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
  • DippoMagoo
  • Sisslith
  • adg211288

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progressive metal Music Reviews

MESHUGGAH None

EP · 1994 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
MESHUGGAH has never been the most prolific of bands and that was quite apparent even in the beginning. While the debut EP emerged in 1989, it took two years to release the first album “Contradictions Collapse” and it would take three more for the next chapter in the MESHUGGAH universe to unfold and with the release of yet another EP in the form of 1994’s NONE, the band took another significant leap into the djent fueled progressive angularity of the future. While clearly rooted in the Metallica leaning origins, by this time the influences are more distant as the band had started to extend past the thrash leanings of Slayer, Metallica and Sepultura.

One of the major differences came in the form of a fifth member as Mårten Hagström joined the team as rhythm guitarist so that Jens Kidman could focus exclusively as vocalist. This minor tweaking of the lineup allowed for a radical change in the band’s direction as not only was Kidman let off the leash to break free from his James Hetfield limitations and expand into new territories but the addition of Hagström’s rhythmic staccato styled riffing was exactly what MESHUGGAH needed to break their infatuation with late 80s Metallica worship. The result is that NONE is really the beginning of the classic MESHUGGAH sound that would only continue to evolve into the surreal avant-metal beast that would be fully unleashed on “Destroy Erase Improve.”

The EP that slightly surpasses the half hour mark starkly contrasts with its predecessor as the opening “Humiliative” begins with surreal spacey effects accompanied by the robotic hypnosis of the classic MESHUGGAH chugs that essentially launched a new guitar style called djent, an onomatopoeia for the distinctive high-grain, distorted, palm-muted, low-pitch guitar sound that debuts right here on NONE’s first track. Despite the thrash leanings still present, they are seriously teased into more inventive creatures with progressive time signatures, innovative guitar soloing and some of the jazz-fusion elements slowly oozing into the band’s overall sound. Add to that there are some seriously adventurous percussive outbursts and bass grooves that deviate from the simpler status quo of “Contradictions Collapse.”

The track “Ritual” debuts the jazz-fusion guitar intros and sounds like the band also went for lower string tunings which results in a darker, more sinister feel. While on this track Kidman does evoke a hint of James Hetfield inspiration, as does the general melodic riff, the band are also displaying how they are separating from the earlier albums by creating a more cacophonous storm of dissonance as the melody is slowly drifting away into a parallel universe and would emerge more disfigured once it arrives on the following “Destroy Erase Improve” album.

While that track and the more Pantera laced groove metal elements of “Gods Of Rapture” connect MESHUGGAH to its trash metal origins, the true leap in innovation comes to fruition on the frighteningly bombastic hypnosis of the near eleven minute closer “Aztec Two-Step” which demonstrates how MESHUGGAH was walking the tightrope between the thrash oriented early releases and the much more experimental and challenging albums to come. The track runs the gamut of tech thrash, progressive djent and delves into weird changes that would be a MESHUGGAH trademark of the future however the lengthy periods of silence at the end are annoying.

NONE was released on both CD and cassette in 1994 but also appeared on the compilation simply titled “Contradictions Collapse & None” however buyer beware! This comp only contains the first four tracks and doesn’t include the most experimental wild ride “Aztec Two-Step” but yet contains the track “Cadeverous Mastication” which wasn’t on the original “Contradictions Collapse” album and only tacked on later. It actually appeared on the debut EP in 1989, so my advice is to seek this one out in its original five track format. NONE is the moment when MESHUGGAH came of age and although not as perfected as what was to come, still signified a band that had shed its love affair with its influences and stepped up to the plate with some of the most bizarre metal to emerge in the early 90s.

SEVENTH WONDER Tiara

Album · 2018 · Progressive Metal
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Kev Rowland
It has been eight years since the last album from Seventh Wonder, but they are finally back with their fifth studio album with just one line-up change from ‘The Great Escape’. I am not really sure why it has taken so long for them to release this, but I presume the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of singer Tommy Karevik who also joined Kamelot with whom he has released three albums. But they are back, and in many ways it is almost as if they have never been away. This is very polished melodic rock with symphonic overtones and great vocals (yes, I know they are often classed as prog metal, but while this is a great album, prog metal it isn’t).

