I'm really glad to have had Portal of I pushed into my periphery via this month's Infinite feature. It may not be very apparent, but I am actually quite a bit of a prog nut. 1970s prog rock is one of my favourite genres, Van Der Graaf Generator, Gabriel-era Genesis and Yes are three of my all-time favourite bands and in fact there's a few modern prog bands I enjoy too like Riverside and Galahad. However, an awful lot of progressive metal leaves me cold for some reason - if it's not one band trying to be the next Dream Theater, it's another trying to impress everyone with their technical prowess. Meanwhile they all seem to forget about the songs. This is why I admired Opeth so much - they were technically superb but never forgot that the song was king and everything they did worked to that end without resorting to technicality and flashiness for it's own sake. On the evidence of Portal of I, Ne Obliviscaris seem to be a band with the same philosophy and with this album have ticked many of the boxes that appeal to me. I'm especially on board with the marriage between prog and black metal, in a similar way that Oranssi Pazuzu's fusion between black metal and psychedelic rock is so successful, Ne Obliviscaris seem to understand exactly how to alloy black metal with progressive metal in way that makes the whole more than the separate elements (something Opeth also achieved). While the entire album is exceedingly good Forget Not, for me, is a song on a whole different level and has jumped right onto my list of greatest tracks of all-time.
I've got to admit that the past four or five months' features have got me much more interested in Infinite bands. Despite my previous reservations, I look forward to Infinite features as much as any now, particularly as I am unlikely to have heard them before. So thanks to all you Infinite contributors who have proved once more that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
I've just made a couple Spotify best-of playlists containing songs from those 3 bands and After the Burial, and I recommended these playlists to be listened to by anyone who wants to hear those bands' highlights:
I decided this month to make more of an effort with some of the clans playlists and featured releases that I don't always bother with. First effort was The Sphere which was a disaster thanks to that fucking LARD album, so I was hoping that a jaunt into the Infinite would reveal some items of interest. Thankfully, I got more than expected and have now added Evergrey, Symphony X and Russian Circles to my "to do" list. The latter band always struck me as being a bit of hipster act for some reason but that track was solid enough to impress me into checking out the whole album at some point.
Most of the avant-garde/core crossover stuff was lost on me though and just what the hell is going on with the likes of Carbonized and Faxed Head is completely beyond me. Really good to see Ænigmatum on there as this release has fast grown on me in recent weeks and my splatter-effect vinyl has seen a good few spins since its arrival a few weeks back.
Picked up some new listens like I mentioned so overall a decent folly into the unknown.
Considering Alcest's discography, this pick was to force me to revisit my once hot opinion that Kodama is my favorite album of theirs. Plus after the fact I realized that, like Daniel said, it's pretty interesting to see how little metal is actually in this thing. I was planning to write a review this month but it wasn't in the cards, although I can give a very quick breakdown now.
Long story short I still think that this album is absolutely gorgeous and I still prefer songs like "Kodama" and "Je suis d'ailleurs" over pretty much anything else Alcest have ever done, but revisiting it made me realize how weak the back half of Kodama really is. Like Saxy said this is a slow album, but I completely forgot how much "Onyx" and "Notre sang et nos pensees" drag after "Oiseaux de proie" retreads a bit too much of the same ground already established by stronger songs in the first half. I still think very highly of this album because the overall sound is perfect for what I look for out of Alcest and any other bands like them, but it's not as much of a personal classic as I led myself to believe. I'll have to go back and revisit some of their earlier albums to see if Kodama is still my favorite, but its pedestal has been lowered a few feet for sure.
Cheers for the rec, Daniel! Here's my review summary:
Progressive metal is one of the most characteristically difficult genres of all time, when it comes to playing, composing, and sometimes listening. If you're an expert at composing excellent progressive music, you'll create wonderful results, otherwise everything would be incorrect. If you're new creating progressive metal, surely a 10-minute epic would be difficult to start with, but it's still easy to keep interesting. It would definitely be more difficult to attempt a 20-minute track with half of it is long instrumental sections and the other half is filled with ambitious vocals, all with no coherent pace. You can even challenge yourself further with 30 minutes. Now 60 minutes, an exact hour, THAT's the ultimate challenge! You have to be the master of getting used to prog to enjoy this hour-long epic, Green Carnation's Light of Day, Day of Darkness! Green Carnation's music for this album can be described as progressive metal with slight doom. Dark sorrow in the atmosphere fits well with the high-quality composition. Probably a third (20 minutes) of the track is instrumental while not straying away from the concept, with a continuous pattern throughout the progressive complexity. Unlike Dream Theater or Rush, the album is more doom-inspired than upbeat, including the mid-range vocals and the riffs that contain slow dark heaviness to fit nicely with the sorrowful leads. The album also includes saxophone, sitar, strings, synthesizers, and other instruments starting with "S", greatly enhancing the guitar and atmosphere. Everything flows without being too loose or out of place (for the most part). This is a must-have for all progressive metal fans, and while I didn't start my prog journey here, for anyone wanting to start on this genre for the first time....welcome!
