Progressive Metal

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Progressive metal, more commonly know as prog metal, is characterized by genre transgression and instrumental virtuosity. Its signature features are guitar driven songs that have complex time signatures and very intricate playing.

Progressive metal as a genre is associated with acts such as Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Queensrÿche, who had their heyday in the early 1990s, but progressive elements have been fused into metal virtually since the inception of metal. For instance, on their early releases, Black Sabbath would incorporate jazzy passages into their compositions, while also drawing on other genres, and many proto-metal acts also had backgrounds in progressive rock and heavy psychedelic rock. In the early to mid 1980s, some NWoBHM groups, such as Iron Maiden would find direct inspiration in progressive rock acts like Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson and incorporate progressive elements, such as complex song structures, twin guitars and changes in time and tempo into their style, while the cult band Mercyful Fate were known for blatantly disregarding the conventions of composition in popular music, opting for complex and unusual song structures.

So, progressiveness was a part of metal since the inception of the genre, but it was not until the late 1980s and mid 1990s as bands like Watchtower, Fates Warning, Queensrÿche, Psychotic Waltz, and Dream Theater that progressive metal became established as an independent subgenre. These bands would draw both on previously established metal genres, like NWOBHM, and progressive rock acts of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Especially Dream Theater would become iconic of the genre, and their instrumentation, which includes prominent keyboards, became the blueprint for many progressive metal bands to follow. The music that came out was very diverse and even symphonic at times. Not all of it was overly technical, though some bands such as Dream Theater were very technical, while others, like Fates Warning and Watchtower emphasized odd time signature. Psychotic Waltz incorporated psychedelia into their sound, and Queensrÿche began to operate with complex lyrical themes.

After progressive metal had been somewhat popular for some time, it began to take on more extreme forms such as progressive death metal, and so on. Bands such as Edge of Sanity and Atheist took prog metal to greater heights with their infusion of prog and death metal. Atheist also added a jazz/fusion sound to their music to make it true progressive death metal, as did Pestilence on their jazz-influenced Spheres. Also during this time, bands such as Opeth and Voivod changed their style to a more progressive sound. While Voivod changed in the early 1990’s, Opeth became a more progressive metal band in the late 1990’s which was probably an effect of the progressive metal movement that was going on at the time. Some already established metal acts in other genres would similarly cross over into progressive metal territory, such as Savatage, who - although having a background in traditional metal and power metal - released several progressive metal albums. In parallel with the development of progressive extreme metal genres, many power metal acts would take their music in a more progressive direction, resulting in the subgenre of progressive power metal (which is included under power metal here at the MMA) some of which, like Kamelot and Savatage, would eventually become fully fledged progressive metal acts.

Most bands in the progressive metal genre have their own unique style; whether it is more spacey, more symphonic, or more technical while others follow the Dream Theater configuration to a smaller or greater extent (these are sometimes referred to as 'traditional progressive metal' bands), but they all have an equal balance between the influences. Over the years progressive metal has gained the title of having longer songs then regular metal, and while this is mostly true, it isn’t always.

These bands are here because they are different, in a sense, than regular metal bands because they not only include metal but different genres as well, such as jazz/fusion, prog rock, and classical music, and put them all together to make an enjoyable sound. Bands and releases who include progressive elements in their music, but whose central sound is more firmly anchored in another genre are placed in that genre - for instance, Enslaved, whose style is progressive and experimental but still quite firmly based in their black metal roots, are placed in the black metal category, while mathcore and progressive metalcore bands are placed in metalcore.

Sub-genre collaborators (shared with Avant-Garde Metal):
  • siLLy puPPy (leader)
  • DippoMagoo
  • Sisslith

progressive metal top albums

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HAKEN The Mountain Album Cover The Mountain
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4.54 | 46 ratings
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DREAM THEATER Images and Words Album Cover Images and Words
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AYREON The Source Album Cover The Source
AYREON
4.61 | 19 ratings
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JOHN ARCH A Twist of Fate Album Cover A Twist of Fate
JOHN ARCH
4.62 | 16 ratings
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ANUBIS GATE Horizons Album Cover Horizons
ANUBIS GATE
4.56 | 20 ratings
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4.34 | 172 ratings
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progressive metal Music Reviews

SYMPHONY X Iconoclast

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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martindavey87
2007’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is, in my opinion, one of the heaviest albums of all time, and having developed their sound over the years from a neo-classical progressive metal act to an extremely heavy, almost power metal-sounding band, it seems Symphony X have settled on a style that suits them perfectly, as ‘Iconoclast’, the bands eighth studio album, released in 2011, follows on from its predecessor as a possible candidate for one of the heaviest albums you’ll ever hear.