Tommy Karevik is recognised as being one of the best frontmen around, and here he is being given the perfect playground. Given that bass player Andreas Blomqvist, guitarist Johan Liefvendahl and drummer keyboard player Andreas “Kyrt” Söderin have all been in the band since 2000 it should be no surprise they lock in well, while drummer Stefan Norgren (ex: Lion´s Share) drives the music along with a much more powerful and dynamic approach to many in this field. This is melodic and powerful, and far heavier than would often be expected from bands on the Frontiers label. Let’s hope it isn’t quite so long until the next one.

DREAM THEATER Distance Over Time

Album · 2019 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
DREAM THEATER sure has had an amazing run throughout their three decade career which began all the way back in 1989 with the debut “When Dream And Day Unite.” Lauded for the following “Images And Words,” this Boston turned NYC based band was one of the key players in reviving the slumbering progressive rock scene and ground zero for bringing progressive metal into the larger public consciousness. Lo and behold, despite all the turbulence of the ups and downs throughout their career and just as many misses as hits, the band returns 30 years after their debut with their 14th studio album DISTANCE OVER TIME which continues the stability of the 21st century lineup which includes many of the legends: James LaBrie (vocals), John Petrucci (guitars), John Myung (bass) and Jordan Rudess (keyboards). And continuing the DT ride since his debut in 2011 is Portnoy’s replacement Mike Mangini on drums.

As with many of the progressive metal bands that have come and gone since DT’s early 90s triumph on the music scene, this band too has had to find that delicate balance between crafting compositions that are accessible to a large dedicated fanbase with finding the room to experiment and expand into newer arenas. And much like many more progressively oriented bands DT has found that it strayed a little left field from what the fanbase expects of them and such is the case with the previous album “The Astonishing” which found the whole plethora of responses ranging from opinions as the band’s absolute worst album ever and should be hurled into the trash bins to the other extreme of those who absolutely adore extremely lengthy rock opera infused pompousness in their prog metal. Fortunately the band seems to have their fingers on the pulse of the situation and always seem to bounce back after dodging the career crashing bullet that plagues bands who have achieved such popularity.

And so it is. DISTANCE OVER TIME seems like an album that was designed to reel the fans back to some of the classic aspects of the band, namely progressively constructed compositions that are based on strong melodies, tight performances and technical wizardry to shock and awe, well at least for those who have not become inured to this now tried and true style of prog metal playing. DREAM THEATER also forged their new creation so that it could be performed in live settings in conjunct with the 20th anniversary of the 5th studio album “Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory,” which still remains one of the band’s most respected and popular albums of the entire DT canon and while DISTANCE OVER TIME certainly doesn’t outshine its 90s predecessor, it certainly does revive a sort of musical mojo of heavy no-nonsense metal delivery not heard since 2003’s “Train Of Thought.”

For all the bloated excess of “The Astonishing,” DISTANCE OVER TIME takes the opposite extreme. While the former was a behemoth double album that sprawled ten minutes past the two hour mark, the latter sits comfortably under the 57 minute run and is the shortest album since the band’s debut 30 years ago. Likewise the tracks are streamlined into more digestible chunks with none extending past the 10 minute mark and only “At Wit’s End” coming close at 9:20. From a business perspective, this was a very wise move as it allows prog metalheads the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with what attracted them to the band in the first place without having to dedicate excessive quantities of time and effort to pierce the impenetrable veil, not to mention the annoying fact that when DT releases an album of such overweening length, many tracks contain more padding than a tween’s first training bra. For complex music with a technical flare, shorter is always the answer, at least for an album that lacks epic transcendental qualities.

Admittedly, DREAM THEATER is a band i’ve had a love / hate relationship over the years and i suspect many share this sentiment given the high / low ratings of their albums that checker the canon as high ratings alternate with low ones. For me, DT still found their heyday in the 90s and peaked with 2002’s “Six Degrees Of Turbulence” and everything thereafter has pretty much been a somewhat stagnate retread, albeit a competent one of the former glory. In this regard DISTANCE OVER TIME firmly falls into that camp. The band members as brilliant as they are continuously fail to evolve past their classic “Awake” sound that implements the punishing guitar antics fortified with keyboard wizardry, operatic vocals and percussive bombast and although DT crafts a roster of pleasantries that tick off all the expects boxes on the checklist. The band seems to alternate between exploring new territories that don’t connect with the audience and then retreating to the status quo with no additional surprises.

