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PROGRESSIVE METAL

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Progressive Metal definition

This category represents the core movement of what is called "Progressive Metal" in the literal sense. It is a subgenre of progressive rock as much as it is a subgenre of heavy metal, and this is how its sound is defined: a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositional innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. Common, but not essential to define the movement, are the frequent use of keyboards, high-pitched vocals, concept lyrical themes and tracks of longer duration. Similar to progressive rock, progressive metal draws influences from other genres, such as jazz/fusion, ethnic, classical and symphonic music.

The Origins:
The heavy sound of some of the progressive rock bands of the 70's has been one of the building blocks on which progressive metal was raised. Progressive rock pioneers such as KING CRIMSON and RUSH have often been acclaimed as the main influences of progressive metal bands. The other major influence has been the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) movement, and especially the twin-guitar arrangements of IRON MAIDEN, which have left their stamp on the early stages of the genre's development.

The Pioneers:
Often (and not unjustifiably) referred to as the "Big Three" of progressive metal, QUEENSRYCHE, FATES WARNING and DREAM THEATER have set the scene of what was to follow in the movement. The defining era for the genre was the second half of the 80's, among QUEENSRYCHE's "The Warning" (1984) and (most explicitly) "Rage for Order" (1986) along with FATES WARNING's "Awaken the Guardian" (1986) and "No Exit" (1988) releases. The former evolved on their pure American power metal beginnings, while the latter refined their technical/NWOBHM-influenced metal into more progressive forms. Although producing demos since the mid-80's as MAJESTY, DREAM THEATER's first release came in 1989 with "A Dream and Day Unite". The innovative use of keyboards along with influences from American heavy/power metal and progressive rock produced an original blend which was to be further refined in 1992's "Images and Words", which until this day remains next to "Progressive Metal" definition in any musical dictionary.

Among the pioneers of the genre, but enjoying less success and popularity, were PSYCHOTIC WALTZ and SIEGES EVEN. The former were essentially playing progressive metal as ASLAN in the mid-80's and developed a highly eclectic sound in the 90's. The latter's debut classifies them among the European prog-thrash pioneers but their music evolved to more melodic patterns and heavily influenced by RUSH in the early 90's.


Progressive metal is difficult to further divide in sub-genres but a number of tendencies or movements have been critical to the evolvement of its sound.

Traditional Progressive Metal
The style developed by the pioneers was fully established in the 1990s and includes a range of bands from the two sides of the Atlantic. Good examples in this movement are SAVATAGE, who expanded their heavy metal beginnings with operatic and progressive elements in late 80's/early 90's, while SHADOW GALLERY and SYMPHONY X emerged with a unique sound, each embodying a strong theatrical, symphonic and melodic approach. In Europe, SOUL CAGES continued the legacy of SIEGES EVEN in a more artistic path.

Power-Progressive Metal (American style)
The legacy of RIOT (the counterpart of NWOBHM sound in USA) and the early releases of QUEENSRYCHE and FATES WARNING heavily influenced a number of bands that were to develop a common sound towards the late 80's. Among the well-known representatives of what is called American Power Metal (e.g. VICIOUS RUMORS, HELSTAR), a small number of bands enriched their sound with progressive and epic elements. Probably, the most obvious examples of this movement are CRIMSON GLORY and HEIR APPARENT.

Power-Progressive Metal (European style)
This category includes a broad range of bands that could sound fairly dissimilar to each other but their music is significantly influenced by the European Power Metal (primarily German) bands of the 80's (e.g. HELLOWEEN, RAGE, RUNNING WILD). The earliest examples are probably BLIND GUARDIAN, ANGRA (although Brazilian, their sound is mainly European) and CONCEPTION. Slightly later, VANDEN PLAS, ROYAL HUNT, ELDRITCH and LABYRINTH gave rise to the popularity of the genre in Germany, Denmark and Italy respectively. The symphonic and neo-classical elements (made popular by YNGWIE MALMSTEEN) also found their way through power metal with bands like RHAPSODY OF FIRE and NIGHTWISH, whose style does not qualify as being progressive for many people. Nevertheless their music is quite demanding to play and contains many elements of serious classical composition and form.

