is their fourth full-length album and was released in 2012. At the time they were just a trio, and all three of them supply vocals with harmonies being an important part of their style. In fact, there are times when they remind me of classic Gentle Giant, although the music itself is not nearly as complex as that of the classic Seventies act. The more I worked my way through the album I felt that they have possibly been inspired more by Spock's Beard, who of course were inspired by GG, as there is quite a lot within their music that could sit within the more melodic, and less overtly progressive, of that band's music. As I started listening to this I was trying to decide in my mind of that was a five star album or a four star, so I was somewhat surprised to discover that the more I played it the less I actually liked it. There are loads of great sections on this album, and the vocals are really good, while musically they are all on the top of their game, but there is something about this that just really doesn't do it for me and for the life of me I can't work out why. Each time I play it I find myself doubting my own views as I really enjoy it but the more I get through the more I feel that I really want to be playing something else. That's just not the normal reaction for me on any album.

Melodic, symphonic, very American but with some British influences, this is a prog band that sometimes veers into the prog metal territory without fully being a prog metal act. They have some wonderful songs, some great vocals, but to my ears they might have been better off using an external producer as some songs such as "Second Hand" could have done with some judicious editing. They are worth hearing, but this album just doesn't really do it for me, although I feel that it should.

 Mirage - A Portrayal Of Figures by FLAMING ROW album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.86 | 46 ratings

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Mirage - A Portrayal Of Figures
Flaming Row Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars So, what we have here is the second album from German quartet Flaming Row, but is it? While Martin Schnella (guitars, keyboards, vocals) provided all of the music, based on a story written by Kiri Geile (vocals) and then arranged by Martin with Niklas Kahl (drums) and Marek Arnold (keyboards, saxophone), this is way more than ''just'' a band album. To be able to do justice to the story of the Third World War they have brought in a couple of guest musicians and the odd singer. Okay, to possibly put that more into perspective, the total singer and musician count on here is more than 30, and with the likes of Dave Meros, Kristoffer Gildenlow, Jimmy Keegan and Arjen Anthony Lucassen helping out on the music, and the likes of Ted Leonard, Magali Luyten, Simon Moskon and many others on the vocals, perhaps it isn't surprising that this is something a little special.

This is an over the top, multi-layered incredibly strongly produced album which sometimes stays in control as although each musician adds his piece it still somehow manages to remain a bombastic masterpiece instead of disappearing up an ego of its' own making. I challenge any lover of prog metal not to fall in love with this at the very first hearing, and just sit with the booklet and listen to the narration and singers telling the story while marveling at the melodic complexity that is displayed in front of your very ears. Although sounding nothing like Spock's Beard, it is almost as if they have captured the sheer brilliance of albums such as 'Snow', have then brought in some American melodic metal, combined it with the symphonic power of Nightwish while also ensuring that fans of the dexterity (both musically and lyrically) of Clive Nolan are well catered for.

Simply put, this is one of the most exciting and interesting albums that I have heard so far this year. I fell in love with it just a few bars into the first song and I kept hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed with the rest of the album while actually I just found more to savour. Each time I have played this new depths have come to light, and this has become for me one of those albums that actually prevents me writing about anything else as I just want to play it so much! It may be over the top, yet somehow there is enough restraint to ensure that it never really falls totally out of control, but rather shows that sometimes music needs to be more than just a couple of guys in a studio, and by adding so many others with their own techniques and styles it has allowed Flaming Row to create something very special indeed. The only question in my mind, is how on earth do they follow this? I note that in the booklet they state that this is to be continued, so that is something to look forward to indeed. www.flamingrow.de

 Our Story About you by HOPE TO FIND album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.27 | 6 ratings

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Our Story About you
Hope to Find Progressive Metal

Review by Aldebaran_Well

4 stars I hoped to find some good prog music but I found something more than that.