What makes Symphony X so heavy, you ask? While people measure heaviness in different ways, in my opinion, it’s the “weight” of the music. The production and the sound, and in this case, the massive and beefy-as-hell guitar riffs. ‘Iconoclast’ is like a ten-ton hammer crushing a thousand skulls at once, and incredibly, despite the sheer intensity and brutality, the album is full of wondrous and beautiful melodies too.

Taking the energy of power metal and the songwriting arrangements of progressive metal, Symphony X’s music is very upbeat and ambitious. With complex orchestrations and masterful musicianship, these guys are at the top of their game, and on par with the genres finest musicians. In particular, guitarist Michael Romeo and vocalist Russell Allen have an absolute synergy rarely seen these days, with Allen’s incredibly versatile range being a perfect match for the guitar riffs.

Released on two discs, or as a one-disc edition for people not willing to spend too much dollar (I wonder how many people actually bought that one), ‘Iconoclast’ is an incredible album with very few flaws. With absolute monstrous beasts such as ‘Electric Messiah’, ‘The End of Innocence’, ‘Bastards of the Machine’, ‘Dehumanized’, ‘Children of a Faceless God’ and ‘Reign in Madness’, this shows that, while Symphony X may not feel inclined to do many classically-inspired prog epics these days, they’ve refused to relent with age, instead, getting heavier and constantly finding ways to update their sound and remain relevant.

‘Iconoclast’ belongs in every metal fans collection. Simple.

HAKEN Aquarius

Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
First things first. The name of this band, HAKEN, rhymes with bacon. NOT with shockin’ or backin.’ My mistake for years has lied with the first variant of mispronunciation. These days we read about many bands but rarely share some of them out loud with persons in our daily conversation. And now to our regularly scheduled review of this London based progressive rock / metal band that took the world by storm in 2010 with their outrageously mature for their new kids on the block debut AQUARIUS. While it may seem like a title that would behoof contemporary worshippers of 60s R&B bands like The Fifth Dimension, which only rings more true if their promo titled “Enter The 5th Dimension” is taken into consideration, nothing could be further from the truth as HAKEN is the complete opposite within the realms of modern day progressive rock with a few metallic moments thrown in to capture the liberal progressive metal crowds, hence the band more often than not appearing on metal sites with the tag progressive metal attached because when the metal is unleashed, it is every bit as intense as any progressive metal madness out there.

However, despite the metal leanings, HAKEN spend a majority of their time focusing on non-metal motifs and considering that AQUARIUS was written first and foremost on the piano and was only then adapted by the chief composer/ guitarist and keyboardist Richard Henshall into a larger paradigm of progressive rock shapeshifting genre jumping eclectic madness, it still somehow finds its way into the metal world to some’s chagrin and other’s boon. In the first decade of the 21st century there has been a gradual cross-pollination of different genre styles within the progressive rock world. The neo-prog section in the progressive rock market for example has been incrementally adding more metallic elements to their hook-laden style which too is primarily composed for keyboards and then allowing the rest of the musical experience to gestate around. Likewise HAKEN took a similar approach and having a similar amount of keyboard plus high pitched vocals as the main sonic frame, simply took all the extra liberties of creating a more dynamic and adventurous take on what bands like Arena, Pallas and Galahad had been working up to.

