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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)

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 | 1151 ratings
STILL LIFE
Opeth
4.24 | 1177 ratings
BLACKWATER PARK
Opeth
4.23 | 1097 ratings
GHOST REVERIES
Opeth
4.24 | 306 ratings
CRIMSON
Edge of Sanity
4.21 | 377 ratings
SYMBOLIC
Death
4.19 | 401 ratings
FOCUS
Cynic
4.22 | 197 ratings
NOTHINGFACE
Voivod
4.19 | 215 ratings
PALE COMMUNION
Opeth
4.19 | 205 ratings
ELEMENTS
Atheist
4.27 | 108 ratings
OBSCURA
Gorguts
4.16 | 220 ratings
UNQUESTIONABLE PRESENCE
Atheist
4.12 | 412 ratings
TRACED IN AIR
Cynic
4.14 | 260 ratings
HUMAN
Death
4.19 | 142 ratings
OM
Negura Bunget
4.11 | 305 ratings
THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE
Death
4.19 | 126 ratings
DIMENSION HATROSS
Voivod
4.11 | 211 ratings
INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS
Death
4.10 | 234 ratings
TALL POPPY SYNDROME
Leprous
4.13 | 156 ratings
BACK TO TIMES OF SPLENDOR
Disillusion
4.12 | 170 ratings
ISA
Enslaved
4.20 | 93 ratings
THE OUTER LIMITS
Voivod
4.05 | 491 ratings
CRACK THE SKYE
Mastodon
4.10 | 171 ratings
THE SHAM MIRRORS
Arcturus
4.19 | 82 ratings
DEATH'S DESIGN
Diabolical Masquerade
4.09 | 147 ratings
THE WAY OF ALL FLESH
Gojira
4.05 | 142 ratings
THE MACHINATIONS OF DEMENTIA
Blotted Science
4.17 | 66 ratings
VISIONS FUGITIVES
Mekong Delta
4.24 | 45 ratings
ELVENEFRIS
Lykathea Aflame
3.93 | 891 ratings
WATERSHED
Opeth
3.98 | 201 ratings
ANIMALS AS LEADERS
Animals As Leaders
3.99 | 173 ratings
AXIOMA ETHICA ODINI
Enslaved
3.92 | 970 ratings
DAMNATION
Opeth
3.95 | 282 ratings
COLORS
Between The Buried And Me
3.98 | 173 ratings
AFTER
Ihsahn
3.96 | 214 ratings
THE GREAT MISDIRECT
Between The Buried And Me
3.92 | 550 ratings
MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE
Opeth
4.01 | 116 ratings
EXIVIOUS
Exivious
4.02 | 112 ratings
CONTROL AND RESISTANCE
Watchtower
4.10 | 61 ratings
VIIDES LUKU - HÄVITETTY
Moonsorrow
4.02 | 98 ratings
THE FRAGILE ART OF EXISTENCE
Control Denied
4.00 | 105 ratings
VERTEBRAE
Enslaved
3.96 | 143 ratings
FROM MARS TO SIRIUS
Gojira
4.07 | 62 ratings
LAZARUS BIRD
Burst
3.98 | 105 ratings
KILLING TECHNOLOGY
Voivod
4.01 | 80 ratings
BELOW THE LIGHTS
Enslaved
4.04 | 66 ratings
CORTICAL TECTONICS
Canvas Solaris
4.03 | 73 ratings
SPHERES
Pestilence
4.50 | 18 ratings
SPIRITECH
Alchemist
3.97 | 95 ratings
