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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 | 2760 ratings
METROPOLIS PART 2 - SCENES FROM A MEMORY
Dream Theater
4.28 | 2702 ratings
IMAGES AND WORDS
Dream Theater
4.26 | 1590 ratings
SECOND LIFE SYNDROME
Riverside
4.24 | 981 ratings
OPERATION: MINDCRIME
Queensr˙che
4.23 | 1152 ratings
THE PERFECT ELEMENT - PART 1
Pain Of Salvation
4.22 | 1081 ratings
REMEDY LANE
Pain Of Salvation
4.21 | 1199 ratings
ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION
Riverside
4.20 | 1079 ratings
OUT OF MYSELF
Riverside
4.19 | 1106 ratings
THE HUMAN EQUATION
Ayreon
4.21 | 362 ratings
THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS
Sieges Even
4.13 | 1849 ratings
SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE
Dream Theater
4.14 | 666 ratings
V - THE NEW MYTHOLOGY SUITE
Symphony X
4.17 | 360 ratings
A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY
Fates Warning
4.14 | 705 ratings
INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE
Ayreon
4.11 | 1964 ratings
AWAKE
Dream Theater
4.17 | 287 ratings
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Redemption
4.15 | 385 ratings
PERFECT SYMMETRY
Fates Warning
4.11 | 828 ratings
BE
Pain Of Salvation
4.12 | 536 ratings
THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY
Symphony X
4.13 | 415 ratings
ROOM V
Shadow Gallery
4.22 | 139 ratings
PARADOX
Royal Hunt
4.16 | 230 ratings
TEMPLE OF SHADOWS
Angra
4.15 | 244 ratings
A SOCIAL GRACE
Psychotic Waltz
4.09 | 646 ratings
LOVE, FEAR AND THE TIME MACHINE
Riverside
4.15 | 227 ratings
INTO THE EVERFLOW
Psychotic Waltz
4.12 | 358 ratings
PARALLELS
Fates Warning
4.10 | 534 ratings
LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT 2
Liquid Tension Experiment
4.10 | 517 ratings
ENTROPIA
Pain Of Salvation
4.55 | 41 ratings
THE DANCE OF LIGHT AND SHADE
Soul Doubt
4.07 | 959 ratings
SHRINE OF NEW GENERATION SLAVES
Riverside
4.14 | 213 ratings
STREETS - A ROCK OPERA
Savatage
4.23 | 104 ratings
THE TOWERS OF AVARICE
Zero Hour
4.15 | 168 ratings
MERCY FALLS
Seventh Wonder
4.09 | 298 ratings
THE BLACK HALO
Kamelot
4.13 | 169 ratings
THELI
Therion
4.24 | 85 ratings
RITUAL
Shaman
4.06 | 330 ratings
DISCONNECTED
Fates Warning
4.04 | 575 ratings
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Ayreon
4.41 | 44 ratings
LAST FAIR DEAL GONE DOWN
Katatonia
4.06 | 277 ratings
SYMPATHETIC RESONANCE
Arch / Matheos
4.06 | 288 ratings
TYRANNY
Shadow Gallery
4.09 | 190 ratings
A GENTLEMAN'S HURRICANE
Mind's Eye
4.06 | 275 ratings
CRITICAL MASS
Threshold
4.10 | 158 ratings
VOVIN
Therion
4.08 | 197 ratings
HOLY LAND
Angra
4.05 | 253 ratings
NIGHTFALL IN MIDDLE-EARTH
Blind Guardian
4.07 | 191 ratings