Progressive metal is a tough genre to control because of the genre being so...well, progressive, and bands with even the slightest progressive qualities end up being labeled that genre. So I decided to divide progressive metal into 15 different types, similar to Xephyr's Viking Metal experiment. I think it would be hard to fit so many YouTube videos into one post, so I made a playlist that can be found here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3fWYgo16iAq7NVoBvg2XAy
Tool - "7empest"
Natural deathly prog:
Opeth - "Hessian Peel"
Spiritual elemental prog:
Mastodon - "The Last Baron"
Ecological natural deathly prog:
Gojira - "The Art of Dying"
Corrupted natural deathly prog:
Atheist - "Unquestionable Presence"
Maudlin of the Well - "Birth Pains of Astral Projection"
Humorous spacey alt-prog:
Voivod - "Clouds in My House"
Norse Viking blackened prog:
Enslaved - "The Sleep: Floating Diversity – A Monument Part III"
Misanthropic groove-ish heavy/prog:
Nevermore - "The Heart Collector"
Self-reflective classic prog:
Dream Theater - "Learning to Live"
Humanitarian classic heavy/prog:
Queensryche - "Anybody Listening?"
Emotional classic prog:
Fates Warning - "The Eleventh Hour"
Mythological neo-symphonic prog:
Symphony X - "Rediscovery (Part II) - The New Mythology"
Spiritual modern classic prog:
Circus Maximus - "Architect of Fortune"
Instrumental modern classic prog:
Liquid Tension Experiment - "Key to the Imagination"
Mastodon – “Curl of the Burl” (from “The Hunter”, 2011)
5/5. Now this here's the perfect choice to start this playlist. This single has a strange music video, which is yet another contributing factor to how I became in this band, when I watched that video like 5 years ago. That song is a radio/TV-friendly stoner tune with great vocal harmony emphasis.
Ayreon – “Beneath The Waves” (from “01011001”, 2008)
5/5. And this marks another playlist with a soft 4th track, wow! Though this one is more influenced by Pink Floydian prog-rock while staying metal. Ayreon is a band that deserves to be more popular. ONE MAN, Arjen Lucassen, has spent over two and a half decades of hard work making this multi-singer project possible, and he already has above 100 singers and musicians involved in 10 albums! He should really have more fame and recognition. This is one of my favorite Ayreon songs with emotional impact in the vocals and melodies. It seems like one song, but it's actually split into 5 parts, with the outro being one of the coolest things ever, even at first listen 7 years ago. Sweet memories touching my heart! If I end up in an 8-hour overnight cross-country road trip, I would use the time to listen to 4 Ayreon albums in a row. They've already done live performances for The Human Equation and Into the Electric Castle. Once the virus lifts up, 01011001 shall be next! This song is so f***ing unique with a d*mn amazing solo plus an insane final chorus (the 4th part). You can pretty much imagine yourself travelling through oceans and astral planes. The slowness I can stand much more than Crowbar. Steve Lee (Gotthard) was alive to do vocals for the album, but sadly nearly 3 years later, he was killed in the most metal yet still tragic way possible (by a flying motorcycle). RIP... Anyway, this composition is still beautiful during these almost 14 years since its release, with me still remembering it since first listen at the midpoint of that amount of time. And I believe some songs from this album and other albums were referenced in Transitus. Face the facts, our metal opera savior is back!
4.5/5. That couple in the cover art seem to be prepared for the virus, even though that was 20 years before the virus. With every lyric and note hitting my heart with pride and joy, I have no other words to describe this 16-minute epic! This is almost, just almost, one of my favorite songs from Fates Warning.
5/5. Many of you know this as the ultimate hit for Dream Theater, with technical power shining through the song. The lyrics do what the title says and PULL YOU UNDER. The guitar solo from John Petrucci is one of the best he's ever done. It's lyrical theme seems to be heavily inspired by Kansas' "Dust in the Wind", yet it is based on Shakespeare's Hamlet in the prince's point of view. The song ends abruptly during the outro but I don't care. Still an excellent track!
Symphony X – “Absinthe & Rue” (from “Symphony X”, 1994)
4/5. This one is a solid example of the progressive/power/neo-classical metal fury the band is known for, though in not of their best albums, but they just starting, so I won't go too harsh on this.
Teramaze – “A Deep State Of Awake” (from “I Wonder”, 2020)
4.5/5. Now this is an amazing song to listen to during the lockdown! Yet a maze I'm not up to totally be trapped in...
Between The Buried & Me – “Astral Body” (from “The Parallax II: Future Sequence”, 2012)
4.5/5. Times have changed back and forth through my death metal departure that somehow included a few other bands like BTBAM, along with an epic listening of their new album Colors II. Now with this submission in, I can take another glimpse at the creativity of the music and story that I regret breaking away from.
Gojira – “Another World” (from “Fortitude”, 2021)
4/5. So beautiful, including the vibe. Yet I've already moved away from this band due to their death metal past...
