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HEAVY PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Heavy Prog definition

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

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

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

- written bt Atavachron (David)

Current Team as of 12/24/14

Louis (rdtprog)
Thanos (aapatsos)
Frank (infocat)

Heavy Prog Top Albums


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

4.40 | 2500 ratings
MOVING PICTURES
Rush
4.37 | 2117 ratings
HEMISPHERES
Rush
4.32 | 1966 ratings
A FAREWELL TO KINGS
Rush
4.29 | 1820 ratings
PERMANENT WAVES
Rush
4.24 | 2297 ratings
FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET
Porcupine Tree
4.24 | 2255 ratings
IN ABSENTIA
Porcupine Tree
4.19 | 1108 ratings
DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM
Mars Volta, The
4.16 | 970 ratings
THE MOUNTAIN
Haken
4.17 | 689 ratings
SALISBURY
Uriah Heep
4.17 | 550 ratings
UNTIL ALL THE GHOSTS ARE GONE
Anekdoten
4.11 | 1861 ratings
2112
Rush
4.10 | 1818 ratings
DEADWING
Porcupine Tree
4.09 | 939 ratings
VISIONS
Haken
4.11 | 604 ratings
LOOK AT YOURSELF
Uriah Heep
4.08 | 938 ratings
AQUARIUS
Haken
4.06 | 1189 ratings
THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS
Porcupine Tree
4.07 | 672 ratings
DEMONS AND WIZARDS
Uriah Heep
4.06 | 821 ratings
FRANCES THE MUTE
Mars Volta, The
4.03 | 1343 ratings
LIGHTBULB SUN
Porcupine Tree
4.10 | 376 ratings
FROM WITHIN
Anekdoten

Heavy Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

ZUNDAPP
Zundapp
A COMPLEX NATURE
Yang
A.F.T.
Automatic Fine Tuning
SNEAK ME IN
Lucifer's Friend

Latest Heavy Prog Music Reviews


 Banquet by LUCIFER'S FRIEND album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.98 | 124 ratings

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Banquet
Lucifer's Friend Heavy Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Heavy prog? More like light jazz: 6/10

What do you think that would be the world's reaction if BLACK SABBATH, on their fourth album, decided to swap their sonority to jazz fusion? In short terms, this is what happened here. Heavy & doom metal (too) forerunners LUCIFER'S FRIEND took no time to abandon their dark style and opt for freaking jazz. Doing something like this in the 70s naturally got them criticized; it was an era where familiarity was fundamental for a band's success (no one would buy BLACK SABBATH hoping for jazz fusion) after all. Actually, they did this swap earlier - on their second album - but it was with BANQUET they departed from everything they represented hitherto. A highly venturesome move and progressive indeed.

Sadly, they don't do so well. BANQUET is a mountain peak album. It climaxes rapidly, but its captivation dies equally quickly. There are no flaws found in Spanish Galleon, the album's peak: John Lawton's vocal performance is intense, the guitar is virtuoso, the piano is smooth and quick-paced, and Herb Geller's brass sections sounds terrific. Simply put, it is a perfect multi-layered allegory for what a band can achieve with jazz fusion pretensions. Thus Spoke Oberon - the edge of the cliff - lacks the instrumental eclecticism, being more guitar and piano oriented, but is nonetheless good.

What happens next is that LUCIFER'S FRIEND bluesy sides, which weren't properly exorcised, start to speak louder. The frenzied energy begins to fade, turning mostly into piano tracks a la Elton John (with, uhm, 'jazz', I suppose). High- Flying Lady is an absolute buzz killer after the first two excellent tracks. Sorrow is as large as Spanish Galleon but not nearly as interesting. Dirty Old Down is almost boogie-woogie, if I recall correctly.

The supposedly defunct band, thanks to the internet, hit the road again since 2015. LUCIFER'S FRIEND released an (apparently) good album in 2016. They are also actively searching for their old record songs' lyrics. For as much as BANQUET failed to impress me as a jazz fusion album, I recommend trying it nonetheless. The first two tracks (which by themselves are roughly half the album) suffices to make it a worthy purchase. Well, worthy enough to make me interested on its creators' interesting historic after all, especially now they've been brought back from the dead.

