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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 | 1550 ratings
STILL LIFE
Opeth
4.25 | 1495 ratings
GHOST REVERIES
Opeth
4.25 | 1606 ratings
BLACKWATER PARK
Opeth
4.36 | 165 ratings
OBSCURA
Gorguts
4.25 | 443 ratings
CRIMSON
Edge of Sanity
4.24 | 517 ratings
SYMBOLIC
Death
4.27 | 272 ratings
NOTHINGFACE
Voivod
4.25 | 301 ratings
UNQUESTIONABLE PRESENCE
Atheist
4.19 | 514 ratings
FOCUS
Cynic
4.20 | 405 ratings
THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE
Death
4.22 | 262 ratings
ELEMENTS
Atheist
4.25 | 185 ratings
DIMENSION HATROSS
Voivod
4.15 | 1023 ratings
PALE COMMUNION
Opeth
4.16 | 356 ratings
HUMAN
Death
4.20 | 179 ratings
BACK TO TIMES OF SPLENDOR
Disillusion
4.15 | 335 ratings
TALL POPPY SYNDROME
Leprous
4.12 | 496 ratings
TRACED IN AIR
Cynic
4.17 | 210 ratings
ISA
Enslaved
4.15 | 283 ratings
INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS
Death
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 AURORA VEIL
Ne Obliviscaris
A THIN LINE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HERE
My Bitter End
OM
Negura Bunget
THE SENSE APPARATUS
Frantic Bleep

Latest Tech/Extreme Prog Metal Music Reviews


 Satanic Art by DØDHEIMSGARD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
3.47 | 9 ratings

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Satanic Art
Dødheimsgard Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars After two albums of fairly orthodox and good old fashioned second wave Norwegian black metal, DODHEIMSGARD started to get a lot more experimental and playful with their demented and devilish musical madness. Serving as a tradition of sort, they released an EP titled SATANIC ART in 1998, two years after their second album "Monumental Possession" and a year before their third "666 Internation." SATANIC ART finds the band at an interesting halfway point between their second wave black metal origins and their avant-industrial leanings that follow.

SATANIC ART finds not only another lineup change but a few guest musicians adding all kinds of interesting new elements to the band's new fangled black metal smorgasbord. This EP despite its short duration offers many transitions and not only musically. Svein Egil Hatlevik aka Mr. Dingy Sweet Talker Women Stalker (Fleurety) would debut as keyboardist and Galder (Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child) would pick up extra guitar duties but only on this one release. Cerberus replaced Jonas Alver on bass.

"Oneiroscope" introduces the new Dodheimsgard with a piano piece that sounds like demented carnival music in a minor chord or even a psycho-drama flick soundtrack piece with lots of murder scenes. While "Traces Of Reality" reverts into the super bombastic black metal of the past, it is punctuated by a "White Zombie-esque" sampling, eerie atmospheric keyboard effects and most surprisingly the guest musician Paganini virtuosity of guest violinist Stine Lunde. "Symptom" continues the black metal bombast but adds some underpinnings of industrial metal that would surface on "666 International." "The Paramount Empire" also sticks to black metal a la "Monumental Possesion" but with a more loosy-goosy construct. The Finale "Wrapped In Plastic" is another piano driven outro.

Although this EP originally only clocked in at just under sixteen minutes, it exhibited more diverse elements than the first two albums combined. SATANIC ART has been virtually unattainable in a physical format at a decent price for two decades but has found at last a much needed rerelease in 2018 on Peaceville and adds a couple bonus tracks ("Black Treasure" and "Symptom (Alternate)." SATANIC ART is like dipping into the pool of avant-garde possibilities where obviously DODHEIMSGARD got the experimental bug and never looked back. Good for them because this is where they got really interesting and put themselves on the map in the metal world. Despite only being a little EP, this one is a monumental moment in experimental extreme metal.

 Monumental Possession by DØDHEIMSGARD album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.93 | 9 ratings

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Monumental Possession
Dødheimsgard Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars DODHEIMSGARD jumped into the Norwegian black metal snake pit and became only one of many in the legions of Darkthrone imitators with their debut album "Kronet Til Konge," which showed a group of angry misanthropic metalheads pulling off a really decent carbon copy version of albums like "A Blaze In The Northern Sky," however quickly after they released their rather ho hum debut to the world, the band started to take itself a little more seriously and started upping their game by infusing more creativity into their second wave black metal shtick. While not quite reaching the out of the box approaches that would define them, on their second release MONUMENTAL POSSESSION some of the avant-garde explorations had already started to creep in but in the end this is a black metal album from start to finish.