I used to be a pretty casual Leprous fan when I found their 2015 album The Congregation and played a ton of songs from it on my radio show back in college. They were a band that I really liked, but I never really raved about them in the same way as other Progressive Metal bands. The Congregation showed them pivot into a less Metal and more progressive/art rock direction, and as I've gone back through their discography it's been interesting to hear them have more bite in the past. Obviously Daniel showing me their live performance album netted them a 5/5 and that performance had mostly songs from The Congregation and Coal, but the live setting and performing live with Ihsahn gave their sound the out-of-studio punch it needed to be absolutely phenomenal. What's interesting about that live album is that is features zero songs from Tall Poppy Syndrome, and from what I've read the band hasn't played anything from this album in a very, very long time, making a lot of these tracks seemingly forgotten by the band.
Which is an absolute shame because Tall Poppy Syndrome is easily one of Leprous's best works, maybe even their best in my opinion with Coal coming in extremely close behind. "He Will Kill Again" is phenomenal in almost every way. It really showcases the entirety of Leprous' sound, from the haunting intro, to the heavy riff, to the more progressive vocal melodies and harmonies from Einar, to a very good payoff towards the end. The few slower parts drag a bit, since the band seemed to not be too overzealous with Einar's writing at this point, but those parts are very few and far between. I think that Tall Poppy Syndrome strikes an amazing balance for the band especially since they were early in their career, since Bilateral and Coal begin to shift the focus towards Einar and being more "artsy" in general. Just see Daniel's writeup for pretty much the rest of my thoughts, he nailed it without me really sitting down and analyzing this to come up with a different avenue to give this album more praise.
My thoughts on some tracks (including my suggested ones):
Meshuggah – “Future Breed Machine (Quant’s Quantastical Quantasm” (from “The True Human Design” E.P., 1997)
3.5/5. The chaos begins with a bit of an apocalyptic atmosphere that sounds like robotic machines taking over the world; industrial noises, then... Well, not quite the version I wanted to hear, I don't need to say more. I guess that's kind of payback for when I included a Meshuggah interlude in a playlist a few months ago. Touché...
Pain Of Salvation – “Restless Boy” (from “Panther”, 2020)
4/5. This one is a computerized melancholic ballad with electronic vocoder effects that spark up melodies of Cynic, maybe even Daft Punk. More surprises come in as the second half becomes suddenly heavier with frantic vocals and more of those djenty guitars. Man, more of the djenty guitars appear to the point where we can consider this album a less extreme djent!
Haken – “The Good Doctor” (from “Vector”, 2018)
4.5/5. I've remembered enjoying this fun prog-metal song before recently dumping my interest for Haken during my death metal departure despite them not being death metal at all. This has reminded me of that medical drama The Good Doctor!
Ayreon – “Daniel’s Descent Into Transitus” (from “Transitus”, 2020)
4.5/5. A whole new dimension awaits in one of the first parts of a new Ayreon story...
4/5. This very strange yet beautiful song shows the vocals by Jade Alice having more harmonic impact before slowing building up to almost a black/folk metal sound that almost makes the song suitable for the North clan, something Lucid Planet had never dared to go before. This aural effect adds to an epic journey with changing textures and sounds. This could very well be suitable for long mountain treks like in the Lord of the Rings movies, and I can feel the tiring side effects even when I'm just sitting down and writing this comment, thanks to the strong feeling of movement.
Enslaved – “Return To Yggdrasill” (from “Isa”, 2004)
4.5/5. Returning to the extreme side of progressive metal, this one starts heavy before primarily becoming acoustic. Herbrand Larsen's melancholic singing makes that song one of the saddest by the band.
Cult Of Luna – “What I Leave Behind” (from “The raging River” E.P., 2021)
4.5/5. This one fills your heart with pain and despair in sludgy destruction. Enough said...
5/5. Now this is a more climatic playlist ending than that of the Guardians playlist, the 13 minute true diverse crowning highlight of both its album and this playlist, initially starting with Metallica hammering thrash, it gets more epic and heavier throughout, even developing an amazing psychedelic atmosphere in the halfway point, before building back up into a heavy speedy ending.
I was able to check this one out on an hour and a half drive over the weekend, The Infinite is definitely the wildcard Clan by design, huh? Pretty much every track on here is completely different from one another save for a few of the sludgier tracks like "Orosirian" and "Crawl Back In". I have a lot of catching up to do with Fates Warning, and that Jute Gyte track was a massive surprise that didn't really work out for car speaker listening.
I did not realize how much I needed to let off some steam in my review, but here we are. I think what upsets me the most about 2000s era Dream Theater is how super talented each member of this group is, as both performers as well as songwriters and how they wasted away on half formed progressive metal albums throughout the entire decade. This band should have been pushing the envelope so hard given their reputation instead of releasing the same album like clockwork bi-annually for ten years. The hooks are empty, the production sounds thin in places where it shouldn't and bloated in others, the "innovation" feels surface level at best, and outside of "Stream of Consciousness", this album wreaks of non-effort in the worst way possible.