 Sea Shanties by HIGH TIDE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.82 | 199 ratings

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Sea Shanties
High Tide Heavy Prog

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

5 stars Music history is fickle as there is no rhyme or reason as to why one band will become the hugest thing since sliced bread and another of equal talent is left to fester in the dusty obscurity bins. HIGH TIDE is the perfect example with their debut album SEA SHANTIES which was released the very same month as the extraordinary and hugely popular "In The Court Of The Crimson King" by none other than the legendary King Crimson. HIGH TIDE was pretty much a contemporary to the great KC in not only musical ambitiousness and stylistic extremities but also hails from the very same London scene that was seeing the clock run out on the 60s and ushering in the sobering new reality of the idealisms of peace and free love ceding into pure darkened disillusionment. While the band has received some kudos from the critics over the ensuing decades, HIGH TIDE has unfortunately remained off the radar of the average heavy rock meets prog rock world.

This band was put together by one of the most creatively energetic guitarists of the entire 60s, Tony Hill. After he saw a bit of cult status success with the psychedelic USAmerican rock band The Misunderstood which formed in California in 1963 he moved back to London in 66 (along with his USAmerican bandmates). They would hang around for another three years (although there was a deportation episode for the USAmerican members) and despite well deserved attention from John Peel never really took off into the psychedelic limelight. Square away in early1969 after The Misunderstood ceased to be, Hill formed HIGH TIDE and managed to release the first release SEA SHANTIES out on Liberty Records in October mostly due to a connection with Apple Records that got them noticed fairly quickly. After a few gigs with the Groundhogs, Edgar Broughton Band and Sweet Slag, the band quickly gained attention for their unique amalgamation of psychedelic folk, heavy driving hard rock guitar riffs and most of all the totally sizzling hot violin abuse of Simon House who sounded as if Paganini time traveled to join a psychedelic porto-metal band in the 20th century. He would become better known after he joined Hawkwind as well as albums with David Bowie, Thomas Dolby and countless others.

SEA SHANTIES truly remains the heaviest album that the 60s had to offer. HIGH TIDE took the ponderosity of the fuzzed out heaviness of Blue Cheer, Cream and Hendrix and turned everything up a few notches. "Futilist's Lament" begins the album with a fuzzed-out heft that's strong enough to blow the doors down as the guitar riffs are on high tempo matched with an equal fury of Peter Pavli's bass and Roger Hadden's drum abuse. Hill simply sounds like he has lightning up his ass with his frenetic fingers whizzing up and down the guitar scales. "Death Warmed Up" is equally heavy only sans Hill's Jim Morrison inspired poetic prose and dead ringer as a singer vocals. This nine minute rocker is the perhaps the most frenetic rocker of all 1969 only matched by the single track "Communication Breakdown" by Led Zeppelin, only with ripping intense trade off's between Hill's guitar gymnastics and House's virtuosic violin prowess that egg each other in some sort of insider's competition or maybe just a pact with the devil. Their over-the-top jamming style exudes an atmosphere with equally compelling Eastern European scales that add ing a flair for the exotica.

Hardly a one trick pony, SEA SHANTIES dazzles with its diverse elements as it deviates from two distinctly different heavy rockers to the King Crimson sounding "Pushed, But Not Forgotten" pretty much following Crimson's own approach of alternating heavier and lighter tracks. This one reminds a lot of KC's "I Talk To The Wind" and sounds like something that really could have been on the Crimson album that came out the very same month only HIGH TIDE weren't content to merely record a ballad but rather bust into heavier segments complete with the fuzzed out blues inspired solos and off-the-chart violin sweeps so sizzling hot that i'm waiting to hear a string or two break! "Walking Down Their Outlook" brings back the Jim Morrison vocal style only backed up by complex progressive rock time signature changes, alternating passages all peppered with ambitious dynamics and interesting compositional chord changes. "Missing Out" perhaps the most tied to traditional blues rock may be the least challenging but displays how HIGH TIDE can blow away the competition by taking a simple catchy blues melody and adding progressive touches along with a violin part that sounds like a soundtrack to a demented Irish jig rehearsal. "Nowhere" displays the remarkable playful interchange between Hill and House as they trade off their virtuosic string skills around a groovy bass line punctuated by jazzy drumming workouts.

It is of my humble opinion and perhaps adventurous tastes that i feel HIGH TIDE put out a veritable masterpiece equal in scope to KC's beloved "In The Court" and in many ways upped them at their own game. Perhaps at first the Morrison vocal comparisons are a little too starkly derivative and the cacophonous nature of the restless guitar and violin vying for domination can be a little disorienting but after several spins this grower imbues an indelible charm that has me craving repeated listens as the unique approach of SEA SHANTIES has a morphinic effect that keeps the off-kilter ear worms digging deeper. Of all the woefully underlooked nuggets of gold let loose at the tail end of the 60s with a bang, none pleases me more than HIGH TIDE's debut album that successful fits the bill of that transitory period like no other as it captures the psychedelic zeitgeist of the hippie era just a couple years removed while unapologetically looking towards the future and in the process unifying two trends simultaneously, those two being the progressive rock explosion as heard by their contemporaries King Crimson as well as prognosticating the inevitable big bang of heavy rock turned metal slightly before Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple really took off. SEA SHANTIES is a bona fide masterpiece in my book.

