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HEAVY PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Heavy Prog definition

Heavy Prog defines progressive rock music that draws as much influence from hard rock as it does from classic progressive rock. In simple terms, it is a marriage of the guitar-based heavy blues of the late 1960s and 1970s - artists such as Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath - and the progressive/symphonic movement represented by King Crimson, Yes and Genesis.

The electric guitar, amplified to produce distortion (or 'overdrive') is a crucial element, providing the 'heavy' tone required for this aggressive style, and later for the British and North American heavy metal of the late 1970s and 80s. The primary rock format of drums, bass and guitar with keys and/or vocals on top is represented strongly in heavy prog. The presence of the Hammond organ with its deep, intense rumble was also common among harder progressive groups such as ATOMIC ROOSTER. Although certain other acts, such as King Crimson and Jethro Tull, utilize a heavy guitar, bass and keyboard sound, the bulk of their work over the years puts them in a different category.

Bands that represent Heavy Prog would include RUSH, PORCUPINE TREE, THE MARS VOLTA, URIAH HEEP, TEMPEST, BLACK WIDOW, DR. Z,ATOMIC ROOSTER, WARHORSE, BIRTH CONTROL, TILES.

- written bt Atavachron (David)

Current team members:
as at 7/1/2022

Louis (rdtprog)
Nick (nick_h_nz)
Todd

Heavy Prog Top Albums


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

4.38 | 3111 ratings
MOVING PICTURES
Rush
4.38 | 2675 ratings
HEMISPHERES
Rush
4.34 | 2460 ratings
A FAREWELL TO KINGS
Rush
4.28 | 2805 ratings
FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET
Porcupine Tree
4.27 | 2279 ratings
PERMANENT WAVES
Rush
4.26 | 2753 ratings
IN ABSENTIA
Porcupine Tree
4.21 | 1300 ratings
THE MOUNTAIN
Haken
4.20 | 1316 ratings
DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM
Mars Volta, The
4.19 | 896 ratings
SALISBURY
Uriah Heep
4.13 | 2209 ratings
DEADWING
Porcupine Tree
4.15 | 740 ratings
UNTIL ALL THE GHOSTS ARE GONE
Anekdoten
4.11 | 2339 ratings
2112
Rush
4.13 | 794 ratings
LOOK AT YOURSELF
Uriah Heep
4.11 | 1190 ratings
VISIONS
Haken
4.07 | 1500 ratings
THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS
Porcupine Tree
4.07 | 999 ratings
FRANCES THE MUTE
Mars Volta, The
4.07 | 877 ratings
DEMONS AND WIZARDS
Uriah Heep
4.04 | 1152 ratings
AQUARIUS
Haken
4.23 | 155 ratings
CHRONICLES OF THE WAKING DREAM
Arcane
4.08 | 478 ratings
FROM WITHIN
Anekdoten

Heavy Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Heavy Prog experts team

A.F.T.
Automatic Fine Tuning
ZUNDAPP
Zundapp
HARVEST TIME
Elonkorjuu
ZOOMA
Jones, John Paul

Latest Heavy Prog Music Reviews


 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.08 | 51 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

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

3 stars More known for its status as having released one of the most expensive collectible records of the rock music era, DARK was a psychedelic rock band that was a bit late to the prog party by the time it delivered its debut ROUND THE EDGES in 1972 but nevertheless garnered praise for its innovative use of fuzz guitar that went beyond the usual one-trick pony wankery of the late 60s and used it in clever ways in its compositional fortitude. Formed in 1968 Northampton, DARK by guitarist Steve Giles who met guitarist Martin Weaver, drummer Clive Thorneycroft and bassist Ronald Johnson at their local school and set off to imitate American West Coast jam bands.

During its initial run from 1968-1973, DARK released only this one LP with a total release number of 64 copies recorded at S.I.S. Studios as a private release, many of which were given to friends and family thus making the album one of the rarest British releases of all time. Original copies have commanded hefty prices upward of 25,000 depending on the version and in 2016 was declared the 17th most valuable record of all time by New Musical Express (NME), a British music, film, gaming, and culture website. Although the original pressing has garnered a huge reputation with collectors of all things original vinyl, the album itself has been re-released several times and recently in 2022 with four distinct album covers (as well as numerous variations) including remastered versions.