AQUARIUS is first and foremost a concept album about a mermaid who was discovered by a fisherman who then sells this fish-tailed damsel to a circus. This album has been divisive in many sects of both the prog and metal communities with the Disney-esque thematic approach surely being the point of contention numero uno in which those who can’t stand this album consistently reproach. As the story unfolds it is revealed that this mermaid’s blood is the sole substance that can save the entire human race from impending doom and gloom in the form of a Noah’s ark type flooding scenario resulting from global warming and like a good virgin is sacrificed to the gods for the sake of the many and predictably ends up suffering the same fate. OMG, you really can’t devise a more cheesy plot. This is the stuff of the Lifetime network or tales in an evangelical setting but you know what? Somehow i’ve grown to like this album more than this horrendous lyrical plot would otherwise allow me to do so. The secret to this album’s success lies well beyond the infantile lyrical setting and exclusively in the eminent maturity of the musical expressions that border on sheer genius.

Suffice it to say that this sextet of young adventurous musicians comes across as a veritable conglomeration of seasoned veterans who created an afterthought supergroup more than a band who had only been around for a short time and cranking out their debut album. In the high arts territory of progressive rock and experimental metal, several albums are usually required for a group to finally find their true voice in the crowded fields of talented musicians who have yet to find their unique idiosyncratic expressions. Not so with HAKEN. Lyrical content aside, AQUARIUS is a musical feast for the ears with one hook-laden melody after another teased out into an infinity and fractalized manner of performing brilliant time signature shifts, tempo variations and genre bending antics like well-trained circus performers at their peak. While AQUARIUS may swallow up an entire hour and thirteen minutes of your life with only a couple weak tracks in its midst, the experience is one that has won the hearts of many and deserves much (but not all) of the praise that has been showered upon it.

Second things, second. This is not a metal album per se despite having metal elements aboard. Metalheads have been spoiled by the fact that metal sounding attributes have remained exclusively in the domain of, well, metal for the majority of the genre’s existence. Such is no longer the case. Elements of metal have been cross-pollinating with musical genres for decades but when a full-fledged progressive rock powerhouse like HAKEN finally takes these fusions to a logical extreme, it often ruffles feathers when such bands are deemed metal. Think of this as a progressive rock album first with more metal than usual and all is good. I mean, is Mr. Bungle or Riverside metal most of the time? Not really, but somehow they straddle multiple realities with only the most hardcore crying foul if they are included in the metal universe. Metal music is a vast spectrum at this point and nomenclature is a mere filing system that shouldn’t reflect the true nature of any particular band’s overall metal creds. Musically speaking, HAKEN has all the chops that make an excellent metal album, it’s just that they don’t choose to exercise those given chops throughout the album’s entirety.

AQUARIUS is first and foremost a piano driven melodic experience that highlights the ho hum saccharin storyline and it’s true that while tracks like “Streams,” “Aquarium” and “Sun” take these gut wrenching overweening AOR moments a tad too far, much of the album is a brilliant mix of progressive rock musical compositions and genre jumping instrumental woofiness that embrace a shimmering modern day production job replete with all the brilliant effects such as echoes, symphonic ambience and crystal clear distinction between not only the predominant musical actors such as the guitar, bass, drums and keys accompanied by supplemental musical sounds from the tuba, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute, harp, djembe and ocean drum. The labor of love of AQUARIUS is apparent and the excellent performances nullify and voidify the rather silly lyrical content. BTW, vocalist Ross Jennings despite his best effort of expressing himself in clear and concise clean vocalization and coming across in the same trill Jon Anderson manner throughout the majority of the album, still can’t be understood beneath the musical backdrop.

This is a progressive album in every sense of the word. Lengthy compositions with most hovering around the ten minute mark and the finale “Celestial Elixir” almost hitting the 17 minute mark allow the music to develop at its own pace. While piano dominated in terms of compositional construct, the musicians are often let off the leash with extended guitar and keyboard solos to express themselves in creative new ways unheard before this album. While the overall approach may seem somewhat familiar, i mean this sort of progressive metal has been done with bands like Shadow Gallery, Dream Theater etc, HAKEN do have a unique sound all their own when they deviate from these established paradigms. The tracks uniquely develop their own personalities for the most part but some have more than others. While somewhat restrained by the vocal / piano anchoring that continues throughout, many external liberties are abundant. For example “Drowning In The Flood” seems to adopt a Soundgarden grunge / alt metal approach. The real strength of AQUARIUS is in the hyperactive instrumental parts that jump from polkas and waltzes to a very few death metal growl oriented heavier pieces. Much of the symphonic wizardry evokes a 70s Genesis meets Kansas feel but with a modern heavy neo-prog veneer.