While the original album track list is worth the price of admission alone, i highly recommend the 2010 remastered Esoteric edition with bonus tracks. This contains three bonus tracks that were unreleased but from the same sessions as well as two demos. The demos are ok but not essential but the bonus tracks are well worth the extra effort to track this edition down. The most important of these bonus tracks is the extremely heavy and progressive behemoth "The Great Universal Protection Racket" clocking in at over 11 minutes and was a much loved highlight of their early live shows. This is a track so heavy and so complex in its style that it actually makes "21st Century Schizoid Man" seem a little tame in comparison. It is basically a sprawling composition that contains periods of heavy metal guitar riffing, schizophrenic proggy guitar licks, bluesy segments with all of the band members performing extremely tight unison between the instruments as they navigate through complex time signature workouts run amok. The track meanders through several different guitar riff styles but each one makes a reprise and even includes violin led segments as well. I actually love this track more than any of the other tracks on the album! The other two bonus tracks are also excellent but not as OMG amazing as the first one. "Dilemma" revisits territory heard on "Walking Down Their Outlook" and "Time Gauges" is another instrumental workout of complex prog laden freneticism trading off with mellow chilled out violin led melodic passages.

 Beyond the Visible Light by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.66 | 13 ratings

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Beyond the Visible Light
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Instrumental grittiness: 6.5/10

Featuring a fascinating album cover, OVRFWRD (I have a harder time spelling this than I'd like to admit), to my pleasure, had nothing to do with the modern prog band waves of cold virtuosity and polyrhythmic frenzy. What I have seen while listening to BEYOND THE VISIBLE LIGHT are reasonable musicians that opt for melodies and don't overload they sound with countless instruments, which, while not depicting any mind-boggling virtuosity, are nonetheless accomplished and get their point across satisfactorily. In the end, that's all that matters.

Many things permit me to compare OVRFWRD to DISCIPLINE, although the first is entirely instrumental and latter has a more eclectic, symphonic sound. Both arose in the musical scenario where blasting sounds were the norm (coff coff GRUNGE); both sound gritty and dark, and neither demonstrates instrumental skill overflow. Naturally though, OVRFWRD still has a path to take to reach the beloved band's critical acclaim.

As I said, BEYOND THE VISIBLE light is surprisingly gloomy. Maybe because, since the last source of light is beyond grasp, they were obliged to embrace the darkness. OVRFWRD's music sounds modern, characteristic of this epoch, and so we can see a distinctive focus on the guitar with an overload of distortion and guitar harmonics. Perhaps a better exploration of other instruments with more embracing compositions would have benefited the band's sound.

I'm sorry, but I can't ignore how their sound resembles METALLICA's instrumental songs. Even though that thankfully they didn't inherit the thrashers' overly boring that makes me think "please end this", that similarity took a large sum of what could be OVRFWRD's uniqueness, and along with it, chunks of interest away from me. I blame the guitar tuning.

Can We Keep the Elephant's intro is pretty prog as the guitar, keyboards, and drums all have equal shares of the limelight. The song quickly shifts to being guitar led though. The grave, murkier tone I spoke of is especially noticeable in the (great) medievalesque bits of Stones of Temperance; the song's energy and darkness makes me think OVRFWRD is fighting for their lives, or perhaps that they had an omen of devastation and are trying to warn the world about it. They gain aggressiveness and melody in Raviji, although it's ended in a sadder tone. The Man With No Shoes was a delightful surprise as it shows us OVRFWRD's jazzy side, presented on the long bohemian guitar and keyboards duo. While they have constructed an enjoyable atmosphere, I felt the guitar still sounded dingy, as opposed to nimble and soothing as the passage demanded. In fact, that's how I felt most non-distorted parts sound like: too somber. Darkest Star presents us exactly that, as the song is predominated by a lack of distortion. The chaotically noisy outro filled with piano cacophony and distorted guitar sweeps was an unexpected twist that peppered the mood in the same way cinnamon and clove seasons desserts.

Maybe the METALLICA influences, guitar-orientation and grittiness was a bit too much for OVRFWRD's sound, but the debut really demonstrates what great potential they have. While they weren't able to charm me on this attempt, I'm still interested in looking their development and eager to check out how much they developed on their next release.

