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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

4.22 | 1300 ratings
LATERALUS
Tool
4.23 | 634 ratings
PART THE SECOND
Maudlin Of The Well
4.22 | 586 ratings
TERRIA
Townsend, Devin
4.33 | 110 ratings
IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE
Sigh
4.27 | 159 ratings
THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD
Neurosis
4.19 | 523 ratings
ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT
Townsend, Devin
4.16 | 630 ratings
JUDGEMENT
Anathema
4.19 | 290 ratings
LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP
Maudlin Of The Well
4.18 | 258 ratings
BATH
Maudlin Of The Well
4.17 | 250 ratings
IN A FLESH AQUARIUM
Unexpect
4.15 | 331 ratings
THE MANTLE
Agalloch
4.14 | 304 ratings
LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS
Green Carnation
4.19 | 132 ratings
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY
Cult of Luna
4.57 | 30 ratings
FEA JUR
Lye By Mistake
4.09 | 779 ratings
ÆNIMA
Tool
4.29 | 64 ratings
SOULS AT ZERO
Neurosis
4.08 | 548 ratings
ALTERNATIVE 4
Anathema
4.10 | 299 ratings
FABLES OF THE SLEEPLESS EMPIRE
Unexpect
4.42 | 39 ratings
KHAOOOHS & KON-FUS-ION
Pan.Thy.Monium
4.11 | 227 ratings
PANOPTICON
Isis
4.09 | 296 ratings
MABOOL - THE STORY OF THE THREE SONS OF SEVEN
Orphaned Land
4.08 | 317 ratings
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND: SYNCHESTRA
Townsend, Devin
4.04 | 823 ratings
WE'RE HERE BECAUSE WE'RE HERE
Anathema
4.54 | 26 ratings
TűNő IDő TÁRLAT
Thy Catafalque
4.14 | 114 ratings
SOL NIGER WITHIN
Thordendal's Special Defects, Fredrik
4.14 | 107 ratings
THE PAINTER'S PALETTE
Ephel Duath
4.17 | 82 ratings
SUSPENDED ANIMATION DREAMS
Subterranean Masquerade
4.06 | 237 ratings
S.U.S.A.R.
Indukti
4.07 | 175 ratings
OCEANIC
Isis
4.01 | 821 ratings
WEATHER SYSTEMS
Anathema
4.11 | 115 ratings
OMNIO
In The Woods...
4.04 | 271 ratings
ÉCAILLES DE LUNE
Alcest
4.06 | 185 ratings
WAVERING RADIANT
Isis
4.58 | 21 ratings
MYSTER MÖBIUS
Myster Mobius
4.20 | 57 ratings
WRITTEN IN WATERS
Ved Buens Ende
4.33 | 34 ratings
A SHADOWPLAY FOR YESTERDAYS
Forest Of Stars, A
4.01 | 252 ratings
OFFICE OF STRATEGIC INFLUENCE
OSI
3.99 | 300 ratings
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: EPICLOUD
Townsend, Devin
3.99 | 276 ratings
OCEAN MACHINE - BIOMECH
Townsend, Devin
4.18 | 50 ratings
THE MALEDICTION FIELDS
Fen
4.08 | 76 ratings
PREHISTORICISMS
Intronaut
4.27 | 31 ratings
THE GALILEAN SATELLITES
Rosetta
4.01 | 120 ratings
IF_THEN_ELSE
Gathering, The
3.94 | 381 ratings
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: DECONSTRUCTION
Townsend, Devin
4.31 | 26 ratings
THE LOCUST YEARS
Hammers of Misfortune
3.99 | 138 ratings
EPOCH
Fen
4.77 | 12 ratings
ELIL
Fall of Efrafa
4.02 | 81 ratings
