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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

4.30 | 2478 ratings
IMAGES AND WORDS
Dream Theater
4.29 | 2540 ratings
METROPOLIS PART 2: SCENES FROM A MEMORY
Dream Theater
4.26 | 1424 ratings
SECOND LIFE SYNDROME
Riverside
4.23 | 1049 ratings
THE PERFECT ELEMENT PART 1
Pain Of Salvation
4.23 | 965 ratings
REMEDY LANE
Pain Of Salvation
4.21 | 920 ratings
OPERATION: MINDCRIME
Queensr che
4.19 | 1105 ratings
ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION
Riverside
4.19 | 977 ratings
OUT OF MYSELF
Riverside
4.18 | 1015 ratings
THE HUMAN EQUATION
Ayreon
4.14 | 1713 ratings
SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE
Dream Theater
4.19 | 330 ratings
THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS
Sieges Even
4.20 | 265 ratings
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Redemption
4.15 | 615 ratings
V: THE NEW MYTHOLOGY SUITE
Symphony X
4.12 | 1816 ratings
AWAKE
Dream Theater
4.13 | 754 ratings
BE
Pain Of Salvation
4.12 | 620 ratings
INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE
Ayreon
4.14 | 339 ratings
PERFECT SYMMETRY
Fates Warning
4.13 | 389 ratings
ROOM V
Shadow Gallery
4.17 | 211 ratings
INTO THE EVERFLOW
Psychotic Waltz
4.13 | 323 ratings
A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY
Fates Warning
4.16 | 225 ratings
A SOCIAL GRACE
Psychotic Waltz
4.11 | 495 ratings
THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY
Symphony X
4.16 | 208 ratings
TEMPLE OF SHADOWS
Angra
4.13 | 314 ratings
PARALLELS
Fates Warning
4.23 | 123 ratings
PARADOX
Royal Hunt
4.16 | 187 ratings
STREETS - A ROCK OPERA
Savatage
4.18 | 151 ratings
MERCY FALLS
Seventh Wonder
4.12 | 276 ratings
THE BLACK HALO
Kamelot
4.09 | 501 ratings
LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT 2
Liquid Tension Experiment
4.07 | 858 ratings
SHRINE OF NEW GENERATION SLAVES
Riverside
4.25 | 98 ratings
THE TOWERS OF AVARICE
Zero Hour
4.09 | 457 ratings
ENTROPIA
Pain Of Salvation
4.07 | 483 ratings
LOVE, FEAR AND THE TIME MACHINE
Riverside
4.06 | 509 ratings
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Ayreon
4.25 | 80 ratings
RITUAL
Shaman / Shaaman
4.14 | 158 ratings
THELI
Therion
4.08 | 305 ratings
DISCONNECTED
Fates Warning
4.08 | 266 ratings
SYMPATHETIC RESONANCE
Arch / Matheos
4.08 | 242 ratings
CRITICAL MASS
Threshold
4.10 | 182 ratings
A GENTLEMAN'S HURRICANE
Mind's Eye
4.05 | 271 ratings
TYRANNY
Shadow Gallery
4.10 | 146 ratings
VOVIN
Therion
4.06 | 223 ratings
THE GREAT ESCAPE
Seventh Wonder
4.08 | 175 ratings
THE ORIGINS OF RUIN
Redemption
4.09 | 146 ratings
HARVEST MOON
Votum
4.10 | 129 ratings
JEREMIAS - FORESHADOW OF FORGOTTEN REALMS
Circle of Illusion
