Non-Metal

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Not every band on Metal Music Archives exclusively plays within a metal or metal related sub-genre. Some start as such only to later leave their old sound behind, others become relevant to the site later in their careers. Some bands like to release one-off experiments. The Non-Metal tag on MMA is used to cover releases that are completely removed from metal music in style, so in a sense is a catch-all sub-genre for releases that don't fit anywhere else.

Sometimes, artists will be added under non-metal exclusively due to being related to the metal genre and scene by association with metal artists, such as the symphonic prog act Transatlantic who feature the former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, the ambient project Neptune Towers by Darkthrone's Fenriz or the folk band Fejd, who have members who are/have been with a couple of different metal bands (Fejd later became metal themselves, but were accepted on MMA long before that). Such artists are typically covered by the metal media due to this association with the scene, and are as such included on MMA for the same reasons.

Mostly however this tag will be used for releases belonging to other genres by metal (or other metal related) artists, such as Opeth's progressive rock albums Damnation and Pale Communion or Elvenking's folk/folk rock album Two Tragedy Poets.

- Written by adg211288 (August 2015).

non-metal top albums

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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

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Sower Of Wind
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ROSETTA
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non-metal Music Reviews

PORCUPINE TREE Signify

Album · 1996 · Non-Metal
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Necrotica
I've always been fascinated with music artists who frequently reinvent their sound and yet maintain quality and freshness in their work regardless. While so many artists fail to make waves in the commercial or critical department when slowly transitioning into new territory, others make a complete 180° turn and succeed greatly whether by knowing the musical landscape or by just pure luck. Then you have Porcupine Tree, who have had three radical reinventions and been very well-received for all of them. You have the psychedelic era (when they weren't even a full group yet), the alternative era, and the progressive metal era; as of now, none of the band's albums (even debut On the Sunday of Life) have been terribly received and most of them receive high marks. However, one album that never seems to fit into the grand scheme of things is the band's sole transitional album Signify; while considered by many to be part of the psychedelic era, the album seems to combine the past and future sounds of the group almost perfectly. True to this statement, the album also remains one of their best and most balanced works; it not only depicts how far Steven Wilson had come with his musical project, but also depicts a promising and vast future for a now-complete group.

As suggested by that last sentence, this is indeed the first Porcupine Tree album with a full band to perform with Steven Wilson. Right from the opening of the surprisingly heavy title track, there's a strengthened sense of unity and focus in the material; while the trippy arrangements and vast soundscapes of previous records return here as well, they aren't always the main focus this time around. As suggested by the shorter running times of the songs, a lot of musical fat is trimmed and the psychedelic aspects are a bit toned down, but instrumental tracks like "Idiot Prayer" and "Intermediate Jesus" play with the group's spacey side with extended atmospheric jams. One of the best things about this album (one thing that plagued previous records by the band) is that there's a great stylistic balance; the album combines multiple genres and sounds, but distributes them all very well. You've got the first real song "Signify" (the first track is just an intro) which kicks things off with a hard-hitting riff and gets the listener pumped, only to be followed by a beautiful ballad in "Sleep of No Dreaming" as well as multiple improvisational jams and other ballads. "Sever" is the track in which the harder-rocking sound comes back into play, and it's brilliantly placed in the middle as a good way to kick up the volume at just the right time. This is some of the best song placement I've ever seen/heard on a record, and it's great to hear so many well-done switches in the band's sound.

