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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

Louis (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 | 2418 ratings
MOVING PICTURES
Rush
4.37 | 2042 ratings
HEMISPHERES
Rush
4.34 | 1894 ratings
A FAREWELL TO KINGS
Rush
4.30 | 1762 ratings
PERMANENT WAVES
Rush
4.24 | 2183 ratings
IN ABSENTIA
Porcupine Tree
4.24 | 2218 ratings
FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET
Porcupine Tree
4.20 | 1089 ratings
DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM
Mars Volta, The
4.16 | 935 ratings
THE MOUNTAIN
Haken
4.16 | 669 ratings
SALISBURY
Uriah Heep
4.18 | 523 ratings
UNTIL ALL THE GHOSTS ARE GONE
Anekdoten
4.10 | 1802 ratings
2112
Rush
4.10 | 1763 ratings
DEADWING
Porcupine Tree
4.09 | 916 ratings
VISIONS
Haken
4.11 | 585 ratings
LOOK AT YOURSELF
Uriah Heep
4.08 | 910 ratings
AQUARIUS
Haken
4.06 | 1155 ratings
THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS
Porcupine Tree
4.06 | 802 ratings
FRANCES THE MUTE
Mars Volta, The
4.07 | 652 ratings
DEMONS AND WIZARDS
Uriah Heep
4.03 | 1312 ratings
LIGHTBULB SUN
Porcupine Tree
4.10 | 365 ratings
FROM WITHIN
Anekdoten

Heavy Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

HARVEST TIME
Elonkorjuu
SNEAK ME IN
Lucifer's Friend
MÉMOIRES INCUBUSSIENNES
ExCubus
ZOOMA
Jones, John Paul

Latest Heavy Prog Music Reviews


 Second Wind Part 1 by LIQUID WOLF album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Second Wind Part 1
Liquid Wolf Heavy Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars My initial reception for the 2012 debut album of this Finnish group was very positive; the instrumenally oriented music didn't even sound so much of HEAVY prog to me, who am mostly an anti-heavy music listener. This time around the heavy aspect is slightly more obvious. First, the guitars are often more metallic than before (not radically though), and there seems to be more depressive-sounding vocals (of Teijo Tikkanen, also known from Corey & Maple). The musical project led by composer and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Sami Sarhamaa (e.g. KATAYA, KUDOS) was said to be primarily inspired by OPETH, but it expanded beyond that influence, and also other kinds of prog were mentioned as references, such as Camel and Kaipa if I remember right. But I guess it's safe to compare this music to Opeth and other similar bands taking progressive steps further away from their metal roots -- as with Opeth's later phaces, there are no growls here, thank God! But yes, the moods are similarily dark and deeply melancholic.

Perhaps to me the least pleasant ingredient, and the one that gives the music its distinctive heavy flavour, is the low-toned and somewhat depressed singing style that underlines dark emotions more than would be necessary. I get no big pleasure out of the heaviest and less complex tracks such as 'Toenails'. What I do enjoy is the way the intrumental sections have more variety, both in dynamics and in instrumentation. For example the opener features elegant marimba, and on 'Pale Rider' there are vibes on the intro. The lively piano heard later on that very dynamic track brings some classical/jazzy nuances.

The longest of the seven tracks is 'Every Mistake' (8:12) that starts delicately with a clock ticking and an acoustic guitar. The excellently produced soundscape features also some mellotron-sounds, and the dynamic growth from mellow, instrumental section (featuring piano) into more intense prog and into the sax/marimba dialogue in the end is very impressive. The six-piece combo features the renowned jazz musician Pepa Päivinen on saxes, flutes and bass-clarinet. On drums is the legendary Sami Kuoppamäki (who rised into fame in Kingston Wall).

'The Utopist' is a rhythmically complex instrumental with gorgeous musicanship, stylistically between RUSH, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and the galaxy-exploding symphonic prog. The album closer 'Spit It Out' starts in a serene and peaceful mood and grows into powerful, instrumentally oriented prog rock with mighty solos and all. Indeed I'm happy to notice that the more closely I listen to this album, the better it comes, or in other words, the more highlights I hear. I strongly recommend this fine album especially to listeners of melancholic [heavy] prog who appreciate cultivated arrangements and high musical competence.