4.22 | 66 ratings
GRITAR╔
Matraz
4.09 | 142 ratings
CELESTIAL ENTRANCE
Pagan's Mind
4.04 | 233 ratings
NIGHTFALL IN MIDDLE-EARTH
Blind Guardian
4.10 | 128 ratings
CALLING THE EARTH TO WITNESS
Darkwater
4.06 | 181 ratings
HOLY LAND
Angra
4.01 | 371 ratings
MARCH OF PROGRESS
Threshold
4.02 | 301 ratings
RAGE FOR ORDER
Queensr che
4.03 | 205 ratings
CHRIST 0
Vanden Plas
4.56 | 25 ratings
SONGS FOR INSECTS
Thought Industry
4.03 | 220 ratings
BURN THE SUN
Ark
4.11 | 96 ratings
DELUSIONS
To-Mera
4.05 | 160 ratings
IN SEARCH OF TRUTH
Evergrey
4.19 | 64 ratings
MENTAL TORMENTS
Spheric Universe Experience
4.29 | 43 ratings
JOURNEY OF A ROUGH DIAMOND
Mind Key
4.01 | 227 ratings
TALES OF THE SANDS
Myrath
4.28 | 43 ratings
BILO 3.0
Micic, David Maxim
4.08 | 104 ratings
ABYDOS
Abydos
4.11 | 87 ratings
IN YOUR MULTITUDE
Conception
4.01 | 210 ratings
OCEANBORN
Nightwish
4.18 | 60 ratings
INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Shaolin Death Squad
4.20 | 54 ratings
JUST THE TWO OF US ME AND THEM
Mindflow
4.01 | 176 ratings
QUIET WORLD
Native Construct
3.96 | 428 ratings
ONE HOUR BY THE CONCRETE LAKE
Pain Of Salvation
4.02 | 148 ratings
BEYOND DAYLIGHT
Vanden Plas
4.03 | 132 ratings
EDGE OF THORNS
Savatage
4.09 | 86 ratings
SANCTUS IGNIS
Adagio
4.08 | 89 ratings
SECTION X
Beyond Twilight
4.03 | 133 ratings
A SENSE OF CHANGE
Sieges Even
3.97 | 326 ratings
PROMISED LAND
Queensr che
4.58 | 21 ratings
MODS CARVE THE PIG
Thought Industry
4.01 | 159 ratings
THE TIDE, THE THIEF & RIVER'S END
Caligula's Horse
3.99 | 192 ratings
UTOPIA
Distorted Harmony
4.15 | 57 ratings
MI KUBBESI
Nekropsi
4.32 | 33 ratings
HUMAN (THE FACTS)
Fughu
3.98 | 226 ratings
AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN
Fates Warning
3.94 | 493 ratings
THE ODYSSEY
Symphony X
4.33 | 32 ratings
TO DIMENSION LOGIC
Vauxdvihl
4.23 | 41 ratings
GUIDING LIGHTS
Skyharbor
4.00 | 147 ratings
GUTTER BALLET
Savatage
4.12 | 61 ratings
COSMOGENESIS
Gru
3.96 | 235 ratings
HYPOTHETICAL
Threshold
4.02 | 110 ratings
UNDERWORLD
Adagio
4.00 | 133 ratings
TRANSCENDENCE
Crimson Glory
3.98 | 164 ratings
VOICE IN THE LIGHT
Amaran's Plight
3.96 | 214 ratings
SYNTHETIC
Hemina
4.00 | 127 ratings
FIVE DEADLY VENOMS
Shaolin Death Squad
3.97 | 169 ratings
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
Blind Guardian
3.98 | 141 ratings
FOR THE LOVE OF ART AND THE MAKING
Beyond Twilight
3.98 | 142 ratings
HARVEST AORTA
Ephemeral Sun
3.94 | 218 ratings
SUBSURFACE
Threshold
4.32 | 27 ratings
REACHING PLACES HIGH ABOVE
Persona Grata
4.10 | 54 ratings
5TH SEASON
Dreamscape
3.95 | 159 ratings
SING-ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED & DELIRIOUS
Diablo Swing Orchestra
3.97 | 127 ratings
EXILE
To-Mera

