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EXPERIMENTAL/POST METAL

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Experimental/Post Metal definition



Experimental Progressive Metal

Experimental progressive metal is a sub-genre of progressive metal characterized by the incorporation of innovative, eclectic elements, large-scale experimentation and the use of non-standard and unconventional sounds, instruments, song structures, playing styles, and vocal techniques. Experimentation in the music is a major criteria to define the genre where artists often add unique elements to the overall sound, while progressive metal usually has more focus on traditional metal instrumentation and higher levels of technical complexity.

It's nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact origin of Experimental Progressive Metal since experimentation is common in all music genres. Still it is clear that experimentation in the progressive metal sub-genre has slowly but steadily grown in popularity ever since its humble beginnings in the early 1980s.

Just like any other style, Experimental Progressive Metal has a few defining moments that have changed the rules for its sub-genre for years to come. Two of such moments are the releases of the debut album by MR.BUNGLE of August 1991 and its iconic follow up "Disco Volante" of 1995. MR BUNGLE became notorious for their heavy sound and mid-song shifts of musical style. The band has later spawned an array of established avant-garde side projects such as FANT‘MAS, SECRET CHIEFS 3 and ESTRADASPHERE but also inspired new Experimental Metal acts to take the music scene to new heights.
Another crucial artist in the development of Experimental Progressive Metal was the leading Avant Metal band of the 80s, CELTIC FROST. Their eclectic mix of Thrash, Doom, Symphonic and Goth Metal created a dark theatrical mystique that became a major influence among the experimental Extreme Metal bands of the 90s such as MY DYING BRIDE, ULVER, ARCTURUS among others. These bands served as an important source of inspiration for the experimental movement within extreme metal.

The bands listed under Experimental Progressive Metal have all, in various degrees, shed their extreme heritage in favor of embracing influences of the eclectic style going from art rock and ethnic up to free-jazz and even modernist music.

Art Metal
Art metal is a direct continuation of progressive metal but with the longing to expand the themes and styles of music while maintaining the technical complexity of the sub-genre.
These bands are more artistic than their progressive metal peers and tend to experiment, to a certain extent, but not as openly as the bands of the eclectic and avant-garde metal styles. Art metal comes in many shapes and forms. The virtuosity and complete unpredictability of DEVIN TOWNSEND, OSI and TOOL always manages to draw attention of both fans of traditional metal as well as the progressive music audience, while bands like ANATHEMA, DEADSOUL TRIBE and GORDIAN KNOT attract many fans of groove and atmospheric music into their vibrant soundscapes. Other notable acts include GREEN CARNATION, DARK SUNS and ANTIMATTER.

Eclectic Metal
These bands often add unconventional elements to their metal sound, whether it's experiments with various new sounds and styles that are otherwise uncommon in metal or by blending many styles, with metal being the referential core. Whether it's the ethnic elements of ORPHANED LAND's music that combines Middle Eastern folklore with the more traditional progressive metal sound or a completely unique mix of atmospheric, almost ambient, elements fused with metal that can be found in the sound of THE GATHERING, eclectic metal artists will always certainly bring a host of different styles and ideas to the table. Experimental metal can be found in numerous forms while featuring notable acts like INDUKTI, IN THE WOODS... and MAUDLIN OF THE WELL.

Avant-garde Metal
This style is generally considered to be more extreme in both its arrangements but most importantly extremely complex and unpredictable song structures. Compositions have the ambition of trying to breach boundaries of music and generally have significant experimental approaches to metal music. Most of this music borders on the realms of pure avant-garde while still maintaining a solid foundation in metal with technical instrumental prowess. Notable acts include UNEXPECT, EPHEL DUATH and VIRUS.


Post Metal

Post metal arose following the subsequent emergence of numerous newer, grittier metal genres like sludge, stoner, doom, and drone in the late 80's and early 90's, as well as the budding post-rock scene that emerged in the early 90's in Europe and North America. The scene's origins can be heard in several distinctly like-minded, moderately experimental groups in the early 90's, ranging from the noisy grind of GODFLESH, the sludgy, melodic, sometimes punk-like riffs of the MELVINS, and the proggy time signatures and grungy riffing of TOOL or HELMET, to the textural work of DON CABALLERO and the more melodic moments of early BARK PSYCHOSIS.