While firmly steeped in the same black metal world as the debut, MONUMENTAL POSSESSION has a much more diverse palette of ideas this time around. Firstly there are more thrash leanings. While the trebly black metal tremolo picking is ubiquitous as are the blastbeats and buzzsaw guitar distortion, there are many periods of thrash riffing and even soloing. This is a stylistic fusion that would be abandoned in favor of heading down a more experimental industrial path but a blueprint for bands like Aura Noir to adopt in DODHEIMGARD'S stead. Initially released on the Malicious label before the band had become better known, this album had been rare and out of print prior to the 2016 reissue on Peaceville.

MONUMENTAL POSSESSION saw a lineup change, a feature common with many extreme metal bands. While Aldrahn and VIcotnik are back for a second round, Jonas Alver replaces Fenriz on bass and Apollyon joins the grew as second guitarist. Another aspect that makes this album much different than the previous is that Aldrahn, Apollyon and Vicotnik all share vocal duties with each having a distinct style that offers more variations in the vocal department than most black metal releases of the 90s. So in addition to the usual shrieked vocal style, Victonik offers his own bizarre croaked shouts not unlike the vocalist of Inquisition which offers a freakish sensibility to the mix.

The album is bookended by hellish sound collages that offer freaky ghoulish Satanic sounds accompanied by swirling dark ambient turbulence. It sets the tone for the album but the music is unapologetically brutal black metal with thrash elements sewn in for good measure. A huge step up from the debut and a clear link to the future is the fluid and frenetic percussive attack of Vicotnik who offers a much more varied array of drum abuse than the average second wave pummelation of skins. Avant-garde and jazzy, they point to some of the weirdness that would emerge on the most experimental albums like "666 International." Overall, the music falls into the brutally melodic zone with distinct hooks that are augmented by the orotund bombast.

MONUMENTAL POSSESSION is a huge step up in terms of quality from "Kronet Til Konge" in every conceivable manner and while still firmly planted in the black metal universe is a surprisingly consistent and pleasant journey into the sickened Norwegian minds of these face painted miscreants. This is an album i actually enjoy and want to listen to. While this would be the band's last true black metal album, it is one that displays their talents of pulling off more than a mere Darkthrone clone routine and finds the band coming of age just in time to jettison it for something else completely, a trait that would find DODHEIMSGARD drifting from album to album much like Ulver without ditching the metal sound altogether. Not as great as future releases but damn good for an orthodox 90s black metal release.

 Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre by OPETH album cover Live, 2018
4.07 | 9 ratings

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Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars This new live release is the fourth for the band ad this time it was shot in a windy and cold evening at the Red Rocks Colorado. It is very cool to see the band playing in nature while you can see also in the back the city! The band played various songs from their 2 sides: the death metal vocals and the clean vocals. But this is not telling much about the quality of their music and the way they built their songs. The strength of the band has always been how they can go from a fast pace tempo with very heavy guitars to a slower pace acoustic parts in a way that only Opeth can do. So, even in their most death oriented songs, there is still room for some good old prog, you can hear some Landberk guitar influence. If the band has stopped to do death metal albums this is not because they are now playing folk music!

The picture and sound are excellent on this show and visually they give us something more enjoyable than previous DVDs with plenty of projections in the back in a giant screen. I like the editing of all the camera shots with some up and distant shots mix with the close shots. To me, it was a nice decision to keep the awkward moment where there was no sound coming from Mikael's guitar before a technician came on stage to fix everything. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed that the show length was only 90 minutes.

 E by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.99 | 58 ratings

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E
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the classic black metal bands and a favourite of Sam Dunn of Banger Films ("A Headbanger's Journey", "Flight 666", "Rush ? Beyond the Lighted Stage") is Enslaved. My first venture into their catalogue was their seventh album, "Below the Lights" because it was mentioned on a list of best metal albums as well as best progressive albums. I enjoyed it enough to consider a second purchase, and though "In Times" was next on my list, along with "Frost", I heard so many good things about "E" that I went for this one. Money well spent!

I understand well from what I've heard that Enslaved very early on expressed their progressive proclivities and that in the new millennium they expanded their sound into post rock. This album here expresses both of those faces of musical styles quite liberally. In fact, while I love the album as an Enslaved album, it was very easy for me to get into it because I could hear similarities to bands whose music I have already an attanchment to: Opeth, Anciients, Motorpsycho, and Devin Townsend. I also read that one member of Seven Impale joined Enslaved so that's another bonus as far as I'm concerned.

Of course there's the quintessential over-distorted guitar sound, speed, demonic vocals, and tenseness that comes with black metal, but also beauty and contrasts. The recording quality is superb, proving that black metal can sound magnificent once it swallows its lo-fi pride and goes for sonic brilliance.

