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TECH/EXTREME PROG METAL

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal definition

This category lists technical Progressive Metal bands that have roots in Extreme Metal or that are strongly influenced by it. The style developed by the end of the 80s in the Thrash Metal scene when a number of bands stretched the boundaries of their sound by including elements from Progressive Rock. Death Metal followed a similar path in the 90s and by the 2000s, also Black Metal and Metalcore saw an increasing amount of bands taking in Prog influences.

Certain bands like EPHEL DUATH and UNEXPECT developed a style that largely abandoned their extreme metal heritage in favour of a highly eclectic jazz-influenced Avant Metal style. These bands are listed under Experimental Metal.


Progressive Thrash Metal
By the end of the 80s Thrash Metal had diversified its sound significantly to an extent where the originally very direct and uncompromisingly aggressive style had become more sophisticated, boasting challenging technical skills and ambitious song structures frequently surpassing the 6 minute mark. The best known examples are METALLICA and MEGADETH.

The bands listed in this section went one step further and embraced notable influences from Progressive Rock, replacing much of the typical Thrash Metal riffs and rhythms with a more progressive and melodic riffing style, influenced by KING CRIMSON and RUSH. The most well-known of these early bands was VOIVOD, who also brought the early psychedelic sound of PINK FLOYD into their unique mold. Important pioneering albums were released by WATCHTOWER, CORONER, MEKONG DELTA, as well as the debut album of SIEGES SEVEN.
More recent examples of Progressive Thrash are SPIRAL ARCHITECT and VEKTOR


Progressive Death Metal
Death Metal further built on the sound of the most extreme bands of the Thrash scene. Next to the brutal sound, blast beat drumming, complex song structures and multiple tempo changes, the most notorious feature of the style is probably the growled vocals. Death Metal is generally highly technical, making the dividing line between Technical Death Metal and Progressive Death Metal sometimes rather faint.

The bands considered for Prog Archives are those that show significant influences from Progressive Rock and/or Fusion. One of the landmarks in the style is "Elements" from ATHEIST, who mixed their hyper-technical Speed Metal with fusion. Other early albums include "Focus" from CYNIC and "Spheres" from PESTILENCE, where progressive riffing, polymetrics, fusion influences and atmospheric keyboards complemented their brutal Death Metal. Also DEATH, the popular founder of Death Metal, incorporated fusion and progressive elements on their later albums.

A different flavour of Progressive Death Metal came from the European continent, when half-way into the 90s leading death and doom-death bands started expanding their basic metal sound. The most significant album relevant to this section is "Crimson" from EDGE OF SANITY. In typical Scandinavian fashion, their epic approach wasn't fusion oriented but less technical and more melodic, introducing the now typical alteration between brutal Death sections and more melodic breaks with clean vocals; an approach perfected in the next decade by OPETH.


Progressive Black Metal
Unlike Thrash and Death metal, Black Metal is not a technical genre. Originally it was even purposely non-technical and low-fi. By the end of the 90s the genre had developed into various sub-styles, of which some incorporated elements from progressive music.
The bands listed in this section are Black Metal bands that traded the minimalism of Black Metal for a more progressive, technical or experimental approach. This distinguishes them from the Black Metal bands that fleshed out their sound with either post-rock and/or shoegaze influences. Those are listed under Experimental/Post Metal.

One of the earliest and best known example of this style is ENSLAVED, who maintained the harsh atmosphere and aggression of classic Black Metal but extended this with a more textured psychedelic sound, chromatic riffing and odd time-signatures, citing influences from PINK FLOYD, VOIVOD and KING CRIMSON. Also IHSAHN, front-man of EMPEROR, should be mentioned here.

Most artists in this section are Symphonic Black Metal-oriented bands with progressive and experimental influences, but without fully crossing over to either Prog or Avant Metal as they remain oppressively dark, harsh, often dissonant and inaccessible. Their strong ties to Black Metal is why they are featured under Tech/Extreme Prog Metal and not in Avant Prog Metal. Examples are DEATHSPELL OMEGA, MOONSORROW, NEGURA BUNGET and the slightly more accessible theatrical Symphonic Black Metal of ARCTURUS.