Progressive Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

THE GOD THING
Vanden Plas
INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Shaolin Death Squad
THE BUTCHER'S BALLROOM
Diablo Swing Orchestra
LA VOZ DE LOS BOSQUES
Viuda Negra

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Latest Progressive Metal Music Reviews


 Ron Thal/Hermit by BUMBLEFOOT album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.44 | 7 ratings

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Ron Thal/Hermit
Bumblefoot Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It's well worth reading the bio here for BUMBLEFOOT or on the RYM site just to see the accomplishments of multi- instrumentalist Ron Thal the man behind this project. He is one special and talented human being I'll say that, and he's known as being a very innovative guitarist. And I didn't know how much influence he had on "Chinese Democracy" by GUNS AND ROSES, a band he would be a part of at that point in time. "Hermit" is Ron's second studio album from 1997 and he's got lots more help than he had on the debut and it certainly was a smart move on his part. His brother Jeff is on board here and he is an excellent drummer plus we get some cello and sax. The music is like a trip back to the nineties for me with that Grunge, Alternative style standing out more than anything else although there's lots of variety and plenty of humour.

"Zero" is the 2 minute opener with beautiful, melodic guitar and cello. Some faint spoken words after a minute and the cello is more prominent late. "Hermit" is catchy with drums, guitar, vocals and cello. It reminds me of 90's Alternative and the vocals seem mixed a little low for some reason but this is a great track. Nice guitar solo after 3 minutes then cello and classical-like guitar ends it. "Fatback" is a top four track for me. It's heavy with vocals and I really dig the vocals. "Freak" is my favourite song on here. Guitar and a heavy sound to start as these BEASTIE BOYS-like vocals shout the lyrics. Kicking ass! Head-banging time and check out the ripping guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. "Sweetmeat" is more stripped down with almost spoken vocals, drums and guitar. It's heavier a minute in as contrasts continue. An interesting guitar solo after 3 minutes as well. "I Can't Play The Blues" is humerous with fast paced almost spoken vocals like he's rapping almost. Some crazy guitar solos too and this is really catchy.

"Gray" has these experimental sounds that pulse before the drums and guitar take over with vocals not far behind really reminding me of NIRVANA. The vocals and sound turn more powerful as these contrasts continue. Check out the screaming guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. "Unsound" is another top four and it opens with strummed guitar as another guitar solos over top. Smooth multi-vocals join in after 1 1/2 minutes and it kicks in hard about a minute later as contrasts continue. "Goodbye" is my final top four. This is powerful as the vocals join in. What a guitar solo starting after 2 minutes. Killer! "Rowboat" is complex and fast paced as the vocals come in shouting but they settle down before a minute as it does instrumentally as well. Again contrasts continue. It's an okay song but extreme and all over the place at times. "Hangup" has a nasty guitar intro before turning jazzy, almost loungey after a minute. This is one crazy tune. "Every Time I Shake My Head(It's Like Christmas)" would make a great Christmas song to listen to every year. It's funny and quite jazzy with sappy vocals until it turns heavy around 2 minutes but it's back to the silliness late.

Easily 4 stars but a little too much like Grunge and a little too mainstream at times for my tastes. Too familiar I suppose but man this is entertaining.

 The Perfect Element Part 1 by PAIN OF SALVATION album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.23 | 1049 ratings

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The Perfect Element Part 1
Pain Of Salvation Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead

5 stars Review N║ 72

Pain Of Salvation is really a great progressive band in the true meaning of the word. Their sound is characterized by powerful guitar work, great lyrics with strong vocals and their music changes very often between abrupt musical passages, calm and heavy parts. Other main feature of the band is the intense musical experimentation from album to album. Another trademark of the group is that each album is a concept album. The themes addressed in the band's musical works change from album to album and ranging from sex, war, family, religion and environment.

This is my third review of a Pain Of Salvation's album. My two previous reviews were about their debut live album '12:05' released in 2004 and their fourth studio album 'Remedy Lane' released in 2002. The line up of the band on 'The Perfect Element Part 1' is the same of the other two previous albums. So, the line up on it is, Daniel Gildenl'w (lead vocals and guitar), Johan Hallgreen (backing vocals and guitar), Fredrik Hermansson (keyboards, Steinway piano and samples), Kristoffer Gildenl'w (backing vocals and bass) and Johan Langell (backing vocals and drums).

'The Perfect Element Part 1' is the third studio album of the band and was released in 2000. As I wrote before and as usual on the band, this is another concept album of the group, this time focused on the forming of the individual personality, particularly on the events that marked our childhood and adolescence and that will shape our personality forever, making us what we are today. The subject is a bit more focused on the social and educational aspects of the forming of the individual person from the adolescence to the adulthood.