 Nil Recurring by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.93 | 452 ratings

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Nil Recurring
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nş 127

"Nil Recurring" is an EP of Porcupine Tree and was released in 2007. This mini-album is composed only of four tracks and was written during the recording sessions of their ninth studio album "Fear Of A Blank Planet" and it was completed over the same year of 2007. Of all the four tracks on it, all were composed for "Fear Of A Blank Planet" album. However, later they were dropped from the final track list. So, these are leftover tracks from that album.

When the group met in 2006 to work on the new material for their new studio album "Fear Of A Blank Planet", at the time, two songs were already written, "My Ashes" and "Normal". Those musical sessions produced all the album's songs except "Way Out Of Here", plus four more songs of which three wouldn't quiet fit the concept. The only track that the group thought that could make the way into the album at that moment was "Cheating The Polygraph".

However, later the band decided that none of the four songs were up to the standards needed to the album. As they weren't properly developed yet, and there was a policy not to make the album with more than fifty minutes long, they weren't included. So, the four tracks were mixed to make the "Nil Recurring" EP. "Normal" was entirely composed by Steven Wilson. Later he reworked it, simplifying its musical structure to transform it, into the song "Sentimental".

The line up on the album is Steven Wilson (vocals, guitars, piano and keyboards), Richard Barbieri (keyboards and synthesizers), Colin Edwin (bass guitars) and Gavin Harrison (drums, percussion and tapped guitar). This mini-album has also the participation of Robert Fripp (lead guitar) and Ben Coleman (electric violin).

"Nil Recurring" has four tracks. The first track is the title track "Nil Recurring" which was written by the four band members. This is an instrumental track, quite heavier, so don't expect the return to the days of "Stupid Dream" or "Lightbulb Sun". As Porcupine Tree thought, I also think that this is a track which wouldn't really fit in "Fear Of A Blank Planet". This is a more experimental track that has more in common with some of the work of Fripp, whose his trademark's sound is present on it. This is the most original song on the album, seemingly using no material from "Fear Of A Blank Planet". The second track "Normal" which was written by Wilson could fit easily on "Fear Of A Blank Planet". This is in reality a reworked version of "Sentimental". However, don't expect this is the same song because basically only the chorus is copied. While "Sentimental" is an emotional ballad, this energetic rendition is a lot more adventurous with an acoustic riff intro and a heavy middle section before moving into a closing section with acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. The acoustic guitar performance on this song reminds me the style of Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. I must need to say this is a wonderful song and I probably prefer the structure and production of this new version. The third track "Cheating The Polygraph" which was written by Wilson and Harrison is a more experimental song. Although, it opens in a relatively conventional way, with strident power chorus, a marching drums beat and Wilson's vocals. However, the song soon veers into a more avant-garde musical territory with sparse electric piano, some atmospheric sound escapes and crunchy riffs. It was one of the songs that was originally part of "Fear Of A Blank Planet", and the group played it live during the Arriving Somewhere 2006 tour. It eventually was replaced by "Way Out Of Here". The fourth track "What Happens Now?" which was written by the four band members has some of the lyrics from "My Ashes". It's another different song, more of a slow burner that builds up to a splitter and distortion effects. It starts with some native rhythms and dark moody synthesizers. Slowly it builds in tension and finally all the band kicks in. The last five minutes are instrumental, including an electric violin solo. The song continues to be building with guitars and bass lines to a heavy climax guitar, in the end. It finishes these set of songs in a very competent way.

Conclusion: All in all, this EP makes an essential addition to any Porcupine Tree fan's collection. Especially because it represents an essential addition to their album "Fear Of A Blank Planet". But, this is not merely a collection of inferior songs. These songs stand up in quality and can easily match the material on any of the band's albums. For reasons of style and concept and in order to keep the length of that album bellow one hour, Steve has decided not to include them. The overall mix of the EP is a little rawer with a less polished sound than is usual on any Porcupine Tree's recent full lengths. The EP differs from "Fear Of A Blank Planet" in a few ways. It's less claustrophobic with some songs moving more toward jam sessions and flowing a lot better. The constraint put on songs like "Sentimental" isn't found here at all. Because all the songs are reasonably long, they seem to have less emphasis on conventional rock structure than on "Fear Of A Blank Planet", and this allows for a more varied feel to the EP. If you are a fan of Porcupine Tree's music you will find "Nil Recurring" a worthwhile addition to the collection of a band that is constantly experimenting new things.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Bartók In Rock by DIALETO album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.08 | 7 ratings

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Bartók In Rock
Dialeto Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

What we have here is the latest release from Brazilian trio Dialeto, whose last album 'The Last Tribe' was excellent. I was a little surprised that it has taken four years for them to come back with the follow-up, but that may have something to do with the fact that only guitarist Nelson Coelho was in the band last time around. He has now been joined by drummer Fred Barley and bassist Gabriel Costa, which makes them more how they used to sound, as for the last album the bassist had been replaced by touch guitar. This album is an attempt by Dialeto to take compositions by Béla Bartók and then move them into their own genre, with lots of improvisation. Bartók is considered to be one of the most important Hungarian composers of the last century, and through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.

