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HEAVY PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Heavy Prog definition

Heavy Prog defines progressive rock music that draws as much influence from hard rock as it does from classic progressive rock. In simple terms, it is a marriage of the guitar-based heavy blues of the late 1960s and 1970s - artists such as Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath - and the progressive/symphonic movement represented by King Crimson, Yes and Genesis.

The electric guitar, amplified to produce distortion (or 'overdrive') is a crucial element, providing the 'heavy' tone required for this aggressive style, and later for the British and North American heavy metal of the late 1970s and 80s. The primary rock format of drums, bass and guitar with keys and/or vocals on top is represented strongly in heavy prog. The presence of the Hammond organ with its deep, intense rumble was also common among harder progressive groups such as ATOMIC ROOSTER. Although certain other acts, such as King Crimson and Jethro Tull, utilize a heavy guitar, bass and keyboard sound, the bulk of their work over the years puts them in a different category.

Bands that represent Heavy Prog would include RUSH, PORCUPINE TREE, THE MARS VOLTA, URIAH HEEP, TEMPEST, BLACK WIDOW, DR. Z,ATOMIC ROOSTER, WARHORSE, BIRTH CONTROL, TILES.

- written bt Atavachron (David)

Current Team as of 12/24/14

rdtprog
Thanos (aapatsos)
Frank (infocat)

Heavy Prog Top Albums


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

4.40 | 2349 ratings
MOVING PICTURES
Rush
4.37 | 1984 ratings
HEMISPHERES
Rush
4.34 | 1843 ratings
A FAREWELL TO KINGS
Rush
4.30 | 1718 ratings
PERMANENT WAVES
Rush
4.24 | 2128 ratings
IN ABSENTIA
Porcupine Tree
4.24 | 2163 ratings
FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET
Porcupine Tree
4.20 | 1070 ratings
DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM
Mars Volta, The
4.16 | 903 ratings
THE MOUNTAIN
Haken
4.19 | 483 ratings
UNTIL ALL THE GHOSTS ARE GONE
Anekdoten
4.16 | 647 ratings
SALISBURY
Uriah Heep
4.10 | 1755 ratings
2112
Rush
4.09 | 1726 ratings
DEADWING
Porcupine Tree
4.09 | 896 ratings
VISIONS
Haken
4.08 | 890 ratings
AQUARIUS
Haken
4.10 | 559 ratings
LOOK AT YOURSELF
Uriah Heep
4.06 | 1129 ratings
THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS
Porcupine Tree
4.06 | 787 ratings
FRANCES THE MUTE
Mars Volta, The
4.03 | 1277 ratings
LIGHTBULB SUN
Porcupine Tree
4.11 | 357 ratings
FROM WITHIN
Anekdoten
4.06 | 627 ratings
DEMONS AND WIZARDS
Uriah Heep

Heavy Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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SKELETON IN ARMOUR
Fusion Orchestra
HARVEST TIME
Elonkorjuu
HIGH TIDE
High Tide
ZOOMA
Jones, John Paul

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Latest Heavy Prog Music Reviews


 Sea Shanties by HIGH TIDE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.78 | 181 ratings

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Sea Shanties
High Tide Heavy Prog

Review by Igor91

3 stars High Tide's "Sea Shanties" sparked my interest after reading some reviews of it here on PA. So, I bought the CD without listening to the whole album on the internet first, like I usually do before I buy a physical copy of music. I hate to say it, but I am regretting it. Not that "Sea Shanties" is bad, it's just not as good as I expected. Believe me, I tried to appreciate this album, listening to it several times over. Sometimes albums will grow on me after multiple listens, but not this one. Yes, it is kind of a cross between the Doors and Blue Cheer/Black Sabbath heaviness, with a violin added in for good measure. Unfortunately, it is really sloppily played and most of the songs just don't gel at all. There is also a sameness to the album, very little variation song to song. On the song "Pushed, But Not Forgotten," the violin screeches out of tune in a couple of parts, that has the same effect as fingernails on a chalkboard. Yikes! That's not to say that it's all bad. The first two tracks, "Futilist's Lament," and "Death Warmed Up" are pretty good, but nothing spectacular either. The album has it's moments, but, all in all, a mediocre effort. I'm still baffled why it is ranked so highly on PA, but, to each their own, right? Anyway, I give it 3 stars for a bit of originality, but nothing that really deserves any special attention.
 Grace Under Pressure by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.69 | 974 ratings