Beyond that though, the real treasure of this album is its appreciation of atmosphere. This is one of Porcupine Tree's darkest records, but the moments of hope (despite there not being many) come at the right moments. For instance, closer "Dark Matter" is pretty damn depressing in terms of lyricism, but the guitar solo that follows the verses and choruses is absolutely beautiful and even inspiring as the dynamics increase and the instrumentation becomes less isolated. "Sever" and "Idiot Prayer" are perhaps even more important dynamically, as the more aggressive moments are placed among softer moments to give the listener moments of reflection in between the heavier portions. Of course, the band still shine most when those trademark melancholic Porcupine Tree ballads rear their heads; "Every Home is Wired" is still the song that impresses me the most, making the most out of guitar and keyboard layering to bring out some gorgeous textures. The psychedelic jam that concludes the song never hurts either. "Sleep of No Dreaming" is also notable, featuring an organ-sounding keyboard performance from Richard Barbieri to illustrate the song's musical backdrop as Steven Wilson gives one of his most emotional vocal performances.

The only gripe I can think of is that, despite great song placement, there's not quite as much musical consistency as the band's best records. Interludes like "Light Mass Prayers" or "Pagan" aren't really needed and can kill the pace of some of the album. If that's the worst thing about the record, though, then there isn't much to complain about. This is a superb way to end Porcupine Tree's psychedelic era and usher in the alternative era of their sound. All in all, it's a wonderful transitional album.

BUCKETHEAD Missing My Parents

Single · 2018 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
BUCKETHEAD went from one of the most prolific artists in the music industry to relative scarcity in 2018. While three albums may sound like a lot for most artists, it pales compared to the dozens he released a few years back. The year 2018 has seen less studio time and a chance to hit the road and reconnect with the fans on a personal level.

Something strange has happened in 2018 as well. With the album “5-13 10-31,” BUCKETHEAD seems to have dropped the PIKE series, at least it’s not listed on the album. In BUCKETHEADLAND, anything is possible so never count your chickens until they hatch.

Even in the most drought stricken years for BUCKEHEAD music, the chicken lover always seems to find two occasions to release something new. That would be Halloween and Christmas, however this year for Halloween we didn’t get a countdown of a gazillion ambient and experimental albums but rather a mere single, “Mirror In The Cellar.”

The same goes for Christmas 2018. No full album, just this one track titled MISSING MY PARENTS. It seems BH lost his family a while back and is feeling a tad nostalgic this holiday season and although i still am lucky enough to enjoy my parents in the flesh, this track certainly makes me wonder how empty it will feel without them.

As with the other tributes to his parents (“Pike 65 - Hold Me Forever (In Memory of My Mom Nancy York Carroll)” and “Pike 150 - Heaven Is Your Home (For My Father, Thomas Manley Carroll)”) this single is in the extremely mellow and contemplative mood with clean guitar sounds, ambient atmospheric gentle sweeps and overall sorrowful mood setting without any percussive instruments.

It is a very slow track that creates a loving heart-felt melody that really exudes the pain our chicken loving friend is feeling, that of a loss that one never totally gets over no matter where life takes you. We’ve all been there. This single won’t blow you away musically and does sound like many similar releases but it does pierce the heart with in a lugubrious docile manner. Poor BH needs a hug :(

GALAHAD Nothing is Written

Album · 1991 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
GALAHAD has become one of the better known bands to fall into the broadening neo-prog section of the progressive rock universe in the 21st century but the band actually started all the way back in 1985 as a seven-piece band inspired by the usually prog revival suspects such as Twelfth Night, IQ, Pendragon and of course Fish era Marillion. The band actually started out as a cover band playing everything from symphonic rich prog like Genesis to more crossover prog and classic rock such as Led Zeppelin and Rush. Lead singer Stuart Nicholson readily admits that the whole project was only put together for fun and that nobody in the beginning was the least bit concerned with any sort of professional career to emerge out of it. In a similar storyline of Steven Wilson and his Porcupine Tree project, GALAHAD gradually garnered enough attention by their contemporaries and ended up playing live with some of the neo-prog heroes they were emulating.