My thoughts on some tracks (including my suggested ones):
Haken – “Invasion” (from “Virus”, 2020)
5/5. Starting this playlist perfectly is a song to end my interest in this band in a djent-ish progressive metal bang! It's quite a shame that I'm not feeling interested in this band, because one of the best songs of Haken's newest album (this one) has earlier Leprous vibes that would make some thing of what Gentle Giant sounds like in modern times. This beautifully wonderful songs has lyrics that very well synchronize with the djenty beat, though it might cause some to think of the verses of Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy", which isn't the kind of relation I wanted to think of. The Virus album is great but I actually like their earlier albums more such as Aquarius. But still, good job, guys!
4.5/5. Wow, an incredible ambient interlude! You might expect Kidman to sing nicely like Burton C. Bell in some Fear Factory ballads, but nope. I guess Kidman just wanted to stay shouting in most of the band's other tracks.
5/5. This one is suitable for when I feel some slight regret over my recent change of metal interest, like a part of me wishes I hadn't made that move. The low strumming over the 7-minute mark is pretty d*mn chilling. The magical soloing from John Petrucci is one of my favorites from him! This impressive song has still made me grateful for this band to be around to launch my interest in progressive metal. Some might be reminded of Eloy due to the genre's brilliant genius. The song is from the 5-song "Twelve-Step Suite" which chronicles drummer Mike Portnoy's battle against drug/alcohol issues. The concept is so touching, along with song's beautiful simplicity, from the first verse to Pink Floyd-like great ending, all of which are something to love! This is also perfect for helping depressed/suicidal people get better and enjoy life more. I might definitely go listen to the second part of the suite "This Dying Soul" when reviewing this month's Infinite feature release (Train of Thought). Around the 3-minute mark, the instrumentation reminds me of Opeth, before giving me goosebumps with that solo a minute and a half later. Speaking of Opeth, I almost forgot, that band's lead singer Mikael Åkerfeldt, along with Pain of Salvation's Daniel Gildenlöw, Transatlantic's Neal Morse, and various other fellow musicians all speak their own apologies, regrets, and sorrows.
5/5. John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, and Jordan Rudess, I salute your astonishing talents in both Dream Theater and this instrumental band Liquid Tension Experiment! I might listen to more of this band and write my own lyrics to the music, and this band has awakened the instrumental progressive metal scene while Animals as Leaders is asleep.
Seventh Wonder – “By The Light Of The Funeral Pyres” (from “Tiara”, 2018)
4.5/5. A kick-A song from a masterpiece album! Nothing else to say there...
Entropia – “Poison” (from “Vacuum”, 2018)
3.5/5. Good attempt at an extreme progressive metal epic, but slightly poisonous to me. Again moving on...
Kamelot – “The Great Pandemonium” (from “Poetry For The Poisoned”, 2010)
4/5. This song is from Kamelot's last album with Roy Khan before he left the band, and it has guest growls by Björn Strid from Soilwork, along with some of the best guitar soloing from the band. Those make the song one of the greatest of the album, though the album doesn't quite reach the epic heights of the surrounding symphonic power metal albums. Good to know that this progressive experiment is a one-time move for this band.
5/5. This is pretty short for a progressive metal song, just as long as that Kamelot song, both each 4 and a half minutes, but this Voivod song demonstrates highly creative originality, packing powerful metal punches. Why did I mention the lengths? Because it can be progressive without turning into a 15-minute epic! After a calm dark ambient intro with a few bass touches, the crossover-ish dynamics erupt with speedy riff rhythms and signature snarling vocals. Near the two-minute mark, the song makes a weird evolution into old-school Hawkwind-like spacey guitar rhythms. Many styles and influences all in dexterous textures in only under 5 minutes. A truly awesome feat!
Symphony X – “Evolution (The Grand Design)” (from “V: The New Mythology Suite”, 2000)
4.5/5. Speaking of great feats, this song would make you want more of this band. Great job!
Very surprising for sure Daniel, you'll be happy to know Evergrey have been doing the same sort of thing since 2014's Hymns for the Broken, they're an extremely consistent band if nothing else. So you've got a lot more material to go through at the risk of it getting too samey. I'm torn on whether you'll like The Atlantic more than this one or not, you might find it a bit too cheesy since it has a bit more electronic melody elements to it. I like the riffs and choruses of that one more than this one at the end of the day though.
My thoughts on some tracks (including my suggested ones):
Opeth – “The Funeral Portrait” (from “Blackwater Park”, 2001)
4.5/5. A brutally good song with crushing progressive riffs from one of the greatest progressive metal albums to begin the 21st Century. Yet another great way to start a playlist that would contain other good and better songs!
Ayreon – “Day Eleven: Love” (from “The Human Equation”, 2004)
5/5. A marvelous song with manic serenity! There's an amazing story told throughout this song and concept album, but I guess you would have to listen to the album on your own to find out the whole story.
The Contortionist – “Follow” (from “Our Bones” E.P., 2019)
4.5/5. The Contortionist is one of those progressive metal bands that started extreme (djent or otherwise) then the extreme part starts to fade into something more melodic. Fortunately, this song shows that The Contortionist still have a bit of their earlier heaviness while having progressive melody. Hope their fanbase is still following!