ANGEL RAT
Voivod
3.93 | 148 ratings
CHAOSPHERE
Meshuggah
3.96 | 97 ratings
RUUN
Enslaved
4.05 | 56 ratings
DEATH OF A DEAD DAY
Sikth
3.89 | 223 ratings
COAL
Leprous
4.00 | 68 ratings
ENERGETIC DISASSEMBLY
Watchtower
4.07 | 46 ratings
THE TREES ARE DEAD & DRIED OUT WAIT FOR SOMETHING WILD
Sikth
4.01 | 62 ratings
PENUMBRA DIFFUSE
Canvas Solaris
4.08 | 43 ratings
THEN COMES AFFLICTION TO AWAKEN THE DREAMER
Twisted Into Form
4.05 | 48 ratings
KIVENKANTAJA
Moonsorrow
4.65 | 13 ratings
EMBODIMENT
Sculptured
3.88 | 193 ratings
RIITIIR
Enslaved
3.84 | 936 ratings
HERITAGE
Opeth
4.19 | 28 ratings
666 INTERNATIONAL
Dodheimsgard
4.02 | 52 ratings
SONGS OF DARKNESS, WORDS OF LIGHT
My Dying Bride
3.98 | 63 ratings
CYBION
Kalisia
3.85 | 333 ratings
BILATERAL
Leprous
3.95 | 75 ratings
THE ADVERSARY
Ihsahn
4.11 | 33 ratings
SUPERVILLAIN OUTCAST
Dodheimsgard
3.94 | 73 ratings
FAS - ITE, MALEDICTI, IN IGNEM AETERNUM
Deathspell Omega
3.86 | 169 ratings
THE PARALLAX II: FUTURE SEQUENCE
Between The Buried And Me
4.38 | 17 ratings
WARP ZONE
Martyr
3.98 | 54 ratings
BURIED IN OBLIVION
Into Eternity
3.94 | 68 ratings
INK COMPLETE
Spastic Ink
3.93 | 76 ratings
COLORED SANDS
Gorguts
4.85 | 9 ratings
MEPHISTO LETTONICA
Neglected Fields
3.99 | 48 ratings
AT THE DREAM´S EDGE
Chimp Spanner
3.83 | 266 ratings
LEVIATHAN
Mastodon
4.57 | 12 ratings
CITRINITI
Citriniti
3.94 | 56 ratings
BLACK FUTURE
Vektor
4.05 | 34 ratings
CELESTIAL LINEAGE
Wolves in the Throne Room
4.06 | 32 ratings
FEEDING THE ABSCESS
Martyr
4.20 | 21 ratings
TORN BETWEEN DIMENSIONS
At War With Self
3.97 | 45 ratings
VERISÄKEET
Moonsorrow
4.66 | 10 ratings
PREY ON LIFE
Burst
3.83 | 158 ratings
WEIGHTLESS
Animals As Leaders
4.03 | 33 ratings
SHIN-KEN
Persefone
5.00 | 7 ratings
AS THE ROOTS UNDO
Circle Takes The Square
3.88 | 71 ratings
INK COMPATIBLE
Spastic Ink
3.82 | 135 ratings
LA MASQUERADE INFERNALE
Arcturus
4.38 | 13 ratings
UNDECEIVED
Extol
3.82 | 122 ratings
PORTAL OF I
Ne Obliviscaris
3.93 | 42 ratings
TWO HUNTERS
Wolves in the Throne Room
4.17 | 18 ratings
THE AURA
Beyond Creation
3.99 | 31 ratings
DIGITAL VEIL
Human Abstract, The
3.75 | 682 ratings
DELIVERANCE
Opeth
3.89 | 49 ratings
TURN LOOSE THE SWANS
My Dying Bride
3.89 | 49 ratings
MONUMENSION
Enslaved
4.12 | 19 ratings
NESPITHE
Demilich
4.63 | 8 ratings
NEUTRALIZED
Ram-Zet
4.28 | 13 ratings
IV - THE EERIE COLD
Shining
4.24 | 14 ratings
CONCEALED
Augury