With six of the ten songs named Roumanian Folk Dances it isn't hard to see where the music originally stemmed from, but here it has been taken to new levels as jazz fusion and progressive rock takes this as a base and then moves it into quite new areas. The whole album is fresh, exciting and interesting, taking the listener through many twists and turns, and by the end I found myself thinking that I loved this so much that I really ought to discover the originals and see just what Dialeto had done to them to transform them into this modern style of music. David Cross makes an appearance on the first number, and my only wish was that he had could have stayed for the complete album as he had so much impact, but as it is this really is an album to savour.

 Points North by POINTS NORTH album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.08 | 3 ratings

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Points North
Points North Heavy Prog

Review by hieronymous

4 stars I purchased this album on iTunes after catching them live a couple of times and then seeing the video for Ignition. I had a long drive, at least 3 1/2 hours, and spent a lot of it listening to this album over and over! That's my main reason for recommending this album. I felt like I was listening to Rush for the first time again, but without the annoying vocals (that of course I grew to love in their case). There's a nice varieties to the songs, from intricate odd-time rockers (Ignition, Turning Point, Killer Pounder) to stuff that sounds like the proggiest Journey (Northstar), to ballads (Child's Play, Rites of Passage).

All three musicians are amazing! Eric Barnett is a badass guitarist with incredible technique and attitude. Uriah Duffy incorporates various bass techniques such as tapping and slapping, adding variety and filling in the space as one of the main melodic and harmonic instruments. Kevin Aiello's technique is fantastic and the groove is always deep. A lot of my time listening was spent fantasizing that I was filling in on bass because I know that Uriah Duffy is a busy guy, playing in a variety of bands around the world.

This band is great live too. My first show was seeing them open for King's X in Oakland. A few months later saw them open for Mr. Big in San Francisco. They are a San Francisco Bay Area band and also play in a Rush cover band called Fred Barchetta that I have yet to see. Considering how great Points North are I need to see them soon!

 A Blueprint Of The World by ENCHANT album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.79 | 158 ratings

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A Blueprint Of The World
Enchant Heavy Prog

Review by martindavey87

3 stars One of progressive rocks most beloved cult bands of the 90's, Enchant combine elements of progressive metal along with 80's neo-prog, to gain the perfect balance to appeal to fans of both subgenres. They're an awesome band. They have a very distinct sound, very melodic and easy on the ears, with enough crunch in their music to get heads banging, as well as vocalist Ted Leonard, who I consider one of my all-time favourite singers.

But here's the thing.

Damn, this album took me a long time to grasp. I mean, the first song 'The Thirst' had me hooked instantly, but for some reason the rest of 'em took loads (and I mean loads) of listens until they all finally clicked. And sure, I've come to like a lot of them, especially the first half of the record, but damn, it sure took some work.

The production is definitely of a mid-90's quality, and some of the tracks could do with a little cropping. But it's okay. They're a young band, this is their first album, and while there's definitely room for improvement, they've laid down some very solid foundations for which to build upon for future releases. Songs like 'The Thirst', 'Oasis', 'Catharsis', 'Acquaintance' and 'Nighttime Sky' are all memorable tracks that definitely make 'A Blueprint of the World' a worthy blueprint for this bands sound.

Included with my version is a bonus disc consisting of demos. Nothing special. Not really anything you'd listen to more than once. There is a pretty nifty little number titled 'The Calling' which didn't make the final cut. It's not a huge loss though, and overall this disc might be a great collectable for die-hard fans, but it doesn't really add or detract from the album.

In conclusion; despite featuring some of Enchants best songs, this is nothing more than a "good" debut. It helped establish the band and got their foot in the door, which, at a time when this sort of music was probably the least fashionable thing you could do, isn't such a bad achievement.

