Progressive Music Ratings & Reviews

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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Porcupine - Deadwing 2005
Eclectic Prog Rock
This is a nice "progish" album. It is not a prog masterpiece, because you have to put it in relation to In Absentia and Lightbulb Sun. But it's definitely quite sophisticated, yet easy to listen to, never get's boring, and the melodies really grow on you pretty fast.

I can understand why some people call this alternative, as it has an alternative touch. But Porcupine Tree has always been difficult to describe, a quality that's not uncommon for prog artists. I'd say that this is a good starting point to get to know Porcupine Tree, if you don't mind a rough edge towards prog metal or alternative.

People looking for the Floyd centric mellow records which Porcupine Tree are famous for should go for Sky Moves Sideways or Voyage 34, Deadwing is considerably more heavy.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Shadow - Tyranny 1998
Technical Neo Prog Metal
This is as well a masterpiece as their latest effort, Room V. Tyranny is often compared to Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime, but I don't think that this is appropriate. Shadow Gallery is more prog, whereas Queensryche is more mainstream rock/metal. Let me clarify that I love Mindcrime as well and consider it to be a masterpiece, too. But it is more accessible than Tyranny, which takes some more time to grow on you.

Many friends of mine listened to it and then complained about it being boring, and all songs sound the same. It is true that Shadow Gallery (like Symphony X, for that matter) have their own sound, that
they vary a little bit from song to song, but not as much as for example Dream Theater did on Images And Words or Awake.

But Tyranny is about killer melodies (the ballads, Spoken Words), stunning guitar/keyboard acrobatics (Stiletto in the Sand), and interesting and credible lyrics (New World Order). The musicians easily match the qualities of Romeo, Petrucci, Rudess and the likes. The singer is also very nice, although when you first hear the vocals you find the voice a little too unspectacular ... but it grows on you just like the
whole package!
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink> - The Black Halo 2005
Symphonic Prog Power Metal
Simply wonderful. This is their best record to date, and for me is THE masterpiece record that I always hoped Rhapsody would make ... but they didn't, Kamelot did. I give it 4 stars, because although this album has much more progressive moments than the previous Kamelot albums, it is still more Symphonic Power Metal than Progressive Metal. But if you're a Power Metal fan, you can add one star to my rating.

Actually, on this record they managed to incorporate many different approaches to songwriting and
sound. I hear Nightwish influences, very subtle Dream Theater and Symphony X hints in the guitar riffs, and Shadow Gallery is also shining through in the keyboard layering and epic chord progressions. And, of course, Rhapsody. While I love their stuff as well, I was always bothered by the accent of the singer and the cheesy lyrics. None of these problems exist on the Black Halo, except maybe for some latin/italian passages, but they are performed flawlessly.

With all that said, if you're not into symphonic (as in classical) orchestration and operatic singing, you might be a little bit careful ... but if you're looking for an album to begin with in this genre, this album is IT. It's very much better than many of it's direct peers (Therion, Nightwish, Rhapsody) because it has more facets and diversity.

The limited edition is a bit of a let down, because the bonus tracks are merely shorter versions (radio edits) of album songs, but the digipack is quite beautiful.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Symphony - The Odyssey 2002
Technical Prog Thrash Metal
This is a really excellent metal album. The discussion about it being inferior to V or Divine Wings reminds me of the Dream Theater: Train Of Thought discussions. The albums are quite similar in their effects on fans and critics.

I think that while it is not as good as V or Divine Wings, The Odyssey is slightly better than Twilight in Olympus. There are no weak tracks, but apparently some are more prog and some more metal. The
epic, Awakenings and Accolade II are standout prog tracks, ALL of the other tracks are wonderful (power) metal songs.

The band is playing very tight, and - again very much like Train Of Thought - the keyboards not very prominent ... but they're there, it all blends nicely into a power metal onslaught, culminating in a symphonic epic (sadly, the classical instruments are samples).

The limited edition also features the older track Masquerade as a bonus, re-recorded with Russell Allen vocals and a nice symphonic intro.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Dream - Train of Thought 2003
Technical Prog Thrash Metal
This is a good example of a band that made a decision (in this case to make a heavier, more straightforward album, which nonethless is still on a high musical level) which split their fan base in two. Of course it didn't decrease the number of their followers, because even the ones who were pissed of eventually found some ice aspects in the music, and now that Octavarium is about to be released, the wounds are healing nicely.

Now what do I have to say about the music of TOT? It has a very unique charm, but takes more time to settle. I'd say that after 20 times listening to the album from beginning to end, the patient listener will be rewarded, and the killer melodies that strike you instantly on albums like SfaM will become apparent on TOT as well. If you get bored along the way ... you don't have to like this.

This is more metal than prog, but with many twists and the usual stellar musicianship!
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
The Flower - The Rainmaker 2001
Symphonic Retro Prog Rock
This record introduced me to the Flower Kings. I downloaded the track City of Angels and was struck with awe: Very clever chord progressions, together with totally emotional and inspired vocals, and a very natural use of 11/4 in the verse, captain future style keyboard interludes ... very nice.

