Non-Metal

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

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

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

- Written by adg211288 (August 2015).

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non-metal top albums

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

SWANS The Seer Album Cover The Seer
SWANS
4.78 | 9 ratings
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PENDRAGON The Masquerade Overture Album Cover The Masquerade Overture
PENDRAGON
4.66 | 11 ratings
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MOTORPSYCHO The Death Defying Unicorn Album Cover The Death Defying Unicorn
MOTORPSYCHO
4.74 | 7 ratings
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SPOCK'S BEARD The Light Album Cover The Light
SPOCK'S BEARD
4.63 | 9 ratings
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MEAT LOAF Bat Out Of Hell Album Cover Bat Out Of Hell
MEAT LOAF
4.49 | 14 ratings
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PENDRAGON The Window of Life Album Cover The Window of Life
PENDRAGON
4.57 | 10 ratings
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ELOY Ocean Album Cover Ocean
ELOY
4.46 | 15 ratings
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BEARDFISH Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two Album Cover Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two
BEARDFISH
4.89 | 5 ratings
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KILLING JOKE Killing Joke (Debut) Album Cover Killing Joke (Debut)
KILLING JOKE
4.50 | 11 ratings
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ZZ TOP Tres Hombres Album Cover Tres Hombres
ZZ TOP
4.44 | 13 ratings
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PENDRAGON Love Over Fear Album Cover Love Over Fear
PENDRAGON
4.62 | 7 ratings
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KILLING JOKE Night Time Album Cover Night Time
KILLING JOKE
4.47 | 10 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

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non-metal Music Reviews

BUCKETHEAD Pike 318 - March 19, 2020

Album · 2022 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
PIKE 318 - MARCH 19, 2020 16th installment of 2022 Everything played by BUCKETHEAD Total playing time 27 minutes exactly All instrumental as always! Eggs are hatching in the coop at BUCKETHEADLAND in a steady stream in 2022 as this newest release PIKE 318 is the 16th one to be released t his year. This is a single 27-minute track titled MARCH 19, 2020. Presumably this date is significant for BH and given that it’s a slow ballad rock type of PIKE in the style of 2014’s “Hold Me Forever” it’s obviously a tribute to someone important that the chicken lover has lost or it could signify an event of some sort.

Not much to say about this one. This is one of those lullaby albums with clean guitar riffs, echoey counterpoints and soft rock percussion. BH has released dozens of these types of PIKEs and honestly there’s nothing that sets this one apart in its stylistic approach other than the fact it’s a taxing 27-minute long one track PIKE. I’m serious when i say this is an assembly line of lullaby tracks that have the same chord progressions, same tones, same dynamics, same musical motifs, same cadences, same same same.

What is unique is that the title of this PIKE is a date. Don’t think that has occurred before. This is BUCKETHEAD easy listening on chill mode and at this point in the PIKE run you either like these or you don’t and anyone who has followed my reviews is quite aware that i do not! It’s not that i don’t appreciate a good chill out PIKE now and again but these are all the same! As i already pointed out these are carbon copies! And BORING! If i was a loved one who passed i would not find this inspirational at all. Write something original you lazy bum! Stop stuffing your face at Colonel Sanders and write some original music already!

After a few interesting PIKEs lately BH always feels he has to retreat to please the codeine crowd who only tune in to listen to these nauseatingly generic PIKEs that have no dynamic shifts of any sort. It’s just the same cyclical loops presented ad nauseam. Mommy, make it stop! Ugh. You better appreciate how much i suffer through some of these to bring you these reviews so you don’t have to! Ha! I know i’m being dramatic. There’s not a lot of music i don’t like but these styles of PIKEs are definitely one of them so gotta have fun with it, right? Next…

RUSH Sector 3

Boxset / Compilation · 2011 · Non-Metal
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Warthur
The third "Sector" boxed set from Rush delivers fresh new remasters of their 1980s synth-era, taking in the studio albums from Signals to Hold Your Fire and the live album A Show of Hands.