Modern Phase
In the 2000s trends became more diffuse, introducing bands that had some of their stylistic features in common with the extreme metal genres without fully belonging in any of them. Some of them continued the strong fusion element and hyper-technical approach from ATHEIST and CYNIC. Instrumental acts such a as EXIVIOUS, CANVAS SOLARIS and BLOTTED SCIENCE received lots of critical acclaim from progressive metal fans.

A new trend was set by MESHUGGAH, one of the most defining bands of this era. At the end of the 90s their eclectic mix of Death, Thrash, Avant, Fusion and Prog laid down the groundrules of Extreme Metal for the next decade. Another well known band to take a similar eclectic approach to Extreme Metal was GOJIRA.
In the second half of the 2000's, many young bands copied MESHUGGAH's guitar tone and rhythmical riffing style, giving rise to the so-called 'djent' movement. Many of these bands belong in Tech/Extreme, such as ANIMALS AS LEADERS, CHIMP SPANNER etc.


Progressive Metalcore
The second half of the 2000s also saw the rise of a new generation of Progressive Tech/Extreme acts with roots that lay in Metalcore, Mathcore and Technical Sludge, rather then the 'classic' Extreme Metal genres. Their music is inherently technical and complex and has quite a number of formal features in common with Progressive Metal such as odd time signatures and non-standard song formats.
Prog Archives only lists these bands that go beyond the default expectations of the genre and bring in distinct non-extreme Prog influences. Some of the most eye-catching bands in this area are BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, PROTEST THE HERO, BURST, DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and MASTODON.


--- Definition by Karl and the Progressive Metal Team, January 2012 ---

The Progressive Metal Team
Karl (bonnek)
Kevin (Necroncommander)
Alex (Rune2000)
Thanos (aapatsos)
Dave (Prog Sothoth)
Louis (rdtprog)

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal Top Albums


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

4.31 | 1562 ratings
STILL LIFE
Opeth
4.25 | 1508 ratings
GHOST REVERIES
Opeth
4.25 | 1617 ratings
BLACKWATER PARK
Opeth
4.33 | 169 ratings
OBSCURA
Gorguts
4.23 | 448 ratings
CRIMSON
Edge of Sanity
4.22 | 524 ratings
SYMBOLIC
Death
4.26 | 276 ratings
NOTHINGFACE
Voivod
4.18 | 518 ratings
FOCUS
Cynic
4.21 | 306 ratings
UNQUESTIONABLE PRESENCE
Atheist
4.20 | 409 ratings
THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE
Death
4.25 | 188 ratings
DIMENSION HATROSS
Voivod
4.22 | 266 ratings
ELEMENTS
Atheist
4.15 | 1033 ratings
PALE COMMUNION
Opeth
4.16 | 361 ratings
HUMAN
Death
4.20 | 181 ratings
BACK TO TIMES OF SPLENDOR
Disillusion
4.14 | 342 ratings
TALL POPPY SYNDROME
Leprous
4.18 | 213 ratings
ISA
Enslaved
4.15 | 285 ratings
INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS
Death
4.12 | 496 ratings
TRACED IN AIR
Cynic
4.19 | 183 ratings
OM
Negura Bunget

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Tech/Extreme Prog Metal experts team

THE SENSE APPARATUS
Frantic Bleep
WINTERSUN
Wintersun
CITRINITI
Citriniti
LAZARUS BIRD
Burst

Latest Tech/Extreme Prog Metal Music Reviews


 Voimasta Ja Kunniasta by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.79 | 45 ratings

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Voimasta Ja Kunniasta
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars Considering themselves 'epic heathen metal,' the Helsinki, Finland based MOONSORROW followed in the footsteps of bands like Skyclad and Amorphis to incorporate local folk music flavors into extreme metal and in the process found ways to carve a new niche for themselves. While the band began more as a Norwegian second wave black metal clone, brothers Ville and Henri Sorvali really stepped up their game for the debut 'Suden Uni,' which showcased a more sophisticated approach of melding together the aforementioned elements however on their sophomore album VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA ('Of Strength And Honor'), MOONSORROW really took a quantum leap in quality and although i didn't find the debut the least bit uninteresting, on this this one a new synthesis of the disparate sounds certainly did rise to the next level.