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Grace Under Pressure
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Second signal

3.5 stars

Let's make it simple: "Grace Under Pressure" can be described as "Signals" bis, with a little more guitars and a slightly inferior quality. Pursuing the 'synthetic reggae-rock' approach of its predecessor, the band ventures again into new musical territories for them on some tracks, such as new-wave and ska. The keyboards and drums also sound colder, robotic, dehumanized, however this time Alex Lifeson plays a larger role: his interventions are more nervous and punchy than on the previous opus. Furthermore, and most important, the inspiration is still present.

The album title comes from the general theme of the songs: people's reactions when they're under pressure. The science-fiction and heroic fantasy stories of the 70's are now replaced by cold war, nuclear weapon and technology problematics. "Grace Under Pressure" can also reflect the particular conditions in which the disc was composed and produced, as the musicians separated from their historic producer Terry Brown, nicknamed 'Broon', before the recording.

The first side is very good. The powerful opener "Distant Early Warning" is the best track of the record. Referring a nuclear alert system, this reggae-rock song in the style of THE POLICE evolves into a true hard-rock piece, with ferocious guitar passages and an heroic finale. Great! Dedicated to one of the band's friend who had just passed away, "Afterimage" is a touching and melancholic synthesizer reggae-rock track with a cool solo from Lifeson. Inspired by Geddy Lee's mother experience during the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen camp, "Red Sector A"'s topic is the concentration camps and the Holocaust. Despite cheesy keyboards, it offers a nice alternation of electronic, rocking, epic and touching ambiances, even sounding new-wave. The Canadians made a ska incursion with "The Enemy Within", featuring different atmospheres and rhythms. Original and having its moments, but finally a bit uneven.

The second side is unfortunately less inspired. "The Body Electric" narrates the story of an android attempting to escape its programming. Despite its mysterious surprising opening, this electronic song is rather average. "Kid Gloves" contains an excellent guitar solo but the track itself sounds overall flat. As one of the oddest RUSH composition ever, "Red Lenses" is quite irritating as well as the only true weak passage of the record. One the contrary, "Between The Wheels" is the best song of Side 2 with its oppressive ambiance and icy heroic rock.

"Grace Under Pressure" is the continuation of "Signals", a little bit more unequal and 80's sounding. Like its predecessor, 'electronic reggae-rock' could be an attempt to describe the style of this album. Although it features dated synthesizers, the first side and the last track really rock. By incorporating a few new musical elements, the band proves they were still creative and daring.

This tenth studio offering from the Canadians will be the last truly good RUSH album of the 20th century. If you didn't enjoy "Signals", this one is not for you either. Otherwise, go for it without hesitation. Recommended to fans of "Signals", THE POLICE, or even reggae-rock.

 Hero by HERO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.04 | 27 ratings

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Hero
Hero Heavy Prog

Review by Igor91

4 stars I recently came across this obscure Italian band on YouTube and became intrigued enough to purchase the AMS/Vinyl Magic CD reissue. Hero was truly an oddity in their home country, sounding nothing like the progressive bands there. Perhaps that is why they traveled to Germany to play and record their sole LP. Not to say that they sounded exactly like Krautrock, but they certainly had more in common with that scene than with the scene in Italy.

There is a notable influence of the British heavy prog bands of the period, and they are categorized as such here on PA. However, to lump Hero in with the other heavy prog bands of that era would be unjust. They were an odd heavy prog band, and I'm sure that is why they found an audience in Germany.

Their self-titled album starts off with "Merry Go Round," a good, albeit fairly standard, heavy prog tune. The lack of bass in the mix is highly noticeable on this track, and takes away some of the power that it could have had. In parts the guitar wails some nice power chords that miss that extra "oomph" of a solid baseline. The bass is more pronounced on other tracks, thankfully. There is nice balance of soft and heavy on this song, something that is a nice signature throughout the disc. "Crumbs of a Day" follows, and starts off as a free-jazz influenced guitar jam, that eventually settles into a cool, dark song. The real turning point for the album comes with the third track, "Sunday Best." While everything was good up to this point, "Sunday Best" grabs my attention with opening with a xylophone, displaying more variety than the first two songs. "Seminar" and "Children's Game" are both really stellar heavy prog tunes in compact form.

