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

progressive metal top albums

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progressive metal Music Reviews

COLONEL PETROV'S GOOD JUDGEMENT Among Servants

Album · 2018 · Progressive Metal
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tapfret
As an old metal fan who has experienced the great era's of metal's genesis with bands like Black Sabbath, the emergence of the NWOBHM, the speed metal and punk crossover scenes of the 1980's, then the rise of progressive metal in its various forms derived from those various scenes, it has been an absolute pleasure to experience the metamorphosis of the genre as the decades have passed. Unfortunately, metal has also experienced great expanses of stagnation and unapologetic mimicry. It has become increasingly difficult to find artists who seek there own creative space in the metal paradigm without wrapping themselves in redundant clichés. Fortunately, the diligent fan willing to dig through heaps of pretenders can occasionally stumble upon a creative gem like Köln, Germany's COLONEL PETROV'S GOOD JUDGEMENT. Their sophomore release Among Servants is a major step in creativity from their sludgy debut, Moral Machine. While undeniably metal, this album is highly experimental. A dark and dystopian blend of organized anarchy. The instrumentation comes to mind immediately in pushing the album's experimentalism with several well placed saxophone parts played by vocalist Leonhard Huhn. The second song, Resistor, for example, has a wild, rangy sax solo that breaks from the song's classic hardcore punk sounding intro. Sebastian Müller's guitar tones stray from the ubiquitous "djent" delivery that permeates a large portion of current metal output. He brings a tenacious bag of dirty influences from punky overdriven power chords to RIO-ish atonal chord structures to heavily reverbed psychedelia. The band's experimental machine is further driven by several rhythmic devices not frequently used in metal. The instrumental, Ascension, being the first piece that comes to mind with its drunkish slow-to-fast verses, textured by minimalist guitar and bass phrasing and eerie ambient saxophone reverb backgrounds. More delirium laced passages issue forth from songs like Bad Shepherd (which features vocals from Valborg and OWL's Christian Kolf), with its descending chromatic run emanating from a droning chant intro. Among Servants repeatedly shifts from the familiar to a seemingly endless pool of the unorthodox, unrepentant experimentation. The lyrical themes of the album are political and psycho/social in nature. This is an extremely strong album for those seeking something off the beaten path. Perhaps not a masterpiece, but well down the road to it. Among Servants is an album I will listen to for years to come. Hopefully COLONEL PETROV'S GOOD JUDGEMENT will continue the creative process in this manner.

RED PLANET Homeworld

EP · 2013 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Tajikistan is one of those nations that everyone knows exists, has seen on the map and perhaps even aware of the fact that it’s a very mountainous nation next to Afghanistan and one of the former conquered lands that was annexed to the Soviet Union, but that’s probably about as far as it goes if even that! It’s hard to believe that people actually live in these totally off the radar areas of the planet but they do and they listen to music including metal! While not exactly a prolific nation in the world of popular music including metal, there have been a scant few bands that have been more inspired by the sounds from afar rather than whatever they listen to in places like this.

RED PLANET is one of the few bands from this nation coming from the capital city of Dushanbe and was formed in 2010 by Maryam Hakimova - bass guitar, Umeda Fazylova - lead guitar and Khursheda Fazylova - drums. This was an all girl band at this point and played covers mostly by Alice Cooper, Paolo Nutini, Three Days Grace and others but this lineup only last until 2011 when the next phase of RED PLANET dawned with the arrival of guitarist Rustam Mirzoakhmedov who steered the band’s soon more into the world of heavy metal and focused on a more robust guitar sound that took the classic traditional sounds of heavy metal riffing and added local oriental flavors.

Although the band is still officially active, RED PLANET has only released this one EP titled HOMEWORLD which came out in 2013 and only clocks in over the 17 minute mark. The lineup for this phase of the band was Umeda Fasilova / Guitars (lead), Vocals, Kursheda Fasilova / Drums, Olim Karimov / Guitars, Rustam Mirzoakhmedov / Guitars and Yuri Stolov / Bass. The EP has four tracks that are all over the place with tracks like “Anima” showcasing instrumental precision in a melodic procession of guitar arpeggios and technical workouts while “Doomsday” takes on elements of thrash metal most notably from Metallica as the track opens up with those famous slow burners that turn into sizzling guitar led frenzies however despite the presence of metal, once the vocals enter the scene my enthusiasm goes way down as the lead vocals are quite weak.