Modern Progressive Metal
The second half of the 90's and the early 00's also saw newly formed bands expanding the boundaries of Traditional Progressive Metal via a number of ways: introducing electronic/spacey elements, investing heavily in lyricality and/or syncopation and further rhythmical experimentation. Also the idea of thematically conceptual albums has returned in accord with the practices of the Progressive Metal pioneers. Well-known examples in this category are AYREON, PAIN OF SALVATION and RIVERSIDE.


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

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


Progressive Metal Top Albums


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

4.29 | 2669 ratings
IMAGES AND WORDS
Dream Theater
4.29 | 2727 ratings
METROPOLIS PART 2 - SCENES FROM A MEMORY
Dream Theater
4.26 | 1577 ratings
SECOND LIFE SYNDROME
Riverside
4.23 | 1145 ratings
THE PERFECT ELEMENT - PART 1
Pain Of Salvation
4.22 | 1075 ratings
REMEDY LANE
Pain Of Salvation
4.21 | 1190 ratings
ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION
Riverside
4.21 | 969 ratings
OPERATION: MINDCRIME
Queensr˙che
4.20 | 1069 ratings
OUT OF MYSELF
Riverside
4.19 | 1096 ratings
THE HUMAN EQUATION
Ayreon
4.14 | 1832 ratings
SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE
Dream Theater
4.18 | 356 ratings
A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY
Fates Warning
4.14 | 659 ratings
V - THE NEW MYTHOLOGY SUITE
Symphony X
4.17 | 353 ratings
THE ART OF NAVIGATING BY THE STARS
Sieges Even
4.14 | 698 ratings
INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE
Ayreon
4.11 | 1942 ratings
AWAKE
Dream Theater
4.18 | 285 ratings
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Redemption
4.16 | 379 ratings
PERFECT SYMMETRY
Fates Warning
4.11 | 822 ratings
BE
Pain Of Salvation
4.12 | 529 ratings
THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY
Symphony X
4.13 | 412 ratings
ROOM V
Shadow Gallery

Progressive Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY
Epica
CIRCLES
Chinese Firedrill, A
DARK DECEIVER
Zero Hour
BEYOND THE STARS
Ivory Tower

Latest Progressive Metal Music Reviews


 Legendary Years by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.72 | 6 ratings

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Legendary Years
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Rhapsody have had an interesting career path, to say the least. What started as one band has been split in two for quite a while, with guitarist Luca Turilli behind Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, and keyboard player Alex Staropoli leading Rhapsody of Fire. Here, Alex has taken his band of merry men on a romp through songs from the first five Rhapsody albums, and in case anyone doesn't realise what is going on this selection is named after the debut, 'Legendary Tales'. What I have always liked about any of the Rhapsody bands, is that they not only have grandiose and almost Wagnerian Ring Cycle ideas, but they like to have the guitars tightly bound together with drums driving it all along. This may be Alex's band, but he acts more as a conductor and arranger, pulling the musicians in the way that makes total sense to his ears.

I haven't actually heard these early songs, so can't comment as to whether they are performed in a better or worse manner than the originals, so I am treating this instead as a brand new album by RoF, and in that context this works incredibly well indeed. They shred, they bring in a chorus, they stop the music dead, or let it sprawl through the speakers like an unstoppable lava flow, laying waste to all the lies before it. Fabio Lione is an amazing singer, and until this album has been the voice of first Rhapsody, and then Rhapsody of Fire, but here Giacomo Voli has taken on the role and it has to be said that he has done a very done job indeed. Overall this is a great album, and stands well in its own right, as well as an introduction to a band who have been at the forefront of symphonic metal for more than twenty years.

 Lacuna by KAELLING album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.05 | 4 ratings

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Lacuna
Kaelling Progressive Metal

Review by Steve Conrad

4 stars KAELLING: Lacuna Lacuna: an unfilled space or interval'a gap, missing portion.'