'The Perfect Element Part 1' explores many themes within its context. It includes some and very different aspects such as child abuse (sexual and physical), sexuality, tragedy, drug abuse, love, pain, anger, loss (of live and innocence, among other things), shame, regret, despair and inner struggles. All these themes are dealt as a story that explores the live of two fictional persons, one male and one female (known in the lyrics as He and She), which are two broken and dysfunctional persons.

As Daniel Gildenlow explains, 'The Perfect Element Part 1' shouldn't be seen as an autobiography or a true story of the band's elements, despite some parts of the concept and its emotions are clearly influenced by own their lives, but some others parts are there, because they only want to emphasize them. 'The Perfect Element Part 1' is the first part of two planned musical conceptual pieces of music around the childhood and adolescence. Their second part was released in 2007, as their sixth studio album, not under the name of 'The Perfect Element Part 2', but under the title 'Scarsick', which will be the object of my next review of this band, here on Progarchives.

'The Perfect Element Part 1' has twelve tracks and they are all divided into three chapters. The first, the second, the third and the fourth tracks 'Used', 'In The Flesh', 'Ashes' and 'Morning On Earth' respectively, make part of Chapter I: 'As These Two Desolate Worlds Collide'. The fifth, the sixth, the seventh and the eighth tracks 'Idioglossia', 'Her Voices', 'Dedication' and 'King Of Loss' respectively, make part of Chapter II: 'It All Catches Up On You When You Slow Down'. The ninth, the tenth, the eleventh and the twelfth tracks 'Reconciliation', 'Song For The Innocent', 'Falling' and 'The Perfect Element' respectively, make part of Chapter III: 'Far Beyond The Point Of No Return'.

The artwork, concept, lyrics, music and arrangements of the album were made by Daniel Gildenlow except the first half of 'Her Voices' which was made by Daniel Gildenlow and Hermansson, and the 'Once' part, in the middle of the last track 'The Perfect Element', which was made by Daniel Gildenlow and Langell. The string arrangements were made by Daniel Gildenlow and Hermansson.

Conclusion: 'The Perfect Element Part 1' is a superior Pain Of Salvation's studio album, as is usual with all Pain Of Salvation's albums, and it brought originality and diversity to this musical genre, by one of the greatest and most important progressive metal bands from the second generation of this sub-genre. All the songs are absolutely incredible, and even thought that this is a concept album, you can listen to any song as you want and still get the same effect on you, without having to listen to it in its strictly order. As with all Pain Of Salvation albums, I recommend reading the lyrics while you listening to it. It makes your musical experience much deeper. This is really a perfect album. 'The Perfect Element Part 1' is, in my humble opinion, an album at the same quality level of their next studio album 'Remedy Lane'. For me, the only difference between these two albums is strictly a question of personal taste. In my case, it makes that my personal preference goes to 'Remedy Lane'. But as I said before, it's only a matter of taste.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Damn The Machine by DAMN THE MACHINE album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.43 | 8 ratings

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Damn The Machine
Damn The Machine Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars really

Damn the machine is an american prog metal band formed by ex Megadeth member Chris Poland in 1991. Only one album saw the light in 1993 self titled and then they disbanded a couple of years later going under the radar of prog listners. This album is pretty great, imagine something between Fates Warning same era with some hints of Queensryche , the arrangements has that typical american feel all over. Pieces are shot, all are under 6 min, but to my ears are good for sure, Chris Poland really know to handle the instrumen and has some good guitr parts specially on first half of the album. Dave Clemmons has an ok voice for this type of music and I like it here. "The Mission" and "Fall Of Order" are solid tunes, I think this album worth a far more recognition from prog metal fans, even is far from excellent, but is still a damn fine album old school type of prog metal. Chris Poland will join jazz fusion band Ohm: later on and done a great job there. 3 solid stars rounded to 3.5 for this unknown prog metal album.

 Streets - A Rock Opera by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.16 | 187 ratings

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Streets - A Rock Opera
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Streets: A Rock Opera" is the 6th full-length studio album by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in October 1991. There's been one lineup change since the release of "Gutter Ballet (1989)" as second guitarist Chris Caffery has left, making Savatage a four-piece again. "Streets: A Rock Opera" is a concept album telling the story of troubled rock star DT Jesus. The story is based on a play (titled "Gutter Ballet") that producer Paul O'Neill had written in 1979 and which he had originally intended for a Broadway musical. It remained in a drawer in his house until Criss Oliva found it, and the band picked it up and turned it into "Streets: A Rock Opera".