Collectibility aside ROUND THE EDGES sounds more like an album that would have emerged in the late 1968, early 1969 timeline and to my ears sounds like that these tracks were written, performed and possibly recorded before 1970 and not released until the band saved enough money to do a proper release. For 1972 this jamming psychedelic rock is hopelessly outdated as it sounds more like Quicksilver Messenger Service than anything the year 1972 offered when progressive rock was at his peak of creative complexity. The original album features six tracks, three on each vinyl record side with the longest, "Live For Today" extending past the 8-minute mark. Compared to bands like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, DARK really doesn't sound like any other band i can think of as its a strange mix of jam band, hard acid rock and early proto-prog moments.

Very much the baby of Steve Giles who provides vocals and guitar as well as sitting in as producer, the description as the album being a vehicle to display angsty fuzzy hard rock soloing is fairly accurate. The vocals are fairly awful with a limited range and lower the enjoyability factor for my ears however the musical performances are satisfying with stellar instrumental interplay that finds a very talented drummer tearing it up behind a stellar fuzzed out heavy psych experience offered by the guitars and bass. The album itself offered extensive gatefold sleeves in full color, handwritten notes and an overall ambitious presentation seemingly more fussed over than the music itself. Although the band is primarily known for this one album, it has released numerous archival albums as well as reforming in 2011.

This is no nonsense heavy psych without any true prog bells and whistles. A few time signature deviations from time to time but basically this music takes you back to the late 60s and the band would've been perfect as an opening act for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer or Iron Butterfly. This band is surely only still relevant today due to its collectibility status but there is a world of difference between investors in previous goods and those who simply want to hear innovative music. There is no doubt that this is a decent record that is by no means as bad as some make it out to be but likewise there is really nothing on this album that truly stands out as original other than the fact that fuzz guitar was extended in its role which is significant but doesn't change the overall feel of the album. Certainly one for the history book and a decent spin but as a music lover hardly qualifies to shell out massive amounts of cash. A nice anomaly for 1972 but nothing more than a good side note.

 Round the Edges by DARK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.08 | 51 ratings

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Round the Edges
Dark Heavy Prog

Review by proghaven

1 stars Guess everyone who collects (or collected) vinyl eventually went through the stage of unhealthy interest to obscure LPs. As for me, I had 40-year experience of collecting vinyl, and went through that stage as well. However, believe or not, the original edition of the only studio album by Dark is the only rare/obscure/valuable vinyl that I never wanted to buy. No, not due to its high price. I heard about the band Dark since my youth. Many people told me that owning this megarare ('rarest in the world'!) record is every collector's dream. Judge for yourself. Only 64 copies were made in total. And, despite of the hyper limited quantity, as many as five versions of the original cover exist! Namely, 12 colour gatefolds, 2 'special' colour gatefolds (I even don't know what it means...), 1 white doodle on sleeve (oh this one is familiar to me, no need to say that I never held it in my hands but I saw the photo), 12 black & white gatefolds and 37 black & white single sleeves. (See Discogs.) What a luxury! Just become a millionaire, grab a copy of each one, and pride! Yes. Really the most wanted vinyl on the Globe. (See Discogs again: 62 have, i.e. almost the entire initial run is reported to be owned by collectors, and 1883 want.)

And - on the other hand - probably one of the most boring musical works on the Globe. The album is quite short (about 39 minutes), but it cost me a lot of effort to listen to it to the end. (In early 1990s, a mate bought a copy of the first UK vinyl reissue at Gorbushka, so I was able at last to get acquainted with this legendary record.) Mott The Hoople meets Necromandus and they sadly miss each other because Necromandus gets lost - that's how I would describe the music. Many years ago I heard the gossip that the band experienced serious difficulties with distributing the original vinyl, up to that some copies were offered at gasoline stations as a change. No idea if it's true or not, but as for me (sorry for cynicism), I would better get a copy as a change in a shop than pay even $50 for the Akarma reissue, not to mention $35000 for that 'white doodle' orig (see above). I'd say the only track of interest is Maypole, it's based on a very pleasant musical theme. However, this theme repeats during 5 minutes without any development, so it also finally becomes boring. The album is usually considered heavy prog and/or heavy psych. But how could it be compared to (for example) early Rush if we speak of heavy prog, or (for example!) Lava if we speak of heavy psych?

