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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

4.32 | 1398 ratings
STILL LIFE
Opeth
4.26 | 1434 ratings
BLACKWATER PARK
Opeth
4.25 | 1335 ratings
GHOST REVERIES
Opeth
4.28 | 388 ratings
CRIMSON
Edge of Sanity
4.24 | 849 ratings
PALE COMMUNION
Opeth
4.37 | 140 ratings
OBSCURA
Gorguts
4.24 | 464 ratings
SYMBOLIC
Death
4.27 | 275 ratings
UNQUESTIONABLE PRESENCE
Atheist
4.21 | 472 ratings
FOCUS
Cynic
4.25 | 243 ratings
NOTHINGFACE
Voivod
4.24 | 242 ratings
ELEMENTS
Atheist
4.26 | 163 ratings
OM
Negura Bunget
4.19 | 362 ratings
THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE
Death
4.24 | 160 ratings
DIMENSION HATROSS
Voivod
4.18 | 311 ratings
HUMAN
Death
4.22 | 163 ratings
BACK TO TIMES OF SPLENDOR
Disillusion
4.40 | 64 ratings
KIVENKANTAJA
Moonsorrow
4.17 | 225 ratings
THE PARALLAX II: FUTURE SEQUENCE
Between The Buried And Me
4.13 | 462 ratings
TRACED IN AIR
Cynic
4.32 | 78 ratings
DEATH'S DESIGN
Diabolical Masquerade

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

ANGL
Ihsahn
THE FRAGILE ART OF EXISTENCE
Control Denied
WARRING FACTIONS
Ansur
LEAVING LOTUS
Counter-World Experience

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Latest Tech/Extreme Prog Metal Music Reviews


 Magma by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.84 | 27 ratings

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Magma
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Magma" is the 6th full-length studio album by French progressive/groove metal act Gojira. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in June 2016. Itīs been four years since the release of "L'Enfant Sauvage (2012)", but itīs not an unusual release cycle for Gojira as there were also four years between "The Way of All Flesh (2008)" and "L'Enfant Sauvage (2012)". They have always been a meticulous act, who would rather spend a few more years perfecting their material rather than release an album a year they arenīt completely satisfied with.

Stylistically there have been a few changes since "L'Enfant Sauvage (2012)", although Gojiraīs trademark progressive/groove metal style is overall intact. This time around lead vocalist/guitarist Joe Duplantier experiments quite a bit with clean vocals in addition to his more regular raw vocals, and that is pretty new in Gojiraīs musical universe, and it has a great impact on the bandīs sound on "Magma". The tracks are also generally a bit more simple and atmospheric compared to the more riff heavy and often relatively complex structured material of the past.

The change is heard right from the opening track "The Shooting Star", which is quite an atmospheric slow building track featuring clean vocals. "Silvera" follows and is a much more riff heavy and aggressive track though (the main riff is absolutely killer), so itīs not all mellow and melancholic atmospheres. Even the more heavy tracks like "Silvera" and "Only Pain", feature a good portion of atmospheric parts though. Other noteworthy tracks include "Stranded", which features quite the distinct sounding pitchshifter riff ("Only Pain" actually features a very similar sounding riff), and the atmospheric title track, but "Magma" is generally a consistent high quality release.

"Magma" features a powerful and detailed sound production, which suits the material well, and upon conclusion, itīs another intriguing and adventurous release by Gojira. Compared to the preceding releases by the band, itīs a lot more accessible and instantly catchy, and I think thatīll win them a new audience, but donīt make the mistake of thinking this is mainstream hook laden material, because thatīs after all not true. Thereīs still a good degree of complexity in the songwriting and execution of the music, which should ensure that older fans of the band, should be able to enjoy it too. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

 Sorceress by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.19 | 54 ratings

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Sorceress
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by piccolomini