Sometimes, a band/artist/album has a weird impact on me from the first impression, a certainty that I and the music I'm about to receive are going to have a relationship of friendship and respect. From the first moment I set my eyes to the beautiful cover of the band with the amazing name, my hopes and expectations were high. Then I learned that HTF's place of origin is Turkey and my anticipation grew more. You see, I'm a big fan of Turkish and, generally, middle eastern rock bands and there is a good reason: you can always expect something different and unique from these bands. Maybe it's the richer cultural environment, the close relation with their musical traditions, the blending of the influences from both the East and the West, maybe something else. Whatever the reasons may be, the outcome is usually the same: there's something deep about their music, it feels more real, richer, exotic and colourful, music out of the box. Hope To Find is no exception and they totally fit in the above description.

Band members are Mert Erdem (vocals), Alper Dagalp (keyboards, accordion), Zafer Yuksel (guitars), Yavuz Sozkan (drums) and Koray Ergunay (bass), all individually doing a great job, as it will be described later on. They were founded back in 2003. Their first appearance was the song ''Dance of the flowers'' that was included in Eskisehir Rock Society compilation cd and ''Still Constant'', a promotional EP, was released in 2009. Obviously, the band has showed no haste and took its time to build a solid, personalized sound and to work thoroughly its compositions. The result justifies their efforts, as their progressive metal holds no clear indication about which their influences are. Ok, probably Dream Theater have influenced them, directly or not, at some time and maybe late 90's prog metal, in general. I didn't notice much classic prog rock sounds, probably a couple of Rush and Floyd parts here and there. On the contrary, there are some soft traditional and some jazz elements. My ears also picked up some modern grooves (especially in the rhythm section), suggesting that the band is no indifferent to good nu rock music of the past decade. Don't be mistaken though: Hope To Find has a very strong personality and they don't sound alike anyone.

Their style is melodic progressive metal. It is clear that the band's first aim is not to produce technicality and complexity but music that arouses feelings and emotions, beauty and sensitivity. Still, musicianship is remarkable: Mert's voice didn't get me excited at first but I soon realized the passion that fills his performances, his warm tone and mellow vocal lines contribute much to HTF's expressive gentleness. Thumbs up for the (few) mature guitarists of this world and Zafer is one of those: he provides a solid support to every track, both in rhythms and harmonies and rarely takes the lead role. Minimum solos and ''acrobatics'', mostly heavy riffing (Petrucci/Ostby style), trippy chords, jazzy passages and beautiful acoustic performances, this is his repertoire. Alper is HTF's key member: he seems to always choose the perfect synth sound to every part separately, fantastic keyboard work, really. In addition, he adds an amazing color by playing the accordion. Please use it more in the future! Yavuz and Koray's rhythm section is excellent too, these guys know how to be discrete without losing anything in dynamics and expression and, when given the chance, they perform more complex parts comfortably and precisely.

''Our story about you'' is a concept album consisted of 10 tracks, with a total running time of 47 minutes. The introduction ''Exile'' draws the curtain surprisingly with a trip hop loop, space textured synths and ''subconscious'' heavy guitars, demanding your attention and promising a quite unusual album. The main theme of ''Suddenly'' is magnificent and, to my delight, performed by the accordion. The song evolves into a mid tempo, dynamic and atmospheric manner and there's a breathtaking bridge at the middle. ''Yesterday, today, tomorrow'' begins in a darker mood, guitar and piano build a great harmony, eventually turning to a powerful heavy tune. ''Gently broken'' is probably the highlight of the album. Everything works perfectly here, the first jazzy part is excellent and all members give their best but above them rises the unique, supreme vocal performance of Erdem, his most magical moment in the album. ''Through the window'' is one minute of a sad melody heard by a clockwork music box that fades away, nothing but a brilliant, poetic idea. Keyboards take control in ''Instructional inspirations'', there are piano parts, symphonic parts, even 80's inspired parts and after 3.5 instrumental minutes, vocals step in, accompanied by an acoustic theme that reminded me a bit of Steven Wilson's style. There's a lighter-than-air, joyful and naughty feeling in ''Kaleidoscope'', a colourful track that ends up with an amazing bass solo, leaving me in a ''Hooray!'' state. The character of ''Worth to remember'' is a bit more technical and skillful, carrying some ''Awake'' vibes, while ''Memories'' is another 1.5 minute long interlude, a powerful acoustic composition that leads to ''Alienation'', the 10 minutes long final track of the album. The first 6 minutes are jazzy and acoustic, space elements can be found in the background and a touch of psych, all leading to a heavy climax, with rough guitar/keys combinations and a sentimental finale.