When all is said and done it took me a while to warm up to this album and the band HAKEN in general. While being accused of merely stealing the ideas of others and not really developing a style of their own, which is an accusation i cannot wholeheartedly deny, i have to admit that after many repeated listens to help me decipher the multitude of feelings i’ve experienced in listening to this band and this album specifically, i have to finally admit that i neither find this album to the unabashed masterpiece of the ages that many do, but neither do i find this a complete piece of trash that others want to make it out to be simply because it somehow has been included in a larger metal paradigm despite not really being a metal album. Ultimately what wins me over with AQUARIUS is the musicianship. Yes, the lyrical content and conceptual storyline is laughable but doesn’t detract from an excellent musical listening experience. This is suavely performed with the proper emotional tugs in the neo-prog inspired melodic hooks with the icing on the cake resulting from the extravagant delving into technical workouts. A slow and determined weaseling into my heart but nevertheless, HAKEN has done so with AQUARIUS. Four stars.

INTO ETERNITY The Sirens

Album · 2018 · Progressive Metal
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Kev Rowland
Canadian act Into Eternity released their debut album through DVS back in 1999, with another four coming in quick succession on Century Media, the last two of which two featured Stu Block (Iced Earth) on vocals. The band then decided to put recording on hold, so that they could concentrate on touring internationally. Amanda Keirnan joined on vocals to replace Block, giving the band more depth and breadth with her ability to growl with the best of them as well as providing strong soprano when the need arises. The band decided that after ten years away from the recording scene it was time to return with their sixth album, and they are back with ‘The Sirens’.

Spending many years on the road has obviously paid dividends as the guys are incredibly tight, with melodic guitar runs as sharp as one could wish for, while the rhythm section move between providing a foundation and moving more into the secondary melody. Amanda is a real find, the perfect conduit for the style of music they are performing, which is a mix between Arch Enemy, Death, Opeth and King’s X. It is deep, it is pummelling, it has hints of Judas Priest yet somehow stays more melodic while losing none of the brutality. Some of the guitar solos, such as on the killer song “Sandstorm”, are breathtakingly quick and somehow the band manages to groove and move while at the same time rocking like absolute and total bastards.

They have discovered that fine line between melodic metal and out and out brutality and speed, and have then trampled all over it. This is incredibly clever and solid metal that has much in homage to the death and thrash scene as it does to the prog, and then somehow mixes it all together to create something that fans of all three genres will do well to discover. Let’s just hope that we don’t have to wait another ten years for the next one, surely not.



THE QUIET ROOM Reconceive

Album · 2000 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"Reconceive" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, Denver, Colorado based progressive metal act The Quiet Room. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in April 2000. The band was founded in 1992 and released two full-length studio albums before they disbanded in 2002. Since the release of "Introspect (1998)" there have been quite a few lineup changes as lead vocalist Chadd Castor has been replaced by Pete Jewell, bassist Josh Luebbers is replaced by Rob Munshower, and drummer Mike Rice is replaced by Graeme Wood. The remaining members from the lineup who recorded the debut are George Glasco (guitars), Jason Boudreau (guitars), and Jeff Janeozko (keyboards). So that´s 50% of the members who have been replaced since the last album.

The lineup changes have resulted in quite a different sound to the rather traditional progressive metal sound of "Introspect (1998)", and it´s especially due to the vocal style of Pete Jewell. The instrumental part of the music is a combination of traditional keyboard laden 90s progressive metal combined with harder edged riffs and rhythms (delivered with relatively complex tempo- and time signature changes). There´s an occassional tribal/alternative vibe about the music (listen to "Choke on Me" for an example of this), but it´s just an element of the overall sound. As mentioned it´s in the vocal department, that "Reconceive" stands out the most though. Jewell is quite the versatile singer and can do both clean and more gruff vocals. He predominantly performs the latter though, which makes "Reconceive" quite a different sounding progressive metal release. He doesn´t growl or do anything too extreme, but he has a raw shouting delivery, which is quite atypical for a progressive metal release.