In the end, DISTANCE OVER TIME successfully dishes out nine well crafted tracks that flow together fairly well without over-sappifying into wretch-inducing ballads and are displayed in rather well constructed vocal rhythmic passages augmented with blistering face melting technical wankery. This is what makes DT an interesting listen time and time again when they focus on these more intense aspects of their sound. However, DISTANCE OVER TIME will offer no surprises, no deviations from anything that has come before and the touched by the gods magical mojo of earlier albums like “Images And Words” is still a fading memory of the past. So once again, DT delivers a competent album that stands up well amongst the less talented contemporaries but in comparison to the band’s own majesty of their history, doesn’t really muster up enough goods to really get overexcited about. Generic to the hilt but generic performed in fully fueled DT excellence of course. While the album may make some waves in the here and now of 2019, i very much doubt that DT will be celebrating THIS album 20 years from now.

DARKWATER Human

Album · 2019 · Progressive Metal
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DippoMagoo
Sweden has produced a lot of great melodic prog over the years, with some of my favorite Swedish prog bands being Seventh Wonder, Evergrey and Wolverine. One really unique and special band that had gone under my radar until recently is Darkwater, a band who’s been around since the early 2000s, but they’ve only released two albums up to this point. I gave their second release, Where Stories End, a listen recently and was immediately impressed by the band’s unique brand of melodic prog, which has some of the atmosphere of a band like Evergrey, as well as some of the technical musicianship and more complex songwriting of Dream Theater, while also putting in some of their own special touches, to help create their own fresh sound. Their third full-length release, Human, is due for release this coming week, and it continues where the band left off over 8 years ago, building on their unique sound while pushing it further with some new elements to help create their best album yet

One thing the band specializes in is managing to balance perfectly between heavy riffs, big melodic choruses, and some more subtle atmospheric sections. All of these elements are in place in some way or another on all of their tracks, and they’re always blended together in very effective ways, with Markus Sigfridsson providing some excellent guitar work, both on the heavier side and with some excellent melodic solos, and with keyboardist Magnus Holmberg setting the tone wonderfully with his symphonic keys, which generally have a dark tone to them, but still manage to sound beautiful at times, and they certainly do a great job of creating atmosphere. Another important element is vocalist Henrik Båth, who has a warm, deep voice, which fits in with the music perfectly. He sings with a lot of emotion and provides a powerful, yet very smooth performance throughout the album.

The band at times remind me of Evergrey at their best, with their ability to mix some very heavy riffs with some dark and foreboding keys, but they tend to have more extended instrumental sections, as well as some more complex arrangements. At the same time, their music is certainly more accessible and more melodic than the likes of Dream Theater, and so the band manages to create their own sound that fits them perfectly, drawing some influence from other bands, while still managing to stand out. Human expands on their sound in a big way, offering up more variety and more intensity than their previous album did, while still continuing to provide listeners with everything they’ve come to expect from the band.

Everything is expertly performed and produced, but of course, the most important area is the songwriting, and that is where the band has really come through on this release. One of the best tracks is the opener, and second single, “A New Beginning”, and it actually lives up to its name, as it manages to feel equal parts fresh and familiar, in that it maintains the general sound of the band’s previous work, while being faster paced and a bit heavier than usual. It introduces some light power metal elements, which appear on and off throughout the album, and help add an extra layer to the music, to go along with the increased symphonic elements, which were already there on Where Stories End, yet feel a bit more prominent this time around. This track opens up with some nice piano before the symphonic keys take over, and then the heavy guitars kick in and the track takes off at a pretty fast pace, with some very heavy riffs. This keeps up throughout the opening verse, which charges ahead with some of the band’s heaviest, speediest material ever, though this eventually gives way to a slow, soft and very melodic chorus, where Henrik’s excellent vocals and the more atmospheric elements of their music began to take over. The track alternates very fluidly between these two styles, with some more softer portions later in the track, while also delivering some more heavy guitar work and speedy tempos during a great instrumental section. It’s an excellent track overall, and a great indication of what to expect from the album on the whole.