The album flows very well and all tracks are rightly positioned (though the best ones are in the first half). HTF's songwriting lacks choruses almost entirely, as well as solos and commercial parts but delivers adventurous, linear compositions, in which surprises may happen at any time. As said earlier, the entire band's creativity is focused in servicing each song's special feeling, musically and lyrically. The band sounds daring enough and, generally like keeping their musical horizons open. The only flaw of ''Our story about you'' is the production/mastering. I think that a lot of high and low frequencies are brought to surface, especially in drums and guitars, where I'd prefer the warmth and naturality of the midrange. Vocals are put above anything else in the mix but, to be honest, I like that. As a new fan of HTF, in the future I'd like to listen to a better production, extended use of the accordion and some more Turkish traditional music blended. A couple of catchy parts would be nice, just for variety. All jazz/fusion/acoustic parts are excellent so, why not dig deeper into this ground?

''Our story about you'' is something more than a very promising debut. It's a very good album that's intriguing, colourful and emotional, showing a band with the potential to achieve wonders in the future, if their musical spirit and freedom is reserved. I believe in the possibility of a masterpiece. In my opinion, this is the best prog metal album of 2014 so far (along with Need's ''Orvam''). If you care only for big names and mainstream prog bands, I don't believe this one's for you. If you're always looking for hidden treasures, Hope To Find will reward you. The most beautiful shells lie underneath the sand.

Finally, I want to thank the band personally, not only for providing me the promo material but for the kindness and professionalism they showed in our brief communication. It's obvious that the quality of music matches the quality of characters, as it always should.

With the highest expectations for the future my rate is 83/100, four very well deserved stars.

 The Warmth Of Mediocrity by ODIN'S COURT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Warmth Of Mediocrity
Odin's Court Progressive Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars US band ODIN'S COURT have been around ever since 2001, with a good handful of productions to their name so far, and in terms of full length albums they have released six of them so far. Their most recent one, "The Warmth of Mediocrity", was issued through US label The RecordLabel.net's Progrock Records division towards the end of 2013.

While this is a full length album, I guess the majority would really sort this one as a compilation rather than a bonafide studio disc, as the greater majority of the songs have been pulled from old releases. But as these songs have been both remixed and to some extent remade as well, due to the addition of Dimetrius LaFavors as lead vocalist, this really is a new album even if much of the material have been available in other versions previously.

As far as style is concerned, Odin's Court is among those bands that venture back and forth across the border between the rock and metal part of the progressive universe, although the main emphasis appears to be on the latter of these. They explore, at least in recent years, a brand of progressive metal that explore the contrasts between grimy, gnarly dark toned guitar riff constructions and light toned, subtly exotic sounding keyboard textures, with ample room for movements of a more careful nature to alternate between the harder edged and more intense ones. The piano is employed for an additional delicate touch on several occasions, and what I presume to be digitally crafted orchestral backings also have their place in the material of this band. The dulcimer is also used to good effects to convey effects of a more careful nature within this landscape.

From what I can recall of their older material, it would appear that their new vocalist is a good addition to this band. There are still some issues with the vocals however. That there are songs here not written with the new vocalist and his particular voice in mind is a fact, and that some of the vocal parts comes across as somewhat odd in structure and execution both is a detrimental detail at times. As is the band's slight tendency to hit off in a dramatic, technically oriented run with quirky staccato riff bursts in asynchronous patterns, although this latter aspect probably has more to do with personal taste and not quite as much to do with stylistic expression and structure as such.