While 'Suden Uni' was profound, VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA introduces the world to a more epic approach of black metal and ethnic folk fusion with a step towards more progressive pastures. One of the distinguishing features of this second full-length offering is the arrival of second guitarist Mitja Harvilahti who along with Henri Sorvali gives the band a much fuller twin guitar attack sound. Dare i say that VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA also dishes out much more memorable folk hooks as well? Everything seems to click for the band and their much lauded and idiosyncratic approach to folk metal comes into fruition here. Except for the short instrumental intro, the tracks are quite lengthy ranging from seven and a half minutes to nearly fourteen, however the repetitive folk hooks are mesmerizing even as the black metal bombast pummels the senses.

Generally speaking, MOONSORROW at this stage are clearly a black metal band with the characteristic traits of orotundity that includes incessant tempos, buzzsaw guitar action and tremolo picking as well as shred vocals, percussive blastbeats and muddy distortion however the folk elements take it into an entirely new direction and not just for novelty's sake. This is a true marriage of ethnic folk and black metal. The folk aspects take the metal into more melodic sophistication that allow the chord progressions to carry a deeper meaning as well as the keyboard rich atmospheric backdrops that have been toned down since the previous album. While 'Suden Uni' allowed clean vocal non-metal segments to find their way into the mix, VOIMASTA JA KNNIASTA is pretty much an intense black metal fusion all the way through with only a smattering of acoustic guitar intros and breakdowns popping up from time to time. Clean vocals are reserved for the backing vocals only.

MOONSORROW mastered here a nice collection of five tracks that each have a distinct personality. Some such as 'Hiidenpelto - H'pe'n Hiljaiset Vedet ('Field of the Devil/The Silent Waters of Shame") focus more on the melodic developments while some like 'Aurinko ja Kuu (The Sun And The Moon)' break out a more thrashy metal heft and emphasis on the heaviness without sacrificing the folk intricacies. The true treat is saved for last as the sprawling epic 'Sankarihauta (Warrior's Tale)' begins with sensual ocean wave sounds and slinks on through several developing features which include a health dose of blackened folk metal prowess, a distinct folkened melodic escapade sallies forth into the heat of battle and nice a alternating mix of atmospheric oomf between the metal stomps and acoustic folk inserts. Overall VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA is an excellent development in MOONSORROW's history but personally i don't think it's better, just a nice different path to embark upon.

 Blackwater Park by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.25 | 1617 ratings

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Blackwater Park
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars Blackwater park is one of the strongest metal releases of 2001 and a landmark of early 2000's metal.

Opeth were are creative peak years, pushing forward with each release. However it was with Blackwater park, that their leaps have increased.

The production is crystal, matched to progressive music and marks a successful collaboration with Steven Wilson.

Blackwater Park offers strong experience for fans of progressive metal, death metal, atmospheric metal and possibly also progressive rock.

The album starts strongly and brutally with "Leper Affinity" that shifts from ominous growls and death metal bass drums to more conventional progressive metal and even atmospheric piano outro in the end.

The songs is filled with darkness but also poignant singing of Mikael.

"Bleak" is, despite its name, less bleak than the first song and it is partly inspired by middle East chords. One of consistently played live tracks from this album. There are very progressive rhythm changes to be found there.

"Harvest" is a mellow catchy song and the only sung in a completely clean vocal. It predates songs from the Damnation album.

"The drapery falls" shows a perfect sense for graduation. Imagine a slow stream of water getting larger and faster to become a wild water that flows and some point starts calming again to enter the sea.

Acoustic guitars play the intro and repeat a sorrowful melody that comes into play in the end, too. The music progresses to the progressive death metal-influenced middle part. This is one of the most accessible songs on the album.

"Dirge for November" is yet another bleak song although the beginning seems to come from a quiet acoustic dream sung by warm voice. The instrumental fill allows drums, bass and guitars to lay ground for more ominous music that features pure evil sequence of chors

and brutal growling. A devastating track, possibly about suicide, leaves one feel like being in a dark forest during a storm. The acoustic outro is very effective in that it evokes the contemplative mood sounding like funeral music.

"A funeral portrait" is, in comparison, to the two previous sister tracks, a more upbeat nod to progressive death metal characterised by some of the most brutal growling on the record, that becomes hellish at 1:16.

The vocal pattern from the Karma track on 1998's My arms your hearse is repeated here with multiple passionate and evil growls. Solid guitar solos with great drumming follow.