While this trend continues on the title track with strong guitar riffs and a nice bass accompaniment, the vocals which are clean sound like a very feminized Ozzy Osbourne from the early Black Sabbath days. While there are a few death metal secondary vocals here and there, the entire band sound changes on the final “Rift In The Lute” which employs Metallica’s guitar riffing style from early albums like “Ride The Lightning” but accompanied by death metal growls. This is by far the best track on the album but even so very uninspiring as it’s just a Metallica song with death metal growls! Well performed but forgettable. And that’s the moral of this story: forgettable. My first visit to metal from Tajikistan hasn’t been the silk road journey i had expected but there are other metal bands from this region from Central Asia such as the Kazakh black metal act Darkestrah which is excellent, so i will surely not write off this nation quite yet.

OMERTAH Essence

Demo · 2012 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
OMERTAH began back in 2009 in Sevastopol, Ukraine as a project for Dmitri Zayats and Dmitri Sidorenko to collaborate their desires to combines the harshness of heavy extreme metal with the more ambient and ethereal smoothness of atmospheric electronica. Due to the fact that both members were committed to their deathcore band Execute My Liberty and other commitments, the project got shelved for a few years but was picked up again in 2011.

This team worked together and recorded enough material for this one demo titled ESSENCE but since no actually releases have emerged it is often considered a bonafide EP however at a playing time of just over 44 minutes, it actually sounds like a full album to me. The reason this project hasn’t continued is due to employment issues finding the two members in different nations but the group has purportedly been working on new material all this time so it’s well within the possibilities that a legit follow-up will materialize.

The main goal of OMERTAH was to weave together extreme mathcore style metal with the soft airiness of synthesized ambience but as the project got rolling the metal part was tamed down a bit in favor of allowing it to gel more cohesively with the atmospheres. This EP actually exists in two forms. One is the five track version that clocks in at over 27 minutes and the other has eight tracks that squeaks past 44. The three extra tracks are “Endless Eve Pt 1,” “Endless Eve Pt 2” and “Horizons” however the three extra tracks are exactly of the same mold and only add more music but nothing substantially different.

This is all instrumental with a swirling atmospheric ambience leading the way. Somewhat like a more accessible version of Tangerine Dream with recurring melodies that proceed in the manner of post-rock, the ambience is accompanied djent fueled metal riffing as well as some more intricate soloing and other guitar works. The bass and drums are very subordinate to the rhythm and never deviate from the groove with rare exceptions. This is basically a layering effect where the atmospheric parts establish the overall tempo, rhythmic drive and melodic processions and the heavier metal parts simply follow along. Somewhat resembles certain heavier aspects of Porcupine Tree but not nearly as inventive.

While the production is good enough to be considered a true release, the material presented pretty much follows the same pattern and tracks began to all sound the same as the one-dimensional process continues on and on and on. This is one of those albums that makes great backing music as you can easily focus on something else while listening to it but there are intricate subtleties in the ambient synthesizers as well as minor deviations in the metal parts but overall this is very much designed to be a post-rock type of album that takes advantage of cyclical loops for the release’s entirety. This one is not bad but it’s really not great either. The lack of distinction between tracks gets old and the whole thing is like that feeling you get when you just wake up. It’s all burry and you can’t really grasp thing in totality. OK but nothing spectacular.

XIBALBA Grey Infinity

Album · 1998 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
XIBALBA was formed in 1990 in the city of Košice located in the far eastern part of Slovakia. The band name comes from Mayan mythology and roughly translates as “place of fear” which is the name of the underworld ruled by Maya death gods. The band consisted of Peter "Oldboy" Šerfözö (bass), Miro "Speed" Szeman (drums), Jozef "Mercedes" Daraš (guitar) and Karol "Bright" Gerba (vocals) and together they released three thrash metal demos: “Brain-Feedback,” “Depressive Reality” and “Expelling The Evil” from 1990-93 but then suddenly lead vocalist Karol Gerba caught the progressive metal bug and shifted the band’s sound into more complex arrangements, more pensive clean vocal styles and a greater diversity in the influences that were included.

The band only released this single album GREY INFINITY in 1998 and ditched their Death Angel worship origins in favor of an upgraded style that fell somewhere in between the extreme complex prog metal thrash of Watchtower and the more art rock flavors of Psychotic Waltz. GREY INFINITY consists of 13 tracks that offer a few interesting twists and turns that are both dazzling and at the same time offers some head scratching moments. The album opens up with a common trait of 90s thrash metal which is to begin the album with a dramatic build up of dark atmospheric tension with scary sounds, a crunchy guitar stomp and features an uncredited synthesizer sound that is prevalent throughout the album’s run.