 Nil Recurring by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.95 | 534 ratings

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Nil Recurring
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars In the last third of 2007, Porcupine Tree released "Neil Recurring", an EP that could well have been included as a bonus album on the excellent "Fear of a Blank Planet", released less than half a year earlier. Far from being a collection of discards or extended sessions, "Neil Recurring", while maintaining the hardships of the tormented teenager "Robby" as its thematic axis, takes on a life of its own with four very good pieces that in several passages come very close to the hardened sound of progressive metal, combined with some reflective brushstrokes of melancholic sadness.

The spacey "Nil Recurring" kicks off the EP with the collaboration of Robert Fripp and his guitars, and imposing his personal stamp on the song with undisguised similarities to the experimental dalliances so typical of King Crimson, continues with the painful "Normal", a rearranged and more complete version of "Sentimental", follows with the powerful "Cheating The Polygraph" and Harrison's mastery of percussion and Colin Edwin's bass to support Wilson's infectious solos and guitar riffs and Richard Barbieri's intriguing electronic sounds, and concludes with the full band in a state of electronic hypnosis that becomes dramatic as the unfolding of "What Happens Now? "grows in intensity and yields its final stretch to a suffocating, schizoid guitar solo from Wilson, suggesting a desperate and fatal denouement.

"Nil Recurring" is a soaring EP, complementing "Fear of a Blank Planet", and is probably one of the band's best in that format.

Very good.

4 stars

 Fear of a Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.28 | 2805 ratings

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Fear of a Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Hector Enrique

5 stars Porcupine Tree's maturity reaches one of its high points with "Fear of a Blank Planet", their ninth album. Guided by Steven Wilson, the band's blend to produce a work that has moments of instrumental brilliance and also a vehicle to express themselves regarding youth issues in times when nothing is beyond the reach of a click, is remarkable.

Inspired by Brett Easton Ellis' novel, "You Do an Awfully Good Impression of Yourself", the album unfolds narratively from the point of view of the hopeless teenager "Robby" in Wilson's voice, with a depressive and intimate vision of his life and the refuge in external agents to cope with it. From the opening "Fear of a Blank Planet", a dark and powerful melody that starkly describes the character's perception of reality, Wilson's distorted guitars find in Colin Edwin Edwin's bass the ideal partner to accompany him, and has in the desolation of the melancholic and orchestrated "My Ashes" a pause sustained in good measure by Richard Barbieri's keyboards and a distant nod to the watery sound of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter", exposing once again the teenager's disenchantment with his life and family environment.

And it's with the superb "Anesthetize", a suite divided into three segments, that Porcupine Tree shows one of the highest points of brilliance, from Gavin Harrison's incisive percussion, the full band builds step by step a dramatic and forceful scenography, with Wilson's crushing guitar riffs and Barbieri's angsty and lysergic keyboards, until its final section, sheltering in its theme once again the wandering and lost "Robby". Alex Lifeson chipped in with a fine guitar solo and John Wesley backed Wilson on the choruses.

The mood, from there on in, maintains that reflective, aching feel, with the minimalist piano of the clinging "Sentimental" and the heartbreaking, escapist "Way Out of Here". The dark, electronic psychedelia of "Sleep Together" brings the album to a close, as well as the tribulations of the teenager, cornered into making a potentially fatal decision about his future.

"Fear of a Blank Planet" is not only one of Porcupine Tree's best albums, but also one of the best of the entire genre in the 2000s.

Excellent.

4.5 stars

 Future Impact of Past Diversions by CONFUSION FIELD album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.09 | 3 ratings

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Future Impact of Past Diversions
Confusion Field Heavy Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Tomi Kankainen is a veteran lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist from Finland whose 2021 debut "Disconnection Complete" attracted my attention as a project that might just have some legs, in a contemporary style somewhat near Riverside, Pineapple Thief, Karibow and Lonely Robot but adding a plethora of classic prog touches as well as an overall personal sheen. As if communicating in silent ESP, he recently offered me to review his latest sophomore work, scheduled for mid-November release, containing 9 tracks and the return of collaborators Petri Honkonen on drums and the lush guitar theatrics of Markus Jamsen. The cover art is off the charts gorgeous, azure skies and pinkish clouds will slay me every single time. This is one of those albums that took me three spins to really sink in, as its quite dense, potent and demanding.

