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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 FANTÔMAS, 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

4.21 | 1443 ratings
LATERALUS
Tool
4.22 | 683 ratings
PART THE SECOND
Maudlin Of The Well
4.33 | 129 ratings
IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE
Sigh
4.19 | 634 ratings
TERRIA
Townsend, Devin
4.24 | 181 ratings
THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD
Neurosis
4.29 | 118 ratings
EMPATH
Townsend, Devin
4.20 | 316 ratings
LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP
Maudlin Of The Well
4.15 | 677 ratings
JUDGEMENT
Anathema
4.23 | 157 ratings
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY
Cult Of Luna
4.17 | 295 ratings
BATH
Maudlin Of The Well
4.39 | 59 ratings
KHAOOOHS & KON-FUS-ION
Pan.Thy.Monium
4.17 | 273 ratings
IN A FLESH AQUARIUM
Unexpect
4.14 | 568 ratings
ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT
Townsend, Devin
4.15 | 373 ratings
THE MANTLE
Agalloch
4.15 | 326 ratings
FABLES OF THE SLEEPLESS EMPIRE
Unexpect
4.14 | 332 ratings
LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS
Green Carnation
4.20 | 124 ratings
THE PAINTER'S PALETTE
Ephel Duath
4.09 | 848 ratings
ÆNIMA
Tool
4.18 | 134 ratings
SOL NIGER WITHIN
Thordendal's Special Defects, Fredrik
4.71 | 23 ratings
KENTUCKY
Panopticon

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

AND BLOOD WAS PASSION
Zebulon Pike
METRIDIUM FIELD
Giant Squid
TRANSMUTATIONS
Yakuza
SHEDDING
Apokatastasia

Latest Experimental/Post Metal Music Reviews


 The Illusion of Motion by YOB album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.75 | 9 ratings

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The Illusion of Motion
YOB Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For The Illusion of Motion, YOB set up shop at the corner of doom metal and stoner metal. They've got enough of the former to take pleasure in some real slow, heavy riffs, but enough of the latter to put a bit of a skip in the album's step - things never slow down to an absolute, total crawl as they might do with a more funereal or po-faced doom metal release, but instead have just a pinch of the psychedelic and hard-rocking about them. This adds just enough extra energy to keep things hopping along and the ideas developing. That corner of doom and stoner I talked about is a pretty busy one, but I can recommend YOB's wares for the discerning consumer.
 Tűnő Idő Tárlat by THY CATAFALQUE album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.11 | 38 ratings

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Tűnő Idő Tárlat
Thy Catafalque Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Thy Catafalque's Tűnő Idő T'rlat takes the electronic dabbling of the preceding Microcosmos even further, with some sections resembling full-on electronic dance music - but fear not, the Hungarian folk and black metal influences that inform subsequent and previous works by the group are rarely all that far off. The end result is a sort of black metal- via-Nine Inch Nails blend, with the abrasive elements of black metal somehow reconciled with the more catchy end of the industrial music spectrum. Thy Catafalque are juggling an awful lot of different ideas here, and whilst they don't quite bring them all together into a single whole, they come close enough that this is a notable success.
 Precambrian by OCEAN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 90 ratings

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Precambrian
The Ocean Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Precambrian offers up two distinct musical trips, with an overarching theme concerning the earliest phases of Earth's formation. Hadean/Archaean offers about 20 minutes of direct aggression; Proterozoic offers an hour of more contemplative atmospheric sludge metal veering into progressive rock or New Age music at points. The full 80 minute package is, to be honest, a bit of a chore to listen to - but break it up into its two component parts and select the piece which suits your current mood better, and the overall package is substantially improved. Let's say it's a three star album packaged with a four star album - but which is which will hinge on the tastes of the individual listener.
 Metridium Field by GIANT SQUID album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.64 | 29 ratings

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Metridium Field
Giant Squid Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Doom and sludge metal are both genres that while I love listening to, I find myself rarely doing so, usually because of the commitment I feel I have to put in to fully appreciate it, as it isn't really music for putting on in the background at any point. Giant Squid manages to bridge this gap extremely effectively on their debut album, Metridium Fields, by having a proggier edge to it, along with having an atmosphere that isn't quite as heavy and oppressive as regular doom metal. Furthermore, there are some elements of beauty, along with 2 vocalists that are both excellent, both performing incredibly passionately to further push this album in the direction of greatness.

