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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 | 1213 ratings
STILL LIFE
Opeth
4.25 | 1237 ratings
BLACKWATER PARK
Opeth
4.24 | 1148 ratings
GHOST REVERIES
Opeth
4.28 | 316 ratings
CRIMSON
Edge of Sanity
4.24 | 481 ratings
PALE COMMUNION
Opeth
4.24 | 389 ratings
SYMBOLIC
Death
4.38 | 112 ratings
OBSCURA
Gorguts
4.21 | 417 ratings
FOCUS
Cynic
4.25 | 202 ratings
NOTHINGFACE
Voivod
4.23 | 212 ratings
ELEMENTS
Atheist
4.21 | 231 ratings
UNQUESTIONABLE PRESENCE
Atheist
4.25 | 141 ratings
OM
Negura Bunget
4.17 | 263 ratings
HUMAN
Death
4.14 | 414 ratings
TRACED IN AIR
Cynic
4.23 | 130 ratings
DIMENSION HATROSS
Voivod
4.14 | 309 ratings
THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE
Death
4.16 | 233 ratings
TALL POPPY SYNDROME
Leprous
4.18 | 167 ratings
ISA
Enslaved
4.19 | 150 ratings
BACK TO TIMES OF SPLENDOR
Disillusion
4.29 | 79 ratings
DEATH'S DESIGN
Diabolical Masquerade
4.14 | 214 ratings
INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS
Death
4.52 | 37 ratings
ELVENEFRIS
Lykathea Aflame
4.22 | 101 ratings
THE OUTER LIMITS
Voivod
4.07 | 496 ratings
CRACK THE SKYE
Mastodon
4.13 | 173 ratings
THE SHAM MIRRORS
Arcturus
4.15 | 145 ratings
THE WAY OF ALL FLESH
Gojira
4.26 | 59 ratings
VISIONS FUGITIVES
Mekong Delta
4.10 | 140 ratings
THE MACHINATIONS OF DEMENTIA
Blotted Science
4.06 | 195 ratings
ANIMALS AS LEADERS
Animals As Leaders
4.07 | 168 ratings
AXIOMA ETHICA ODINI
Enslaved
4.06 | 168 ratings
AFTER
Ihsahn
4.20 | 58 ratings
VIIDES LUKU - HÄVITETTY
Moonsorrow
4.22 | 53 ratings
LAZARUS BIRD
Burst
4.09 | 98 ratings
THE FRAGILE ART OF EXISTENCE
Control Denied
4.09 | 102 ratings
VERTEBRAE
Enslaved
4.24 | 47 ratings
KIVENKANTAJA
Moonsorrow
4.07 | 109 ratings
EXIVIOUS
Exivious
4.01 | 215 ratings
THE GREAT MISDIRECT
Between The Buried And Me
4.03 | 167 ratings
THE PARALLAX II: FUTURE SEQUENCE
Between The Buried And Me
4.21 | 50 ratings
DEATH OF A DEAD DAY
Sikth
3.99 | 285 ratings
COLORS
Between The Buried And Me
4.13 | 70 ratings
COLORED SANDS
Gorguts
4.21 | 48 ratings
SONGS OF DARKNESS, WORDS OF LIGHT
My Dying Bride
4.27 | 39 ratings
AT THE DREAM´S EDGE
Chimp Spanner
4.05 | 111 ratings
CONTROL AND RESISTANCE
Watchtower
4.09 | 80 ratings
BELOW THE LIGHTS
Enslaved
4.00 | 178 ratings
RIITIIR
Enslaved
3.94 | 935 ratings
WATERSHED
Opeth
4.01 | 141 ratings