5 stars Sorceress is a very versatile album, as most Opeth albums are. In Sorceress, Opeth explores new areas the band has never been to and experiments with different styles. The first single and title track sounds like progressive grunge as the chorus has a very "grungey" sound and it reveals an upbeat, powerful style without the previous usage of growls. The Wilde Flowers is a little cheesy, but the second half of the song makes up for it and the chorus grows on you. The lyrics aren't the best which is fairly consistent throughout the album. Will O The Wisp, the second single, is a nice folk sounding song. It's very smooth and relaxing and has good melodies. Chrysalis is a pretty wild song and definitely needs a couple of listens to really understand. It is very upbeat and then like The Wilde Flowers, has a calm ending which transitions nicely, directly from some solid soloing. Sorceress 2 is a very mysterious song. It's very short and features soft and beautiful vocals. The Seventh Sojourn has a tribal theme and is almost an instrumental with the exception of the ending. The ending is very mysterious and sounds like Sorceress 2. It's also the highlight of the song as the tribal sounding majority, with its repetitiveness, does not have much replay value. Strange Brew is the best song on the album. The intro is very relaxing and then about two minutes in it breaks into absolute chaos. The tempo is extremely fast and it's very satanic sounding. Then the vocals come in very strongly followed by some fierce soloing that just matches perfectly. The piano on this track is so haunting as the song slows down again. And then that killer guitar hits again and its just chilling. Everything synchronizes so well with the vocals and transitions so nicely. When it's all said and done, this song will go down as one of Opeth's greats. A Fleeting Glance is another good one with the vocals having a very light and finessed touch while matched with clean electric and acoustic, and a nice bass line. It's just a very well flowing song. Then the chorus hits towards the end of the song matched with guitar of the same melody and then a short but sweet solo. The ending is performed with great bliss and tops off a lovely listen. Era is not a highlight of the album, but it is a great ender and really sums up not only the album, but where Opeth is right now musically, "The end of an era, we'll start a new.". Sorceress is an album that rocks hard at times and shows off beauty at other times. However, it does this in a manner that we have not seen before with Opeth. The transitions in this album are stellar and the melodies are as good as ever. I do not see Opeth in decline whatsoever as they are evolving and transforming their style each album.
 Mighty Cosmic Dances by OBLOMOV album cover Studio Album, 2005
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Mighty Cosmic Dances
Oblomov Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Bookended by spacy synthesiser instrumentals to establish the titular cosmic themes of the album, Mighty Cosmic Dances by Oblomov at first sounds like a comparatively standard melodic black metal album, if competently performed.

That said, it isn't too long before certain differences emerge. For one thing, Oblomov seem much happier to throw in honest-to-goodness solos than your standard black metal act, and apply a clean production style so as to tease out the best of those rather than burying them in wailing distortion; indeed, some instrumental sections, such as the opening couple of minutes of Redefinition of the Past, resemble prog metal more than black metal.

Between that, the offbeat choice of subject matter (there's a song inspired by Asimov's Foundation trilogy, for instance, which is hardly a very black metal topic), and the way they don't use pseudonyms and corpsepaint as a major component of their look, it's clear that Oblomov aren't too interested in being kvlt black metal purists, but as well as throwing in more accessible sections they're also willing to experiment a bit with the format, tossing in the occasional instrumental solo which defies expectations.

You get this towards the end of Mentality Failure, with some pretty synth twinkling which by itself would sound naive but at the end of that track carries a certain gravitas; they really go to town with it on Lost Between Emotions, which combines some of the most ferocious playing on the album with lovelorn lyrics and honest to goodness saxophone solo with synthesiser backing - and then, towards the end of the song, what sounds to me like an honest to goodness didgeridoo, though rather than making it sound like a cod-Australian novelty track it instead (with the aid of the synthesiers) gives it a quasi-medieval flavour, like the didgeridoo is being used to make a sound not dissimilar to a crumhorn.

The saxophone returns again towards the end of Starsend, lending the conclusion a sort of Van der Graaf Generator character - not in terms of musical similarity, but in terms of using the saxophone as an instrument to express tension and anxiety, as happens in the most nightmarish VdGG tracks. (It also heralds perhaps some of the best synthesiser playing on the album, including either an honest-to-goodness mellotron or a decent facsimile of one). The subsequent tracks are more standard melodic black metal fare, but strong examples of the form by and large - and just when you think things have become predictable again, Nostalgic Idealization fades out on a gentle unaccompanied organ solo to keep you guessing, whilst closing song Dreamworks represents the heaviest song on the album but also includes some strange processed vocals towards the end that really help keep up the otherworldly atmosphere.

