Progressive Music Ratings & Reviews

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Review by Mike 12 years ago <Permalink>
Tool - Lateralus 2001
Experimental Prog Metal
This is a real masterpiece of prog metal ... a genre defining album. I won't go into too much detail in this review, maybe I'll expand it later on. The foremost quality of this album is its unbelievably focused and determined approach - Tool are a quite popular band, but they make absolutely no compromises here. Every little bit is carefully arranged, and the subtle mathematic implications of the rhythmic changes are stunning and never seem uncalled for or out of place. The result is a complex work of art, which is up there with albums like Larks Tongues or A Pleasant Shade of Gray.

This is an absolutely essential album in every prog collection ... even if you don't like prog metal, you should at least have heard this album.
Review by Mike 12 years ago <Permalink> - Underworld 2003
Orchestral Neo Classical Prog Power Metal
Summary: This is a masterpiece. A perfect blend of prog metal with an agressive edge and classical music. It's really different from bands like Rhapsody who try to create the impression that there is a fully fledged orchestra playing. Although Adagio also do this occasionally, they mainly use piano and strings/synth/effects which create a rich, polyphonic experience. Usually there are one guitar, one pianist and underlying strings - and of course the bass and vocals.

I won't mention each song here - they are all really outstanding, not at all derivative of bands like Symphony X and Dream Theater. Many rhythmic extravaganzas, purely classical piano interludes by maestro Andersson and stunning guitar solos by Mr. Forte. What I like most about this album is the diversity of the songs which at the same time really work as a whole, every little melody seems to be vital, nothing uncalled-for or forced. The vocals are more than a match for the best vocalist of the genre - namely Russell Allen of Symphony X.
Review by Mike 12 years ago <Permalink> - Vovin 1998
Orchestral Prog-Related Metal
A mediocre album ... any Rhapsody album is at least 10x better in terms of musicianship and proper implementation of classical music. There are also many metal bands which are generally considered to be less progressive, for example Blind Guardian, who do a much better job than Therion. It's hard to believe that this is even considered to be one of their better albums ...
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Steve - The Ultra Zone 1999
Prog-Related Rock
This is a stellar release from one of the best and - at the same time - most underrated guitarists ever. Two common preconceptions about Vai are that his primary asset is technical prowess and speed, and that his playing and songwriting lack emotions. Well, on this album he again proves that both assumptions are wrong.

This album is not for the faint of heart - I'm sure that many people will not be able to get into it. Steve Vai is a guitarist, and of course all the songs have lengthy guitar solos. But the reason for giving this album 4 stars on a website for progressive music is that here he goes way beyond other shred guitarists. Joe Satriani's Engines of Creation has a similar concept, but The Ultra Zone is like ten times more adventurous and bizarre. You can hear his Zappa influences throughout the album, not just on the
song "Frank". The whole album is a mixture of weird Avant-Prog and cool Jazz-Metal- Fusion - except for a few songs which are not very progressive, and that is the only reason for me not giving this album 5 stars.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Heaven's - Food for Thought Substitute 1997
Eclectic Technical Prog Metal/Rock
This is a prog metal gem. Unfortunately these incredible musicians are far less popular than they should be, as their albums easily compete with the best works of Pain of Salvation or Shadow Gallery. At the same time, they are also very different. They have an unique approach to songwriting, most of the time far from the usual metal structures. This band might be really something for prog fans who dislike prog metal because of the rigid form and structure of most metal styles. That doesn't mean that they're not heavy though - the band has three guitarists.

The vocals are truly amazing - they have three vocalists and make as heavy use of them as of the guitars, so most of the time, all three of them are singing. The lyrics are also really clever. Generally, Heaven's Cry lyrics deal with social issues, environmental pollution and other serious problems. But they're going about it in a mystic and really artsy way. The production is great - they created a good balance between guitars and vocals in the mix. Also, you can always hear the bass guitar - Auclair plays with a plectrum most of the time, and the bass has a life of its own on their albums, unlike many other prog metal bands where the bass doubles the rhythm guitar most of the time. The original CD pressing suffers a little bit from digital distortion (clipping) - you can purchase a remastered edition from their website.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Kevin - The Shaming of the True 2000
Eclectic Prog Rock/Pop
This is an incredible concept album about the music business. Kevin Gilbert truly was an imaginative person, and a multitalent on many instruments. On another website someone stated that he could pick up any instrument and play it nearly instantly - and knowing his music, I'm inclined to agree.