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
CORTICAL TECTONICS
Canvas Solaris
WINTERSUN
Wintersun
OM
Negura Bunget

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Latest Tech/Extreme Prog Metal Music Reviews


 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.19 | 212 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by arcane-beautiful

4 stars Opeth have had a very interesting past few years. With the release of their last album "Heritage", the band have had mixed opinions due to their change in sound. One of the biggest problems is the loss of the death metal vocals. Now, I really don't mind if the death metal vocals are not their, in fact "Damnation" is probably one of my favorite Opeth album, but I will admit that the mix of the two styles in their earlier material is probably the reason I got into the band in the first place.

While many people will complain that Opeth aren't the same band anymore we have to take into consideration that these guys are getting older. Mikael really can't growl the way he did 10 years ago and I really respect their decision to loose the death growls. But while Mikael's vocals have gruffly diminished, he has been able to explore the diversity of his clean vocals.

Musically the album is pretty much a progressive rock album with the metal bits saturated. Now I know what your saying..."same as "Heritage" I bet. Well no. I remember seeing Opeth live during their tour for their last album and all I could think of was "this is like stoner psychedelic music"...which it was. This album is a lot more classic prog so I find it very much more enjoyable with more fluid arrangements with less improvisation and more sustenance.

Opener "Eternal Rains Will Come" is a great intro to the album. Starting off with blazing organs and clashing rhythms it then morphs into a more easier listening track with some pretty cool multi layered vocals.

"Cusp Of Eternity" is one of the heavier songs on the album. Reminding me of a more classic heavy metal style, the song has some pretty cool riffs and is a good little nod to an older metal sound.

"Moon Above, Sun Below" is the albums longest track and is probably one of the most diverse tracks on the album. Full of many different moving parts, the real highlight has to be the diversity of Mikael's vocals, showing off some clean gruffness which is a big departure from the evil growls on previous albums.

The ballad of the album "Elysian Woes" is an interesting and soothing moment on the album. I was pretty impressed by the instrumentation of this track, showing some pretty mature and experimental choices of arrangements for guitar and keyboards.

The albums instrumental "Goblin" is an interesting tribute to the 70s prog band Goblin. Full of proggy organs and some interesting prog instrumentation, the song is a prog lovers wet dream.

One of my favorite tracks on the album would have to be "River." Starting off with a very almost joyous feel, this track is very different to what the band have ever done before, with a more lighter and nicer sound to the bands repertoire with very little bleakness or Gothic undertones. May be a new direction for the band.

In conclusion, this album surprised me. I went in expecting to hate it, but I was generally impressed by what I heard. These guys are never going to go back to their earlier styles, but at least it seems they are moving in a better direction than everyone thought they would. A great listen I would recommend to modern and older prog fans.

8.1/10

Genre: Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Hard Rock, Doom, Psychedelic Rock, Prog Folk, Folk Rock, Jazz Fusion, Heavy Metal

Country of origin: Sweden

Year of release: 2014

 Naturbål by VINTERSORG album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.92 | 13 ratings

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Naturbål
Vintersorg Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Naturbål' - Vintersorg (39/100)

Vintersorg is a band I would love to have been introduced to whilst I was still in the nascent years of my experience with the 'extreme' end of metal. Regardless of the era you're looking at, they've always allotted melody to surge to the forefront of their craft. The familiar warmth and Jungian nostalgia of the Viking folk style was an easy sell to me in younger years, and though clean vocals comprise the Vintersorg's characteristic lifeblood, there has always been an echo of the extreme in their music. They frequently allude to the tone and aesthetic of black metal, but never mean to grasp the common extent of the genre's extremity and abrasion. From a purely stylistic standpoint, this solo project of Borknagar's Andreas Hedlund's might fashion itself a perfect gateway to black and folk metal alike.