THE ORIGINS OF RUIN
Redemption
4.21 | 74 ratings
GRITARÉ
Matraz
4.07 | 179 ratings
LEGENDS OF THE SHIRES
Threshold
4.08 | 152 ratings
CELESTIAL ENTRANCE
Pagan's Mind
4.04 | 237 ratings
THE GREAT ESCAPE
Seventh Wonder
4.06 | 168 ratings
IN SEARCH OF TRUTH
Evergrey
4.20 | 68 ratings
BILO 3.0
Micic, David Maxim
4.06 | 161 ratings
HARVEST MOON
Votum
4.08 | 132 ratings
CALLING THE EARTH TO WITNESS
Darkwater
4.02 | 234 ratings
BURN THE SUN
Ark
4.53 | 27 ratings
SONGS FOR INSECTS
Thought Industry
4.06 | 149 ratings
A SENSE OF CHANGE
Sieges Even
3.99 | 324 ratings
RAGE FOR ORDER
Queensr˙che
4.09 | 102 ratings
DELUSIONS
To-Mera
4.05 | 144 ratings
TRANSCENDENCE
Crimson Glory
3.98 | 410 ratings
MARCH OF PROGRESS
Threshold
4.00 | 260 ratings
AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN
Fates Warning
4.01 | 217 ratings
CHRIST 0
Vanden Plas
4.06 | 112 ratings
ABYDOS
Abydos
4.00 | 228 ratings
OCEANBORN
Nightwish
4.16 | 64 ratings
MI KUBBESI
Nekropsi
4.08 | 100 ratings
SECTION X
Beyond Twilight
4.02 | 166 ratings
THE FALL OF HEARTS
Katatonia
4.14 | 68 ratings
MENTAL TORMENTS
Spheric Universe Experience
4.01 | 166 ratings
GUTTER BALLET
Savatage
4.02 | 157 ratings
EDGE OF THORNS
Savatage
4.18 | 56 ratings
JUST THE TWO OF US ME AND THEM
Mindflow
4.00 | 182 ratings
THE TIDE, THE THIEF & RIVER'S END
Caligula's Horse
3.95 | 526 ratings
THE ODYSSEY
Symphony X
4.01 | 155 ratings
BEYOND DAYLIGHT
Vanden Plas
3.98 | 245 ratings
TALES OF THE SANDS
Myrath
4.24 | 43 ratings
VIVA EMPTINESS
Katatonia
3.97 | 266 ratings
HYPOTHETICAL
Threshold
4.52 | 23 ratings
MODS CARVE THE PIG
Thought Industry
4.01 | 143 ratings
JEREMIAS - FORESHADOW OF FORGOTTEN REALMS
Circle of Illusion
3.95 | 351 ratings
PROMISED LAND
Queensr˙che
4.02 | 122 ratings
UNDERWORLD
Adagio
3.97 | 203 ratings
UTOPIA
Distorted Harmony
4.04 | 100 ratings
SANCTUS IGNIS
Adagio
3.97 | 181 ratings
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
Blind Guardian
3.99 | 136 ratings
FIVE DEADLY VENOMS
Shaolin Death Squad
4.06 | 78 ratings
WIZARD'S EYES
Inside The Sound
4.24 | 37 ratings
TO DIMENSION LOGIC
Vauxdvihl
3.95 | 224 ratings
SYNTHETIC
Hemina
3.97 | 171 ratings
VOICE IN THE LIGHT
Amaran's Plight
3.91 | 483 ratings
ONE HOUR BY THE CONCRETE LAKE
Pain Of Salvation
4.07 | 70 ratings
COSMOGENESIS
Gru
4.06 | 69 ratings
INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Shaolin Death Squad
3.93 | 246 ratings
SUBSURFACE
Threshold
3.96 | 152 ratings
HARVEST AORTA
Ephemeral Sun
4.13 | 49 ratings
JOURNEY OF A ROUGH DIAMOND
Mind Key
4.13 | 48 ratings
NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY
Katatonia
3.96 | 150 ratings
FOR THE LOVE OF ART AND THE MAKING
Beyond Twilight
4.00 | 97 ratings
IN YOUR MULTITUDE
Conception