Most of the songs here are built around 1 or 2 slow, distorted, sludgy riffs that repeat seemingly endlessly, often with some sort of unique characteristic, whether it be a saxophone solo, a shift into more powerful, emotional territory, or even a stylistic change into more exotic instruments and sounds. This provides the album with enough variety while still maintaining a distinct identity. The more important thing to keep in mind about this album, beyond atmosphere and all that, is that the riffs here are awesome each one having a certain repetitive groove, moving up and down in a way that makes ne think of a large, open ocean, waves reaching high before crashing back down. Along with being absolutely superb to headbang to, the riffs tend to be of the perfect tempo to be downright hypnotic, no matter how over the top the rest of the band gets, that consistency of the riffing ends up causing the listener to be mindlessly moving along to the music. These riffs often tend to avoid the trappings of being repeated to the point of boredom, as they tend to be the kind of special riffs that feel as if they could just go on forever and you wouldn't complain, at least that's how it felt to me. The best example of this is the 20 minute title track, which while I'vee seen a lot of people talk lowly about this for being so long and repetitive, but each tmie I listen to this song, each element just puts me in a trance, the incredible, slow moving riff and the sombre tones of the keyboard, with elements such as the saxophone and clarinet occasionally coming in to provide a bit of variety and further emotional impact, but ultimately, the draw of this song to me is just how hypnotic it is, all the way through, in a similar way to the way repetitive krautrock does.

The vocals throughout the album are also a major draw to me, the female ones being soft and delicate, and the slightly manic passion put into the male ones makes the vocalist sound almost identical to System of a Down's Serj Tankian, commendable for being able to have such a similar voice to what I consider to be an incredibly unique vocalist. If I have one issue with this album, it would be that the songs for the most part have an extremely similar structure, each belting out one crushing riff for a while, having a little bridge, and then either bringing out a new riff or continuing to repeat the old one. While this is fine, due to the execution of it being great, it does leave something to be desired, especially when there are songs such as Versus The SIren on this. Versus the Siren is definitely my favourite song on the album, and it's all to do with the structure of it, having 4 minutes od absolute beauty, with subtle, breathy male vocals being strewn throughout a beautiful performance from Aurielle Gregory. From here it escalates, introducing a more traditional metal riff, juxtaposed by one that would feel more at home in a 90s indie rock album, clashing against each other in spectacular fashion, with Aaron Gregory mournfully singing over this intense instrumental backing, before it all dies down, leaving nothing but isolated trumpet, bringing the song to a close.

I find this album overall to be surprisingly good, being able to have some more eclectic aspects to them while maintaining a heavy focus on the heavy, sludgy elements of their sound, The outstanding displays of passion are able to provide a counterbalance to what could have become an overwhelming and monotonous album. While there are times in which combining elements of prog with other genres leads to poor outcomes, as they can become too outrageous and messy for their own good, collapsing in on itself, this album manages to avoid such pitfalls, being an excellent middle ground.

Best tracks: Versus the Siren, Metridium Fields

Weakest tracks: Summit

Verdict: Combining the hard riffs of the slower, heavier genres of metal with the more eccentric qualities of prog leads to a great album in the end, and one that I could see fans of either genre finding some enjoyment out of, as long as they enjoyed repetition.

 Lateralus by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.21 | 1443 ratings

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Lateralus
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Tool's masterpiece is a very long album, with cyclopic compositions, all arranged with drums (Danny Carey), bass (Justin Chancellor), electric guitar (Adam Jones) and vocals (Maynard James Keenan), and therefore extremely homogeneous as sound. Only occasionally we can feel electronics effects (Eric "Statik" Anesat) at some junit.

"The Grudge (8:36)": Tool begin with an explosive song: great rhythm, sound close to heavy metal, then rhythmic progression, instrumental and sung, rabmy, and towards the ending the piece becomes verbose: back the sound of the guitar with high volume for apocalyptic end. Powerful, bombastic piece. Rating 8+

After a short intro (Eon Blue Apocalypse, 1:04), starts "The Patient" (7:14), more percussive than the previous one, but evan more repetetive. Rating 7,5/8.

After the short intro (Mantra, 1:12), starts "Schism" (6:47): guitar lap too repeated, part in progression not exceptional. You start to see a repetitive pattern of the songs: start at bland pace, slow or mid-tempo, then growing with rhythmic progression and singing, finally ending with saturated sound, apocalyptic effect, very impressive. In this case, however, the whole thing does not have the quality of the previous songs. Rated 7 +.

"Parabol (3:04)" is an interlude, suspended, meditative, with semi-acoustic guitar and vocals, without beating on the snare drum. Dreaming: atmospheric piece, it lasts three minutes and then is mixed with the next song, which will deflagrates with power. Rating 7.

"Parabola" (6:03): song that starts with a frantic rhythm, powerful, very raby but successful. Long acoustic ending. Rating 7,5/8.

"Ticks & Leeches (8:10)" is a very aggressive song, with scream singing, almost death metal, but with a long central pause, excessively verbose and repetitive. I don't discuss the technical skill of the musicians and their performance, but in my opinion this track is too self-indulgent and uninspired. Rating 6.

"Lateralus" (9:24) is a long song with the typical characteristics of the album: beginning with slow semiacoustic guitar, then great work on the drums and bass, good rhythmic progression, heavy metal noise. Acoustic break around 5 minutes, and grand finale with distorted guitar. It's still a little bit forced. Rating 7.5/8.

"Disposition" (4:46): semiacoustic interlude, with beautiful guitar sound, as always dominated by rhythm and not by melody. Excellent sound and arrangement. Piece that relaxes, after so much pumping noise. Good, but not great (too much monotonous). Rating 7,5.