Powerful riffs and percolating synths combine with a nuclear drum assault to hammer home the impression that this just might be quite a discovery for many unfamiliar with this band. Yes, there is an undeniable similitude with Mariusz Duda's seminal voice as well as the more muscular disposition of the Riverside material at hand. "Atom Child" is delightfully playful with contrasts as well as loaded with all the little details that keeps prog fans on their toes, ready, alert and salivating. The fissure-less segue into "Secondhand Escape", a tighter, grab the jugular rant that has immediate appeal, as well as a lusty syncopated drum pattern, that accentuates the sense of evading reality. Another notch upwards in intensity with its close follow up "Do Not Engage the Enemy", a brash piece with sizzling metallic sensibility, where tortured guitars and razor synths supply the backbone for the vocal plea that is utterly conclusive, especially with the choir assembled in the outro.

No moment of sonic respite on "Phoenix Learns to Fly", despite a softer heavy modulation that keeps the heartbeat running and complementing massive orchestral synthesized walls of sound with buzzing guitar shards that sparkle in the rain. The dreamy Floydian feel of "To the End of the Hex" sets the tone for a wild ride, and one of the crowning achievement on this set list, as the full throttle guitars step to the front of the stage and provide a fiery lead guitar solo from Markus Jamsen. The mood is anthemic, yet powerfully athletic, a forlorn vocal section tweaking the mood into a form of ultimate submission and hopeful conclusion. The steamroller onslaught is beckoned back to the fore on "Defence Solution", a tightly packed slap in the face, with guitar rage galore, binary drums and a catchy refrain amid all the chaos of sound and fury, a bruising modern prog rock tune. The dust has settled and the contemplative beauty of "Tomorrow Started Yesterday" takes over, eventually shifting back and forth between bombastic moments and sonic acquiescence. The chorus is grandiloquent, overwhelming, and completely convincing, a definite clever highlight that requires playlist time., the slow burn finish (one 'n', not two!) is magical.

The RPWL-ish "The Waiting Room" is another slow burn anthem that keeps all the emotions in a tightly effective context, an excellent song that is somewhat out of the box from the rest. A perfect set up for the epic highlight track finale, the three- part "Factory Shadow" that surely will be the final determinator of its inherent quality and interest. Let me eliminate any suspense by stating that it is a fantastic suite that also serves as a perfect indicator of this band's talent. Everything presented here is elevated from being really very good to outright excellent, not surprising as the nearly 11 minutes give the various arrangements all the space, width and breath needed to elicit applause from any listener, irrespective of genre preference, as it straddles a few prog subcategories with overt facility and inordinate amount of passion. The impressive three sections transition effortlessly, Tomi really shining on guitars, keyboards, bass and delivering a superlative vocal performance, asking "why the world keeps turning?" Good question, not too sure about finding the answer.

4.5 Puzzled wandering tenses

 Deadwing by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.13 | 2209 ratings

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Deadwing
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars The hardened sound developed by Porcupine Tree on "In Absentia" also sets the tone for their subsequent work, "Deadwing", the British band's eighth album. With the collaboration of Mikael Akerfeldt of Sweden's Opeth and Adrian Belew of King Crimson, the album is the reflection of a ghostly and dark script designed to be taken to the cinema, which Steven Wilson wrote together with the also British artist and director Mike Bennion, among other facets related to art.

From the opening "Deadwing" and Wilson's powerful guitar riffs backed by Gavin Harrison's consistent percussion and crowned by Belew's crimsonian solo, the musical proposal of the album flirts permanently with the most decibelic side of the genre, as for example with the virulent "Shallow" and its intoxicated volts, an unprecedented exercise for the band's standards, or with the excellent "Arriving Somewhere but Not Here", an extensive piece that moves between the intriguing synthesizers of Richard Barbieri and the megaphonic voice of Wilson, in a development that grows progressively and ends in an explosive and metal instrumental section complemented by the very good guitar solo of Akerfeldt, in one of the best pieces of the album, or with the forcefulness of "Open Car" and "The Start of Something Beautiful", both built on solid instrumental walls.