From what I have heard, the followup album Communitas (Deconstructing the Order) takes their genre-blending and use of unexpected instrumental ingredients even further, and this debut album certainly makes me want to explore that, but it also reveals them as a very capable melodic black metal unit who are able to let their experimental instincts spice up their compositions without upstaging them.

 Terminal Redux by VEKTOR album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 69 ratings

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Terminal Redux
Vektor Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Coming at ya in the space-time continuum around star date 6MAY2016, the prog + thrash = tech thrash Arizona based VEKTOR burst onto the scene back in 2009 with their attention getting album "Black Future," overcame any possible sophomore slumps with 2011's "Outer Isolation" and have successfully accelerated their tech thrash vessel into yet another sector of their bi-propellant yet harmonious blackened thrash metal world of Voivod influenced sci-fi adventures. The band deliver yet another competent display of musical maestrohood with their third release TERMINAL REDUX. While experiencing cislunar events along the way with forward light scattering, these brave individuals rejected all temptation to water their music down in any possible way and instead opted to experience simulated free-fall through fusion-fuel cell technology to deliver a fresh new trajectory of thrash metal for all to enjoy like an inferior conjunction of the near perfect syzygy of heavenly bodies, all the while exhibiting an ultrahigh frequency of their metal sci-fi adventures into the Van Allen radiation belts and beyond. BTW this was the first album released on Earache Records. Big step up, guys!

Right off the bat, "Charging The Void" slowly oozes into the listener's conscious with a short ambient clip before bursting out into full tech thrash fury appeasing any potential fears of "selling-out" as often occurs when a band like VEKTOR becomes quite revered and climbs up the metal ranks in a short time. No way! VEKTOR not only deliver the expected thrash metal hooks from the past bringing the classics of the late 80s / early 90s continuum to mind but more than up the ante in the most logical (Mr Spock would approve) and volcanistic ways but incrementally brings VEKTOR into a more sophisticated realm of the metal universe bringing them ever closer to zero lift trajectory, the most coveted position in the metal world where all a band must do is release an album and metal heads far and wide go absolutely bonkers over its mere existence. TERMINAL REDUX elevates the band into a yet more sophisticated stratum of metal madness. This album is a logical but NECESSARY extension of the VEKTOR continuum!

While the thrash elements that are on board inspired by Voivod, Megadeth and other past masters are in full regalia on TERMINAL REDUX, there are a plethora of additional elements that elevate VEKTOR's prog creds manyfold. There are more bluesy riffs that add an extra layer of catchiness (important in prog metal as experimentalism can quickly spire out of control and veer off into the void where only the most dedicated will follow), but also more subtle elements such as female vocals (although none are given and i wonder if there's some falsetto or OMG even hidden castrato elements going on here! On with the codpiece only clad iron!) As the album goes on i'm a little dismayed.

Hmmm. I really want to give this album a seal of masterpiece approval but i really just can't. It starts out really promising but then becomes a little monotonous in its delivery. Yes, every single track is a beautiful composition and all but the problem resides in the fact that they all start sounding too similar to one another and at a staggering length of 73:21 it is apparent for the prog metal enthusiast that this album needed to be trimmed down a bit to fulfill its entertainment value. While tracks like "Collapse" which deliver clean vocals and a subdued VEKTOR approach that allows a break from the frenetic tech thrash approach, it just ends up being too long of an album for the amount of effort put in. Simple as that. Yes, one of the most surprisingly discoveries on the album is at the end of the 10th track "Recharging The Void" with its tech thrash pummeling approach throughout the first when it totally turns into a non-metal soul track and actually delves into Pink Floyd territory which has become the popular thing to do as they remain one of the most popular bands in history. It ends with clean guitars, clean male vocals and a female in the background going "ooooo ooooo aaaaah aaaah." It does go back into metal territory but ultimately TERMINAL REDUX seems a little too calculated than divinely influenced. A great listening experience but not one that i could call a masterpiece. Thie trajectory of this band's albums though gives me very high hopes that they are indeed on the way UP and not just a flash in the pan. TERMINAL REDUX is very much recommended if not the epitome of perfection.