LEAVING EDEN
Antimatter
3.95 | 211 ratings
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND: ACCELERATED EVOLUTION
Townsend, Devin
3.97 | 131 ratings
NIGHTTIME BIRDS
Gathering, The
4.18 | 34 ratings
UNDERSTANDING CONSEQUENCES
Day Without Dawn
4.01 | 76 ratings
A SUN THAT NEVER SETS
Neurosis
3.97 | 103 ratings
VERTIKAL
Cult of Luna
4.04 | 57 ratings
TEETHED GLORY AND INJURY
Altar of Plagues
4.35 | 20 ratings
ABSOLUTE ZERO
Tetrafusion
4.12 | 39 ratings
PAINTING ON GLASS
3rd And The Mortal, The
4.16 | 32 ratings
MANTIIS
Obsidian Kingdom
4.79 | 10 ratings
KENTUCKY
Panopticon
4.25 | 24 ratings
TOUNDRA III
Toundra
4.07 | 43 ratings
COGNITIVE
Soen
4.50 | 14 ratings
TERRAFORMING
Postman Syndrome, The
3.98 | 76 ratings
PRECAMBRIAN
Ocean, The
3.92 | 146 ratings
GORDIAN KNOT
Gordian Knot
4.09 | 37 ratings
SEA OF THE DYING DHOW
shels
4.41 | 16 ratings
MELANCHOLIE²
ColdWorld
3.88 | 312 ratings
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: GHOST
Townsend, Devin
3.90 | 187 ratings
MARROW OF THE SPIRIT
Agalloch
4.02 | 50 ratings
HEART OF THE AGES
In The Woods...
3.91 | 151 ratings
HOW TO MEASURE A PLANET?
Gathering, The
4.12 | 32 ratings
OPPORTUNISTIC THIEVES OF SPRING
Forest Of Stars, A
3.97 | 73 ratings
OI MAGOI
Hail Spirit Noir
3.88 | 267 ratings
THE NEVER ENDING WAY OF ORWARRIOR
Orphaned Land
3.93 | 111 ratings
PELAGIAL
Ocean, The
3.91 | 125 ratings
SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE
Alcest
4.04 | 44 ratings
RENGETEG
Thy Catafalque
3.86 | 502 ratings
A NATURAL DISASTER
Anathema
4.79 | 9 ratings
BAR-DO TRAVEL
Proghma-C
4.78 | 9 ratings
ACID MIST TOMORROW
Hypno5e
4.10 | 32 ratings
SELENELION
Vaura
4.40 | 15 ratings
DEAD AS DREAMS
Weakling
3.94 | 77 ratings
THE EYE OF EVERY STORM
Neurosis
3.99 | 54 ratings
THE BEES MADE HONEY IN THE LION'S SKULL
Earth
4.27 | 19 ratings
CENOTES
Giant Squid
3.88 | 162 ratings
MANDYLION
Gathering, The
4.14 | 26 ratings
CARHEART
Virus
3.85 | 299 ratings
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: ADDICTED
Townsend, Devin
3.84 | 798 ratings
10,000 DAYS
Tool
4.01 | 44 ratings
PLAINS OF THE PURPLE BUFFALO
shels
4.26 | 19 ratings
NOIR
Callisto
3.93 | 74 ratings
ANTHROPOCENTRIC
Ocean, The
3.87 | 133 ratings
THE ACOUSTIC VERSES
Green Carnation
3.84 | 289 ratings
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: KI
Townsend, Devin
3.90 | 90 ratings
THE FIRE IN OUR THROATS WILL BECKON THE THAW
Pelican
3.96 | 54 ratings
THE IMAGINARY DIRECTION OF TIME
Winds
4.20 | 20 ratings
AFFLICTION XXIX II MXMVI
Blindead
3.91 | 75 ratings
EXISTENCE
Dark Suns
4.20 | 20 ratings
THE RITUAL FIRES OF ABANDONMENT
Minsk
3.86 | 160 ratings
CASUALTIES OF COOL: CASUALTIES OF COOL
Townsend, Devin
3.83 | 441 ratings
A FINE DAY TO EXIT
Anathema
4.01 | 38 ratings
WHITE TOMB
Altar of Plagues