"Patterns in the ivy" is not a memorable but acoustically pleasant short intermezzo before the main meal of the day is served "Blackwater park".

This colossal epic track, aware of its length, starts developing slowly, taking its time.

Vocals are almost completely absent in the first half and the riffs are repetitive so the track's atmosphere can be rapidly remembered.

The first highlight of the track is the lengthy well developed acoustic-electric guitar part. It showcases Opeth's masterful and confident work with mellow music, which is not common among progressive/death metal bands.

Death metal sneakes in again and stays as a guest until the end of the composition. Multiple varations on growling and powerful progressive riffs are on display. The track is slowly getting to its peak right before its end.

The vocal and music performance is breathtaking and inspirational to many younger musicians. Death metal vocals heard on that track are phenomenal and hard to recreate during the live performance, even though this track was often performed in the end of concerts where vocals could go crazy.

Every 20 seconds, at the longest, there is a change in the rhythm, motive or melody, and I strongly recommend you to liste to this masterpiece multiple times.

Opeth have set a new defining moment in the metal music with their Blackwater park.

 The Sexuality of Bereavement by MY DYING BRIDE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
2.38 | 11 ratings

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The Sexuality of Bereavement
My Dying Bride Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by thwok

3 stars I love MY DYING BRIDE. I think they're the absolute cream of the "doom metal" crop. Therefore, almost anything they put out will get some automatic cred from me. The major shortcoming of this single, for some folks is going to be that the material is available elsewhere. I like this single. The title song is one of MDB's weaker ones. On the other hand, I like this remix of "Crown of Sympathy". It is definitely different, and not necessarily preferable to the original. However, on it's own it offers more variety. The first half of the single is somewhat repetitive.
 Emperor Of Sand by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.61 | 89 ratings

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Emperor Of Sand
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Mastodon returned to their roots with this release!

And in the attempt of achieving their most classical sound, they worked with the legendary producer Brendan O'Brien. So the sound of the album is pure Mastodon. Sharp, complex, with piercing guitars and a bit hoarser vocals than in albums like Once More Round the Sun and Crack the Skye. Not a single complaint about the production, then.

But the problem with this album is that the songwriting is again subpar after the excellent Once More Round the Sound. A pair of really good songs are mixed with forgettable ones which bring nothing new to the band's career. And that's my concern with Emperor of Sand. It is a good Mastodon album, but also their most predictable and generic release.

Best Tracks: Sultan's Curse (a song which retrieves the power of Leviathan), Ancient Kingdom (dramatic and epic) and Jaguar God (their most progressive song since Crack the Skye)

Conclusion: Emperor of Sand is a minor disappointment after the superior Once More Round the Sun. And despite being than other albums like Blood Mountain and The Hunter, it does not reach the four star rating mainly because the lack of new ideas and some forgettable songs.

My rating: ***

 The Simulation by BORN OF OSIRIS album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.04 | 4 ratings

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The Simulation
Born Of Osiris Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Born of Osiris', a band formally started around 2007 is a Tech Metal/Progressive Metalcore band that has had quite a large following with Tech Metal fans. For the first part of the 2000s, the band changed their name a few times, originally named 'Diminished' in 2003, they changed it to 'Your Heart Engraved' in 2004, got signed to Sumerian Records and changed it again to 'Rosecrance' in 2006 and released an EP, and then finally settled on 'Born of Osiris' in 2007. Since then, they have released either a new album or a new EP every 2 or 3 years.

'The Simulation' was released in January of 2019 as a 'mini-album'. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but the total time for the album is around 25 minutes. It has 8 tracks, mostly of them staying around the 3 minute mark. According to tweets from guitarist Lee McKinney, the band plans on releasing a 2nd album later in 2019.

This album introduces the new bassist Nick Rossi, who replaced David Da Rocha in 2018. The original band members that are still active in the band are Ronnie Canizaro doing most of the vocals, clean and dirty, Joe Buras also on vocals and keyboards and Cameron Losch on drums. Lee McKinny is the guitarist and has been since 2007.