I won't go into too much detail on what his beef was with the music industry - suffice it to say that he wrote a lot of songs on Sheryl Crow's debut album and wasn't even mentioned in the liner notes. Having said that, let me assure you that The Shaming of the True doesn't even remotely sound like Sheryl Crow ...

On this album Kevin is mainly backed up by Nick D'Virgilio, who is also a multi instrumentalist to no lesser degree - well, maybe just a tiny bit less. Anyway, every instrumental part is done flawlessly, and at the same time with great passion and ambition. Production is top notch, and the mix is very open, with very little compression. I apologize for the length of this review, but one of the most intriguing aspects of this album are the lyrics, and I just had to quote some passages.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Power of Omens - Rooms of Anguish 2003
Technical Prog Metal
Power of Omens are a really small band. Their albums are mainly available from their website. It's a pity, because they put tremendous efforts into those albums. This is highly complex Progressive Metal that can rival the most complex bands of the genre, like Cynic, Watchtower or Spiral Architect. Ironically, that is also a drawback in case of this album, because I think that they went a little over the top here ... on their previous album, they had a better balance between complexity and simple parts.

Musicianship is stellar, and the vocals are outstanding - the singer sounds very much like Geoff Tate in certain passages, great range and volume in the lower registers.

The production is not as good as it should be - but you can't hold that against them, as they are not a full time band, and don't have a big record company to support them.
Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Devin - Terria 2001
Experimental Prog Metal
This is Devin's masterpiece. The following album has more hooks and catchy tunes, but this one is truly majestic, epic and utterly wonderful. This is a complex work of art.

This albums is also so unique - it defies categorisation. Although this is metal, there is no other Prog Metal band that comes close to what he does. Earth Metal, Epic Progressive Metal ... that begins to describe it.

The most unique thing about the Devin Townsend albums is that he uses a very large number of tracks during recording, which are layered on top of one another to create a wall of sound. He does this for individual instruments as well as the whole tracks. This results in a incredible level of detail - with a good hifi system, you can hear lots of different instruments "below the surface".

This album doesn't have a story as such, but a topic: Nature - Canada in particular - and spirituality. The song titles and lyrics excerpts give you a good idea of what you can expect.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Roine Stolt - Hydrophonia 1998
Instrumental Prog Rock
This is a remarkable solo album. Like The Flower King, this album obviously sounds much like the Flower Kings, as they are mainly based on Stolt's songwriting. Let me rephrase that - This album sounds like the essence of the Flower Kings. It's so full of beautiful melodies, interesting and sometimes funky rhythms, and very dynamic. Every theme is fully developed and explored here, a quality that many similar albums lack.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Chroma Key - Dead Air for Radios 1998
Minimalistic Prog Post Rock/Electronic
Kevin Moore obivously chose to do something completely different when he left Dream Theater. I think the term Space Rock fits best, although this has nothing to do with Pink Floyd, I don't even think there's any guitar involved. On second thought - there are guitars involved, but only in the background. The main instrument on this album is the piano, and lot's of keyboard textures - and samples.

It all creates a soothing ambience of sound. Moore's voice get's a little dull sometimes, he rarely uses any advanced phrasing technique - it's a strange mix of talking and singing. That - and the lyrics - remind me of Roger Waters a little bit.

I give this album 4 1/2 stars - I really can't put my finger on it, but something is missing for this to be a masterpiece. It's very good though, and really deserves to be more popular among prog fans than it apparently is.
Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink> - The Imaginary Direction of Time 2004
Symphonic Experimental Prog Metal
I give this album 3 1/2 stars ... it's an excellent addition to any prog metal collection, but the average prog listener might consider this to be too heavy. I don't mean the level of distortion of the guitars, but the general approach to songwriting and song structure. It seems a bit crude and in my opinion needs much refining.

The album features a string quintet that not only plays a few intros and interludes, but is fully integrated into all of the songs. Together with a piano and clever arrangement, the melancholic songs work tremendously well, but there are some passages where the vocals and guitar riffs seem too heavy and don't fit too well into the concept. Bands like Pain of Salvation do a better job of blending everything together nicely and creating a balance. Also, the band plays metal double-bass rhythms too often, in situations where sparse drums and/or free time would be appropriate.