The next tune of note is "Knock," which opens with some very avant-garde styled music and vocals, that, quite honestly, come off a bit annoying. But within a minute and a half, the song changes up and actually finishes quite strong. The next two songs, "Clapping And Smiling," and "Dew Drops" are on the longer side, and both showcase some interesting moments and solid interplay between the musicians. The album closes with the acoustic "Buzzards," complete with a somber spoken word section.

As mentioned in previous reviews here on PA, the lyrics are a bit baffling, being more like dark poetry than actual song lyrics. If you are one who really likes to pay attention to lyrics, this could be problematic for you. For me, lyrics are always secondary, and there is nothing here that is so bad that it is off-putting. Another critique would be that some of the songs are oddly structured. Some end abruptly, there are few real choruses, and there are many musical left turns throughout. Some reviewers have criticized Hero as sounding "amateur." While there are no virtuosos in the band, all are solid performers, and shine at certain moments on the album. In addition, the production is rather raw, which I feel gives the music a dark, rough edge, as opposed to sounding amateurish.

When I look back at my own critique of this LP, I'm tempted to give it a mere 3 stars. But, when I listen to this I really enjoy it, warts and all. "Hero" is kind of a flawed gem, in that, despite it's faults, it actually shines quite brightly. This obscure recording deserves to be heard and appreciated, and should please fans of heavy prog looking for something a bit different. I give it an official rating of 3.5 stars, and round it up to 4 to help garner this puppy a little more positive attention.

 Signals by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.95 | 1119 ratings

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Signals
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Signs of life in the 80's

Released after the melting-pot album "Moving Pictures", "Signals" represents one of RUSH's biggest musical mutation. The transformation started in 1980 is now complete: dominated by synthesizers, and even sequencers, the music is radio-friendly, less aggressive, contains less guitars. The tracks have all a normal duration and are neither progressive nor metal anymore. Already explored by the band, the reggae sections are also more present. Last point to mention: Geddy Lee's voice sounds now perfectly clean. So... is the end of RUSH as we know it? Yes. Is it worth listening? Yes too.

Rather than turning commercial, this evolution denotes the will of the Canadians to explore new musical directions in the new decade, however this does not necessarily result in a soapy 80's pop-rock. After all, this is RUSH. The inspiration is here, and, if the compositions display an homogeneous style, they still use uncommon time signatures.

The change of musical direction can be heard from the very first seconds. Featuring passages with different rhythms, "Subdivisions" is a powerful synth-rock opener, with a nice melody. Alternating rocking and calmer moments, "The Analog Kid" is driven by an energetic guitar and includes a cool guitar solo by Alex Lifeson. Nonetheless, the overall is a bit uneven. On the contrary, "Chemistry" is my favorite song of the record. A nearly cosmic overture and heroic melody, it rocks! The very cool "Digital Man" contains top-notch bass playing, reggae-based sections and numerous rhythm structures changes.

Even more surprising, the spacey disco-rock "The Weapon" is quite convincing and epic! Then comes "New World Man", a pleasant a soft reggae-rock that an remind THE POLICE at times. Featuring Ben Mink, a friend of the band, at electric violin, I'm not really a big fan of the "Losing It" and tend to find this ballad a bit flat. The only true weak track of the disc for me. The closer "Countdown" is a tribute to the NASA and its astronauts. The song narrates the launch of Space Transportation System-1, the first orbiter of NASA's Columbia Space Shuttle program. The band attended the event in 1981 in Orlando. The track incorporates genuine radio dialogs between the two pilots, John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen, before and during the flight, and is dedicated to them. Not the best passage of the album, but enjoyable.

