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TECH/EXTREME PROG METAL

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal definition

This category lists technical Progressive Metal bands that have roots in Extreme Metal or that are strongly influenced by it. The style developed by the end of the 80s in the Thrash Metal scene when a number of bands stretched the boundaries of their sound by including elements from Progressive Rock. Death Metal followed a similar path in the 90s and by the 2000s, also Black Metal and Metalcore saw an increasing amount of bands taking in Prog influences.

Certain bands like EPHEL DUATH and UNEXPECT developed a style that largely abandoned their extreme metal heritage in favour of a highly eclectic jazz-influenced Avant Metal style. These bands are listed under Experimental Metal.


Progressive Thrash Metal
By the end of the 80s Thrash Metal had diversified its sound significantly to an extent where the originally very direct and uncompromisingly aggressive style had become more sophisticated, boasting challenging technical skills and ambitious song structures frequently surpassing the 6 minute mark. The best known examples are METALLICA and MEGADETH.

The bands listed in this section went one step further and embraced notable influences from Progressive Rock, replacing much of the typical Thrash Metal riffs and rhythms with a more progressive and melodic riffing style, influenced by KING CRIMSON and RUSH. The most well-known of these early bands was VOIVOD, who also brought the early psychedelic sound of PINK FLOYD into their unique mold. Important pioneering albums were released by WATCHTOWER, CORONER, MEKONG DELTA, as well as the debut album of SIEGES SEVEN.
More recent examples of Progressive Thrash are SPIRAL ARCHITECT and VEKTOR


Progressive Death Metal
Death Metal further built on the sound of the most extreme bands of the Thrash scene. Next to the brutal sound, blast beat drumming, complex song structures and multiple tempo changes, the most notorious feature of the style is probably the growled vocals. Death Metal is generally highly technical, making the dividing line between Technical Death Metal and Progressive Death Metal sometimes rather faint.

The bands considered for Prog Archives are those that show significant influences from Progressive Rock and/or Fusion. One of the landmarks in the style is "Elements" from ATHEIST, who mixed their hyper-technical Speed Metal with fusion. Other early albums include "Focus" from CYNIC and "Spheres" from PESTILENCE, where progressive riffing, polymetrics, fusion influences and atmospheric keyboards complemented their brutal Death Metal. Also DEATH, the popular founder of Death Metal, incorporated fusion and progressive elements on their later albums.

A different flavour of Progressive Death Metal came from the European continent, when half-way into the 90s leading death and doom-death bands started expanding their basic metal sound. The most significant album relevant to this section is "Crimson" from EDGE OF SANITY. In typical Scandinavian fashion, their epic approach wasn't fusion oriented but less technical and more melodic, introducing the now typical alteration between brutal Death sections and more melodic breaks with clean vocals; an approach perfected in the next decade by OPETH.


Progressive Black Metal
Unlike Thrash and Death metal, Black Metal is not a technical genre. Originally it was even purposely non-technical and low-fi. By the end of the 90s the genre had developed into various sub-styles, of which some incorporated elements from progressive music.
The bands listed in this section are Black Metal bands that traded the minimalism of Black Metal for a more progressive, technical or experimental approach. This distinguishes them from the Black Metal bands that fleshed out their sound with either post-rock and/or shoegaze influences. Those are listed under Experimental/Post Metal.

One of the earliest and best known example of this style is ENSLAVED, who maintained the harsh atmosphere and aggression of classic Black Metal but extended this with a more textured psychedelic sound, chromatic riffing and odd time-signatures, citing influences from PINK FLOYD, VOIVOD and KING CRIMSON. Also IHSAHN, front-man of EMPEROR, should be mentioned here.

Most artists in this section are Symphonic Black Metal-oriented bands with progressive and experimental influences, but without fully crossing over to either Prog or Avant Metal as they remain oppressively dark, harsh, often dissonant and inaccessible. Their strong ties to Black Metal is why they are featured under Tech/Extreme Prog Metal and not in Avant Prog Metal. Examples are DEATHSPELL OMEGA, MOONSORROW, NEGURA BUNGET and the slightly more accessible theatrical Symphonic Black Metal of ARCTURUS.


Modern Phase
In the 2000s trends became more diffuse, introducing bands that had some of their stylistic features in common with the extreme metal genres without fully belonging in any of them. Some of them continued the strong fusion element and hyper-technical approach from ATHEIST and CYNIC. Instrumental acts such a as EXIVIOUS, CANVAS SOLARIS and BLOTTED SCIENCE received lots of critical acclaim from progressive metal fans.

A new trend was set by MESHUGGAH, one of the most defining bands of this era. At the end of the 90s their eclectic mix of Death, Thrash, Avant, Fusion and Prog laid down the groundrules of Extreme Metal for the next decade. Another well known band to take a similar eclectic approach to Extreme Metal was GOJIRA.
In the second half of the 2000's, many young bands copied MESHUGGAH's guitar tone and rhythmical riffing style, giving rise to the so-called 'djent' movement. Many of these bands belong in Tech/Extreme, such as ANIMALS AS LEADERS, CHIMP SPANNER etc.


Progressive Metalcore
The second half of the 2000s also saw the rise of a new generation of Progressive Tech/Extreme acts with roots that lay in Metalcore, Mathcore and Technical Sludge, rather then the 'classic' Extreme Metal genres. Their music is inherently technical and complex and has quite a number of formal features in common with Progressive Metal such as odd time signatures and non-standard song formats.
Prog Archives only lists these bands that go beyond the default expectations of the genre and bring in distinct non-extreme Prog influences. Some of the most eye-catching bands in this area are BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, PROTEST THE HERO, BURST, DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and MASTODON.