It is with some consternation, then, that I've had such mixed luck listening to Vintersorg. Cosmic Genesis was a fine piece of Nordic progressive metal, and Solens rötter still lingers in my memory as an excellent record by any definition. Other classic albums of theirs- namely the crowd favourite "The Focusing Blur"- I remember as being anaesthetic and generally inconsistent. The biggest disappointment however came on the coattails of Solens rötter; after a four year break, Vintersorg unveiled Jordpuls, a bland folk metal album stripped of the surprise and ambition that made the band potentially interesting in the first place. Three years and two albums later, and Vintersorg have had to get themselves out of that rut. Naturbål is an album almost entirely based around the merit of its vocal melodies, the likes of which feel sadly contrived and stale. Hints of Vintersorg's ambition and quality remain, but I'm finding it difficult to paint the album as anything but another misstep in a growing line of disappointments.

As early as Hedlund's mid-90s days with Vargatron, he's advocated for a strong presence of clean vocals in black metal. I like to imagine Naturbål was crafted with that bold stance in mind. When you stop to realize the genre of black metal has been spliced with virtually every style under the sun (hell, there's even a KFC commercial out there, capitalizing on all things grim and kvlt), it's actually quite surprising that we haven't seen more artists write black metal around clean vocals. All puritanical delusions of keeping the genre limited to its roots aside, I'd argue there could be a great case made for this choice. Vintersorg, however, is not that great case, nor is it anywhere near convincing in this regard. I've always had a bit of this problem with Vintersorg, but with Naturbål and the work since Jordpuls especially, it seems like the vocals have overwhelmed the sound, thereby marginalizing the rest of the instrumentation. Both in the uneven mixing and songwriting on Naturbål, Vintersorg have invested every hope in the vocals. The abundant folk passages are relatively full-bodied and unscathed, but the actual metal instrumentation often falls back on predictable cliche and simplicity, buried somewhere underneath the vocals.

Once again: there is nothing inherently wrong in Vintersorg's choice to have placed such weighted emphasis on he vocals themselves. It's much moreso the fact that the vocals themselves aren't particularly compelling. Andreas Hedlund's voice is admittedly pretty good in of itself. He's got a rich timbre to his voice that meshes nicely with the style, and hearing an entire album sung in the Swedish language is always a welcome exception. Although Vintersorg's black metal influence has been further marginalized on this album, Hedlund's occasional harsh snarl (close in sound to Grutle Kjellson of Enslaved) is fairly strong as well. My internal debate still rages as to whether Hedlund's clean singing voice is truly strong enough to be worth an entire album's showcasing, but the real problem with Naturbål has to do with the songwriting itself. Listening to the album, I feel a hazy recollection of my consistent ambivalence for the two albums that came before Naturbål. The album is saturated with upbeat vocal melody upon melody, but the hooks are rarely ever memorable. "Själ i flamma" closes the album with some strong melodic writing, but most of the songs blend together into an uneven mess. In most cases of this marginal success with hooks, a band would fall back on their instrumentation. Sadly, with the unbalanced, vocal-centric way Vintersorg have written and recorded Naturbål robs it of that opportunity.

Vintersorg isn't so far down the path that they're beyond the merit of redemption, but this is the third time in a row I've been let down. Even from a technical standpoint, Naturbål sounds downright mucky and amateurish compared to Solens rötter. The songwriting is dry and lacks dynamic, and the stylistic drift appears intent on reducing the band to the status of a less catchy Tyr. To add insult to injury, Andreas Hedlund is indeed a good songwriter- probably better than most within the folk metal sector- but I'm not hearing much evidence of that. My apathy for post-2007 Vintersorg has only been consolidated with Naturbål. For what it's worth, I hope we see a change someday.

 Autotheism by FACELESS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.36 | 19 ratings

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Autotheism
The Faceless Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Autotheism' - The Faceless (41/100)

Above anything else, The Faceless' Autotheism is a problematic album. I did enjoy Planetary Duality quite a bit, and there are plenty of moments on Autotheism that recall The Faceless' past achievements. The central style finds itself at a crossroads between modern tech death and Dream Theater-variety progressive metal; the mention of that combination alone should spark some doubts, but The Faceless can, and often do make it work in their favour. Having just recently seen them headline the 2014 Summer Slaughter tour with the likes of Archspire, Rings of Saturn etc., there's no doubt The Faceless can bring it to the table in terms of sheer technical instrumentation. The guitars entwine excellently with Lyle Cooper's drumwork, and the guitars navigate the album's more challenging parts with style. That's not what's wrong with Autotheism.