"Reflection" (11:07). This piece is exemplary of the art of Tools. Everything is based on the rhythm section, the percussions creates the sound and the musical writing. The guitar also contributes to creating a tribal atmosphere. The voice of Keenan arrives only after 3 minutes and 40 seconds and the vocal part goes in progression creating a sound saturation effect very suggestive, hypnotic, where the rhythm is always the same but it arrives at levels of pathos and atmosphere noticeable. At about 7 minutes comes the guitar solo and then comes the grand finale, cacophonic, this time not apocalyptic but mesmeric. Rating 8,5.

"Triad (8:46) is an instrumental song, very pumped, dominated by a distorted guitar in feedback. It ends after about 6 and a half minutes, and then there are two abundant minutes of silence before the last piece starts. Rating 7.

Last song: "Faaip De Oiad" (2:05). Song electronically treated to create a distorted, noisy effect: Spoken voice that you hear far away, like interference to the radio. Rating 6.

Tools compared to other titans that have brought heavy metal to progressive, see Dream Theater, are based on rhythm and progression, not on the melody and change of the theme music. The timings of the songs are dilated, the rhythm, on the whole, is medium-slow, not fast, although there are vehement progressions that reach a certain speed and a great sound impact. There are no large solos, the musical writing is reduced to the bone, but the percussive clout can lead to very intense tribal and hypnotic moments. The main flaw of this music is the excessive homogeneity of the compositions and arrangements that, associated with a prolissity (and sometimes repetitive prolissity) that often exceeds the line, makes it tiring to listen to the entire album.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,32 (but the shortest pieces have the worst score). Rating album: 8. Three and a half stars.

 Terria by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.19 | 634 ratings

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Terria
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Devin Townsend's fourth album "Terria" has been considered by many his masterpiece, and you can read all the reasons why in some of the reviews on this site. I completely agree that this is a masterpiece, but being one of Townsend's stalwart fans, it is just one of many of his masterpieces. However, I started exploring his music with this album, and I would recommend it as one of many starting points for others also. After hearing the extreme emotion, heaviness and beauty of this album, if you don't get it, then there probably isn't much of a point to explore further. But, if you love it, then you will definitely be inclined to listen to more.

No one expresses himself like Devin does. His music is heavy, usually described as a wall of sound, which is a good way to explain it. But that sound is full of beauty and emotion, it's just that it is expressed so loudly sometimes, and to me it is hard to do that with the power that Devin does and still make the music so amazing. There are plenty of great tracks here, but I tend to direct people to a few n particular, namely "Earth Day" which is an extreme song about recycling and birthdays and everything. This song is even more personal to me because I can consider it an anthem that Devin wrote about me since my birthday falls on Earth Day. Ok, so maybe it wasn't about me, but it gives me this perceived connection to DT. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the beautiful track "Deep Peace" which is so wonderfully atmospheric and immersive, and that guitar solo in the middle is to die for.

It's not just his extreme and emotional approach to music that I love, but it is his unique sound and the way he orchestrates everything to sound so much like a rock and roll symphony. I also love his powerful vocals, and yes he goes into screaming territory, but he does it right with emotion. On this album, everything has such an epic feel to it, like every note and every passage is important and Devin treats it that way. Devin wanted to make this album his tribute to his country Canada, and the music here conveys the love he has for it. It is an album that comes from his heart and to me, that is very apparent in the music here, everything so carefully crafted into powerful songs that are oftentimes very very loud, but also extremely beautiful and emotional. That is why I have no qualms giving this 5 stars, but also why I consider it one of my personal favorite and rare 6 star perfect albums. My words can't give it the justice it deserves, listen to it and see if it touches you like it touches many other fans out there.

 City Of Echoes by PELICAN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.40 | 57 ratings

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City Of Echoes
Pelican Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Pelican has always been a solid Post Metal band with a heavy, grungy and almost sludgy sound that I tend to get tired of rather quickly, because it doesn't have enough dynamic in it to suit my taste. Yet, I recognize their importance in the Post Rock and Metal genre, because when I think of that heavy wall of sound that some Post Rock bands have, I tend to compare them to Pelican. Their songs typically can be long, developing slowly sometimes until you are enveloped in this wall of noise, or sometimes just relentlessly grabbing you by the ears and dragging you under.

"City of Echoes" is Pelican's 3rd full length album, and one of the things I find intriguing about it is that it tends to be a bit lighter than some of their other albums, but it isn't to the point that you doubt you are hearing the same band, there is still a lot of heaviness to it, but the overall sound seems more adventurous. However, except for the title track, the songs are a bit shorter, staying around the 4 - 5 minute mark. You would think that taking Pelican in smaller sized chunks would be easier to digest, but now it seems that the songs are underdeveloped in some cases.