A lot of old school extreme metal albums sound awesome but have little variety in their sound. When I think of old classics from my early teens like "Screaming for Vengeance", "Number of the Beast", or "Mob Rules", each song was treated like an individual piece of work and these albums had variety. No two songs sounded alike. So it's a great surprise and pleasure to listen to an album like this where once again I can feel that each song provides its own individual stamp on the album rather than just being a barrage of blast beats and tidal waves of distortion. With an album like this and a couple of other 21st century black metal and albums I have heard, I really think black metal has progressed and grown into an art rather than just a statement.

In the New Year, I will most certainly be looking to add two or three more Enslaved albums to my collection, possibly more.

 Om by NEGURA BUNGET album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.19 | 183 ratings

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Om
Negura Bunget Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Since last year (2017 as of this writing), I have been enjoying catching up on a lot of the extreme metal that I missed out on after basically leaving the extreme metal scene back in the early nineties. Two years ago, I had no interest in black metal; however, in the last 16 months or so, I have been checking out classic old school albums and becoming familiar mostly with the Norwegian scene of the nineties. Though this I have garnered a pretty decent understanding of how things were sounding at that time. To help me on further into the dark atmospheric realms of black metal, I recently consulted several lists of top 10, 25, 50 and 100 black metal albums of all time in an effort to find which albums were the most frequently included. One such album was "Om" by Negura Bunget.

I'll admit that the album cover intrigued me ? a curious and distorted human form that, as it turns out, is just exposed grass below a melted and dirty spring snow cover. Having never heard of the band, I looked them up on Wikipedia and as well read a review of the album. When I learned that they were a Romanian band that utilized Romanian folk music and symphonic elements in their music, I knew I had to order this album right away! How curious I was to hear it.

What I have to say now in favour of this album are two things. The first is that I am in no way disappointed with the music on this release. While black metal remains the constant core, there are frequent surprises such as ominously dark-sounding brass parts as well as a string orchestra, and there are also moments of those Romanian folk instruments, most notably the hand percussion instruments. Add to that some cathedral chanting of "Om" in ominous tones, some guitar-less symphonic sections, and some post rock/metal parts and you get an album that plays more like a musical journey than a simple collection of songs.

I'm finding that I really love albums that have a basic sound that I enjoy but then reveals surprises that contrast with the extreme metal music or complement it. With the awesome over-distorted but well-controlled guitars, the clean and almost pretty moments, and all the extra instrumentation, and you've got an album that keeps turning you head.

Now, a lot of the old school black metal albums have intentionally lo-fi quality recording. As it was, I bought Marduk's "Opus Nocturne" and put it on the playlist right after "Om". Listening to "Om" was just how I love to listen to music. The sound was beautifully rich and clear. I could see myself drifting through a dim and dense but clear atmosphere of guitar distortion and gravelly vocals while various instruments and sounds passed by me in solid, 3D form or flashes of light. But when "Opus Nocturne" came on, I suddenly felt like I was standing in a shallow stream of cold water up to my ankles. In contrast, "Opus Nocturne" sounded just like a young band in the scene of the time putting out an extreme album with shoddy production (or mastering) while "Om" was like someone with a good studio budget had taken time to craft an album that was a work of art.

The version I bought is a double-disc digipak that has another, more recently recorded album on the second disc. It's a beautiful package with great design and artwork. I'm curious to hear more from this band, though most sadly the one member holding the band together passed away a few years back and the band subsequently dissolved. "Om" is a fantastic album and it's easy to understand why it makes a few of those all-time best black metal lists.

 Malina by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.01 | 151 ratings

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Malina
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by praj912

5 stars I knew they'd do it. Masterpiece. It took time, but this is finally the pinnacle. Leprous are the new prog-metal benchmark. After seeing them live I can say they match up performance-wise also. This album tests your ears and mind. Dramatic, soaring, soul- moving, guttural....and there's still the 80s sugar pop thing that I hear. There aren't many bands at this level doing things that are new, properly new. I love a syncopated polyrhythm like the rest, and the album is full of great percussion. But, without the 'song', this is all a waste, and Leprous have hit the mark with the SONGS on this album. I hope they can repeat it! I want more!
 Hadeon by PESTILENCE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.04 | 8 ratings

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Hadeon
Pestilence Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Hadeon" is the 8th full-length studio album by Dutch death metal act Pestilence. The album was released through Hammerheart Records in March 2018. It's been 5 years since the release of "Obsideo (2013)" and from the interviews with band leader/guitarist/lead vocalist Patrick Mameli I've read in the intermediate years, it sounded like he had once again put Pestilence on hold. This time to concentrate on his new project Neuromorph, but apparently Mameli has changed his mind because we've heard nothing from Neuromorph as of yet, and here we have another Pestilence album. Since the release of the predecessor Mameli has changed the entire lineup except for himself. Guitarist Patrick Uterwijk has been replaced by Santiago Dobles (Council of the Fallen, Aghora, Cynic), drummer David Haley has been replaced by Septimiu Hărşan, and bassist George Maier has been replaced by Tilen Hudrap.