K'LLING is a Portuguese progressive metal band consisting at present of Andr' Oliveira and Jo'o Rodrigues. 'Lacuna' is their ambitious debut; after these two met in February, 2017, they got right to work writing and rehearsing, and ultimately recording this concept album.

I'll leave you to work out the interpretations of this intelligent and thoughtful concept- I have my ideas and you can discover yours. Suffice it to say, this is not an easy-listening or easily digested album.

It's presented in three parts, 'Empathy', 'Apathy', and 'Certainty'

What Andr' Oliveira and Jo'o Rodrigues have done is create a dense, complex tapestry, one that requires careful listening and considerable reflection. For me, the intensity and shifting landscapes were riveting and to a degree tiring- not tiresome. If this is progressive metal (and I had some internal debates about this), it is progressive metal with many introspective, piano-driven plaintive moments, and many mood and textural landscapes.

They themselves note that they are not bound to labels or genres, stating on their Facebook page, '..we try not to limit ourselves to a specific genre. We write what we feel like writing.'

Instrumentation is standard- guitars, bass, drums (I'm guessing programmed drums), keyboards- mostly piano, and lead vocals sometimes with a harmony line added. There are a few occasions of harsh vocals- fortunately for my tastes, these were mixed fairly low overall, and despite the fact that I don't care for growls, screams, or roars in general, were found in what for me was one of the most powerful tracks, 'Lackluster'.

In addition there were a few places of orchestration, like the ending of 'Living Ghosts'.

With technical, precise, complicated music like this, I can see that the future of progressive music is well in hand- these are young musicians. The level of playing, composition, and concept seem to me to be superior.

I appreciated how themes were revisited and interwoven in the epic finale, 'Departure'. That last sixteen minutes-and- change went by pretty rapidly.

Due to the heaviness and darkness of the subject matter- emptiness, hopelessness, despair, pain, loneliness, boredom, and ultimately at least it seemed to me, suicide, I don't see myself returning to this music soon if at all. I have no regrets for having heard it, and consider this a powerful work by promising young musicians with much to offer.

I kept wanting to give them each a hug, and encourage them to go out and have a little fun- maybe that's the gap, the missing part!

 Entrance by MANITOU (NOR) album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.07 | 5 ratings

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Entrance
Manitou (NOR) Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Entrance" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive metal act Manitou. The album was released through Mind The Gap Records in 1995. Manitou was formed under the Powerslaves monicker in 1985 and initially played Iron Maiden covers, but later changed their name to Manitou and started writing original material. Although they originally existed for over a decade, Manitou´s recording output can be counted on one hand and "Entrance" was their only official studio recording on a label before they disbanded. Lead vocalist Øyvind Hægeland would later participate on releases by artists like Spiral Architect, Lunaris, Scariot, and play live with Arcturus.

While Manitou´s traditional heavy metal past isn´t completely gone from the music on "Entrance", they take a more progressive turn on this album. The music isn´t overtly technical (although there are plenty of tempo- and time signature changes featured on the album), and we´re predominantly treated to a more subtle type of progressive playing. Not completely unlike listening to a heavy metal oriented Fates Warning (1988-1990). The musicianship is generally on a very high level, and especially Øyvind Hægeland´s strong voice and vocal performance impress. His delivery here is very convincing (great harmonies too). His voice is reminiscent of Ray Adler´s voice, which further enhances the Fates Warning comparison I made above.

The music is guitar/vocal driven progressive metal with only sparse and subtle use of keyboards, which places "Entrance" in a 1980s progressive metal tradition rather than a 1990s ditto. While the guitars and vocals take a lot of focus, the rhythm section are very strong playing too, and definitely worth a mention. The sound production is clear, detailed, and professional, but as a consequence of the instrumentation, which doesn´t feature many layers, there are times during the playing time, when the mix sounds a bit empty. It´s a minor issue though, and most of the time, the music sounds fine.