--- Definition by Karl and the Progressive Metal Team, January 2012 ---

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

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal Top Albums


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

4.30 | 1640 ratings
STILL LIFE
Opeth
4.26 | 1597 ratings
GHOST REVERIES
Opeth
4.25 | 1705 ratings
BLACKWATER PARK
Opeth
4.31 | 178 ratings
OBSCURA
Gorguts
4.23 | 461 ratings
CRIMSON
Edge Of Sanity
4.25 | 297 ratings
NOTHINGFACE
Voivod
4.21 | 552 ratings
SYMBOLIC
Death
4.20 | 434 ratings
THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE
Death
4.21 | 322 ratings
UNQUESTIONABLE PRESENCE
Atheist
4.25 | 201 ratings
DIMENSION HATROSS
Voivod
4.15 | 1119 ratings
PALE COMMUNION
Opeth
4.17 | 534 ratings
FOCUS
Cynic
4.20 | 276 ratings
ELEMENTS
Atheist
4.19 | 281 ratings
IN CAUDA VENENUM
Opeth
4.16 | 383 ratings
HUMAN
Death
4.21 | 189 ratings
BACK TO TIMES OF SPLENDOR
Disillusion
4.14 | 511 ratings
TRACED IN AIR
Cynic
4.16 | 303 ratings
INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS
Death
4.30 | 89 ratings
DEATH'S DESIGN
Diabolical Masquerade
4.13 | 364 ratings
TALL POPPY SYNDROME
Leprous

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Tech/Extreme Prog Metal experts team

THE AURORA VEIL
Ne Obliviscaris
WARRING FACTIONS
Ansur
INTEGERS
Collapsar
CHMURY NIE BYLO
Kobong

Latest Tech/Extreme Prog Metal Music Reviews


 Symbolic by DEATH album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.21 | 552 ratings

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Symbolic
Death Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm not that knowledgeable about the more extreme forms of metal and I don't often listen to it, but this album struck a chord with me. The band Death is of course knows as one of the founders of the death metal genre. To me the sound of Death on 'Symbolic' (a later album in their career) sounds like a more extreme form of the thrash metal of Metallica's 'Justice For All'-album. Darker, more abstract, more continuously angry, less trigger happy on the melody and Death is certainly not basing a song on a melodic pattern. The band puts many musical ideas in every song and though there's little variation in sound, this album is quite diverse in its approach to the death metal genre. For me the intense and extremely well-timed vocals of Chuck Schuldiner are a real winner here. The ability to keep the songs tense, exciting and abstract is also worth mentioning; the band often cuts of its more melodic parts quite early - only to introduce those heavy non-melodic guitar riffs that keep the overall atmosphere metallic and modern. Song structure is the hardest composition element to master, but Death surely are among the most gifted of the death metal genre in this regard. There's an often misunderstood artistry to the better thrash/death metal music, that could easily be compared to the atonal nature of modern classical music. For every band like Death there are probably more than a dozen bands that just fire riffs without ever touching that atmospheric finesse that an album like this represents. There are a lot of ways to score easily with the metal crowds - and nowadays that crowd seems to almost demand its identity-empowering metal clichés. Death seems to purposefully avoid them all on 'Symbolic'. Therefor, to me it seems absurd to doubt whether this album is progressive enough.
 An Instrument Of Darkness by ESCHATON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.86 | 3 ratings

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An Instrument Of Darkness
Eschaton Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "An Instrument of Darkness" is an EP release by Austrian black metal act Eschaton. The EP was independently released in October 2010. Physical CD copies were available for purchase, but the band also offered digital copies of the EP up for free through their Bandcamp profile. Eschaton were formed in 1998 under the Dominus Satanas monicker but changed their name to the current one in 2002. They released their debut full-length studio album "GodMode" in 2004. "An Instrument of Darkness" is only their second release, so it´s been quiet for a few years on the recording front.

Stylistically the 2 tracks on the 13:30 minutes long EP continue the progressive inclined black metal style of the debut album. It´s hard edged, aggressive, and very well performed, and although there are certainly progressive ideas and structures on the EP, it´s the aggression, the dark atmosphere, and the often death/thrashy riffs, which dominate the music. The vocals are predominantly aggressive raspy black metal snarling, but "Isolated Intelligence" also features some clean vocals. Eschaton would re-record that track and include it as the title track on their second full-length studio album "Isolated Intelligence (2012)".

"An Instrument of Darkness" is a well produced release too, which ensures the best possible conditions for the material to shine. So upon conclusion "An Instrument of Darkness" is a high quality release by Eschaton and while "GodMode (2004)" was a great and promising debut album, there is some clear development of sound on this EP, which makes Eschaton´s music even more interesting. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 GodMode by ESCHATON album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.90 | 2 ratings

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GodMode
Eschaton Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "GodMode" is the debut full-length studio album by Austrian black metal act Eschaton. The album was originally self-released in July 2004 and distributed on Pro-CDr by Ashen Productions (from November 2005). Eschaton were formed in 1998 under the Dominus Satanas monicker, and released a couple of demos under that name before changing their name to Eschaton in 2002.

The above information may sound like "GodMode" is nothing more than a cheap demo recording, that the band chose to release as an album by themselves because no label would touch it...but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact "GodMode" features a professional, powerful, and well sounding production, which could well put a lot of other album productions to shame. Eschaton are a very well playing act too, and lead vocalist/guitarist L.X. Sethnacht possesses a fierce blackened snarl, which he delivers with both passion and conviction.

Stylistically the material on the 6 track, 30:24 minutes long album is black/death metal with some progressive leanings. While the vocals and some of the tremolo picking and blasting parts are clearly black metal traits, I think there are several more riff oriented death metal moments in the music too, and a couple of more adventurous progressive sections also pop up from time to time. The snare drum sound is rather distinct and also gives associations to grindcore. The material is generally well written, intriguing, and effective, but it´s not an album where I remember all tracks, when it is finished playing, and that is of course a minor issue, but definitely not a huge one in this case.

