For the past few days, I have been listening to 90% Progressive Rock/Metal, and maybe 10% AC/DC (the new album Black Ice). Artists like Warrel Dane (solo album by the singer of Nevermore, another band I plan on listening to), Ayreon, Dream Theater, System of a Down (most don't consider SoaD a "Progressive" band, but every song of theirs is consideralby different then the one after it. That, in my mind, equals Progressive), Pink Floyd, The Ocean Collective (not a fan), Without Amusia (local band), Rush, and Rage (at least the first half of the "Speak of The Dead" album).
Prog is thought of as having very different sounds for each artist, over half of the aforementioned artists have a very similar sound. The only bands that truly stand out are System of a Down (being more Experimental Metal focused), Without Amusia (focused on a fusion of Latin and Funk), The Ocean Collective (Post-Metal), and Pink Floyd. Although all of these bands fall into the Prog catagoy in some way, it's the bands with a "true" Progressive sound (e.g. multiple time signatures with prolonged instrumental sections), that are considered truly Prog. Some of my favorties:
- Warrel Dane - The lead singer of the Power Progressive Metal band Nevermore, who's debut solo album, "Praises To The War Machine," is a nice mix of Prog and Power. While this album is more straight-forward than Nevermore albums, it still dives into the Progressive feel, with the song "Equilibrium" being my favorite. I don't know when to expect the next album by Dane, seeing as Nevermore is back in the studio recording a new album (said to be released next fall), but I hope that there will be another.
- Ayreon - The concept: one writer/composer, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, with dozens of guest musicians/singers, to create a concept album focusing on science fiction and fantasy. Lucassen writes all the music and lyrics (even though lacking the ability to read sheet music), and records a large percentage of the parts himself. He then has several guest musicians, and numerous vocalists (with as many at 17 on the album: "01011001"), add their abilities to the final project. All of the albums are concept albums, with several albums being intertwined to form an impressive story. Although I havn't heard all the albums yet, I have listened (and loved) to "Into The Electric Castle" and "01011001." "Into The Electric Castle" tells of eight heroes pulled from several places and times and are given a quest by a mysterious voice to discover the secrets of The Electric Castle. "01011001" follows two stories, one of beings living on "Planet Y" (01011001 is ASCII for the letter "Y"), with the second focusing on a pair of people living on Planet Earth. I intend to listen to all the other Ayreon albums, and most likely will write about this project again.
- Dream Theater - The recipie: four music college drop-outs and an ex-hair metal singer. Sounds like a horrible collaboration, but in fact Dream Theater has become the deffinition of Progressive Metal, in the same way that Rush is the deffinition of Progressive Rock. They play extended peices, with multiple movements and time signatures. The vocals (James LaBrie) are sung in the fashion of the rock bands of the 70s/80s (Styx, Iron Maiden) which can turn off people not used to the sound. But the instrumentalists, John Petrucci (Guitars), Mike Portnoy (Percussion), John Myung (Bass), and Jordan Rudess (Keyboards), meld together a story of epic perportions. My favorite albums are 1999's "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" and 2003's "Train of Thought." "Scenes From A Memory" tells the story of a man having horrible dreams about a woman and discovering that the woman was him in a past life. It's real trippy and moves from really heavy ("Strange Deja Vu" and "Fatal Tragedy") to very light and poetic, something one's girlfriend might enjoy ("Through My Words, "Through Her Eyes," and "Finally Free"). I enjoy Train of Thought" for very different reasons. I love this album because of it's much heavier connontations. It is an album filled with heavy riffs and darly lyrics, much more straight-forward metal, than any album before or after. It got mixed reviews from fans, with many claiming Dream Theater "selling out." Is anyone else sick of this insult/excuse? I view it as the band, known for experimentaion, tried to do something new.
- Pink Floyd - One word: awesome. Who doesn't know about Pink Floyd? If you are one of these people I want you to do something very important very quickly, I want you to take your hand, ball it into a fist and ram it into your temple as hard as you can. Keep going until you either know all about Pink Floyd, or you pass out, whichever comes first. What most people don't know (those that know about Pink Floyd) however, is that they did release albums before "Dark Side of The Moon." Actually they released several albums, and most of them were not of the sound that they would be famous for. Their other albums include:
- The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
- A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
- Soundtrack from the Film More (1969)
- Ummagumma (1969)
- Atom Heart Mother (1970)
- Meddle (1971)
- Obscured by Clouds (1972)
"Meddle" was the fisrt one to sound like "classic" Pink Floyd, along with "Obscured By Clouds." Actually, even during their "classic" days, they released several other albums besides those that are remembered. While "Dark Side of The Moon (1973)," "Wish You Were Here (1975)," "The Wall (1979)," and "A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)," were all known as Pink Floyd's, their lesser hits "Animals (1977)," "The Final Cut (1983)," and "The Division Bell (1994)" are only known by those that own the albums (such as yours-truly). While most of these albums are forgotten because they are not that good ("The Final Cut" is pretty bad), albums like "Meddle" are very good and should be given the chance they deserve. Although any album before "Meddle" should be approached with care, because they are of a very different sound than later albums, but that doesn't mean that they are bad by any means.
Currently at work and bored, wishing I was at home listening to something...