The 11 track, 71:49 minutes long album is a quality release through and through, although it´s slightly too long for it´s own good. But then again I can understand the motivation behind releasing as much material as possible, when you´ve waited 10 years to release your debut album. It´s not the most original sounding progressive metal album and considering it was released in 1995, it sounds slightly dated, but to fans of 1980s progressive metal this should be a real treat. a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

 Lacuna by KAELLING album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.05 | 4 ratings

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Lacuna
Kaelling Progressive Metal

Review by guiservidoni

4 stars On the release day of this album, I put it on Bandcamp on my computer and let it roll in the background. When chapter one finished, I could tell this wasn't your average Bandcamp debutter.

Kaelling are these two Portuguese guys that released a very ambitious unsigned debut: it's over an hour long, with a concept that is definitely not easy to grasp in its entirety and will require a couple listens. Lacuna is an album that begs the listener's patience, and with this I fear it won't be accessible enough for non-progsnobs. I say that is a fear, because it could jeopardize a second album, and I must say: I *really* want to see another release by Kaelling.

Before the album, the band, and an unique sound to it. You could try pinpointing influences, but one leads to another, that leads to another, and in the end the conclusion is that this is a band that successfully captured elements from artists they like and blended them all in their own identity, which sounds impressive for a debut. There's a lot of Leprous and Haken in the vocals, somewhat of a Haken/Gentle Giant touch all over the instruments' individual tracks, a Karnivool reference every once in a while, Hackett-esque backing guitars, and hell I can even hear Supertramp's keyboards sometimes! A really Katatonian dark atmosphere (album cover is a bit familiar perhaps?), but an unique identity to the sound in the end.

Now, for the record: it has three chapters, each one with three songs. I won't dive in the concept, for such a well-thought one deserves no spoilers. Suffice to say each one has, as the band says, its own identity. This is great, because the songs can work as standalone pieces but get along really well within their chapters. To top it off, the chapters work well within themselves as well. For me, it sounds like the first track of them all are openers, the first two chapters reach their climax in the middle tracks ("Circle" and "Cognition", both my favorites), and the third chapter with this 16-minute epic closing where you can hear all the previous eight (!) songs. This really brings back Haken's Aquarius structure, and I relate this album to Aquarius very often when I listen to it. Perhaps this is a reason why I enjoyed this release so much, because Aquarius is a true masterpiece for me. And also, a debut release.

However, this is not a perfect record. Much of my criticisms of this album are a matter of personal taste, and if Kaelling manages to keep them in a new manner, I'm all for it. First, the cymbals/hi-hats: I often feel they're overused and end up more on the annoying side than actually contributing to the song (for example, when they're gone somewhere around 4- 5mins into "Departure", the song sounds so great). Second, build-ups: when you have such a deep concept, an epic ending and this sort of stuff, build-ups are a great tool, but they must be combined with the instruments' intensity. Very often on Lacuna, they either exist or don't: there's no in between, and that could be a great improvement, for the payoffs we'd get off of that would be so awesome. This leads to another criticism: hooks. Like I said in the beginning, this album requires patience, and hooks could get me back in the record and its concept whenever my brain subconsciously puts it in the background. By no means I'm asking for artificially loud and meaningless hooky lines, but something every once in a while could help a lot on that.

Like I said, these "flaws" are mostly related to personal taste, and nothing stops Kaelling from keeping all these elements, rearranging them and making them sound really neat. The way they convey it here will only keep me from giving this album 5 stars.

The list of where K'lling hits just right is much bigger, and totally justifies why everyone should give this a couple spins. The cohesion, even with silence-only song transitions, is really outstanding, as everything flows so naturally it looks like a big jam with some pauses sometimes. The musicianship and Leprous-like vocal harmonies with and without growls stand out everywhere there is singing. The gentle guitar accompanying the songs guides you through the lyrics, going along so well with the bass. All of that along the dark and profound concept and structure yields a 4-4.5 star release.

I really hope this band puts out a new album soon, and I really hope it's a five-star one.