FROM MARS TO SIRIUS
Gojira
3.93 | 1008 ratings
DAMNATION
Opeth
4.11 | 62 ratings
CORTICAL TECTONICS
Canvas Solaris
4.12 | 59 ratings
CYBION
Kalisia
4.00 | 149 ratings
WEIGHTLESS
Animals As Leaders
3.96 | 227 ratings
COAL
Leprous
4.02 | 107 ratings
KILLING TECHNOLOGY
Voivod
4.65 | 16 ratings
EMBODIMENT
Sculptured
4.01 | 109 ratings
PORTAL OF I
Ne Obliviscaris
4.07 | 72 ratings
SPHERES
Pestilence
4.03 | 96 ratings
RUUN
Enslaved
3.92 | 579 ratings
MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE
Opeth
4.01 | 98 ratings
ANGEL RAT
Voivod
4.20 | 38 ratings
THEN COMES AFFLICTION TO AWAKEN THE DREAMER
Twisted Into Form
4.49 | 19 ratings
SPIRITECH
Alchemist
3.93 | 319 ratings
BILATERAL
Leprous
4.13 | 48 ratings
BURIED IN OBLIVION
Into Eternity
3.97 | 146 ratings
CHAOSPHERE
Meshuggah
4.08 | 57 ratings
PENUMBRA DIFFUSE
Canvas Solaris
4.16 | 41 ratings
VERISÄKEET
Moonsorrow
4.13 | 45 ratings
THE TREES ARE DEAD & DRIED OUT WAIT FOR SOMETHING WILD
Sikth
4.05 | 69 ratings
FAS - ITE, MALEDICTI, IN IGNEM AETERNUM
Deathspell Omega
4.03 | 74 ratings
THE ADVERSARY
Ihsahn
4.04 | 69 ratings
ENERGETIC DISASSEMBLY
Watchtower
4.24 | 29 ratings
SUPERVILLAIN OUTCAST
Dodheimsgard
4.10 | 46 ratings
BLACK FUTURE
Vektor
4.22 | 30 ratings
SHIN-KEN
Persefone
4.07 | 50 ratings
MONUMENSION
Enslaved
4.20 | 30 ratings
666 INTERNATIONAL
Dodheimsgard
3.99 | 65 ratings
INK COMPLETE
Spastic Ink
4.63 | 12 ratings
CITRINITI
Citriniti
4.38 | 17 ratings
WARP ZONE
Martyr
4.32 | 19 ratings
THE AURA
Beyond Creation
4.85 | 9 ratings
MEPHISTO LETTONICA
Neglected Fields
4.67 | 11 ratings
PREY ON LIFE
Burst
4.10 | 34 ratings
CELESTIAL LINEAGE
Wolves in the Throne Room
4.03 | 46 ratings
IRRADIANCE
Canvas Solaris
3.86 | 269 ratings
LEVIATHAN
Mastodon
4.09 | 33 ratings
DIGITAL VEIL
Human Abstract, The
3.83 | 970 ratings
HERITAGE
Opeth
4.89 | 8 ratings
AS THE ROOTS UNDO
Circle Takes The Square
4.04 | 38 ratings
TWO HUNTERS
Wolves in the Throne Room
4.20 | 21 ratings
TORN BETWEEN DIMENSIONS
At War With Self
3.93 | 66 ratings
INK COMPATIBLE
Spastic Ink
4.06 | 32 ratings
FEEDING THE ABSCESS
Martyr
3.87 | 136 ratings
LA MASQUERADE INFERNALE
Arcturus
4.13 | 25 ratings
CORE
Persefone
4.36 | 14 ratings
UNDECEIVED
Extol
3.93 | 57 ratings
OUTER ISOLATION
Vektor
3.98 | 41 ratings
LIMINAL
Exivious
3.94 | 52 ratings
TURN LOOSE THE SWANS
My Dying Bride
4.28 | 15 ratings
IV - THE EERIE COLD
Shining

