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Prog Related definition

No musical genre exists in a vacuum. Not all of the bands that have been a part of the history and development of progressive rock are necessarily progressive rock bands themselves. This is why progarchives has included a genre called prog-related, so we could include all the bands that complete the history of progressive rock, whether or not they were considered full-fledged progressive rock bands themselves.

There are many criteria that the prog-related evaluation team considers when deciding which bands are considered prog-related. Very few bands will meet all of this criteria, but this list will give an idea as to some of the things that help evaluate whether an artists is prog-related or not.

1) Influence on progressive rock - The groundbreaking work of artists like Led Zepplin and David Bowie affected many genres of rock, including at times progressive rock. Although both of these artists created rock music in a dizzying array of genres, both contributed to the ongoing history of progressive rock several times within the span of their careers.

2) Location - Progressive rock did not develop at the same time all over the world. It may surprise some people that as late as the mid-70s the US had very few original progressive rock bands that did not sound like exact copies of British bands. Journey was one of the first US bands to present a uniquely American brand of prog-rock before they eventually became a mainstream rock band. We have collaborators from all over the world who tell us which bands helped the progressive rock scene develop in their corner of the globe, even if those bands were like Journey and were known more for being mainstream rock bands.

3) Members of important progressive rock bands - Although most of the recorded solo output of artists like Greg Lake and David Gilmour falls more in a mainstream rock style, their contributions to progressive rock in their respective bands insures them a place in our prog-related genre.

4) Timeliness - Like many genres, prog-rock has had its ups and downs. In the late 70s and early 80s prog-rock was barely a blip on the radar. During this time artists such as David Bowie and Metallica released albums that captured key elements of the spirit of prog rock and did so while contributing their own original modern elements to the mix.

5) Integral part of the prog-rock scene - Sometimes you just had to be a part of the scene during a certain time period to understand how some bands fit with the prog rock scene of their time. Although Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Wishbone Ash may seem like mere hard rock bands, in their time they stood apart from other hard rockers with their more serious lyrical content and more developed compositions. Put simply, in the early 70s every prog-rock record collector usually had full collections of all three of these artists. These three bands were very much part of the prog-rock scene without being total prog-rock bands them selves.

6) Influenced by progressive rock - From the late 60s till about 1976 the progressive tendency was in full effect in almost all genres of music. Once again, as we enter the second decade of the 21st century a melting pot of prog-metal, math-rock, progressive electronics and post-rock influences have once again made a progressive tendency in rock music almost more a norm than a difference. Yet in other periods of musical history receiving influence from progressive rock could really set a band apart and make them worthy of our prog-related category.
Being influenced by progressive rock is hardly the only factor we look at, and in some periods of musical history it is almost meaningless, but still, it is almost a given that most of the artists listed in prog-related were influenced by the development of progressive rock.

7) Common sense - Nitpicking over the above listed criteria is not necessarily the correct way to evaluate a band for prog-related. Sometimes you just have to use some common sense and look at the big picture.
A very good way to describe prog-related would be to imagine an exhaustive book that covered the history of progressive rock. Would such a book include references to led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven', David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold the World' or Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'? Probably so.
- Easy Money

Prog Related Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Prog Related | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.39 | 1067 ratings
Led Zeppelin
4.52 | 296 ratings
Bowie, David
4.36 | 753 ratings
4.30 | 903 ratings
Black Sabbath
4.29 | 878 ratings
4.22 | 817 ratings
Black Sabbath
4.23 | 625 ratings
Wishbone Ash
4.21 | 741 ratings
Iron Maiden
4.22 | 613 ratings
Bowie, David
4.19 | 476 ratings
4.17 | 456 ratings
Bowie, David
4.13 | 700 ratings
Iron Maiden
4.12 | 687 ratings
4.11 | 712 ratings
Black Sabbath
4.15 | 314 ratings
Bowie, David
4.08 | 564 ratings
4.06 | 807 ratings
Led Zeppelin
4.06 | 708 ratings
Black Sabbath
4.16 | 237 ratings
Blue Öyster Cult
4.03 | 880 ratings
Led Zeppelin

Latest Prog Related Music Reviews

 XV by KING'S X album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.44 | 45 ratings

King's X Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Born from the ashes of the Christian rock group "Petra", King's X was the response from the breakup of one of the band members coming out of the closet. Suddenly, that well loved Christian band didn't want to back up their band anymore. A shame really, Petra was a decent enough band and actually had more progressive leanings than King's X ever would. However, as proven once again in this album "XV", their rock would become harder and somewhat darker.