Considering "GodMode" is more or less a self-released debut album, the quality of the material is quite impressive and add to that high level musicianship, and a well sounding production, and the album does come off as a quality product and a 3.5 star (70%) rating might even be a little too low.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Ghost Reveries by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.26 | 1597 ratings

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Ghost Reveries
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by dougmcauliffe

5 stars Ghost Reveries marks my third Opeth review and also my first five star review for the band. Ghost Reveries is just an album that goes hard from start to finish. In a world filled with cliche boring prog metal, Opeth is a band that has always kept their integrity creating truly heavy music and more importantly, creating whatever type of music they want to. The production is wonderful, even though Steven Wilson doesn't have a hand in this one, its clear a major influence was drawn from his production style and even his own music at times.

Most of my favorite Opeth songs happen to be their openers, Ghost of Perdition is no exception. This song is perfect and exemplifies my favorite quality of Opeths music: the contrast between heavy death growly sections and the sections with clean vocals and softer instrumentation. We also quickly see the mellotron put in to use which proves to be a very worthy addition to Opeths music throughout this album. I love how Ghost of Perdition just holds no punches and comes right out the gate swinging. This energy continues with the monstrous Baying of the Hounds. This one-two punch just comes at you and will cause uncontrollable headbanging for 20 minutes straight. Following that is Beneath the Mire with its dark marching mellotron led intro. The final minute of this song is really just so creative and menacing. Atonement is the first song that really gives you some breathing room with its very spacey verse and catchy hook. The real star of the show to me is the euphoric atmospheric outro truly unlike anything Opeth had ever done prior. The next behemoth of a song is Reverie/Harlequin Forest. Similarly to Ghost of Perdition, it comes right out the gate with its iconic intro: "into the trees." The proggy playout in the final couple minutes just blows my mind every time, another just extremely strong and powerful song. Hours of Wealth is a beautiful minimalist style track. I love the intimate feel of it towards the middle when its stripped down to just vocals and electric piano. The Grand Conjuration follows and is in my opinion, the heaviest most aggressive track. This song never lets up with its raw, brutal energy from start to finish. Isolation years is a soft emotional track that serves its purpose of letting you cool down after the insanity that you just experienced.

Ghost Reveries is the best Opeth album. Front to back its filled with strong tracks and it is an album without flaw. Unlike many albums of this length, this one holds my attention throughout its 66 minute run time.

I give Ghost Reveries a 10/10. 5 Stars.

 Carbon-Based Anatomy by CYNIC album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
3.98 | 114 ratings

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Carbon-Based Anatomy
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars CARON-BASED ANATOMY EP

After giving the metal world a huge boost of more technically dazzling jazz-fusion workouts on its debut album "Focus" which remains an undisputed classic in the proggy metal section of the supermarket, CYNIC quickly called it quits and went on a 15 year hiatus at least as a brand name. Founding members guitarist / vocalist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert immediately went in the direction of ambient laced alternative pop in the indie rock band Æon Spoke while bassist Sean Malone went the opposite direction into the proggy jazz-fusion instrumental band Gordian Knot. Both bands released a few albums in the 90s and all was amicable with both Reinert and Masvidal appearing on Gordian Knot albums however the creative differences were vast.

Come 2006 and Masvidal decided to reform CYNIC and played a few gigs around Europe. The magic was rekindled which led to a new album that resulted in the lauded late but finally there followup "Traced In Air" which pretty much provided the perfect triumvirate effect of "Focus" era CYNIC merged with the atmospheric spiciness of Æon Spoke and the gnarled technical jazzy workouts as heard from Gordian Knot. While the death metal had been toned down several notches, several moments reminisced of the early days when the Tampa scene was still smoking hot. After "Traced In Air" things got a little weird. Instead of releasing another album, two years later the "new" CYNIC instead released an EP titled "Re-Traced" which reinterpreted four tracks from "Traced In Air" that took the bands sound closer to the world of Æon Spoke than early CYNIC but since this was just considered a little experimental blip between albums, metal fans just shook it off as one of those things.

Still awaiting a new album with the hopes of revisiting the "Focus" years, CYNIC surprised again with yet another EP titled CARBON-BASED ANATOMY to emerge in 2011 (11/11/11 actually) with only six tracks that amounted to only a mere 23 minutes of playing time. It was clear that the Æon Spoke side of the equation was here to stay when an unused track ("Homo Sapiens") from that band resurfaced as the title track. Out of the six tracks only three pick up where "Traced In Air" left off with the remaining three tracks sounding nothing like CYNIC at all, well at least not in such a way as they are presented. "Amidst The Coals" begins the playlist and upon first listen you wonder if you popped in the wrong disc as this sounds like some sort of ambient new age music! Yes, an ambient airy melody takes you into the ethers accompanied by Amy Correia from previous CYNIC albums offering a traditional icaro which is a magic song performed by Amazonian indigenous tribes in order to provide medicinal healing sessions.

The ambient prayer circle of the intro slowly fades into the more upbeat title track which instantly shows an uncanny production job of how each track seamlessly flows into the next on this EP which essentially makes this a six act suite of sorts. Along with the ambient synth sounds Reinert's jazzy drumming attacks slowly ushers in the vocals which find Masvidal's unique vocal style somewhere between U2's Bono in his passionate delivery and Toby Driver from Kayo Dot in eccentricity which in tandem finds a wider range of softer tones that bring the CYNIC sound into higher dimensions but still no metal! Well, that's what you begin to think until the four minute mark and then suddenly some heavy chord stomps and sizzling guitar solos remind you that CYNIC is, well at least WAS a metal band! Perhaps an ambient ethno-metal band at this point but enough to squeak into metal databases anyways!