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 MINSTREL'S CURSE
Noekk
OMEGA
Cancer Conspiracy, The
THE TELESTIC DISFRACTURE
5ive
BLESSED ARE THE BONDS
Pax Cecilia, The

Latest Experimental/Post Metal Music Reviews


 Contentum  by ATROX album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.90 | 16 ratings

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Contentum
Atrox Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Contentum" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Norwegian avant garde/progressive metal act Atrox. The album was released through Season Of Mist in August 2000. It's safe to say that the band's debut album "Mesmerised (1997)" isn't the most promising debut album I've ever heard, and I guess I'm not the only one a bit reluctant to check out "Contentum", because it took the band a fairly long time to find a label after "Contentum" was recorded in April 1999.

As it turns out Atrox have improved about 200% since the debut album and "Contentum" shows a band full of confidence, delivering intriguing music in a convincing manner. Stylistically the music on "Contentum" is probably still an aquired taste though. It's a mix of doom and goth metal with avant garde and progressive elements. While it's definitely metal, the guitars on the album actually only play a minor role and mostly work as a backing instrument and atmospheric keyboards and adventurous vocals are the dominant elements on the album. The strong rhythm section play some pretty great things too (the musicianship are generally on a very high level), but that part of the music also play second violin to especially the female vocals by Monika Edvardsen.

On the debut album I thought she sounded forced and out of key, but here she performs on an amazing technical level. Imagine if Kate Bush had turned into an evil and wicked singing witch from the middle east, who could also perform semi- operatic vocals and you're halfway there. Edvardsen moans, screams, sings hauntingly beautiful clean vocals, talk/sings, use middle eastern vibrato extensively, and is more than worth the price of admission throughout the album. But she is so extreme in her delivery that it is bound to be an aquired taste if her vocals will appeal to you. So consider yourself warned. This is not music for the masses.

The material on the album are generally intriguing, dynamic, and well written, although it's seldom instantly memorable and the complexity of the vocal lines often disturbs parts that could have been catchy. But this is obviously not music written with the primary purpose of being catchy. This is music written to be challenging both for the artist and for the listener, and challenged you will be, if you'll hold on for the duration of the 11 track, 65 minutes long album. Personally I could have wished for a few more hooks throughout the album and at times Edvardsen's vocals feel more like a show-off than anything that fits the songs, but ultimately I accept the premise that my musical conservatism is being challenged. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

 Fires Within Fires by NEUROSIS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.30 | 11 ratings

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Fires Within Fires
Neurosis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Fires Within Fires" is the 12th full-length studio album by US, California based sludge/post metal act Neurosis. The album was released through Neurot Recordings in September 2016. It's the successor to "Honor Found in Decay" from 2012.

Stylistically the material on "Fires Within Fires" features very few surprises if you're already familiar with the band's atmospheric sludge/post metal style. It's slow, doomy, and organic music featuring both deep register clean male vocals and harder edged hardcore shouting vocals. The song structures are adventurous and you never really know where a song is going before you reach the end and look back at an intriguing compositional structure. The whole thing is packed in an organic sounding production courtesy of Steve Albini. The sound production takes the meaning of organic maybe a bit too far though, as this sometimes sound like it was recorded live in someone's garage. I know some people love a stripped down and raw sound production like that, and under the right circumstances a sound production like that can work wonders. Here though I think it takes the power out of the music and even the most heavy and punchy parts of the album, lack energy and conviction.

To my ears Neurosis also seem to have lost a bit of their creative spirit on "Fires Within Fires"...and don't get me wrong here, because as mentioned above this is still very adventurous music, but it's like they've made this album before a few times, and I'd like to think of them as innovators who take chances and who challenge their audience. We don't really get much of that here. "Fires Within Fires" is Neurosis playing it completely safe and since they've also tuned down on their more aggressive side, the album does become a bit tedious if you're not in the right mood. However it still speaks volumes of their general qualities that one of Neurosis lesser albums still deserves a 3.5 star (70%) rating, and I'm probably just being a bit hard on them, but that's only because I expect so much from them considering their impressive back catalogue.

