prog

Album Review: Vangough - Between The Madness

The world of progressive metal is pretty insular, so when a band makes a splash, it's hard not to hear about it. Vangough was able to do that with their first two albums, the acclaimed “Manikin Parade” and “Kingdom Of Ruin”, albums I must say I never got around to checking out as fully as I should have. I heard the praise coming from all corners, but for whatever reason, I never managed to hear more than a song or two at a time. Album number three is now upon us, once again attracting a flurry of critical adulation, and this time I'm not going to let the band pass me by again.

Album Review: Transatlantic - Kaleidoscope

Rare is the occasion when a 'supergroup' lives up to the hype. Most of the time, they wind up being a collection of pieces that don't really fit together, cobbling together music that can be very good, but never matches the expectations we have built up. Transatlantic is one of those supergroups that obliterates the doubts I have over such projects. After a debut that showed promise, but was a band obviously finding their way, they released back-to-back modern classics in the form of “Bridge Across Forever” (my favorite prog album of all time), and the immense “The Whirlwind”.

Album Review: Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything

As the resident prog guy here, it's a bit surprising that this is my first experience immersing myself in a full Ayreon album. Arjen Anthony Lucassen's project has sprawled through a series of double albums, amassing some of the greatest talent in the rock and metal world, and giving him standing as one of the biggest figures in all of progressive music. This time around, after the ending of the original storyline and a hiatus for other projects, Ayreon returns with a new story, and a new focus.

Album Review: Dream Theater - Dream Theater

Dream Theater's new album is one that I can't help but judge with unrealistic expectations. Their previous album, "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", was not just an amazing album, or the best album in the band's storied history, it was so much the perfect encapsulation of what I think progressive metal to be that it has risen to the point where I call it my favorite progressive metal album of all time. It's high praise, to be sure, but every time I listen to that record, I'm amazed by how the band can take such technically demanding material and mix it with some truly glorious vocal melodies.

Album Review: Fates Warning - Darkness In A Different Light

The bedrock of progressive metal as we know it is built upon two bands; Dream Theater and Fates Warning. With apologies to fans of Queensryche, it's the truth. No bands have been more instrumental in the development, propagation, and flourishing of progressive metal than those two standard-bearers. While Dream Theater has been earning accolades, and racking up bigger sales and a higher profile through the years, Fates Warning has faded into the background. After their landmark “A Pleasant Shade Of Grey”, Fates Warning has been the forgotten legend of progressive metal.

Album Review: Witherscape - The Inheritance

Dan Swano is as much an extreme metal legend as you can get. From his work with the seminal Edge Of Sanity, to his years spent behind the desk making every band he worked with sound better than they ever had before, he is one of the key figures in the history of European extreme metal. And all of that is before even mentioning “Moontower”, his solo triumph. That album, in my eyes, is the single greatest death metal record ever made, and a towering achievement that single-handedly proves the merit of growled vocals.

Album Review: Leprous - Coal

Leprous is one of those bands I should be more familiar with than I am. Their last album, “Bilateral”, won massive acclaim from all around the metal world, but for reasons I'm not sure of, I never got around to listening to it. There was something about the blend of technical progressive metal with more modern influences that didn't sink in with me when I heard a clip or two, at least not in the way a band like Seventh Wonder is able to, so I come into “Coal” with a clean slate and an open mind.

Album Review: Spock's Beard - Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep

Spock's Beard is known for three things; 1) having a silly name, 2) once having Neal Morse in the band, and 3) no longer having Neal Morse in the band. Simply put, their early run of albums helped to create the modern prog scene as it currently exists. What gets lost is that the band never stopped moving forward after Neal moved on to his solo career. Taking the Genesis route, Spock's Beard kept on going, even if they weren't receiving the same amount of attention they once did.

Album Review: Riverside - Shrine Of New Generation Slaves

I remember hearing about Riverside when their first album was just coming out. I wasn't yet interested in progressive music, but there was enough buzz about them that they were always in the back of my mind. By the time they got around to finishing their trilogy and releasing “Anno Domini High Definition”, I was ready to see what all the fuss was about.

Album Review: Diagonal - The Second Mechanism

Progressive music walks a fine line for most of its existence, trying to balance the gratification musicians garner from playing difficult and involved compositions with the gratification listeners need to be able to elicit from those same songs. Finding the right mix of challenge for the player and fun for the audience is a bit of a magic trick, not unlike pulling a rabbit out of the hat. There are a few bands who have been able to marry the popular and the insular, but the numbers who manage to do so are few and far between. It's the nature of the beast.

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