 It'll All Work Out In Boomland by T2 album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.10 | 157 ratings

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It'll All Work Out In Boomland
T2 Heavy Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm of the opinion that progressive rock and heavy metal share a strong bond from infancy. It's true that many of the metal bands of the eighties and nineties were heavily influenced by prog bands of the seventies, but more than just that, I believe that way back in the late sixties as both progressive rock and the first generation of heavy rock artists were developing their crafts, both subgenres had emerged from the nexus of psychedelic music. Simply speaking, progressive rock would borrow a lot from jazz and classical while early heavy metal would come from a combination of acid rock or heavy psych and a revamped version of the blues. Yet thanks to the experimental psychedelic rock years, both subgenres would freely choose items from the other's bag of tricks. One needs look no further than King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man to hear how both prog and metal could be presented in a single song.

T.2. were an English band that took heavy guitar rock and blended it with a jazzy rhythm and created extended songs which sometimes featured psychedelic guitar distortion and feedback sections and other times soft, acoustic moments. In the simplest description of their music, imagine "Fire and Water" era Free with the largely unknown Necromandus. They released a single album in 1972 and a second album's worth of material was shelved until 1997. They released three albums in the nineties which seem to have been mostly overlooked.

"It'll All Work Out in Boomland" is an album of four tracks with side B being taken up by the 21-minute "Morning". The song that ends up on YouTube proto-metal and early heavy rock compilations is "No More White Horses", which opens with a simple three-chord riff played muted at first but then opens up as the music intensifies. It's a great example of early doom metal as indeed was the music of many English bands at the time. The band is joined by a trumpet (possibly two) and then the song mellows down for the verses while powering up for the choruses. It closes with lots of drum action and blazing guitar work.

The album opener, "Circles" is also a very worthy track to mention for its jazz-based drumming and bass work and some of the guitar playing as well. But there are open chords and barre chords played with crashing bursts of distortion. Near the end, the music lays back for some experimental jazz-type playing as the guitar goes from clean jazzy exploratory notes to psychedelic distortion rumbles and feedback.

The middle track on side A, "J.L.T." is a mostly acoustic track not unlike something Pink Floyd might have done on the soundtrack for "More".

Side B's "Morning" is basically in two parts, with a slow acoustic opening that leads into a mid-tempo rock song with more Free-like hard rock chords. There's a two-minute psychedelic/experimental interlude before the second part begins, which is characterized by a more up-tempo rock number that then becomes a showcase for wild guitar soloing. Note that during these lead guitar showcases, the drums are often going nuts in parts while the bass is holding down a repetitive but frantic rhythm. The bass does stand out a lot on this album and though it often repeats its lines, bass player Bernard Jinks says in the CD re-issue booklet that he intentionally restrained himself to allow for Keith Cross (guitar) and Peter Dunton (drums) to be able to show off their talents more.

The re-issue comes with three bonus tracks, all of which are BBC sessions. "Questions and Answers" and "CD" are not on the album and feature a more psychedelic guitar sound and playing style, leading me to believe that these are older recordings. "CD" must be the hardest hitting track on the whole, uh, CD. I also feel the guitar solos on these two tracks are more emotive than what we hear on the actual studio album. The final track is "Circles" again, though I feel it's less effective here with the BBC because the drums are not mixed very loudly and the heavier guitar chords are also quieted down.

T.2. were a band that took the jazzy blend of rock, intensified the guitar sound with lots of hard-hitting open chords and barre chords, and added some frantic lead guitar. They played longer tracks and like most bands of the day, they added mellow acoustic parts. There is also the presence of brass on a couple of tracks. They are not progressive like Genesis or Yes or even King Crimson but more like the psychedelic bands of the late sixties who added parts to songs that allowed for a galloping rhythm section to provide a backdrop for fast fingers on the guitar fretboard. An album recommended more to people who enjoy heavy psychedelic rock and early hard rock / heavy metal and less to people who enjoy experimental jazz or symphonic rock.

 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.24 | 2297 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nş 126

"Fear Of A Blank Planet" is the ninth studio album of Porcupine Tree and was released in 2007. Steven Wilson has mentioned that the album's title is a direct reference to Public Enemy's album of 1990, with the same name. Public Enemy is an American hip hop group and they're better known for their politically charged lyrics and criticism of the American media, with an active interest in the frustrations and concerns of the African American community. However, while Public Enemy's album was about race issues, Porcupine Tree's album was about coming to terms with the 21st century technology, the technology which is generally used massively by all Western world civilization.

The concept of the album was heavily influenced by Bret Easton Ellis' novel "Lunar Park". The novel is told from the perspective of a father, who bears the name of the novel's author himself, whereas the album is mostly from his son's perspective. Many of the lyrics of the album are lifted directly from the novel. The lyrics deal with two typical neurobehavioral development disorders affecting teenagers in the 21st century, such as, bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder, and also with other common behaviour tendencies of youth like escapism by drugs, social alienation caused by technology and a feeling of vacuity, a product of information overload by the mass media.