"Streets: A Rock Opera" sees Savatage developing their style once again. "Gutter Ballet (1989)" saw them incorporating elements from musicals, orchestration, and just a generally more sophisticated and detailed songwriting approach than before. That musical direction is continued and further developed on "Streets: A Rock Opera". The basis in the music is still heavy/power metal with the rare nod towards progressive metal. The progressive tendencies are more due to the overall concept of the release, than due to the compositions themselves, which are predominantly vers/chorus structured. Savatage challenge conventional songwriting here more than ever though and at times the tracks are relatively adventurous, although you won't be exposed to long instrumental parts or other progressive metal traits. Keyboards/piano play a more dominant role on this album than on any Savatage release before it, but they rarely function as a lead instrument. They are rather used for atmosphere, orchestration, and harmonization.

Musically "Streets: A Rock Opera" was the most diverse Savatage release up until then. It's a highly dynamic release featuring both heavy/power metal tunes like "Jesus Saves" and "Agony And Ecstasy", heavy mid-paced epic tracks like "Streets" and "Ghost In The Ruins", up-tempo energetic rockers like "Sammy And Tex" (that swing rhythm is infectiously catchy) and "Strange Reality", epic power ballads like "Tonight He Grins Again" and "If I Go Away", and shorter ballad type tracks like "You're Alive" and "Heal My Soul". All musical styles and songs are placed strategically on the tracklist to make most impact along with the concept story.

"Streets: A Rock Opera" is a well produced album, featuring a powerful, detailed, and clear sound production, which suits the music perfectly. The musicianship is as always on a high level. The rhythm section of drummer Steve Wacholz and bassist Johnny Lee Middleton are a hard pounding machine, who drives the music forward with great energy and passion, while guitarist Criss Oliva plays one great catchy riff after another and also delivers blistering solo work. Lead vocalist Jon Oliva sings with both his commanding rusty voice and in a more sensitive fashion, but always with a great melodic sensibility. His performance here is both varied and very well executed.

So upon conclusion it's safe to say that "Streets: A Rock Opera" is a very impressive high quality release. The concept isn't the most original as artists like The Who and Pink Floyd (just to mention a few) have done similar things in the past, but it still works reasonably well, as Savatage skillfully combine music and lyrics into a great whole. Even with 16 tracks and a full playing time of 68:33 minutes, the album never feels long and there's nothing on the album which feels unnecessary or doesn't live up to the high quality of the rest of the material. This is through and through a well thought out, well executed, and well produced album. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.58 | 421 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "The Astonishing" is the 13th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in January 2016. It┤s the successor to the self-titled album from 2013. "The Astonishing" is a double album release, featuring no less than 34 tracks and a full playing time of 2 hours and 20 minutes of music. It┤s a concept album telling a dystopian sci-fi tale. Bearing that information in mind, "The Astonishing" is arguably Dream Theater┤s most ambitious release up until now, and we are dealing with an artist who has already released the 57:33 minutes long EP "A Change of Seasons (1995)" (featuring the 23:09 minutes long title track), and of course the double album release "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002)" (featuring the 42:02 minutes long title track) among other ambitious projects. In that respect Dream Theater is today what an artist like Yes was in the 70s. Always pushing progressive rock/metal forward. There is a risk that in doing so you sometimes slip and fall or maybe become a bit overblown (which is what many fans and critics felt when Yes released "Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973)", without further comparisons to this project), and I┤m afraid that┤s the trap Dream Theater step into on "The Astonishing".