"XV" is named for the fact that, counting their live releases, this was their 15th official release. As for myself, I am not real familiar with this band, but I was curious how the band would sound considering their legacy. It's a shame that Dug was judged the way he was by a group of people that are told not to judge others. But he would go on making music, which was his love. The music on this album is well produced, but there is not much here (if anything at all) that is progressive. It is hard edged rock, straightforward and based on blues, and it is also made up of some softer ballads. Some of the lyrics are corny, as on "Rocket Ship", "Broke", and "Blue", but there are some first rate rock music here too. They shine the most on the harder edged songs, but even some of those are kind of "washed-out". They do have some harmonies that are nice and reminiscent of "Galactic Cowboys" as in the song "Stuck" which also has a great, but short, guitar solo.

The vocalists are pretty good, they are a fresh difference from most hard, edged bands, but there are times when they suffer too. I am disappointed somewhat that this band has been around for as long as they have, but not much has changed or progressed from their earlier days. Their are some great guitar hooks, but all the songs are short and don't really have a chance to develop much. Choruses are often repetitive and they sound like they were trying to find the right song to be an anthem, but they haven't been able to come up with anything that can be considered a hit, or showstopper. That is another problem, nothing here or really anywhere in their discography stands out. By the time you get to the middle of the album, you are starting to think things sound the same.

So, overall, this is a good album, but not as far as prog terms go. It's pretty standard rock that tries really hard, but doesn't accomplish anything that makes the band stand out. There will be a lot of rockers that would love this, but it's not "different" enough for my liking. 3 stars.

 Passion And Warfare by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.58 | 137 ratings

Passion And Warfare
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars From rousing arena rocking, to jam-centric shredding, to down-tempo power-balladry, to more shredding mixed with manic guitar effects ... to probably more weird combinations I can't think of right now, Steve Vai kills it with this hard rocking instrumental release. Definitely a product inspired by the late '80's pop-metal scene, Passion and Warfare emphasizes short, punchy, accessible songs which form the framework for guitar virtuosity on display throughout.

Bottom-line: this is an incredibly entertaining and exciting album. Will it razzle-dazzle you? Yes! Will it blow you away? Probably not. Vai is playing for the masses here, with most of the songs being easy to consume (assuming you love guitar shredding). Maybe a little bit of David Lee Roth rubbed off on him during this recording ... actually, that sounds gross, forget that. Maybe Vai was inspired while playing to arenas filled with ten thousand people, and found a way to balance his quirky creativity with a more commercially Vaiable (see what I did there?) Vaibe (two puns in a row!!!). If the result is an easily enjoyable bit of hard-rockin' guitar fluff: I'll take it.

Recommended, but maybe not as your first Vai release. Enjoy!

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: NA - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Whalefeathers by WHALEFEATHERS album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.62 | 7 ratings

Whalefeathers Prog Related

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

2 stars This album is a delight but not so much as for the musical content as due to the mean and vicious organ, wreaking havoc on the listener. The sound of the organ is so raw and well played that I fall into a trance. It must be said, I love the Hammond organ. But a flower do not make a summer (or is it a swallow?) and a burger is next to nowt if you are only served a slice of bread. It need more to be a complete meal. Or summer.

Whalefeathers is just another band in a long line of bands that recorded one or a couple of albums in the 60's and 70's before realizing they're not going anywhere or seeing themselves being dumped by the record label. Sometimes you understand why and sometimes it's a bloddy shame. In the case of Whalefeathers it was, maybe, a sound decision by the record company to not wanting them to make a third album. If now that was the case.

It is not a bad album. Really, it isn't. I guess it's just a case of not being particularily great either. 50% of the material on the album is comprised of covers. That is slightly too much. Well, maybe that wouldn't be true if the interpretations hade been more interesting but they sort of aren't. The opening "World of pain", made famous by Cream, is the most interesting of the covers. The organ, as I said, is deliciously frantic and raw and the arrangement is actually quite interesting with some tempo changes. Unfortunately it grinds to a halt when they alter the frantic charge to a slow blues rock section at the end, which, sad to say, is like choking on your burger. It doesn't matter how delicious it was, you lose your appetite a bit.

"I don't need no doctor" is a quite straight forward heavy blues rock and it's great but not really done in a genuinely interesting version. It sounds like any and all of the great blues rock bands of the period. "It's a hard road" is a soulful blues which is alright, as is the percussion heavy "Bastich. The latter is one of the few tracks that sports any real progressive tendencies. "Pretty woman" is yet another bluesy workout. Alright but not progressive in the least.

