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:
  • DippoMagoo
  • Necrotica

progressive metal top albums

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AYREON The Source Album Cover The Source
AYREON
4.74 | 12 ratings
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OPETH Still Life Album Cover Still Life
OPETH
4.41 | 171 ratings
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TOOL Lateralus Album Cover Lateralus
TOOL
4.35 | 115 ratings
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ANUBIS GATE Horizons Album Cover Horizons
ANUBIS GATE
4.50 | 17 ratings
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PAGAN'S MIND
4.48 | 19 ratings
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4.44 | 25 ratings
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4.32 | 150 ratings
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progressive metal Music Reviews

7 MONTHS 7 Months

Album · 2002 · Progressive Metal
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martindavey87
Fans of Enchant will be in for a treat here, as I find that 7 Months sound very similar to the progressive rock legends, so much so, that vocalist Joe Booe could probably pass as Ted Leonard. And that's certainly not a bad thing.

7 Months' self-titled debut album is a pretty decent effort by a band that hasn't been very active since forever. In fact, for a prog band that nobody has really heard of, this is a great little gem if you stumble across it! While there's nothing here that hasn't been done better by other bands, the songs are all very well written and easy to listen to. Joe Booe has an incredible voice (if you like Ted Leonard, that is), and the music perfectly compliments it.

The music at times sounds very AOR-ish and very melodic, making even the rocking moments sound blissful, and as a whole, while this album isn't anything incredible or amazing, I can't find any reason to knock it. If you needed a reason to check out this band, then the closing track 'Senorita Serenade' is definitely it. This song makes the entire record worthwhile, with melodic and epic elements, great guitar work and some fantastic keyboard melodies, this is a fantastic song that really brings it all together. And of course, the vocals on this track are some of the best I've ever heard.

A good album if you come across it. Especially for fans of Enchant.

DOMINICI O3: A Trilogy, Part 3

Album · 2008 · Progressive Metal
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martindavey87
Dominici is back to finish what would be a daunting undertaking for the most accomplished of bands, with this, the third and final part of his 'O3' trilogy. And I sure hope you enjoyed the previous installment if you're listening to this, because this takes everything that was great with its predecessor and jacks it up with enough steroids to get a lifetime ban from playing sports! (Huh?)

Picking up where 'Part 2' left off, 'O3: A Trilogy Part 3' is practically identical in every way. The production sounds the same, the music sounds the same (although it's certainly a lot heavier and more intense this time around), the vocals and lyrical content for the most part is all the same, this really is just a continuation of the trilogy.

And it's a damn good one, at that.

Bringing a close to Dominici's trilogy, the storyline itself is somewhat over-the-top and almost convoluted. It makes sense, but it certainly takes a lot of twists and turns that steer it completely off-path from where the story started. Not that that's really a criticism or anything, as the music itself is still fantastic and will definitely please fans of the genre. A true highlight of this album is the guitar work of Brian Maillard (who?). This guy has some incredible chops and holds the distinction of playing some of the heaviest riffs known to man. 'King of Terror', 'Liquid Lightning', 'Hell on Earth' and 'Revelation' are relentlessly heavy assaults on the listeners senses, and a sure treat for fans of heavy music, progressive or not.

With songwriting and musicianship that seems a lot more polished, tighter and consistent than before, this is, in my opinion, the best chapter of the trilogy, and brings to a close a fine collection of albums that belongs in every progressive metal fans collection.

ANDROMEDA Manifest Tyranny

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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martindavey87
'Manifest Tyranny', the fifth album by Swedish progressive metal band Andromeda, once again sees the group pushing themselves to try new things and evolve their sound. Taking a mixture of the all-out riffage displayed in 'The Immunity Zone' and the proggy atmosphere of 'Chimera', this is a band who sounds a lot more mature and "complete" than on previous releases, with the chemistry between them firmly showing in the intensity of the music.

This is also the album where Andromeda succumbed to the dreaded metal cliché that is the politcal album! Lyrically, this isn't much different than any other band who has politically-themed songs, lashing out at corrupt governments that favour the rich, keep secrets from the public and advocate wars. The usual. Musically however, the band are as tight and as coherent as ever.