Stylistically the music on "The Astonishing" is unmistakably the sound of Dream Theater. It┤s progressive rock/metal with challenging rhythmic playing, adventurous keyboards, virtuoso guitar playing, and James LaBrie┤s distinct sounding voice in front. The album is generally a bit more song oriented and not quite as technical as we┤re used to from the band, although there are still some very complex sections to be found on the album. The overall feeling after listening to the album is that of a musical or a rock opera though, which is something new in their discography. "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999)" was a concept album too, but it never felt like a rock opera/musical style album. Any minute while listening to "The Astonishing" I┤m expecting other singers to join in and play/sing the supporting roles of the concept, but it┤s only LaBrie singing, which is a bit of a shame when they opted to go down the rock opera/musical road, but LaBrie of course still does a great and professional job.

As far as concepts go, the story is overall rather predictable and the lyric lines are often clichÚ filled and quite frankly not very sophisticated or intriguing. The music is relatively dynamic with both heavy parts, epic parts, and more ballad type mellow parts. The more mellow part of the band┤s sound is more prevailent here than ever before, and it becomes a bit tiresome after a while, because most of the more mellow tracks are very simple and not that memorable. In fact that ┤s an issue throughout the album. The melodies either sound like a rehash of ideas from previous releases or they are forgettable and with such a long release the least you could ask is catchy melodies. You don┤t really get that here.

It┤s not all bad of course, and we┤re as usual exposed to brilliant musicianship (as usual though it┤s almost impossible to hear John Myung┤s bass in the mix), a professional sound production, and professional songwriting too (although it┤s not that interesting, it┤s still obviously written by professionals). That┤s why I don┤t label "The Astonishing" a complete disaster, because obviously it┤s a very bold attempt at doing something different, and I greatly respect that. I┤m just pretty sure that if they had collected all the good ideas featured on the album and made a 45 minutes long album out of those ideas, instead of diluting them with filler material to push the playing time a good way past the 2 hour mark, this could have been a better quality release. I won┤t rule out the possibility that others could enjoy this far more than I do, but to my ears it┤s their least interesting release to date. Still, because of the professionalism on display, I think a 3 star (60%) rating isn┤t all wrong. That┤s as objective a rating as you┤ll get.

 Tyranny by SHADOW GALLERY album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.05 | 271 ratings

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Tyranny
Shadow Gallery Progressive Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This is my first taste of Shadow Gallery's highly rated discography. Tyranny fits right in alongside the prog- metal stylings of the late '90's era; however, it does not strike me being anywhere near as close to the masterpiece it's currently scored at. It's not bad, in fact, the album's vibe, instrumental performances, and varied songs are artistically executed. The songwriting is highly competent and involved, but the result doesn't strike me as strongly as many other prog-metal groups out there. It's good, but not great or even that memorable.

Overall the band plays well. They're very tight and the production is crisp. Soloing is fair, regrettably not standing out among the various interweaving riffing and synthesizer textures. For a band that plays as fast and with as much complexity as Shadow Gallery, there aren't moments that make your hair stand up with excitement. This is probably my biggest issue with the album; the songs aren't memorable, and the instrumentalists rarely grab my attention, even though I can tell they're talented. Maybe this is a failing of the songwriting? Compare this to Metropolis II: Scenes From a Memory, which was released only a year later, and Tyranny's complexity and moments of frenzied riffing seem even more underwhelming. Again, they aren't bad, just sort of bland.

Let's talk for a minute about vocals. Baker gets credited as lead vocalist, and he's passable at best. His high-pitched vocals are typical of the era, in fact, they even have a strong '80's feel. His range is poor, phrasing tedious, but inflection strong and there's actually some emotion behind his singing. I don't care for his voice, but that's totally subjective; he's not for me. What's definitely not for me is this album's awful lyrics. Yes, I said awful. They're overly direct, unevocative, without rhyme, devoid of memorable choruses, trite, and pretentious. And there's so, so many of them. There's simply way too much singing on this album, and because all of the lead duties are handled by Baker... that's a problem. Some reviewers have commented about how Tyranny is thematically similar to Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime, which is totally understandable. The themes about technology and the internet feel very anachronistic and campy at this point, which is fine; what do not, are the songs about the second coming of Christ. Those lyrics just fall flat, but then again I'm bias in that regard. Again, not enough here to make me want to listen again.