All of this turning of the tides forced the band to take their project more seriously as they found themselves in an unforeseen trajectory. Around 1990 the band started to realize that they might have a real musical career in their future and began to craft what would become their first album NOTHING IS WRITTEN which emerged as was an independent release. This debut was pretty much a DIY enterprise as it was self-financed, self-produced and self-promoted and despite the poor quality in both production and performance managed to sell several thousand albums which was enough impetus to launch the band’s career into the next level. While the band’s lineup has changed substantially throughout the decades. Three members: vocalist Stuart Nicholson, guitarist Roy Keyworth and drummer Spender Luckman have been with the band since the beginning album.

Anyone who is familiar with the later works such as the excellent “Empires Never Last” or their other modern day albums that incorporate a heavy guitar heft to the mix will be quite underwhelmed by what lackluster performances are displayed on NOTHING IS WRITTEN. Although i rarely agree with harsh vitriol dished out by the critics, this one is often cited as uninspired and down right bland with too many derivative aspects lifted from the 80s neo-prog movement without adding anything original. In the case of NOTHING IS WRITTEN, i would have to completely agree with every single word. This is indeed one of the most carbon copy and paste examples of a neo-prog i’ve ever heard all dished out in the most generic fashion possible.

Think of this one sitting more in the territory of the IQ album “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” Like that turkey of an album, NOTHING IS WRITTEN’s material lies somewhere between bland 80s AOR and the weakest aspects of neo-prog all the while offering boring cliche melodic and instrumental performances. Likewise Nicholson sounds more like a tired has been who has ruined his voice through too much touring throughout the years. Clearly the focus of the band had changed but the talent was still on amateur mode at this point and when hearing this debut release at the time, it would have been impossible to predict that GAHALAD would actually get their act together and become one of the major players in the neo-prog world. While i’m usually pretty lenient on early albums because they often provide some sort of interesting origins, this one is truly a mess in every way and should be completely avoided by all but completionists.

PURSON Desire's Magic Theatre

Album · 2016 · Non-Metal
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Warthur
We'd seen strong hints on The Circle and the Blue Door that the retro stylings of Purson included a strong interest in the prog-psych boundary - that intriguing sound that existed in the late 1960s and early 1970s when progressive rock still hadn't quite disentangled itself from the artier end of the psychedelic scene.

On Desire's Magic Theatre, Rosalie Cunningham and her cohorts steer Purson away from the heavier territory of their debut album in order to more deeply explore the different nooks and crannies of that era, whilst delivering an album which applies modern production values and the benefit of some five decades' hindsight to the material. Jazz, Tull-esque flute, disorienting psychedelia and a small epic in the closing Bitter Suite finds Purson going from strength to strength. Due to its exploratory nature, it doesn't quite feel like it's hanging together as well as the debut album did, but the musical evolution on display is appreciable.

PAIN OF SALVATION Linoleum

EP · 2009 · Non-Metal
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The Crow
Prior to the release of Road Salt One and Two, Pain of salvation released this EP called Linoleum as an aperitif

It contains one song of Road Salt One (the fine Linoleum), one of Road Salt Two (the repetitive and disjointed Mortar Grind) and four tracks which were not included in these discs.

Sadly, If You Wait is a short blues-rock track with no interest. Gone is better but the production is too raw (just like the Road Salt albums) and it is boring and repetitive in the long term.

Bonus Track B is a curiosity just for fans, and finally Yellow Raven is a very dramatic version of an Uli John Roth song which is not enough to make this EP interesting if you are not a die-hard fan of the Road Salt era of this band.

My rating: **

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NEAL MORSE Live Momentum

Movie · 2013 · Non-Metal
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Kev Rowland
One of the disadvantages of living at the end of the world is that these days I get most of my promos as downloads, which generally isn’t too much of a pain but here I find myself reviewing a DVD set where I haven’t actually seen the DVDs! Okay, so this has been released as a double DVD (more than 4 hours), along with a triple CD set and it is the latter that I am reviewing. This recording took place on October 11th, 2012 at The High Line Ballroom, New York, and captures the band in incredible form. I have no idea how many live recordings of Neal there are in my collection, from duetting with NDV through Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic and of course his solo work, but there are one or two. I have seen him in concert with SB as well as on the ‘Testimony’ tour and have had the privilege of interviewing him a few times as well, so I guess you can say that I am a fan.