I think there's no question that of the three Sector boxes, Sector 2 was the one which covers the most essential era of Rush, but I'd actually rank Sector 3 above Sector 1. Sector 1 has got 2112, of course, but arguably it was only really on 2112 that Rush started firing on all cylinders (though Fly By Night deserves an honourable mention), and albums like their debut or Caress of Steel showed stark growing pains.

On the other hand, whilst the synth era of the band rather sputtered out, they did at least have a cohesive musical vision all the way through it; the first two albums were very good, and I think Power Windows gets a slightly raw deal, and it was only really Hold Your Fire which wasn't pulling its weight there. Getting all of them, sounding better than they have for ages, plus a live album, in nicely-presented LP replica sleeves? Can't hurt.

RUSH A Show of Hands

Live album · 1989 · Non-Metal
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Warthur
As had become traditional for Rush by this point, after four studio albums they brought out this live piece to summarise this particular era of their career ranging from Signals to Hold Your Fire. This is an era which started out strong but started to flag towards the end, with Hold Your Fire finding the approach wearing thin, but fortunately the live versions of the material from that album (and the somewhat better-liked but still contentious Power Windows) show a bit more flair and style than their studio renditions.

Unfortunately, compared to their two preceding live albums Rush had less scope for throwing out any curve balls. With only three musicians onstage, and a lot of the songs in question requiring more simultaneous synth and guitar Alex Lifeson could handle all at once (the man only has the two arms, after all!), on these tours the synth parts had to be largely preprogammed, more or less killing any scope they had to introduce any variation into the songs.

As a result, the album ends up being a little lifeless, an exercise in playing the songs from the albums more or less how you remember them from the studio editions; at some points only a bit of crowd noise mixed in here and there gives the impression that the band are live at all . Perhaps hiring a guest musician or two to provide backup on the synths might have made for a more organic experience, but then again the trio's chemistry has always been so tight that incorporating more musicians into it would be a dangerous proposition indeed.

Alternately, if the album had included more 80s performances of less synth-dominated parts of their back catalogue it might have gone better - it closes with a reasonable rendition of Closer to the Heart, and the difference between that track the program-locked material before it is striking. But then again, All the World's a Stage and Exit Stage Left had already covered all the best songs from prior eras, and there seems to have been an effort made to avoid duplicating songs presented on those two; I can certainly see the logic behind that, and to some that might make A Show of Hands better value, but at the same time I think it does risk steering into the constraints the band were under.

In short, by this stage of their career Rush had written themselves into a corner with their live albums, in that everyone was expecting this release to focus on the tracks from Signals to Grace but the fact was that the songs in question just didn't lend themselves well to live performances. The album's saved by the fact that for the most part they give solid, energetic renditions of the material, and it's impressive just how much they can nail the non-synth parts live, but it's best to come this if you want a quick "best of synth-era Rush" rundown, not because you want a live album which actually sounds live.

NEAL MORSE Lifeline

Album · 2008 · Non-Metal
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Warthur
One of the strengths of Neal Morse's solo career is that he's managed to avoid getting stuck in the sort of very limited lyrical rut that much Christian rock tends to occupy. Less imaginative acts in that field would restrict themselves to a fairly limited set of themes ("accept Christ"/"renounce sin"/"praise God", rinse, repeat), but at least as far as his prog-oriented albums go, Neal largely avoids that. (He's also churned out numerous albums of straight-ahead worship music, but that's fine - in that case he's literally preaching to the choir, nobody who is not very keen on hearing that content is going to touch those albums to begin with.)

In fact, his early prog solo albums were all concept albums of one sort of another, allowing him to explore a range of themes, theology, and history which added a certain depth to proceedings which makes them artistically interesting even if you're not inclined to go along with his religious perspective. Testimony was an autobiographical piece about his conversion, One was an adaptation of the Prodigal Son story, "?" explored the Tabernacle In the Wilderness, whilst Sola Scriptura contemplated the theological revolution brought about by Martin Luther.