I usually love it when bands put a progressive, or unexpected swing on a genre like tech death- most of the time it gives the music a tinge of spontaneity that may have otherwise been lost in the sea of sweeps and robotic notation. The Faceless have certainly made themselves out to be a band who takes the road less travelled in terms of technical death metal. Allusions to Dream Theater, multi-part epics and clean vocals are all well-off the beaten path for the style. It should by all means work, but by the end of Autotheism I'm left thinking like the album might have been best contained within the tech death sphere. The Faceless remain good at what they know, but whenever there's a detour, the vision feels undercooked.

There's no better example of this than the multi-part suite and title piece. In keeping with the other less-successful prog epics I've heard, "Autotheism" offers up some interesting ideas, but ultimately falls apart under its own weight. There is ambition but no coherence, nothing to congeal the epic together as a definitive musical statement. If a band is intent on devoting a third of their album to a composition, I would hope I would leave it with a strong impression of the band's sound. After a pseudo-orchestral overture, The Faceless proceed to follow the footsteps of metal genius Devin Townsend's style for several minutes (clean vocals and all) before finally diving into the prog death they're most comfortable with. As much as I love Devin Townsend, any imitators (of which there are several) I've heard fall far short of what they no doubt set out to accomplish. Devin's style was exciting because it was completely his. In the case of Autotheism, The Faceless seem to cling to their interpretation of his style, not least obvious of all being Michael Keene's halfhearted clean vocals, which seem kept afloat only through a mountain of harmonizing and post-prod effects. By the suite's second movement, things begin to pick up and we hear some good riffs, but it's not long before the suite reverts back to the same plodding pace and weak prog cliches.

Particularly in the third movement "Deconsecrate", it becomes obvious that The Faceless lack the personality and sincerity to pull off a lot of these progressive sections. Hearing the band perform their Townsend facsimile felt disingenuous enough, but the weirdest moments- most notably being a carnivalesque section wherein Keene croons "God is dead"- feel forced and joyless, as if The Faceless suddenly became aware they were taking themselves too seriously, but couldn't get themselves out of a rut in time before the epic finished. On the topic of serious things, it doesn't seem like The Faceless think atheism is any joke. They remind us of this stance in virtually every song and- all beliefs aside- their way of handling the subject in their music is possibly the most awful thing about the album. Whenever they're not depending on worn expressions and cliches in their lyrics, they're preaching some holier-than-thou New Atheist sanctimony that makes Christian rock look tolerable by comparison. I'm all onboard with iconoclasm and supposed free-thinking, but The Faceless' ideology seems to be directly in line with the "In this moment, I am euphoric" brand of online atheist crusaders who, I can only imagine, polish their Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens shrines in between bouts of cosplay internet porn. My own views on religion (or, more specifically, the hypocriticism of New Atheism) certainly paint this element of The Faceless in a more negative light than it may be for others, but take a track like "Hail Science" (kill me now), an interlude not unlike Radiohead's "Fitter Happier", only with an extra helping of cringeworthy anti- religious sentiment. From this and other sets of lyrics, I get the impression that The Faceless (like many of the fedora-bound internet gremlins you'll find lurking on the forums) place the blame of all human ills and indecency on religion and belief in a God that doesn't exist. If The Faceless agree with me that God is most likely a fabrication, then they should also acknowledge that it must be somewhere in human nature itself for people to do these [&*!#]ty, ignorant things to one another. If God is truly dead, then we have only ourselves to blame.