The track is followed by the Ravi Shankar sounding "Bija!" which finds a sitar and tablas in conversation with female vocal chants however the melody is the same as the bridge of the title track and thus the subliminal connections have been made and then it sinks in on what a magnificent journey CARBON-BASED ANATOMY is for all its brevity! The next two tracks "Box Up My Bones" and "Elves Beam Out" both deliver the metal goods at last but are in no hurry to do so. Like the other tracks they begin with slow clean guitar arpeggios and atmospheric bliss before breaking out the bass grooves, percussive jazz lessons and guitar distortion. If you're looking for a connection to the "Traced In Air" album then you've found it at last and it does not disappoint however remember that you are in a cloud city now and that metal is just an after thought. Outbursts of heavy riffs and guitar solos crank out in full bombast but all in all this EP has demoted them to side notes rather than the star of the show.

As the EP ends with some kind of new age tribute to Enya with "Hieroglyph," Correia now recites a poem of cosmic grandeur as the atmospheric ambience swirls around her words as if zephyr winds were caressing Isis in mid-flight. And then a couple of minutes later the whole shebang is over. No doubt this may come off as a disappointment for those expecting a headbanging experience and that was even my initial reaction however this is a work of subtleties and sort of grows on you once you just bathe yourself in all its glory. While the metal bombast is set to simmer, the technical prowess of the musicians is on high although it does alternate between Brian Eno ambient textures and sounds more like Gordian Knot than early CYNIC. From a progressive rock perspective, this is an excellent album but for those who aren't so forgiving when the metal has been forbidden from making contact with the pedal then you will have to go back to "Focus" to get that fix. While admittedly a step down from the magnanimous masterpiece that resulted in "Traced In Air," CARBON-BASED ANATOMY is still very much a compelling piece of work in its own right.

 Hidden History Of The Human Race by BLOOD INCANTATION album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.02 | 4 ratings

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Hidden History Of The Human Race
Blood Incantation Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Blood Incantation's 'Hidden History of the Human Race' was one of THE much talked about records of 2019. I'm not at all knowledgeable about the progressive death metal, but consider me interested in Blood Incantation's main influences (I read this online); Morbid Angel, Nile and late period Death. Their progressive atmospheric death metal does remind me a bit of Pestilence's 'Testimony of the Ancients'.

The first side of the vinyl has three tracks. The opener 'Slave Species of the Gods' is a rather heavy non-melodic death metal riff-only introduction which seems obligatory for these heavy progressive groups. The vocals stand- out as very deep growls, reminding me a bit of Nile. The second track 'The Giza Power Plant' has more melody, atmosphere, space-rock bliss and overall mojo. Pretty much a perfect track. 'Inner Paths' is an instrumental track in which the band explores a post-rock type death metal with some psychedelic touches. Another brilliant track. The second side contains a single piece with a rather long title, but it's safe to say this track is a nice mix of all elements presented on the first side and a great listen. Though this record is nicely tied together by its sci-fi doom atmosphere and is rightly seen as a concept album, I wouldn't recommend searching for a story here. The lyrics (by guitarist and vocalist Paul Riedl) are clearly written as to create a very abstract picture of human reality, aimed to add to abstract musical atmosphere.

This album is actually greatly enhanced by its physical release, which expands on its sci-fi / mystery lyricism. The vinyl comes with a foldout poster of the artwork, lyric sheet, cd and a black and white booklet full of mysterious depictions and mysterious alien symbolism. In this booklet the band also 'greets' a rather long list of metal bands and classic progressive groups, among them are bands like King Crimson, Gong, Amon Duul and Voivod. I must say the vinyl sounds a bit flat when comparing to the digital release.

In conclusion, this is an interesting and well executed take on before-mentioned genres and definitively a rather artsy death metal album that casts is own unique doom. I guess I primarily like the fact that Blood Incantation presents its music as unknowable or even slightly in-human.

 Traced In Air by CYNIC album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.14 | 511 ratings

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Traced In Air
Cynic Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

5 stars It's hard to convey some two decades into the 21st century what a big deal CYNIC's landmark album "Focus" was back in 1993 when it single-handedly shattered the playbook of death metal and took the fledgling genre into the world of jazz and electroncia. Part Morbid Angel, part Mahavishnu Orchestra and part Massive Attack, this Miami based band basically launched a whole new strain of what would be coined jazz-metal and then called it quits. The consequences of "Focus" being thrown into the limelight of underground extreme metalheads was that it upped the bar several notches in the proficiency department and while band's like Death and Atheist were in the fusion game as well, CYNIC took progressive metal into a completely different dimension with "Focus" which remains a high mark to which technical metal music wizards still strive to emulate.

Despite dropping one of metal's most revered albums onto on unsuspecting world, CYNIC quickly disbanded as they were working on a second studio album due to musical and personal differences. Jason Gobel (guitars), Paul Masvidal (guitars, vocals) and Sean Reinert (drums) continued together and formed a short-lived band called Portal (before the Australian band of the same name came around), bassist Sean Malone formed the fusion-metal band Gordian Knot and then Reinert and Masvidal formed yet another band called Aeon Spoke which was more of a pop album centered around an acoustic emo style. The former members of CYNIC happily went their own ways for almost 15 years but some of the members were starting to feel that they had unfinished business to take care of in the world of CYNIC and in 2006 Paul Masvidal announced that CYNIC would reunite to play at various metal and rock festivals. With no new album the band played songs from "Focus" the band Portal as well as a few covers and the new song "Evolutionary Sleeper."

