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).

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non-metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

SWANS The Seer Album Cover The Seer
SWANS
4.78 | 9 ratings
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PENDRAGON The Masquerade Overture Album Cover The Masquerade Overture
PENDRAGON
4.62 | 13 ratings
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SPOCK'S BEARD The Light Album Cover The Light
SPOCK'S BEARD
4.58 | 11 ratings
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MOTORPSYCHO The Death Defying Unicorn Album Cover The Death Defying Unicorn
MOTORPSYCHO
4.74 | 7 ratings
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MEAT LOAF Bat Out Of Hell Album Cover Bat Out Of Hell
MEAT LOAF
4.45 | 15 ratings
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PENDRAGON The Window of Life Album Cover The Window of Life
PENDRAGON
4.50 | 12 ratings
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ELOY Ocean Album Cover Ocean
ELOY
4.43 | 16 ratings
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ZZ TOP Tres Hombres Album Cover Tres Hombres
ZZ TOP
4.42 | 16 ratings
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BEARDFISH Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two Album Cover Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two
BEARDFISH
4.89 | 5 ratings
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SPOCK'S BEARD Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep Album Cover Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep
SPOCK'S BEARD
4.47 | 12 ratings
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KILLING JOKE Night Time Album Cover Night Time
KILLING JOKE
4.48 | 11 ratings
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ALICE COOPER From The Inside Album Cover From The Inside
ALICE COOPER
4.25 | 25 ratings
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non-metal Music Reviews

THE MASTERS APPRENTICES Masterpiece

Album · 1969 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Sounding like a completely different band on their second album the lineup of THE MASTERS APPRENTICES completely melted down leaving only vocalist Jim Keays left standing and carrying the band to the next level. While it took three long years to follow up their garage rock / freakbeat debut the times had obviously changed and while the 1967 debut was pretty much playing catch up with the styles that were popular in the UK around the 1964 and 1965 timeline, on the band’s sophomore album MASTERPIECE once again it sounded more like 1968 than 1970. Scaled back to a quartet, THE MASTERS APPRENTICES adopted a completely new style that rocked the upbeat sunshine pop hooks with psychedelic touches and a touch of freakbeat leftover from the early days.

The band spent the majority of the time between albums was spent reorganizing the band and transforming it into a completely different creation. During the three year gap newbie Doug Ford and Keays stockpiled numerous songs and released a few singles and endured a heavy touring schedule but all this hard work and exposure paid off as this classic lineup is the same that would deliver the band’s following pair of albums which would finally seeing them find their own unique sound based in progressive rock. At this stage though no prog to be found and all the tracks featured are steeped in bubblegum pop hooks with bluesy guitar licks and boogie shuffles. The band signed to EMI and had a larger budget for production but at this stage despite an entire album of all original material, THE MASTERS APPRENTICES sounded like this second album was supposed to come out when the first one did back in 1967.

Alternating between bluesy rockers and poppy folk, MASTERPIECE featured a rather cheesy orchestral backing that made it sound like it was trying to emulate The Moody Blues’ classic “Days Of Future Passed” but far from the crowning achievement or cutting edge brilliance of that famous album. On this album the band wasn’t very focused and as a result the tracks are all over the place as far as uniformity is concerned. The pop folk “A Dog, A Siren and Memories” emulates the great Simon and Garfunkel while the following track “Linda Linda” featured an old-timer music hall style possibly inspire by The New Vaudville Band’s hit “Winchester Cathedral” form 1966. The piece even featured a kazoo! It was clear the band was trying to cop a bit of Paul McCartney’s showtune style from The Beatles. “Isabella” adopts a Spanish guitar theme and features a chorus that just repeats the name “Isabella” several times!

Some tracks like “Piece Of Me” are pure generic bubblegum pop and not even good at that. The band at this stage was clearly aiming for the teenie bopper crowds and wanted to be the next Ohio Express or The Monkees or something! The music is really awkward at some points with the track “Titanic” standing out as pretty hilarious. Not only does they sing the title in a funny way but The Chiffons provide a very mediocre backing not to mention the track features real ship noise samples. It’s about as cheesy as it gets really! It was also a sign that this band was a sinking ship and that if they didn’t get their act together then they would be history.