Arguably the first true and definitive realizations of post-metal emerged in the mid 1990's. The most concrete example was NEUROSIS, who moved farther away from their crust-punk origins and into more atmospheric territories with releases like Souls at Zero and Through Silver in Blood, the latter album in particular being regarded as one of the most definitive releases in the genre even to this day for its revolutionary blend of dark, spanning atmosphere and massively heavy sludge, something that would later come to define the post-metal genre as a whole (indeed, post-metal is often called "atmospheric sludge" as well). It wouldn't be until the early 2000's, however, that the genre's capacity would be fully realized, with releases like ISIS's "Oceanic", CULT OF LUNA's "Salvation", and PELICAN's "Australasia" paving the way for a true scene to emerge, and post-metal has since become a widespread phenomenon that has captivated the attention of many adventurous listeners worldwide.

Post-metal's unique sound is often very long and extremely drawn-out, utilizing oft-repetitive and simple riffs and guitar texturing to create massive buildups and musical climaxes. At times very emotionally evocative, it can be equally soft and soothing as it can be massively dense and crushing. Vocals are used sparingly, if at all (instrumental post-metal is a popular genre, with groups like PELICAN and RUSSIAN CIRCLES even achieving some degree of mainstream credibility), and when they are, they're usually gruff and barked as opposed to growled or screamed, a signature trait of the genre's hardcore roots.

Variations of Post-metal

While it should be noted that many post-metal bands have their roots in sludge metal, there are many post-metal bands that are rooted in other genres of metal. While post-sludge was an almost uniquely American phenomenon, a number of European doom-influenced post-metal bands have risen to fame, namely groups like ANATHEMA, YEAR OF NO LIGHT and CALLISTO; their slow-churning riffs and depressing mood of doom metal fit very well into the post-metal formula. These groups later gave way to more western post-doom-metal projects like JESU, GIANT SQUID, and MINSK.

A number of post-metal bands are significantly influenced by hardcore and post-hardcore, crafting the melodic elements of modern hardcore into their own brands of textural and atmospheric post-metal. This is exemplified by groups like ROSETTA, THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE, CAVE IN, MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT and BURST.

A subgenre that has emerged to a considerable degree in the last decade is an amalgamation of post-rock and black metal. Black metal has traditionally not been a stylistic influence on post-metal over the years, but bands like ALCEST, FEN, AGALLOCH and ALTAR OF PLAGUES have used the more atmospheric qualities of black metal and the tremolo riffing and incorporated it with a shoegaze-like affinity for heavy, dreamy sounds and guitar effects to create a unique and evocative subgenre that shares many visional and sonic characteristics of post-metal. While the explosion of bands exploring this style is a rather recent phenomenon, there are some instances of this occurring very early in the lifespan of the post-metal genre as a whole. ULVER's debut could be seen as possibly the first album to fall under this definition. For clarification's sake, these post-rock influenced bands are placed in the post-metal subsection of ProgArchives as opposed to the black metal subsection of Tech/Extreme because they eschew much of the harsh tonalities, minor modes, and shrieking vocals of black metal and add a melodic and emotional aspect that makes it much more accessible than their progressive black metal peers in the tech/extreme section.

Today, the most popular post-metal groups are much of the genre's godfathers like ISIS, NEUROSIS, PELICAN, and CULT OF LUNA, though a number of newer bands have risen to fame in metal and prog circles within the last 5 years like INTRONAUT, ROSETTA, and THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE.


--- Definition by Alex and Kevin and the Progressive Metal Team, February 2012 ---

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

Experimental/Post Metal Top Albums


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

4.22 | 1419 ratings
LATERALUS
Tool
4.22 | 675 ratings
PART THE SECOND
Maudlin Of The Well
4.33 | 126 ratings
IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE
Sigh
4.25 | 177 ratings
THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD
Neurosis
4.18 | 617 ratings
TERRIA
Townsend, Devin
4.19 | 313 ratings
LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP
Maudlin Of The Well
4.15 | 666 ratings
JUDGEMENT
Anathema
4.18 | 289 ratings
BATH
Maudlin Of The Well
4.14 | 554 ratings
ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT
Townsend, Devin
4.15 | 368 ratings
THE MANTLE
Agalloch
4.16 | 261 ratings
IN A FLESH AQUARIUM
Unexpect
4.14 | 313 ratings
FABLES OF THE SLEEPLESS EMPIRE
Unexpect
4.19 | 144 ratings
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY
Cult Of Luna
4.13 | 319 ratings
LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS
Green Carnation
4.41 | 46 ratings
KHAOOOHS & KON-FUS-ION
Pan.Thy.Monium
4.09 | 842 ratings
∆NIMA
Tool
4.12 | 248 ratings
PANOPTICON
Isis
4.41 | 41 ratings
FEA JUR
Lye By Mistake
4.17 | 113 ratings
THE PAINTER'S PALETTE
Ephel Duath
4.06 | 867 ratings
WE'RE HERE BECAUSE WE'RE HERE
Anathema