The musicianship is generally on a high level, and the album is also relatively well produced (the guitar tone could have been more pleasant and the guitars could also have packed a bit more punch), so "Reconceive" is overall a pretty good quality album. I´m not sure the most conservative progressive metal listener will find this in his/her taste, but if you enjoy your progressive metal with a groove laden and alternative element, this might be the thing for you. Personally I find "Reconceive" an interesting yet not perfect release, and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

MICHAEL ROMEO War of the Worlds / Pt. 1

Album · 2018 · Progressive Metal
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DippoMagoo
Whenever I listen to a metal album, the one instrument I tend to pay the most attention to is the guitar, as I’ll always love a good, crunchy riff, a killer solo or some awesome melodic leads whenever I hear them. One of my favorite guitarists of all time is Symphony X guitarist Michael Romeo, who has established his own signature sound over the past two and a half decades, and while his style has certainly evolved quite a bit over time, becoming a bit meaner and crunchier and a bit less neoclassical, whenever I hear anything with him performing on it, I can notice his distinct sound immediately. So obviously, I was beyond excited when I heard he was working on a new solo album, with his main band being on a bit of a break at the moment. He did previously make a solo record titled The Dark Chapter, back in 1995, but that was right at the start of his days with SX, and so his sound has changed a lot since then, making a new solo album all the more appealing. He has brought together a talented supporting band to create his new release, War of the Worlds / Pt. 1, an amazing release which promises more to come, based on that title.

Anyone who’s heard a Symphony X album before should have a good idea of what to expect here, as Michael hasn’t strayed too far from his normal style here, offering up the kind of aggressive, epic and at times melodic and relaxing progressive metal his band has become known for. There’s a bit of something for everyone here, with some crunchier, fast-paced tracks with power metal influences, which could have easily come from any of the past few SX albums, while other tracks in the second half of the album are a bit softer, some of them being more complex and having more layers to them, as expected. There’s a couple of tracks in particular that probably comes the closest to Michael’s classic sound than anything else he has done in recent years, which is pretty awesome. At the same time, there’s definitely some new elements here as well, with the album being surprisingly a bit more symphonic than anything he’s done in the past, even getting a bit cinematic at times. There are quite a few softer instrumental portions that have very little to do with metal, instead of being dominated by keyboards, orchestral sounds, and even some electronic effects, so those sections offer up a nice change of pace from the usual material. While Michael is clearly the star here, the other two musicians do a great job as well, with the drums especially sounding excellent, and everything is performed flawlessly, and of course, the production is perfect. Songwriting is quite varied and offers up a nice mix of more straight-forward material with strong vocal melodies, as well as some more complex tracks and a few tracks that are mostly instrumental, including two full instrumentals (one of which is the expected intro track, of course.)

Perhaps the most surprising and impressive thing about this release, though, is the vocals. It’s not like the vocals here are anything radically different from what fans would expect with this sound or anything. In fact, vocalist Rick Castellano manages to channel all aspects of Russell Allen’s vocal style so well, it almost feels like Michael specifically told him to listen exclusively to SX for several hours, focusing mostly on the vocals, so he could perform the vocal melodies on this album exactly how Russell would have. I’m not sure if that actually happened, but either way, Rick certainly pulls it off perfectly, with everything from the gruff, aggressive vocals on heavier sections, to the softer, more emotional vocals during more melodic portions, as well as even the huge backing vocals towards the end of tracks, all being performed to perfection, and certainly sounding familiar but in an amazing way. If I hadn’t been told this was a solo album, I probably would have mistaken it for a new album from Mike’s main band, that’s how similar the vocals sound at times, which is highly impressive, considering Russell Allen is one of my all-time favorite singers.