Progressive Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

STRONGER THAN HATE
Memories Lab
INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Shaolin Death Squad
THE BUTCHER'S BALLROOM
Diablo Swing Orchestra
BEYOND THE STARS
Ivory Tower

Latest Progressive Metal Music Reviews


 Beyond Belief by AZURE AGONY album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.13 | 5 ratings

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Beyond Belief
Azure Agony Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Azure Agony, this unknown italian progressive metal band started in 2006 and released their debut in 2010 named Beyond belief. This is an etirely instrumental album and a quite good one from start to finish. The music doesn't differ much from Dream Theater school, with keyboards and guitars running all the time and some fine druming aswell. The music is from up tempo to slow, but always Azure Agony done a good job, they shifting from mellow parts to up tempo with an amazing ease, always capture the attention of the listner. I don't find at all the pieces and song writting uninspired as many pretend to be, maybe originality lacks, but the musicianship and ideas overall are quite strong. Pieces like Mystic Interiors , Ante Tentora, ets showing potential in the band ability to craft some strong tunes. From me 3.5 stars for sure, I find it enjoyble from start to finish, I must add that is diffrent from their second offer who has vocals. Keyboard driven prog metal with a good doze of guitar works, from prog metal fans.

 Spirit of Place by FIRMAMENT album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Spirit of Place
Firmament Progressive Metal

Review by proghaven

— First review of this album —
4 stars To begin with, my congrats to all the PA community on the official debut of a new interesting band. It was classified as prog metal, guess just because the PA staff found no better definition. Tell me people, is the term 'prog metal fusion' at least potentially valid? You see, I think it may be closest to what we are dealing with in case of Firmament. Seemingly prog metal indeed, but with strong Crimsonian, jazzy and fusion hints, tunes and chords. Another moment to be noted is that Firmament's version of prog metal is prog metal with no keyboards (an exceptional case, isn't it?). And the third point I'd like to note is that it's prog metal not similar to Dream Theater. No idea why but it's commonly accepted to consider Dream Theater a founder of prog metal, though I was always sure that the year 1989 was later than the year 1983 (The Plague by Demon). Anyway, most of prog metal bands more or less imitate Dream Theater since 1990s. But Firmament doesn't. Absolutely. What they introduce to their listeners is a very specific and individual version of prog metal based on intricate rhythms and unusual melody making techniques with (apart from strong fusion elements) a slight but audible touch of Rush from late 1970s to early 1980s (Hemispheres, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures) and - surprisingly! - even some echoes from Necromandus. The album's only (but serious) disadvantage is annoying drums sound & playing manner traditional for prog metal of Dream Theater/Symphony X/Rhapsody/Redemption type, hardly appropriate for the band's inventive and refined music. The result is an impression that the album is somewhat monotonous, though an experienced listener will surely see that this impression is false.
 Exégesys by RETSAM SURIV album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.71 | 7 ratings

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Exégesys
Retsam Suriv Progressive Metal

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars The story of Argentine prog formation Retsam Suriv (from right to left 'Virus Master') starts in 2002 and then the band joins several festivals, near their hometown Buenos Aires. Not until 2007 the band decided to work on a debut album and finally two years later Retsam Suriv release their debut album entitled Exegesys. This release got a worldwide support, by French Musea, Japanese Poseidon, Brasilian Rock Symphony and Mexican Luna Negra.

The heartbeat of Retsam Suriv their sound is the combination of female singer Vilma Del Giorgio (wide range and lots of emotion) and keyboard player Christian Del Giorgio. His spectaculair work on the keyboards reminds me of (fellow Argentines) Jaime Rosas Cuartetto and Entrance from Chile. Viima and Christian are supported by different musicians on guitar, bass and drums in the first four tracks and the remaining five other tracks (in total five instrumentals).

In general Retsam Suriv delivers dynamic symphonic rock with harder-edged guitar play and sumptuous keyboard, fuelled by a dynamic rhythm-section. Like in the long compositions Lombardia (exciting accellarations and flashy keyboard flights) and Osmosis. The atmosphere is frequently 'over the top' but if you like keyboard driven bands like ELP and Japanese Gerard, this sound will delight you. At some moments the music turns into dreamy with moving Gilmourian guitar work (like in Lombardia), tender Grand piano runs and soaring keyboards.