As may understand, we're not in hard/heavy prog rock anymore. No long 70's hard/heavy prog ambitious suites like on "2112" or "Hemispheres" here. No new-wave either. 'Synthetic reggae-rock' could be an attempt to describe the style the musicians adopted on "Signals". For sure, the eighties' synthesizers sound quite dated, but this does curiously not prevent the tracks from being pleasant and original. Again, this is RUSH, so this is still creative in its way as no other band were offering something musically comparable at the time. Furthermore, this opus has a rather constant quality, and remains better than most 70's' progressive bands' releases in the 80's.

If you only know the seventies' years of RUSH, prepare for a surprise, but a good one. Accessible and lively, "Signals" opens new horizons for the Canadians, and should please fans of the trio, THE POLICE, or even reggae!

 Moving Pictures by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.40 | 2349 ratings

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Moving Pictures
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Rush's best album of the 80's

Last 20th century RUSH album to really contain progressive compositions, "Moving Pictures" is clearly their most varied and colorful studio opus. Its predecessor, "Permanent Waves", marked a turn towards more radio-friendly material, and so do this eighth offering. However, although the record contains several of the band's best-known songs, the music itself has a rich orchestration and still remains quite adventurous, with complex rhythms structures, while approaching different styles. The tracks can be seen as a link between their long elaborated 70's suites and their short and direct synthesizer-reggae-rock songs of the 80's. As ever since "2112", the keyboards become more and more present, whereas the incursions in the metal territory are rarefying. Another point denoting this evolution: there are no acoustic guitar passage.

Inspired the famous book of American writer Mark Twain, "Tom Sawyer" is RUSH's most successful hit single. A powerful and retro-futuristic rock song, with changing rhythms, setting immediately the tone. Great! Alternating softer passages and raging guitars, "Red Barchetta" is enjoyable. With "La Villa Strangiato", "YYZ" is the best instrumental composition of RUSH, and even one the finest of the hard rock genre! YYZ is the international identity code assigned to Toronto's airport. Transcribed in Morse code, these three letters form the opening rhythmic of the track, at bells and guitars. As Toronto is the town where the members live, "YYZ" has a particular meaning to them, as it means home sweet home. This track possesses all you could expect from the Canadians: uncommon time signatures, different ambiances, epic passages, various soli and even a spacey interlude... Fantastic! Highly influential, this complex jazzy heavy rock is simply breathtaking! On the contrary, I'm not really a big fan of "Limelight". Although also elaborated and evolving, this piece is rather average.

Longest and most progressive song of the disc, "The Camera Eye" features both somber and dreamy atmospheres. These 11 minutes contain nice guitar works and rocking passages. Not the best mini-epic from the band, but still good. The two last tracks are the most surprising for the fan. The dark fantasy "Witch Hunt" is quite particular in RUSH's discography. Cover art designer Hugh Syme's synthesizers' layers create a deep, haunting mystical ambiance, increasing more and more in intensity. Love it! Rather lively, the electronic reggae "Vital Signs" foreshadows the style that the trio will develop in their next two albums. It rocks!

The mixture of genres displayed in "Moving Pictures" was quite unique at the beginning of the eighties, when prog has already declined. Varied, original, risky and refined, the music should even please the seventies' purists. I find this album a bit overrated though, as "Red Barchetta" and "Limelight" tend to bore me. Nevertheless, the other compositions are great and more remarkable than "Permanent Waves"'s. At the beginning of the eighties, Lee, Lifeson and Peart still remain pioneers and adventurers.

One of the best and most eclectic albums from RUSH! Highly recommended!

 Exit... Stage Left by RUSH album cover Live, 1981
4.04 | 488 ratings

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Exit... Stage Left
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Rush's best live album?

After four studio records, one live album. Released in 1981, "Exit... Stage Left" concludes in a beautiful way RUSH's second period, often considered as their most progressive and creative. The set-list consists in extracts from "Fly By Night", "2112", "A Farewell to Kings", "Hemispheres", "Permanent Waves" and "Moving Pictures", recorded at concerts in UK and Canada.

The set-list is more varied and colorful than on the band's first live release, "All The World's A Stage". Still played with the same energy and virtuosity, the tracks have been quite reworked in the studio. Furthermore, Geddy Lee's singing sounds less juvenile and enraged, but rather mastered and fluid.