 LMR by LEVIN MINNEMANN RUDESS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.14 | 91 ratings

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LMR
Levin Minnemann Rudess Heavy Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I'm just going to throw down the gauntlet here: Levin Minnemann Rudess is one of the best instrumental prog experiences you'll ever hear ... and it's a travesty that this album has been kept a secret for years since its release. How am I only the third reviewer!? Well I hope that changes in a hurry, because this is one of the best musical discoveries I've experienced for a long time.

Not that it was much of a gamble, really. Come on, Tony Levin is legendary for a reason. Jordon Rudess is like keyboard wizard (stifled now for years in Dream Theatre), and Minnemann is a drumming journeyman whose probably played with groups or artists currently in your collection. Getting them together is a sure-fire win, but probably not at the level you maybe assume ... it's better.

This record really is one of the best instrumental prog releases I've ever heard. You can compare it to Liquid Tension Experiment, but while that project (also featuring Levin and Rudess) was also heavy on Petrucci guitar and improvisation, Levin Minnemann Rudess is a meticulously crafted technical masterwork. These guys have instrumental chops that are mind-blowing, and are put on display with a very high level of songwriting finesse and ambition. You'll have a lot of fun with these tunes.

It would be difficult to go through individual songs, because they're so twisty-crazy and diverse, but suffice to say this release is modern heavy-prog that features huge riffs, timbre that ranges from manic to mellow, and improvisational highlights throughout. Tony Levin's playing is sharp, creative, and personality-filled. There really is no one that sounds quite like him; bravo Tony for continuing a 30-year streak of excellence. Rudess is like a knight in shining armor for me. I've loved his playing since I first him on 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence, but his contributions to the mediocrity of Dream Theater had me pretty much writing him off - but holy cow does he cook here. The man carries much of the melodies throughout this album, and brings tremendous energy and charm to the songs. Minnemann also impresses by shifting between the tracks' numerous style and time changes with ease. Very technical; very hip. Exceptional work across the board.

How this record has gone undiscovered here on the Archives is beyond me, but I hope everyone reading this checks it out and supports this group's collaboration. I'm rounding up to a 5-star because there really hasn't been anything quite like this for a while, and it's just excellent. A first-rate instrumental experience!

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: NA - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Signals by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.95 | 1148 ratings

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Signals
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by greenflash

4 stars (By Jonathan Moss & Charly Saenz)

Rush have a reputation as a mediocre second generation prog rock band. Their reputation is similar to first gen prog band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, a lot of instrumental talent, but most of it wasted. While I would argue slightly with this appraisal of ELP, it's more or less completely accurate for Rush (or should that be Lifeson, Lee & Peart?). However, for a brief moment, Rush were one of the greatest bands in the world. This kind of started with Permanent Waves, but that was still too proggy and fillerish. Things got considerably better with Moving Pictures, which is a minor classic, featuring, lets get this strait, some gorgeous synth tones. However, it was only with their ninth studio album Signals that they managed completely to remove any prog influence and embrace beautiful art rockish new wave. You can hear this immediately in the guitar solos, which far from sounding generically heavy metal, are restrained and tasteful, and anyone who tells you otherwise is strait up deluded.

I know this is an incredibly uncool thing to say about Rush, but this is such a cool sounding album! Our friend Franco Micale has always argued to me that Rush had a slightly alt-rockish sound, and he's completely correct, especially on this album, with its catchy melodies and arpeggiated guitar riffs. The synth tones are absolutely blissful as well, they have an almost retro vibe to them, like 60s organs. But at the same time they also have a kind of futuristic vibe, retro-futurism if you will. Geddy's bass playing is great as well, fluid and melodic throughout, you can call him a frustrated lead guitarist if you want, but that whole idea is bull[&*!#], and insulting to bass players. His vocals are certainly an acquired taste, he definitely sounds sincere throughout the album and manages to get the messages of Neil's lyrics across with passion. Speaking of Neil, while he is definitely overrated as a drummer, his work on Signals is graceful and accomplished.

There's a bold statement to start the album, a fierce proud synthesizer pattern that becomes a small symphony when Peart starts weaving the rhythm around with the usual perfect bassline by Geddy, and his controlled voice is the human beauty in the technically charged surroundings. "Subdivisions" is a rebellious chant detailing cold society oppression, The Machine.