The music is pretty much straightforward Tech Metal with the rapid drumming, heavy speed guitar work and mostly screaming/dirty vocals from both vocalists (Joe's vocals are a tad more melodic). The thing that stands out with this band is the frequent and excellent use of keyboards that give the music the progressive metal edge that also gives it some variety. There are even some synth solos as in the instrumental break in 'Under the Gun', but all of the solos breaks are short because all of the songs are commercial length. That is another problem, the band is trying to take the genre to a commercial level, so there isn't any time for real soloing or any extensive progressive exploration.

Probably the most progressive of the tracks is the djent heavy 'Silence the Echo' with its tricky riffs and interesting textures. But it is hard for me to get around the vocals, which is my main issue with the album. But I am being as subjective as I can anyway, and the band is definitely talented, which is the biggest draw for this album since their sound is much more perfected and their playing has improved over the years. Their timing is impeccable and that means a lot in this style of music. But there really is not much of a let up with the dirty vocals and the intensity of the music. Really, the only variety you have here is the inclusion of keyboard led sections, but everything is so rapid fire that its tough to have any huge amount of detectable development.

If you love tech metal, then this is definitely for you. Just be aware that the shortness of the album and the songs lead to not a lot of depth in the music, and not much in the way of dynamics. For these reasons, along with the fact that it is a short album, I give this 3 stars. This style of music is not my preference not because its loud, but because there is little variety between the tracks.

 The Dreadful Hours by MY DYING BRIDE album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.03 | 52 ratings

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The Dreadful Hours
My Dying Bride Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

5 stars Always one to experiment, MY DYING BRIDE perhaps went a little too far with their misstep into the unknown for the fanbase with "34.788%...Complete" which found the band adding all kinds of wild new ideas. While some like alternative metal suited the band's signature goth doom sound to a T, others such as trip hop didn't quite jive and although many including myself found the album to be descent, the overall consensus was that MY DYING BRIDE had hit their stride on "Like Gods Of The Sun" and were in free fall decline, however after the clarity of returning to their signature sound was once again a priority, the band bounced back with "The Light At The End Of The World" which proved they had more than enough life in them and while the album was a fine return to form and an admirable comeback, it wasn't up to par with the high notes of "Turn Loose The Swans" and "The Angel And The Dark River."

On THE DREADFUL HOURS, the band's seventh studio album and first of the 21st century, the fiery creative passion that had made MY DYING BRIDE such a sensation in the early years had returned and released one of the band's finest albums with eight outrageously delectable tracks that not only were connected to their past goth-tinged death doom days but found yet more ways to incorporate new musical elements into their, by this time, classic unmistakeable stylistic approach. The band's core remained the same with Aaron Stainthorpe displaying his amazing range of vocal styles with the usual plaintive romantic crooning as well as an increased use of the death growls however on THE DREADFUL HOURS he expands his extreme metal vocals to include a more blackened growl approach which reminds me of Behemoth's Nergal.

Guitarist Andrew Craighan provided the sole guitar parts on the previous album after the departure of Calvin Robertshaw and joining the crew on this album is guitarist Hamish Glencross, who with Craighan provide a more deadly twin guitar attack as they not only tackle the usual plodding doom riffs but engage in heavier high tempo death metal segments as well as adding palm muting thrash techniques to their doom riffage. The rhythm center of bassist Adrian Jackson and drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels also exercise greater liberties in their playing as each instrument takes on a more expansive role. The bass duties have become more complex and the drumming more experimental as well. While no violinist has returned, the two session keyboardists Jonny Mauding and Yasmin Ahmed dish out tasteful doses of piano tinklings, atmospheric overcast and mood modification mostly set to mournful depression.

With eight tracks that range from five minutes to over fourteen, MY DYING BRIDE cranks out one of the most diverse set lists (well not counting 34.778%) of their career with every element finding the perfect place to express itself. One of the major differences from the past is the incorporation of post-rock elements as heard on the opening title track which sounds more like an Isis album until it erupts into a death-doom frenzy. The compositions have become more complex and progressive as segments segue into others and various riffs, drumming patterns and bass lines slowly shapeshift into something completely new while the haunting atmospheric backdrop nudges it into a new comfort zone. The chemistry of this team is certainly off the charts as it has provided a new energized passion that keeps all the various tracks quite distinct from each other with countless different instrumental spontaneity erupting throughout.