Personally I found the band to be most interesting when exploring territories of a more regular nature, with the remade version of Utopian Rust and the following instrumental Paradise Lost: Chapter 1 to be clear album highlights. The former a fairly traditional progressive metal creation sporting a fairly smooth, dark toned guitar riff and a fairly predictable but effective keyboard contrast as the dominant elements, with compelling harmony based guitar soloing and a nifty bass motif beneath that fits this song in this guise very well indeed. The latter of these two songs appears to be a case of progressive metal inspired by classical music, using orchestral details to supplement the guitars and organ that otherwise sets the mood and atmosphere. Opening and title track The Warmth of Mediocrity also warrants a mention, and again we're dealing with a more common variety of progressive metal with strong and distinct contrasts between guitar riffs and keyboards, majestic themes and a harmony based song in general expression and instrumental solo runs both.

All in all a somewhat uneven production as far as I'm concerned, where the most experimental numbers also comes across as the least inspired of the lot. But when Odin's Court starts exploring a more common and predictable variety of progressive metal, then they are going strong with all cylinders firing in a fitting, majestic manner. A band and an album worth taking a look at if you're curious of a band that are at their best exploring traditional progressive metal Dream Theater style, while also having a go at assembling compositions of a more challenging nature that may not be quite as appealing - all of this very much depending on personal taste admittedly.

 The Theory Of Everything by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 391 ratings

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The Theory Of Everything
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by Daggor

4 stars 've often wondered, for as brilliant as Porcupine Tree is/was, what their effective influence on progressive metal was. Certain aspects, like the profound emotional impact of Fear Of A Blank Planet really defy imitation, but then there's stuff like The Incident, which was pretty radical, but ultimately a bit of a flop (at least by the standards of Porcupine Tree). What was attempted was not so much a collection of interlinked songs or a huge monolith of prog, but rather a bunch of interconnected musical ideas that tied together around loose musical themes and a single lyrical theme. I've got to wonder if completing this project was on Arjen's mind when he set out to write The Theory Of Everything.

Ayreon has never been the most original progressive metal band out there. At times, this has been one of my big frustrations: Arjen was so enamored with guest vocalists and musicians that sometimes Ayreon records feel more like compilation albums of other bands' works than an actual cohesive musical vision. Eventually, Arjen focused his albums around singers playing parts rather than individual songs, but after 01011001, there wasn't anywhere else to go. So question two is: why did Arjen feel it necessary to resurrect the Ayreon name?

Well, the first answer is that apparently Arjen will never be out of underdeveloped stories to deliver with a sledge hammer upon unsuspecting audiences. I was able to ignore this for the first half of the record, but by the second half it was so over the top (and so lame) that I was getting a touch tired of it. But, secondly, his last solo album sucked. Perhaps he hasn't realized this yet, but somehow going back to Ayreon has resulted in much better compositions. Overall, the characters in his story take more of a back seat, especially in the instrumental heavy opening quarter. This is a very good thing. If there was ever anything that drew me to Ayreon, it was the great mix of psychedelic, space-age synths with tremendous respect for classic prog. Throwing flutes at me early in the first 20 minute song was, at least for me, great. I'm sort of helpless when it comes to the Hammond organ too, and so as far as the classic prog sound palette goes, full marks.

Ayreon isn't, from an influence standpoint, breaking any new barriers here, but I've got to say I really enjoy how they're balancing those influences a lot more on The Theory Of Everything as opposed to past efforts. As for the grand venture in this style of album writing, it'll never be done as well as "Thick As A Brick", probably because that only ended up as a 42 minute monolith of parts after it had mostly been written. Perhaps you can never try to emulate the greatness that a genius unintentionally creates. Overall, The Theory Of Everything dexterously dodges the major potholes that Arjen seems to love driving himself into. If you're not willing to sit through the 20 minute "Phases", I wouldn't much bother, because the individual parts are still pretty disjointed on their own. Still, kudos for exceeding my expectations, and for an album that lives up to Ayreon's potential quite well.

4.25 // 5

Originally posted at www.blackwindmetal.com

 A New Beginning by APPEARANCE OF NOTHING album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.29 | 10 ratings

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A New Beginning
Appearance of Nothing Progressive Metal

Review by Daggor

4 stars Don't let the Appearance Of Nothing distract you from hearing A New Beginning, because, despite such deception, there's a lot to be enjoyed from one of Switzerland's few progressive metal bands. I've decided to adopt a policy of responding to stupid band names with stupid puns, and I won't stop until they do. Appearance Of Nothing plays straightforward melodic progressive metal that's heavy on the melodic. The band has been around for about ten years, and this is their third album. For fans of their first two albums, as well as fans of the more accessible forms of progressive metal, this is a very strong release.