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
1980
1980
A THIN LINE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HERE
My Bitter End
CORTICAL TECTONICS
Canvas Solaris

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Latest Tech/Extreme Prog Metal Music Reviews


 Freak Guitar - The Road Less Travelled by EKLUNDH, MATTIAS IA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.33 | 7 ratings

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Freak Guitar - The Road Less Travelled
Mattias IA Eklundh Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars Finding the time between his main gig of frontman for Freak Kitchen, MATTIAS IA EKLUNDH saved his best ideas for himself and the journey continues five years after his first bizarre concoction of musical madness with his second release under his own name - FREAK GUITAR: THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED. Right from the start this album sounds better in every way than the last and that's saying a lot because the first was utterly brilliant. The music is better written, better produced, the cast contains guest musicians playing the real thing instead of merely synthesized versions and best of all - the experimental factor has been turned up to 11!

The leading title track sets the stage for EKLUNDH's unique blend and tug-of-war between jazz, gypsy swing, metal, Zappa-esque humor and avant-garde weirdness. Slave to the melody, rarely does dissonance rule the roost and saved only for contrasting effects. The tracks are generally short and to the point but contained in each one of them is a wealth of musicality and influences with a healthy dose of highly innovated imaginative embellishments. Contained on this near hour experience is a totally ingenious way of melding progressive ideas into digestible packages. Even in the less than two minute songs you will encounter a gazillion influences and original ideas packed in together so tightly you might mistake them for a twinkie addicted prostitute stuffed into a dress several sizes too small.

The most creative ways of writing a song are EKLUNDH's specialty. On 'Print This' the entire tune is written around a printing machine which serves as the main instrument. On 'Insert Coin' it is the video game that dictates which notes are placed where. There are two excellent covers as well. An all instrumental version (mostly instrumental album) of 'Smoke On The Water' is' well, smokin! Enough to light that lake on fire under its own power. The guitars take the place of the vocals and probably the best cover of the track i've ever heard. Likewise, the cover of Django Rheinhardt's 'Minor Swing' is not only true to the original but off the charts in creative embellishments. Also is a brilliant cover of the 'Fletch' theme that is one of the rare examples of virtuoso guitar abilities mixing with a catchy groove that could get your booty in action on the dance floor.

This album packs in so much creative energy it should be prohibited by law! I have been listening to this album for over ten years now and it still blows me away on every listen. It stands out from absolutely anything else that has ever been recorded and blends the most extreme technicalities without removing the ferocious fun that music is supposed to evoke, at least in my book! This is a true masterpiece of epic proportions and although it has been known in the guitar nerd world for a decade, it is so ridiculously accessible and catchy that even my totally non-musical friends really dig this one. I could go on and on and on with this one but you really must just listen to some tracks and decide for yourself. EKLUNDH is a musical genius who graciously spends more time as a guitar teacher doing workshops than releasing albums like this, which i selfishly say waaaah!

Favorite tracks: The Road Less Traveled, There's No Money In Jazz, Print This!, Caffeine, Fletch Theme, Chopstick Boogie, Smoke On The Water, Insert Coin, Minor Swing, One-String Improv, Asteroid 3834 and the rest :)

 Heritage by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.83 | 970 ratings

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Heritage
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Ieshee1i

2 stars This album had Opeth's fans divided before its first notes were even out there. Basically, one part of the fans were die-hard (black / death / whatever) metal fans who took it as a personal offense that their favourite band would "betray" them or their "community", while the other part consisted of people who were excited that this wonderful band would just follow their music wherever it took them, not caring too much about people's opinion (I'm reminded of Metallica as I write this ...). For some reason, this change of direction was less well-tolerated than the one they tried on their previous experiment -- Damnation. My guess would be that everyone saw Damnation as just that -- an experiment; whereas the direction they picked for Heritage sounded like a permanent change.

I guess you could put me in the second category. I was not at all repelled by the idea that one of my favourite bands would get rid of the heavier metal part of their music, especially at a time where I began to explore other musical horizons myself, including prog: while I still enjoyed the metal sound, no matter how heavy, the whole scene was beginning to sound extremely repetitive to me and Opeth were one of the very few metal bands I was still listening to.

However, I had my doubts.

What I always found interesting in Opeth's music was their way of switching from very heavy parts to softer and moving ones; their mixture of progressive elements with straightforward and brutal ones; the blend of acoustic guitars and distorted ones; and so on. Deciding to give a more progressive aspect to their music and dropping the metal elements was a courageous move, but would they be able to make it sound interesting?

Well, I was surely interested in finding out, so I went for the limited edition and refused to hear anything from that album before it showed up in my mailbox. And then I played it, and ...

