Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Who in the world still likes progressive metal??

Tough one. I know I used to. I used to love prog’ metal, I use to listen to inexplicable music and get crazy over never ending intros and epic guitar Vs keyboard duels. But now, I don't know anymore. 
I’m even hesitating: should I add the new Dream Theater record (A Dramatic Turn Of Events) to my “To Buy List” (this list really exists, I’ll tell you more about how it’s organized and precisely managed someday)? The cold fact is I bought the 2 previous records (Systematic Chaos & Black Clouds and Silver Linings) without thinking, and I can’t remember a single damn note of them… I just don’t feel like listening to their music anymore. 

Do I want to buy this one?

I even bought a Zero Hour record once. Don’t ask me how I actually survived, but I think I’d be too scared to play it again, I’m not willing to loose my sanity. I’m being sarcastic here on purpose, because this band really is hard to get into, but the guys are very talented and there is some pretty smart musicianship here, if you think you’re tough enough, check’em out.

The music is hard to follow, but this album has a very dark and interesting atmosphere...

Considering that Dream Theater is almost prog’ metal’s best definition, imagine how I feel about all the 2nd class bands that sound like a cheap version of DT… In fact, I do not only dislike 2nd class prog’ metal bands, I truly detest them. They are the downfall of a genre that is becoming a predictable & soulless self-parody. I still remember how much pain I felt when I tried to listen to bands like Communic or Thought Chamber. Just go to Inside Out Music label’s page to see how many of these bands released one or two records before getting back to being totally anonymous…I think times have changed for prog’ metal and people are not buying it anymore.

Just so that things are completely clear though; we’re talking here about PROG METAL in its literal meaning. Nothing to do with prog’ rock of course and nothing to do with Metal bands that have a progressive edge (we spoke of Obscura the other day, I can mention bands like Edge Of Sanity, Borknagar, the awesome Enslaved…).
There is also a new generation of bands, lead by Mastodon and who can be classified as "progressive" metal as well. They sound totally different though (totally different influences) and we'll probably discuss that scene soon, as the new Mastodon record is to be released by the end of the month. Until then, enjoy the cool new video...

That was the negative answer to the question. But there is also a positive answer since there are some awesome Prog’ Metal bands out there, and just because some of the leaders are declining, you shouldn’t ignore them.

Somehow, with their big chunky and fat packaging, Nuclear Blast convinced me into buying the new Symphony X two-CD record. Now that’s a nice band who managed to evolve and to seduce the Metal audience by being more aggressive and more “thrashy”. I still think their masterpiece is the fabulous record called "V", but it’s undeniable that all their CDs are good, original and catchy. 

 I feel like a teenager when I fall for such flashy special editions.

This one stays my favorite from Symphony X. Fantastic!

Another awesome prog’ metal band I must tell you about is Myrath. This young band from Tunisia is an perfect mixture of Dream Theater and Symphony X. Myrath sort of found the ideal equilibrium between technicality, impact, melodies and exotic tunes. Yes, they include some Arabic music here and there and they do it perfectly. It sounds genuine; it’s NEVER cheesy or clichĂ©. The songs are pretty short and each one of them sounds memorable in it’s own way. Make sure you grab a copy of their new CD called “Tales Of The Sands”.

Perhaps one of the best "oriental metal" bands alongside Melechesh (who are way more extreme)

And of course, one must not forget to mention some awesome and classic bands like ARK, Conception or even Pagan’s Mind

ARK are split up, but they have probably issued one of the top10 records in heavy metal history. "Burn The Sun", their second and last effort is a masterpiece, nothing else to say about that fact. If you like rock, if you like music, you cannot ignore that one. Describing it would probably take me another couple of pages. Just know that the line up comprises all stars Tore Ostby and Jorn on the top of their game. 


Tore Ostby is also involved in Conception, alongside fantastic singer Roy Khan. The band has issued 4 records in the 1990’s, each one of them is brilliant. One of these band’s secrets is the genius guitar parts of Tore. Instinctive yet technical, heavy and yet so spiritual; Flamenco and Jazz guitar have never been so perfectly included on a Metal record. What is this guy doing by the way, anyone got news of his new projects?

In Your Multitude is conception's third and probably fan-favorite CD

Now Pagan’s Mind is a little bit different. This band can be described as being “Too much”, in all compartments. Too shiny, too cheesy, too technical, too melodic, too crazy… But they guys know what they’re doing and their songs are just awesome and addictive. 

The last CD called Heavenly Ecstasy is about some love story between a space goddess and another alien. If you buy the special edition you’ll get a couple of bonus songs, linear notes from each musician (detailing their passions, life philosophy…) and a fantastic old-school poster with a 100% leather and “Metal” pose.
Needless to say that the concept’s love story has a very happy and philosophical ending. Love is superior to evil; always.

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