As most seem to acknowledge on this site, the best tracks are the first 3. As expected, "Bliss in Concrete" hits you hard and heavy, which is fine for an opening track, and the music is intriguing enough that it stands out from similar sounding bands with a good churning melody and a solid sound. "City of Echoes", the title track has great development, and the heaviness factor is lifted allowing the music to breath a lot more, and by the end, you welcome that muddy bass sound that drills its way into your head. "Spaceship Broken - Parts Needed" has a humorous edge to it as suggested by the title. There is that distinctive dual guitar sound, but the faster beat gives it a more uplifting feel, and the guitars feel more like they are interacting together instead of battling each other.

"Winds with Hands" starts to see a weakening in development and a lessening in the momentum that the band was seeing on this album. It is an acoustic number with a slight symphonic edge to it, but nothing really develops out of it, and as it seems to be building to something, it falters by adding a droning style that seems out of place. "Dead Between the Walls" returns to the sludgy sound of previous albums that even with it's shorter run time, just seems clumsy and uninteresting to me. Even the softer part in this track doesn't really add anything to strengthen it. The uneven drumming from the past is evident on this track too. "Lost in the Headlights" isn't anything really special as it just sounds like a heavy metal riff in need of some lyrics. There's more uneven drumming and uninteresting melodies in "Far From Fields" that again sounds like it is looking for vocals. "A Delicate Sense of Balance" just meanders jangly along at the speed of a dirge.

I applaud the effort Pelican made to try to bring more lightness and variety to their sound, but they forgot to bring enough interesting passages and melodies with them, and, after the first three tracks, everything just sounds like backup for songs that were supposed to have vocals added to them. Anyway, the albums gets away with 3 stars.

 Dystonia by CEREUS album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.07 | 5 ratings

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Dystonia
Cereus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars Cereus are yet another Polish progressive band who have obviously been highly influenced by their countrymen Riverside (but have also been paying attention to Disturbed, a name I never thought I would put into a progressive rock review!). This is their debut album, released in 2018, following on from three EP's. All vocals are in clear unaccented English, but it certainly seems strange that the spoken word sections are in French!! Michał Dąbrowski has a great voice, and the band put him front and centre, with plenty of space around him so he can really shine. Porcupine Tree are also again an influence, while I am sure I can also hear some Collage but given their impact on the Polish scene 20 years ago that really isn't a surprise.

I have been fortunate enough to hear a great many Polish progressive bands over the years, and now that Cereus have finally produced an album let's hope they continue pushing as this is incredibly solid and well worth investigating.

 Weather Systems by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.01 | 891 ratings

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Weather Systems
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by DominicS

4 stars I can empathise with those in the prog rock community that struggle to connect with the music of Anathema as it is most often very slow, understated and very melancholic - different from the more obviously complex and loud music created by the classic prog bands. However, I had no problem when I listened to this beautifully arranged album and having listened to their other albums, I believe it is their best. It may lack in terms of being diverse as most of the songs communicate a similar ambience, which may be why some people are put off. Nevertheless, this band are experts in creating the most harmonically rich chord progressions which I am a massive fan of and that's why I can never get bored when listening to this album despite the consistent ambience throughout.

The best example of such rich harmony is in the song 'The Lost Child'; the piano chords are phenomenal, fitting the darkness of the song perfectly. These rich chords act as the backbone of the song, supporting it throughout with the only thing changing being the intensity, which grows from nothing to a powerful flood of emotion. These chords, in my opinion, are so interesting to listen to that they could be repeated endlessly, and I would still never get bored ? its relentlessness makes it all the more motivating to listen to. Anathema are skilled at creating stimulating music through relentlessly exhausting single musical ideas rather than just throwing in excessive separate musical ideas that don't push the songs any further. 'Untouchable, Part 1' is an example of this as it is relentless in many ways but at the same time it is so moving. The rapid movement on the acoustic guitar is unrelenting, it drives the song forward throughout and successfully allows the climactic build to be expectantly thrilling. The chordal movement never drastically changes, but that doesn't really matter because what makes this song (and the whole album) so effective is the design of the most lyrical melodies that act as motifs not just in this song but in 'Untouchable, Part 2'. I think the second part of this song is so intelligently thought out; it uses very similar chords and musical ideas used in the first part but at the same time it feels very different, almost like an acoustic version of the first part. Anathema just know how to exhaust their musical ideas, whether that be by repeating motifs in different textural scenarios or by swapping instrumentation for the same chord progressions ? this album is so clever when you think about it carefully, the band may repeat a lot of ideas, but it is done with precision and skill. My favourite song from the album is 'Internal Landscapes'; it is an unrushed piece of music, beginning sparsely with dialogue accompanied by these elegant and dreamy keyboard sounds. Again, this song is constructed similar to the other songs on the album, building to a climax before returning to the dream like atmosphere communicated at the beginning ? the song takes you on such an emotionally charged journey.