The new band minus Gobel decided the time was right to resurrect CYNIC and finish the material started for a sophomore album that never made it the first time around. With new guitarist Tymon Kruidenier, CYNIC finally released its second album TRACED IN AIR in 2008, fifteen long years after "Focus." While expectations were cast upon that debut masterpiece as a reference point as to where the band might develop its new sounds, the fact that there was a 15 year delay and several other band experiences in between meant that TRACED IN AIR was more like the sum of all that came before and as the title indicates is more focused on an AIR-y feel as opposed to a knock your socks off death metal extravaganza. While still steeped in massive molten metal guitar antics, TRACED IN AIR was more of a light technical display of jazzy chord progression displayed in echoey arpeggios that set the tone for the eruptive heavier elements to follow and not the other way around. There were less dueling twin guitar leads and more focus to layering effects of polyrhythms and guitar tones.

From the chaotic swirls of "Nunc Fluens" that sound like the band acting as a receiver channeling the ethers to like a radio station, the rhythmic chaos slowly coalesces into the jazzed up guitar riffs that reassure that the band was still in the metal camp however brief they may be before the unadulterated jazz guitar intro of "The Space For This" sets an overall tone for TRACED IN AIR as Masavidal delivers his tender clean vocals in a subdued passionate plea, a style that he implements throughout the album that only harkens back to "Focus" with Kruidenier's growly vocal accompaniments limited to backing supplement contrasting effects. The beauty of TRACED IN AIR is how it effortlessly transmogrifies from placid spaced out jazz guitar runs to blistering jazzy fusion metal with Reinert's drumming virtuosity often taking center stage. As with focus, a feminine vocal counterpoint finds its way into key moments as to soften the raging rampages of the metal aspects as Amy Correia takes the place of SAonia Otey.

While "Focus" was fairly scattered, TRACED IN AIR is actually the more "focused" album of the two as the album displays a perfect mix of disparate elements which finds each track running into the next and the softness and bombastic playing together like well behaved children at a Christmas play. It's clear that the chemistry was on fire once again and CYNIC crated an unbelievable successful comeback with this menagerie of technically infused jazz-metal that while not as revolutionary as the band's first album was unbelievably relevant for the time of its release. Gone are the vocoder effects and thus this album is less alienating and more intimate but the bursts of angularity are steered into jazzy harmonies and melodies that keep the entire album feeling unified. This is one that may disappoint upon the first listen if you have already gone gaga over "Focus" but as i've listened to this many times over the years, it's one that grows on you in a completely different way. Drop the comparisons and meditate on TRACED IN AIR on its own terms and it quickly becomes clear that this is a flawless album that delivers another magic moment in the world of progressive metal and the production is flawless.

 Paradox by NOCTURNUS AD album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.93 | 3 ratings

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Paradox
Nocturnus AD Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

4 stars NOCTURNUS has always been the odd band out in the old school death metal world. Founded in the prolific Tampa scene era where early pioneers Deicide, Obituary and Death were breaking free from the thrash metal cocoon, this band led by Mike Browning formed after his stint with the early years of another Tampa legend, Morbid Angel. Right from the getgo Browning had a different vision for his new baby which meant jumping off the bandwagon of bloody and gory awe and heading to space for more sci-fi inspired themes. Along with this thematic shift so too did the musical direction. In 1988 the band added the unheard of instrument of keyboards to its death metal orotundity and by 1990 had created a unique specimen in the death metal universe with "The Key" which crafted a thematic journey of a cyborg traveling back in time to assassinate Jesus Christ terminator style! The album is a classic and a personal favorite as well.

The band squeaked out a second album, "Thresholds" before friction broke the band up however despite Browning founding NOCTURNUS, he hadn't trademarked the brand name so his sneaky colleagues did so behind his back, kicked him out and continued on. They released one more album titled "Ethereal Tomb" in 2000 before the backlash forced them into retirement. The whole NOCTURNUS project had pretty much been assassinated just like poor JC in "The Key." It's fair to say that nobody ever expected a return to the early days when old school death metal was rampaging across the Floridian peninsula like Hurricane Andrew on a very bad day. Come 2013 and Earache Records decided to re-release "Thresholds" for the first time and when all was said and done Browning's following band After Death began to play under the name NOCTURNUS on a Mexican tour as well as for Deathfest 2014 where they played "The Key" in its entirety. To avoid legal actions the band name was quickly changed to NOCTURNUS AD and that's where this album comes in.

PARADOX pretty much picks up where "The Key" left off and makes good on all those squandered opportunities of what should have been only at the same timeline as the original. With all the evolutions in death metal over the past 30 years, it's amazing that Browning could put together a worthy successor to the classic that has only gained more avid followers as time elapses. The band went as far as to record the album in full retro regalia down to the production. This truly sounds like it was recorded as the followup to the 1990 classic and even the theme is a continuation of the cyborg terminator run amok in a post-apocalyptic era. Even the AD part of the new moniker signifies a sequel to cover art's instant wink and nod to the past glories. However despite insinuating "The Key Part 2," this is really the band After Death under a new banner of allegiance. This band consists not only of Mike Browning on vocals and drum abuse duties but finds the twin guitar attack from Belial Koblak from bands like Acheron, Dethroned and Godless along with Demian Heftel from Brutality, Astaroth and Contorted. The bass duties are carried out by ex-Obituary member Daniel Tucker with keyboardist Josh Holdren adding all those spooky synth sounds and trippy intros.

Attempting a retro rehash of a classic like "The Key" is risky business for sure but given the unfair nature of being kicked out of your own band, it seems fans may be a tad sympathetic and willing to give this a chance at least it was the case for me. What i wasn't expecting though is how well done and down right fun this album is. True that it shamelessly transports back to the 90s and recreates a near blueprint of "The Key" in every possible way but let's keep a couple things in mind here. This IS an album about time travel and all so why the [%*!#] not, however none of this would amount to a rat's mangy ass if the album wasn't really, really good and that it is. In a world where technical death metal has become as complex as some of the most demanding classical scores throughout history, it is refreshing to hear an album that simply cranks out the old school charm without crafting works so nebulous that it requires a few listens just to sink in.