Cara Neir – “Floodgates Of Doom” (from Phase Out”, 2021)
3.5/5. HORSE the Band gone post-black/experimental noisegrind? Sounds pretty killer, but f*** it! Let's move on...
Animals As Leaders – “Song Of Solomon” (from “Animals As Leaders”, 2009)
5/5. Now this is a much better song, filled with jazzed-up heaviness and synth patterns. Whoever this Solomon dude is, he would be so proud of this band for such a gift. Still looking forward to getting the rest of their discography!
Neurosis – “Souls At Zero” (from “Souls At Zero”, 1992)
4.5/5. A great song to play from your surround sound system until the police tell you to turn it down to not disturb the peace! Neurosis need more recognition after starting a new revolution, the beginning of post-metal and post-sludge! Also, anyone else think the main riff in the intro and outro sounds like that of "Carol of the Bells"?
Ne Obliviscaris – “Forget Not” (from “Portal Of I”, 2012)
5/5. The title of this track is the English translation for the band name Ne Obliviscaris. The first half is a long quiet atmospheric passage that tries to build up to heaviness but ends up falling back down. Then in a second attempt, it gets up much higher and closer to metal, and by the midway point, it made it! The violin stops and let the instrumentation and vocals do their work for the rest of this song.
Evergrey – “Leaden Saints” (from “Escape Of Phoenix”, 2021)
5/5. AMAZING SONG!!! More about it in my review for this album...
Meshuggah – “Marrow” (from “Koloss”, 2012)
4/5. This one is predatory eccentricity. Maybe a little too eccentric to be my absolute favorite song of this album. Either way, this is a good introductory song for anyone stumbling upon Meshuggah and wanting to hear more of the band.
I didn't think that I'd need to get something off my chest when I chose this record for the feature, but apparently I did. Easily the most hard-stanced, "I will die on this hill" style of review that I've written, but it's how I truly feel about any talented progressive/mathy band getting voted down to oblivion because they wanted to play more notes than normal. I understand that it's an egregious oversimplification and I'm not saying that anyone is forced to like this kind of stuff, but seeing so many of the same comments over the past few years really got under my skin apparently. Full review link below:
My thoughts on some tracks (including my suggested ones):
Opeth – “The Moor” (from “Still Life”, 1999)
5.5/5 (not exaggerating). Definitely the perfect song to start this playlist! One of Opeth's finest tracks that shows other progressive metal bands how to make a G****MN AWESOME OPENING TRACK!! After a mysterious two-minute intro, you'll be pulled into under 10 minutes of atmospheric complex progressive metal! I F***ING LOVE IT!!!
Pain Of Salvation – “Ending Theme” (from “Remedy Lane”, 2002)
4/5. Not really the ending theme, there's a lot more to go. This song has a dark mood and Daniel Gildenlow's soothing vocals especially in the great chorus. The talking part is really challenging for me to like without thinking it's dreaded rapping.
4.5/5. I'm quite proud of this band for their amazing melodic progressive metal that made my day in my earlier epic metal taste. There are plenty of good times to remember about this band, but I'm over them while making a few flashbacks to them like when I submitted this cool epic song.
Soen – “Lumerian” (from “Imperial”, 2021)
5/5. Soen has unleashed progressive metal at full power! I love it, especially the crushing riffing and strong commanding vocals of Joel Ekelöf. I might've just found one of the most d*mn important songs of this year. It's so stunning with a h*lla catchy chorus. Joel's singing in the softer parts remind me of Jonas Renkse. That's very great along with the f***ing genuine blend of heavy and melodic. The intro riff opens the song perfectly, and when it returns at around the two and a half minute mark, it sounds great in epic execution, along with the guitar bend and bass finish around 30 seconds later. The lyrics are so amazing! This ripped artful progressive metal sound can remind some of the recent Opeth and Tool. The chorus' triple-melody is f***ing incredible! This has greatly blown my mind more than Dream Theater and Leprous. This tremendous smasher has definitely gotten this month to a great start for me. The remarkable heavy intro reminds me of a progressive Disturbed. This is majestic powerful progressive rock/metal that should live on forever! An amazing killer song to pass the time when stuck at home. With their sound at heavy modern heights, I'm surprised they haven't been signed yet to Sumerian Records. They're definitely far heavier than Steven Wilson's music. Thanks for suggesting this, Xephyr, and thanks for sharing, Daniel!
Devin Townsend – “Sky Blue” (from “Z²”, 2014)
4.5/5. Interesting how I decided to spice up this playlist with a soft electronic-dance track, but this one works! Continuing Devin's willing experimentation, electronic beats and melodies surround soft vocals before a dance-rock chorus where the first half with Devin singing is based on Usher's "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love", and the other half shows Anneke's velvety voice.
The Ocean – “Devonian: Nascent” (from “Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic”, 2018)
5/5. This one I actually submitted to The Fallen, but this also works in The Infinite, a grand progressive post-sludge epic with guest vocals by Jonas Renkse of Katatonia (he was originally gonna be one of the guests in the epic Precambrian album, but he had to bail because of his band's touring and he was chosen to do guest vocals for Ayreon's 01011001). While, the sludgy elements drag along and test your patience, the drum aggression and harsh vocals are balanced out by ambient influences. After the complex experimentation, the song gets repetitive, but never excessively, staying perfect!