And to contrast the demanding pace of "Deadwing", the long-suffering and warm "Lazarus" with its peaceful piano and angelic vocal development, and the exhausted and atmospheric "Glass Arm Shattering" that doesn't lose its composure at any moment nor seems to have the strength to do so, give the calm and paused touch to one of the heaviest albums of the band.

Very good.

4 stars

 Strings from the Edge of Sound by KARMAMOI album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.68 | 18 ratings

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Strings from the Edge of Sound
Karmamoi Heavy Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars I am giving this album attention due to the strong acclaim it's been receiving despite the fact that it is album being a collection of previously-released songs that have been re-worked (several orchestrated), with newcomer Valerio Sgargi stepping into the lead vocal (and principle collaborator) for Daniele Giovannoni's compositions.

1. "Black Hole Era" (7:43) what a voice this Valerio Sgargi has! It's comparable to that of Gino Vannelli! Powerful guitar soloing in the seventh and eighth minutes. A top three song right off the bat. (14/15)

2. "Nashira" (orchestra version) (9:11) solo piano opens this seemingly playing avariation of the previous song's chord sequence. Valerio enters and the piano drops out in lieu of a cello. In the second minute other instruments begin to join in: piano, cymbal-dominant drums, fretless bass, oboe and a few other orchestral sounds but in the third minute a heavy chordal footsteps for a minute. The volume on the reed instruments seems far too high throughout this song- -even when they're in the lead or soloing, but that doesn't prevent Valerio from giving one heck of a performance (or guitarist Alex Massari in the final minute). A top three song for me. (18.5/20)

3. "Take Me Home" (orchestra version) (8:31) though the song starts out sounding like a very classic, stripped down performance of "My Funny Valentine," the highlight here is how Valerio sings a duet with himself: in two very different voices and styles, side by side, starting with the second verse. This voice could be the new That Joe Payne! The second half of the song is quite cinematic in its bombast: bombastic prog at its finest. My third top three song. (18.5/20)

4. "Tell Me" (6:07) thought the chorus sections remind me a lot, melodically and in the strummed 12-string guitar chord sequence, of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine," this is a nice, nuanced song with yet another extremely enjoyable vocal performance by Valerio Sgargi. (8.875/10)

5. "Room 101" (orchestra version) (8:40) acoustic guitar picking like at the opening to Genesis' "Dance on a Volcano" is joined by flourishes and embellishments from individual orchestra instruments. Enter Valerio Sgargi and a Depeche Mode-like singing style. Even after the brief burst of prog bombast Valerio continues singing in a commanding David Gahan-like monotone. Then the music begins to build and cycle, provoking Valerio to reach for notes that Devy Townsend or That Joe Payne are commonly heard to hit. A switch in the fifth minute to a new smoother, more orchestra-supported space music allows for more exposition to individual instrumental performers, like the piano, members of the strings, the whole bass section, and, of course, the electric guitar, but ultimately leads to a JC Superstar-like climax. (17.75/20)

6. "I Will Come in Your Dreams" (5:27) gentle piano and low strings lay the foundation for Valerio to sing--this time in a very old Elvis/operetta style of voice. Pretty but nothing very new, proggy, or exciting with this one. (8.66667/10)

7. "Your Name" (orchestra version) (8:21) more orchestra presence than on most of the other songs, the rock band and dramatic voice of Valerio Sgargi yield a bombastic sound worthy of any Andrew Lloyd Weber or Alan Menken theater presentation. The radical switch of tempo and style (and electronically-treated vocal) at the halfway point is a bit odd--and takes some getting used to--but is smoothed over by another sublime electric guitar solo in the eighth minute. (17.5/20)