... and boy, what a disappointment. I must have played the album in its entirety only two or three times, and I had to force myself to keep listening all the while. I'm forcing myself yet again as I write this review, hoping to hear something that will prove me wrong, hoping to understand all those positive reviews that I've read. But I can't hear anything remarkable on this record. Yes, they are trying to sound different, but that's exactly the point: you can hear that they're trying, and exploring new musical grounds without really knowing where they're headed. Although, to be fair, I must admit that I enjoy it a little bit better than back at the time of its release; maybe I've grown more indulgent towards it, and I must admit that there are a few enjoyable moments, but nothing that will keep me coming back to it. I still have to force myself to keep playing it, and I usually either stop after the first three or four songs, or I start skipping. This piece of music may sound impressive to someone who is just discovering that there is a whole musical world outside (black / death / whatever) metal, but if you come from a more eclectic background, let alone a progressive one, you'll find there is nothing here to write home about.

I don't want to be too harsh on Opeth. I'm fond of what they were previous to that album, they still are wonderful musicians, and they deserve praise for fleeing their comfort zones and trying to reinvent themselves. But still, I can't figure out why so many reviews (not necessarily on PA) praise this as a masterpiece. If anything, it's merely a good first step in the right direction, but I'll take Transatlantic any day over this. That's not what Opeth has to become, of course, but I think I'll wait a few more albums before I give them another try. Meanwhile, I'll keep spinning their previous records.

 The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild by SIKTH album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.13 | 45 ratings

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The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild
Sikth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild" is the debut full-length studio album by UK, Watford based progressive metal act Sikth. The album was released through Gut Records in August 2003. Sikth was active from 2001 to 2008 and released two full-length studio albums in that period.

The music on the album is a highly energetic form of progressive metal with elements of all sorts of other music styles. Most notably mathcore, NU-metal, alternative metal and hardcore. Imagine how a combination of The Dillinger Escape Plan, System of a Down, Mr. Bungle, Devin Townsend, Protest the Hero and Shaolin Death Squad would sound like and you're half way there. At their most melodic (like on "Peep Show") I'd even pull out The Mars Volta as a reference.

Sikth features two vocalists. I'm not completely sure who sings what, but there are several different vocal styles featured in the music. It often sounds like a group of mad men shouting, screaming, fast talking, hysterical, whining and occasionally singing more clean melodic type vocals. There is a girlish quality to the clean vocal delivery that'll probably be a little off putting to some, but you can't deny that the vocals are delivered with fierce conviction and great skill. The point is the vocals are most likely an aquired taste. The instrumental part of the music is played with militant precision but features a delightfully chaotic sound. The technical level of playing is incredibly high. Both guitarists play very challenging riffs and themes, the bassist is thankfully placed high in the mix and he plays some really busy stuff throughout and the drummer is a tech metal monster. Contantly changing rhythms and time signatures and constantly shifts between energetic aggressive sections and more melodic atmospheric ones. This is at the same time very challenging and very catchy music.

"The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild" is a self-produced affair (mixed by Colin Richardson) and it's obvious the band are very skilled at this. The album features a very well sounding and powerful sound production, which provides the right space for all instruments and vocals in the soundscape. Another great asset is the album's flow or in other words how the tracklist is put together. It's an album full of surprises. Not only are the material really eclectic in nature, we're also treated to great changes in mood and atmosphere throughout the album.

The first part of the album (the first seven tracks) are wild, energetic and chaotic in nature, with the occasional more melodic section thrown in, but when the eigth track "Tupelo" kicks in, it's also the beginning of around 18 minutes of experimental, atmospheric music that is completely different from what came before it, yet somehow Sikth manage to make the transition in a seamless natural fashion. After being bombarded with technical playing and a very high energy level during the first part of the album, it's initially a bit of a culture shock to be met with the atmospheric sound of "Tupelo", "Can't We All Dream?" and the short piano interlude "Emerson, Part 2". It's perfect though and while the craziness continues on those tracks too with odd theatrical poetry recital and other types of obscure vocal artistery, that part of the album does work as a little breather, because when "How May I Help You?" kick in we're back in high energy chaotic territory again. That continues until the closing track "When Will the Forest Speak...?", which brings us back into odd poetry recital territory.