If you like melancholic metal bands like My Dying Bride combined with authentic classical instruments and progressive elements, this might be something you should check out. At times, they even create a similiarly epic feel like Opeth do.
Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink> - A Blueprint of the World 1991
Neo Prog Rock
This is simply a beautiful, timeless album. Most people have
one problem with Enchant: On all their albums they managed to
maintain a certain characteristic sound and never strayed far
from it. As a result some people miss development and
"progression". But I have no problem with that - their sound is
fine. It's instantly recognizable, and instead of changing
their sound, they focus on writing good songs.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Devin - Infinity 1998
Prog Metal
As Devin notes in the liner notes: This album was a tremendous effort, extremely difficult to make. In order to fully appreciate it, you have to listen to it on a good hifi system. Many tracks were used, and on this album Devin really begins with his massive layering of sounds - dozens of instruments playing the same, creating a wall of sound.

The tracks are all great, and the ONLY reason for not giving this 5 stars is that Terria is even better ... so consider this a 4 1/2 star review. The tracks are all very different, every track sets a different mood.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Psychotic Waltz - Bleeding 1996
Experimental Stoner Prog Metal
This is an amazing album, unfortunately the last that this awesome band made before they split up. It's somewhat different from their other albums, a little more relaxed and not as complex as A Social Grace or Into The Everflow. But I like it very much, and I gave it 3 stars because the other Psychotic Waltz albums are a bit better, and some tracks on Bleeding are not very progressive, but just plain metal. Still, they're very good. All in all, the album will not disappoint Psychotic Waltz fans, but is not essential for the general prog fan. Fans of Sabbath-inspired Metal can add one star to my rating.

From all the Psychotic Waltz albums, this is the one that's most similar to the music of Dead Soul Tribe, the band that the Psychotic Waltz singer founded after they split up (Devon Graves/Buddy Lackey). Having said that, it's clear that it's also not as complex as masterpieces like A Social Grace and Into The Everflow.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Dead Soul - Dead Soul Tribe 2002
Experimental Prog Metal
"We were somewhere around Barstol, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold ..."

This quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas kicks of a roller coaster ride of what I would call Psychedelic Metal. The whole album sounds a bit like it's predecessor - Bleeding by Psychotic Waltz (Dead Soul Tribe is the solo project of Devon Graves, who was the singer of Psychotic Waltz under the pseudonym of Buddy Lackey).

In many aspects, this is much evolved compared to Bleeding. It seems more refined, there's more happening simultaneously. Each instruments simply receives more attention and the whole album has a lot more atmosphere. All of that makes it just more progressive than Bleeding.

All in all, I'd recommend this album to all fans of Sabbath-inspired metal, and it's fairly progressive - not in terms of complexity, but in terms of feel, and sophistication.

Powertrip : This song reminds me of Led Zeppelin's Achilles Last Stand, but the Rob Zombie - like vocals and the heavy chorus make it quite unique.

Coming Down : I love that ultra-low guitar riff in the intro. This track is a perfect example of the sublime, hypnotic Dead Soul Tribe formula. Devon's vocals are much evolved compared to his PS aera, he screams less often. He concentrates on melody and phrasing instead, which is a very good thing.

The Haunted : after some sphaerical keyboard textures, a hefty guitar riff kicks in. The verse again heavily relies on Devon's voice. It really has a "haunting" quality to it, and Devon's guitar work complements it perfectly.

The Drowning ... -> show full review
Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Dixie Dregs - California Screamin' 2000
Instrumental Prog Fusion
The Dixie Dregs are the ultimate Fusion between - well, Fusion and Country. Steve Morse and Rod Morgenstein are the constant elements in their lineup. Violins also play a major part in their music, keyboards are more supporting elements in the background. I'll just list the standaout tracks and tell you what I think about them:
As their regular studio albums are quite hard to find in record stores, I recommend this album as a perfect way of getting to know the world of the Dregs!
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Porcupine - Staircase Infinities 1994, EP
Eclectic Prog Rock
This is a very cool and laid back album (EP). It is out of print, but it is included in the recently published re-release of Up The Downstair. I think that it's very good, but not a masterpiece, because - apart from Cloud Zero and Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape - it is just too mellow and monotonous. A few occasional outbursts of more structured and focussed playing would have done wonders. The only uptempo track (Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape) is also the most repetitive one.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Neal - One 2004
Epic Retro Prog Rock
This is the second album from Mr. Morse since he left Spock's Beard. In my opinion it is better than the first one (Testimony) in several ways. It's less emotional than Testimony, because it is not autobiographical.
One is a very tight album, and very cleverly constructed. Highlights are Author Of Confusion, which is a very complicated track with lots of breaks, frenzy druming and guitar riffing and Gentle Giant like vocal fugues that have become a trademark of Neal's songs, and The Separated Man, which contains some amazing oriental sounding parts and - as a contrast - is based on acoustic guitars.