As a huge fan of early Queen I was pleasantly surprised with Retsam Suriv their tribute to Freddy Mercury named Lluvia De Estrallas, a wonderful song with a strong build up and a fiery guitar solo.

This was a promising start that will please the fans of harder-edged and bombastic symphonic rock, or the more elaborate prog-metal. In 2014 Retsam Suriv released the successor entitled Danger.

My rating: 3,5 star.

 From Endangered To Extinct by JUPITER SOCIETY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.73 | 13 ratings

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From Endangered To Extinct
Jupiter Society Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars I have only recently come across this 2013 album, the third from this Swedish project led by Carl Westholm (Carptree). This is very much in the progressive metal area, coming across as being fairly similar to Ayreon in many ways. It is bombastic, over the top, with the guitars providing a grinding bottom edge for the keyboards to lift over, and there will be many progheads who will find the intensity, energy and sheer heaviness just too much for them. But, given that I listen to extreme metal as much as I do to prog then I find it absolutely fine.

There are times when it is symphonic, and during 'Invasion' the intensity levels just keep growing and one wonders if they are going to be able to hold it all together. The layers of sound just keep coming, like a wall of music, in a way that I normally associate with Devin Townsend but here with more variety and dynamics. There is a clear understanding from Westholm that music needs to be soft to also be hard, delicate to also be robust, and at times there is the impression that there is an orchestra of metal all being conducted to pull it all together. Those into symphonic metal and/or prog metal should look this out.

 Introspect by QUIET ROOM, THE album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.69 | 8 ratings

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Introspect
The Quiet Room Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars 'Introspect' is the 1998 debut by American progressive metal group The Quiet Room. I came across this album on eBay back in its heyday (do people still shop on there?), when searches would often have it come up, being advertised by sellers as similar to prog metal pioneers Fates Warning. That was enough to pique my interest, and to be fair, the similarities in their sound are uncanny.

However, the one resemblance they don't share is quality. Following the typical prog metal blueprint of ambitious song structures with extended musical passages and wailing, high-pitched vocals, The Quiet Room don't really offer anything that hasn't been done better by someone else.

The musicianship is fantastic, and these guys are all more than capable at playing their instruments, but sadly not so much at song writing. Everything seems pretty jarred and disjointed. Oftentimes songs wonder off into aimless territory, twisting and turning in ways that lose my interest instead of engaging me. It's a shame, because the album starts off pretty strong, with opening tracks 'A Different Scene' and 'Grudge' being respectable enough, but anything after struggles to keep my attention longer than a couple of minutes.

No doubt progressive metal was still mostly an underground subgenre at this point, and with only a handful of bands breaking into the mainstream, The Quiet Room are one of many lost causes that were destined to become obscure, forgotten hopefuls.

 Psychotic Symphony by SONS OF APOLLO album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.62 | 58 ratings

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Psychotic Symphony
Sons of Apollo Progressive Metal

Review by horza
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sons of Apollo are playing my home town soon. I don't live in a city with an Enormo-Dome so I was gobsmacked to learn that they will be performing 10 minutes walk from my front door. I was thus inspired to submit my first review for a couple of years now. It goes without saying that their album 'Psychotic Symphony' has been getting major rotation, so that I could pretend I know what the hell I'm talking about. Everyone knows about the Dream Theater connection within the band, but I have to go on record by saying that EVERYONE in this band pulls their weight. Mike Portnoy is a drumming god, Derek Sherinian is an awesome keyboard player, Billy Sheehan likewise a fabulous musician and Jeff Scott Soto has an amazing voice. I'm not going to disrespect the current DT singer, but I think Jeff has more of a vocal presence and authority. Not that I want James LaBrie replaced or anything, but I think if you merged SOA and DT then James might be one of the casualties. The real surprise for me was Bumblefoot. He blew me away and can fire out salvos of blistering solos, and then have moments of melodic genius.