Of course, the quality of the performances wouldn’t matter a whole lot if the actual songs were no good, but thankfully that isn’t the case here, not in the least. Michael has produced an excellent batch of songs here, which flow together perfectly and certainly feel like they belong together, as expected from the first part of a multi-part concept album. The intro track is pretty impressive, opening up with epic orchestral pieces that certainly have a very cinematic feel to them before the full band kicks in and unleashes a couple minutes of epic instrumental metal. After that, the first full track comes in the form of “Fear the Unknown”, the shortest but also the most explosive of the full-length tracks on this album. It comes firing out of the gates with some epic shredding from Michael before Rick quickly steals the show with some excellent soaring vocals, which carry over into the chorus. There are some excellent riffs and shredding throughout the track, and it’s a very fast-paced, energetic track with a perfect mix of heaviness and great melodies, as well as an excellent instrumental section, as expected. Next is “Black”, the first single of the album, which starts off slowly with some heavy guitars and epic orchestral elements in the background, before the guitars take over after a bit and the music speeds up, becoming another hard-hitting and speedy track. This track is a bit more complex than the opener, mixing in some slower sections to go along with the frantic verses, as well as having some excellent rhythm guitar work at points, but it’s still a pretty speedy track with an excellent chorus, while having several sections where Michael gets to steal the show with some awesome guitar work, as expected. It’s probably the most aggressive track on the album, as well as my personal favorite.

The first surprise of the album comes in the form of “Fucking Robots”, a hilariously named track, which isn’t at all what I would have expected based on its name. Instead of being overly heavy or filled with profanity, it’s actually a fairly light, largely instrumental track with a very cinematic feel to it, as well as having some futuristic sounding keyboard effects and quite a bit of electronic elements. There’s a couple of very melodic vocal sections in the middle, but for the most part, it’s largely instrumental track which doesn’t feel particularly metal, though it’s definitely nicely done and serves as an interesting change of pace. Next is “Djinn”, the most complex and most progressive track on the album. It starts out pretty heavy, with some aggressive riffs, and it stays rather mid-tempo for a bit, before opening up with some huge vocal melodies, and then shifting gears with an extended instrumental section in the middle, which alternates nicely between soft and heavy sections. The track goes through different moods throughout and certainly brings to mind some classics from around the middle period of SX’s career. Speaking of which, “Believe” is a very classic SX feeling track, except with a slightly more cinematic feel to it than normal. It opens up with some nice piano work, which stays there throughout the track, and it’s easily the softest and more emotional track on the album, with some very powerful vocals from Rick. It stays mostly soft throughout, without feeling like a full ballad, instead of being a relaxing track with just a slight metal edge to it, while being very vocal driven, with the guitars mostly playing a secondary role, aside from an epic solo towards the end. Basically, the track reminds me a lot of the two “Accolade” tracks, which have always been among my favorites, and this one is definitely worthy of being mentioned alongside those masterpieces.

The heaviness picks up again with “Differences”, a slightly speedy track with some pretty heavy riffs, which alternates between speedy, energetic verses, and a softer but very powerful chorus where Rick really shines, once again. Next is the full instrumental track “War Machine”, which has some epic guitar work early on, though it’s mostly a very symphonic track, where the orchestral elements dominate and it again has a very cinematic, almost film score like feel to it, particularly reminding of Star Wars at a couple points, except with some heavy guitars added in to make it feel even more epic. The last heavy track is “Oblivion”, a slow but hard-hitting track which feels along the lines of “The Serpent’s Kiss”, with a dark atmosphere as well as some very crunchy riffs and aggressive vocals, mixed in with an excellent chorus, and of course an excellent solo section in the second half. The speedy part in the middle is my favorite moment, but the entire track is excellent. Closing out the album is “Constellations”, a soft and largely instrumental track, which brings back some melodies from the intro, and while Rick doesn’t sing a lot on this track, when he does he sounds incredible and gives perhaps his best performance on the entire album. It’s a very epic and beautiful track, which closes out the album on a definite high note.

Overall, War of the Worlds / Pt. 1 is an excellent solo album from Michael Romeo, which delivers plenty of great riffs and plenty of great moments that will remind listeners of his main band, while times stretching out a bit and going for a more cinematic sound than expected. While Michael is clearly the star, the album also represents a major breakthrough for Rick Castellano, who really excels throughout, and I’d certainly love to hear more from him in the future. The album is obviously recommended for all fans of Symphony X, as well as for anyone looking for some aggressive and fun prog, with some nice melodies to go along with the expected huge instrumental sections. I certainly look forward to hearing Pt. 2, whenever it comes, and hope for it to be on par with this one.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2018/07/20/michael-romeo-war-of-the-worlds-pt-1-review/