 Control and Resistance by WATCHTOWER album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.10 | 132 ratings

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Control and Resistance
Watchtower Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Watchtower's Control and Resistance finds them taking the sound of Energetic Disassembly and doubling down on it, presenting a progressively-minded take on technical thrash metal whose intricate complexities would find few parallels in the metal field until the likes of Cynic and Atheist took up the torch. Ron Jarzombek's guitar performance is the key here, but for the most part the whole band pull their weight; some have complained about the vocals from Alan Tecchio, but I don't think they are bad, but they are just kind of *there* without adding or detracting an awful lot. Still, that isn't enough to appreciably mark down the album, which sits alongside their debut as a classic manifesto for technical metal.
 Killing Technology by VOIVOD album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.03 | 130 ratings

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Killing Technology
Voivod Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Voivod had not got quite as deep into the technical, progressive realms which they would conquer as their own on the subsequent Dimension Hatross or Nothingface when they recorded Killing Technology; there is still a technical edge to their thrash assault here, but the centre of gravity is still well towards the thrash end of the spectrum. But on the plus side, it's pretty good thrash, certainly pushing the technical edge of the subgenre further than anyone else was attempting at the time. If you have heard Voivod's classic albums and want to hear what a rawer, dirtier Voivod might sound like, this is probably the best place to hear it.
 Still Life by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.32 | 1397 ratings

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Still Life
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by VianaProghead

5 stars Review Nš 85

"Still Life" is the fourth studio album of Opeth and was released in 1999. It was the first Opeth's album to be released through the Peaceville Records, following their departure from the Candlelight and Century Black Records after the release of their previous third studio album "My Arms, Your Hearse".

As with "My Arms, Your Hearse", "Still Life" is also a conceptual album. In short, it tells the story of a man who was expelled from his home town because he hasn't got the same faith as the rest of the inhabitants, the Christianity. He returns for his love Melinda and he finds out that she isn't now a free person. He does his best to reach her, and once he manages to do so, Melinda is killed and the man, now enraged, goes on a killing spree and only succumbs due to exhaustion. He is executed and finally he reaches serenity. Each song concentrates on the different parts of the story.

The line up on the album is Mikael Akerfeldt (vocals and guitars), Peter Lindgren (guitar), Martin Mendez (bass guitar) and Martin Lopez (drums).

"Still Life" has seven tracks. All songs were written and composed by Akerfeldt. The first track "The Moor" lyrically tells that the protagonist of the story has been banished from his own village and now he is coming back to take his love Melinda with him. Musically it begins with a mystical acoustic sound which leads to a great acoustic riff. After that, the song becomes fuller by aggressive metal, joined by Akerfeldt's nice growling vocals. This mini epic contains both acoustic and heavy parts with both cleaning and growling vocals, staying very progressive as well. The second track "Godheads Lament" lyrically describes how the protagonist of the story watches Melinda from afar, fearing that he will be detected, and doubting that he can make contact with her without attracting the religious authority of the town. Musically it continues as pretty much the same. It continues with high and strong power music which is very nice to hear but it has also an excellent melodic line. The third track "Benighted" lyrically perfectly conveys the man's longing for Melinda and how he desperately hopes that they might yet be together, despite her becoming a part of the controlling religious organisation since his banishment. Musically this track is the only completely acoustic in the album. It's a great ballad with a very good guitar solo. It has a great combination between great acoustic guitar work and a beautiful voice line. The fourth track "Moonlapse Vertigo" lyrically shows that the things become desperate and how much danger the man puts him in just by being there, and that he has very little time to try to convince Melinda to come away with him. Musically "Moonlapse Vertigo" is one of the most progressive songs of the album. It brings the music back to the high energy of the album. However, this time it's performed softer with great combination of electric and acoustic guitar workings. The fifth track "Face Of Melinda" lyrically shows that Melinda initially rejects the man and hides behind her religious beliefs. Disheartened yet not defeated, the man makes one more attempt to win her back and we learn that she still loves him now, as she always did. Musically is the only song of the album with no growling vocals, along with "Benighted". It's also one of the best singular songs of "Still Life", being of the lighter track here. The sixth track "Serenity Painted Death" lyrically shows that before the reacquainted couples can leave, the outcast wakes to find they have been found out. Melinda has been taken away and her throat slit for her association with him, which leave him consumed by fury and a longing for vengeance. He goes on a rampage, killing numerous soldiers before finally being captured by the Council of the Cross. Musically this is probably the most aggressive song of the album. It has a crashing metal riff and truly impressive natural growling vocal working by Akerfeldt, as only he is able to do. The seventh and the last track "While Cluster" lyrically completes the tragic story, with the man refusing to repent before being taken to the gallows to be hanged before a large gathering of townspeople. It closes with the man having a vision of Melinda right before he is executed, suggesting that he will soon be reunited with her in death. Musically it continues at the same musical line with the whole album and it has also a wonderful guitar solo.