A couple of songs on the album make an attempt to break up the similarity of the album. 'The Storm Before the Calm' is slightly more varied in terms of musical ideas and the contrast in dynamics is much greater and more sudden rather than the gradual build-ups heard in most of the other songs. At 5:35, the texture becomes completely sparse as only the guitar can be heard before other instruments are then layered in; this takes place in the middle of the song rather than just happening at the beginning like in other songs from the album. Songs like these are nice to hear as it acts as a welcome break from the identical structures of the other songs on the album. Anathema's true talent on this album is their ability to create the most memorable musical ideas that can be repeated as motifs in a variety of ways ? and somehow it never becomes boring. However, this album lacks a greater variety of sounds, as most of the songs seem to follow an ambient, melancholic approach ? all of the songs are in a minor key for example. A couple of upbeat songs would add a greater variation to the sound of the album. This album could have also done with a greater exploration of dynamics; good attempts are made in 'The Storm Before the Calm' but dynamics could easily be explored further in other songs that seem to follow the same structure. Despite these small criticisms, this album showcases the bands power of being able to create the saddest of sounds using the most gorgeous vocal and chordal harmonies and repeating lyrical motifs that never seem to grow dull no matter how often they are repeated ? I truly love this emotional rollercoaster of an album.

 Heir To Despair by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.93 | 7 ratings

BUY
Heir To Despair
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Though I've lived in Japan for nearly 20 years, I don't know many Japanese metal bands, and until recently, I didn't know Sigh either. Then within the space of about a week, not only was Sigh mentioned in two metal album discussion videos I watched on YouTube, but their album 'Heir to Despair' showed up in a recommended albums message from Amazon. Being a sucker for album art, I ordered the album right after checking out whose album cover this painting graced. Then I made a quick visit to YouTube to make sure I hadn't ordered something that would leave me dubiously scratching my chin.

The artwork really intrigued me. It has a very 1950's/60's, Showa' Japanese look to it. The woman is smiling as beautifully as though she were a star actress posing for a movie poster. And yet the plant she waters has withered and the room behind her looks not only austere but items on the floor and torn images on the walls suggest that someone had a serious freak out session in there. Word is the image and the album are about insanity? (The Japanese text translates directly to 'Inheritor of despair', by the way)

I had no idea about what music to expect except for that it would be metal. That Sigh cover black metal, avant-garde metal, progressive metal and more was unknown to me; however, before the album was over I could have guessed most of that myself. The music is speedy, melodic, symphonic at times, suggestive of power metal in a spot or two, and holds a fudge ton of progressive and odd bits to make sure that the album never becomes repetitive. One thing I'm very glad to hear is the variety of additional instruments, particularly traditional instruments like koto and shamisen, but also a good variety of other sounds and effects. Flute also figures in prominently in some tracks. The 'Heresy' trilogy is the most exceptional moment on the album with distorted vocoder vocals, electronic effects, sounds and voices, and a liberal amount of creative editing used to great effect.

Actually, the whole album very masterfully weaves together such an eclectic melange of metal styles so that crunchy guitars yield to Eastern music for a space, flute delightfully plays along to distortion- enriched power chords, symphonic elements add the extra 'umph' to some parts, accordion lends a folk feeling, and traditional Japanese instruments expand the soundscape further. As another reviewer stated, one never can be sure of where the next track will go or what will follow.

I'm not especially a fan of Japanese vocals in any popular music genre because I find them usually too similar in a predictable way. But here, the vocal styles and sounds I would expect from a Japanese metal band don't remain stuck in a trench. They are principally black metal croaks but joined at times by growls. There are also chanted vocals and rapid fire, staccato utterances. Most of the lyrics are in Japanese for which I'm grateful as I sometimes cringe the way some vocalists struggle with English phonetics. (To give an example from another band, 'I cross my heart / I cross my eyes' when 'cross' was supposed to be 'close'). Yet, to give praise where it's due, none of the English on 'Heir to Despair' has stood out for being poorly pronounced to my ears. Then again, I've mostly been enjoying the sounds of the music and vocals and haven't concentrated on the lyrics.

Having never heard any other Sigh albums, I have nothing to compare this to. But I'm very impressed with the package presented here. I love an album of creative and diverse musical approaches, and the recording quality captures all the band's efforts really well. It's a delight to listen to this album!