progressive metal movie reviews

DREAM THEATER Breaking The Fourth Wall

Movie · 2014 · Progressive Metal
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rdtprog
It seems like it was just yesterday that the Luna Park DVD was released. Now it's another one from the Boston Opera House less than a year later. The show is divided in three acts. The first act is tracks from the last two albums and the song "A Trial of Tears" from "Falling to Infinity". The second act is 5 songs from the "Awake" album to celebrate his 20th anniversary and the third act is the encore celebrating again "Scene from a Memory" with his 15th anniversary. On those 2 albums, the band use the same pattern by starting to play the technical, fast and heavy songs like "The Mirror", "Lie", "Overture 1928" and "Strange Déjà Vu" and finishing with the slower and emotional songs like "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream", "Space Dye Vest" and "Finally Free".

"The Illumination Theory", the most progressive and the epic song of the last album is played with an orchestra in the second act which is the perfect fit with this song that contains an irresistible classical break in the middle. The picture is crystal clear and the camera work more satisfying than the "Luna Park" DVD. As for the sound, I had to crank up the volume very high to get the full sound. Again, I wish we could hear John Myung louder, but that's what happens on live recording, it rarely match the sound quality of a studio release. James Labrie's voice is in nice shape as well as all others members. It's another nice addition to your Dream Theater collection. 3. 8 stars.

DREAM THEATER Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra

Movie · 2006 · Progressive Metal
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AtomicCrimsonRush
I always look forward to putting this DVD on as I know I am going to get the best of both worlds; symphonic orchestrated music and full on Dream Theater prog. I agree with some reviewers that the setlist is not exactly mind blowing but it nevertheless spans the 5 year history. It is interesting the way the orchestra blends into the metal sound, similar to the Metallica S&M concert, or indeed Kiss Alive IV. It is always of interest when metal meets symphony. The DVD "Score" is very well produced, sharp editing throughout and excellent sound quality. There is nothing wrong with the visuals at all, with the band members sharing the spotlight, but the problem lies in the setlist itself. There are too many omissions and some opportunities wasted in the early part of the concert.

It opens with some deadset oddities such as The root of all evil, I walk beside you, Another won and Afterlife. It isn't until Under A Glass Moon that it really takes off showing the power of that brilliant track and Petrucci's amazing guitar solo. Later we are treated with The spirit carries on and the entire suite of Six degrees of inner turbulence; absolutely flawless and indispensable on the live stage. After an ovation the band belt out Vacant, The answer lies within, Sacrificed Sons and the masterpiece epic Octavarium that is quintessential to the band. The Encore: Metropolis Pt. 1 is a brilliant way of ending the concert to a rapturous crowd.

Disc 2 is packed with some hit and miss Bonus material including a mammoth 20th Anniversary Documentary, that has some fascinating info on the band and the way that not everything goes to plan on a tour. Portnoy has too much to say and now it is a bitter taste now he has scarpered and been replaced. The Octavarium Animation is terrific, and the live performances are always a treat including Another Day (Tokyo - 1993), The Great Debate (Bucharest, Romania - 2002) and Honor Thy Father (Chicago - 2005).

The DVD comes with high recommendations due to the visual quality, and overall package. Ignore the early part of the set and just enjoy DT at their absolute best in the middle half of the concert accompanied by masterful orchestration. A must for all DT fans and one of the best DT DVDs available to this point in time.

DREAM THEATER Live at Budokan

Movie · 2004 · Progressive Metal
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AtomicCrimsonRush
One of the first DVDs I saw of Dream Theater before the onslaught of DVDs that have come since. This is an early performance and of considerable interest as a result. These were the glory days of Dream Theater ramming prog down the throats of the hungry Budokan fans. It is an incredible performance best seen than heard though the audio experience offers much as a type of Dream Theater concoction of the best of the earlier years. The CD is good listening but the visual persentation is incredible. There are a few odd surprises scattered in the mammoth set list but the classics are here and played to perfection. Beyond This Life is a huge epic clocking 19:37, and with some dynamic lead guitar from Petrucci. The Test That Stumped Them All is always a killer track live and sounds fresh and powerful with huge bass runs of Myung and Portnoy's slamming percussion.