At 60:34 minutes (and that's excluding the Japanese bonus tracks), "The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild" is a long album, but because of the eclectic nature of the music and the great flow of the album, it's not a minute too long. This is a progressive metal album in the most true sense of the word and when that amounts to a greatly adventurous, well played and well produced end product, as the case is here, a 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

 L'Enfant Sauvage by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.79 | 60 ratings

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L'Enfant Sauvage
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by SteveG

4 stars Members familiar with this French band will know that they play Progressive Death Metal with a heavy emphasis on Thrash. Their last studio album, 2012's L'Enfant Sauvage, is as good as it's predecessor, 2008's The Way of All Flesh.

The big jump in the quality of the band's music from 2005's From Mars To Sirius was that it was improved by two factors: better songwriting and greatly improved production values. The improved production values remain for 2012's L' Enfant Sauvage as does the improved songwriting. My only problem with this is that it feels like the band might have hit their plateau in progressing, which always gives me cause concern with Progressive Death groups.

What is an improvement over 2008's The Way Of All Flesh is the band's improved playing skills. These four gents are firing on all eight cylinders and songs like the lead track Explosia are just what the name implies. The playing, songwrting and vocal performances are explosive on several tracks of this album and are evened out by relatively 'calmer' numbers like Born In Winter before the fireworks start up again.

The album ends on a high note with the strong closing track The Fall. I just hope this band does not get sterile with over producing and other distractions that really is not called for in Extreme/Tech metal.

Now, I have to go back and pretend that I only like old prog. 4 stars for this fine effort.

 Earthborn Evolution by BEYOND CREATION album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.96 | 5 ratings

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Earthborn Evolution
Beyond Creation Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Earthborn Evolution" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Canadian death metal act Beyond Creation. The album was released through Season of Mist in October 2014. Beyond Creation was formed in 2005 and released the generally well received debut full-length studio album "The Aura" in 2011. Bassist Dominic "Forest" Lapointe is also a member of fellow countrymen Augury, B.A.R.F. and Atheretic.

The music on "Earthborn Evolution" pretty much continues the technical/progressive death metal style, which was initiated on "The Aura (2011)". Artists like Augury, Fallujah, and to some extent Obscura are all valid references. What sets Beyond Creation apart from other similar acts is the dominant bass playing by Dominic "Forest" Lapointe, and while the rest of the music is also incredibly well played, it's his playing that's the real highlight on "Earthborn Evolution". It's nothing short of amazing. The rest of the music is fairly standard technical/progressive death metal with tons of tempo- and time signature changes, ultra fast fretboard runs, semi-jazzy guitar solos, and a suiting level of brutality. It's all delivered by true professionals, but the vocals sound a bit soulless to my ears. They are pretty monotone growling, and not even the occasional higher pitched screaming vocal part can save that part of the music from being a bit one-dimensional. Lead vocalist/guitarist Simon Girard gets the job done, but not more than that, and sometimes I get the feeling that the vocals are an afterthought instead of an integrated and important part of the music. That feeling is further enhanced by the fact that there are so much going on at any given time during the albums playing time, that this could easily have been released as an instrumental album.

The material are generally very complex, both in structure and in execution, but that of course won't prove a challenge to fans of this particular death metal style. Not many tracks stand out, as the band focus more on technical playing than they do on hooks, but I'd mention "Sous La Lueur De L'Empereur" as one of the highlights. It's got some memorable themes, and I think the album could have prospered from more tracks like that, featuring more memorable hooks.

When that is said "Earthborn Evolution" is still a high quality release in the genre, featuring high level musicianship, a professional take on composition, and a powerful and clear sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

 Freak Guitar by EKLUNDH, MATTIAS IA album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.40 | 7 ratings

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Freak Guitar
Mattias IA Eklundh Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars MATTIAS IA EKLUNDH is a well known guitarist in the inner circles of guitar nerds but hasn't really quite caught on elsewhere and that's a shame because he is so much more than showing off his freakish guitar playing skills. His major influences were Frank Zappa and Ace Frehley of Kiss, so that right there should give an indication of how he loves to mix and meld and since he began music when he was a mere 6 years old, it's no wonder he has become such the accomplished musician that he has. Being from Sweden, MATTIAS has been involved in many musical acts over the years including his first Frozen Eyes to other Swedish bands such as Evergrey and Soilwork. He started his own progressive rock band Freak Kitchen in 1992. That band has released eight albums at the time of this review, but it is his solo albums under the FREAK GUITAR moniker that really get my musical saliva flowing.