Experimental/Post Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Experimental/Post Metal experts team

THE SECOND PHILOSOPHY
Nahemah
THE MINSTREL'S CURSE
Noekk
SPOILS OF FAILURE
Buried Inside
THE SECOND WAVE
Khoma

Latest Experimental/Post Metal Music Reviews


 Sahara by ORPHANED LAND album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.38 | 63 ratings

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Sahara
Orphaned Land Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Sahara is a great debut album by then Israeli youngsters. There weren't many other bands back in 1994 that would be willing and also accomplish mixing so many different music styles together. First and foremost, this is an oriental mixture of death/doom metal with occassional blast beast (1994 was a great year for the black metal scene), some simplified progressive rock riffs and attempts at rhythm changes. Even though the band are apparently gifted, they haven't matured yet musically and sonically.

Unconventional songwriting, great growling capabilities by Kobi Farhi, confident oriental elements and variety of extreme metal influences are weighted down by bad production sound, not very advanced instrumental chops and undeveloped songwriting. Some instrumental passages are a bit dull and there is not much craft for melody yet.

"The Sahara's storm" shows the band's potential ranging from doomed death metal, heavy metal to black metal blasts. "Blessed by thy hate" has refreshing female vocals but clean narrative vocal sounds dull and cheap. "Aldiar al mukadisa" displays neat oriental capabilities, good for dancing as well as listening. "Seasons unite" is a great doom-metal track. "The beloved's cry" might be one of the most memorable and lightweight tracks that will remain the only live number in the post 2014's concerts. "My requiem" keeps its oriental orientation despite changing metal directions. "The storm still rages inside" is one of the most epic numbers on this record as it keeps certain majesty by its composition and growling vocals balanced by acoustic outro.

Overall, musically, this is a unique record with lots of potential but not so much on sale for the proghead's ear, therefore 3 stars.

 Ocean Machine - Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Live, 2018
2.92 | 8 ratings

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Ocean Machine - Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by javajeff

4 stars This is an excellent live album for anyone looking to upgrade their Ocean Machine with a stellar sounding adrenaline rush. Ocean Machine has never sounded better with this Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre release, and Devin gave a powerful performance with the usual wall of sound. It is easy to see how much Ocean Machine means to him as it is a gateway to a bunch of phenomenal releases to follow. Ocean Machine is one my favorite albums from Devin along with Terria and Ziltoid. It is an excellent collection of songs and an essential album to own in his extensive catalog. The rest of this big live release contains some favorites from the crowd while Devin flirts with witty and fun interludes between songs. While The Retinal Circus or Ziltoid: Live At The Royal Albert Hall may be considered by some as better live albums, there is so much to like here that it should not be missed. Devin has a tremendous work ethic, and it shows why he is successful as an artist. I listen to Ocean Machine - Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre now more than the original release.
 Trance by VIRGIN BLACK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
3.09 | 4 ratings

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Trance
Virgin Black Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Virgin Black's first studio recording "Trance" was this 3-track CD released in 1998, three years before their first studio album. As far as I know, these tracks have not been made available anywhere else. This EP was a good indication that this was going to be a band willing to go new places and that would stretch the boundaries of dark, gothic, post-metal.

Starting with "Opera de Trance", we get an ominous repeating piano riff surrounded by an almost trance-like percussion. At first you are questioning whether this is actually metal of any kind, until the heavy guitars explode on the scene with drums more fitted for metal. Vocals somewhere between whispering and growling start out on the verses and an operatic bridge will surprise at first. The track, however, quickly ends as it started.

That track seques almost immediately into the heavier "A Saint is Weeping". The vocals on this one are more of a spoken word with that operatic voice on the short chorus. The guitar riff is enough to get the heart pounding though, and soon, it changes to a more complex progressive metal solo. The vocals might take a little getting used to at first, but they are not that bad, and the slight growl is not annoying. But it's the instrumental breaks that show that this band is a few steps above the bar for goth music, even though there is that atmosphere to all of their music.