Stylistically little has changed since the predecessor (and the one before that) as Pestilence still play technical/progressive death metal and they still sound unmistakably like themselves (major lineup changes or not). The tracks are maybe slightly more catchy and immediate than the material on the two relatively similar sounding predecessors, but it's not a major change of sound. The number of sharp and powerful death/thrash riffs and rhythms have increased though and the use of dissonance and progressive ideas have decreased some. Listening to a track like "Astral Projection", which features an atmospheric section with a spacey vocoder voice, it's obvious that Pestilence still are a progressive oriented death metal act. The many jazz/fusion type guitar solos and occasional dissonant riffs point in that direction too. Mameli's intelligible death/thrash growling is the same as always. He has a fairly distinct sounding voice and vocal style.

"Hadeon" is a well produced, powerful, and detailed sounding album, and the sound production suits the material perfectly. The whole thing reeks an odd spiritual abstract sci-fi atmosphere. An atmosphere which is further enhanced by the lyrics and song titles like "Non Physical Existent", "Multi Dimensional", and "Layers of Reality". Upon conclusion "Hadeon" is another high quality release to the Pestilence name, and while this one (and the other post-2000 Pestilence releases) aren't quite as groundbreaking as the late 80s/early 90s releases by the band, they still prove that Pestilence are relevant and can produce quality music. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Vazimba by VAZIMBA album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 4 ratings

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Vazimba
Vazimba Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars The VAZIMBA were the legendary first inhabitants of the strange island nation of Madagascar, an island so isolated from the rest of the planet in its evolutionary history that despite its proximity to Africa, has been called a separate continent since the flora and fauna evolved in an isolation from the rest of the planet. These first inhabitants are claimed to have emerged from Polynesia and not the African continent which makes this bizarre land of chameleons and lemurs all the more unique on Earth.

The musical project known as VAZIMBA is equally mysterious and unique. Presumably from the island of Madagascar as the scant sources claim, there is virtually no information about this band (or solo project) that released one mysterious and weird album in 2011 and has never been heard from again. Like the continent, the music sounds like it evolved outside the confines of reality as it mixes and melds lush electronica with jazz-fusion, progressive rock, Latin and tribal influences and abrasive djent metal.

So obscure is this one that the only way to hear the four lengthy tracks that constitute the band's only self-titled release is on the Soundcloud site. The album is somewhat a tribute to the mysterious legendary tribe that claimed the Malagasy speaking country as its own. Through the 53 minute venture, this sci-fi prog and technical jazz metal experience, the listener is treated to seemingly random (and lengthy) passages that alternate between Meshuggah-like down tuned guitar chugging, rich tapestries of electronic ambience and atmospheric splendor along with tasty jazz-fusion workouts that wouldn't sound terribly out of place on a Return To Forever album.

Each track has a distinct personality despite each containing various ratios of the aforementioned ingredients. "Efatra" is the lengthiest nearing the sixteen minute mark which utilizes a herky-jerky prog bass line as its grounding ingredient and allows a plethora of off-kilter djent chugging, funky synthesizer workouts and freaky psychedelic electronic ambience. "Roa" begins as a heavy chugger and sounds like what would happen if Meshuggah played with Steve Vai as the guitar solos have that alien scale factor but the majority of the track a the incessant guitar chugging surrounded by a thick darkened ambience that swishes and swirls all over the place.

"Telo" is the mellowest track with more focus on the electronica and begins with an echoey clean guitar that sounds like a post-rock riff that is then accompanied by the chugga chug djent guitar riffs that contrast each other considerably as each is completely independent from the other as the complex polyrhythms of the guitars and electronica create a strange concoction of streams of conscious that sound positively weird together. Add a jazz-fusion outbreak to the mix and it only gets weirder.

"Isa" begins with pure ambient bliss with spacey synth swirls and the sound of tidal ebbs and floes before bombastic guitar chugs attack, however the synthesizer feel playful and a weird alien sounding run of keyboards trades off with a series of never-ending variations until around the ten minute mark a jazzy saxophone solo emerges and brings the completely spaced out track back down to Earth.

As far as avant-garde progressive metal goes, VAZIMBA really stands out as a totally unique musical oddity. While not creating Martian music exactly, it nevertheless cleverly amalgamates an amazing array of the genres, tones, timbres, textures and dresses it all up with incredibly technical progressive touches. The musical construction of the compositions is literally unlike anything i've ever encountered before as polyrhythms leapfrog over each other effortlessly.