Lifeline, in fact, is his first prog-based solo album to not have a strong central concept adding a little extra weight to proceeding... or maybe the concept is that there is no concept, just a set of self-contained songs on exactly that sort of "accept Christ"/"renounce sin"/"praise God" clutch of themes I mentioned earlier.

In some respects this shouldn't be totally surprising - Neal had been fairly clearly telling us where his personal perspective was for years at this point. Nonetheless, the comparative simplicity of the lyrics seems to accompany a dip in the quality of the musical backing. It's not that it's out-and-out bad - but it's all very much Neal Morse business as usual, and the compositions are usually designed to reach this climactic moment where the song's message is hammered home through excessive repetition of a particular lyric. With the exception of Leviathan, which is pretty badass throughout, the songs all tend to either have these prog moments which fade away to be replaced with fairly generic Christian rock, or start out in that place to begin with and kind of stay there (God's Love being an example of the latter).

It's not the Christian content that bugs me here - I enjoyed all the four Christian-themed prog concept albums I named above, after all - so much as it's the sense of being preached at, which is stronger here than it was on any previous Neal Morse release. It's not that the music has become a complete afterthought next to the message - but the message is getting in the way of the music a bit more than it used to.

I have to wonder, listening to Lifeline, whether Neal's compositional well was starting to run dry at this point: as well as writing the vast majority of the first six Spock's Beard albums, he'd also penned almost all the songs on his first five prog solo albums and was also churning out albums in other genres at the same time. It's notable that his next prog project after this was getting Transatlantic back together and producing The Whirlwind, whose composition was credited to Transatlantic as a whole, and his next solo prog album (Testimony 2) wouldn't come out until 2011: perhaps he had, at long last, reached the point where he needed to slow down his prog output a bit and recharge his creative batteries.

As it stands, Lifeline is an alright Christian prog album from an artist whose standards are usually higher than this.

PORCUPINE TREE Lightbulb Sun

Album · 2000 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
My gateway drug into the world of PORCUPINE TREE wasn’t the acclaimed “In Absentia” or even the earlier psychedelic freak shows in the form of “The Sky Moves Sideways” but rather an innocent thrift store find in the name of LIGHTBULB SUN. I had heard of this band but didn’t know much about them and i can’t say i was blown away upon first listen. Sounding something like a modern Pink Floyd meets 90s alternative rock band, PORCUPINE TREE took a while to sink in but in the end the band won me over with its unique mishmash of past prog teased out in the modern world of production and mixing splendor. While LIGHTBULB SUN has not become my favorite PT album of all time, this one does hold a special place in my heart as my first encounter with Steven Wilson and friends.

LIGHTBULB SUN is the sixth overall studio album from PORCUPINE TREE released in the Y2K year of 2000 and was the third and last release of their second phase between the psychedelic earlier years and the prog meets alt metal later chapter. The album is divided into two parts. The first half is called “Rest Will Flow” and the second “Hatesong.” The first half of the album continues the art of progressive pop as heard on “Stupid Dream” with super catchy melodies that are really what we music nerds call crossover prog. The instantly ear wormy “Shesmovedon” for example takes a single listen to burrow it’s way into your inner playlist and sticks around for a while. The second side of the album showcases the band’s more experimental side. This strategy was implemented by many of the classic prog bands of the latter half 70s when the genre waned in popularity and the artists were trying to straddle both sides of the fence and forced to stuff a whole career into an album or two’s experience. PORCUPINE TREE however walks the tightrope fairly damn well and nailed that aspect of the album in full modern regalia.

Overall LIGHTBULB SUN is a much mellower album than “Stupid Dream” and the preceding “Signify.” There seems to have been a slight retrograde here in the alt rock department but that would all change with the following breakthrough album “In Absentia” however even mellow chilled out style PORCUPINE TREE is inventive, creative beyond belief and yet totally accessible with influences up the ying yang without sounding like Dolly the sheep’s clone. Once again this band delivers a set of interesting material that is easy to digest even upon first listen but offers more beyond a superficial first experience. Comparisons have been made to Wilson’s space pop group No-Man on this one and it’s certainly not unfounded but the other band members contributed their own energy into the band which keeps it distinct from the various Wilson projects. Another factor that makes LIGHTBULB SUN different from its predecessors is that Wilson wrote songs about personal experiences rather than abstract concepts.