Expect synth and guitar heavy music. Every song is carried by crunchy rhythm guitars, and I'm happy to report that the recording and production is spot on to allow them to really shine. As far as distinct strengths of the album: look no further the choruses. Every single one, particularly on the daunting 14 minute title track, is remarkably catchy. This memorability, along with the consistently driving pace of the album, makes it a very easy and enjoyable listen. The lead vocal performance is also pretty great, and the songwriting even manages to accommodate interspersed harsh vocals. Usually throwing harsh vocals into melodic prog is a quick turn-off for me, but I applaud Appearance Of Nothing for pulling it off.

Where drawbacks are concerned, I can't point to any specific "problems", but there are a few minor disappointments. For a pretty heavy synth presence, strong vocals, and ample songwriting diversity, I was disappointed with the overall atmosphere of the album. While the songs were certainly strong, they lacked a unique identity. This isn't so much a drawback as it is lost potential for a band that's got everything else they need to be really, really good.

Certainly check out the single "Chains Of History", as well as the title track. As common to great progressive music, it's often that the longest song ought to be the best, and that's certainly true here with the title track. I again applaud solid work from the studio to draw out a powerful performance so that it actually sounds powerful. Where technically proficient progressive metal meets great melodies and an excellent performance, you can't go wrong.

4.0 // 5

Originally posted at www.blackwindmetal.com

 Orvam - A Song for Home by NEED album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Orvam - A Song for Home
Need Progressive Metal

Review by Daggor

4 stars Here's a little game to start this review off. If you haven't already, google "Need Orvam Reviews" and make a list of all the bands that various critics compare their sound to. Try to take note of the genres mentioned too, and when you get back, tell me if you have any idea what Need's new album, Orvam: A Song For Home actually sounds like. I'll spare adding to that list, as I've really got no clue who I would compare this band with. If that sounds like the least helpful description to open a review with ever, I offer my sincerest apologies, but I feel that I must bring your attention to this wonderful album, even if my writing prowess fails to give you an apt description.

At the very least, I can tell you that Need plays a very subtle brand of progressive metal. It makes heavy use of both guitars and keyboards, though neither are emphasized in the mix as strongly as the distinct, even harrowing voice of lead singer Jon V. To call Need an 'atmospheric' band wouldn't do justice to the active, skilled, and engaging instrumental performances, but man do they know how to set a mood.

Such understatement pays off though, and the sound of the album is thoroughly unique. I'm not sure I'd associate it with the newer post-progressive metal movement, because while there is a big emphasis on music textures and unique sounds, the guitars are still primarily melodic. If I were to hazard a comparison, and a loose one at best, I would draw a line to Votum's Harvest Moon from 2013, except that the ethos throughout the album is much colder, and, as reflected in the album's striking artwork, empty in such a way that evokes a strange sort of beauty.

To properly call attention to the? remarkable success of this record, I draw your attention to the penultimate track: "Hotel Oniro". This track is almost entirely spoken word, and quite musically sparse. This is typically an automatic skip for me. I've got a well-publicized hatred of voice-overs in prog, but the conversation of "Hotel Oniro" is both terribly sad and remarkably poignant. It's a perfect snapshot of the emotional resonance that reverberates through the whole album. Bravo Need, you've accomplished what I've often called next to impossible.

However, while the band does pull off, in masterful fashion, the ever-challenging 'voiceover track', it's not universally successful in its mission. The final track, the 18 minute title track "Orvam", catapults the listener into a world of absolute despair. Digging deep to the point of release and achieving peace. The musical transition is startling, and the lyrical shift satisfying. So, when, after a lengthy instrumental, the song returns to the dramatic refrain ridden with despair, I'm left confused. It's a small knock on an otherwise remarkable journey, but on top of the already sparse collection of melodies populating the back half of the song, it ends the album on something of an underwhelming note.