The final track is the 10 minutes long "Shadows". Aaaah, the organ. Man, that sounds good. It is the only track that is progressive rock in it's true form, although in a proto-prog way. The opening organ leads into a vocal part that is quite gentle, before the whole thing ends in a jamming fashion with a lot of blues in the bottom.

And thus the album has come to a close. It was a pleasant journey but the only lasting impression is the organ. Listen to the album for the organ and crank up the volume if you're having a party. It is a great little party album and it would have been a treat seeing these guys in concert back then, cause I do think they could tear the place apart. The sheer energy and volume on the album suggests a terrific live band. But when all is said and done it's one of those obscure, alright albums that are pleasant to listen to but really provides litte to remember. Sorry, Whalefeathers. I must sail on, to another ocean.

 Master Of Reality by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.06 | 708 ratings

Master Of Reality
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by SonomaComa1999

4 stars REVIEW #11 - "Master of Reality" by Black Sabbath (1971). 07/09/2018

Black Sabbath's first two albums were massively successful commercial hits, with the latter "Paranoid" being considered the greatest heavy metal album of all time in some circles. Over the course of one year the quartet of Ozzy Osborne (vocals), Tony Iommi (lead guitar), Geezer Butler (bass), and Bill Ward (drums) had gone from a local blue-collar rock act out of the West Midlands to the forefront of the burgeoning rock and roll scene alongside Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

1971's "Master of Reality", the band's third studio album, was also its shortest to date, lasting only thirty-five minutes and featuring six songs with two acoustic interludes. However, it would also stand as the band's most commercially successful album for over forty years, eventually being topped by the band's final album "13". This is one of the most influential albums in rock history, especially for heavy metal, alternative rock, and stoner rock; Iommi, who had lost parts of two of his fingers while working in a factory pre-Black Sabbath, had long struggled to find a technique which would allow him to comfortably play his guitar. He eventually was able to reduce the pressure on his fingers by downtuning the strings of his guitar to make them more soft and bendable. The result was an unintended stroke of musical luck as Iommi's guitar tone was now deep and roaring, a range that had only hardly been heard of by the dawn of the seventies. If heavy metal was not birthed by the band's self-titled debut, it had been chiseled out of stone and presented to an audience thirsty for blood.

Butler down-tuned his bass guitar in accordance with Iommi's new sound. The opening track "Sweet Leaf" exposes us to this once-radical maelstrom of noise. Although his simple guitar riffs mesmerized rock fans around the world on "Paranoid", they had a new edge which was unparalleled. Following the sound of the guitarist coughing after taking a draw of a joint, we are introduced to the formal beginning of the stoner rock genre. As the title may indicate, this song describes the bands love for cannabis. Ozzy's voice remains largely unchanged from "Paranoid", and still works very well with the rest of the music. Otherwise, this is a rather typical Sabbath rocker with a memorable riff, powerful lyrics, and a strong guitar solo. The band uses the same formula for the follow-up "After Forever", which is the album's track which discusses religion. One big misconception among the public (especially evangelicals here in the States) is that Black Sabbath was made up of "satanists." This could not be farther from the truth, as all four members of the band are self-proclaimed Christians; main lyricist Geezer Butler is a Catholic and wrote this song as a response to those who had falsely accused the band of worshiping Satan. The lone single off the album, it never matched the success of Sabbath hits such as "Iron Man" or "Paranoid" and consequently has gone under the radar despite being rather underrated. Following this piece, we are treated to a very short Iommi acoustic interlude titled "Embryo." Lasting only half a minute, it serves as a bridge to the classic "Children of the Grave". Considered by Butler to be "the most kick-ass song we ever recorded", it is hard to disagree as the thumping bass rhythm of this song is purely orgasmic. Throttling the bass, Iommi and Butler play alongside each other to create a sheer wall of noise which cannot be matched. While the lyrical themes of this song are not as overt as themes such as "War Pigs" or "Hand of Doom", this is another anti-war song penned by the band. This is one of the most iconic Black Sabbath songs, and is a staple of their live shows. The end of side one features a locked groove which repeats the album title in a whisper on the original LP; while this effect is obviously lost on CD and digital reissues, it is a cute little addition to finish off what is a very powerful first half of the album.