Somehow i'm doubting that this anonymous musical creation is actually from the island nation of Madagascar. It just sounds too European to my ears. My guess would be that it is a solo project of some virtuoso musician out there on the scene and this was simply a bizarre non-commercial labor of love that got released in this form. Whatever the case, this musical experience is a must- hear if you love adventurous unorthodox progressive music with a bombastic metal edge.

 The Sweyy by PORTAL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Sweyy
Portal Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

— First review of this album —
3 stars THE SWEYY is an EP released by PORTAL between their debut 'Seepia' and their second album 'Outr' that was limited to a mere 150 copies on CDs.

This EP contains 5 tracks, 3 new studio tracks, 2 of which ('Werships' and the title track) would be reworked and appear on the third album 'Swarth.'

The last 2 tracks are live performances from the Bloodlust III Festival in 2003. Both 'Atmoblisters' and 'Transcending A Mere Multiverse' were taken from the debut album 'Seepia.'

The studio tracks of the EP would also find their way onto a split with the band Rites Of Thy Degringolade titled 'The Sweyy / Our Dreadful Spire.'

The only track that never would appear elsewhere in any form is 'Doors.'

The studio tracks continue the same brutal and technical blackened death metal submerged in a dark ambient atmosphere and comes off as some of the most surreal tech death metal to be experienced, however the riffs are slowed down a bit from 'Seepia' and don't sound as chaotic. These are clearly easier to follow than the unrelenting bantering and jagged zigzagging delivery of the debut.

The live tracks display the band in a reverberant concert setting which shows an adaptation of the surreal extreme metal quite well to perform in front of a audience. Absent are the ethereal and otherworldly production effects that exude dark ambient doom and gloom but on the metal side of the equation they deliver the bizarre formless compositions exquisitely without missing a beat. Only the audience screams at the end reveal a live setting.

This is one of those that's interesting to experience but not particularly essential either since nothing on here is better than the studio albums that sandwich it. Well worth a listen or two for fans as it's played quite well and offers an insight into another dimension of the band's music but hardly a must-have.

 Seepia by PORTAL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.87 | 14 ratings

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Seepia
Portal Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars PORTAL emerged from the land down under back in the early naughts and has become one of the underground extreme metal's most celebrated disturbers of the peace (and sanity) ever since they released their debut album SEEPIA back in 2003. These masked musical miscreants and lovers of all things Lovecraftian deliver an angsty approach to horror filled lyricism dressed up in some of the most disturbingly caustic metal music imaginable. They also perform live as deranged Victorian space age cowboys. Now how's that for disturbing?

While following in the steps of bands like Gorguts and Morbid Angel, musically speaking, these guys take the distorted guitar riffing of death metal, black metal lo-fi production and turn them into experimental formless rhythms that ebb and flow like a Salvador Dalí painting exploding into a million pieces not to mention the bizarre dark ambient segments that begin each track as they melt your mind before pummeling it with bombastic bantering bliss.

With a name like PORTAL, one can expect a type of sound that transports you far away into interdimensional hyperdrive, like a wormhole inside a jackhammer that sounds as if a tsunami has devastated an electrical plant and all that remains are hissing sizzling live wire cables flailing around like freshly decapitated chickens on a poultry farm. One can hardly find music so off-kilter that's it's practically impossible for the non-initiated to grasp any bearings whatsoever.

Yes, this will surely come of as the most chaotic of noise for even lovers of melodic death metal. This "music" is a formless, chaotic glob of intensity that wriggles around at speeds so dizzying that one could easily lose one's soul in the process. This is the kind of musical madness that is designed to overwhelm the senses, to suffocate the soul, to reign terror and destruction into the hearts of mankind and ultimately succeeds profusely.

SEEPIA is utterly brilliant in how it takes protoplasm shaped dark ambient sounds that struggle to remain stationary as they pulsate and melt into oblivion only to be replaced by the pyrotechnic bombast of the swirling undulation of death metal pummelation. The sole exception to this formula is the completely dark ambient "Antiquate" which preludes the entirely tech death finale "The EndMills."

PORTAL devilishly portended an entirely new slice of tech death metal in 2003 with SEEPIA as they effortlessly amalgamated the most surreal aspects of dark ambient and applied them to an extreme metal context. While bands like Esoteric tread similar arenas in the context of funeral doom metal, PORTAL provided the proper entry into the quickened and unforgiving alienating worlds of psychotically derived death metal taken into wildly psychedelic and insanely unnerving worlds. This is a short album just short of 32 minutes.

