progressive

It’s been a busy year for Neal Morse. First, he helped put out the new Transatlantic record which my cohort Chris still believes (and not erroneously,) to be one of the best albums of the year. Then he popped out a solo record (as seen this week on this site!) and now he’s also gearing up to release the new Flying Colors record in the fall. Flying Colors, for those who may not know, is the on-again, off-again, whenever-we-have-time project that Morse works on with apex drummer Mike Portnoy, Steve Morse (no relation,) Dave LaRue and newish vocalist Casey McPherson.

Movies are not as powerful without their scores, and music is the soundtrack to our lives, which makes it curious that so little of the music we tend to listen to fits the mold. If life were a movie, the vast majority of the music I listen to would be fitting solely for a cheesy montage, not any of the day to day drama that propels us forward. Music is, in a way, a holding pattern meant to take us out of the moment, to normalize ourselves when there is nothing tethering us to reality. There are some bands who try to bridge the gap, but they fail because such an endeavor is fruitless.

One of the greatest benefits that has come about as a result of the shifting nature of the music business is the establishment of a relative meritocracy. If a band is good enough, no matter where they come from, and no matter if they are signed to a label or not, word will spread and they will find an audience. At no time has there ever been such an ability to hear music from all corners of the earth, to uncover the gems that in earlier days would have remained hidden forever.

Few men in progressive rock have been as prolific as Roine Solt. Over the course of his career, he has appeared on a staggering number of records, and established himself as one of the leading forces of modern progressive music. It's in that spirit that “Banks Of Eden” is an oddity, the first Flower Kings album in five years. With eleven albums in a career spanning few additional years, the extended absence for the band came as a shock, even as Stolt took part in the reformation of the supergroup Transatlantic.

Barren Earth – The Devil's Resolve

When approaching any album tagged with the label 'progressive', it must be kept in mind the two connotations the word carries. Progressive music can be an ethos, eschewing conventional structure to tell stories, or it can be a tightly defined form of music celebrating the virtuosic talents of the players. Oddly enough, for a genre of music that carries an air of intellectualism and musical sophistication, the expectations and tastes of the fans can be as narrow and insular as those of any other metal sub-genre.