The album's second acoustic piece leads off the second side. Titled "Orchid", it is a minute longer than "Embryo", while still retaining largely the same theme and purpose; to provide a soft entrance into what is a looming and heavy main track. This time we are treated to what I believe is one of Sabbath's most underrated songs in "Lord of this World." Starting off in similar fashion to "Children" this one more prodding and less frantic. I believe the stoner rock band Sleep made a fantastic cover of this song some time in the 1990's; in fact, many of the stoner rock bands have made covers of each song on this album (minus the interludes), owing to the fact that this album was responsible for the birthing of their genre. Given the breadth of the Sabbath catalog, "Lord" often gets passed over, but if you have never heard this piece despite listening to the band on a casual level, I advise you to give this album a quick run-through just for this tune. Sabbath brings forth next a mellow reprieve from the metal, something that would become a recurring theme in the band's early discography, in the form of "Solitude". Similar in style to the much-loved "Planet Caravan" from Paranoid in its psychedelic themes and the fact it is a love ballad, it is nowhere near as popular as its successor, despite finding itself onto an episode of the TV series Supernatural. I did not find any problem with this song, and actually quite enjoyed it among first listen. Sabbath does a pretty good job at track listings, namely in juxtaposing songs so that you are constantly kept on your feet. Finally we reach the grand finale in "Into the Void", another classic heavy metal tune. The band uses apocalyptic and science fiction themes for this one, detailing humanity's exodus from a destroyed Earth and its journey to a new colony on the Sun. I find it funny that songwriters often choose the Sun as the new home of humanity - the title track from Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" album details humanity abandoning Earth for the sun as well - even though Mars or Venus, let alone an Earth-like planet in some distant galaxy, would be a better choice. All scientific gropes aside, this is a very heavy song, and is probably the most fitting track to conclude this very short album. It is also the longest at just over six minutes.

Let me set the record straight, if we were on metalarchives instead of progarchives, "Master of Reality" would get an easy five-stars, maybe somewhere bordering my fabled 100% review. However, this album is by no means progressive except in the sense it furthered the genre of rock in general. While an argument could be made for the band's first two albums to be included in the prog canon, there is simply no route for this one to fit in with the likes of Yes, King Crimson, or Rush. That being said, it is still a wonderful addition to your prog collection, as is the case with any of Black Sabbath's early work. While music critics lambasted "Master of Reality" upon its release, it has long stood the test of time, and now in the 21st century everything about it, from the musical content to the text on the album cover, has been immortalized and honored. Apart from the forgettable interludes, every track on this album is solid, from the much beloved "Children of the Grave" to the underrated "Lord of this World", and everything in between. In fact, even the album's short run time works well in its favor to avoid wearing the listener down. This album gets the highest rating it can get without being five stars, at a four-star (89% - B+) rating here in the prog community. Play this one loud, and under the influence of that "Sweet Leaf"!

 Yerself Is Steam by MERCURY REV album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.24 | 19 ratings

Yerself Is Steam
Mercury Rev Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The first full album by Mercury Rev does not sound anything like what most people think Mercury Rev sounds like. First of all, the lead singer is not the same. Second, the music is completely different, in that it varies from soft noise rock to a full on wall of noise and distortion. The vocals are quite paranoid sounding also, adding to the strangeness of this album. The first three albums are a lot like this in fact, in varying degrees. And even though it is so different from the later sound of the band, I still love it. The timing of the tracks listed on the outer package is incorrectly noted and this, for some reason, was done on purpose, probably to contribute to the uncertainty of everything.

This album is considered to be one of the 50 greatest Shoegaze albums of all time, but it is so different from typical shoegaze music. There is a lot more to this music than just fuzz tones, there is chaos, even in the quiet passages, there are dynamics all through the album, lots of distortion and a feeling of being locked into something you just can't get out of. But even with all that, you want to hear more of it, because it is so different from everything else. Since two of the groups founders are also from "The Flaming Lips", a lot of people compare the two bands. I have heard some of The Flaming Lips albums, but as of yet, I haven't heard anything like this from them, unless maybe it is on their earlier albums. I will have to get better familiar with them if it is anything like this.

This album proves that there is beauty in noise and in chaos. But don't think this is all just a solid mass of noise, because it isn't that either. There are plenty of passages that are quiet, but still unsettling at the same time. The vocals constantly feel like someone just on the edge of sanity, either almost there or just barely tipped over onto the other side. The music matches the vocals too, everything fits together perfectly. Of course, those familiar with the more recent music by the band, know they are usually very mellow, but still very different and still full of emotion. In this debut album, the emotion is there, but it is not typical, as nothing about this is typical. Lyrics are strange, vocals are off kilter, instrumental passages are not typical, and it all fits together amazingly well.