Luckily the band got the memo and found a much needed break from touring and let their prog-tinged hard rock fantasies run wild for their next album “Choice Cuts” which found the band evolve leaps and bounds beyond this collection of head-scratching 60s leftovers. It’s an ok album but extremely awkward and really not good enough to recommend unless you really love cheesy bubblegum pop from the late 60s but not good enough to find the ear worms haunting you for days after. It’s an interesting glimpse into the band’s missing years and how they would come back with a hodgepodge of material but as an album it’s actually pretty weak and ill-conceived. It’s hard to believe Columbia let this slip the quality control and it’s often considered the band’s worst offering. Despite the album’s title being MASTERPIECE, this one is far from it.

THE MASTERS APPRENTICES The Master's Apprentices

Album · 1967 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Originally starting out as a surf rock band called The Mustangs in 1960s Adelaide, Australia, the quartet of Mick Bower on rhythm guitar, Rick Morrison on lead guitar, Brian Vaughton on drums and Gavin Webb on bass was forever changed after The Beatles toured Australia in 1964 and found their largest audience to date in Adelaide with an estimated 300,000 attendees amongst a population of 668,000. The band changed direction and ventured into the world of British beat music which resulted in the name change to THE MASTERS APPRENTICES and the addition of Scottish immigrant Jim Keays as lead vocalist / secondary guitarist.

The band’s name refers to its allegiance to the masters of the blues such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James and Robert Johnson and after engaging in a healthy live scene around Adelaide, the band become one of the city’s most popular beat bands and slowly but surely captured a larger national audience which resulted in the band relocating to Melbourne where they recorded their debut self-titled release that emerged in late 1967. There were actually two self-titled releases. A four track EP emerged in 1967 with the songs “Undecided,” “Hot Gully Wind,” “Buried And Dead” and “She’s My Girl” before the full-length album came out in October with 12 tracks.

THE MASTERS APPRENTICE became one of Australia’s most innovative early progressive rock bands in the 1970s with popular albums like “Choice Cuts” but at this early stage the band was a fairly typical 60s sounding garage rock / freakbeat / mod act in the British tradition only a few years behind the curve as the actual British acts had evolved into the world of art rock by 1967. This debut adopted the usual approach of many 60s acts by only releasing a handful of original tracks and padding the rest with cover tunes which in this case included everything from Bo Diddley’s “Dancing Girl” and The Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” to Otis Redding’s “My Girl,” “Don’t Fight It” by Wilson Pickett and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

At this point it’s virtually impossible to predict that MASTERS APPRENTICE would amount to anything as this is one of the most generic debuts possible which shows no signs of individuality or creativity whatsoever. Sounding something like The Rolling Stones as far as the loose rhythm and blues guitar licks and vocal style are concerned, the band found minor success with its singles “Undecided” and “Buried And Dead” on the self-titled EP which hit the Australian top 40 singles chart and the primary reason a full album’s worth of material was rushed to cash in on the momentum. While cited as psychedelic rock, this album was behind the times and was pretty much in the same style of the British Invasion acts from 1964 and 1965.

This is a listenable album but not very compelling as its primarily a platform for the singles and a couple of extra originals with several mediocre covers. It’s a fairly typical copycat album of the era with nothing really to offer other than experiencing the debut album of one of Australia’s more famous bands that went on to better things in the 1970s. Personally i find this to be a decent dance hall type of band but not one that i would rush out and buy the album as the covers are far too faithful to the original and the band’s very own songs are much not better in terms of quality or creativity. Pretty much relegated to the hardcore fans and even then it wouldn’t be that much of a loss if you skipped this one altogether. It would take another full three years for the band’s second release “Masterpiece” to hit the market which finally did add some psychedelic elements but once again was woefully behind the times.

BIG BLACK Lungs

EP · 1982 · Non-Metal
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Warthur
The first Big Black release sees the group not really a group yet - more of an industrial solo bedroom project by Steve Albini. The production shortcomings arising from a very young man recording on a 4-track in a domestic setting using technology which was pretty far from cutting edge for 1982 are inevitable, and it's perhaps testimony to Albini's later career as an engineer and producer that it sounds as good as it does. There's nothing stellar here, but it's a serviceable bit of drum machine industrial music which doesn't yet have the bite and the fury that Big Black would pick up from the hardcore scene.

PENDRAGON Believe

Album · 2005 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After three albums of what many consider neo-prog paradise, PENDRAGON shocked their fans after the release of “Not Of This World” with the 2005 followup BELIEVE. Gone were the saturated layers of synthesizers that crafted unthinkably dense atmospheres and major key exercises in happy songs that delivered crisp melodic constructs that were taken through subtle variations that climaxed in rock fueled upbeat tempos. For whatever reason many of the better known neo-prog acts underwent a metamorphosis in the early 2000s with some flirting with full-fledged progressive metal and others just taking their signature sounds to ever increasing complexities.