Not counting his "real" first solo album under the name Mr. Libido which contained no guitar at all but merely introduced the world EKLUNDH's idiosyncrasies of combining the traditional with the un-, that album was ok but not outstanding, FREAK GUITAR, his first guitar oriented solo album is another case. Although upon first listen i was a tad underwhelmed expecting some bizarre futuristic weirdness of epic proportions, i let go of that but have nonetheless grown very fond of this album over the thirteen years since i first became acquainted with it. Although this is a one-man show, EKLUNDH dedicates extreme scrutiny over every single detail involved here, showing how one man can create a near masterpiece in a bathroom of his parent's house with the most rudimentary of recording equipment. The passion on this one is with a capital P.

The sounds on this one range from the more typical one of the opener "Apparatus" with a hyper-metal attitude with jazz overtones and plenty of eccentric liberties to "Detroit Rock City" which is a Kiss cover only in a Django Rheinhardt gypsy jazz style. The liner notes are meticulous explaining the inspiration behind each track which makes this review easier since there is no guessing involved in the process. Although there are 22 tracks overall, i never get bored with this one. I only ever skip over the intermission piece "Time To Breathe" track which was created to serve as a nice smooth and slow number in order to take a break from the otherwise sometimes frenetic nature of the album. I don't mind a track like this but it is too long and i really don't find this album to be over frenetic in the least bit. In fact i would classify it as a perfect compromise between extreme metal and pop sensibilities albeit in totally original and unforeseen ways.

This album is filled with yumminess. Versions of "La Bamba" and "Detroit Rock City" are divine. There are unapologetic metal rockers a la "Lisa's Passion For Heavy Metal" (Dedicated to a Freak Kitchen track) and "Evil Shower" to weird numbers like "(Friday Afternoon) In A Galaxy Far Away" which is a musical interpretation of a traffic jam (originally titled "A Momentary Extra-Terrestrial Brouhaha On The Corner Of Zfwwapfftz-Street and Pzzfffttt-Street on the relatively Unknown Planet Apple Horn In The Hejsan Svejsan Galaxy." It was supposed to be the single! There are also Swedish folk-metal songs, jazz inspired rock accompanying a narration about "Dr Pangloss Goes To Lisbon" and folky vocal tracks about riding the workplace exercise wheel in "Squirrel." The lyrics, the music and the content in general are brilliant.

Although i really love this album as a whole i do have a few faves of the bunch: "Numb," "The Satanic Moonwalk," "Cornholed," "Evil Shower," "When Sam Played It Again." An absolutely brilliant album that only gets better with time despite loving it upon first listen. OMG! Not only a musician's wet dream but this is crossover enough to really appeal to anybody who has a fetish in the progressive realm of harder edged music. I forgot to mention the more known facts. Steve Vai was so impressed with his musical abilities that he signed him to his Favored Nations label. Enough said. 4.5 rounded WAY up :P

 Blessed He With Boils by XANTHOCHROID album cover Studio Album, 2012
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Blessed He With Boils
Xanthochroid Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Pieromcdo

5 stars What an amazing album probably the best in extreme prog I hear so far this is a requiem a la Opeth with more of a classical side with chord and many different instruments it is just perfect from the smooth soft side to they extreme side Ps there is some growth voice her and there is the rage and the beauty all mix in a perfect matter I got the chance to her a bit off that on bandcamp and it was instant love got both of there album JUST a BIG wow if your a fan of Opeth and you have and open mind for classic music this is a must Just wow wow wow
 The Outer Limits by VOIVOD album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.22 | 101 ratings

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The Outer Limits
Voivod Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Voivod - The Outer Limits (1993)

Well this quickly became one of my favorite Voivod albums. The production is sharp en professional, the band enthusiastic and the songs relatively catchy. The balance between the innovative forces and the melodic forces is finally in place. Voivod playes its own brand of progressive metal with a major role for the innovative odd guitar chords of Denis d'Amour, the punky vocals of Denis Belanger and the sci-fi lyrics and atmosphere of the music. I found earlier progressive albums to be a bit poorly produced, but since Nothingface - another favorite - the band has done fine. Between these two albums we find the peculiar 'Angel Rat' album, which focusses more on art-rock songwriting in the tradition of seventies Alice Cooper. 'The Outer Limits' sees Voivod returning to their progressive metal basis, albeit a bit more polished (which a minor listener of the heavier forms of metal can find very pleasing).