8. "Zealous Man" (orchestra version) (11:55) more melodic, pensive piano opens this one, setting up in way that rivals Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Richard Rogers, or Oscar Hammerstein. By the time we reach the third minute the soundscape has burst into swirling prog fullness, but then, at 3:30, it all turns quiet with some chorus-treated 12- strings and muted vocals, but then a David Gahan-like voice takes over for a bit before yielding to the powerful play of a fretless bass and cello. Prog bombast returns in the sixth minute as Valerio's voice turns "distant choral"--to set up, of course, another masterfully calculated Dave Gilmour-like guitar solo--this one amid swirling orchestra strings--but no! It's cut off! In the eighth minute we've gone back to the quiet 12-string (zither?) palette with some slow tympanic drum play over which Valerio croons in a voice from another era. But then the prog bombast returns and, yes, the electric guitar is given a second chance to fulfill its emotion-manipulating mission. A well composed and performed song, even if it does feel quite contrived to toy with the listeners' cortisol levels. (22.75/25)

9. "Strings from the Edge of Sound" (1:57) an orchestrated song whose choral-style vocal and wording makes it sound like it comes out of a rendering of a Dickensian Christmas musical. "Marley!" "Scrooge!" Prelude to a love story? (4.425/5)

Total Time 67:52

I've never heard any of the previous versions of any of these songs but, if I were to venture a guess, I'd say that all of them were birthed as piano-voice duets--arias--all intended to end up on a stage within the context of an Andrew Lloyd Weber-like musical theatre performance. The rock instruments were added for support, the lead guitar solos as a mirroring emotional outlet, and, later, the full orchestral versions created to fulfill the composer (and vocalist)'s Broadway/West End aspirations. In the end, this is great music and that's what counts. Should these songs ever end up on a stage, I would be a willing attendee of their theatric live performance.

What a revelation is this newcomer Valerio Sgargi! I look forward to seeking out and hearing more of his recordings (in the same way I've done for That Joe Payne since I first heard him on Nikitas Kissonas' METHEXIS project's Suiciety release back in 2015).

Does anyone else find a similarity in the sound of this album to that of the 2014 album, Speak, by Jason Hart's I AND THOU?

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of theatric progressive rock music that would, I feel quite confident, be quite welcome in the homes (and to the ears) of EVERY prog lover.

 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.26 | 2753 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars Preceded by the very good reception of "Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun", it is with their seventh album, "In Absentia", that Porcupine Tree reaches new heights of reputation and raises the figure of Steven Wilson to superlative levels of recognition. A proposal that conserves the atmospheric dalliances and structures detached from the floor, but adds a hardened and raspy sonic content that at times is akin to Prog Metal. The constant contrast of scenarios that flies from tense calm to overflowing, reflects the vertebral concept developed in the album: the diseases of the mind and what they can generate in human beings, and whose disturbed cover art in the best style of Tool's animated videos clearly conveys it.

From the sombre "Blackest Eyes" and its powerful guitars combined with Wilson's acoustic riffs that serve as a backdrop to describe in first person the unbalanced thoughts of a serial killer, "In Absentia" shows the complexity of its subject matter in different passages, such as with Barbieri's sickly synthesizers and the intensity of the guitars in "Gravity Eyelids", or in the unhinged "Wedding Nails" and its dark ending, or the also frenetic "The Creator Has a Mastertape" with Wilson's voice in megaphone mode and the recharged and insistent drums of the recently incorporated Gavin Harrison, describing in a very saturated sound structure the horrible plans of a family father with a double personality.

But the album also interweaves moments of rawness with gentle backwaters used as oxygenating pauses, such as the delicate "Trains" and Wilson's electro-acoustic solo, or the floydian "Lips of Ashes", or the acid and harmonic "The Sound of Muzak" and its critique of the music industry business, to conclude with the beautiful "Collapse the Light into Earth" and the diaphanous piano that gives way to a very successful and emotional orchestration as a melancholic vindication of life in spite of all its ups and downs. An unbeatable ending.

"In Absentia", one of Porcupine Tree's best works, is a demonstration of the maturity that the band had reached by that time and which positioned them as a fundamental reference of the 2000's.

Excellent

4/4.5 stars

 Thank You from the Future by MOON LETTERS album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.96 | 37 ratings

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Thank You from the Future
Moon Letters Heavy Prog

Review by Prog Dog

4 stars Every once in a rare while, a new band you've never heard of confidently grabs your attention and won't let go.

