Progressive Metal

Scardust – Strangers Review

Scardust – Strangers Review

“I have a strange relationship with progressive metal. On one hand, I feel like the vast majority of prog is made up of decent song ideas separated from one another by fancy time signatures, self-indulgent experimentation, and other forms of needless wankery. But on the other hand, I proudly claim progressive titans Symphony X and Nevermore as my two favorite bands of all time. Those bands had a way of making their immensely complex compositions seem deceptively simple — a hallmark of a good prog band in my book. To me, progressiveness is really just the amplification of — or an embellishment upon — what a band already does well. Thus, my view that much of today’s “prog” music is really just embellished nothingness. On that cheerful note, enter Israeli progressive metal band Scardust.” Prog for dummies.

Calyces – Impulse to Soar Review

Calyces – Impulse to Soar Review

Calyces’ mastermind is singer/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/producer Manthos Stergiou, late of Tardive Dyskinesia. This time around, Stergiou and his bandmates are going for a sound that is heavily influenced by Mastodon, Baroness, and Tool. This has been done to death, so the key to making it work is writing great songs and establishing your own original take on those bands’ sounds.” Impulse to ape.

Gargoyl – Gargoyl Review

Gargoyl – Gargoyl Review

“Ever since the early seeds of the Gargoyl project came to public light, I have been anticipating a debut album. Lo and behold, the band, featuring Revocation‘s Dave Davidson (guitars) and Luke Roberts (vocals/guitars) from the underrated Ayahuasca, has arrived with their self-titled LP. Blending dark, brooding, unsettling atmospheres, Gargoyl play off-kilter progressive metal with avant garde tendencies and a strong ’90s grunge vibe, most notably drawing influence from Seattle rock legends Alice in Chains. On paper the combination has a hell of a lot going for it, however, nailing the execution and establishing a strong identity are challenges to overcome.” Super groups, man…

Arcade Messiah – The Host Review

Arcade Messiah – The Host Review

“But when I revisit the 2016 TYMHM piece, I’m reminded of a certain comment: ‘It must have been a shitload of work for a single person, to write and perform an album full of such dense arrangements and rhythmic irregularities, without losing the overall flow of the music. Hats off! I’m impressed.’ Four years later, I can say nothing less about Bassett’s newest outing, The Host. I can still say it’s ‘simplistic’ and smooth to the ears. But, musically, this new record is anything but simplistic.” Host with the most.

Enslaved – Utgard Review

Enslaved – Utgard Review

“Sometimes a band makes such a drastic change in style that you’re floored by it. Many times upset by it. But Enslaved made it work. Well, at least for a couple more albums. I liked most of RIITIIR, but nothing after. And when E and its saxophone-sucking closer arrived five years later, I had pretty much given up on the band. So, you can imagine the dread I felt when I got the promo for Utgard.” En garde.

Monsterworks – Malignment Review

Monsterworks – Malignment Review

“It seems like I just finished writing about Monsterworks a short time ago – or did I? I mean, their last album came out two and a half years ago – or did it? Was that the last we heard of these guys? It feels like it wasn’t. Normally they’re on an album a year release schedule, so this is a big gap for them. Makes me wonder if they were up to something else during that time. In fact, I’m rather bullish on that idea. I’m also very confused.” Monsters, Inc.

The Reticent – The Oubliette Review

The Reticent – The Oubliette Review

“The Oubliette is a deep dive into the fading mind of Henry, an Alzheimer’s patient. While perhaps less emotionally impactful than suicide, this is a disease that has more likely than not affected every reader here. I know I’ve had more than one relative suffer through it, and it is a sad and frustrating journey. Can The Reticent portray this journey in the form of a gripping progressive metal album?” Death of the self.

Ayreon – Transitus Review

Ayreon – Transitus Review

“There’s nobody quite like Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Sure, Tobias Sammet of Avantasia is the other big metal opera guy, but he can’t match Arjen for variety or quality. Besides the prog/power sound of Ayreon‘s core albums, his other successes include the gorgeous classical instrumentation of The Gentle Storm, the mopey Porcupine Tree prog of Guilt Machine, and more.” Show tunes on show.