On this album the main progressive force is the seventeen minute 'Jack Luminous', which many have pointed at as being a highlight of the progressive metal genre. On other tracks Voivod can be surprisingly simple and effective, whilst giving most songs some original twists and innovative instrumental sections. The opening track 'Fix my Heart' is quite approachable for newcomers and it reminds me a bit of the poppier work of Megadeth, especially when it comes to the vocals. 'Moonbeam Rider' introduces the abstract atmospheres of Voivod in a relaxing sci-fi mood, I simply love this track! They should use it for a sci-fi or racing movie. 'Le Point Noir' is a strong with a strange clean section and a brilliant heavy refrain theme which reminds me a bit of the later works of King Crimson. 'The Nile Song' is no favorite of mine, but it works fine as a Pink Floyd cover and it is defenitly way better then the underproduces original. 'Time Warp', 'Wrong-Way Street' and 'We Are Not Alone' are all more conventional tracks that are very enjoyable.

Conclusion. If you can do without the trash-element of Voivod you're left with perhaps their finest progressive metal album. A great place to start in their discography it would seem. Four stars for this one!

 Leng by ACOLYTE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Leng
Acolyte Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by thwok

— First review of this album —
3 stars Lately I've been spending time at the unreviewed albums section of Prog Archives, looking for albums to review. I wouldn't spend my time reviewing an album that's been reviewed 100 times, and more skilfully, by my fellow reviewers. I don't think I would have anything to say that hasn't already been said. By the way, I was very happy that the unreviewed page even exists; it took some digging to find! , So, I found Acolyte's Leng, which I already owned and listened to attentively.

I'm giving the Leng EP 3 stars. I think this band has real potential, but Leng doesn't give us everything that they're capable of. Acolyte does play an interesting variety of black-metal influenced rock. The melody and groove makes this more enjoyable than other black-metal bands. The contrast between the more intense and quieter sections of their songs helps too. At first, I found Leng hard to listen to because of the sound quality, so it took me a few tries. It sounds like a lot of black metal. My favorite track is "Sunrise", because of the variation throughout the song. "Leng" is a little too long and monotonous for my tastes. I hope that the Alta album and future releases show a greater variation in sound and a greater variety in JT's singing. I am very interested to hear what Acolyte does next.

 Language by CONTORTIONIST, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.46 | 13 ratings

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Language
The Contortionist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars The source of a prog metal era

The Contortionist is one of a slew of tech prog metal bands that came out in the mid-2000s as a solution to the believed lack of Meshuggah impersonators. It turns out that all along, no one really wanted a bunch of neu- Meshuggah bands, but nevertheless, dozens upon dozens of 'djent' bands as they were called emerged onto the scene. Some of these bands, such as Periphery and TesseracT, did good with the style and furthered the prog metal genre by taking after Meshuggah's signature sound. Many (many) other bands, however, such as Volumes, Monuments, and others, simply made a mockery of themselves by producing immature, flat music that never wavered in style, timbre, or direction. For half a decade, these bands churned out album after album of this music, and eventually, the market for djent more or less closed.

The bands which understood djent had to be dynamic in order to be sustained, such as the aforementioned Periphery, TesseracT, and others, added new elements to their music, such as ambience, melody, and other styles to make it more interesting and sustainable. The Contortionist, which started originally based in deathcore djent more than anything else with their first album Exoplanet, picked up on this very quickly and more or less abandoned the djent sound with their second album Intrinsic in 2012. While they still had the heavy djenty sound on much of the album, it was clear the band was headed in a much more ambient and atmospheric sound culture than a djent one. Their music still contained elements of riffy djent and death metal, but after the addition of Mike Lessard on vocals, whose strength is in clean vocals rather than screams, the band's music lightened significantly.