 Awaken The Guardian by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.01 | 254 ratings

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Awaken The Guardian
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Crimson Guardian

5 stars "Awaken the Guardian" was a revolutionary record for heavy metal, one of those records that helped to change the way of considering the genre forever, as well as one of the albums that literally started Progressive Metal. Along with the coeval "Rage for Order" of Queensr˙che, but, unlike the latter - who experimented on a hi-tech and futuristic sound, - Awaken the Guardian went deeper, effectively breaking the classic heavy metal form and deflecting it towards the Baroque of progressive. A Baroque intended not as empty pomposity, but as an artistic idea instilled in the music. In 1986, simply no one in metal (apart from the thrasher Watchtower, but in another way, more on the rhythmic deconstruction typical of fusion) sounded like Fates Warning. A heavy/power metal transcended in progressive metal: complex, articulate, difficult, twisted and quite unique. The remains of Maiden (audible in songs like Fata Morgana) are precisely such: reflux, remains, echoes of a classic heavy metal that is, in practice, transcended, exceeded and diverted (see - for example - the emblematic Prelude To Ruin).

Fates Warning had already started their progressive revolution with their previous record, the relevant "The Spectre Within" (1985), in which heavy metal was taken to excess, with songs that formed complex mini-suites composed of numerous time changes and daring vocal lines. However, although it was already an unusual and particular album, it was still too conceived in the classic heavy metal style (halfway between heavy metal and prog metal) and the singer John Arch, although he managed to find his own style, still too much debtor - in some songs - of Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. But it's with "Awaken the Guardian" that the decisive leap takes place, an incredible leap that definitively projects us into the world of progressive metal (the style can be defined as progressive power metal), in the concrete sense of the term: the songs present a twisted and convoluted structure (forming a configuration of "songs in songs"), complicated riffs follow one another over many time changes (on odd time signatures) and intersecting with abstruse, tortuous and imaginative vocal lines (John Arch is halfway between Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden and Jon Anderson of Yes, using his voice as a real instrument to create a specific mood), the lyrics are symbolic, allegorical and profound (with the use of figures of speech such as alliteration); but everything manages to flow in a fluid way, a shimmering becoming between arcane and nostalgic, magical and dark , dreamy and melancholic moods. Although the album is not openly a concept, it is almost a thematic concept with the idea of the "Guardian" that goes through (almost) all the songs. The "awakening of the Guardian" would probably mean the strength to continue living despite everything, to face the fears and adversity, both concrete and existential (finding the meaning of being in the world).

Basically, an absolute masterpiece of Progressive Metal and Heavy Metal (as well as US Power metal), a unique and unmissable record that has helped to change the world of metal forever.

 Los Ojos Verdes by ESTYGYA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Los Ojos Verdes
Estygya Progressive Metal

Review by TenYearsAfter

— First review of this album —
3 stars No ratings and reviews for Estygya from Barcelona, so here's my 'rehab' effort. They were another promising new Spanish prog band, along Senogul, Taifa, Albatros and Kotobel in those interesting Spanish progrock years between 2000 and 2010. Unfortunately it was over after one album, released in 2007.

On this debut album Estygya sounds very fresh and dynamic, most of the music in the 8 songs is rock-oriented (often Metallica and mid-Seventies Rush come to my mind), but it also delivers a lot of variety and a very tasteful colouring. From dreamy with wonderful strings and flute to bombastic with choir-Mellotron-like arrangements in Preludio. From orchestral keyboards with twanging guitar and warm Spanish vocals to a slow rhythm with theatrical vocals and again those majestic choir-Mellotron-like arrangements in La Fuente De Los Alamos Part I. And from dreamy with acoustic rhythm guitar and Floydian guitarwork to bombastic with howling electric guitar runs and sumptuous keyboards in La Fuente De Los Alamos Part III. The two epic compositions are loaded with moving and howling guitar runs and biting wah-wah drenched guitar solos and contain lots of interesting musical ideas like the parts featuring mellow organ and fat synthesizer flights in La Fuente De Los Alamos II (11.33) and swinging, Latin-American inspired piano and flute with acoustic rhythm guitar in the titletrack (19.42).

Due to this tasteful eclectic musical approach and the splendid guitarplay, Estygya succeed to keep my attention in every song. How sad Estygya turned out to be a one shot band. My rating: 3,5 stars.