The album name, "Yerself is Steam" is a lyric that keeps popping up on the first track and is a misinterpretation of the phrase "Your Self-Esteem". It is a study of contrasts throughout it's seven minute runtime. Loud and chaotic, soft and dissonant. "Blue and Black" has some deep vocals and remains the same throughout, not loud but definitely not peaceful at all either. "Sweet Oddyssey..." builds until it is taken over by fast paced drums and the guitars that combine to almost give it a gothic feeling, especially towards the last part of it. "Frittering" actually starts out with acoustic guitars and treated vocals that are given a far-away sound. Even here during a quiet moment, there is that sense of unease. At the 2 minute mark, drums kick in and so do the psychedelic sounds of guitars, building a wall of sound, the vocals becoming locked into the entire mix, not standing out, but not completely buried within either. It becomes more dissonant as it continues, then suddenly the wall is dropped and it's just acoustic guitar, but then it builds back again quickly. Guitar forms a melody just barely over the background noise.

"Very Sleepy Rivers" is a 12 minute track about a serial killer that uses a river as an analogy to how his moods can change so quickly from peacefulness to a sudden tendency to "snap". It is mixed at a subdued volume, vocals are again trapped in the mix, and totally psychotic sounding. The lyrics are very creepy but mostly indiscernible and the song is very dark, building in volume and intensity. Vocals also include some howling, but deep in the mix. This goes on a little too long in my opinion, and this works against the entire album unfortunately. This track is more of a shoegaze sound than the rest of the album. On the CD edition, there is also a hidden bonus track called "Car Wash Hair" which was released as a single as a follow up to the album. This is probably the most conventional song on the album, mostly because the vocals are easy to understand and mixed more to the front of everything. There is a nice combination of conventional and unconventional going on in the instrumentals behind the vocals that keeps things very atypical, and not very "single" sounding. When the guitars build their dissonance during the instrumental break, there is nothing conventional about it at all, but some sanity returns for the last verse, but loses control by the time we get to the end.

Not a lot of people will probably like this, especially if you are expecting something like the albums "All Is Dream" or "Snowflake Midnight", but I find that I keep coming back to this and that I actually enjoy it. It took me a few listens to get it, but it stirred my curiosity enough to want to understand it, so I kept listening until I grew to appreciate it. It's not perfect though, there are places where things fade out too quickly and other places where things go on for too long, but overall, I love the feeling of uncertainty, that feeling of going back and forth over the thin line of sanity/insanity. This is very interesting music, and it has a lot of emotion and dynamics, but is just not quite good enough to be considered a masterpiece, and I almost get the feeling that was the intention. Anyway, I consider it an excellent addition to my collection, and suggest that if you like Mercury Rev already, maybe you should venture into their earlier music and see if it suits you also.

 Budgie by BUDGIE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.75 | 121 ratings

Budgie Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars If you're serious about diving into the origins of heavy metal you will no doubt tackle the usual suspects such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but in the early gestation years of the late 60s and the fully formed heavy rock bands that provided the antecedents of the greater metal universe, there were quite a few contenders that didn't quite attract the same level of success as the big three. The Cardiff, Wales based BUDGIE was one of the earliest such bands that was a seminal influence on the NWOBM scene that would emerge at the tail end if the 70s. While formed in 1967 under the less-than-metal moniker Hills Contemporary Grass, they changed their name to Six Ton Budgie before finally truncating it to the more known BUDGIE which is an informal term for 'budgerigar,' an Australian parakeet which would become their mascot. This power trio of Tony Bourge (guitar), Tony Shelley (bass, vocals, mellotron) and Ray Phillips (drums, percussion) chose this name as a diametrically opposing term in relation to their bombastic bluesy rock bravado.

While Black Sabbath was in 1971 the heaviest band in existence, BUDGIE wasn't too far behind. Their eponymous debut released the same year as 'Master Of Reality,' followed the trends of the more successful bands and could be generalized as heavy rock straddling in between the heavy Sabbath riffing with Led Zeppelin inspired compositional constructs as well as Shelley's Robert Plant inspired vocal style. The Sabbath inspired parts come to the forefront with the opener 'Guts' which is a little too close to Sabbath's own 'Hand Of Doom' which sounds like a good case for plagiarism to my ears but the album quickly drifts off into their own unique middle ground between the great Sabbath and Led Zep. Many have cited as BUDGIE being the first version of the Canadian band Rush since they are a power trio and deliver a tight and compelling band sound out of only three musicians. On this debut they do indeed have that heavy rock gusto that Rush would unleash on their first two pre-progressive albums. Likewise BUDGIE, while rooted in ballsy blues rock with a more bombastic approach, did engage in progressively tinged compositional constructs.