Conclusion: "Still Life" is a very balanced album with a clear theme, both lyrically and musically, and its quality stays excellent from the beginning to the end. Compared to the other Opeth's albums, this is my favourite studio album from the band. Opeth made a commercial success with their next studio album "Blackwater Park", but I still prefer "Still Life" compared to it. "Still Life" stays clear and balanced throughout the album and has no weak points. However and in general, all the Opeth's discography seems to have no truly weak points at all. All of this made of "Still Life" as one of the best and truly classic progressive albums. So, I recommend strongly this album to all progressive rock fans.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Running Out of Skin by PYRRHON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Running Out of Skin
Pyrrhon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars "Running Out of Skin" is an EP release by US, Brooklyn, New York based extreme metal act Pyrrhon. The EP was released through PRC Music in March 2016. Pyrrhon was formed in 2008 and released their debut full-length studio album "An Excellent Servant but a Terrible Master" in 2011. The bandīs sophomore studio album "The Mother of Virtues" emerged in 2014, and they followed that album up with the "Growth Without End" EP in 2015.

"Running Out of Skin" features 4 tracks and a full playing time of 16:25 minutes. Stylistically the material is in a technical, very extreme, chaotic, and dissonant sounding extreme metal style. Pyrrhon may at one point have been rooted in death metal, but while this certainly is extreme, there are actually very few death metal traits left in the bandīs music on "Running Out of Skin". The vocals are for example not growling, but rather a very extreme and distorted raw type of shouting. Pyrrhon suck you into their noisy and chaotic extreme metal universe, which feels both unpleasant and almost claustrophobic yet intriguing. At times it almost sounds like free-form avant garde, which may not be as far from the truth as it sounds, as the material on "Running Out of Skin" was recorded live in the studio. Iīd be interested to hear how much of the music was planned ahead, and if any sections were improvised.

The band are arguably very well playing and obviously know how to handle their instruments, but the extremety of the material and what appears to be floating structures are probably going to be an obstacle for some. Personally I find "Running Out of Skin" more intriguing than enjoyable, but if you think you can enjoy this type of extreme experiment, youīre certainly in for a wild ride with this release. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

 Heart Of Oak by ANCIIENTS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.14 | 15 ratings

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Heart Of Oak
Anciients Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Heart of Oak" is the debut full-length studio album by Canadian, Vancouver based progressive/sludge metal act Anciients. The album was released through Season of Mist in April 2013. Anciients formed in 2009 and released the "Snakebeard" EP in 2011.

The music on "Heart of Oak" is a very eclectic mix of different metal and rock genres and therefore quite difficult to tag correctly. But I guess a mix of progressive metal, some post- and sludge metal elements, and a few nods toward death metal, black metal, hard rock and traditional heavy metal arenīt a completely wrong description of what the music sounds like. I hear quite a bit of Mastodon and especially Baroness in the music, but Anciients are not a clone act by any means. The vocals on the album are predominantly clean, but there are occasional outbursts of raspy almost black metal type vocals and growling vocals on the music too. The music is dynamic and both atmospheric and riff driven. "Heart of Oak" definitely feature itīs fair share of heavy riff sections and quite a few harmony guitar sections. The latter which reeks traditional heavy metal.

The tracks are structurally challenging and while most feature vers/chorus sections, all tracks evolve and go though several sections and atmospheres during their playing time (which are for the most part between 6 and 9 minutes long). The musicianship are on a high level, even though the vocals are of a pretty standard quality. To my ears the clean vocals are a bit anonymous and the extreme vocals lack a bit of character. They get the job done though but itīs definitely an area where Anciients could improve. The sound production is professional, clear, and powerful. Itīs maybe a bit too polished for itīs own good though and a more gritty sound production might have provided the music with a more suitingly raw sound. Itīs an aquired taste though and the sound production is very well sounding as it is.