PARADOX as good as it is does not match up to the original "The Key" but is much better than i ever could have hoped. With a tight cast of musical maestros who are more than competent on their respective instruments, the powerful bombast of the twin guitars, bass, drums and subtlety of the swirling synth lines conspire to create one of the most satisfying comeback albums of recent years. All the ingredients for a find retro death metal album are here in great abundance. The composiitons are all crafted to perfection and the riffs are memorable and best of all the variations are clever and laid out in such a way so that the album never becomes monotonous. While newer death metal albums are tending to go into more psychedelic arenas, NOCTURNUS AD returns to the brutal bombast of the no nonsense era with the extra keyboard elements adding all those cosmic touches that make this a spectacular release with pummeling energetic deliveries and a compelling example of picking up the pieces decades after everything fell apart. Will this band strike again? Hard to say if the band will leave this time and another name change is in order but in the meantime we got at least one album out of the NOCTURNUS AD brand name.

 Origin by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.43 | 35 ratings

BUY
Origin
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars This might be the most accessible Borknagar album for a progger simply due to lack of extreme metal element. Borknagar prove that they can craft beautiful acoustic, melodic and creative music highlighting their prowess diverse music styles. Emotions are limited to the more positive ones. The absence of heavy elements let some of Borknagar's strongest weapons to dominate: excellent vocal tone and harmonies, accessible melodies and clearer keyboards. Furthermore, violin, cello and flute add a more folky feeling.

On a less positive note, after a couple of tracks, the typical Borknagar fan might lack music challenges and ambitions of previous releases. One exception is "White" that stands out due to its instrumentation, melody and pace. "The spirit of nature" is a purely symphonic number and instrumental. A good album that is not overly long and very original/unexpected of Borknagar.

 Epic by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.66 | 37 ratings

BUY
Epic
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Another very strong output by Borknagar, I see it in the same league with Empirism, strong progressive elements, clever songwriting while retaining extreme metal hooks and not getting commercial as on the later "Winter Thrice" or "True north". Contrasts between solid melodies and heavy black/death/viking metal massage is stunning. It sounds as if the band penned the tracks with ease because they found the great balance of talent, maturity and heaviness/softness.

"Future Reminiscence" has their trademark black metal shrieks but also Viking harmony vocals in the middle section. Also, listen to tasty symphonic and keyboard elements. "Traveller" has soaring melodies that oscillate between melancholy, depression and anger. "Origin" has a slowlier Opethesque sequence of riffs, the second half with vocal harmonies and keyboards is incredible. "The weight of the wind" has a retro prog 70's feeling with haunting piano and synth line, not many black metal bands could pull out such song. The black metal "Resonance" takes everything by force but has Viking vocals. "Relate" confirms the talent by the band to combine organ, Viking influence and black metal elements. "Cyclus" is my most favourite song and a very memorable one for its sinister riff, vocals and great Hammond chords. "Circled" could be considered a semi-ballad thanks to harmony vocals, tender melody and symphonic sounds of brass instruments? "Quintessence" starts on a sober note but transforms into a relentness black metal excercise. The last song, "The wonder" has a great melody and epic feeling although having only 4 minutes. 5 stars for metal listeners, 4 for progressive rock/metal fans.