The beauty of MY DRYING BRIDE is that they so successful captured their own distinct sound so early on in their game that have the ability to pretty much adapt any musical idea to the goth death-doom paradigm. Basically Stainthorpe provides the backbone to the band's style with his charismatic vocal style with an extra anchor in the atmospheric department, however the guitar, bass and drums are pretty much allowed to do whatever they want provided they stay within the confines of the melodies. Such is the case for all of the tracks which to the casual listener will sound like business as usual but to the careful listener will find new rhythmic flows, creative instrumental interplay and a greater focus on shifting timbres, dynamics, tempos and vocals. This is perhaps my favorite MY DYING BRIDE album as it perfectly balances all the various elements which include the goth death doom metal, darkwave ambient and alternative metal with the usual sombre poetic vocal deliveries of Stainthorpe. MY DYING BRIDE not only made a comeback from their nadir but hit one of the highest notes in this apex of their entire career.

 A Sceptic's Universe by SPIRAL ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.65 | 140 ratings

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A Sceptic's Universe
Spiral Architect Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars The third Watchtower album! Except by a completely unrelated band!

While progressive metal had its origins in the 80s with bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning and Dream Theater bringing the fledgling metal style a greater audience, the true honor goes to the Texas based Watchtower who with their "King Crimson effect" pioneered a release that many consider the very first progressive metal album "Energetic Disassembly" all the way back in 1985. Although very few were listening, they would skip a few grades in the world of complexity just when metal was just becoming popular in the mainstream. While the style would evolve and splinter as new metal sub-genera were springing forth, very few if any bands would emulate the unique technically demanding assault of sizzling metal freneticism geeked out in more jazz infused compositional constructs at least when accompanied by high pitched vocals.

While Watchtower would release two amazingly brilliant albums during the brief run in the 80s, unfortunately very few were listening since they were well ahead of the pack and the overall public was just getting accustomed to the nascent thrash, death and black metal genres, however the techniques involved didn't go unnoticed by musicians themselves. As the 90s saw a huge evolutionary development in the metal universe, the technical aspects that had debuted with Watchtower ended up being used in the newer styles especially in the rich fertile fields of death metal which would soon develop its own technical strain of complexity. While bands like Dream Theater were more akin to symphonic prog of the 70s with more metal aspects, bands like Cynic, Voivod, Atheist, Pestilence and Death would adopt many of these jazzified technical aspects of Watchtower and run away with it.

Far away in Norway, a band called SPIRAL ARCHITECT was born when guitarist Steiner Gundersen hooked up with the remains of the band Anesthesia which included the members Kaj Gornitzka (guitar), Lars K. Norberg (bass) and Asgeir Mickelson (drums). This team of seasoned veterans had a mission and that was to recreate the progressive metal magic that occurred with a very few bands that exercised technical chops in the more traditional 80s metal style in the vein of not only Watchtower but Fates Warning and Psychotic Waltz without resorting to adopting the snarling death growls that the technical metal universe had been gravitating towards since the early 90s. While formed in 1995, it would take the band five whole years to craft their one and only album A SCEPTIC'S UNIVERSE which married the technical finger busting wizardry with the passionately delivered emotional intensity of the classics of 80s metal.

A SCEPTIC'S UNIVERSE offers both a sense of familiarity as well as stunning new mind-blowing displays of technical metal profusion where no compromise is the name of the game however the band's primary focus isn't to blow away the audience (although that does occur) but rather craft cleverly complexly constructed compositions that revolve around rather accessible melodic developments. Much like Cynic and Death, SPIRAL ARCHITECT finds the right melodic grooves to riff around and then simply offers a multitude of progressive variations that include everything from tempo shifts and bizarre dynamic changes to time signature rich angularities. With a firm grasp on not only metal sensibilities, the band incorporate the wide array of jazz influences into the mix with allows an amazing dexterity in polyrhythms and contrapuntal gymnastics that leave the listener bedazzled in disbelief.

With a keen sense of guitar riffage that would prove to be influential for death metal hybrids like Necrophagist and a keen sense of traditional power metal from the likes of Crimson Glory, SPIRAL ARCHITECT is like the ultimate tech infused tribute band that not only nails all the head-spinning technical workouts like pros but also seamlessly evoke many of the greats that led up the turn of the millennium when this was released. A SCEPTIC'S UNIVERSE is one of those albums that is literally flawless but yet seems a little too derivative in its blatant rampage through the Watchtower meets Psychotic Waltz meets Fates Warning worship. While the impeccable juggling act of emotional fortitude, instrumental prowess and atmospheric embellishments warrant a 5 star rating, the fact is that this band merely took what was already presented by their influence and exaggerated everything substantially and while a completely satisfying listen in the end, still leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth because i really want this to be a new Watchtower album which is what it sounds like.