4.5/5. I'm a little surprised that I haven't reviewed this EP yet. Perhaps I should, especially this song that is a great early example of the djent sound Meshuggah would build. Review for this EP coming sometime this month.
Persefone – “Underworld: The Fallen & The Butterfly – Act III: When The Earth Breaks” (from “Core”, 2006)
4.5/5. Core works better as 3 multi-part epics instead of separating them as different tracks, but it's still amazing either way.
Pan.Thy.Monium – “III” (from “Dawn Of Dreams”, 1992)
5/5. Their actually is a name for this song now, "SIEEGEH", whatever that means. Anyway, this is THE SH*T! Awesome prog death that made me wanna enjoy the style a little more. A killer way to end this playlist!
We'll have to agree to disagree then as I don't hear much resemblance to the heavier, chunkier & hard-hitting grunge-based sound of Tool & Deftones to be honest. For me, alternative metal is more of a late 80's/ early 90's thing than is a late 90's/early 2000's one & doesn't have as much to do with crossover appeal as much as it does with a crossover with the sounds being heard on early 90's alternative radio stations who were taking an alternative route to the cleaner, glossier & more indulgent approach of 80's rock & metal. Pain Of Salvation just seem to take a traditional progressive rock/metal path that's much more in line with the 80's to my ears.
For my track thoughts here, I originally commented on all of the 17 tracks here because there are so many bands I like and songs from bands that I might like. However, I realized that my comments on some of the songs from bands that I used to and still listen to were outdated, most of which were copied from my own reviews and my opinions on those songs have changed since then. I might give them up and sacrifice their discographies to make room for newer bands eventually if I feel like it, God forbid (NOT one of those bands). So I cut my amount of reviewed tracks to just 11 and rearranged the order of songs here to sound more complete. Here they are:
4/5. This is the only song from Catch Thirtythree that fits well as a single and a good introductory song for new Meshuggah fans. They unleash their djent action but get more eerie and melodic over the brutal groove.
4.5/5. Interesting attempt at a djent version of Antonio Vivaldi's 4 Seasons. I kinda love this phenomenal blend of djent and neoclassical shredding. So extraordinary intense, but I'm just not into the whole neoclassical metal motive anymore...
3.5/5. Keeping up the "classical-poppy second track" trademark from Ocean Machine, the chorus sounds a little cheesy where the only other repeated lyric is "That's all I ask of you", a little too much like that Phantom of the Opera song. Fortunately, the nice intense bridge is a good lead-in to the final chorus.
Armia – “Wyludniacz” (from “Triodante”, 1994)
3/5. Umm... OK. This is kind of just Voivod-like punky progressive metal with small horn sections, and the lyrics are all in Polish. This song is decent, but with these odd horn sections and Polish lyrics, Armia might not be the band I'm looking for.
The Reticent – “Stage 2: The Captive” (from “The Oubliette”, 2020)
4.5/5. This one's much better, like holy cr*p, listen to those fantastic blended dynamics! I found another powerful underrated band sounding influenced from the older Opeth with a bit of Riverside. Outstanding legends! It's a good bite of powerful prog metal, but I kinda wish it would last longer. The Rivers of Nihil-like heaviness is amazing, but at the two-minute mark, the saxophone is unnecessary and there should've been a guitar solo there instead. Maybe those are the flaws there. Oh well...
Sólstafir – “Ótta” (from “Ótta”, 2014)
4.5/5. For this song's scenario, like the old man in the cover art, you wander around the beach at the dark dawn with just a sliver of sunlight from the horizon beyond the sea. This song is quite amazing, a sad yet serene song that you kinda consider an ambient doomy bluegrass metal ballad. The theme riff being reprised at under the 4 minute-mark and close to the 8-minute mark at h*lla incredible!
4/5. A killer epic of psychedelic black metal to end the playlist, but...NAH. It is killer, but this sounds closer to black metal if most of the metal heaviness was replaced with psychedelic jazz. Great song, but a poor mix of genres.
Lör – “Ruin” (from “Edge Of Eternity”, 2020)
4/5. Sounds amazing as f***, but this unorthodox mix of extreme progressive metal with folk tendencies doesn't quite level up so much enjoyment. It kinda ruins the good memories of my earlier epic metal taste and makes me glad I moved out of there.
Shadow Gallery – “Crystalline Dream” (from “Carved In Stone”, 1995)
5/5. Having tried listening to this band a few times about 5 years ago in my high-school-age years, I decided right now's a great time to try again, and it paid off! Mike Baker sounds like one of the best singers of progressive metal with fantastic clean-singing magic, but sadly he's gone. RIP... Who knows how many years until their next album after this last one that was released over a decade ago? I don't know, hopefully not too long. I just love this great piece of old-school prog metal, no question about it. They're another great band utilizing Dream Theater influences. The world needs more of their music that has dropped jaws, especially that mind-blowing keyboard solo. This is so good, I just hope to get more of this band soon...