 Stern by KONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 4 ratings

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Stern
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Lewian

3 stars This is one of the albums of the type "band that I like plays the stuff they do well", and this surely is a positive thing. So we have another dose of heavy guitar riff driven instrumental rock with mighty drums and some electronics and samples mixed in to make things more interesting. One can't accuse the band of pushing the borders though; as a long standing follower of the band there is hardly any surprise for me in this. The album is somewhat dynamic with some calmer parts that in other reviews were fittingly associated with the Ozric Tentacles, however this element could already be found on the predecessor Merchants of Air. Some of these parts are atmospheric and work well, some others are a bit monotonous, just waiting for the next eruption. "Surfing Narrative Waves" harks back to Kong's outlier more electronic album Freak Control. So the elements that the band has used before are mixed to good effect once more and if you don't know Kong you may actually be quite impressed by this - but then you may want to start your exploration of the band elsewhere.

As I am a fan of the band, I play this a lot and I enjoy it as all their offerings before (Kong really hasn't produced a single weak album yet and they have done quite a few). Once more this is very powerful music and still Kong have their own very characteristic style so that whenever they have a new album I need it for lack of other bands that could substitute them. But still there is lots of heavy riffing on this album, not all of it really sparkling, this lead element feels a bit overused to me after all the years.

OK, 3.3 stars. Can't give 4 all the time, sorry. But still it's a good album, really!

PS: I just realise that Feast or Burden, the last song, cites Steve Hillage's Glorious Om Riff, good reference, guys! Who says there are no surprises?

 A Sort of Homecoming by ANATHEMA album cover Live, 2015
3.97 | 31 ratings

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A Sort of Homecoming
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by javajeff

4 stars This acoustic set is just stellar! it is the perfect type of atmosphere for Lee Douglas' angelic voice to soar. There is such sparse instrumentation that this performance is all about the vocals, and the excellent songwriting that Anathema has compiled over the years. Vincent Cavanagh delivers a fantastic vocal performance as well, and you get some stunning duets with the two of them. He is an excellent vocalist, and has grown from the doom roots. I love Anathema albums with full instrumentation, but this is a real treat that adds variety for any collection. It is a must listen for fans of the group, and an excellent entry into progressive with a singer-songwriter appeal. I highly recommend this magical performance.
 Lykaia by SOEN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.91 | 48 ratings

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Lykaia
Soen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Jester

3 stars For those who aren't familiar with the name of Soen, I should tell you that is a band with experienced and very gifted musicians, that all of them participated in other famous bands before gathering up and form Soen. So, here you can find ex-members from Opeth, Amon Amarth, Iced Earth, Testament etc. Their discography consists of 3 studio albums, with Lykaia, being their brand new one. Since I found out very recently about them, I am not familiar with their previous works, so I cannot get into any comparisons. When I listen to some "new" Prog Metal bands, every time I found myself thinking how big influence was the music and the style of Tool, and Soen is not an exception. Their style - to my ears at least ? sounds like a mix of Tool with Riverside. The truth is that, Lykaia is a good album, but it simply feels like a lot of their ideas are redundant. The guitar playing, for example, is top notch, but on the other hand, we have many Prog Metal bands that can play equally well. But there are some "magical" moments that the bands "shines" and there you realize how good musicians these guys are. The album is a very good one, with nice compositions, great guitar solos, powerful riffs, clean vocals, but no new ideas unfortunately. In many cases, I found myself wondering, "Where do I know this from"? The main problem that this band is facing is the bitter reality that great musicianship does not equal great songwriting, and although they might have some very solid ideas to develop, they don't really have the ability to capture the listener for an extended period. But despite all those things, Lykaia is a good album. The fans of Prog-Metal will definitely enjoy it, not to mention the fans of Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal. I think I could give 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.
 Mayhem in Blue by HAIL SPIRIT NOIR album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 14 ratings

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Mayhem in Blue
Hail Spirit Noir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Mayhem in Blue" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Greek progressive metal act Hail Spirit Noir. The album was released through Dark Essence Records in October 2016. It´s the successor to "Oi Magoi" from 2014. Hail Spirit Noir was formed in 2010 by three members of Transcending Bizarre?. The band released their debut full-length studio album "Pneuma" in 2012.