That being said, while the journey isn't perfect, there are some absolutely jaw dropping stops along the way. Both the opener "Lifeknot" and "Mother Madness" do an admirable job of intersecting the album's personal atmosphere with some really awesome melodies. In the case of "Mother Madness", this even approaches catchy. Orvam: A Song For Home is thoroughly refreshing. Not being able to easily compare it to a lot of contemporary progressive metal is actually a really nice reprieve, especially because Need executes so well.

4.25 // 5

Originally posted at www.blackwindmetal.com

 Nebulae by HEMINA album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.96 | 5 ratings

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Nebulae
Hemina Progressive Metal

Review by Daggor

5 stars Hemina first appeared on my radar back in 2012 with its skillful debut album Synthetic, which I had the pleasure of reviewing, and enjoyed quite a bit. The album had its issues, and Hemina became a "band with unrealized potential." With 2014's Nebulae, an album that started as an EP and expanded to a full length, I'm happy to report that the band has more than realized its potential, but rather exceeded all my expectations: delivering one of the best progressive metal albums I've ever heard.

A few points of interest about Hemina before I set out: its another entry in the avalanche of excellent progressive music coming out of Australia in the last few years. Additionally, Hemina is fronted by 4 lead singers, all with significant contributions on the record, as well as some awesome 4 part harmonies. On Nebulae, the songs are built heavily around the rhythm to great effect. The guitars on this album more often than not operate in rhythmic unison with the drums against the vocals, building a distinct sound, and placing a heavier emphasis on the groove of the album than seems typical for melodic prog.

A major development from Synthetic is simplified, catchier choruses. Where Synthetic at times felt somewhat directionless, Nebulae has an array of excellent choruses to tie together the songs and make them memorable. As mentioned above, Hemina sports 4 singers, 3 male and 1 female, and the vocal talents of band leader Doug Skene in particular really shine throughout the album. For a progressive metal album, Skene adopts a very straightforward sound. As a result, while it doesn't seem that the prog nerdery that was so excellent on Synthetic has been drastically reduced, it does find itself focused through a much more effective lens on Nebulae.

In terms of highlights, the intro track is one of the most impressive displays of vocal aerobics I've heard in recent memory, and the first full song, "Nightlives" has a downright addictive chorus delivered in awesome four part harmony from all of the band's singers. "Strength" has some of the most engaging progressive metal instrumentals that I've heard in years ? Probably my favorite since Leprous' Bilateral in 2011, and the driving verses in "Hope" are phenomenal, never mind the absolutely anthemic chorus. Hemina has all the brains of the great progressive metal albums, but with untold accessibility. Also, while "Otherworldly" seems much more in line with the musical style of Synthetic, it still delivers some downright exceptional vocal melody ? particularly near the end of the track with Doug's "I'll rise, ethereal, I'll rise otherworldly."

Nebulae not only sets out to create a progressive metal album that's catchy, with a strong groove and real appeal to prog nerds, it accomplishes it entirely. It's among the most vocally dynamic albums I've ever heard, without a moment wasted from the absolutely stellar intro "Before", to the haunting closer of "Otherworldly". Nebulae is emotionally and musically gripping, and an easy candidate for the best progressive metal I've heard this year. I stay far, far away from perfect scores, especially where progressive metal is concerned, but after much deliberation, I can't see myself awarding this anything less. I do look fearfully toward the future when I look like a fool, because Hemina only continues to improve the formula.

5 // 5

Originally posted at www.blackwindmetal.com

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Progressive Metal bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
5R6 Ukraine
7 MONTHS United States
7DAYS Sweden
AAXSKFG Italy
ABANDONED STARS United Kingdom
ABERRANT VASCULAR Finland
ABODEAN SKYE United Kingdom
ABSOLACE United Arab Emirates
ABYDOS Germany
ACCOMPLICE United States
ACHING BEAUTY France
ACID RAIN Argentina
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AGORA Mexico
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ALKEMYST France
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ALOGIA Serbia
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ALTERED SYMMETRY Colombia
ALTONA Turkey
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ALY Mexico
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ARK Norway
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