"Growing up it all seems so one-sided Opinions all provided The future pre-decided Detached and subdivided In the mass production zone Nowhere is the dreamer Or the misfit so alone" "

"The Analog Kid" starts off as a more direct rocker with the superb riff by Lifeson, but it's the otherworldly interaction among the three players here, and those tasty keyboards that send this song directly to heaven. No, this is not Prog Rock. This is plain old Rock with a new sound. It's definitely the most beautiful song on the album, the way Geddy sings "you move me you move me", well, it moves me :P

And, as fellow Rushologist Jonathan Hopkins says: "One time, I got really high and listened to the Analog Kid like 20 times in a row because I didn't realize I wasn't changing songs. It's a great song."

"Chemistry" reminds us how Rush were few of the mainstream acts of their time (Police also comes to mind) to incorporate reggae vibes successfully into their sound. So does "Digital Man" and the fantastic, catchy break:

"He'd love to spend the night in zion He's been a long while in babylon He'd like a lover's wings to fly on To a tropic isle of avalon"

The song contains a wonderfully melodic and playful bassline, and the reggaeish guitar playing gives it an almost urban vibe. The song is downright groovy. The song also has a great chorus, feauturing some juttering, funky synth playing. Oh, and that guitar solo!

"The Weapon" might easily be one of those overlooked gems in the album. The opening synth melody is somewhat Devoish (New Traditionalists Devo), just real sort of warm and deep, with a kind of looping, computerish quality. Sci-fi, if you want us to make it sound lame. I guess, to make it sound cool to the kids, we'll call it proto-synthwave as well. The drone guitar weaves a luxury melody, and by the minute 4, it becomes bigger than life; the keyboards hardly appear as a symbol of modernity. The mid way point of the song, with its soaring guitar, sounds almost ambient. It's got that dark urban city vibe. The finale with the fading guitar is Beatle-level fantasy.

"New World Man" was the single of the album, made at the last minute to complete its tracklist. It's a strait rocker and it appealed to the masses. It opens with a fun goofy sounding synths, followed by some melodic, R.E.Mish guitar work. The chorus is super catchy as well, even if it does stray slightly into proggish pomposity. Still, when Geddy belts out "HE'S A NEW WORLD MAN" I just want to sing along.

The most delicate piece in the album, is without a doubt, "Losing It". The electric violin played by Ben Mink is the best introduction to some refined lyrics using the adequate dancer's metaphor to discuss time passing and crushed illusions:

"Some are born to move the world --- To live their fantasies But most of us just dream about The things we'd like to be"

The synth pattern that opens the song and stays throughout is gentle and lullabyish, and the guitar tone has a mournful melancholic quality. The song does have a slightly arena-rockish sound during parts, but its fine, the cunts pull it off. It still doesn't fail to detract from the gentle quality of the song.

"Countdown" is a fine way to end the album, even if the clips from an actual countdown are cheesy as [%*!#]. It features an ominous synth and guitar line working well together to make the song seem creepy. I guess this is to convey hour nerve racking a NASA launch would be, which, duh. Geddy's vocal melody manages to imbue the song with some sense of calm though, he just sounds so assertive and confident. There's a fun, squiggly little keyboard line later on, and the chorus is tense and memorable.

Signals might be considered a maligned album by many, but it meant a lot to many people, it stands right in the middle of Rush's career between their progressive beginnings, right after their breakthrough album and their newer stuff, who arguably abuses the 80s production a little bit. It's full of hooks, touching and meaningful lyrics.

But here, we're still at the perfect top. Exquisite keyboards, how to sound futuristic without being a cold bitch, and feeling without leaving the rock pulse.

 A Farewell To Kings by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.34 | 1894 ratings

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A Farewell To Kings
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by ProgMirage1974

4 stars REVIEW #9 - "A Farewell to Kings" by Rush (1977)

Coming off of their successful "2112" album, Rush travelled to the UK and began recording a new studio album. With improved recording techniques providing a better sound as opposed to their Canadian-produced albums, it brings a whole new life to the Rush sound. Stronger all around than its predecessor, and much more proggy, this is a legitimately good album. Even the band members have expanded their musical horizons - bassist Geddy Lee plays the prevalent synth on this album, guitarist Alex Lifeson begins to experiment with acoustic guitars and a classical sound, and Neil Peart experiments with instruments such as wind chimes, glockenspiel, and gongs. The result is a very diverse album - with ambient and rocking passages.