At the album's best, Autotheism flirts with better-than-average tech death riffery and suggests some great potential in the prog metal sector as well. Each time I've finished listening through the album however, I can think of more problems I have with the album than things I enjoyed. If I may be diplomatic here, it's clear that The Faceless took a big risk in putting so much of the album aside to jump outside their shell and explore musically. That achievement feels dull in context when it ultimately just appears like they've jumped inside another shell, of a more uncompromising and visionary artist than they themselves are. The songwriting is generally bland and forgettable, and the concept is idiotic. I never thought I'd say this, but give me straight up tech death over this any day.

 Bilateral by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.85 | 333 ratings

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Bilateral
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FXM

1 stars Appreciation of music is a very subjective thing as we all know. Norway's Leprous are regarding as a rising star of progressive metal. I purchased their album Bilateral when it was released in 2011 thinking that as it was on the Inside Out label it would be a quality piece of music. How wrong I was!!!

Over one third of reviewers have give this a five star rating. But how anybody could consider Bilateral to be a masterpiece is beyond my comprehension. Listening to this is a thoroughly unpleasant experience, the aural equivalent of a visit to the dentist. Prog metal would not be my favourite genre but I do like some of it and I have a soft spot for Devin Townsend but I cant find any redeeming qualities in this album. There is a bit of a Townsend influence on some of the tracks but they lack the melody of his compositions.

The musicianship is fine but the some of the tracks are a mishmash of ideas. I hate the vocals especially when they descend into growling/screeching.

The title of track 6 "Waste of Air" sums the album up perfectly, or to borrow a phrase from the late John Peel its "a waste of electricity".

Track 9 is "Acquired Taste", no matter how long I listen to this I can't acquire a taste for it, but if I do then take me out and shoot me please.

One star is being generous.

p.s. I do like the album cover.

 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.19 | 212 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by rdtprog
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

5 stars The use of death vocals seems to be a thing of the past for Opeth. I always appreciated the clean vocals from Mikael Akerfeldt. It gives a better view of how he can be a good singer. The previous album Heritage wasn't convincing. Again the band is showing the soft side of their music The song "Eternal Rains will come" display some haunting harmonies progressions with some dark keyboards sound similar to VDGG. "Cups of Eternity" show a vocalization hook repeated almost like an incantation. There are some nice grooves here and a display of heavier guitars. With "Moon, Above, Sun Below" we recognize the same compositions structures of the band with intense and melancholic passages, the melody at the beginning is suddenly switching to a complete new mood so we get the feel that the song is like different parts melt down to build a 10 minutes song, but it works. The song "Goblin" is inspired by the band of the same name with a little touch of jazz. "River" is another different track with some classical rock influence. "Voice of Treason" is another track in which the listener is challenge with the impossibility to reach an accessible melody, like the band was playing with restraint. It illustrates the new direction the band is, by keeping the music outside the extreme metal. The last track "Faith of Others" is full of strings, classical arrangements and some acoustic progressive rock not too far from the band Landberk.

While this release could be perceive as homage to the old progressive rock bands, the retro sound of the organ and mellotron should appeal to old progressive rock fans, it keeps the band own style, less metal than the majority of their albums, but more in the line of Damnation and Heritage. For me, those two albums despite their progressive side were not the best of their discography, but I think the latest is more satisfying and if I had doubt about the direction the band was headed when they took a break from their metal prog, I am more confident for the future that it's the right direction to go now. And Mikael Akerfeldt looks like a musician that is in a mood to do more melodic music with clean vocals the rest of his career.

 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.19 | 212 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by jverweij

3 stars A good redeeming album dragged down by the mixing

I have always been a huge fan of Opeth. Up until Heritage they could do no wrong in my book. Even though I have clear favourites (blackwater Park, Still Life, Ghost Reveries), all their other work is superb. Heritage was their first album I just couldn't get into. It lacked focus and felt disjointed and rushed. I'll be honest: I feared for Opeth.

Their newest release: Pale Communion has proven me wrong. Heritage was just a misstep, they are still going strong. With Mikael Akerfeldts newfound resentment of heavy metal, the band has taken a more gentle approach to music. In reality this doesn't really change that much to the music. Sure a bit more keys are added (a very good thing imo) and the distortion is less heavy, but otherwise, the music is very similar to what it was before Heritage.