Enslaved – “Jettegryta” (from “Utgard”, 2020)
4.5/5. A gigantic-sounding progressive black metal song! More about that in a review I might make for its album Utgard.
Ainsoph – “The Long & Self-Destructive Road” (from “Ω – V”, 2020)
4/5. Amazing, but I'm not into the avant-garde blackgaze sh*t. Let's wrap this up...
Despite the massive cutdown, this is still an amazing playlist, and I'm glad to comment on a great number of tracks. Thanks again for these great playlists, Daniel, and let's hope for more submission participation from the other members for many more to come...
Normally I never plan on listening to any metal solo artists because I seem to have more appeal to full-group bands, and solo artists are usually mostly found in other genres besides metal, like...radio pop!! The other Devin Townsend album I've reviewed, Ziltoid the Omniscient, was good but other than that "solo artist" issue, it was far too comedic. Now we're at Terria...which is another one of the best albums created! It's perfectly heavy while being so soothingly atmospheric. Great for a relaxing drive! This is an album every listener must get, both progressive and open-minded audiences! You can't go your entire lifetime without listening to at least one song from this masterpiece. The main album has incredible songs ranging from heavy to uplifting, and I might share a few songs to my friend whom she likes this uplifting classic kind of rock! I agree that the hidden track "Humble" is a boring pointless track, but why should we include it as part of the album?! It's a hidden outro that you shouldn't let affect the album, like the outro at the end of Between the Buried and Me's Alaska! Just remove it, and the album would be perfect. So yeah, not including that pointless outro, Terria is a wonderful album and has now been made one of my favorite albums ever. If you wanna start your journey with Devin Townsend's music, this is where you gotta start. Highly recommended!
8/10. Interesting song to start this playlist, though this is from Coroner's most experimental album. The usual energetic thrash enters the groove arena with lively proposition and pounding atmosphere without ruining too much.
Sólstafir – “Fjara” (from “Svartir Sandar”, 2011)
7/10. A beautiful song, though it sounds more like an Icelandic Pink Floyd gone grunge. Done talking about this one!
Dream Theater – “Lie” (from “Awake”, 1994)
9/10. One of the best Dream Theater songs ever, besides the ones from their other 90s albums! The riffs by John Petrucci sound massive and dark, inducing great amounts of headbanging. Killer song from a great album and band, including that solo and ending! Though the singer sounds a bit like Ian Astbury from The Cult (band). The solo near the 4-minute mark has one of the great balances of melody and technicality, showing Petrucci's impressive virtuosity. Then after another chorus with clear bass, at over the 5-minute mark is a small metalcore-ish breakdown before those were a thing. Also there's a bit of an early Tool influence. Love this song!
10/10. Not The Ocean song I've submitted, but I won't bite. This is The Ocean's epic comeback to continue their Phanerozoic saga with guest vocals by Katatonia's Jonas Renkse. This is almost like Dream Theater's "Lie" on steroids, enough to put that Dream Theater song to shame! I got no other words to describe this supermassive epic. Please, just listen to that piece!
Nevermore – “Optimist or Pessimist” (from “In Memory” E.P., 1996)
9/10. A short but killer progressive piece, with killer guitar playing by Jeff Loomis and amazing vocals by Warrel Dane. The lineup for this EP had already recently fallen apart with the passing of Warrel Dane (RIP), and temporary guitarist Pat O'Brien's arrest for breaking into a woman's house and attacking her.
Meshuggah – New Millennium Cyanide Christ” (from “Chaosphere”, 1998)
10/10. The best song of Chaosphere, with drummer Tomas Haake's shining lyric writing. Those lyrics aren't as complicated as they are clever. That's my second favorite Meshuggah song behind "Future Breed Machine"!
As an Oranssi Pazuzu noob going into the bands most recent record, I can wholeheartedly agree with the assessment that in terms of what defines a metal as "black metal", this is one of the farthest from the genres roots. But I would argue that the harmonic and melodic passages from the guitars do have much in common, even if these tropes are used in unique ways. The shrieking vocals are also very inline with what one would expect from this genre. Whether or not one agrees that this is enough to quantify its classification as a black metal record is in the eye of the beholder.
I see a lot of similarities between Mestarin kynsi and Written in Waters by Ved Buens Ende..... It is music that has clear influences in black metal, but is so far removed from what that genre entails that classification is seemingly impossible. Whether that constitutes this record as progressive or avant-garde is irrelevant (personally, I believe these two tags are interchangeable). I respect this record for pushing boundaries as far as it did, and you know what? It even produced a great song in the process (Oikeamielisten sali). But like with most "alien" progressive records, the production takes the reigns in creating a claustrophobic atmosphere a fair bit too often for my liking, instead of off the floor dissonance or obscurity.