While criticized for what some deem a lackluster production, the band has stated that this very production is what allows the effervescence of the swirls of sound to all emerge from the volcanic explosive underbelly of the beast. If the metal were catapulted into the forefront, all the freakiness would be buried beneath the din. The production is quite unique and most evokes the raw and primeval aspects of underground metal. If surreal extreme metal is what you're craving, then PORTAL will help you drift off into unimaginable worlds where absolutely nothing is what you expect it be, except perhaps disturbing.

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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
1980 France
7TH NEMESIS France
A.I.(D) France
ABIGOR Austria
ABORYM Italy
ABSORBED Spain
ACHOKARLOS Spain
ACID DEATH Greece
ACOLYTE United Kingdom
ACRIMÖNIA Poland
ACROSS THE SUN United States
ADEIA Netherlands
THE ADVENT EQUATION Mexico
AEOLIA United States
AEON OF HORUS Australia
AERODYNE FLEX United States
AFTER FOREST Finland
AGARTHA United States
AGE OF SILENCE Norway
AGHORA United States
AINMATTER United States
ALARUM Australia
ALCHEMIST Australia
ALGOPHOBIA Italy
ALKALOID Germany
ALL DREAMS DYING Finland
ALLEY Russia
ALTERA ENIGMA Australia
THE AMENTA Australia
AMOGH SYMPHONY India
AN ISLE ATE HER United States
ANATA Sweden
ANCIENT Norway
ANCIIENTS Canada
ANGEL OF DISEASE Georgia
ANGEL VIVALDI United States
ANGMAR France
ANIMALS AS LEADERS United States
ANOMALY United States
ANSUR Norway
THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM United States
APRIL ETHEREAL Poland
ARCTURUS Norway
ARKAN France
ARRHYTHMOGEN United States
ARTCELL Bangladesh
ARTIFICIAL BRAIN United States
AT WAR WITH SELF United States
ATEM Finland
ATHEIST United States
ATROPHIA RED SUN Poland
ATRORUM Germany
AUGURY Canada
AUTOCATALYTICA United States
AXAMENTA Belgium
AZURE EMOTE United States
BABYLON SAD Switzerland
BARING TEETH United States
BARREN EARTH Finland
BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE United States
BEHEADED ZOMBIE Russia
BEHOLD...THE ARCTOPUS United States
BELIEVER United States
BELTANE Germany
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME United States
BEYOND CREATION Canada
THE BINARY CODE United States
BISBAYE Canada
BLACK SUN AEON Finland
BLOTTED SCIENCE United States
BLUTMOND Switzerland
BORGIA France
BORKNAGAR Norway
BORN OF OSIRIS United States
BOTCH United States
BURGUL TORKHAÏN France
BURST Sweden
CANVAS SOLARIS United States
CAPHARNAUM United States
CAR BOMB United States
CARBONIZED Sweden
CARCARIASS France
CASTEVET United States
CEPHALIC CARNAGE United States
CEREBRUM Greece
CHAOS DIVINE Australia
CHIMP SPANNER United Kingdom
CHRONOSTASIS United States
CIRCLE OF CONTEMPT Finland
CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE United States
CIRCLES Australia
CITRINITI Italy
COBALT United States
CODE Multi-National
COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS Denmark
COLLAPSAR United States
COMA CLUSTER VOID United States
CONTEMPLATOR Canada
CONTINUO RENACER Spain
THE CONTORTIONIST United States
CONTRARIAN United States
CONTROL DENIED United States
CONTROL HUMAN DELETE Netherlands
COPROFAGO Chile
CORAM LETHE Italy
COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE Germany
CRANIUM United States
CROWPATH Sweden
CRYPTODIRA United States
CUBICAL SPHERE Greece
CYCLAMEN United Kingdom
CYNIC United States
DAATH United States
DARK HERESEY United Kingdom
DARK MILLENNIUM Germany
DE PROFUNDIS United Kingdom
DEAD EMPIRES United States
DEAD LETTER OPENER Australia
DEATH United States
DEATH MACHINE United States
DEATHROW Germany
DEATHSPELL OMEGA France
DELTA CEPHEID Germany