“Belong To No One” bursts into the thrash metal bombast with heavy guitar riffing, bombastic bass thumping and percussive precision to match thus displaying the band’s mastery of this particular style of prog metal mixed with the extremity of thrash metal. While the heavier moments are much like the complex wankery of the classic Watchtower albums of the 80s, once Gerba starts to sing, it’s immediately obvious that Psychotic Waltz was one of the primary influences as his singing style is much like Buddy Lackey’s distinct vocal charm. The crazy time signature changes and guitar solos are right out of the Psychotic Waltz playbook although XIBALBA does manage to keep enough distance from falling into the trap of sounding too much like any other band.

There are some funky alternative metal bass grooves such as on “Slave of Love” which also add crazy 70s sounding organ runs and some extra over the top heaviness with thrash metal riffs on a adrenaline fueled rampage on “Reward From The Gods.” In addition to the crazier proggy thrash riffing are many moments of straight forward groove metal a la 90s Pantera. The instrumental “Sunflower Field” provides an intermission and emulates those 80s Metallica intros where two guitars harmonize over each other and craft a highly melodic classically infused run on chill mode however XIBALBA takes things a bit too far on the out of place sounding “I Want You To Stay” which sounds more like a glam metal ballad of the 80s than anything remotely thrash. Imagine a Motley Crue or Poison ballad however it’s done quite well and Gerba’s vocal abilities do make a good balladeer.

Another track that is a bit wild is the 2 minute crossover thrash track “Feel Like Shit” which sounds like something S.O.D. would come up with and even contain a short rapping sequence. The album ends as it began with a synth based collage of sounds that take a cheesy synth line and add a bunch of wind sounds amongst others but ends on some trippy cool notes. Overall XIBALBA delivers a decent slice of progressive thrash metal on GREY INFINITY however the production is a little thin and the whole thing sounds a little too tinny. While the musicianship is generally firing on high levels a few tracks could’ve been trimmed off of this one to give it a more consistent run but generally speaking this is definitely an excellent tight-knit album that offers lots of variety and outstanding performances despite all the warts that keep it from rising. Too bad this band hasn’t released any newer material since they were well on their way to something.

CLOUD THEORY Torn

EP · 2018 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The world of progressive metal has really been taking off all over the world since Dream Theater came onto the scene 30 years ago but it’s taken a while for some of less metal nations to join the party. Coming from Turkey is a fairly new band called CLOUD THEORY that was originally formed as Woltran in the coastal city of Izmir in 2008 but the band took a while to figure out exactly which musical direction to take.

This band is a quintet that consists of Taylan Tokmakoğlu (vocals), Mert Kuldemir (lead guitar, backing vocals), Gökmen Yoldaş (rhythm guitar), Onur Özkara (bass) and Burak Dünal (drums). So far CLOUD THEORY has only released this one EP titled TORN which contains a mere three tracks but despite being classified as an EP still runs over the 35 minute playing time.

Having settled on a progressive metal sound with some power metal elements, CLOUD THOERY has crafted a sound that is right out of the prog metal playbook with operatic vocals, a central concept wrapped up with progressive time signature changes that involve heavy metal guitar, bass and drums along with an atmospheric cloud cover. The power metal parts come in with the super fast power chords being slammed at high speeds and in many ways is a bit like Leprous in how despite the music’s aggression remains chilled due to the synthesized ambience and the vocals of Taylan Tokmakoğlu.

Like any good prog metal release, TORN is a concept album. This one happens to be about Xhaarn Sword, Balance-bringers and their relationships with the Kingdom of Grand Realm. The lyrics are all in English and tailor made for an international audience and the EP is supposed to be a mere teaser of a much larger concept album to come. The EP is professionally produced and sounds like a bonafide band that has made it to the big leagues.

TORN is an excellent display of power metal infused prog metal as the musicians are all on top of their game and the three length compositions which each extend past 10 minutes are all filled with nice melodic hooks that are extended into labyrinthine prog workouts. In many ways the band sounds like a more Dream Theater influenced version of Symphony X however although the band is quite competent in its delivery, does fail to put an original stamp on the prog metal world so hopefully some creative juices will unleash themselves on any future releases.

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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