This is terrible! Both Cynic members named Sean passed away in separate ends of this year. The only remaining member of all 3 Cynic albums is Paul Masvidal. I hope Paul can keep himself and the legacy of Cynic alive, and I wish the best of luck to him and the fallen members' loved ones. RIP the two Seans );
My thoughts on some of the tracks (including my suggested songs):
Evergrey – “Hymns For The Broken” (from “Hymns For The Broken”, 2014)
10/10. I haven't heard Evergrey in a long while, but ever since I left my earlier epic metal taste, they have released another album The Atlantic and they've just announced an upcoming album Escape of the Phoenix to be released in February. This is one of the best melodic progressive metal songs I've heard 5 years ago, with the vocalist Tom S. Englund singing his heart out in the perspective of this concept album's suicidal protagonist. There's even a bonus melancholic piano version. Evergrey is an underrated band that deserves more love. Awesome track from a top-notch album that I haven't heard since so long ago!
Between The Buried & Me – “Silent Flight Parliament” (from “The Parallax II: Future Sequence”, 2012)
10/10. This is the climatic 15-minute epic nearing the end of a two-part saga, with the intensity from high to low, and the vocals ranging from growling to clean, often put in a powerful simultaneous combination. Brilliant!
Enslaved – “Neogenesis” (from “Isa”, 2004)
10/10. Yet another attempt at trying to get into enjoying Enslaved, and maybe this is it! An awesome song from a legendary band, taking you on a journey beyond stars, lightyears, and the universe itself, like that "Cygnus" track. This might just be my key to listening to Enslaved...
Opeth – “The Drapery Falls” (from “Blackwater Park”, 2001)
10/10. A favorite for many fans and probably would be until the end of time. I can definitely understand why! An acoustic intro gives way to a nice riff then calms down back to acoustic guitar as the clean vocals join in. Then it gets stampeded by a bombastic chorus that can give you goosebumps. I got goosebumps an hour before the first time I've listened to that song. Perhaps it's foreshadowing...
Nice pick on the Cloudkicker song Daniel, I didn't realize you included it in the playlist and, by coincidence, I've been listening to Solitude for the entire week so far, I think it's incredibly good.
As a mostly positive reviewer, I've stumbled upon albums so good, so great, that I give them the high ratings they may or may not deserve. However, there might be one album that goes beyond great, and I mean far beyond...
In order for an album to reach this "beyond" status, it has to attract me enough to get the band's full discography ASAP so you can discover new stuff from this legendary group, stay in my playlist for at least 6 months of maybe for eternity, and keep listening to them during that period of time. And that album is... Disillusion's 2004 debut Back to Times of Splendor!! You won't believe how much I love this epic masterpiece with song lengths ranging from 5 to 17 minutes filled with strong riffs, fast drumming, clean melodic singing, aggressive growls, softer sections, heavier sections, and much more to create the ultimate progressive metal adventure! Anyone who doesn't love this album as much I do might be thinking, "He doesn't mean to really give the album 5 stars, he's probably just biased with so many albums rated like that." No, they're all real, especially my rating for this album. I wish I could give Back To Times of Splendor more than just 5 stars, maybe 6, 10, or over 9000! Every moment is excellent, perfectly helped out by the deep meaningful lyrics. Many magnificent influences and elements in and out of metal creates this epic masterpiece of splendor. This is so incredible! I don't know what else to say, other than...Thanks so much for the rec, Daniel. I thought the ultimate album would never come....but it came!
A belter of a double live album from the masters of their subgenre. I've had the DVD for probably a decade now but had never tried listening to the album version until now & I've gotta say that I enjoy it more when I can simply focus on what's coming out of the speakers. The tracklisting is spectacular with lengthy & fully realised inclusions that span their entire career & it's very hard to fault the execution or consistency, particularly on the second disk which is mind-blowing. As a bonus, you get to enjoy Mikael Akerfeld's sense of humour which is as much a part of the appeal of an Opeth show as the music is. He's a genuine entertainer & if you have even a passing interest in Opeth then you can't really go wrong with this release. In fact I think this might be my favourite Opeth release these days.
Great to hear, they just released a new album today actually, which is why I included it! I wasn't able to check it out, I'll be sure to put it in the New Music Thread when I get a chance. I'm real excited but Colliding Skies was a bit dull compared to The Human Connection, so I'm hoping for the best.
Another immensely complex single-track release from the Swedish masters of djent who had tested the waters the previous year with their incredible "I" E.P. & now took things one step further with a full album-length undertaking of the highest quality. The production job is excellent & this time Meshuggah take off in top gear rather than building up over time with the first three (sub)tracks being complete home runs. In fact, I see very little reason to separate them as they're clearly the same track. Then the intensity & quality drops a touch during the middle of the album with a couple of more atmospheric periods breaking things up nicely. The climax comes with a trio of brilliant pieces beating you into submission immediately following the epic 13 minute centrepiece "In Death - Is Death" & the band finishes on a real high.
Overall, I'd suggest that I probably prefer "I" just marginally over "Catch Thirtythree" but there's very little in it. The mid-section possibly just lacks a little in the hooks & melody department if I'm being particularly picky but have no doubt that this is a classic & defining release for the subgenre & Meshuggah once again prove that they can't be touched when it comes to this style of metal. For fans of Kobong, Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects & TesseracT.