While PENDRAGON would wait until the next album “Pure” to ratchet up the metal qualities, BELIEVE took a completely different turn from what the fanbase was used to. While Clive Nolan was taming his keyboard passions, lead vocalist and guitarist Nick Barrett was rockin’ his acoustic skills. This album focuses primarily on the guitar unlike any previous PENDRAGON album where the synthesizers have always dominated and then some. Starting with a beautiful acoustic guitar title track that begins the album more like a folk album rather than neo-prog. The guitar oriented songs continue for awhile with only Nick Barrett’s vocal style simulating the neo-prog singing style of previous works.

Yeah the album still starts out with some Floydian production tricks and maintains that space rock pace throughout much of the album but this time around the space part is often left behind for more serious rockin’ out with more attention to varying aspects of the guitar rather than the typical Steve Hackett guitar sweeps or the David GIlmor twang-a-thon. The space rock and traditional neo-prog sounds though are fairly well integrated into this new approach which makes this quite recognizable as a PENDRAGON release despite the radical new shift in the band’s direction and perspective as the lyrics have become more sombre, melancholic and downright conspiratorial.

The album in many ways almost sounds like a completely different band until the 21-minute suite “The Wishing Well” kicks in and then it offers some moments of business as usual albeit with subdued synthesizer sounds in the background and acoustic guitars never out of range. The electric guitar parts are more prominent and in addition to the dreamy sweeps of classical neo-prog, they also invoke the dirtier bluesy rock styles of classic rock. The album also took on a noticeably darker sound as the dreamy tapestries of yore had suddenly become a bit more gloomy. While this is still basically neo-prog at its core it’s not exactly depressive black metal but for PENDRAGON a different style indeed.

The gist of the album is to usher in melodic hooks through the folky guitar strumming with Nick Barrett narrating his usual poetic prose however the songs tend to stick to the rock paradigm rather than get too wrapped up in the atmospheric dominance that excelled on “Not Of This World.” The album is also noticeably shorter than previous offerings with a mere 51 1/2 minutes of playing time. It seems very succinct in comparison. PENDRAGON goes through its usual shtick of nurturing a melodic hook and then crafting myriad variations to keep the musical flow humming along in that regard they do quite a decent job even though this was new territory for them.

The album has a more intimate feel to it as it’s not smothered in layers of keyboards and focuses on a more stripped down approach. Despite a change in direction the basic formula of starting slowly and ratcheting up the tension to a thundering crescendo and then a soft coming down moment is still intact. The production is damn near perfect as usual and Barrett’s acoustic guitar tones are phenomenal. Overall the album sounds really great and i actually like the direction they took the new sound even if most fans don’t. The album seemed to boost the band’s confidence and far as rockin’ out because next time around they would unleash their inner metalheads and merge the once metal-free neo-prog zone with the more feisty guitar heft of the metal universe. Perhaps not as perfect as what came before but to my ears an experiment that worked out quite well and one i love to play from time to time.

PENDRAGON Not of This World

Album · 2001 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
PENDRAGON had a slow start releasing some of the worst neo-prog albums the 80s had to offer but then almost like magic was propelled into the top ranks of the subgenre with 1991’s “The World” in pretty much every way. Led by the indefatigable Clive Nolan who was juggling two top tier neo-prog bands in the 90s with Arena being his other baby, PENDRAGON delivered a trilogy of amazingly exquisite albums that started with “The World” and then was followed by “The Masquerade Overture.” The third installment was NOT OF THIS WORLD which features one of my all time favorite fantasy album covers of any genre and delivered all the symphonic prog bombast you could possibly hope for in a space rock influenced neo-prog style.

This would be the last album the band would release before jumping into heavy borderline metal material but at this point NOT OF THIS WORLD was all about layers of sizzling synthesizers with oscillating arpeggios, dreamy atmospheres and droning sustain keeping the band high in the clouds for the 67 minute duration that includes three parts, two of which were multi-track suites. The opening “If I Were The Wind (and Your Were The Rain) opens with an outa this world synthesizer run that makes you think you’ve died and gone to synthesizer paradise with wind sounds and chimes slowly ratcheting up the tension much like classic Pink Floyd along with reverberating guitar riffs that slowly drift away from the Floydian connections and take you into the world of PENDRAGON.