While BUDGIE may have borrowed a lot from Sabbath and Led Zep, they have also been the influencers as well with tracks like the whimsically titled 'Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman' a clear antecedent into Golden Earring's hit 'Radar Love' which also displays Shelley's unique bass slapping style with a little funk technique and heavy rock groove with Phillips pounding out the supporting percussive drive accompanied by Bourge's guitar antics. Very heavy stuff for 1971 indeed and progressive as it clocked in at 8:41 and meandered through a series of clever musical moves not common in the bluesy rock world of the day. 'Rape Of The Locks' allows Bourge to show off some of his guitar tricks with a series of flashy solos before erupting into a boogie rock style that would become the staple of bands such as ZZ Top in the coming years. Tracks like 'All Night Petrol' find Shelley doing his best Robert Plant vocal exercises but alongside a Sabbath inspired doom laden riff in a mid-tempo groove. 'You And I' shows a mellower side with a short acoustic ballad.

BUDGIE created a very interesting sound for sure and although they didn't quite have the over-the-top performance charisma that Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin delivered to the world, they provided a unique glimpse in between the musical sounds where those two bands existed. While parts of BUDGIE's debut are clearly inspired by certain tracks from their influences, somehow they polish it out with their own unique stamp. The blues oriented hard rock riffing is more akin to 60s bands like Cream with Sabbath overtones (due partly to Sabbath's producer Rodger Bain in the picture), but they crafted their compositions completely differently with more complex constructs that meandered into more unexpected territory. In other words less calculated and more free. While destined to be more of a footnote of history for providing the blueprints of heavy metal riffing that would be fully realized by bands like Metallica in the next decade, BUDGIE are well worth checking out in their own right. The synthesis of heavy rock with progressive touches makes this more than a historical artifact.

 Kill 'Em All by METALLICA album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.39 | 435 ratings

Kill 'Em All
Metallica Prog Related

Review by thwok

3 stars While I can't be as harsh as many other reviewers, I do think that KILL 'EM ALL is often overrated in Metallica's discography. Maybe it depends on your opinion of this brand of metal. I often find it repetitive and derivative. While I love Metallica, and I recognize the probable historical significance of this album, I just can't get too excited about it. Compared to their mostly illustrious later albums, KILL 'EM ALL isn't all that progressive. Metallica were already excellent musicians at this point, and probably outclassed most of their thrash comrades. However, their creativity and songwriting abilities took a major leap with the next album, RIDE THE LIGHTNING.
 Black Holes And Revelations by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.67 | 397 ratings

Black Holes And Revelations
Muse Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars It took them three long years but MUSE released their fourth album BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS in 2006 only this time on both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously. By this time, MUSE had become one of the biggest bands to hit Britain in the new millennium and had started to take America by storm as well but not quite to the degree of the 60s bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. While the previous album "Absolution" had been a little hit and miss for me, mostly on the miss downward spiral with a shoddy production, inconsistent compositional prowess and dumbing down effect to please their American record label, BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS on the other hand finds MUSE at the top of their game and in effect is a sort of crescendo creatively speaking in their career with even more influences than ever piled up on their smorgasbord of musical impersonations from the past.

While MUSE had already taken on a unique mix of alternative and progressive rock laced with electronica, New Romantic classical, tango and myriad other styles, on BLACK HOLES they upped the ante even further with cited influences including the synthpop of Depeche Mode, the harsh distorted rock of Lightning Bolt and the funk rock of Sly & The Family Stone as well as the heavier alternative funk rock of the lesser known Belgian band Millionaire from whom they acquired the unique stop / start rhythmic beat as well as that interesting bass groove. In a way, one could consider MUSE one of those ultimate mimicry bands much like Mr Bungle in terms of unbridled creativity where no stones are left unturned since there are actually many more influences lurking beneath the more familiar ones. Once again Matt Bellamy unleashes his best Bono ( of U2 ) inspired vocals afire in passionate display but also new to the mix are the keyboard parts that remind me a lot of the "War" era tracks of U2 such as "New Years Day." These keyboard parts recur throughout the album.

While political corruption, conspiracy analyses and extraterrestrial themes are nothing new in the MUSE canon, on BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS they excel like never before. With a comfortable foothold in America and top tier status in the UK, MUSE went for the jugular with themes covering political corruption, revolution, New World Order and the expected science fiction laced polemics such as UFOs. This album overall exhibits much more hard rock heaviness than the previous ones. While the first three albums were rather inconsistent in the heaviness department, on BLACK HOLES almost every track except "Soldier's Poem" and "Hoodoo" have hard rock as the main backbone of their compositional makeup. Bassist Christopher Wolstenholme has also stated that the band was more relaxed and it is apparent by the chemistry afoot on BLACK HOLES that it was the case. Add to that the production is OMG superior to the previous album and just by reading the army of mixers and producers makes it quite clear that this album was heavily manipulated in every aspect as to eke out the most pleasing sonic effects.