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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
1980 France
7TH NEMESIS France
A.I.(D) France
ABIGOR Austria
ABNORMAL THOUGHT PATTERNS United States
ABORYM Italy
ABSORBED Spain
ACHOKARLOS Spain
ACID DEATH Greece
ACOLYTE United Kingdom
ACRIMÖNIA Poland
ACROSS THE SUN United States
ADEIA Netherlands
THE ADVENT EQUATION Mexico
AEOLIA United States
AEON OF HORUS Australia
AERODYNE FLEX United States
AFTER FOREST Finland
AGARTHA United States
AGE OF SILENCE Norway
AGHORA United States
AINMATTER United States
ALARUM Australia
ALCHEMIST Australia
ALGOPHOBIA Italy
ALKALOID Germany
ALL DREAMS DYING Finland
ALLEY Russia
ALTERA ENIGMA Australia
THE AMENTA Australia
AMOGH SYMPHONY India
AN ISLE ATE HER United States
ANATA Sweden
ANCIENT Norway
ANCIIENTS Canada
ANGEL OF DISEASE Georgia
ANGEL VIVALDI United States
ANGMAR France
ANIMALS AS LEADERS United States
ANOMALY United States
ANSUR Norway
THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM United States
APRIL ETHEREAL Poland
ARCTURUS Norway
ARKAN France
ARRHYTHMOGEN United States
ARTCELL Bangladesh
ARTIFICIAL BRAIN United States
AT WAR WITH SELF United States
ATEM Finland
ATHEIST United States
ATROPHIA RED SUN Poland
ATRORUM Germany
AUGURY Canada
AUTOCATALYTICA United States
AXAMENTA Belgium
AZURE EMOTE United States
BABYLON SAD Switzerland
BARING TEETH United States
BARREN EARTH Finland
BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE United States
BEHEADED ZOMBIE Russia
BEHOLD...THE ARCTOPUS United States
BELIEVER United States
BELTANE Germany
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME United States
BEYOND CREATION Canada
THE BINARY CODE United States
BISBAYE Canada
BLACK SUN AEON Finland
BLOOD INCANTATION United States
BLOTTED SCIENCE United States
BLUTMOND Switzerland
BORGIA France
BORKNAGAR Norway
BORN OF OSIRIS United States
BOTCH United States
BURGUL TORKHAÏN France
BURST Sweden
CANVAS SOLARIS United States
CAPHARNAUM United States
CAR BOMB United States
CARBONIZED Sweden
CARCARIASS France
CASTEVET United States
CEPHALIC CARNAGE United States
CEREBRUM Greece
CHAOS DIVINE Australia
CHAPEL OF DISEASE Germany
CHIMP SPANNER United Kingdom
CHRONOSTASIS United States
CIRCLE OF CONTEMPT Finland
CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE United States
CIRCLES Australia
CITRINITI Italy
COBALT United States
CODE Multi-National
COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS Denmark
COLLAPSAR United States
COMA CLUSTER VOID United States
CONTEMPLATOR Canada
CONTINUO RENACER Spain
THE CONTORTIONIST United States
CONTRARIAN United States
CONTROL DENIED United States
CONTROL HUMAN DELETE Netherlands
CONVULSING Australia
COPROFAGO Chile
CORAM LETHE Italy
COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE Germany
CRANIUM United States
CROWPATH Sweden
CRYPTODIRA United States
CUBICAL SPHERE Greece
CYCLAMEN United Kingdom
CYNIC United States
DAATH United States
DARK HERESEY United Kingdom
DARK MILLENNIUM Germany
DE PROFUNDIS United Kingdom
DEAD EMPIRES United States
DEAD LETTER OPENER Australia
DEATH United States
DEATH MACHINE United States
DEATHROW Germany
DEATHSPELL OMEGA France
DELTA CEPHEID Germany
DEMILICH Finland
DEMIMONDE Czech Republic
DEMONIC RESURRECTION India
DESCEND Sweden
DESTRAGE Italy
DEVIUS Argentina
DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE Sweden
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN United States
DIMESLAND United States
DIONAEA United States
DIORAMIC Germany
DIREWOLF United States
DISEMBARKATION Canada
DISFIGURING REALITY Canada
DISHARMONIC ORCHESTRA Austria
DISILLUSION Germany
DISKORD Norway
DIVINITY Canada
DODECAHEDRON Netherlands
DØDHEIMSGARD Norway
DORDEDUH Romania
DOWN I GO United Kingdom
DREAMGRAVE Hungary
DROTTNAR Norway
DRUDKH Ukraine
DRYAD'S TREE Germany
DUOBETIC HOMUNKULUS Czech Republic
DYSRHYTHMIA United States
EARTH SNAKE United States
ECCENTRIC PENDULUM India
ECHIDNA Greece
EDGE OF SANITY Sweden
MATTIAS IA EKLUNDH Sweden
ELECTRO QUARTERSTAFF Canada
ELECTROCUTION 250 United States
ELENIUM Finland
ELENIUM Poland
EMPYREAN SKY United States
ENDITOL Canada
ENSLAVED Norway
ERA VULGARIS United Kingdom
ERYN NON DAE France
ESCHATON Austria
ETERNITY VOID United States
EVER FORTHRIGHT United States
EXENCE Italy
EXIVIOUS Netherlands
EXPATRIATED Denmark
EXTOL Norway
EXTREMITIES Netherlands
F Finland
THE FACELESS United States
FALLUJAH United States
FARMAKON Finland
FEARSCAPE Australia
FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE Italy
FLOODLINE United States
FLOURISHING United States
FORCES AT WORK Germany
FORGOTTEN SILENCE Czech Republic
FORNOST ARNOR United Kingdom
FRANTIC BLEEP Norway
FROM A SECOND STORY WINDOW United States
FROM THE EMBRACE United States
GERYON United States
GIGAN United States
GLADIATOR United States
GOJIRA France
GOLLUM / HADEA United States
GORGUTS Canada
GOROD France
LE GRAND GUIGNOL Luxembourg
GRIS Canada
GUILLOTINE India
GWYNBLEIDD United States
HAAR United Kingdom
THE HAARP MACHINE United Kingdom
HACKSAW TO THE THROAT United States
HACRIDE France
HALCYON REIGN Australia
HANGING GARDEN Finland
HATED Russia
HAUNTED SHORES United States
HAUNTER United States
HELHEIM Norway
A HERO A FAKE United States
HIDDEN United States
HOPE FOR THE DYING United States
HORRENDOUS United States
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THE HUMAN ABSTRACT United States
HUNG United States
HYBRID Spain
HYPNOTHETICALL Italy
IHSAHN Norway
IKUINEN KAAMOS Finland
ILLOGICIST Italy
ILLUMINATI Romania
IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT United States
IN GRIEF Norway