The album opens with 'God of the Sun' and builds slowly with a Far Eastern vibe. It soon goes into Prog Metal overdrive and reminds me of Symphony X. I actually got into Symphony X before Dream Theater, and only became aware of DT when Symphony X supported them back in the day, around 10 years ago. I came away from that gig, wondering how I had missed out on DT for so long. This opening track is an epic, featuring a battle between Apollo and the encroaching darkness. No prizes for guessing who wins. Sort of wins. It's a cycle of sunlight and darkness out there, unless I've missed a memo.

'Coming Home' is a catchy Nickelback-esque track which opens with a recurring keyboard riff which burrows into your skull. Guilty pleasure confession - I like Nickelback, so I don't mind seeing similarities, particularly in the vocals. I obviously mean Nickelback in Prog-mode to the max. We then have a few bars near the end that reminds me of The Who, the guitar especially. This is a rock album isn't it?

'Signs of the Time' opens with Billy Sheehan's bass thudding away at the back of your cranium. It is another catchy number but less commercial than 'Coming Home'. Is commercial a dirty word? Should the music always be challenging and difficult to get into? This was apparently the first song written by the band when they got together and it features some jaw-droppingly phenomenal guitar from Bumblefoot.

'Labyrinth' opens with a string ensemble. Soto's voice sounds a little hoarse to me. I'm sure that was what he was aiming. The throat lozenges kick in and he quickly resumes normal service. I love his vocals, I really do. I hope that band stick around for a while as he deserves more recognition. I can hear some ELP keyboard influences around the 3 minutes mark (and later on) which then goes via Patrick Moraz into DT territory. Another excellent track, and later on Jon Lord makes an appearance (sort of). I love keyboards and synthesisers in bands, always have. Derek Sherinian is up there with the best of them.

'Alive' is the catchiest track on the album. For some reason it reminds me of the DT song 'Forsaken'. Both songs are now back to back on my latest Spotify playlist. The song features my favourite Bumblefoot moment - a breathtakingly beautiful solo around the 3 and a half minute mark. Just so damn gorgeous it is.

'Lost in Oblivion' opens with a synth-siren and is another memorable song. Rocks along and reminds me of Rainbow meets Symphony X. Jeff Scott Soto is a revelation on this song and throughout the album. He really anchors the band with his commanding vocals.

'Figaro's Whore' is an instrumental which conjures up Jon Lord just in time for his influence to be plastered all over the next track, 'Divine Addiction'. Ladies and gentlemen, on Hammond Organ I give you the ghost of Mr Jon Lord. I loved Jon in Deep Purple and Whitesnake. He was in my top 5 players and Derek Sherinian pays homage to him in sections of this track. It's perfectly fine to have influences - we all know what we like. I like Sons of Apollo.

'Opus Maximus' is an Opus Maximus. It is where the band remind you that they can play extremely well. Jeff Scott Soto gets to go for a pint at the bar. When this band play in my home town I can meet him at the bar and buy him a pint and say "You guys raaaawk man!" and other rockismic cliches.

 The Magister by STEIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.84 | 6 ratings

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The Magister
Stein Progressive Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Israeli band STEIN is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Tal Rubinstein. Following several years of preparations and recordings, they self-released their debut album at the start of 2016.

Stein isn't a band that have been hitting any headlines I've seen, which is just too bad. While this is a kind of album that may well have a limited audience, those who know and treasure instrumental progressive rock of the kind that Camel used to create should have a field day with this album. As long as one can cope with a band of this kind also incorporating elements of progressive metal into some compositions and passages here and there.