The title track (4/5) leads off the album, opening up with an acoustic passage before reaching that trademark heavy Rush sound. A pretty long song with a solid Lifeson solo, it has a good chorus and thoughtful lyrics to make a good opener. The song closes and the next song, the beautiful "Xanadu" (5/5) begins. An eleven minute track, deeply prog, and based upon the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem "Kubla Khan" it combines Rush's heavy sound with a new ambient touch. With a long five-minute build up before reaching the mesmerizing lyrics - describing Coleridge's dream where he visited the Mongol summer capital of Xanadu, the reference to British literature is awesome, with the band capturing the metaphysical nature of Coleridge's poem. We are graced with an epic guitar solo to end this song, and the first side as a whole. A musical journey, this is one to be listened to, and in my opinion, the BEST Rush song.

The second side starts with one of Rush's most commercially successful songs, "Closer to the Heart" (5/5). A very short song by Rush standards at about three minutes, it was written by a friend of Peart's, being the first Rush song to not be written by a member of the band. With simple lyrics and a very pleasing sound, it is no wonder why this song was so successful. It is also one of the band's tracks which still receives frequent airplay on classic rock radio to this day. The next song is "Cinderella Man" (4/5), written by Lee. Better than Lee's last contribution to an album (the boring "Tears" from 2112), it sounds pretty good, especially for a filler track. We then get a reprieve with the short and soft "Madrigal" (4/5) which has beautiful medieval-style romantic lyrics, although it is a little bit out of place having to separate the previous song with the science fiction epic "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" (4/5), which closes out the album. Beginning with a little bit of plot background, we learn that the protagonist is piloting a space ship called the Rocinante (a homage to the novel "Don Quixote") towards a black hole, in hopes of being sucked into a different world. This song ends on a cliffhanger, as the protagonist goes into the black hole in a flurry of destruction captured by the music perfectly. As the album ends, the listener anticipates the sequel, which would be released a year later on their next album "Hemispheres". A unique concept, it is largely build- up, but captures a really surreal and potentially scary ambient sound. When this song hits its heavy musical parts, it rocks very well and should not be discredited.

This album was a great step in the right direction for the band. With less filler material, it is a definite improvement over their previous (yet amazing in its own right) album. With two epics that hold their own weight, there is no bad moment on this album. It lacks many "great" moments, which bars it from reaching the five-star mark, but you will certainly not get bored listening to this piece of prog rock art. The band would go on to release another really proggy album and this album and that successor "Hemispheres" marks Rush's magnum opus as a prog rock band. Although panned by critics, this album is solid and a good listen for any fan of the genre, as it encompasses many different musical styles while retaining that prog intricacy.

OVERALL: 4.4/5 (B+)

 Armageddon by ARMAGEDDON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.27 | 64 ratings

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Armageddon
Armageddon Heavy Prog

Review by SteveG

2 stars I was a bit surprised to find this album listed in PA and decided to give it a spin after a few decades away from listing to it.

It still strikes me as a hard rock album that former Yardbird vocalist and Renaissance founder Kieth Relf hoped would take him to the top. It did not and Relf tragically died the next year after being electrocuted at home. Armageddon was made up of fellow ex Renaissance bassist Louis Cennamo, ex Steamhammer guitarist Martin Pugh and American drummer Bobby Caldwell.

Pugh is the star of this album with the extended riffing intro to "Buzzard" signaling the hard rock riffing to come. Caldwell's manic heavy Motorhead style drumming adds even more excitement, with Cennamo, surprisingly, being just functionary. However, Relf's vocals are the weak link to this material. A slow blues based singer, he lacked the power and range of contemporaries like Robert Plant or Ian Gillan that was needed to drive these songs over the top, and Relf's lyrics are sub par when compared to the afore noted. However, his harp playing does help to give the music a distinct blues vibe that's missing in Pugh's aggressive searing "keep the wah peddle floored" playing.

Armageddon made only this album before quickly disbanding, but it's not a big loss, as Relf was better at setting trends then he was at following them.