The band goes back to more familiar territory with third single “In Front of You”, a slow but very hard hitting track, which opens up with some heavy, chugging guitar work, before claiming down for some atmospheric verses. The chunky guitar work returns for the chorus, which is intense, but very well sung and very memorable, and while the song is definitely one of the heaviest and darkest here, it still sneaks in some great melodies, especially during an excellent solo in the second half. Next is a brief interlude, “Alive (Part I)”, which has some soft guitar work, ambient keys and very soft and beautiful vocals from Henrik. Unsurprisingly, it gives way to the lead single, “Alive {Part II}”, which is one of the best on the album, as well as being very clearly a Darkwater song through and through. It has some nice lead guitar work, some excellent melodies, and some very nice atmospheric keys, as well as slight symphonic elements to help add some extra flavor. It isn’t overly fast, but it moves at a nice pace during the verses and instrumental sections, but the highlight is the chorus, where Henrik delivers a very powerful and extremely emotional performance, while the lyrics are also inspirational and very well written. It’s an excellent track overall, and a perfect indication of what to expect from the album.

Following one of the more accessible tracks, we have the longest on the album in “Reflection of a Mind”, a much slower moving, more melodic track. It has some excellent ambient keys and symphonic elements throughout, with some excellent, softer verses that help build up the tension, while the chorus is rather subdued, but very melodic and well sung, as always. The track stays soft throughout, aside from a brief burst of heaviness in the second half, but it’s another very emotional track, with very good lyrics and excellent vocals from Henrik, and slightly sped up last run through the chorus is amazing. Next is one of the shorter tracks, “Insomnia”, and it’s another one that has some minor power metal influence, moving at a pretty fast pace during its chorus. It starts off slow, with some dark and heavy riffs during the verses, before picking up the tempo a bit before the chorus, and then the chorus itself is fast, heavy and very fun, while still having some nice atmospheric keys. It’s another track which strikes a nice balance between being heavy, melodic, atmospheric and emotional, and it manages to blend everything together perfectly, while also including some cool, folk-influenced melodies in the second half, which is pretty interesting. It’s probably my favorite on the album, due to how addictive it is, though there are no less than great tracks on the album…

Next is “The Journey”, which is a slower, more introspective track, and one which makes great use of symphonic keys and more ambient keys. It has an epic feel to it, but in more of a dark and sinister way during the verses, before opening up for a lighter, very melodic chorus, with some very powerful and emotional vocals. It’s yet another track which seamlessly blends heavy, melodic and atmospheric passages, with the verses being very intense, the instrumental sections being complex and a bit foreboding, while the chorus is very accessible and melodic. Another one of my favorites on the album is “Burdens”, which starts off with some soft, yet very atmospheric acoustic guitar work, before eventually picking up the pace a bit and allowing for some more heavy guitar work. It’s another fairly mid-paced track, with some great guitar work and excellent keys throughout, but the highlight is the chorus, which is very melodic and has some of the most emotional vocals on the album, before giving way to some very heavy and sinister guitar work. The band’s tone blending is on perfect display, yet again, with the heavier sections serving as a perfect contrast to the very melodic chorus, while the ambiance is strong throughout, to help make it another addictive, yet very well crafted track.

Nearing the end, “Turning Pages” is another very atmospheric track, which reminds me of a lot of Evergrey in places. It opens up with some very soft keys, before picking up the pace and becoming one of the heavier tracks on the album, with some pretty epic symphonic keys in the background. It moves at a pretty good pace for a while, before slowing down again, and it’s another track that alternates fluidly between heavy, faster passages, and slower, more melodic passages while being pretty creepy and atmospheric throughout. It’s some of the chunkier guitar work that reminds of Evergrey, but in a good way, as it’s very well done and very intense, while still fitting in with the dark tone of the track. Closing out the album is “Light of Dawn”, which is unsurprisingly a more calm and melodic track, while still having some heavy guitar work in brief bursts. It’s another track where the atmospheric keys are a highlight, along with some soft and very emotional vocals from Henrik. The chorus is light but very powerful, and the lyrics are excellent once again. It’s a track which has some great vocal melodies, while also being fairly complex and having some excellent instrumental work, with an absolutely beautiful solo in the middle. It’s an excellent track overall, and it closes out the album very nicely.