All the other songs are brilliant as well. Cradle to the Grave might seem a little cheesy to some (It's a duet sung by God and man), but it is so well done that one can hardly complain about that.

Musicianship is stellar on this album, as is the production. Neal's guitars sound very modern on this album, compared to the fuzzy sound on Testimony. Mike Portnoy does an even better job than on Testimony, giving the songs plenty of room to breathe. As a whole, the album also seems more compact than Testimony - clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, it fits on one CD.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Royal - Paper Blood 2005
Prog-Related Metal
This is a tremendously well done album. I'm not sure if it satisfies the requirements that some people define for prog music, but it does for me.

The foremost quality of this album is the level of sophistication in every aspect of the music - the production, the songwriting, the arrangements, the vocals etc.. I think that this album is a perfect combination of their previous albums The Mission and Eyewitness. It is much more diverse than The Mission, and much more complex than Eyewitness.

There are many unusual sounds they rarely used before. The only problem for me is that most of the songs are based on standard rock song structures, reminiscent of Deep Purple and Whitesnake. But they add so much complexity, neo-classical interludes, solos etc. that it never get's boring - if you're into that kind of music.
Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Royal - Eye Witness 2003
Prog-Related Metal
This is a very pleasant metal album. It would be an excellent addition to any metal collection, but it's not really a progressive album like their 90s albums, so they get one star less than they would deserve from a metal standpoint.

The tracks are all quite ok, no fillers. The production is very good, with the guitars and vocals dominating the mix.

There are a few standout tracks: Wicked Lounge has extremely cool lyrics and saxophone, a very laid back track compared to their usual neo-classical prog metal. The Prayer features church organ and majestic vocal arrangements ... their singer is phenomenal. Most of the other tracks are power metal songs with occasional glimpses of neo-classical interludes and solos on synth and guitar.
2061-2080 of 2095  
1-20 of 206  
Dream - Dream Theater 2013
 10 hours ago
Prog Metal - Jane Doe 2001
 4 days ago
Heavy Non-Prog Metalcore
Avatarium - Hurricanes and Halos 2017
 7 days ago
Prog-Related Rock - Gods of Violence 2017
 2 months ago
Non-Prog Thrash Metal
Mouth of the Architect - Path Of Eight 2016
 10 months ago
Experimental Prog Metal - F E A R (F*** Everyone And Run) 2016
 11 months ago
Neo Prog Rock
The Novelists - DEMO 2014, EP
 11 months ago
Experimental Prog Extreme Metal
Barock - VIVO 2016, Live
 2 years ago
Prog Rock
Regna - Meridian 2015, EP
 3 years ago
Heavy Prog Rock
Esmectatons - Rock In Opposition 2015
 3 years ago
Avant-Garde Prog Rock - Until All the Ghost Are Gone 2015
 3 years ago
Nordic Prog Rock
Dry River - El CIrco de la Tierra 2012
 3 years ago
Symphonic Prog Metal
Top Prog LPs of 2017
1-20 of 83 - The Source

8.8 x4
Prog Rock/Metal
Mike Oldfield - Return To Ommadawn

8.6 x5
English/British Instrumental Prog Rock
Gentle Knife - Clock Unwound

8.7 x4
Prog Rock
Magenta - We Are Legend

9.2 x3
Neo Prog Rock
Barock - Detachment

8.7 x3
Neo Prog Rock - Power And Outcome

8.9 x3
Symphonic Technical Prog Rock
Big Big - Grimspound

9.0 x3
Symphonic Prog Rock - Theater of Dimensions

9.4 x2
Prog-Related Power Metal
Mostly Autumn - Sight Of Day

8.7 x3
Prog Rock/Metal
Discipline - Captives of the Wine Dark Sea

9.0 x2
Neo Prog Rock
The Tangent - The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery

9.3 x2
Eclectic Prog Rock
Fish On Friday - Quiet Life

9.2 x2
Neo Prog Rock
Schooltree - Heterotopia

8.5 x3
Prog Rock
Steve Hackett - The Night Siren

8.5 x3
Symphonic Prog Rock
Taproban - Per Aspera Ad Astra

8.5 x3
Italian Symphonic Prog Rock
Nad Sylvan - The Bride Said No

8.4 x3
Neo Prog Rock
Eye 2 - The Light Bearer

8.3 x3
Symphonic Neo Prog Rock