DEMILICH Finland
DEMIMONDE Czech Republic
DEMONIC RESURRECTION India
DESCEND Sweden
DEVIUS Argentina
DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE Sweden
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN United States
DIMESLAND United States
DIONAEA United States
DIORAMIC Germany
DIREWOLF United States
DISEMBARKATION Canada
DISFIGURING REALITY Canada
DISHARMONIC ORCHESTRA Austria
DISILLUSION Germany
DISKORD Norway
DIVINITY Canada
DODECAHEDRON Netherlands
DØDHEIMSGARD Norway
DORDEDUH Romania
DOWN I GO United Kingdom
DREAMGRAVE Hungary
DROTTNAR Norway
DRUDKH Ukraine
DRYAD'S TREE Germany
DUOBETIC HOMUNKULUS Czech Republic
DYSRHYTHMIA United States
EARTH SNAKE United States
ECCENTRIC PENDULUM India
ECHIDNA Greece
EDGE OF SANITY Sweden
MATTIAS IA EKLUNDH Sweden
ELECTRO QUARTERSTAFF Canada
ELECTROCUTION 250 Sweden
ELENIUM Finland
ELENIUM Poland
EMPYREAN SKY United States
ENDITOL Canada
ENSLAVED Norway
ERA VULGARIS United Kingdom
ERYN NON DAE France
ESCHATON Austria
ETERNITY VOID United States
EVER FORTHRIGHT United States
EXENCE Italy
EXIVIOUS Netherlands
EXTOL Norway
EXTREMITIES Netherlands
F Finland
THE FACELESS United States
FALLUJAH United States
FARMAKON Finland
FEARSCAPE Australia
FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE Italy
FLOODLINE United States
FLOURISHING United States
FORCES AT WORK Germany
FORGOTTEN SILENCE Czech Republic
FORNOST ARNOR United Kingdom
FRANTIC BLEEP Norway
FROM A SECOND STORY WINDOW United States
FROM THE EMBRACE United States
GERYON United States
GIGAN United States
GLADIATOR United States
GOJIRA France
GOLLUM / HADEA United States
GORGUTS Canada
GOROD France
LE GRAND GUIGNOL Luxembourg
GRIS Canada
GUILLOTINE India
GWYNBLEIDD United States
HAAR United Kingdom
THE HAARP MACHINE United Kingdom
HACKSAW TO THE THROAT United States
HACRIDE France
HANGING GARDEN Finland
HATED Russia
HAUNTED SHORES United States
HELHEIM Norway
A HERO A FAKE United States
HIDDEN United States
HOPE FOR THE DYING United States
HOWLING SYCAMORE United States
THE HUMAN ABSTRACT United States
HUNG United States
HYBRID Spain
HYPNOTHETICALL Italy
IHSAHN Norway
IKUINEN KAAMOS Finland
ILLOGICIST Italy
ILLUMINATI Romania
IN GRIEF Norway
IN LINGUA MORTUA Norway
IN MOURNING Sweden
IN VAIN Norway
INDRICOTHERE United States
INFAMIA Italy
INGENIUM Poland
INI Norway
INITIAL POINT United States
INQUISITOR Lithuania
INTERVALS Canada
INTO ETERNITY Canada
INTO THE MOAT United States
ION DISSONANCE United States
IRON THRONES United States
ISLAND Germany
THE ISOSCELES PROJECT Canada
IWRESTLEDABEARONCE United States
RON JARZOMBEK United States
JESTER'S MARCH Germany
JOURNAL United States
KADENZZA Japan
KAIROS. United States
KALISIA France
KÄLTER Canada
KATABASIS Australia
KATHAARSYS Spain
KETHA Poland
KHONSU Norway
KING GOAT United Kingdom
KNIFE THE GLITTER United States
KOBONG Poland
KRALLICE United States
LASCAILLE'S SHROUD United States
LAST CHANCE TO REASON United States
LAZER/WULF United States
LEPROUS Norway
LEVI / WERSTLER United States
THE LEVITATION HEX Australia
LIQUID GRAVEYARD Spain
LIZARD PROFESSOR United States
THE LOCUST United States
LOINCLOTH United States
LOVE HISTORY Czech Republic
LUX OCCULTA Poland
LYCHGATE United Kingdom
LYKATHEA AFLAME Czech Republic
MADDER MORTEM Norway
MANTRIC Norway
MARTYR Canada
MASTER'S HAMMER Czech Republic
MASTODON United States
MEANS END Sweden
MECHANISM Canada
MEGACE Germany
MEKONG DELTA Germany
MELTINGAZE Germany
MEMFIS Sweden
MENCEA Greece
MESHUGGAH Sweden
METALMORPHOSIS Poland
MINDWORK Czech Republic
MODERN MAN United States
MOEBIUS Italy
MONOGONO Portugal
MOON OF SOUL Hungary
MOONLOOP Spain
MOONSORROW Finland
MOONSPELL Portugal
MORBUS CHRON Sweden
MROCTOPUS Portugal
MURMUR United States