The line up on the album is Steven Wilson (vocals, guitars, piano and keyboards), Richard Barbieri (keyboards and synthesizers), Colin Edwin (bass guitars) and Gavin Harrison (drums). It has also the participation of Alex Liefson (guitar), Robert Fripp (keyboards and synthesizers), John Wesley (backing vocals) and the London Session Orchestra.

"Fear Of A Blank Planet" has six tracks. All songs were written and composed by Steven Wilson, except "My Ashes" with music by Wilson and Barbieri and "Way Out Of Here" with music by all four band members. The first track is the title track "Fear Of A Blank Planet". The clacking of a computer keyboard leads the album's opener into a haze of an aggressive song writing and slightly discordant ambience that immediately characterizes Steve's concept. The lyrics clearly condemn the mesmerizing effect of video and the computers on a child. Musically, we find heavy guitars, processed voice, great keyboard working and catchy choruses. The second track "My Ashes" is the opposite of the first track. It's a fairly retro ballad, driven by a quiet and unassuming synthesizer riff. It does get a tiny bit epic towards the end, but it's a lower key counterpoint to the opener which immediately demonstrates to the listener the real breath of the sounds that Porcupine Tree is capable of achieving and, more immediately, how cohesive they can make them seem. The third track "Anesthetize" is the epic song of the album. Unlike other Porcupine Tree's epics this isn't really one piece of music with a start, an instrumental middle piece and the return to the original melody. Instead of that, this new epic has three songs joined together. All three combine perfectly. This is indeed one of the best pieces of music that the band has ever recorded. The fourth track "Sentimental" is a very beautiful ballad with piano and drums accompanied by acoustic guitar, voice and a grand piano. The song is a typical emotional Porcupine Tree's ballad that even contains a very beautiful Spanish guitar solo. This is the kind of songs that wouldn't have been out of place on "Stupid Dream" or "Lightbuld Sun". The fifth track "Way Out Of Here" is a very good track that explores many different musical ideas with seven and a half minutes. It's the only full band's composition on the album and it also features a musical section with some of the loudest metal riffs on the album. This is a very tasteful song with a very mysterious musical ambience enhanced by some characteristics Fripp's soundscapes. The sixth track "Sleep Together" is a strange song that starts with subdued vocals, very electronic and many synthesizer effects. After some time, the drum beat comes in and the song eventually builds to a climax with a massive use of orchestral strings. This is a very interesting and inventive way to end this magnificent album and that leaves the listener eager for much, much more.

Conclusion: In many ways "Fear Of A Blank Planet" is one of the best Porcupine Tree's albums and is also my favourite studio album from the band. Lyrically, it's a lot more understandable and I like very much the concept used for the lyrics. Musically, the album seems like the accumulation of everything the group has done before, thereby creating a total that's greater than the sum of the individual parts, I think. I sincerely think that it's rather difficult to find any fault and any lack of cohesion on this album. It's very strong in all aspects and doesn't have a dull moment on it. Of course it has its quiet moments but none of them are dull. Steven Wilson demonstrates once again why he is considered one of the best sound engineers at the moment and one of the best producers too. So, I really can't find any reason not to give 5 stars to this album and considered it a masterpiece. It should be in every progressive rock lover's musical collection, because it shows Porcupine Tree at their best. It's due to albums like this one, that progressive rock is still alive today.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 A.F.T. by AUTOMATIC FINE TUNING album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.70 | 41 ratings

BUY
A.F.T.
Automatic Fine Tuning Heavy Prog

Review by Replayer

5 stars Hailing from Reading, Berkshire, Automatic Fine Tuning was a innovative British band whose sole release is their mostly instrumental 1976 album A.F.T., whose centerpiece was conceived as a rock guitar symphony. As such, the music is very influenced by baroque and classical music. Automatic Fine Tuning was made up of guitarists Paul A. MacDonnell and Robert Cross, bassist Trevor Darks and drummer Dave Ball. The album is comprised of four tracks: two lengthy (14+ minutes) instrumentals, a shorter instrumental and a another short track with vocals.

The two longest tracks are actually two parts of the same 30 min composition, The Great Panjandrum Wheel. It's is described by bassist and co-writer Trevor Darks as 'a quasi classical 2 movement symphony with none of the cliches that marred rock-classical hybrid music like Deep Purple" and I have to agree that as much as I enjoy Jon Lord's bold 1969 effort, the rock band and orchestra sections were too disparate.