The cover art (front plus back) contains elements from all RUSH's studio albums from 1974-1981.

"YYZ" includes a mindblowing drum solo by professor Neil Peart, displaying his knowledge and technicality, whereas Alex Lifeson has sharpened his axes on "Jacob's Ladder". Not featured on any other live or studio release by the band, "Broon's Bane" is the novelty here. A nice short instrumental acoustic guitar piece by Lifeson, introducing "The Trees". With "Xanadu", the these two songs see their orchestration enhanced by the addition of cool synthesizers accompaniments. Same goes for "La Villa Strangiato", incorporating also great alternative guitar interventions. Unfortunately, these are also the first official released performances with the super soapy ballad "Closer To The Heart", which appearance will become recurrent at the trio's concerts.

Whether you prefer "All The World's A Stage" or "Exit... Stage Left" is just a matter of taste. The first live album represents RUSH's wilderness and youth, while this one represents its sophistication and maturity. The music of the first one is hard/heavy rock just beginning to turn progressive, whereas the second displays a wide panel of the Canadians' neo-hard-prog more elaborated compositions. As you prefer...

Anyway, both live albums are essential for every fan of RUSH, which won't be the case for the third one...

 All The World's A Stage by RUSH album cover Live, 1976
3.86 | 382 ratings

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All The World's A Stage
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Rush's first live album

One live release every four studio albums, this will be the rule. Recorded in 1976 in Toronto, the band's town, "All The World's A Stage" covers RUSH's first period, from 1974 to 1976. A this time, the Canadians were beginning to incorporate progressive elements in their powerful seventies hard / heavy rock. The set-list features extracts from their self-titled debut, "Fly By Night", "Caress Of Steel" and "2112". All discs are well represented and the songs are interpreted with energy, volume and conviction.

Skipping the "Discovery" and "Oracle: The Dream" sections, "2112" has been shortened to 16 minutes. Overall cool, however I do prefer the more polished studio version. On the contrary, "By-tor And The Snow Dog" has been extended to 12 minutes and is undoubtedly the highlight of the record, maybe superior to the original. The band sculpts here an incandescent sonic magma, especially Alex Lifeson creating a maelstrom of furious cosmic guitars. Terrifying! The mysterious spacey interlude is also transcended and simply gorgeous. An unbelievable tour de force! The selection of the average "In The End" as a calm ballad to slow the pace down is a curious choice. "Working Man / Finding My Way" features a long drum solo at the end, Neil Peart being called "The Professor" by Geddy Lee.

Although a bit lengthy, "All The World's A Stage" clearly remains one of the band's best live releases. The concert will please every early RUSH fans, and is also a good entry point for newcomers to discover the trio's first period.

 All That You Fear Is Gone by HEADSPACE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.80 | 114 ratings

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All That You Fear Is Gone
Headspace Heavy Prog

Review by poito

3 stars Are you old enough to recognize the spirit of early YES? Then you might recognize the efforts of Headspace not to be found there... without success. Metal Djenty YES? It may not be a bad idea. Not original, but worth to try. Their former I Am Anonimous was a hodgepodge of sounds trying to appear as a complex and original composition that could not pass from a chaotic medley written and played by some wanabees for their own delight, though they took some by surprise. The noise in the media seems to have persuaded the band and surroundings that, maybe, they did have something to mean in music. Whatever happened in these years, they go formal and respectful to musical creation in this album. Still, it is a bit embarrassing to see how many rated this acceptable album higher than all-time masterpieces as Fragile, or Relayer. One by one, each of the band members' musical talent is eons away from their beloved parents. Wilson's singing is just tolerable here, trying at his most, blatantly emulating Anderson. The drums are naif and excessively loudly for the little they have. Guitars are doing an excellent work, but will never get close to Howe, same for the bass and little Wakeman in their respective parts of Squire and dad. Anyway, this time I won't let myself go down by the overrating fever and I will recognize that the boys are growing. I would even say they may get high... in the next, if they manage to write good songs without dressing in YES clothes. They can; songwriting is the best of the album along with the guitar work and some arrangements at the keys. Some tracks are much better than others. Polluted Alcohol is a nice tribute to Zepellin's. The Science Within is a 13 min long epic, the less Yessistic and the less inspired, with senseless jumble lyrics, it bores after a few rounds (as many of the tracks here, there it lies the problem; that will never happen with Fragile, even if it gets stuck forever in the player; that's the difference with the originals and where the real genius shows up!). I liked the high spirit of The Day You Return. The opener and closing tracks Road to Supremacy and Secular Soul are probably the best. 3.5.
 Permanent Waves by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.30 | 1718 ratings

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Permanent Waves
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A permanent shift towards the radio waves?