It's not the best FK album to start with, although it worked for me. I'd go for Stardust first. It's more diverse than The Rainmaker, which is a bit mellow as a whole (although one of the key aspects of FK/Stolt is dynamics and contrasts).
Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Shadow - Room V 2005
Symphonic Prog Metal/Rock
This is the Shadow Gallery masterpiece that the fans have been waiting for: A worthy successor of Tyranny, with elements from all their other albums - most prominently Carved In Stone - thrown in ... let me rephrase that: carefully interwoven. The songs are divided in the two acts III and IV, which shows that this is really meant to be the successor to Tyranny.

Listening to the first song the heritage becomes obvious anyway, as it's basically an Overture to the new songs as well as a summary of Tyranny, constructed in a manner similar to the Overture 1928 on Dream
Theater's concept album or the Neal Morse opuses. I don't want to go into too much detail on the music, because it really boils down to being "just" what they did on Tyranny and Carved In Stone, but with lots of fresh ideas and beautiful melodies.

The story picks up pieces of Tyranny, but although I didn't give it much thought (didn't listen and simultaneously read the booklet), it obviously isn't about a new world order, but more about the personal life of the protagonists.

Mr. Arjen Lucassen makes a guest appearance, and tracks 2 and 3 feature beautiful female vocals in the same unusual manner as on Tyranny (quite low registers, I wonder if it's the same singer).

One word about the BONUS DISC: Among some acoustic versions and demos of the Room V songs, there's an absolute highlight: The 25 minute medley Floydian Memories. While it's basically a medley, where typically passages from different songs are put together, this track goes one step further and merges different Pink Floyd tracks in a psychedelic way. Marvelous. Wonderful. Masterpiece.

What a pity that apparently they don't tour ... maybe that changes with them signing on to InsideOut, let's hope so!
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink> - Universal Migrator 2: Flight of the Migrator 2000
Heavy Prog Metal
There are no weak songs on this album. The solos are lengthy, but never directionless. However, the whole package does take some time to grow on you. I give it 3 stars, but you might want to add a star if you're a "metalhead".

If you're not a musician, you might indeed find some passages boring and repetitive. It might have
something to do with the fact that many songs contain solos by different artists. If you don't know these artists, you might not recognize the "change of artist". All of the solos are beautiful and relevant - melody in favor of technique and "noodling".

For those that prefer more progressive stuff and a little less metal, I recommend Into the Electric Castle. This is the essence of Ayreon, even more so than The Human Equation. Both are masterpieces, but Into the Electric Castle is more over the top, which really is one of the key aspects of Ayreon. Consider this album as a short "journey" into the heavier realms, only to be topped a few years later by Lucassen's Star One.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Dream - Scenes from a Memory 1999
Technical Experimental Prog Metal
This really is a masterpiece, a quintessential modern prog rock concept album. There are many people out there who don't consider Dream Theater to be prog at all. IMHO there are many more who do, and I'm one of those open minded people who have understood that there are many different kinds of prog music.

Dream Theater - generally and on this album in particular - focus on structure and virtuosity. The music is always very controlled, refined and thoughtfully laid out. But with all this technical perfection, this album features beautiful melodies as well.

Production also is nearly perfect, I cannot understand people who say otherwise. However, there might still be a chance that you will not like the album (or Dream Theater) at all: The vocals are not everybody's cup of tea, as are the classical and avantgardistic (ZAPPA) influences and lengthy solos.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Vanden - Beyond Daylight 2002
Symphonic Prog Metal
This is good stuff. The bands reminds me of Dream Theater, the similarities are obvious. The vocals are different though, at times similar to newer Threshold albums. There are really stellar moments in some of the songs, but the album as a whole is just not inventive enough for me.

But they're trying really hard, musicianship and production are top notch, so they get 4 stars from me, which really are just 3 1/2 stars. Sorry, but DT did it first! Also, the keyboards are - well - underwhelming. They are buried in the mix, and appear too thin and unimportant compared to the Guitars.
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Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Fantô - Suspended Animation 2005
Experimental Technical Prog Metal
Very nicely done. I give their debut album five stars, because it is really unique and wasn't done before, they really "added to the substance of the universe". This record is a combination of all their previous records, and also quite unique.

You get lots of samples, incoherent riffs, vocal acrobatics and occasional blastbeats ... it's not really prog in a Yes sense, but in a King Crimson meets Slayer meets Mr. Bungle sense. If you're new to Fantomas, I recommend you begin with Director's Cut and then continue with this record or their debut.
Review by Mike 13 years ago <Permalink>
Fantô - Fantômas 1998
Avant-Garde Experimental Prog Metal
This is so unique and beyond any reference or tradition, and at the same time performed with such precision and stellar musicianship, that I cannot give this gem any less rating than masterpiece. I still cannot understand how such an album can exist at all, it's unreal. It's such a daunting task to create this weird concept and then to pull it through.