 2112 by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.10 | 1802 ratings

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2112
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by ProgMirage1974

3 stars REVIEW #8 - "2112" by Rush (1976)

Facing pressure from their record label to make a more commercially-friendly album, Rush decided to ignore the threats and create another album similar to their panned "Caress of Steel." Drummer Neil Peart, an objectivist and avid reader of Ayn Rand's work at the time, sought inspiration from Rand's novella "Anthem" (for which he dedicated a song back on their second album) to create an epic based upon the archetypical dystopian story. Titled "2112", this album would amazingly bring the band to the mainstream; attaining success against the concrete beliefs that commercially-friendly music is the only path to mainstream success. With a minimalist cover, it also marks the first appearance of the "Starman" logo that would be become a symbol of the band.

The first side is the epic "2112" (5/5), for which the album is named after. A concept, it details the story of an unnamed protagonist who stumbles upon a guitar and realizes the nature of the totalitarian world he lives in. After foolishly trying to present the guitar to the leaders of his society, he is shunned and falls into a state of depression after experiencing a dream of a better world free of bondage. This depression prompts him to commit suicide, ending the story. It is believed that, through the final lines of the song, that the society he dreamed of indeed came back to Earth and freed the people from the totalitarian regime. Coming in at twenty minutes and being the longest song the band would ever record, this is a very good epic, although it does not necessarily feature any outstanding musicianship. The seven parts of the song (including an overture and a finale) range from an acoustic passage to full blown Alex Lifeson guitar solos. It is still a musically diverse song with an interesting story - a story so rooted in objectivism that it drew criticism from media outlets such as NME, who labeled the band as "Nazis", "fascists" and right-wing "extremists." A great epic, and one of the most famous in prog, it is a must-listen.

The rest of the album is a series of shorter tracks. The first is "A Passage to Bangkok" (4/5), a song which is essentially about drug tourism, mentioning Bangkok, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kathmandu, and other popular Asian destinations to get high. A jamming song through and through, with a nice guitar solo and a humorous theme. Next up is "The Twilight Zone" (3/5), a song about the TV series of the same name. All in all a pretty average track, just like the next track "Lessons" (3/5), written by Lifeson. It gets even worse with the soft track "Tears" (2/5) written by bassist Geddy Lee - a boring love song that just seems out of place with all of the other material on the album, which contains philosophical or science fiction subject matter. However, the listener is salvaged by the decent closing track "Something for Nothing" (5/5) - a song deeply rooted in objectivist philosophy, similar to "Anthem" from their second album in its blunt statements. Overall the second side is pretty weak, yet is overshadowed by the monstrous "2112". Outside of the opener and closer here, it is better to just play the first side over and over again.

Now having attained success, Rush would embark on a trip to the United Kingdom to continue their phase as a prog rock band, recording their next two albums in Europe. A seminal album for Rush fans, without its success, the band would have had a much shorter lifespan. A good album, and a solid example of conservative philosophy in music, Rush's music at this point in time was certainly unique. The title track alone is worth purchasing the album, and it is a must-listen for Rush fans and those who prefer heavy prog, as this album certainly crosses the threshold into heavy metal. Although I prefer their next two albums, "2112" will always reserve a spot in my heart for being one of the first prog albums I ever listened to. It is a nostalgic album for me, and I suppose it is for many others here. Unfortunately the awesome "2112" (which still lends this album my recommendation) is saturated by the lackluster content on the second side, and as an album in its entirety, it is sadly adequate.

OVERALL: 3.67/5 (C-)

 Silence Between Sounds by KARMAMOI album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 3 ratings

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Silence Between Sounds
Karmamoi Heavy Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This year of 2016 was the first year that I was finally in a position of personal preference to buy more than just a few new releases, and thanks to my inclusion in the membership of a Facebook page called Progressive Rock Fanatics, I was also exposed to many new bands, obscure bands, and established bands with new releases. It was that page that connected me with Karmamoi, an Italian band of three members who chose four different female vocalists for their latest and third album, "Silence Between Sounds". I watched a promotion video and at first thought they sounded good but with the heavy rock guitar and odd time signature, they didn't sound different from much of what I had heard already. Then the vocals came in and I was drawn into the song. The singer sounded like Che Aimee Dorval of Casualties of Cool, a band project with Devin Townsend. I love Che's voice on the CoC album and here was a woman who could sing in that dusky, jazz lounge style. The next thing, I was backing the band's new album on PledgeMusic.

Sadly, Karmamoi were not able to reach their goal; however, they went ahead with releasing their album at the end of October and through some message exchanges with drummer/keyboardist/music and song writer, Danielle Giovannoni, I was able to order the album directly from the band instead of through Amazon as I usually do.