Stuck between the great "Hemispheres" and "Moving Pictures", "Permanent Waves" is RUSH's transition album from ambitious epic suites to more accessible songs. Released January 1st, 1980, this seventh studio opus makes the junction between their 70's neo-heavy-prog style and the more radio-friendly and electronic compositions the Canadians will develop in the 80's. Musically speaking, the synthesizers' presence is growing in the band's universe, and the trio slightly starts to incorporate elements from other genres, such as reggae. Furthermore, the lyrics become more oriented towards human nature, society and technology than fantasy and science-fiction. So, has RUSH abruptly left the progressive sphere? Don't worry seventies fans, this a transitional record, so there are still hard/heavy prog rock/metal pieces with complex rhythms structures, uncommon time signatures and changing atmospheres.

The hit single "The Spirit Of Radio" is powerful and evolving. Simply rocks! In the ending section, RUSH even made their first (slight) incursion in the reggae territory, a style that they will further explore in their next three albums. The hard catchy "Freewill" is also quite nice and contains cool spacey guitar soli. However, the highlight of the disc is undoubtedly the somber progressive "Jacob's Ladder". Referring a meteorological phenomena, this track features multiple time signatures, epic riffs, oppressive metal passages and a spacey interlude. Great!

On the contrary, "Entre Nous" ("Between Us" in English) is a much more conventional rock. Average and not very original, this is the weak song of the record. "Different Strings" is a kind of soft and melancholic ballad, with cover art designer Hugh Syme performing a piano solo. Enjoyable. The disc concludes with the 9 minutes "Natural Science", the longest track. Beginning with river and forest sound effects, this hard/heavy prog metal piece has a few futuristic moments. The ending, named "Permanent Waves", is quite heroic. A pleasant but somehow uneven mini-epic.

"Permanent Waves" is definitively a transitional album, as well as a short one. Despite songs not as remarkable as its predecessor's and its successor's, the quality and inspiration are nonetheless overall constant and the trio's hard/heavy prog rock/metal is still efficient. Even if more accessible, the music should please all fans of the late 70's period of RUSH. Once again, the multiple breaks and complex time signatures may have influenced an important number of progressive metal bands.

That's why there is finally no reason not to give it a listen!

 Hemispheres by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.37 | 1984 ratings

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Hemispheres
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Beyond the black hole

4.5 stars

Often referred as one of RUSH's best albums alongside "2112" and "Moving Pictures", "Hemispheres" extends the musical approach and story developed on "A Farewell To Kings". Still consisting in sophisticated changing tracks, uncommon time signatures and complex rhythms with fantasy / sci-fi lyrics, the musicians develop their neo- hard/heavy progressive identity they've been crafting in their two previous opuses. Unlike its 1977 predecessor, there are no filler songs here, the quality and inspiration remain constant this time.

The story of "Cygnus X-1 Book Two" begins where the first book stopped. Initially describing the descent into a black hole, the second book explores what's beyond this spatial singularity and the possible conflicts between the two cerebral hemispheres, by mixing Greek mythology and philosophy. This 20 minutes epic is in the same neo-heavy- prog vein as the suites from RUSH's two previous albums. It alternates soft, calm and rocking passages but is a bit lengthy. Nice, although not as dark and epic as "Book One" or as remarkable as "2112".