With a Queen meets ELO bravado, "Take A Bow" sets the tone with a jittery midi sequencer and a take no prisoners critique of the elite's destructive greed that has been ravaging the Earth with sharper vituperating lyrics that find MUSE in a cynical mind set as they hammer away at the miscreancy of the a ruling class run amok. "Starlight," one of the hit singles on the UK charts anyways offers a respite from the progressive wrath of the opener with a piano run churning out odd time signatures before jumping into rock mode. The band stated that this was the hardest track to record and about seven versions exist. Do i hear a box of unreleased goodies in the future? The next track and most successful single of the album, Super Massive Blackhole" was my personal introduction to the world of MUSE and the gateway drug to the larger spectacle that the band has become. Not only is this track an interesting alternative rock performance that utilizes Matt Bellamy's falsetto skills to fullest level (they're back after a dampening on "Absolution,") but it kinda sounds like Prince joined in as the track is funky, danceable and infectious as hell with a strong groove, interesting dynamic shifts and even a backmasked guitar solo.

"Map Of The Problematique" sounds sorta like something more modern that could fit in on U2's "War" album with the same Edge styled guitar sweeps and that famous piano run heard on "New Year's Day." The track tackles the polemic subject of limits of growth and escaping to Mars which the cover art refers to. While the album is by far the heaviest with almost every track rocking out big time, "Soldier's Poem" is a slow acoustic ballad sounding like something Freddie Mercury would've conjured up. Continuing the genre jumping, "Invincible," influenced by David Bowie's "Heroes" was the fourth single starts out slow with a military march percussive drive and evolves into a more sophisticated rock track with a haunting theremin adding an eerie atmospheric presence. "Assassin" is a bona fide heavy rock with stellar riffing in progressive time signature chops and performs much like the track title connotes.

"Exo-Politics" continues the rockin' out with a catchy guitar riff, spooky atmosphere with more theremin and a crooning Bellamy lamented the political suppression of extraterrestrial life. "City Of Delusion" begins with a Who inspired acoustic guitar strum-a-thon and wends and winds through some interesting progressions that venture into rock and electronica and ultimately back full circle while utilizing the main melodic theme to tie it all together. "Hoodoo" is an instrumental surf rock track with a few interesting twists and turns that is the perfect build up to "Knights Of Cydonia," inspired by the 1962 hit "Telstar" by The Tornados which featured Bellamny's father George Bellamy on guitar. The track is like riding in the wind through a spaghetti western with surf guitar and progressive pop accoutrements popping up all about including trumpets. This is one of the coolest songs ever and is the perfect way to end a perfect album as it fades to a satisfying crescendo of heavy rock, fight or flight bravado and references to self-preservation. The sequenced key parts are based on the five tone musical phrase from the film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

In the day many critics called the album "overblown." Sound familiar? Any time an artist dares exceed the comfort zone of a critic, it gets deemed overweening and dangerous to society. In the case of BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS i couldn't more wholeheartedly disagree with such punditry. This album is a masterful youthful critique of the world around the musicians involved. Not only does this trio deliver a passionate plea to the world in terms of ecological justice, spiritual elevation and conspiratorial analyses but it delivers simultaneously some of the most carefully crafted pop hooks disguised by a vast web of musical influences that are juxtaposed in perfect conjunct. Focus too much on a certain aspect of the MUSE-ic and it can certainly derail from overindulgent intellectualism but if one suspends the fact that many musical influences (which are openly cited), then one can come to the conclusion that ALL developments in not only music but science, linguistics and politics are derived from an amalgamation of what came before. MUSE excels in taking a ridiculous amount of musical antecedents and weaves them into something utterly unique. This album was love at first listen and after dozens if not over a hundred listens, it only gets better and better. While i've never made a top 100 album list, i can honestly state that this one would be on it. I simply don't understand why this isn't deemed one of the best pop rock albums of the 21st century. It certainly is for me.

 Carillions by BOFFO, JEAN-PASCAL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.53 | 16 ratings

Jean-Pascal Boffo Prog Related

Review by WFV

4 stars I'm really enjoying the discography of French guitarist and prog veteran Jean-Pascal Boffo. I'm five albums in and, no matter the style, everything has been extremely tasteful and well crafted. I've listened to an easy listening light guitar album of his, two of what I'd call Jon Scofield styled modern guitar albums, and now two definite Steve Hackett inspired prog albums from the late '80's(!).