MY BITTER END United States
MY DYING BRIDE United Kingdom
N.A.M.E. United States
NAMI Andorra
NATURUS Hungary
NAUMACHIA Poland
NE OBLIVISCARIS Australia
NEATH Australia
NEGATIVA Canada
NEGLECTED FIELDS Latvia
NEGURA BUNGET Romania
NERVE END Finland
NEUROMIST Moldova
NEWBREED Poland
NEXT LIFE Norway
NEXUS Australia
NOCTURNUS United States
THE NUMBER TWELVE LOOKS LIKE YOU United States
NUX VOMICA United States
NYIA Poland
OBLOMOV Czech Republic
OBSCURA Germany
OBSIDIAN Netherlands
OCEANS OF SADNESS Belgium
OCEANS OF SLUMBER United States
OCRILIM United States
ONCE THEM EDENS Greece
ONTOGENY United States
OPETH Sweden
ORAKLE France
ORGONE United States
ORTHRELM United States
OSIRIS Netherlands
OTHERS BY NO ONE United States
OUTCAST France
OWL Germany
PAEAN Estonia
PAINTED IN EXILE United States
PANDEMONIUM Sweden
PENSÉES NOCTURNES France
PERIHELION SHIP Finland
PERSEFONE Andorra
PESTILENCE Netherlands
PHLEBOTOMIZED Netherlands
PIAH MATER Brazil
PICA FIERCE Norway
PITBULLS IN THE NURSERY France
PORTAL Australia
PRIMO VESPERE Italy
PROJECT 13-5 Germany
PROTEST THE HERO Canada
PSYCROPTIC Australia
PSYOPUS United States
PYRRHON United States
Q'UQ'UMATZ United States
QUO VADIS Canada
RAM-ZET Norway
RANDOM Argentina
RANDOM MULLET Finland
RAZOR WIRE SHRINE United States
THE RED CHORD United States
RED SEAS FIRE United Kingdom
RED TIDE United States
REFLUX United States
RENAISSANCE Belgium
REQUIEM AETERNAM Uruguay
RETARDED NOISE SQUAD Germany
REVERENCE France
REX MUNDI Greece
RIPPED United States
RIVERS OF NIHIL United States
ROLO TOMASSI United Kingdom
LA RUMEUR DES CHAÎNES France
JORDAN K. RUSH United States
SADIST Italy
SAMMATH NAUR Poland
SCHAMMASCH Switzerland
SCHOLOMANCE United States
SCLERA Australia
SCULPTOR Serbia
SCULPTURED United States
SERDCE Belarus
SERIOUS BEAK Australia
SHADOWS LAND Poland
SHINING Sweden
SICMONIC United States
SIKTH United Kingdom
SILENCE THE ARIA United States
SKALDIC CURSE United Kingdom
SKIZMA Finland
SLEEP TERROR United States
SLUGDGE United Kingdom
SOLEFALD Norway
SPASTIC INK United States
SPECTRAL INCURSION United States
SPIRAL ARCHITECT Norway
SPIRES United States
STARKWEATHER United States
STEALING AXION United States
STONE CIRCLE United Kingdom
STORK United States
SULPHUR Norway
SUNLESS United States
SUNSET IN THE 12TH HOUSE Romania
SUPER MASSIVE BLACK HOLES Canada
SUPURATION France
DAN SWANÖ Sweden
SWIM IN STYX France
SYK Italy
T.O.O.H.! Czech Republic
TAINE Romania
TALANAS United Kingdom
TARAMIS Australia
TARDIVE DYSKINESIA Greece
TENEBRIS Poland
TERMINAL FUNCTION Sweden
TEXTURES Netherlands
THANTIFAXATH Canada
THEORY IN PRACTICE Sweden
THOLUS United States
TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR United States
TREEBURNING Canada
TRIBULATION Sweden
TRINACRIA Norway
TWISTED INTO FORM Norway
ULCERATE New Zealand
UNCROSSED Russia
UNDEFINED Spain
UNEVEN STRUCTURE France
THE UNIVERSE DIVIDE United States
UNMOORED Sweden
UNREAL OVERFLOWS Spain
UR DRAUGR Australia
VACANTFIELD Greece
VALBORG Germany
VAZIMBA Madagascar
VEHEMENTER NOS France
VEKTOR United States
VENENUM Germany
VIATROPHY United Kingdom
VIELIKAN Tunisia
VILDHJARTA Sweden
VINTERSORG Sweden
VOIVOD Canada
VOKYL Bulgaria
VORTICE Spain
VUVR Czech Republic
WANZWA United States
WATCHTOWER United States
WETWORK Canada
WHAT'S HE BUILDING IN THERE? Canada
WILD HUNT United States
WINTERSUN Finland
WITHERSCAPE Sweden
WITHIN THE RUINS United States
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM United States
THE WORLD IS QUIET HERE United States
WRATH AND RAPTURE United States
WRVTH United States
XANTHOCHROID United States
XERATH United Kingdom
YYRKOON France
THE ZYGOMA DISPOSAL Belgium

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