Last of all is the 7+ minute "Whispers of Dead Sisters". The vocals here are somewhere between a melodious Gregorian monk and the off-key operatic attitude, it fits the goth label well, but the music is done much better. This track is a slower beat and has very solid progressive metal leanings. After a while, the track becomes a bit softer with a lovely piano accompaniment to a more sensitive vocal. After a minute or so, the guitars join in again. Later, a quick bass line brings in a more intense dynamic and faster tempo as it builds in tension. As the frantic singing continues, there is an ominous whispering going on behind it. Suddenly, the intensity drops and there is a single synth playing an oboe effect while a minimal bass hold it together, then whispering starts again. Then a final guitar solo churns along to the slower tempo to close out the track.

This EP is much too short, but it is a great introduction to the band's music. It will leave you wanting more, mostly because of the excellent guitar work and piano work on the softer passages. The vocals are the hardest part to swallow, but they will get better, and once you get used to the frantic operatic style, you won't mind them so much because everything else is stellar. The big problem is, the CD is going for $55 on amazon, so I would imagine it is best to get one of the albums first and patiently search for a bargain on the EP. 3 stars because it is too short, but the music is great.

 Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.71 | 99 ratings

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Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars "Transendence" is Devin Townsend Project's 7th album, and DT's overall 17th album, and with it, comes the power heavy progressive rock that we have all come to know and love. No one does it like DT, and that is why I have come to the conclusion that he is my favorite Progressive Metal artist. I have not been able to find anyone that does it with as much power and passion that he does, and he is always one step above all of the other Progressive Metal artists out there. I'm not just saying this because I currently live in Canada, because he was one of my favorites way before I moved here from the States, and back then, when I first discovered his music, I had no idea he was Canadian. But, honestly, I found more fans of his down in the States than I have here in Canada. This time around, DT shares more of the ideas and input of the entire cast of the project. Even though the guitar is still heavy here, there is a more of keyboard driven aspect to it in that they stand out more in the overall wall of sound.

"Truth" starts out this album with a re-working of a track from one of his earlier albums "Infinity". It would seem he has returned to his famous wall of sound where somehow he brings out every single instrument, even though the track breaks down some at the end to a more mellow finish. The same heaviness continues in "Stormbending" with a swirling synthesizer that ushers in a powerful guitar solo, and DT's powerhouse vocals, loud when they need to be, and soft when the music calms. Somehow, DT's music is so heavy and uplifting at the same time, no matter what the subject matter is. Considering the title of this album, he has hit hi style and subject matter right on the nose this time. Just amazing and powerful, and plenty of dynamics because even though the wall is there, there are still plenty of softer passages to go along with whatever is needed in each track.

"Higher" features a solid progressive riff with a dramatic orchestral effect and you hear DT venturing up into his higher register way on up there a few times during this track. Later there is an awesome guitar solo that is all Devin. "Secret Sciences" has the fuller sound, but even so, it is a softer track with a more complex melody. Intensity does get heavier on the choruses. Anneke van Giersbergen from "The Gathering" also helps out with support vocals on this track. DT fans know that she is a frequent guest on many of his albums and many times will actually sing lead. The drums in this one are also quite rapid in many places giving that speed metal style without succumbing to that formula.

"Higher" flows directly from the previous track starting out quite peacefully with Devin's softer vocals and an acoustic, strummed guitar. A sudden increase in intensity and power erupts for a short time, then a throbbing bass introduces the excellent progressive feel of this track. The track continues to go from heavy drama to more melodic sections. Things can get rather loud and passionate at times with heavy metal riffing, even a little growling in the most emotional part of the track. That's another strength of Devin's, using that style from time to time, but only when it is needed to push the emotion to another level. That is also another reason why he is the best, because he uses that talent effectively and only when needed. This track is absolutely awesome and if you need to hear just how great of a musician Devin is and you only have time for one track, then this is the one, even though it is 10 minutes, none of that time is wasted. But I'll warn you, you won't be satisfied with just one, you will want more, more, more! Simply beautiful, stunning and immense!

"Stars" begins right away with the full wall of sound driven by majestic synths, but calming some as it continues, returning to majesty on the choruses. "Offer Your Light" is very up tempo driven by a keyboard riff and with Anneke taking lead at first and passing it back and forth with Devin, but the vocals are layered to sound like a full chorus.