Karmamoi and "Silence Between Sounds" really surprised me. I had them pegged as a heavy, neo-prog type outfit but this album delivers so much more. Each of the seven tracks moves, twists, turns, stops and changes gear and direction, and never becomes formulated or predictable. A gentle, atmospheric start can abruptly change to a crunching, heavy battery, drop suddenly into the atmosphere with something light and mind-soothing, sprinkle pretty notes all around, and then move on into another territory. Each piece is like a journey and you can never be sure where you are going to go and where you will end up. But one thing for sure is that the music feels like it was written from the mind and the heart and no label or formula was considered in the process. This is music for creativity and expression's sakes!

It took me a while to conjure up any comparisons to other bands though I felt that the musical styles were still familiar enough. I think older Porcupine Tree comes to mind often, and because of the combination of heavy and atmospheric and sometimes acoustic with female vocals, I also think of White willow, too. In a couple of spots I was also reminded of non-heavy Devin Townsend. Danielle told me that Pineapple Thief, Steven Wilson, OSI, and many prog classics are influences and as well artists like Sting, Toto, and Massive Attack are favourites. What makes this album so interesting is how all these influences are blended to various degrees into the resulting music, creating an album that is both unique and familiar.

As I mentioned above, it was the vocals that sold me on giving my time and attention (and ultimately my money) to this album. We have four female vocalists, each with her own contribution to the songs. Sara Rinaldi is the one whom I heard in the promotional video and she sings on "Nashira", Martes", Plato's Cave", and "Canis Majoris". Sometimes she has an American, down south, almost staccato enunciation that reminds me just a bit of Janis Joplin in quieter moments but more so like someone who might have had a hit album in the nineties. Hellena sings on "Atma" in low and soothing tones and also in higher tones in harmony with herself. Serena Ciacci takes the mic for "Lost Days", which reminds me of a Sarah McLachlan style of a song. Finally, Irene Morelli sings soprano on "Sirio" and "Martes". Each of the four women contributed with their own feelings and experiences, says Danielle, allowing the band to concentrate on the music and let the singers interpret their roles much like an actor.

An album where each song is crafted independently but by the sum of the songs, a greater whole is achieved, this album is a wonderful addition to my 2016 collection!

 Caress Of Steel by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.53 | 1106 ratings

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Caress Of Steel
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by ProgMirage1974

3 stars REVIEW #6 - "Caress of Steel" by Rush (1975)

The second of two albums released by Rush in 1975, and the one following the moderately successful "Fly by Night", this album represents a major shift towards conventional prog rock by the band. Some prog themes had been given rise thanks to the inclusion of new drummer Neil Peart, but "Caress of Steel" is the album which veers away from the shorter, more commercially-friendly songs the band had put out on their first two albums. A failure, it nearly had the band dropped from their record label, as it sold poorly and its accompanying tour was also a wash. Nevertheless, the album has gained a cult following by many die-hard Rush fans over the years, with some claiming it's their most underrated album. Bassist Geddy Lee has also made known that the band was "pretty high" during the recording of this album - which may explain the crazy concepts and ambitious nature of some of the tracks on this album.

The album starts off with a conventional hard rock song titled "Bastille Day" (4/5), and is about the French Revolution. A rocking song, made better by the wailing voice of Lee, it is a surprisingly good and catchy track with an interesting theme. No problem there, but the following track is a complete 180 degree turn - "I Think I'm Going Bald" (1/5), a song inspired by Canadian Kim Mitchell and the KISS song "Goin' Blind", it is uninteresting and the humor does not appeal to me. This track certainly would have been a better fit for a B- side than on an actual studio album. One of the worst Rush songs in my opinion, this is just one I have to look over, for I know this band is better than what this song conveys. The last "short" track on the album is "Lakeside Park" (3/5), an early favorite at Rush concerts. About the nightlife of a 1970's Ontario town, it is a very soothing and comfortable song that provokes the nostalgia of careless teenage life. The lone single off the album, and not looked upon favorably by Lee, it is a good track, and that's about it. What comes next is the first ever prog epic by the band, "The Necromancer" (5/5), coming in at over twelve minutes. With fantasy themes inspired by Tolkien, it is split into three parts - a build-up, a very heavy middle part, and an acoustic closer. There are many bright spots on this song, ranging from the inclusion of narrations by Peart between the three parts and the jamming of guitarist Alex Lifeson, to the inclusion of the third part "Return of the Prince"; the prince being By-Tor from the previous album who now as a hero, slays the evil antagonist of the story. All in all, a very solid song and worthy of playing over and over again.