 The Fourth Legacy by KAMELOT album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.84 | 99 ratings

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The Fourth Legacy
Kamelot Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars Released in 2000, 'The Fourth Legacy' is the album which saw Kamelot rise to prominence as one of power metals most popular bands of the new millennium. Following on from 1998's 'Siege Perilous', which saw the debut of vocalist Roy Khan, the band's sound was starting to incorporate a heavy use of keyboards, which added some exotic and middle-eastern touches to the music.

The production has been massively improved upon as well, and it's this which has ushered in a new era for Kamelot. With a polished sound which does justice to the atmosphere and sense of storytelling the band are trying to set, 'The Fourth Legacy' is their best release to date. The musicianship is also much more confident than before. With faster, galloping riffs intertwined with some interesting keyboard melodies, the group are certainly headed in the right direction in all aspects but one...

Unfortunately, the compositions themselves are still a mixed bag. While there's some instant classics in the form of 'Until Kingdom Come', 'The Fourth Legacy', 'The Shadow of Uther' and 'The Inquisitor', the rest are fairly average at best. Certainly not anything overly memorable when compared to the bands later output.

'The Fourth Legacy' is a huge leap forward from the bands prior work, and while it still has its flaws, they're mostly overshadowed by the huge improvements in production and musicianship. At best, I could only say it's a decent album, but better things are definitely on the horizon.

 Star Tales by DOL AMMAD album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.63 | 8 ratings

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Star Tales
Dol Ammad Progressive Metal

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

4 stars Having named his project after a fuel refinery in the Descent 3 computer game, Greek keyboard wizard Thanasis Lightbridge decided to take the electronic influences of Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis to new heights when he formed his experimental avant- garde metal band DOL AMMAD in 2000. After churning out a couple demos he recorded a full debut album titled STAR TALES which took a few cues from Therion's "Theli" and expanded the roles of the electronica involved. STAR TALES consists of four musicians cranking out the usual rock instruments which includes guitars, drums, bass and synthesizers but following in the footsteps of the Swedes is the addition of the 12-piece Europa Choir consisting equally of men and women covering the whole range from bass all the way up to soprano. The album could loosely be called electronic opera metal as it contains a number of swirling electronic effects, the choir adding a wide range of vocal nuances which are all accompanied by heavy metal guitar riffing. Unlike Therion, Thanasis never came from a metal background so in effect DOL AMMAD sounds more like an electronic opera album that happens to have metal involved rather than the other way around.

This album is busy and bombastic to say the least. The album focuses on strong epic melodic developments that groove on into more complex pieces. The scales are somewhat classical in nature as to add the most effectiveness for the opera performers. The symphonic touches heavily fortify the overall glut of sounds with different synthesizer sounds oozing around and wriggling about like a million landed eels after a coastal tsunami. The music rather resembles the artwork that graces the cover with a busy layout of electronica and vocalizations doing gymnastics around each other while the metal sequences chug along in a rather mundane fashion. Unlike Therion there are never really any major metal outbursts as the heavy guitar distortion remains subordinate to the airy swirl of synthesizers and vocals. The whole idea of electronica art metal is quite the unexplored idea to say the least and one that is demanding as to keep up with all the different parts, however the simple rhythmic drives guarantees you can tune in and out of the deeper constructs at will without missing a beat.

What's even stranger is that despite 12 choir members belting out notes in varying timbres and dynamics, this appears to be completely wordless and nothing more than a series of ooo-ing and aah-ing in what sounds like some sort of ritualistic summoning of Zeus and the god gang from far above. There is a flighty spaced out effect from the constant plethora of vocalizations with the treble section winning out because the bass and tenor tend to get melded with the metal instrumentation. While the overall mood is quite consistent throughout the slightly over hour listening experience, the tracks are varied enough to keep a sustained listened and there are purely electronic intros and overtures to change things up from time to time. This is certainly a grandiose and overweening production job that must have taken forever to mix in the perfect way and for that it is utterly amazing along with other twists and turns that include ethnic percussion sections and angelic harps just to name a few.