Moon Letters, a humble 5-piece act from Seattle Washington- just independently released their 3rd album. It's interesting how they play with the concept of time in the title: Thank You From the Future because their music easily straddles between the present and the past of prog rock dynasties.

Moon Letters get straight to the point and from the first seconds of the album you are reassured that progressive rock is alive and well, thank you very much. There's no wearing it close to their vests- it's on full display for all to see, and if it doesn't raise any eyebrows, I'd be surprised.

They exploit this genre with great confidence. They keep engaging the listener with their peculiar fresh energy and a seemingly boundless reservoir of creativity and originality. Nothing stale about this collection of 7 songs, despite the fact that there's plenty of winks at the prog traditions that they are undoubtedly steeped in.

Each song is packed with tasty and quirky instrumental sections but there's no conflict with the singing. Three members are credited with vocals, and Michael Trew takes the lead position, also playing the flute. His voice reminded me a bit of Saga's Michael Saddler but I'm not sure who else to compare him to. Like everyone in the band, he's very talented at what he does and fits the whole of the band's sound perfectly. He has a unique and dramatic presence at times. As far as the lyrics, the official bio says 'the album's lyrics explore personal growth, the future of the world, and sci-fi imaginations of the space age.' (Right up my alley..)

If they ever have a hit song, it will be of the Bohemian Rhapsody variety. Moon Letters are relentlessly progressive. At times the music is a bit frenetic, but it's part of their overall charm. They don't sit still or repeat themselves. When I listen to the album I definitely feel like I'm listening to a 'band' - in the proper sense of the word. For example, like the unmistakeable chemistry you feel when listening to a band like The Doors. If there's an epic-ness to this band, it's less connected to the production and more about the enchanting songwriting. There are hints of psychedelic in some parts of songs, but it's not a dominant flavour.

Listening to Thank you From the Future reminded me a little of discovering Yes' Fragile for the first time- it covers many bases of emotions and mysteries and has a unique fingerprint.

There's not much to fault when 50 years after prog was invented, a new band sounds so familiar and yet can challenge and engage you with its' original and cohesive sound.

 Lightbulb Sun by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.03 | 1687 ratings

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Lightbulb Sun
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars A year after the successful "Stupid Dream", the prolific Steven Wilson and his bandmates released "Lightbulb Sun" at the dawn of the 21st century. Porcupine Tree's sixth album maintains the general lines of its predecessor, leaving aside the intergalactic journeys and settles on planet earth, while maintaining the experimental and vaporous character to build introspective spaces of reflection from the sorrowful experiences of everyday life.

Hence, the album moves between melodies guided by unplugged rhythmic guitars like the opening "LBS", or the beautiful "Shesmovedon" and its sad refrain crowned by an overflowing and distorted guitar solo by Wilson over the hardened percussion of Chris Maitland, the gentleness of "Rest Will Flow", with Nick Parry's cello and the violins of the Minerva string quartet, or the correctness of "Where We Would Be" and its pleasant acoustic sounds, until reaching the album's climax with the extended "Russia on Ice", an atmospheric piece about alcoholism that unfolds among dark landscapes guided by Wilson's meditative voice, takes powerful and complex instrumental turns with Maitland very animated on percussion and Richard Barbieri on keyboards, and ends up resting among chimes and whispered synthesised sounds, undoubtedly one of the best parts of the album. And not to change the general mood, the delicate and emotive "Feel So Low" refers to a deep sadness for the lack of correspondence of the loved one that gives an ideal closure to a work dominated from beginning to end by melancholy.

When the album was finished recording, Maintland, Wilson's long-time sideman, left the band because of how absorbing being part of Porcupine Tree had become for him at the time.

"Lightbulb Sun", with its well-constructed musical structures and Wilson's usual superlative production work, consolidates Porcupine Tree as one of the main animators of the genre in the second part of the 90's and most of the 2000's, despite the fact that its leader mentioned on more than one occasion that the band should not be pigeonholed in any particular style.

Very good.

4 stars

Data cached

Heavy Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
2112 Argentina
41POINT9 United States
4X United Kingdom
99 NAMES OF GOD United States
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ANYONE United States
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AVKRVST Norway
AZURE United Kingdom
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BI KYO RAN Japan
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