With the release of Language in 2014, it was clear The Contortionist had made a stylistic shift. The band released the first part of the self-titled track as a single several months before the release of the album, and just from there, I knew I was hooked. The song is airy, gentle, and ambient in the beginning, with dreamy, almost psychedelic guitars that still maintain the almost robotic precision that was present in the technicality of their previous work. From there, the vocals come in, adding an even dreamier quality to the music. Mike's melodies are soft on this track, giving the song a remarkable flow (purposefully, I assume, as a motif of the album is the ebb and flow of life). The song builds and builds and builds, until it breaks into an absolutely infectious groove which, on the full album, leads perfectly in the clearly much heavier second part.

The entire album acts like this. It (again) ebbs and flows into periods of dreamy atmospheres and then into moments of progressive death metal that still has an ambient and dreamy feel to it. Never on the album do the moods seem over the top, however, and when it feels like they've gone too far with a heavy bit, they transition effortlessly into a softer passage.

The album, however, is not without flaws. At times the album can seem to lose direction, with a guitar riff seeming a little loopy or amelodious, very rarely does a passage sound out of place. Take the beginning of "Integration," for instance, where the entire intro is a steady buildup to a grooving riff-based song. Almost the entire first two minutes, however, has little to no melodic direction or structure. While the song is not bad in any way, it's just a little awkward to listen to, especially after the perfectly executed title track that plays before it. It isn't until almost halfway through the song does the track really gets going in terms of groove and syncopation. The lyrics at many points on the album seem half-baked at best. While it's understandable that they were written when the band was completely baked, at times they don't seem to make any sense at all.

Even with these few flaws, though, the entire album is blissful to listen to. For a primarily death metal based band, the band knows how to perfectly balance their more atmospheric passages with their heavier ones to make an absolutely heavenly listening experience. The mix doesn't make any one element overpowering or underappreciated, so on a nice stereo system, the entire experience is enveloping and pleasant. The warm guitar tones used throughout the album blend nicely and give the entire album a great tone, and Mike's vocal melodies round out the band's sound very nicely. Overall, the album shows a remarkable evolution for a band that was originally almost exclusively a deathcore band, and it shows just what can truly be done with the prog metal genre. 4+ stars.

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1980 France
7TH NEMESIS France
A.I.(D) France
ABIGOR Austria
ABORYM Italy
ABSORBED Spain
ACHOKARLOS Spain
ACID DEATH Greece
ACOLYTE United Kingdom
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ACROSS THE SUN United States
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THE ADVENT EQUATION Mexico
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AN ISLE ATE HER United States
ANATA Sweden
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ANCIIENTS Canada
ANGEL OF DISEASE Georgia
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ANIMALS AS LEADERS United States
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ANSUR Norway
THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM United States
APRIL ETHEREAL Poland
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ARKAN France
ARRHYTHMOGEN United States
ARTCELL Bangladesh
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AUGURY Canada
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AXAMENTA Belgium
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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
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BLUTMOND Switzerland
BORGIA France
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BORN OF OSIRIS United States
BOTCH United States
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BURST Sweden
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CODE Multi-National
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THE CONTORTIONIST United States
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CYCLAMEN United Kingdom
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DE PROFUNDIS United Kingdom
DEAD LETTER OPENER Australia
DEATH United States
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DEATHSPELL OMEGA France
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DEMILICH Finland
DEMONIC RESURRECTION India
DESCEND Sweden
DEVIUS Argentina
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THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN United States
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DIORAMIC Germany
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DISEMBARKATION Canada
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DRUDKH Ukraine
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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
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EMPYREAN SKY United States
ENDITOL Canada
ENSLAVED Norway
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ERYN NON DAE France
ESCHATON Austria
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EXTOL Norway
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MEANS END Sweden
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NEXT LIFE Norway
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THE NUMBER TWELVE LOOKS LIKE YOU United States
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OPETH Sweden
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PORTAL Australia
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WHAT'S HE BUILDING IN THERE? Canada
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