The epic "Fountain of Lamneth" (5/5) occupies the entire second side. The longest song on the album at one second shy of twenty minutes, it is based upon the journey from birth to death, or rather an allegory. The protagonist is searching for the fountain, which can be an analogy for the mythical fountain of youth. Detailing birth, adolescence, love, heartbreak, aging, and death in six parts, this song is certainly ambitious. A rather pretentious song at times, it is very well thought out and has very good passages, ranging from soft acoustic parts to jamming guitar passages and even a drum solo by Peart. The beginning and ending parts are also book-ended to possibly symbolize the endless circle of life or the return to nothingness at death. An interesting concept, and a definite thumper, this track is indeed an underrated masterpiece - overlooked and now serves as the first true epic the band would create.

"Caress of Steel" was not well received by their label, Mercury. Demanding that the band create a more commercially friendly album, they threatened the band with dropping them - into sheer irrelevancy. However, the band decided to ignore the label's demands, and went to creating a similarly ambitious album with another twenty-minute piece, and no truly radio-friendly songs. Thankfully, that album was "2112", and it propelled the band to stardom. A great story of perseverance, and a lesson to everyone of being resilient and never giving up, without the band's stubbornness, we would see Rush as another obscure prog rock band, sucked up by the sands of time. I can see how fans love this album - it has pretty good examples of prog, and the epics are pretty strong, but this album simply is hampered by the awful second track. A great listen for hardcore Rush fans and those who want to delve further into the seemingly endless abyss of 1970's prog.

OVERALL: 3.6/5 (C-)

 II by MOTHER TURTLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.82 | 9 ratings

BUY
II
Mother Turtle Heavy Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

5 stars Incredible eclectic prog from Greece. Each time I find myself listening to this album I am blown away by A) how good it is, B) how familiar it is, C) how diverse the styles represented here are, and D) how much it sounds like some long-lost 'classic' from the 1970s--like a new release of a heretofore undiscovered BABYLON tape.

1. "Overture" (1:46) acoustic ditty introducing the epic that follows performed in a kind of Renaissance-style vocal herald à la GENTLE GIANT. (9/10)

2. "Harvest Moon" (13:08) a song that sounds like it was left off a VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR or KING CRIMSON album in the 1970s or perhaps a more recent DISCIPLINE/MATTHEW PARMENTER--only with a different vocalist. Great drumming, great keyboard work, great saxophone, great vocals, amazing ending! (10/10)

3. "Ennui" (3:31) a gentle yet insistent STYX/RUSH-like interlude between the album's twin towers. (8.5/10)

4. "Walpurgi Flame" (20:15) Like two songs in one: the first a eight-minute rendering of an amazing though long lost Zeuhl (GUAPO?) warm up, the second a contrasting gorgeous, hope-filled symphonic folk piece with female lead vocalists feeling similar to a CIRRUS BAY song (though it sounds more, in fact, like a song from Chile's AISLES' 2009 In Sudden Walks because of the incredible vocal melodies). Methinks the lyrics refer to the trouble a typical (or particular) Greek individual might have with his country (as well as his species') preoccupation with money and power when, at basic biological status, all are equal. My new favorite prog epic of the year 2016. (10/10)

5. "The Tower" (2:56) a beautiful and incredibly powerful tribute to the shock and confusion of the eye-witness observers of the destruction of New York City's Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. (10/10)

6. "The Art of Ending a Revolution" (14:44) is a decent if fairly bland and simple prog epic about the lesson humans are supposed to learn "the art of smiling while someone is stabbing your back," the art of practicing The Golden Rule, the art of patience with hope, the art of detachment. Nice electric guitar chord progressions, nice vocal, nice message, nice bass play, nice saxophone work--just a nice song. Nice. Like we're expected to be. Despite the chaos and corruption surrounding us. The best part of the song begins with the eery Twilight Zone-like synth over which David Strathairn reads Edward R. Murrow's famous anti-Eugene McCarthy speech from the 2005 film, Good Night, and Good Luck... and then the powerful final two minutes. (9/10)

This is one of the most brilliantly conceived and realized concept albums I've ever heard. I hope it gets the attention it deserves--both musically and moral-politically.