One thing that Tyranny does have going for it is its variety. The first half is mostly fast-paced rocking that may appeal to more straight-ahead metal fans. Throughout we're given transitional songs that play like lush power ballads, pulling at the narrative's emotional heartstrings. The second half experiments more, with songs like "New World Order" and the exciting instrumental "Chased" standing out as highlights. In the end though I suffered from fatigue after the album's bloated 73 minute running time.

I didn't hate Tyranny, not by a long shot, I just didn't care about what it was accomplishing. To me, that says that it's one for prog-metal diehards or fans of the group (probably one and the same).

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 1 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

 Twilight In Olympus by SYMPHONY X album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.75 | 300 ratings

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Twilight In Olympus
Symphony X Progressive Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars First, a little bit of context. This is the first review of this album on the archives in close to 5 years; moreover, just as much time has transpired since the release of the band's mega-epic Iconoclast (to which I gave an enthusiastic 5-star review). So there's bound to be a bit of revisionist bias in my feelings, but I'm trying to my best to be objective. With that said...

Twilight in Olympus is a lot of fun. It follows the prog-metal template of the times, thematically and sonically, but is played very well and leaves very little to be critical about. Symphony X is a crazy talented group of musicians, and their take on that prog-metal template is sophisticated. This is not an "every thing and the kitchen sink" metal experience; neither is it a overly thoughtful work of art. Its blend of melodies and metal and nuance sort of sifts its way perfectly into the "good but not essential" rating. It does everything good, but nothing great.

For fans of the band, Twilight in Olympus sounds very much like a slightly more metal take on the same sort of scope we heard in Divine Wings of Tragedy. The band is still growing, still flexing their muscles, and it shows mostly in their song writing, which isn't as sticky as later albums.

For newcomers, Twilight in Olympus is a blend of outstanding metal riffing and faux-symphonic stylings. Symphony X sounds more grandiose in scope than that "other" prog-metal group whose heyday was during the late '90's/early 2000's, thanks mostly to their fantastic lyrics and use of keyboards. Pinnella is a fine player, no doubt; his keys come across as less busy as other prog-metal groups though, in the sense that he's mostly filling space or textures as opposed to jumping into the foreground soloing. He also selects a palette of sounds synthesizing reconnaissance-era organs or harpsichords or whatever (at least that's my take; I'm not a historian of keyed instruments!). This gives the album more of a neo-prog feel. Depending on your outlook, that's pretty cool! You've got crazy metal chugging and bass lines sitting alongside tinkling or symphonic keyboards. Again, I'm sort of middle of the road on this. It works, but doesn't connect with me as much as we'll hear on later works.

In the end, Twilight in Olympus is a perfect example of a 3-star release. Get it and you won't be disappointed, but you probably won't place it at the top of your prog-metal playlist. Great stuff for those having experienced the band's later works, or who like Symphony X's voice, but not the heavier style of those later works.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 Spiral of Fear by POVERTY'S NO CRIME album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.41 | 8 ratings

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Spiral of Fear
Poverty's No Crime Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Here's an underappreciated band I didn't expect to hear from again! 9 years have passed since their last album. Well, they're back. Poverty's No Crime sits on the borderlines of power metal, hard rock and adult-oriented rock, an adult-oriented metal if you will. Spiral of Fear continues Save My Soul's heavier and darker sound, so it is more in line with the predominant style of their prog metal peers such as Vanden Plas or Threshold, but overall, this is Poverty's No Crime by the numbers - crunchy riffs and sing-along choruses mixed with introspective atmospherics. For every song there could be found a parallel from their earlier works - the cool sci-fi instrumental The Fifth Element, of example, is a direct cousin of (an even cooler) Terminal Trip off their best, Chemical Chaos album. Though I could wish for greater variation in sound like their earlier albums, I'm glad they're back.
 The Art Of Loss by REDEMPTION album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.82 | 49 ratings

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The Art Of Loss
Redemption Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