"From the Heart" is a mid-tempo track with more of the symphonic wall backing things up. This is another majestic sounding track with several layers creating a powerful and almost orchestral sound. Halfway through this one, the density breaks down to just synths and vocal layers becoming peaceful and lovely as instruments take over the suddenly serene and floating ambience for the remainder of the track. The last track is also over 8 minutes like the previous. "Transdermal Celebration" (which is actually a "Ween" cover) begins with a simple electric guitar introduction which explodes into that dense wall again only to be calmed again for the chorus. After this, the guitar gets to take the theme into a longer solo before vocals come back. At 3:30, things get quite atmospheric and ethereal as it becomes more ambient. After 5 minutes, the music mostly fades and we are left with a wind effect with distant synths ebbing and flowing.

This is DT's and his Project at their best. Even though the synthesizers seem to have a little more to say in this album, it is still prime Devin Townsend material that surpasses many other Progressive Metal artists in pure emotion and awesomeness. It is a good representative of his heavier music, which is what most of his output is, though he has also been known to explore many other styles through his career. But this one features the music that we all love from him, pure excellence and musicianship.

 Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.71 | 99 ratings

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Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After the slightly dissappointing Ziltoid 2, Devin Townsend returned with this much better Transcendence!

And for this record he retrieved his most prog-hard rock style, much in the vein of Accelerated Evolution and Synchestra, being an album which is not so extreme like Physicist or Deconstruction, but also not so commercial like Epicloud and the lousy Sky Blue.

Sadly, the title track is a bit boring while From the Heart is too cheesy and repetitive, being two minor flaws in an otherwise excellent album!

Best Tracks: Stormbending (one of the most awesome Devin's songs), Failure (could have been included in Accelerated Evolution), Secret Sciences (original and different one), Higher (epic and very progressive) and Offer Your Light (a memorable and straightforward heavy metal song)

Conclusion: Transcendence is a self-contained, concise and very well executed piece of the best prog-metal out there and a worthy addition to the very solid Devin Townsend's career.

My rating: ****

 Z≤ by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 137 ratings

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Z≤
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After the successful Epicloud, Devin Townsend released his long awaited Ziltoid the Omniscient sequel with this double album!

The first CD Sky Blue is a follow-up of the style of Addicted! and Epicloud, but sadly not so good this time in terms in songwriting lacking true memorable songs. And worst of all, this album is predictable! And that's the true disappointment here.

Ziltoid 2 is better, mixing the furious and crazy humoristic metal of the first one with the more grandiloquent and pompous style of newer Devin's albums. And although the results are better than in Sky Blue, the album is waaaaay under the first Ziltoid one. The story is ridiculous and apart from a part of songs (Deathray, War Princess, Ziltoid Goes Home) this album is simply not catchy enough.

Best Tracks: Midnight Sun, Universal Flame, Silent Militia, War Princess, Deathray, Ziltoid Goes Home.

Conclusion: my less favorite Townsend album!

My rating: ***

 Infinity by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.69 | 211 ratings

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Infinity
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Kempokid

4 stars Devin Townsend's second album proves to be a very different beast from his first, taking away the atmospheric, subtle, clean tracks, for outright madness and fun. The production is very strange, both sounding very clear, yet also having a degree of muddiness to it, the compositions are incredibly varied, sounding more like individual tracks rather than a cohesive album, and their is a sense of outright fun to be found here, rather than the extremely solemn 'Ocean Machine: Biomech'. Due to this being a Devin Townsend release, one thing that can be counted on is the absolutely perfect vocals for any case, ranging from beautiful and operatic, to aggressive screaming.