I'm sure I'm in the minority, but so far I'd rather listen to this artist over Steve Hackett. I found his discography rather mediocre, weak, too idiosyncratic and incoherent for my tastes.

Carillons has a natural flow and the accessible rock is definitely progressive. The first two songs set the table and are the standout tracks for me. The second side really makes excellent use of instruments and space and sounds like the best fusion band Steve Hackett never came up with excellent keyboards too

My non expert opinion is this guy is one of the most criminally unknown on the worlds' guitar scene. Certainly not a masterpiece like I feel the follow up is but at the top of the best and most pure prog albums I've heard to come from the 1980's

 Absolution by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.86 | 420 ratings

Muse Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars MUSE released their third album ABSOLUTION approximately two years after their second "Origin Of Symmetry" but in that short time the world had forever changed. The terrorist attacks of 911 and the subsequent illegal wars launched on Iraq and Afghanistan added even more political furor and focus on conspiratorial analysis of world powers run amok. Due to creative differences mostly resulting from Matt Bellamy's liberal use of falsetto vocal gymnastics, MUSE refused to re-record their second album for American record labels (who demanded they did) and therefore didn't find a US release for that album until years later. Having finally resolved their differences, ABSOLUTION still didn't see the light of day for a full six months after its UK release but finally got them in the North American club which helped launch their career into the next phase - international alternative art rock superstars. The 21st century British Invasion had finally begun, although one could argue that it was a mere logical next step of the 90s Britpop scene that had simply branched out into more ambitious avenues closer to the world of progressive rock, but nonetheless MUSE struck a chord with their politically charged lyrics, catchy pop hooks and artful sophisticated approach of stylistic fusion.

Once again MUSE scored big in their native UK with their first top 10 hit "Time Is Running Out," but while finally hitting the shores of North America, only managed to find success on the alternative rock charts. Bellamy claims the title is not religious but rather more in the sense of "purity" which sounds like code for a sense of soul searching in the midst of the world wide chaos that was taking place. While MUSE had started out as political commentators, the events of the world had put their disheartening viewpoints as the focus which is reflected in the darker themes with a more melancholic feel to the album as a whole. While the previous album had a sort of childlike innocence to it, ABSOLUTION feels as if a dark cloud was cast over the band as they lamented the times in which they lived but felt they had to take a stand and be a resistant force in every possible way. Since music was their vehicle of communication, it became infused with their political charged viewpoints which left no room for ambiguities.

While stylistically a darker album in contrast to "Origin Of Symmetry," as heard with the first jaded electronic effects on the opener "Apocalypse Please" with its "Intro," musically speaking, ABSOLUTION is much like its predecessors with a heavy focus on Bellamny's concert pianist skills channelling his inner New Romantic with emphasis on Chopin-esque classical chops as the underpinning. While overall the album is a bit less in the rock arena and more subdued and mournful with symphonic rock influences making a more prominent presence as heard on tracks like "Butterflies And Hurricanes" and "Blackout" which featured a full 18-piece orchestra. There are a few fully charged rockers as well ranging from the single "Time Is Running Out" to the heaviest track on the album "Stockholm Syndrome." The ELO-esque NU-ENRG disco effect still straddles around the classical piano, tango-laced bass grooves and heavy guitar riffs still are abundant even though there are a few new elements such as the focus on electronica on "Endlessly."

MUSE were progressing! So why doesn't it sound like they were? ABSOLUTION has always been my least favorite album of the early albums but i've never bothered to figure out exactly why i always favor the previous albums or the following ones. Something about this one is just off and has always bugged me enough to just ignore it. Having done my research for reviewing these albums, it makes more sense. MUSE had been rejected from US labels due to Matt Bellamy's passionate and overwrought use of Prince-like falsettos in conjunct with a rather 80s Bono (of U2) type of vocal style. On ABSOLUTION he sort of tames it down a bit and the result is that the music suffers since they seem to be the focus despite the ridiculous amounts of musical styles that accompany them. While MUSE's lyrics have developed, the music seems to have taken a few steps back. These tracks are just OK as opposed to the kick ass musical orgy of styles on previous albums. Add to that the tracks are badly paced with a silly ballad ending the album and a horrible production and mixing job to boot. This one just fails on many levels but there are still plenty of great tracks to make it a worthy addition to your MUSE fix. It's just that none of them match the awesomeness of "Origin Of Symmetry" or the next two albums.

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