4 stars Redemption plays prog metal that is bombastic and emotionally intense. Like Dream Theater without the quirks or stylistic detours of the more adventurous prog metal bands, though they are not beneath pop sensibilities. Redemption's about crunchy riffs, cheesy synths, sing-along choruses and the manly voice of Ray Alder, which distinguishes them among similar bands but with high-pitched vocalists. As the themes of their albums mainly revolve around human psychology, I'd say this is about 90 percent tension and 10 percent release. At Redemption's longest, the 70-minute plus of this stuff may seem a bit overwhelming and monotonous, so the guys spice things up with gazillions of shredding, courtesy of the bandwagon of guest guitarists. In short, Redemption doesn't break new ground, but the Art of Loss is better than This Mortal Coil and is one of their most enjoyable releases.
 Havoc by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.09 | 27 ratings

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Havoc
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Circus Maximus continue to evolve, from indulging the glossier aspects of Dream Theater prog metal sound to catering to the more popular sounds of today. On this, modern metal starts to creep into their musical palette with its deep bass grooves and stop-start riffs, and at the same time, more of the melancholic-yet-anthemic power pop that makes them sound sometimes as a heavier version of Coldplay. But unlike, say, their fellow Norwegians Leprous, the glories of old are not forgotten, as the catchy vocals and flashy solos are still prominently featured. Kind of like Architect of Fortune on their last album, they start off with The Weight that combines all of their influences into a neat 6-minute whole, while later going on to explore them in more detail. This would probably be oriented towards the more youthful demographic of prog metal fans.
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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
ABSTRAKT Poland
ABYDOS Germany
ACCOMPLICE United States
ACHING BEAUTY France
ACID RAIN Argentina
ACID RAIN Serbia
ACID RAIN Spain
ACUTE MIND Poland
AD ASTRA United States
ADAGIO France
ADRAMELCH Italy
AEBSENCE Hungary
AEOLUS Netherlands
AEON ZEN United Kingdom
AETHERIUS United States
AFFECTOR Multi-National
AFTER FOREVER Netherlands
AGE OF NEMESIS Hungary
AGHARTA Netherlands
AGNOSIA Greece
AGNOST DEI Russia
AGORA Mexico
AINA Netherlands
AKASHIC Brazil
AKRIBI Sweden
ALCHEMY ROOM Italy
ALCHEMY X United States
ALETHEIAN United States
ALHMA MATER Spain
ALITHEIA United States
ALKEMYST France
ALKIMYA France
ALL TOO HUMAN United States
ALOGIA Serbia
ALPHA GALATES Canada
ALPHA ZENTRADI United States
ALTERED SYMMETRY Colombia
ALTONA Turkey
ALTURA United States
ALY Mexico
AMARAN'S PLIGHT United States
AMARYLLIS Poland
AMASEFFER Israel
AMAZE KNIGHT Italy
AMERICAN HOLLOW United States
ANACHRONOS Chile
ANACRUSIS United States
ANASAZI France
ANAXES Brazil
ANCIENT CREATION United States
ANCIENT CURSE Germany
ANDRAGONIA Brazil
ANDROMEDA Sweden
ANGRA Brazil
ANGUISH Germany
ANIMA TEMPO Mexico
ANIMATIONS Poland
ANNON VIN Germany
ANOMALY Netherlands
ANOTHER LIFE Sweden
ANSATA Brazil
ANTALGIA Spain
ANTHRIEL Finland
ANTHROPIA France
ANUBIS GATE Denmark
ANURYZM United Arab Emirates
ANVISION Poland
FARAZ ANWAR Pakistan
APHELION Italy
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ARABESQUE Netherlands
ARASHK Iran
ARCH / MATHEOS United States
JOHN ARCH United States
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ALEX ARGENTO Italy
ARITY United States
ARK Norway
ARKHE' Italy
ART OF ILLUSION Poland
ART OF SIMPLICITY Greece
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ASHENT Italy
ASHLER Ecuador
ASMODEUS Czech Republic
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ATAR─XIA Spain
ATHEM United States
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AUSPEX France
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AVALON Germany
AMADEUS AWAD'S EON Lebanon
AWAX France
AXIAL LEAD Romania
AXIOM United States
SITHU AYE United Kingdom
AYREON Netherlands
AZAZELLO Russia
AZTEC JADE United States
AZURE AGONY Italy
BAD SALAD Brazil
AGAH BAHARI Iran
BALANCE OF POWER United Kingdom
THE BARSTOOL PHILOSOPHERS Netherlands
DANIEL BAUTISTA Spain
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