Stylistically the music on "Mayhem in Blue" continues the psychadelic/space rock tinged progressive extreme metal style of the first two albums by the band. It´s music which owes as much to artists like early Pink Floyd and Hawkwind as it does to an act like Darkthrone and their ilk. The black metal element is relatively restrained here though, but there are a couple of pretty raw moments featured on the album (including a few blast beats). Mostly though we´re treated to a more mellow, dark, and twisted progressive rock/metal sound. Keyboards and especially organ play an important role in the band´s music, and you can add The Doors to the list of influences as keyboard player Harris often sounds like a bizarre dark carnival version of Ray Manzarek.

"Mayhem in Blue" features 6 tracks and a full playing time of 40:29 minutes, and all tracks featured on the album are high quality compositions. The tracks are adventurous, memorable, and dynamic. The catchiness of the material is one of the great assets of the album, and even the 10:52 minutes long "Lost in Satan's Charms" is instantly catchy. It´s probably because the band don´t go overboard with complex song structures and technical playing, but instead keep it relatively simple and focused on atmosphere. Simple doesn´t mean regular vers/chorus simple though and the band often break away from that tried and true formula to create more adventurous structures, but they still manage to keep things accessible.

The musicianship is strong on all posts, and the playing tight yet organic. Lead vocalist/guitarist Theoharis has a powerful raspy black metal style vocal delivery, but the pleasant warm clean vocals by guest vocalist Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos are even stronger. The combination of the two vocal styles bring much to Hail Spirit Noir´s music. "Mayhem in Blue" features a raw organic sound production, which brings out the best in the music, and upon conclusion it´s another really strong release by Hail Spirit Noir. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

 Winter by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.87 | 4 ratings

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Winter
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars Formed in early 2006 with the goal of producing Atmospheric Black Metal that incorporates elements of post-rock, Fen have, since then, found themselves at the vanguard of a resurgent UK Black Metal scene. With an EP, four full length albums, several splits and compilations to their name so far, this their latest full-length album (released March 2017) is their most ambitious to date, as they have combined Black metal with many other styles to create something that is very special indeed. Conceptually, they have returned to the roots of their ideology, seeking to embrace and distil all that inspired them when they first set out on this path over a decade ago ? that is, to invoke the ambience of bleak reflection and ancient sorrow that permeates the mysterious landscapes of the fens of Eastern England.

According to singer/guitarist The Watcher this album "very much describes a journey towards sanctity and redemption across a landscape steeped in mystery, hints of forgotten darkness and sorrows long since drowned in the distant past." There are six songs, but the only real way to play this album is to put it on at the beginning and be prepared for seventy-five minutes of music that will take you well away from the comfortable world you reside in, to a place that is far more barren and bleak, filled with foggy atmosphere and danger. How just three guys (The Watcher is joined by Havenless on drums and Grungyn on bass and vocals) can produce something as majestic and over the top of as this is just beyond me. It shows that although the Scandinavian countries seemed to have very much a stranglehold on this type of music for a long time, that is no longer the case. Fen have been going for ten years now, and they are just maturing and getting even better with age. The record label describes this as "atmospheric Black Metal and delicate, spacious cleans, married with aspects of 70s progressive rock, shoegaze and doom metal". I can make it much simpler than that. This is genius, nothing less.

 Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.96 | 9 ratings

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Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry' - Blut aus Nord (84/100)

It may have been disappointing as a true successor to Dialogue with the Stars, but Vindsval's third statement in his Memoria Vetusta series kept in touch with its goals more than listeners generally cared to notice. Starting with Fathers of the Icy Age and certainly culminating on Dialogue with the Stars five years before this, a Memoria Vetusta album releases Blut aus Nord swirling guitar trademarks from a context that is typically dissonant and mechanical. Even if he's only travelled this path a handful of times in his career, each MV album is a proud testament that Vindsval's vision is totally compatible with the organic, warm and melodic.

Saturnian Poetry had the impossible task of following up one of my favourite albums of all time. Dialogue with the Stars was there for me at a rough stint in my life, and I don't think it would be possible for another Blut aus Nord album to strike me so hard. With the perfection of MVII in mind, it was a clever move to forego a standard sequel and instead push the series towards its expressed goal as a whole. A small but monumental decision to go forward is the inclusion of a real drummer-- the first in Blut aus Nord history. Drummer Thorns has sown his oats on everything from Acherontas to Frostmoon Eclipse records. Here, he shows a strong understanding of what Vindsval typically wants out of his percussion. Take the unprecedented live drummer with the gorgeous artwork and warm production, and you can really tell Vindsval opened his music to its potential humanity.

Gone are a lot of the distinct melodies and keyboard arrangements from Dialogue with the Stars. In making Memoria Vetusta appropriately organic, Blut aus Nord have also gone more straightforward and traditional. That's not to say that Saturnian Poetry is less challenging; the jarring chord progressions are still every bit as unpredictable. The songwriting on Saturnian Poetry is actually some of the most consistently realized I've ever heard on a BaN album. If there's ever an issue with it really, it would simply be that the vision is narrower. Vindsval doesn't clamber for the same outlandish high points that Dialogue with the Stars was rife with. Saturnian Poetry draws from a standard atmospheric black metal template. The undermixed vocals and signature guitars still make Saturnian Poetry unmistakably BaN, but it's understandable that some fans would be let down by this decision.

If Saturnian Poetry is a less ambitious Blut aus Nord album, in a series that is usually seen as cornerstones of their career, I wouldn't know the criticism when I'm actually listening to it. While it didn't hit me with the same instant awe as Dialogue with the Stars, the homogeneous black metal swirling here has some of Vindsval's best riffs. While the smaller scope probably justifies Saturnian Poetry as a "lesser" MV album, it arguably enjoys better flow and execution than its predecessors. Saturnian Poetry is a special grower in a storied career full of them. Each time I hear it, I think I enjoy it a little bit more.

 Khaooohs & Kon-Fus-Ion by PAN.THY.MONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.42 | 39 ratings

BUY
Khaooohs & Kon-Fus-Ion
Pan.Thy.Monium Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The bizarre close to Pan.Thy.Monium's concept album trilogy finds the Edge of Sanity side project going out on a high. The running time here is pretty brief, with only the first two tracks really offering the sort of full bore avant-death metal the group is known for and the last two providing an ambient coda to the sequence, so perhaps they realised that their weird house style was running out of steam, but what a high to go out on, rampaging though a Mr Bungle- esque calvacade of musical styles with sometimes only the "burping frog" vocals to retain the death metal connection.
 Times Of Grace by NEUROSIS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.77 | 59 ratings

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Times Of Grace
Neurosis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Although it can be enhanced by listening in synch with the Tribes of Neurot album "Grace", even by itself Times of Grace is still an extremely solid followup to Through Silver In Blood which builds on the atmospheric sludge metal sound of that album impressively. The title track's titanic closing riffs melting away to reveal the plaintive brass instrumentation of album closer The Road to Sovereignty is a particular revelation. Between this and its predecessor, I would actually give this one the edge and say that it's the best release since the magnificent, genre-defining Souls At Zero. (Those especially keen to try the "Grace" experiment may want to bear in mind that a compilation of both albums was issued for your ease of buying.)
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