I'm not going to go through all the songs, but I'll say that every song (yes even Cusp of Eternity) has grown on me. I especially like Moon Above, Sun Below, Goblin, and Faith in Others. Musically, this is easily a 4 star album.......

Yet I'm giving it 3..The reason for this is the mixing. Done by the otherwise flawless Steven Wilson, the mixing is way too bass heavy for my ears. Both the bass and the bassdrums are predominantly present. For me, this is distracting enough to lower my rating from 4 to 3 stars. I can only say this is a damn shame, because this could have been really great.

 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.19 | 212 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars This is another solid release by Opeth, and they have a right to make any type of album they want. If you are looking for Ghost Reveries, Still Life, or Blackwater Park, then you should look elsewhere. This is a throwback, 70s vibe progressive rock release in the vein of something you would expect from Steven Wilson or Motorpsycho. It took me a long time to accept the growls in some of their best albums, and now I am used to them. With that being said, I really love the three albums mentioned earlier and think they are brilliant. The combination of extreme metal with the softer moments is very special. This is not that type of a release since I do not hear any progressive metal, but there are a few heavier moments. This may just be the softest Opeth album yet with Damnation and Heritage in the mix. As a progressive rock fan, I have nothing bad to say about this release. However, expectations are hard to overcome at times, and I would like to hear another album similiar to the heart of their catalog. However, I still have to rate this as a brilliant progressive rock release. This is an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
 Extol by EXTOL album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 16 ratings

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Extol
Extol Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Proghead1

5 stars Extol's sound is exceptionally well honed. But what's new? After so many years crafting it, Extol have proven themselves to be innovative noise makers of the highest calibre. And after an 8 year hiatus, I'm glad to say that that has not changed. With 'Extol', the band, now pared down to a three piece comprising Peter Espevoll (vocals), Ole Borud (guitars, bass, 'clean' vocals and mellotron) and David Husvik (drums and vocals), have most certainly produced an album that will stand the test of time. As with all great experimental albums, with each spin of the disc, the listener is introduced to new sonic subtleties. Take, for example, the mesmerizing title track, where bone crushing riffs are found co-existing with strains of cello (courtesy of Martin Rosenhoff), or 'Unveiling the Obscure', complete with tightly delivered three-part vocal harmonies for the chorus. Whilst not compromising in terms of the level of intensity of the music (think 'Burial' and 'Undeceived'), the band's sound is wonderfully intricate, melodic and atmospheric. This is an absolutely stunning set of songs from an exceptionally talented band.
 Once More 'Round the Sun by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 90 ratings

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Once More 'Round the Sun
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars For the first few songs on Once More 'Round The Sun, I finally start to understand Mastodon. Over the last decade or so, the Georgian four-piece have basically become one of the metal bands that the masses collectively beat off to. All of their records up to 2011's The Hunter have been praised beyond belief for various reasons, from the intense energy and crushing groove of their early material to the progressive-sludge linings of 2009's Crack the Skye, Mastodon essentially had the metal world (or at least the critics) begging for more. And honestly, I never really got it. I mean, I dig Crack The Skye somewhat, being a big prog nut, but I could never really hear what people were gushing over, it was just a pretty good album that merged two metal genres pretty well. I guess if I focused on the instrumentation solely then it is pretty damn tight, and they certainly have a knack for a good groove, but I never really enjoyed it.

So come 2011 and Mastodon are tired of being Mastodon and (gasp!) decide to go mainstream and accessible. And honestly, I still didn't get it. To me, The Hunter is basically the Mastodon of before with shorter songs and less screaming. The cries of "radio-friendly hard rock!" went straight through me, because "Curl of the Burl" is actually pretty bloody heavy for modern radio. Some people I know went as far as to condemn them to hell - a good friend of mine even saying "that band is basically on the same level as Nickelback to me now". But even "accessible Mastodon" evaded me a bit.