It's not really prog as in Symphonic Progressive Rock epics, rather the very opposite. There are hardly any tracks longer than 2:30, and no mellotron whatsoever, or any keyboards apart from strangely modified hammond samples. But I think that the whole album is an epic of sorts - it surely has recurring phrases, just not in a musical sense.

It surely is the first album I've ever heard to feature vocals throughout, but no lyrics - just vocal acrobatics of the kind that only Mike Patton dares to base albums upon. Add to that the Slayer drums mayhem by Dave Lombardo, and King Buzzo (Melvins), who manages to mogrify his puristic Les Paul & Amp to a similar extent that Patton does voicewise.

If you want to hear something COMPLETELY different, try this!
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Comment by Mike
Shadow - Legacy 2001
Prog Metal
This is not the best Shadow Gallery album ... but it get's a
high score from me because of the brilliant epic and the first
track. Colors might be the weakest track, but given some time
it begins to grow on you as well.
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Review by Mike 14 years ago <Permalink>
Pink - The Wall 1979
English/British Symphonic Neo Prog-Related Rock
IMO this is a masterpiece ... even though there are other Pink
Floyd albums that are even better - like Wish You Were Here and
Dark Side of the Moon. Those albums are more progressive in
many ways and an amazing team effort, whereas this is
essentially a Roger Waters solo album. It is also regressive,
it might even be considered easy listening by the standards
established by their previous albums. But then again
progressiveness and musical complexity cannot be the only
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Review by Mike 14 years ago <Permalink>
Dream - Images and Words 1992
Symphonic Technical Prog Metal
This IS prog ... but not traditional Progressive Rock. It is a form of Progressive Metal, but in the years to follow this release, bands like Pain Of Salvation stretched the boundaries of that genre much further. Yet this is an excellent release, featuring a wide bandwidth from soft pop ballads (Another Day) to ultra prog (Metropolis). I don't think that this type of music qualifies as Speed or Power Metal, as others suggested, because it's just so much different than other releases from those genres. Your typical Speed Metal fan would not listen to Dream Theater. Instead, he might consider it too progressive ...

But I have to admit that progressiveness in itself was probably not what the band had in mind when they created Images And Words. I think they really just wanted to create music that is interesting for the listener, and fun to play for the band. It may lack the seriousness of King Crimson, and the vocal arrangements of Gentle Giant, there's not even a mellotron ... but each track except the ballad has truly progressive elements.

The one outstanding track on this record is Learning To Live. It's really a good summary of all the other tracks, and it's a track the band almost always includes in the setlist. And of course Metropolis Pt.1, the first part to their masterpiece Scenes From a Memory, which was initially "just" a follow up song to Metropolis Pt.1 and then became a full concept album.
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2081-2095 of 2095  
1-20 of 206  
Glass - Untold Tales 2017, Compilation
 10 hours ago
Symphonic Prog Rock
Panic Room - Skin 2012
 6 days ago
Prog Rock
Down - II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow 2002
 18 days ago
Stoner Non-Prog Sludge Metal
Foo - Concrete and Gold 2017
 2 months ago
Non-Prog Rock - The Source 2017
 3 months ago
Prog Metal
Mouth of the Architect - Path Of Eight 2016
 2 years ago
Experimental Prog Metal - F E A R (F*** Everyone And Run) 2016
 2 years ago
Neo Prog Rock
The Novelists - DEMO 2014, EP
 2 years 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
 4 years ago
Symphonic Prog Metal
Top Prog LPs of 2017
1-20 of 130 - The Source

8.7 x5
Prog Rock/Metal - Power And Outcome

9.0 x4
Symphonic Technical Prog Rock
Big Big - Grimspound

8.9 x4
Symphonic Prog Rock
Mike Oldfield - Return To Ommadawn

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

8.8 x4
Prog Rock
Steven - To the Bone

8.5 x5
Prog Rock/Pop
Magenta - We Are Legend

9.2 x3
Neo Prog Rock
The Tangent - The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery

9.0 x3
Eclectic Prog Rock
Mostly Autumn - Sight Of Day

8.5 x4
Prog Rock/Metal
Schooltree - Heterotopia

8.7 x3
Prog Rock
Barock - Detachment

8.3 x4
Neo Prog Rock - Theater of Dimensions

9.4 x2
Non-Prog Power Metal
Discipline - Captives of the Wine Dark Sea

8.6 x3
Neo Prog Rock
Big Big - The Second Brightest Star

8.4 x3
Symphonic Prog Rock
Kaipa - Children of the Sounds

8.7 x3
Symphonic Prog Rock
Steve Hackett - The Night Siren

8.4 x4
Prog Rock
Drifting Sun - Twilight

8.6 x3
Neo Prog Rock