A true masterpiece of progressive rock music and an album that should be heard around the world--especially in times like these.

 Silence Between Sounds by KARMAMOI album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 3 ratings

BUY
Silence Between Sounds
Karmamoi Heavy Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

4 stars KARMAMOI- "Karma happening right now", or so it was explained to me. This Italian band formed in 2009, members eager to explore progressive rock music in ways meaningful to them.

On "Silence Between Sounds"- an evocative title that suggests a sort of meditation, a search for meaning- KARMAMOI pose(s) a difficult question: What are the roots, the sources of human failure?

The lyrics suggest that answers lie in stars and classical philosophy, astronomy to Plato.

Using guitar, bass, and drums, yet adding cello, flute, and keyboards- including liberal piano (and with crystalline production), KARMAMOI teamed with several vocalists to depict the ways they seek to explore and understand the question.

"Nashira" which enters after a brief piano-driven prelude, introduces the smoky, sardonic vocals which at first I found off-putting. This is not a knock against Sara Rinaldi, who has a fine, quality voice. It's more a matter of personal taste, and wanting coherence between lyrics and tone.

Nashira also offers the first reference to astronomy, as well as the mythic elements KARMAMOI draws from and utilizes in poetic ways. Nashira is a luminous, white, huge star in the tail of the Capricorn constellation, a star easily visible in the sky.

Musically, we get those smoky vocals, then quickening bass to propel the clean guitar and piano tones, along with alternating quiet and more energetic passages. "Nashira"- The Fortunate One.

Next is "Atma"- seemingly related to the Hindu term "Atman"- the spiritual life principle of the universe. Whereas the previous track lyrics referred to life struggles like rape, addiction, and madness, Atma lyrics examine self-salvation or self-destruction. It's a brief dialogue within self.

Atma begins with dreamy, reflective vocals, then gains intensity, and liquid, bold guitar tones lead finally to an ambiguous ending.

"Sirio" is the sole instrumental track, and one of my favorites on the album. The title suggests "Sirius"- one of the brightest stars in the sky, and according to mythology, the canine companion to Orion. Or, perhaps this is a reference to the Italian holy man, Sirio Carappa?

Somewhat discordant guitar tones lead the complex musical journey on Sirio.

"Martes" may be the most intriguing lyrical entry. Again we hear the sultry vocals that grow more focused referring perhaps to the god of war, Mars, and warning of the all-too-easy path of violence and destruction. Here too, we have the duality of Mars, mated with Venus, and their love-child Harmonia: the lyrics lead to the lovely "Prayer for Peace" in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishads: loosely translated as "From ignorance, lead me to truth; from darkness, to light; from death lead me to immortality. OM- peace, peace, peace".

Next, "Plato's Cave", an invitation to recall Platonic philosophy! Driving guitars and wailing, sardonic, pulsating vocals, which drawl with insouciance, propel this tune. Here are lush passages, interspersed with martial drums as in a solemn dance- depicting perhaps the sense of inner subjugation, being chained to the walls of a cave, and being consumed with the delusion that shadows are real.

Plato's Cave offers the glimpse of redemption, of rising above the lower self and finding True Reality.

Then, the very dark "Lost Days". We hear the soft, tormented tones, and listen to lyrics of haunted days and nights, during which the obsessed lover finds only "your damned soul" while seeking freedom from that obsessive love.

And, the finale, "Canis Majoris". KARMAMOI offers us no neat, quick fix to the challenge- what of human failure?

Canis Majoris again has the sardonic vocal style, at first the music is slow, then grand, and back again. The lyricist poses the tortured question, "Am I mad?" and suggests, "What you hunt is wrong"- what you seek is misguided.

Canis Majoris is a hypergiant red star, which according to astronomers is in the grand, painful process of death over many millennia. The tune slows almost to a stop, then reignites, only to end once and for all.

Thus we are led along this path from enormity to enormity, from star to star, the stars of destiny.

KARMAMOI have crafted a lovely, thought-provoking album filled with layers of meaning, and fine artistry. Once again I am reminded why I am a "Progressive Rock Fanatic".

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