But man, the first three songs on this new album have really clicked with me. They take the 'radio friendly' hooks of The Hunter, and make them better and more memorable, but they have amped up the intensity and intricacy of the instrumentals around them, which honestly heightens both aspects immensely. "Tread Lightly" is [%*!#]ing insane, with Brann Dailor's spastic drumming (one of the best parts of this record, and one of the best performances from this year, even if he does use the same snare fill a lot) and Troy Sanders' rumbling bass keeping the energy up for five straight minutes of intensity. It's here that the intricacy of Mastodon's instrumentals really start to come through, but they're amplified by the insanely catchy hooks. You can't tell seriously me that the vocal chorus of "The Motherload" isn't the catchiest [%*!#]in thing you've heard this year. It's so majestic and fun, but it doesn't compromise complexity for a memorable hook. Lead single "High Road" also has a hell of a chorus, soaring high above the sludgy and tight verses to lift the song up so high. You combine tight grooves, insane playing and proggy riffs with majestic and insanely catchy choruses that make everyone want to sing along and you've got a recipe for whatever the metal equivalent of a 'banger' is.

And then it just floats away. I honestly don't think the term "top-heavy" can be more true here, because the rest of the album just never matches the tight intensity of the opening three. I guess it's kind of hard to construct an album to follow such an explosive beginning, because if you keep going down the same path then the album gets repetitive, and if you change and pull out some songs with different moods, the energy dies and the listener gets bored. It's not all bad though, and the mid-album duo of "Chimes at Midnight" and "Asleep In The Deep" are probably at the same level as the openers, but for different reasons. These two are both more linear tracks, following pretty much the same mood for the whole track, and both are without an extremely definable hook. Of course, the pleb in me really just wants a bitchin chorus to come in and lift it up, and the latter of the two nearly does, but the songs are pretty solid in themselves. The former is a groove-fest, with the entire song being driven by a paced and insanely tight triplet pattern on the guitars. The latter is a slower song, really bringing out Mastodon's influence from stoner rock on this album, with a guitar pattern that reminds me a lot of modern occult-rock bands like Jess and the Ancient Ones.

But the rest of the album really just doesn't hold up, despite having moments. "Ember City" and "Halloween" both have relatively good hooks, but there isn't enough substance outside of the choruses to hold them up. Many of the latter tracks - notably "Aunt Lisa" and "Feast Your Eyes", have riffs that really don't lock into a solid groove and end up sounding like a slop of random notes, and then we have "Diamond In The Witch House", which is honestly just straight-up boring in its nearly 8-minute length, even though longer songs is something I normally lap up. The biggest problem with an album as top-heavy as this is that I want to turn it off as soon as I get to track seven. It's not bad in any way, but it just doesn't hold up its weight throughout. As for how it compared to the Mastodon discography, I can't really say, because as I said at the start, they have really not impressed me to this level in the past. I think that the combination of groove, melody, accessibility and complexity that they showcase in this album's opening quarter is really impressive, though, and even though this may be an 'accessible' album (I mean, I like it, so it must be), there's still a lot for the classic fans to love in here.

7.2

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

 Pale Communion by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.19 | 212 ratings

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Pale Communion
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by robbob

5 stars Well Opeth in constant changing. Their last album was in an acoustic line... This one is like a typical Swedish heavy prog...reminds me very much Anekdoten...Anglagard...Paatos..bands that are inspired in 70 ies prog with that Nordic touches. What I have always love from Opeth is their instrumental heavy jazzy passages and Mikael vocals...what I hate are the guttural noises ...very typical of the dark metal albums ...this disgusting and unnecessary element...finally it seem is in the past of Opeth... So now we can listen to a clear ,defined and excellent heavy prog . A very mature album Beautiful songs.. Near a masterpiece in heavy prog ...so I want to prize Opeth.. 5 stars
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