While technically this technical band from Montreal, Quebec is still in existence, the reality is that in their two decade plus existence, they have only released this sole album and most members are involved in completely non-related projects mostly existing in the black metal realm, however for those who completely despise death growls for vocals and in the process are completely shut out of the magnificent wealth of technical death metal bands that exist in the 21st century, this will be an album that satisfies on many, many levels and if it weren't for the exaggerated Starcastle effect (the band that cloned progressive rock Yes' early works), i'd be on board for declaring this a bona fide masterpiece and if it actually were the third Watchtower release or the next chapter of Psychotic Waltz or even a blip on the Fates Warning canon, i would indeed but i do subtract points for being too blatantly inspired. Still though, impressive album that must be heard by any fan of progressive metal's top tier albums.

 Skullgrid by BEHOLD...THE ARCTOPUS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.81 | 56 ratings

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Skullgrid
Behold...The Arctopus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

4 stars Woooo ... can melody lines get such a complication like their excessive style? 'Skullgrid' was released in 2007 as the debut album of BEFOLD ... The ARCTOPUS and their superb masterpiece 'Canada', that was introduced by my progr mate, has called me upon their turf. Yes I've got knocked out completely by the track where every piece is played without any breath nor relief at all. Complex, eccentric, and concentrated melody / rhythm lines are pretty harmonized and crystallized perfectly. No distortion is here. It makes sense you can find something innovative and immersive in their sound world.

Already tremendous is the weird combination of a mammal skull and digitally formed cubes. The first titled track is quite short but powerful and intensive as the very first call of theirs. Just felt as if Janus Stark met Yoshiharu of Le Silo. Imagined all of them might play together under such a nervous and sensitive condition, for the 90 seconds. The twin guitar explosions are incredibly gorgeous precisely based upon the chilling, outstanding rhythms created by the drum genius. Their soundscape is not so metallic but splendidly technical and extreme. It would navigate your massive expectation for a rock novelty.

'You Are Number Six' has less brilliance nor motivative potential in kinda shoegaze playing situation (maybe) but notifies you of dramatic repetitions and critical intentions. Wondering how long they could create such a musical perfection. Melodic, rhythmic seriousness in 'Some Mist' or speedy madness in the following 'Scepters' sounds amazing, attractive too. Minor details aside, their play should show you another fantastic sound appearance along with complicated but completely synchronized instrumental ritual managed by them all. Brilliant.

 A Parting Gift by SPIRES album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.91 | 2 ratings

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A Parting Gift
Spires Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by magenta7

5 stars A five star review as I love this album despite not being a fan of extreme metal or harsh/screaming vocals/growling. This album manages to balance these elements that I dislike with great melody, emotion and superb clean vocals, melding these highlights with just the right degree of power, beauty and majesty alongside compositional excellence throughout. Many bands and albums in this genre have me reaching for the skip/eject button very quickly, not here however as the whole album is an engaging joy to listen to. Maybe I am a fan of 'harsh' after all; when done this well? A stunning album!
 Gallop Meets The Earth by PROTEST THE HERO album cover Live, 2009
3.36 | 8 ratings

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Gallop Meets The Earth
Protest the Hero Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by thwok

4 stars Here's what I'd do - buy this for the live CD. Maybe you can use the DVD for a bookmark - just kidding. In fact it's listed right now for $14 on EBay; totally worth it for the live CD. I think PTH might the most impressive musical unit under the metalcore umbrella. Their songwriting abilities, and the way they play as a unit, are rare. Going to a concert, or watching a concert DVD, is mostly about connecting with the audience. That's where the band falls short. The audiovisual quality of the DVD could also be improved. The extra features are fun if you like PTH. Obviously, I respect the band and I love their music. This just isn't the best representation of them. So, I'll have to take away some credit for the DVD. The rest if the package is terrific. I'd give it 3 & 1/2.
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