Endless Sacrifice is an 11 minute gruelling journey into prog excess with a wild keyboard section from Rudess. The Instrumedley to follow features some awesome musicianship. LaBrie is in fine form on soaring vocals, and shines on such compositions as the 14 minute Trial Of Tears and New Millennium. It is always a pleasure to experience a Jordan Rudess keyboard solo and it is as inventive here as ever. There are some amazing songs such as Solitary Shell, Stream Of Consciousness and quintessential Pull Me Under. The set closes with epic 16 minute In The Name Of God. So overall this is a great set with power metal and tons of instrumental breaks. It is progressive and packed to the gills with mind bending virtuoso solos and material from some of their best albums. It was the "Train of Thought" tour so there is plenty from that album as well as "Six Degrees" and "Images and Words" among others.

The special features are wonderful featuring 'Riding The Train Of Thought" a Japanese Tour Documentary of about half an hour, and John Petrucci Guitar World segment, Jordan Rudess Keyboard World, and a Mike Portnoy Drum Solo clocking 12 minutes. The Dream Theater Chronicles - 2004 Tour Opening Video is okay showing the video the crowd saw in the opening, and Instrumedley with multi-angles is lots of fun. Overall it is a fantastic DVD concert, and all Dream Theater fans must have it.

DREAM THEATER Metropolis 2000: Scenes from New York

Movie · 2001 · Progressive Metal
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Dellinger
Since this DVD is a live interpretation from the studio album of the same name, and the source material is great, of course the concert is also a great experience. Of course, having the plus of seeing the band perform is a great advantage for this release, specially given that watching this guys play is a great experience. However, one big disapointment from this release is that it misses many other songs that are included on the CD release of this live album, which I really wanted to see them perform. The performance of the songs is really great, with everyone in fine form... except perhaps LaBrie who at times can't keep to his studio performance. My favourite songs are "Overture 1928 / Strange Deja Vu", "Fatal Tragedy", "Home" and "Finally Free". Now, the video from this concert has many acted scenes from the story inserted throughout the performance, which is kind of nice for it helps to keep track of the story... however, on "Fianally Free", this scenes got extra annoying, and blocked the performance of the band throughout the whole murder part, which is perhaps one of the strongest parts of the album and one I would have loved to see them performing (well, at least the second time they play a very similar section near the end of the song we can actually see the band playing it, but still it is annoying). "Beyond this Life", is also a very cool song, specially at the beginning, but then it kind of drags on and loses some of it's spark. "The Dance of Eternity", however, is one song I still can't get into, just a bit too messy and full of fast and technical playing just for the sake of it.

On the other hand, what usually draggs this bands albums are their ballads. The one ballad I actually liked on the studio album was "One Last Time", though something kind of doesn't work so well on this release... I guess it's the vocals and backing vocals, which are kind of weaker here. However, "Through her eyes" and "The Spirit Carries On", are really upgraded here, with extra vocals from Theresa Thompson and gorgeous guitars from Petrucci.

From the extra songs, I was never a big fan of the "Mind Beside Itself" set of songs, but "Learning to Live" and "A Change of Seasons" are both among my favourite DT songs, and having them on video here is a great thing.

TOOL Vicarious

Movie · 2007 · Progressive Metal
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Earendil
Many descriptions and reviews on the internet are misleading about the content of this Vicarious DVD, and for that reason I didn't purchase it until recently. What a mistake to wait! This DVD is essential for any Tool fan and an excellent find for anyone who likes the surreal, psychedelic, and strange. The main feature of the DVD is the Vicarious short film, which is Tool's first completely CGI video. Adam Jones and Alex Grey are the two main artists behind the video, and it's a really cool experience to see their ideas merge. Anyways here are the full DVD contents:

1. Vicarious music video (9 minutes)

2. 2 overdubs of the music video with actor/comedian David Cross making hilarious commentary (18 minutes)

3. Vicarious documentary (40 minutes)

4. Footage of the storyboards from Alex Grey and Adam Jones (1 minute)

5. Footage of Alex's art gallery COSM and him talking about it (4 minutes)

Rating: 8/10

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