 The Fall of Hearts by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 166 ratings

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The Fall of Hearts
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

5 stars A common thread you wind up finding in every Katatonia album is that every one of them exhibits a different kind of melancholy. Each expression of that one emotion changes with each stylistic shift or altered lyrical approach, but either way, the melancholy still returns in some way. Perhaps it comes in the form of desperate wails and screams over crushing doom-laden riffs (Dance of December Souls). Maybe it can be found in gritty imagery involving the ills of crime and street life (Viva Emptiness). Alternately, the looming darkness of orchestral strings and mellotrons could seal the deal (Dead End Kings). But when it comes to The Fall of Hearts, the dreary atmosphere is expressed somewhat' differently. It might come down to a lack of metal influences this time around, but there's an unusually surreal and dreamlike touch to the music. The songs are sad, yes, but also given a sort of levity and weightlessness by the shimmering clean guitars and light piano melodies that coil around the increasingly progressive rhythms. Jonas Renkse has channeled his sorrows through more passionate vocal passages (just listen to the chorus of 'Last Song Before the Fade'!) while the music surrounding him has become more abstract compared to past efforts.

Really, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's not like this progressive influence is just out of the blue; the last few records, especially Dead End Kings, were already hinting at this bold new direction. But I suppose the fascinating thing about The Fall of Hearts is just how well they pulled off those influences. Instead of the crunchy, churning alternative metal riffs that dominated a good chunk of the band's career, there's now more respect and care given to the atmosphere than ever before. If you ever hear a downtuned metal riff ('Takeover,' 'Passer,' 'Serac,' and 'Last Song Before the Fade' still bring the heaviness to a degree), you can be sure that a beautiful slow passage will be just around the corner to counteract the aggression. 'Serac,' for instance, brings a fresh melding of progressive metal and soft rock that's not too dissimilar to Opeth's best works from the early 2000s (minus the growls, of course). Then you have 'Passer,' which kicks off with a shredding guitar solo over a rapid-fire galloping snare rhythm before it almost immediately dies down to give us one of the most emotionally potent verses the band have ever concocted. It's not that the band have lost their edge, but that they simply reserved it for the best moments this time around. And really, a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that Katatonia didn't really subscribe to a set songwriting formula this time around. The arrangements are quite labyrinthine and unpredictable compared to what we're used to from these guys, and the opening 7-minute track 'Takeover' is an immediate example of this. This mini-epic takes you in so many directions in such little time, from a beautiful dreamlike intro/refrain to a rousing metal section to a deeply orchestral chorus to a stunning piano break. Add to that a killer guitar solo from newcomer Roger Ojersson on top of that, and you've got one of the best openers in recent memory.

In fact, let's talk about those newcomers for a second. Guitarist Roger Ojersson and drummer Daniel Moilanen were a huge asset to the sound The Fall of Hearts would ultimately adopt and cultivate, as their technical proficiency allowed the band to work outside of their typical framework a bit more. The solos in 'Takeover,' 'Passer,' and especially the harmonized portion of 'Serac' are incredible ways to build on songwriting that already takes pride in taking listeners on a real journey. Meanwhile, Daniel absolutely kills on the drumkit. His grasp of varying time signatures and subtle dynamics is just impeccable, and he can shift styles with ease to fit each mood perfectly. As for the songwriting, however, you may notice in the credits that it's all Jonas Renkse and Anders Nystrom as usual. Maybe that's the most fascinating thing about The Fall of Hearts, really. Just the fact that these two had it in them to make this record all along, but they simply needed the right circumstances and band members to make it happen. If you want a good marker of just how much they've evolved as songwriters, just take into account the fact that 'Pale Flag' and 'Shifts' are minimalist folk rock ballads with almost none of the band's typical sonic trademarks present, and yet they're not out of place in the slightest. But then again, nothing on The Fall of Hearts is out of place; it's just the sound of a fully-evolved, fully-realized Katatonia that was always trying to break free from the mire of comfortable familiarity.