Beautiful guitar sweeps dance in the breezy synthesizer party and the bass slowly grooves along. The intro is just magical and then one of my favorite singers in the world of neo-prog jumps in: Nick Barrett commences to sing a song written to his son and his fatherly advice in navigating the world at hand. The instrumentation is so lush and produced to the perfection made all the better by the divine backing vocals of Tina Riley simulating the female backing sounds of Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” True the band has no shame in wearing its influences on its sleeves and the album has rightfully been criticized for a lack of originality but NOT OF THIS WORLD delivers a magical journey into a synthesized soul soothing world of neo-prog like no other except of course the band’s previous two releases that this one follows.

A fairly laid back and slower tempo album, this one is a true mellow out type of musical experience that takes you through a never-ending series of arpeggiated guitar parts, beautiful piano rolls, bass grooves and a million and one ways to create an orchestral effect out of spacey synthesizer sounds. The tracks pretty much run together seamlessly and although it takes a while for the album to really jump into any real rock aspects by the time “Dance Of The Seven Veils Part 2” kicks in, the music becomes a guitar-driven rocker with thumping bass and hefty percussive drive. Of course PENDRAGON excels in alternating heavier passages with lush acoustic guitar moments with all those atmospheric excesses but that’s what makes them so unique and even more dreamy and atmospheric than bands like Arena and IQ.

Add to the dreamy musical processions that never wear me out in the over hour’s experience, Nick Barrett is a gifted poet whose precise and clearly enunciated lyrical deliveries offers the perfect prose for the musical accompaniment and it all comes together so well with alternating segments that range from dreamy to fast tempo rock at key moments but not quite into metal yet at this stage of their career. As always this band crafts the most sensual and addictive melodies on NOT OF THIS WORLD with captivating emotive guitar sweeps and a contrasting bass groove that work perfectly in tandem and of course all those layers of synth sounds that frost this cake a thousand times over making it ever sweeter! The diversity of the tracks really keeps this one from stagnating. Each one ratchets up the tension a little bit more with clever creative subtitles seeping into the recurring themes.

This was one of those growers that kept drawing me back in. While it started out as a strong 4 star album in my world, the recurring visits have made this one of my all time favorite neo-prog albums and on par with the band’s previous “The Masquerade Overature.” Sure it can sound a little cheesy at times as can a lot of neo-prog but if you’re in the mood for this kind of melodic synthesizer overload then there’s nothing like it. Something you just want to soothe your soul with over-the-top melodic constructs that offer a gazillion variations. There are even moments of amazing virtuosity such as the guitar and keyboard works on “Not Of This World Part 1.” When investigated further this album will reveal an amazing detail that matches the outstanding cover art. It’s bright, colorful and bursting with life. Definitely one of the band’s best and although they would continue to deliver some interesting albums, this particular trilogy is one of the highlights of the neo-prog branch of the world prog. True it’s not the most original album ever released but the delivery is so impeccable i am the fish that got hooked!

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PENDRAGON Past And Presence

Movie · 2007 · Non-Metal
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Warthur
Pendragon's Past and Presence captures a very special concert put on by Pendragon in celebration of the band's history. Recorded in Poland as a special treat for their very appreciative Polish fanbase, the concert saw a host of past members of the band making special guest appearances - with all the current and ex-Pendragon members present taking to the stage for show closer Stan and Ollie (a good call, since the song was essentially written as a goof-off piece to round off the band's sets with a happy party number, much like Marillion's Margaret).

Aside from 2AM from Kowtow (present as one of several encores), the songs here are all vintage Pendragon from their very earliest days - you have all the tracks from The Jewel and the Fly High Fall Far EP here, plus some delicious rarities otherwise only available in inferior versions on the Once Upon a Time In England compilations. Two decades have come and gone since the band recorded the versions of the songs we're most familiar with, and the additional experience really does show. Many of the songs here blow the original studio versions out of the water - even songs which sounded pretty decent on the original recordings, such as The Black Knight.

I'd go so far as to say that this show is, perhaps, the best way to experience Pendragon's material from before The World came out. Certainly, I would strongly encourage people to pick up the limited edition version which comes with a 2CD audio version of the show, because the audio stands up really well on there and I actually find I listen to the CD more than I watch the actual show. The main limitation here is that the material in question is a bit rough and naive, but the band couldn't really fix that without abandoning the idea of a nostalgia show.

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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