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Experimental/Post Metal bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
*SHELS United States
11 AS IN ADVERSARIES France
19 A.D.D. United States
21 EYES OF RUBY Netherlands
THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL Norway
413 United States
5IVE United States
6:33 France
A((WAKE)) United States
AABSINTHE France
ABANDON Sweden
ABYSSE France
ACROSS TUNDRAS United States
ACYL France
ADMIRAL BROWNING United States
ADRIFT Spain
AFTER MY OWN United States
AGALLOCH United States
AGES GONE Germany
AKPHAEZYA France
AKROMA France
ALASKAN Canada
ALCEST France
ALTAR OF PLAGUES Ireland
AMARA United States
AMATERAZU Portugal
AMBEON Netherlands
AMENRA Belgium
AMESOEURS France
AMIA VENERA LANDSCAPE Italy
ANATHEMA United Kingdom
ANCESTORS United States
AND HARMONY DIES Italy
ANGEL EYES United States
ANTIGUA Y BARBUDA Spain
ANTIMATTER Multi-National
ANUBI Lithuania
AORIA Sweden
APOCALIPSIS Mexico
APOCRYPHAL VOICE Finland
APOKATASTASIA Switzerland
APSE United States
ARCADE MESSIAH United Kingdom
THE ARKITECHT Mexico
ARKTIKA Germany
AS LIGHT DIES Spain
ASIDEFROMADAY France
ASPIRATION Norway
ASTROHENGE United Kingdom
ASTRONAUT DOWN United States
AT THE SOUNDAWN Italy
THE ATLAS MOTH United States
ATMOSPHERES Belgium
THE ATOMIC BOMB AUDITION United States
ATROX Norway
AUSSITÔT MORT France
AUSTARAS United States
THE AXIS OF PERDITION United Kingdom
AZIOLA CRY United States
BACK WHEN United States
BAK Australia
BARONESS United States
BAT CASTLE United States
BATTLE OF MICE United States
BATTLEFIELDS United States
BAUDA Chile
BEAK United States
BEECHER United Kingdom
BEFORE THE EYEWALL United States
BEHIND THE SUN Israel
BEING United States
ADRIAN BENAVIDES United States
BIRUSHANAH Japan
BISON B.C. Canada
IVAR BJØRNSON & EINAR SELVIK Norway
BLACK MATH HORSEMAN United States
BLACK SEA Brazil
BLACK SHEEP WALL United States
BLACKWAVES Germany
BLINDEAD Poland
BLOOD & TIME United States
BLUT AUS NORD France
BOBEL Costa Rica
BOSSK United Kingdom
BOTANIST United States
BRAIN TENTACLES United States
BRIDGES TO DREAMS Canada
BUNKUR Netherlands
BURIED INSIDE Canada
BURN DOWN ROME United Kingdom
BURWEED Finland
BUTTERFLY TRAJECTORY Poland
CAINA United Kingdom
CALDERA France
CALLISTO Finland
THE CANCER CONSPIRACY United States
CANDIRIA United States
CAPRICORNS United Kingdom
CAPTURE THE SUN United States
CARNIVAL IN COAL France
CARONTTE Spain
CATACOMBE Portugal
CAVE IN United States
CELEBRITY SEX SCANDAL United States
CELESTINE Iceland
CEREUS Poland
CHASE THE SUNSET United Kingdom
THE CHRONICLES OF ISRAFEL Canada
CHRYST Austria
THE CIRCLE ENDS HERE Italy
CIRUELO CILINDRICO Spain
CLERIC United States
CLOUDKICKER United States
COALESCE United States
COLD BODY RADIATION Netherlands
A COLD DEAD BODY Italy
COLDWORLD Germany
COME SLEEP Sweden
COMITY France
CONIFER United States
CONSECRATION Serbia
CORMORANT United States
COSMONAUTS DAY Russia
COUNTERVELA Ireland
CRIB45 Finland
CULT OF LUNA Sweden
D.U.N.E. Italy
DAKRYA Greece
DAMASCUS United States
DARK CASTLE United States
DARK SUNS Germany
DARKESTRAH Germany
DARKSPACE Switzerland
DAUGHTERS OF FISSION United States
DAY WITHOUT DAWN United States
DE OMEGA United States
DEADBIRD United States
DEADSOUL TRIBE United States
DEAFHEAVEN United States
THE DEATH OF HER MONEY United Kingdom
DECORTICA New Zealand
DEEP IN THOUGHT Germany
DEFYING Poland
DETERIOR United States
DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL United Kingdom
DIESTO United States
DIGRESSION ASSASSINS Sweden
DIRGE France
DISAPPEARER United States
DIVINA ENEMA Belarus
DØDSVERK Norway
DORNENREICH Austria
DOTZAUER Italy
DR. SLAGGLEBERRY United Kingdom
DRAWN Norway
DREARE Czech Republic
DREARINESS Italy
DYING SUN United States
EARTH United States
EAST OF THE WALL United States
EBONY LAKE United Kingdom
ECHOES United Kingdom
ECHOES OF YUL Poland
ECHOSILENCE Estonia
EDGE OF REALITY United States
EGOIST Poland
EHNAHRE United States
EIGENGRAU Denmark
EIGHT BELLS United States
EINNA France
ELLIPSIS France
EMPIRES United States
EMPTY YARD EXPERIMENT United Arab Emirates
ENDER New Zealand
ENDNAME Russia
EPHEL DUATH Italy
EPISTASIS United States
ETERNAL DEFORMITY Poland
ETHERSENS France
EVIL INSIDE Spain