"Circumstances" is a powerful heavy rock in the style of "Something for Nothing" from "2112". Geddy Lee even sings a part of the lyrics in French: "Plus a change, plus c'est la mme chose". It rocks! "The Trees" is social fable narrating the battle between two tree species, the oaks overshadowing the maples. At the end, Man comes to cut all trees down, making them equal in death. This song includes nature and bird sounds and features acoustic and nervous changing passages. Another very good track. However, the genuine highlight of the record is clearly the great mini-epic "La Villa Strangiato", RUSH's best instrumental with "YYZ". Here, all musicians deploys their talents and personality through multiple soli showing their virtuosity at their respective instruments, supported by complex rhythm structures. The music itself offers a wide range of various ambiances: Spanish, trippy, beautiful, hard rock, heroic, and even prog metal and little jazzy moments. Original and mindblowing, this composition alone justifies the listen!

Apart from "Cygnus X-1 Book Two" which may be a little repetitive and not as inspired as the other songs, the overall quality of the disc is much more constant than its predecessor's. Unique at the time, the Canadians develop their identity and still manage to bring something new to the progressive world in the late 70's during the punk revolution, when the British elders were rather getting away from it. No other band was offering such neo-heavy- prog at the time. No wonder they strongly influenced DREAM THEATER.

"Hemispheres" is indeed one of RUSH's best albums, maybe the most progressive in terms of structure. Highly recommended!

This sixth studio release is also their last opus to contain 20 minutes suites. The musicians were beginning to find the long epics songwriting too stressful. After this one, the Canadians' music will become a little more accessible, but this does not necessarily means a loss of quality or interest...

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Heavy Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
2112 Argentina
4X United Kingdom
99 NAMES OF GOD United States
A FORMAL HORSE United Kingdom
ABASH Italy
ABIGAIL'S GHOST United States
ADVENT HORIZON United States
AFTER THE FALL United States
AICAN Russia
ALBATROS Spain
ALGABAS Russia
ALGARAVIA Brazil
ALTERED STATE United States
AMUSIA Canada
ANABASI ROAD Italy
THE ANABASIS United States
ANDROMEDA Germany
ANEKDOTEN Sweden
ANKH Poland
ANOMUS Finland
ANTI-DEPRESSIVE DELIVERY Norway
ANXTRON Brazil
APOLLO Finland
ARABS IN ASPIC Norway
ARAXES Switzerland
ARC United Kingdom
ARCANE Australia
ARCANE ATLAS United States
THE ARISTOCRATS Multi-National
ARMAGEDDON United Kingdom
ASTEROID Sweden
ATLANTIDE Italy
ATLAS CUBE Germany
ATLAS VOLT Sweden
ATOMIC ROOSTER United Kingdom
AUSTRALIS Chile
AUTOMATIC FINE TUNING United Kingdom
BABE RUTH United Kingdom
BADGER United Kingdom
BAKER GURVITZ ARMY United Kingdom
BAKERY Australia
BALISET United States
BALLOON Netherlands
BARAKA Japan
DAVID BARRET TRIO Canada
BATTLE CIRCUS New Zealand
ERIC BAULE Spain
BBI France
BI KYO RAN Japan
BIBLE BLACK Japan
A BIG GOODBYE United States
BIGELF United States
BIRTH CONTROL Germany
THE BITTERS United States
BLACK BONZO Sweden
BLACK MARKET SEROTONIN United Kingdom
BLACK WIDOW United Kingdom
BLOOD CEREMONY Canada
BODKIN United Kingdom
BOLT United States
BOOK OF HOURS Sweden
BREAKING ORBIT Australia
THE BROWN Japan
BULL ANGUS United States
BURNING SAVIOURS Sweden
CACTUS PEYOTES Brazil
CAMAFEO Argentina
CAPHARNAUM Canada
CAPTAIN BEYOND United States
CAPTAIN OF THE SWEDISH TEAM Canada
CARDEILHAC Switzerland
CARGO Netherlands
CARGO CULT REVIVAL United States
CARPADIUM United States
CARPE NOTA United States
CASUAL SILENCE Netherlands
CELELALTE CUVINTE Romania
CELESTIAL OEUVRE United States
CHAIN United States
CHOLO VISCERAL Peru
CHRONOBUNNY Norway
STEVE CICHON United States
CLEAR BLUE SKY United Kingdom
CLEVIS United States
CLIMAX Bolivia
COBWEB STRANGE United States
COLLAPSE France
COLT Poland
CONTRA United States
CONTRARIAN United States
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