IN LINGUA MORTUA Norway
IN MOURNING Sweden
IN VAIN Norway
INDRICOTHERE United States
INFAMIA Italy
INGENIUM Poland
INI Norway
INITIAL POINT United States
INQUISITOR Lithuania
INTERVALS Canada
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ION DISSONANCE United States
IRON THRONES United States
ISLAND Germany
THE ISOSCELES PROJECT Canada
IWRESTLEDABEARONCE United States
RON JARZOMBEK United States
JESTER'S MARCH Germany
JOURNAL United States
KADENZZA Japan
KADINJA France
KAIROS. United States
KALISIA France
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KATHAARSYS Spain
KETHA Poland
KHONSU Norway
KING GOAT United Kingdom
KNIFE THE GLITTER United States
KOBONG Poland
KRALLICE United States
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LAST CHANCE TO REASON United States
LAZER/WULF United States
LEPROUS Norway
LEVI / WERSTLER United States
THE LEVITATION HEX Australia
LIQUID GRAVEYARD Spain
LIZARD PROFESSOR United States
THE LOCUST United States
LOINCLOTH United States
LOVE HISTORY Czech Republic
LUX OCCULTA Poland
LYCHGATE United Kingdom
LYKATHEA AFLAME Czech Republic
MADDER MORTEM Norway
MANTRIC Norway
MARROW United States
MARTYR Canada
MASTER'S HAMMER Czech Republic
MASTODON United States
MEANS END Sweden
MECHANISM Canada
MEGACE Germany
MEKONG DELTA Germany
MELTINGAZE Germany
MEMFIS Sweden
MENCEA Greece
MESHUGGAH Sweden
METALMORPHOSIS Poland
MINDWORK Czech Republic
MODERN MAN United States
MOEBIUS Italy
MONOGONO Portugal
MOON OF SOUL Hungary
MOONLOOP Spain
MOONSORROW Finland
MOONSPELL Portugal
MORBUS CHRON Sweden
MROCTOPUS Portugal
MURMUR United States
MY BITTER END United States
MY DYING BRIDE United Kingdom
N.A.M.E. United States
NAMI Andorra
NATURUS Hungary
NAUMACHIA Poland
NE OBLIVISCARIS Australia
NEATH Australia
NEGATIVA Canada
NEGLECTED FIELDS Latvia
NEGURA BUNGET Romania
NERVE END Finland
NEUROMIST Moldova
NEWBREED Poland
NEXT LIFE Norway
NEXUS Australia
NOCTURNUS United States
NOCTURNUS AD United States
THE NUMBER TWELVE LOOKS LIKE YOU United States
NUX VOMICA United States
NYIA Poland
OBLOMOV Czech Republic
OBSCURA Germany
OBSIDIAN Netherlands
OBSIDIAN TIDE Israel
OCEANS OF SADNESS Belgium
OCEANS OF SLUMBER United States
OCRILIM United States
ONCE THEM EDENS Greece
ONTOGENY United States
OPETH Sweden
ORAKLE France
ORGONE United States
ORTHRELM United States
OSIRIS Netherlands
OTHERS BY NO ONE United States
OUTCAST France
OWL Germany
PAEAN Estonia
PAINTED IN EXILE United States
PANDEMONIUM Sweden
PARALLEL DIMENSION Puerto Rico
PENSÉES NOCTURNES France
PERIHELION SHIP Finland
PERSEFONE Andorra
PESTILENCE Netherlands
PHLEBOTOMIZED Netherlands
PIAH MATER Brazil
PICA FIERCE Norway
PITBULLS IN THE NURSERY France
PORTAL Australia
PRIMO VESPERE Italy
PROJECT 13-5 Germany
PROJECT INFINITY Ukraine
CHRIS PROPHET South Africa
PROTEST THE HERO Canada
PSYCROPTIC Australia
PSYOPUS United States
PYRRHON United States
Q'UQ'UMATZ United States
QUO VADIS Canada
QUSTO Russia
RAM-ZET Norway
RANDOM Argentina
RANDOM MULLET Finland
RAZOR WIRE SHRINE United States
THE RED CHORD United States
RED SEAS FIRE United Kingdom
RED TIDE United States
REFLUX United States
RENAISSANCE Belgium
REQUIEM AETERNAM Uruguay
RETARDED NOISE SQUAD Germany
REVERENCE France
REX MUNDI Greece
RINGS OF SATURN United States
RIPPED United States
RIVERS OF NIHIL United States
ROLO TOMASSI United Kingdom
LA RUMEUR DES CHAÎNES France
JORDAN K. RUSH United States
RXYZYXR Russia
SADIST Italy
SAMMATH NAUR Poland
SCHAMMASCH Switzerland
SCHOLOMANCE United States
SCLERA Australia
SCULPTOR Serbia
SCULPTURED United States
SERDCE Belarus
SERIOUS BEAK Australia
SHADOWS LAND Poland
SHINING Sweden
SICMONIC United States
SIKTH United Kingdom
SILENCE THE ARIA United States
SKALDIC CURSE United Kingdom
SKIZMA Finland
SLEEP TERROR United States
SLICE THE CAKE United Kingdom
SLUGDGE United Kingdom
SOLEFALD Norway
SPASTIC INK United States
SPECTRAL INCURSION United States
SPIRAL ARCHITECT Norway
SPIRES United States
STARKWEATHER United States
STEALING AXION United States
STONE CIRCLE United Kingdom
STORK United States
SULPHUR Norway
SUNLESS United States
SUNLESS DAWN Denmark
SUNSET IN THE 12TH HOUSE Romania
SUPER MASSIVE BLACK HOLES Canada
SUPURATION France
DAN SWANÖ Sweden
SWIM IN STYX France
SYK Italy
T.O.O.H.! Czech Republic
TAINE Romania
TALANAS United Kingdom
TARAMIS Australia
TARDIVE DYSKINESIA Greece
TENEBRIS Poland
TERMINAL FUNCTION Sweden
TEXTURES Netherlands
THANTIFAXATH Canada
THEORY IN PRACTICE Sweden
THOLUS United States
TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR United States
TREEBURNING Canada
TRIBULATION Sweden
TRINACRIA Norway
TWISTED INTO FORM Norway
ULCERATE New Zealand
UNCROSSED Russia
UNDEFINED Spain
UNEVEN STRUCTURE France
THE UNIVERSE DIVIDE United States
UNMOORED Sweden
UNREAL OVERFLOWS Spain
UR DRAUGR Australia
VACANTFIELD Greece
VALBORG Germany
VARAHA United States
VAZIMBA Madagascar
VEHEMENTER NOS France
VEKTOR United States
VENENUM Germany
VIATROPHY United Kingdom
VIELIKAN Tunisia
VILDHJARTA Sweden
VINTERSORG Sweden
VOIVOD Canada
VOKYL Bulgaria
VORTICE Spain
VUVR Czech Republic
WANZWA United States
WARFORGED United States
WATCHTOWER United States
WETWORK Canada
WHAT'S HE BUILDING IN THERE? Canada
WILD HUNT United States
WINTERSUN Finland
WITHERSCAPE Sweden
WITHIN THE RUINS United States
WITHOUT WAVES United States
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM United States
THE WORLD IS QUIET HERE United States
WRATH AND RAPTURE United States
WRVTH United States
XANTHOCHROID United States
XERATH United Kingdom
YYRKOON France
THE ZYGOMA DISPOSAL Belgium

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