EX CURIA Australia
EX EYE United States
EXOTIC ANIMAL PETTING ZOO United States
EXTINCTION ALGORITHM Romania
FALL OF EFRAFA United Kingdom
FALLOCH United Kingdom
FALLS OF RAUROS United States
FEN United Kingdom
FIRMAM3NT Spain
FLEURETY Norway
FLOOD THE DESERT United States
FOLLOW THE WHITE RABBIT Russia
A FOREST OF STARS United Kingdom
FORMLOFF Norway
FOUNTAINHEAD Germany
FROM OCEANS TO AUTUMN United States
FUTURIAN Canada
THE GABRIEL CONSTRUCT United States
GANON United States
GARDEN OF SHADOWS United States
GARY SUICIDAL KIDS COMMANDO France
THE GATHERING Netherlands
GENERATION OF VIPERS United States
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GIRE Hungary
GLETSCHER Switzerland
GNAW THEIR TONGUES Netherlands
GODSEND Norway
GONIN-ISH Japan
GORDIAN KNOT United States
GOSPEL United States
THE GRASSHOPPER LIES HEAVY United States
GRAVITON United States
GRAYCEON United States
THE GREAT OLD ONES France
GREEN CARNATION Norway
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HAIL SPIRIT NOIR Greece
HALCYON Australia
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HAND United Kingdom
HARVEY MILK United States
HEIRS Australia
HELIUM HORSE FLY Belgium
HELLAS MOUNDS United States
HERETOIR Germany
HESPERIAN DEATH HORSE Croatia
HIPOSPADIA Spain
HUMANFLY United Kingdom
HVOSCH Russia
HYDRA Mexico
HYPNO5E France
IDENTIFIED United States
IDIOT SAINT CRAZY France
IGORRR France
THE ILLNESS United States
IN THE WOODS... Norway
IN.OVO Canada
INCOMING CEREBRAL OVERDRIVE Italy
INDUKTI Poland
INTER ARMA United States
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IO United Kingdom
ION United States
IREPRESS United States
IRONWOOD Australia
IRREVERSIBLE United States
ISIS United States
ISTHMUS United States
IZAH Netherlands
JAKEL Canada
JANVS Italy
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JEWY SABATAY Serbia
OLIVER KAAH Finland
KAILASH Italy
KALKI AVATARA Italy
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KEELHAUL United States
KEKAL Indonesia
KHANATE United States
KHEMEÏA France
KHOMA Sweden
KHUDA United Kingdom
KICK THE BUTTERFLY Australia
KINGDOM Belgium
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KONG Netherlands
KONGH Sweden
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LOOK TO WINDWARD New Zealand
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A LOST STATE OF MIND United States
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MADE OUT OF BABIES United States
MAHESH Chile
MAMMOTH New Zealand
MANATEES United Kingdom
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MANES Norway
MANUSCRIPTS DON'T BURN Italy
MAR DE GRISES Chile
MARE United States
THE MASS United States
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MAUDLIN Belgium
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL United States
MEANDERING MINE Germany
MEMORIES OF A DEAD MAN France
MENISCUS Australia
MINDFOLD EXPRESS Bulgaria
MINSK United States
MIOSIS Sweden
THE MIRE United Kingdom
MIRRORTHRONE Switzerland
MISANTHROFEEL Russia
MOANAA Poland
MOD FLANDERS CONSPIRACY United States
MOLOKEN Sweden
MOMENTUM Iceland
MONDRIAN OAK Italy
MONUMENTUM Italy
MORAINES Croatia
MORNE United States
THE MORNINGSIDE Russia
MORTIFERIA Norway
MOSE GIGANTICUS United States
MOSKAU Germany
MOUNTAINS BECAME MACHINES United Kingdom
MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT United States
MOVEMENT OF STATIC Greece
MUTYUMU Japan
MY SILENT WAKE United Kingdom
MYSTER MÖBIUS Multi-National
MYSTIC Netherlands
NAHEMAH Spain
NAHRAYAN Spain
NANDA DEVI United States
NATIONAL SUNDAY LAW United States
NAUTICUS Finland
NAUTILUS Norway
NEBRA Switzerland
NERO DI MARTE Italy
NEUMA Poland
NEUROSIS United States
NEVBORN Switzerland
NIGHT VERSES United States
NIHIL Serbia
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NO HOME FOR HEROES Australia
NO MADE SENSE United Kingdom
NOCTIS Australia
NOEKK Germany
NOORVIK Germany
NORTH United States
NOVEMBRE Italy
NUCLEUS TORN Switzerland
OBSIDIAN KINGDOM Spain
THE OCEAN DOESN'T WANT ME South Africa
THE OCEAN Germany
OCOAI United States
OHGOD! South Africa
THE OLD DEAD TREE France
OLD MAN GLOOM United States
OMB Israel
THE OMEGA EXPERIMENT United States
OMEGA MASSIF Germany
ÖOOOOOOOOOO France