"Heart of Oak" is on most levels a quality release by Anciients and arguably a promising debut. However I canīt help feel that it could have been better with more interesting vocal performances and a more suiting sound production so a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fair.

 In Times by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 59 ratings

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In Times
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'In Times' - Enslaved (82/100)

Enslaved have pulled off a seemingly impossible double-feat with their career. Not only have they managed to keep up with consistent quality well over a decade after most bands would have met their expiry date, they also continuously reinvented themselves while they were at it. With every Enslaved record, you could count on them not to rest on their laurels. Their inevitable prog rock destination was pretty apparent even from the start, but like rewatching a favourite film, it was easy to love an experience of the journey, even if you already knew how it was going to end up.

I've never been quite as sold on Enslaved as some of my friends, often having found them a bit too formal and restrained. That said, they always managed to keep me engaged throughout their career. I think they hit their stride with Axioma Ethica Odini at the start of the decade. By that point, their progressive metal transformation was complete, and you can bet they made a good time of it. That album came with the sort of energy and fulfillment that comes when a band is making the music they were born to create. On RIITIIR and now with In Times, it finally sounds like Enslaved found their promised land and are learning to stick with it.

Even if it was one of my most anticipated albums of last year, In Times never seemed to catch my attention at the time. I enjoyed it the few times I heard it, but unlike the triad of albums that came before it, it never served to leap out and demand I listened more. It took a wide revisitation of the band's material to finally push me to give this album the time it deserved. For one, I'm glad I did. As any fan might have predicted, In Times holds itself to a high standard of quality. At a glance, it's very much the same upbeat prog sound they've been doing since Axioma Ethica Odini. At the same time, it's less immediate than its predecessors, preferring to emphasize melody over the crunchy fireworks showcased on RIITIIR. Enslaved's perennial innovation has finally shown its signs of slowing down, but staying in the same place isn't keeping them from writing some fantastic material.

I don't think it's really fair to think of Enslaved as having stagnated. The big leaps are conceivably over from the looks of it, but rather than staying in the same place, it's better to think the band as having slowed down to a more typical rate of evolution. While the developments get slighter with each album, there's still enough to distinguish In Times from its 2012 predecessor. While I identified RIITIIR with its heaviness or Axioma with its upbeat energy, the material here is distinguished by its emphasis on melody and atmosphere. In a certain way, it's almost as if they wanted to recreate echoes of Monumension for their latest era. All of that is perfectly fine with me. Enslaved trying to be dark or heavy on recent albums felt vaguely like an out-of-touch dad picking up skateboarding in an effort to appeal to his kids. Even if the attempt at heaviness was sincere and well-executed, it's not the proper fit for them, and hasn't been in a long while. By that rubric, In Times' melodic shift is all for the best.

Whether it's "Building with Fire" or my personal favourite "Nauthir Bleeding", a lot of the album's best moments are thanks to Herbrand Larsen's clean vocal performance. In an album I thought I could predict note for note, that's a part of it that has me surprised. Since Enslaved began using Herbrand's voice to contrast Grutle's snarl, his delivery was often thin and timid, limiting the emotional effect of their choruses. I was happy to hear his voice improve on RIITIIR, and the same has happened to an even greater extent here. While the rest of the band has remained the same, Herbrand belts out with all the confidence and charisma Enslaved deserve to be fronted with. Although the rest of the sound here is very familiar, that one relatively small improvement does a lot to help the sound as a whole.

In Times doesn't have a highlight quite as high as "Death in the Eyes of Dawn", but it does come across as a much more coherent and consistent album than RIITIIR. Only the track "In Times" itself feels overdrawn and somewhat boring. The rest of these tracks feel warm, urgent and fiery. Even if I've learned not to expect anything really new from them in the future, Enslaved are learning to impress me in new ways. The style they've settled on is resulting in some of the most solid material in their entire career. Better still, they're not using the settled style as an excuse to be lazy. Rather, a lot of the tiny improvements that may have been swept aside by groundbreaking shifts are given much-desired attention. If I've ever been cynical about the modern era of Enslaved at times, all it seems to take is a new album to remind me they really do deserve practically all of the praise they receive.

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