From the opening song 'Truth' it already becomes clear just how different this album is going to be, exploding into a wall of sound full of quirky, bizarre vocal noises and makes for a strange way to kick the album off. 'Christeen' is a much more pop oriented track, with a fun catchy chorus and more strange vocalisations, making for a completely different sound from the opener. Just to destroy any notions that 'Christeen' was going to be an outlier track, the clear highlight, 'Bad Devil' bursts in. These is easily one of my favourite songs that Devin has ever written, being an extremely entertaining, fun swing metal song that clearly went on to influence 'Diablo Swing Orchestra', particularly 'Balrog Boogie'. Everything about this song works absolutely perfectly, being full of energy and easily grabbing the attention of anyone listening to this album. The album continues strongly with 'War', being another massive, seemingly impenetrable wall of sound, with a fairly decent groove that is pushed to its breaking point, with a gradual increase of layers to the music, until it explodes with Devin screaming about stopping the noise, which I find to be interesting. 'Soul Driven Cadillac' is quite similar to the tracks 'Life if All Dynamics' and 'Unity', all conveying the more grandiose, atmospheric side of Devin's music. These songs all contain very powerful grooves to them, displaying his more serious side. 'Ants' is the single weirdest song in Townsend's entire discography, with some of the most unadulterated insanity I've heard in any band. truly a song that needs to be heard, and one that never fails to get a laugh out of me. 'Wild Colonial Boy' is a fun waltzy power ballad with some great melody, and an awesome chorus. The closing track 'Noisy Pink Bubbles' is a good one all around, having a psychedelic, stoner style to it, ending the album in the same way it started, strangely.

While the album is less coherent than any other Devin Townsend effort, it is also one of the most purely entertaining one, with a lot of diversity and fun involved. While I recommend other Devin Townsend albums over this one, simply because this doesn't have the same scope and maturity as albums such as 'Ocean Machine', 'Terria' or even 'Ziltoid the Omniscient', however, this is definitely a great album that I'll recommend to any fan of Devin Townsend, and I'll recommend 'Bad Devil' to anyone.

Best Songs: Bad Devil, War, Unity

Weakest Songs: None

Verdict: Fun album all around that is quite accessible, using various styles and genres throughout with very little restraint. While it doesn't reach the creative highs of other albums, it is nonetheless a fun listen.

 Devin Townsend Project: Epicloud by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 325 ratings

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Devin Townsend Project: Epicloud
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After the brutal Deconstruction and the much mellow and ambient-oriented Ghost, Devin Townsend returned to the Addicted! formula.

Devin himself produced the album achieving again his typical wall of sound style. Maybe a bit over-produced, but it is a take it or leaving thing, you know. The band was the same as in Addicted! and since this Epicloud the line-up has been more or less the same with the exception of the great Anneke Van Giersbergenbeing, being the most stable line- up of musicians that Devin has had in his career, leave alone the Strapping Yound Lad project.

So Epicloud, like Addicted!, is a mixture of pop-prog-metal songs with extreme and experimental glimpses and some new elements like the Simon and Garfunkel-influenced (and horrible) track Divine, which is maybe the worst song in the entire Devin's career. Nevertheless, the rest of the album is splendid in general terms being catchy, compelling and very complex at the same time, with some memorable tracks, which are perfect to be played live.

Best tracks: True North (a bit cheesy at the beginning, but with a brutal and complex instrumental development), Where we Belong (just beautiful, with a chorus greater than life), Grace (a good return to the Synchrestra's style) and Angel (I love the guitars melodies in this one)

Conclusion: Epicloud is maybe a bit commercial, but just like Addicted! is a catchy, diverse and very well written record with some flaws, but with enough brilliant moments to be considered excellent, being resistant to tons of plays before getting boring or worn-out.

Therefore, if you are new to Devin Townsend's work, Epicloud is an excellent point of entry!

My rating: ****

 Black Market Enlightenment by ANTIMATTER album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.10 | 31 ratings

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Black Market Enlightenment
Antimatter Experimental/Post Metal

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

4 stars The Liverpool, UK based ANTIMATTER has been the long time project of Mick Moss who took the reins after fellow founder Duncan Patterson parted ways in 2005 leaving Moss as the sole director of the project's destiny. While the earlier albums were a quirky mix of dark electronica with Goth rock-tinged trip hop graced with feminine goddess vocals, the newer releases since 2012's "Fear Of A Unique Identity," has found Moss going more into the alternative rock arena with the complexities getting more sophisticated leading him into the progressive rock world. It's been three years since "The Judas Table" and ANTIMATTER is back with BLACK MARKET ENLIGHTENMENT which continues the trend of mixing borderline heavy alternative rock / Goth metal with progressive almost neo-prog symphonic splendor.