ORANSSI PAZUZU Finland
ORDO DRACONIS Netherlands
ØRKENKJØTT Norway
ORPHANED LAND Israel
ORTHODOX Spain
OSI United States
OSTROVA Spain
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY United States
OUTOPSYA Italy
OUTRUN THE SUNLIGHT United States
OVERMARS France
ÖXXÖ XÖÖX France
PAN.THY.MONIUM Sweden
PANOPTICON United States
THE PAX CECILIA United States
PECCATUM Norway
PELICAN United States
PET SLIMMERS OF THE YEAR United Kingdom
PIKE Sweden
PINKLY SMOOTH United States
THE POSTMAN SYNDROME United States
PRISMA Switzerland
PROGHMA-C Poland
THE PROPHECY United Kingdom
PRYAPISME France
PSYCHOFAGIST Italy
PSYKUP France
PYRAMIDS United States
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QUBE Poland
QUESTIONER United States
RADAR Finland
RADIATION 4 United States
RAIN DELAY Serbia
RAINROOM Finland
RAXINASKY Belgium
RED PAPER DRAGON United Kingdom
REFRACTION Ireland
THE REPTILIANS United States
RETURNING WE HEAR THE LARKS United Kingdom
RIVIERE France
ROSETTA United States
ROUTE NINE Sweden
RWAKE United States
RYOKUCHI Japan
SAL Y MILETO Ecuador
SALVICTION Poland
SANNHET United States
SCHIZOID LLOYD Netherlands
SCORCHED SHORE United States
SECONDSKIN United Kingdom
SENMUTH Russia
SENSUAL NOISE Belgium
SEPIA DREAMER Sweden
SEVEN United States
SEVEN NAUTICAL MILES Sweden
SEVENTH EVIDENCE / KA.MMEN Ukraine
SHELTER RED United States
SHELVING Switzerland
SHEPHERDS OF CASSINI New Zealand
SHRINEBUILDER United States
SIGH Japan
SIKA REDEM United Kingdom
SINISTRO Portugal
SISARE Finland
SKAGOS Canada
SKEWED SKIES Germany
SLEEP MAPS United States
SLEEPING IN GETHSEMANE United States
SMALLMAN Bulgaria
SMOHALLA France
SNOWBLOOD United Kingdom
SO IS THE TONGUE United States
SOEN Multi-National
SOLSTAFIR Iceland
SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI United Kingdom
SPACEKING Russia
SPRING & YOUTH Serbia
STALINGRAD Spain
STANDING OVATION Finland
STARE AT THE CLOUDS Australia
STATS United States
STEAK NUMBER EIGHT Belgium
A STORM OF LIGHT United States
SUBROSA United States
SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE Multi-National
SUFFOCATE FOR FUCK SAKE Sweden
SUMAC Multi-National
SUNPOCRISY Italy
SUPERCONTINENT United States
THE SUSPENDED CONGRESS Ireland
SWARM OF THE LOTUS United States
A SWARM OF THE SUN Sweden
SWITCH OPENS Sweden
SYDERALUS Argentina
TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER United Kingdom
TARANTULA HAWK United States
TELEPATHY United Kingdom
TEMPEL United States
TENOCHTITLAN Russia
TEPHRA Germany
TERRA TENEBROSA Sweden
TESA Latvia
TETRAFUSION United States
THANATOSCHIZO Portugal
THENCE Finland
FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS Sweden
THY CATAFALQUE Hungary
TIDES United States
TIDES FROM NEBULA Poland
TIME ZERO United States
TITAN Canada
TO THOSE WHO EXIST Germany
TODTGELICHTER Germany
TOMYDEEPESTEGO Italy
TOOL United States
TOUNDRA Spain
TOWN PORTAL Denmark
DEVIN TOWNSEND Canada
TRANSMISSION0 Netherlands
TREPHINE United States
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TROLDHAUGEN Australia
TRUTHSEEKER United States
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TWIN ZERO United Kingdom
UARAL Chile
UFOMAMMUT Italy
UNA CORDA United Kingdom
UNEXPECT Canada
UNHOLD Switzerland
UNSOUL Germany
UPRISING FORMALHAUT Ukraine
URNA Italy
USER NE Spain
VAKA Sweden
VAURA United States
VED BUENS ENDE Norway
VIRGIN BLACK Australia
VIRUS Norway
VISCERA/// Italy
VOID United Kingdom
VOID OF SILENCE Italy
VOID OF SLEEP Italy
VULTURE INDUSTRIES Norway
THE WATERS DEEP HERE United States
WE LOST THE SEA Australia
WE MADE GOD Iceland
WEAKLING United States
WHAT MAD UNIVERSE France
WHAT THE BLOOD REVEALED United Kingdom
WHEN DAY DESCENDS Australia
WHIRLING Sweden
WHOURKR Multi-National
WIDEK Poland
WINDHAM HELL United States
WINDMILLS BY THE OCEAN United States
WINDS Norway
ANDY WINTER Norway
WIZARD RIFLE United States
WOBURN HOUSE Germany
WOODS OF YPRES Canada
A WORKING MODEL United States
WORM OUROBOROS United States
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YAKUZA United States
YAVU Chile
YEAR OF NO LIGHT France
YOB United States
YTO SOLREISER Norway
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ZVOYN France

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