 La Leggenda Della Grande Porta by VIII STRADA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.70 | 21 ratings

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La Leggenda Della Grande Porta
VIII Strada Progressive Metal

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars This Italian five piece formation is rooted in 1994 but later the line-changed radically, only two founding members survived. On their website I read this about the music on their debut album entitled La Leggenda Della Grande Porta:

"VIII Strada is a musical workshop where harmony, sounds and words are forged together to create songs whose essential aim is to transmit a state of mind and share emotions with the listener. VIII STRADA is classified as Progressive Rock but it is strongly influenced by the various musical tastes and experience of its members", "An unmistakable symphonic-classical influence mixed with the raw energy of rock create the VIII STRADA sound, enriched by diverse contaminations from worlds, cultures, times and ages apart", and "VIII STRADA's music overcomes the barriers of categorization and, especially when performed live and greater contact is established with the audience, the listener finds it is easily interpreted and emotionally enthralling. Let's rock !!!".

Well, listening to their melodic and accessible music I conclude that VII Strada indeed rocks! To be more specific, in general VIII Strada is scouting the borders between Heavy Progressive and Prog Metal (but fortunately without the usual boring cascades of scale-acrobatics) in an exciting way: very dynamic, powerful, bombastic, lots of shifting moods, breaks and sensational accellarations, powerful Italian vocals with passion and a powerhouse rhythm-section. But the focus is on the sensational guitar work: propulsive riffs and cascades of fiery, howling and blistering solos, what a killer guitar player! His guitar is often in awesome interplay with the sparkling Grand piano, this is VIII Strada their trademark, and I love it! At some moments the band plays more mellow featuring warm acoustic guitar, tender piano and dreamy vocals. Like in the titletrack and Laguna Di Giada, and the short piece Amencer even contains a wonderful duet between tango-like piano and classical guitar.

Although VIII Strada doesn't play at the level of other promising new Italian progrock bands like Il Bacio Delle Medusa and Pandora, this is an exciting CD to check out for the Heavy Prog and Prog Metal fans. And progheads who don't have a problem with harder-edged progrock. Additional: in 2015 VIII Strada released their second effort entitled Babylon.

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Metalusion by DROVER, GLEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.00 | 2 ratings

BUY
Metalusion
Glen Drover Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Glen Drover is an excellent guitarist responsable for some top notch performance in bands such as power metal Eidolon , famouses King Diamond, Megadeth or Testament. After departed from Megadeth in 2008 he decided to go solo and the debut will appear in 2011 named Metalusion. Well, this is kick ass instrumental prog metal/jazz fusion release with plenty of memorable parts and top notch performance from the musicians. The line up is big, here we have Jim Gilmour on keyboards from Saga fame, a great drumer Chris Sutherland , plus some well known guests such as Vinnie Moore, his ex Megadeth mate Chris Poland, Fredrik 'kesson from Opeth and few more. Drover is very acomplished guitar player, here he manage to go with an amazing ease from prog metal to jazz fusion and often combine those two style very eficient. Also there are 5 cover versions from his fav musicins Al DiMeola with Egyptian Danza, Jean Luc Ponty - Don't Let The World Pass You By and Mirage, and Frank Zappa - The Purple Lagoon and Filthy Habits , all very well performed in this context. The rest of the pieces are also excellent like opening Ground zero and Frozen dream, superb performed with nice catchy guitars and elaborated keybords from Jim GIlmore from Saga. All in all a very worthy album in prog metal/jazz fusion field, very low rated here, really underrated. I was very pleasent surprised , 3.5 stars easy.
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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
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ABSOLACE United Arab Emirates
ABSTRAKT Poland
ABYDOS Germany
ACCOMPLICE United States
ACHING BEAUTY France
ACID RAIN Argentina
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ACUTE MIND Poland
AD ASTRA United States
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AEBSENCE Hungary
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ALCHEMY X United States
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ALEVAS Japan
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ALKEMYST France
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ALTERED SYMMETRY Colombia
ALTONA Turkey
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ALY Mexico
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AMERICAN HOLLOW United States
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ANAXES Brazil
ANCIENT CREATION United States
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ARITY United States
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ATHEM United States
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AXIAL LEAD Romania
AXIOM United States
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