While the previous album had a more stripped down effect, BLACK MARKET ENLIGHTENMENT expands the dimensions of the elements set forth once Moss essentially went solo. This album's theme is that of drug addiction and tackles the extremely heavy subject matter in the lyrical department while creating a dark and lugubrious musical backdrop to push it forward. The material is some of the most complex that ANTIMATTER has done with a sense of melancholy that hangs over the album like a lingering black cloud but very effective indeed as the impeccably produced mix and excellent compositions create one of the rare instances where Gothic rock and progressive rock work so well together. This is surely one of the most tense listens of the year as it walks a tightrope between complete emotional breakdown and a sense of suppressed rage waiting to explode but somehow keeps its cool throughout its run.

While Mick Moss is the sole member who plays acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, bass and provides vocals, BLACK MARKET ENLIGHTENMENT also adds four extra musicians providing flute, saxophone, drums and a traditional Iranian bowed string instrument called the kamancheh (also kamanche, kamancha or qamancha.) There are also two female vocalists that provide a feminine touch on backing vocals. While the creepy mid-tempo music adds an almost shoegazy sort of guitar distortion with Moss' Gothic vocal style leading the way, the Middle Eastern percussive drives and the kamancheh take the music to an eerie new world where various strains of reality intersect in an unfamiliar way. The synthesizer rich darkwave atmospheric overcast keeps this one in the clouds like a perpetual brain fog that is tuned into some foreign radio station that is set to sadness.

Like most Gothic related music whether it exist in the extremities of metal or the more sensual touches of the Nick Cave camp, this music is eerily romantic and fragile. While the music generally creeps along, the Middle Eastern drumming can become energetic especially on tracks like "Essential," and while the guitar heft is mostly reserved as an atmospheric generator with echoey distortion, it is also implemented to create some metal riffs that chug along to add a sense of crescendo to the mostly stoic and detached emotional tug of war. Moss' vocal style is very limited as he sings in a low register but has mastered the art of eking out emotional responses with subtle vocal vibrato and tantalizing trills. While BLACK MARKET ENLIGHTMENT has been accused of moving more to the world that Anathema (which ironically ex-founder Duncan Patterson played in) has carved out and there is some truth to that, the mood remains more reserved and much more dependent on the darkwave synthesizer dominated atmospheric touches to convey its overall plan.

With utterly addictive composiitons that are instantly catchy and a nice interplay between the sensual acoustic, heavy electric and atmospheric elements, BLACK MARKET ENLIGHTENMENT qualitatively connects the listener to the subject matter and draws you into the bleakness of the grimy world of substance abuse. The instantly catch tracks will hook you immediately but the sophisticated and subtle mix of the swirling storm of sonic interplay will keep you coming back for more. This album is considered heavier than previous ones and offers just enough bombast to create the perfect corrivalry of musical elements. ANTIMATTER is not only back but seems to be getting better with each new album. Favorite track: "Between The Atoms" which also happens to be the longest.

 Devin Townsend Project: Ghost by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.78 | 326 ratings

BUY
Devin Townsend Project: Ghost
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars And finally, Devin Townsend released his new age album!

If you are not very familiar to Devin Townsend's work, you will surely relate his name to extreme and prog metal and knowing that Ghost is a new age-folk-prog mellow album will surely disconcert you. But if you are a follower of his work, you'll find that Ghost is a coherent and natural release for him, because this style of music can be heard in previous Devin's albums like Ocean Machine, Terria, Synchestra and Ki.

But this time this ambient and chill out Devin's typical elements are varnished by an extra layer of folk melodies, flutes, woodwinds, mandolins and other elements which make this album very special though not really surprising. The first half of the record is fantastic, full of incredible landscapes and enchanting melodies. Sadly, the second half of Ghost is not so compelling, and the formula gets a bit worn-out and repetitive.

Best tracks: Fly (great guitars and vocal melodies), Feather (my personal favorite of the album) and Texada (the best track towards the end of the record with cool and curious western elements)

Conclusion: the final album of the original Devin Townsend Project quadrilogy is a mixed bag. It contains truly great songs in the vein of some past new age experiments of albums like Terria and Ki while it was also some kind of advancement of the excellent 2014 record Casualties of Cool, where Devin reformulated and improved the formula created for this Ghost.

Sadly, its irregularity, specially towards the end, prevents Ghost to achieve a better rating. Nevertheless, a consider it an obligated experience both for Devin Townsend's lovers and new age fans, which again demonstrated that this man is the most versatile and restless mind in modern prog-rock!

My rating: ***

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A COLD DEAD BODY Italy
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COME SLEEP Sweden
COMITY France
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CRIB45 Finland
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STATS United States
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TO THOSE WHO EXIST Germany
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