The Great Panjandrum Wheel, Pt. One, starts with an unaccompanied bass riff, with the two lead guitars joining in, followed by the drums, the music gradually building in intensity. The guitarists take over after the first minute and from then on they keep unleashing a plethora of carefully rehearsed licks, hooks, riffs, arpeggios and solos played through a variety of effect pedals that ensure the piece maintains the listener's interest. Meanwhile the rhythm section pulls its weight and does an admirable job playing through the various sections and timing changes.

Gladioli is a short, lively instrumental with an infectious refrain. It is apparently named after a genus of flowering plants, also known as sword lilies.

The Great Panjandrum Wheel, Pt. Two keeps up the relentless dual guitar attack of Part One, maintaining the same level of quality throughout its length. One of my favorite sections is between the the 7 minute and 8 minute marks: first, one of the guitars starts making a violin sound and the other sounds like a cello then both guitars start playing great violin-like passages.

Queen of the Night is the only track with vocals on the entire album, presumably included at the record company request for more commercial material. It has a blues-rock flavor and the subject matter is the narrator's efforts to pick up the titular woman. Drummer Dave Ball is the singer. A guitar is used to make a credible impression of a harmonica.

Some interesting things about the band and the album: -The band originally founded in Reading in 1973 and called Glyder. -According to Robert Cross' daughter, the band couldn't decide on a new name after getting a record contract until someone said "call it any f***ing thing", which is the source of the acronym AFT, expanded later to Automatic Fine Tuning. -The band played at Reading Festival 1976 as Automatic Fine Tuning, among bands such as Gong, Jon Hiseman's Colosseum, Manfred Mann, Camel, Rory Gallagher, the Enid, Brand X, AC/DC, Ted Nugent, Black Oak Arkansas, Osibisa. -Paul MacDonnell and Robert Cross were the first to use an early guitar synthesizer made by Stramp. It seems to be the Syncharger II 4000, as it was the only known synth made by Stramp, a German company that focused on guitar and bass amplifiers. -The album was recorded live in the studio. As impressive a feat this is, what makes it even more astounding is that none of the music was written down, but played entirely from memory with no improvisation. -Paul MacDonnell played some of his parts with a violin bow on a Gibson SG he cut the sides off to make it bat-shaped and facilitate playing. He also used a homemade version of the Leslie rotating speaker on the album.

Go give credit where it is due, I learned nearly all the information about the band up to this point from the Automatic Fine Tuning appreciation thread on the Prog Archives forum. Special thanks to Atavachron and b_olariu (who petitioned for the band's inclusion and wrote the band bio), wilbur_44 (who started the thread that eventually saw the band inducted into the PA database), clarkpegasus4001 (who kept the thread alive and conducted interviews with former members) and above all to Trevor Darks and Paul MacDonnell, who wrote the bulk of this wonderful album and dropped in the thread to graciously answer questions.

The band's composition of use of two lead guitarists naturally invites comparisons to Wishbone Ash. Trevor Darks' introductory bass solo even reminds me of Martin Turner's bass playing at the start of Vas Dis. However, Automatic Fine Tuning have established a sound all of their own that is chiefly influenced by baroque music, while Whishbone Ash have a much more blues-based sound. An interesting parallel to Wishbone Ash is that in a band with two lead guitarists, it was the bassist who composed much of the material (Martin Turner wrote the bulk of Argus). All tracks except for Gladoli, which was written by guitarist Bob Cross, are composed by bassist Trevor Darks and guitarist Paul MacDonnell.

The Great Panjandrum Wheel, Pt. One has the following subsections listed, but without running times: Wolverine (Part 1), Horizons, Wolverine (part 2), Maneater. Similarly, The Great Panjandrum Wheel, Pt. Two is broken up into Panjandrum, Epic, Terminal C, City Business, Dragon Fly.

The two epic tracks are named after The Great Panjandrum, a experimental weapon in the form of a explosive drum connected at each end to a large wheel with rockets placed along the rim for propulsion. It was devised by the British military in World War II to penetrate beach defenses, but due to its unreliable trajectory and tendency to fall over on its side, The Great Panjandrum never saw combat action. I find the title appropriate in the sense that both tracks keep rolling from one firework section to another.

The term Great Panjandrum, which is now used to refer to a self-important person, was originally made up by British dramatist Samuel Foote in 1775 as part of a passage of nonsense improvised to challenge actor Charles Macklin's assertion that he could memorize any passage after reading it but once.

Note: this album is currently available on Amazon for only $1.99 in MP3 format. Should you get it? If you are at all interested in what excellently written and played instrumental heavy prog with Baroque influences sounds like, absolutely you should!

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