I greatly respect the way that he decided to stand up for what he believed in (even though I don’t share those beliefs), although I still regret that SB never had the chance to tour ‘Snow’ which is easily their finest work. I have never given anything that he has been involved with a bad review, and there is no reason at all to start now as this triple CD set (2 hours 45 minutes) is as close to perfection as one could hope to hear. When it came to choosing the musicians to form the band he brought in close friends Mike Portnoy and Randy George and then used YouTube for the audition process! He ought to do that more often, as during “Sing It High” he gets it right when he says that the guys are “Sick”. Adson Sodré (guitar, vocals), Eric Gillette (guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals) and Bill Hubauer (keyboards, violin, sax, vocals) do a stunning job. Mind you, it’s handy when you have three multi-instrumentalists in a band as it does mean that you can spread the wings. Vocally they are all in fine voice as well, just listen to “Author Of Confusion” to see what I mean.

Both Adson and Eric really riff and shred as the need requires, and this is probably the heaviest that Neal has ever sounded as he works his way through material from throughout his career: this is much more than just a live rendition of the latest album. The suites from ‘Testimony’ and ‘?’ work incredibly well and it is the longer sections that really allow Neal and the guys to shine. There are four songs more than twenty minutes long and one more than thirty!

But, for me one of the major highlights sees Neal taking a back seat, literally. One of my favourite live albums that feature Neal is ‘One Night in New York City’ by Yellow Matter Custard. This was a band put together by Mike Portnoy to play Beatles’ numbers, and the line-up was completed by Neal, Paul Gilbert and Matt Bissonette. The whole purpose of that band was to provide a new take on classic numbers and have fun at the same time. Well, on “Crazy Horses” Neal takes over on drums while Mike becomes the frontman, and everyone has an absolute blast. Mike says that when he first heard the song when he was five years old that it was the heaviest song that he had ever heard, and the band certainly do it justice. I defy you to listen to this and not smile throughout. There are some people who don’t enjoy what Neal does, and feel that he hasn’t dramatically changed since he left SB, but I sincerely hope he keeps going in this vein for the rest of his very long career as I love it.

So there you have it, a five star review for a DVD set that I haven’t even seen. But to me they are just an added bonus as this triple CD set is just mindblowing. www.insideout.de

ANATHEMA A Moment in Time

Movie · 2006 · Non-Metal
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Conor Fynes
'A Moment In Time' - Anathema (5/10)

First off, might I say that the rating for this work is not based on the music itself. 'A Moment In Time' is being rated here for what it is; a piece of visual media. The songs themselves are amazing, and have been commended as such on other reviews. As far as being a vessel for such beautiful music however, this DVD really comes up short. There are so many errors that make it a sloppy creation, that could have been avoided and corrected had extra care been given.

As far as the musical arrangement goes, things are really good. As well as the band performing, there is a string quartet that plays throughout, as well as a guest appearance from a talented female vocalist. The vocal passion I generally expect from Vincent Cavanagh is a bit lacking here, but that can be forgiven. There's a nice setup here, a beautiful selection of songs, so what could go wrong?

Throughout watching 'A Moment In Time,' I find myself increasingly agitated over the camera work. The camera is fixated on the vocalist, and fails to give a visual mention to either the bass player or rhythm guitarist almost at all!

Another issue is the recording of the sound. For example, during the climax of 'Empty,' the vocals drown out completely for a few seconds. For a band that's had such a high standard of musical quality, my jaw dropped at how they could ever let a DVD release come out to the general public with that sort of negligence.

Despite it's flaws and failure as a professional DVD release however, being an Anathema fan; it's hard to not at least find some enjoyment in it, and there's an CD counterpart included as well! Two stars.

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