As always, each member here really demonstrates abilities that puts them at the top of their chosen field. After the more stripped down approach of their previous album, 'The Immunity Zone', guitarist Johan Reinholdz is prepared to rip things up again, shredding to his hearts content with some mind-blowing guitar acrobatics, which are matched note-for-note by keyboardist Martin Hedin. The interplay between these two is phenominal, and puts them right up there with the other top musicians in the genre.

With such heavy hitters as 'Stay Unaware', 'Preemptive Strike', 'Antidote', 'Survival of the Richest' and 'Chosen by God', as well as the softer 'Go Back to Sleep', Andromeda have released an album that further solidifies them as one of progressive metal's finest bands, and a worthy successor to Dream Theater's throne.

THE BLACK MAGES The Black Mages II: The Skies Above

Album · 2004 · Progressive Metal
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martindavey87
Nobuo Uematsu and his dastardly clan of Black Mages are back with 'The Skies Above', a sequel to their self-titled debut which features progressive metal versions of music composed for the Final Fantasy video games (composed, I should add, by Uematsu himself).

Random nugget for you, but I've never played any of the Final Fantasy games.

Now, I'm not usually a big fan of instrumental albums. While I do enjoy the music, I find it tedious sitting through so much of it in one go, so it's surprising to me that 'The Black Mages', the bands first outing, is a personal favourite of mine, and was awarded as such, with five stars.

'The Black Mages' was heavily keyboard-driven, full of energy and overall a lot of fun. 'The Skies Above' just seems the complete opposite. The songs seem more guitar-oriented, and the fun and enthusiasm of the first seems to have been replaced by super seriousness. It's not bad, but this album just lacks that joyful energy.

There's two songs with vocals this time around. 'Otherworld' and 'The Skies Above'. Both are good songs, and the vocals do break up the monotony a little. On the instrumental side of things, tracks like 'Hunter's Chance', 'The Man With the Machine Gun' and 'Battle With the Four Fiends' are notable tracks that make this album a worthy purchase, but sadly none of them live up to what's come before.

'The Skies Above' is a bit of a mixed bag. There's some good songs and some bad ones. There's a lot of styles covered which keeps things somewhat interesting, and the musicianship is of a high standard, though sometimes wasted on uninteresting arrangements. Overall, it's a good album, but if it's your introduction to the band then you're better off going with their self-titled debut.

SHADOW GALLERY Room V

Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal
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martindavey87
We all love concept albums, right? If there was one cliché that firmly embodies the essence of progressive music it's concept albums. Records which use narratives to link all the songs together, they often encapsulate the peak of an artist's creativity and on most occasions, the peak of their commercial and critical success. However, if rock operas can be seen as "prog 101", then we all know what to expect somewhere down the line... the sequel!

And that brings us to 'Room V' (that's "Room Five"), Shadow Gallery's sequel to the excellent 'Tyranny' album. I'm not going to deny, the story is a bit challenging to follow, and certainly not something I can summarize in a way that makes sense. It involves government conspiracies, biological weapons, and umm... lots of amazing music!

Anyone familiar with Shadow Gallery will know what to expect from this band, and for those of you who aren't... well, they're a progressive metal band... come on! Full of incredibly mind-blowing musicianship, heartfelt and sincere vocals, and plenty of catchy chorus's that'll have you humming along to every word, there's plenty of twists and turns in the plot that keep the music engaging throughout. There's also an abundance of interludes and rather unnecessary musical passages that make the album feel slightly cluttered at times, and extends the duration to a staggering 75 minutes.

However, the band compensate for the duration of the album with arguably some of their strongest work, with highlights including 'The Archer of Ben Salem', 'Vow', 'The Andromeda Strain', 'Comfort Me' and the title track, 'Room V'. Each one makes all the segues and interludes tolerable.

Proving why Shadow Gallery are one of the most underrated bands the genre has to offer, 'Room V' is an incredible album, and a worthy sequel to 'Tyranny'.

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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