Like “Stupid Dream,” the strength of LIGHTBULB SUN beyond the infectious melodies, excellent vocal harmonies and beautiful arrangements is the attention paid to the details. By this point Wilson’s production and mixing talents had reached sheer perfection and that is clearly evident on the seamless transitions (amongst everything else) between tracks on this album. The band captures the perfect mood of dream pop meets dream rock in the vein of Radiohead only a bit more accessible on this one. This one may be too commercial for hardcore proggers but when done properly, progressive pop can be exhilarating! PORCUPINE TREE has made a career out of drifting over that line that separates true prog from barely prog. LIGHTBULB SUN is probably the best example of this band doing just that. The album is made all the richer with the help of several guest musicians including an entire string quartet therefore violins, a viola and cello sounds find their way into the mix at all the right places. The band members themselves add many ethnic sounds courtesy of not only the banjo but a dulcimer, beglama and guembri.

With the second track “How Is Your Life Today?” we are reminded of the influence of The Beatles with that classic Paul McCartney show tune piano roll and keeps it mellow until it cedes to the heavy rocker “Four Chords That Make A Million” a seeming throwback to the conceptual themes of “Stupid Dream.” The track “Shesmovedon” is perhaps PORCUPINE TREE’s best known single with an instantly catchy melody in the vein of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” only broken down into various parts that culminates into the most sizzlingly hot guitar solo on the entire album despite being the most poppy track. Honestly it’s one of those love / hate tracks where but ultimately i just can’t resist its simplistic nature coupled with the complex layers of sonic mastery of the production, mixing and instrumentation.

My favorite tracks on LIGHTBULB SUN are “Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled” and “Russia On Ice,” the former starting out like a bluegrass festival with a psychedelic space rock backing. The track tackles some deep subject matter with the concept of the Earth recycling itself in the cosmic changes complete with a spoken word sample from Marshall Applewhite, the leader of the Heaven’s Gate religious cult who organized a mass suicide in 1997 the Comet Hale-Bopp fiasco thus proving Wilson was still quite capable of thought provoking subject matter. “Russia With Ice” is probably the most badass song on the roster as well as the longest track at just over 13 minutes long, the proggiest space rock track of the album. It pretty much runs the PORCUPINE TREE gamut from this phase. Catchy melodies on slo-mo, psychedelic accoutrements, though-provoking lyrics and the ultimate balance of dynamics backed up by impeccable production and mixing, which despite some naysayers can be essential ways of expressing creativity. A big yes in this case.

Like all the albums from the phase 2 period of PORCUPINE TREE, this album is not perfect. There are several sleeper tracks that deliver a big yawn for me. In the case of LIGHTBULB SUN it is the less than thrilling track “The Rest Will Flow,” the sleepiest track on board “Where We Would Be” and the disappointing closer “Feel So Low.” Despite hinting at greatness, PORCUPINE TREE just missed a few marks on LIGHTBULB SUN compared to the maestrohood of the triumvirate perfection that would follow but overall this album is excellent and even the sleepy tracks don’t dissuade too much from the album’s overall consistency. My only problem with this album is that it went too far in the pop direction and avoided excessive progginess which is really where i want to go most of the time! Yeah, call me a sappy bitch but i like many of these crossover prog albums that deliver an insufferable multitude of production techniques backed up by rather simplistic musicianship. This album is a perfect example of how complexity does not have to come from the musicians themselves but from the ingenuity of sound manipulation and clever juxtaposition of musical motifs.

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PENDRAGON Past And Presence

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

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

I'd go so far as to say that this wonderful show is, perhaps, the absolute best way to experience Pendragon's material from before The World came out. Certainly, I would strongly encourage people to pick up the limited edition version which comes with a 2CD audio version of the show, because the audio stands up really well on there and I actually find I listen to the CD more than I watch the actual show.

ANATHEMA A Moment in Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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