While the whole thing comes off to me as some sort of epic video game soundtrack as i can picture different scenarios where a player is fighting the gods in chariots in the sky or some sort, the music is sophisticated enough to hold up on its own two feet. While certainly not for the faint of heart and the bane for those who cannot decipher subtleties between a ridiculous amount of sonic elements, the music overall comes across on many levels depending on how deeply one wishes to focus therefore it is equally compelling as background music as it is a contemplative active experience. For the most part, this is a relentless hyperactive driven album with galloping guitar riffs surrounded by zooming synth parts swirling about in every direction but when it all slows down and the metal drops out, it becomes a progressive electronic heavenly experience. While often compared to Therion, and rightly so is a direct lineage, DOL AMMAD takes the whole concept of operatic metal to a completely different universe and one that i really love to visit.

 Æ Sense of Life by TICKET TO THE MOON album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.76 | 11 ratings

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Æ Sense of Life
Ticket to the Moon Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

2 stars Ticket to the Moon are from Basel, Switzerland, and were formed in 2003 by Daniel Gosteli (drums, vocals, percussion) and Andrea Portapia (guitars, vocals). The band went through several changes until Guillaume Carbonneau (bass) and Matthias Zwick (keyboards) joined in 2007, and this was the line-up that delivered 'Dilemma On Earth' in 2012. 'Ae Sense of Life' is their second album, self- released in 2015. Their PR company describes their sound is a blend of atmospheric-rock with strong metal influences, producing modern, melodic and powerful progressive music influenced by the likes of Enchant, Ayreon and Dream Theater.

They may well indeed have been influenced by them, but that doesn't mean that they are remotely in the same league as any of the above. Musically this doesn't gel as it should, and jars as it moves from one area to another as there is a real lack of continuity. There are times when they capture an almost Meshuggah or System of a Down feeling to what they are doing, and in my mind that is the sort of style they should be concentrating on, as they definitely have talent in that area. But, the main thing against this album is the quality of the vocals, which simply aren't strong enough. If these guys are ever going to make serious inroads into the progressive scene then they need to undertake more work on the arrangements, and get themselves a decent singer.

 Dark Passion Play by NIGHTWISH album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.83 | 184 ratings

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Dark Passion Play
Nightwish Progressive Metal

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars While I believe that "Imaginaerum" was the ultimate expression of vocalist Annette's collaboration with NIGHTWISH, "Dark Passion Play" really laid the foundation for the new and more progressive metal style with accent on progressive. Here we find the band at times awkwardly morphing from balladeers to untamed wild, which dampens the impact of the nonetheless impressive opening epic and several other tracks. Growly vocals and chugging heavy guitars don't do much for me although I do appreciate the potency of cuts like "Whoever Brings the Night" when Annette sings. Of course ballads like "For the Heart I once had" and "Eva" are majestic. The trouble is that the band sometimes seems gripped with an irrational fear of becoming the CARPENTERS, so they crank up the generators and go full tilt, culminating in a betwixt and between blend.

Still, the Pip Williams conducted orchestra and the gospel choirs add gravitas and cinematic buzz to tracks like "Sahara". A guest appearance from piper Troy Donockley formerly of IONA, who later joined NIGHTWISH full time, injects a Celtic veracity to the Tull-like "The Islander", which offers an Anderson-like vocal performance from Marco Hietala. It even sounds like something KERRS PINK might have done in their less cluttered past incarnations. Donockley also splashes the exquisite closer "Meadows of Heaven" in which the band and Annette really appear to have fused.

As you can tell, I'm a bit mixed on this one but that's not to say there aren't plenty of passages that genuinely excite. Overall, it's a positive effort that just needed a few years to work out the kinks, which they did on "Imaginaerum". 3.5 stars rounded down.

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Progressive Metal bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
5R6 Ukraine
7 MONTHS United States
7DAYS Sweden
AAXSKFG Italy
ABANDONED STARS United Kingdom
ABERRANT VASCULAR Finland
ABODEAN SKYE United Kingdom
ABSOLACE United Arab Emirates
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