While Darkwater may not be as well known as some of the other great prog bands in their country, they are certainly every bit as worthy of attention, and Human shows them stepping up their game, with some more atmospheric, melodic and at times very heavy songs, which are enhanced by strong vocals, and some very emotional, well-written lyrics. It’s an album that does have its share of fun and flashy moments but also manages to be very subtle at points, and it’s clearly a lovingly crafted album, with a ton of little details in each track. All fans of the the band’s previous work should love this album, as it’s clearly their best yet, while many fans of melodic prog looking for something with good atmosphere, heavy riffs, and a strong, emotional vocal performance, are also highly recommended to give this a listen, as it’ll almost certainly be one of the best albums of its kind released this year. This band likes to take their time making music, but as long as they can keep producing music of this caliber, the wait will always be worth it!

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/02/24/darkwater-human-review/

QUEENSRŸCHE The Verdict

Album · 2019 · Progressive Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Queensrÿche have been on a hell of a hot streak since they got former Crimson Glory frontman Todd La Torre in and started a band called Rising West, playing material from Queensrÿche’s first EP and first 4 albums, following the departure of their long time legendary singer Geoff Tate.

When they changed their name from Rising West back to Queensrÿche, and released their self-titled album in 2013, (with great tracks like ‘Where Dreams Go To Die,’ ‘Redemption’ and ‘Vindication’), it was an utterly excellent batch of material and the ensuing live shows saw the band energised and revitalised in one of the best late-career renaissances in the history of Metal (up there with the likes of Kreator and Accept for later-year triumphs). The following album Condition Human was a strong follow-up that kept up the quality.

As you can imagine, their third album since this revitalisation, 2019’s The Verdict, is my most anticipated album of this year. When they dropped the pre-release tracks, such as ‘Man The Machine,’ ‘Dark Revierie’ and ‘Blood Of The Levant’ it was every bit as good, if not better, than Condition Human’s pre-release tracks like the excellent ‘Arrow Of Time’ and ‘Hellfire.’

With all these expectations I had built up in my head, I was fearful I had built it up too much and set myself up for disappointment.

After having listened to it both via streaming while I waited for the postman, and on CD repeatedly after delivery, I am happy to inform you that not only is it not a disappointment, but rather it is the best Toddryche album to date. Arguably the band’s best album in a very long time at all, Todd or no Todd.

Even from myself, who doesn’t dislike any Queensrÿche album, (even the controversial ones), this ranks easily in the top half of their discography, top quarter even! I hate statements like “it’s the band’s best album since…’’ but in this case, it really feels true.

The production, (once again by ‘Zeuss’) is brilliant. All instruments are clear and distinct, you can hear the bass at all times, you can separate each guitar from each-other and the drums sound fat and powerful. Speaking of drums; Now that singer Todd La Torre is also playing drums this time around as well as his singing duties while classic drummer Scott Rockenfield is on paternity leave, you also get some drum styles you don’t usually hear on a Queensrÿche album. (Have a quick listen to ‘Launder The Conscience’ and ‘Light Years’ and listen to the beats to see what I mean).

The press prior to this saw Whip telling everyone that this was their heaviest and most progressive album in a while. Usually statements like that are always wrong. Strangely though, again, in this case, it really feels true.

There are some nice heavy moments on here; such as the aforementioned pre-released tracks, ‘Man The Machine and ‘Blood Of The Levant’ as well the very crunchy ‘Inner Unrest’ amonst others, and furthermore, there are some great proggy moments; such as ‘Bent,’ ‘Portrait’ and ‘Inside Out.’ There’s moments that recall the middle-eastern vibes of their American Soldier and Tribe albums, there’s some of the bass-driven textured stuff like their underrated Operation Mindcrime 2 album, and there’s some of the trippy expansive stuff reminiscent of their Promised Land album.

As well as the heavy and proggy stuff, there is just loads of great, catchy, accessible Hard Rock meets Heavy Metal material that has been the core thing tying all of the band’s albums together to date. You can hear bits that sound like the last two albums, like calssic material such as Rage For Order and all sorts of new things as well.

There’s so much great bass guitar parts and lots of space for Todd to show off his impressive vocal range. Album upon album he pushes it further, showing off more and more styles and becoming more of his own thing and moving away from the Geoff Tate style, but still staying close enough that it always sounds quintessentially Queensrÿche. (Take that vocal style and mix it with those really distinctive guitar leads, and you’ve got Queensrÿche in a bottle.)

Overall; its yet another strong Queensrÿche album, but more than that, it is an interesting album, with a strong production, a great range of material, and some of their honestly best material in years, even if they have already been on a very strong run.

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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