Progressive Metal

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Progressive metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal music which blends the powerful, guitar-driven sound of metal with the complex compositional structures, odd time signatures, and intricate instrumental playing of progressive rock. Some progressive metal bands are also influenced by jazz fusion and classical music. Like progressive rock songs, progressive metal songs are usually much longer than standard rock songs, and they are often thematically linked in concept albums. As a result, progressive metal is rarely heard on mainstream radio and video programs.


The origins of progressive metal can be traced back to progressive rock bands from the late 1960s and early to mid-1970s such as Yes, Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Genesis, early Queen, Uriah Heep and Rush. The latter 3 also often blended metal elements into their music. However, progressive metal did not develop into a genre of its own until the mid-1980s. Bands such as Rainbow had many qualities of progressive metal. Bands such as Fates Warning, Queensrÿche and Dream Theater took elements of these progressive rock groups – primarily the instrumentation and compositional structure of songs – and merged them with heavy metal styles associated with pre-1991 Metallica and Megadeth. The result could be described as a progressive rock mentality with heavy metal sounds.

Progressive metal received mainstream exposure in the early 1990s when Queensrÿche's "Silent Lucidity" (from 1990's Empire) became a radio and MTV hit. It was not a typical progressive metal song, but its popularity increased the profile of other progressive metal bands. In 1993, Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under" (from 1992's Images and Words) became popular on radio and MTV. 1990s bands such as Pain of Salvation, Opeth, Ayreon, and Symphony X developed their own signature sounds.

Pain of Salvation drew heavily on more obscure 1970s prog acts. Ayreon stayed with the traditional Prog Metal themes, but mixed them with Rock Opera influences. Symphony X married progressive elements to neoclassical metal, bridging the gap between the two sub-genres. Steve Vai's former singer and heavy metal band Strapping Young Lad's singer and guitarist Devin Townsend combined ambient elements to 1980's progressive metal on his first two solo albums Ocean Machine: Biomech and Infinity. Opeth combined their prog influence with death metal. Another influence on prog metal was "technical metal" bands, such as Death, Watchtower, Atheist and Cynic, which played complex song structures and used virtuoso instrumental playing.

Bands like Sun Caged and Circus Maximus are influenced by traditional progressive metal and several of the first wave of 1990s bands. Bands such as Dark Suns, Disillusion, or Conscience are influenced by emotional progressive metal bands like Opeth, Pain of Salvation, Green Carnation and Anathema. Sweden's Tiamat have also been influential in the progressive metal genre, especially on their 1994's breakthrought-album Wildhoney.


Progressive metal can be broken down into countless sub-genres corresponding to certain other styles of music that have influenced progressive metal groups. For example, two bands that are commonly identified as progressive metal, King's X and Opeth, are at opposite ends of the sonic spectrum to one another. King's X are greatly influenced by softer mainstream rock and, in fact, contributed to the growth of grunge influencing bands like Pearl Jam, whose bassist Jeff Ament once said, "King's X invented grunge". Opeth's growling vocals and heavy guitars (liberally intermixed with Gothic-evocative acoustic passages) often see them cited as death metal, yet Mikael Åkerfeldt refers to Yes and Camel as major influences in the style of their music.

Classical and symphonic music have also had a significant impact on sections of the progressive metal genre, with bands Devin Townsend, Symphony X and Shadow Gallery fusing traditional progressive metal with a complexity and grandeur usually found in classical compositions. Similarly, bands such as Liquid Tension Experiment and Planet X have a jazz influence, with extended solo sections that often feature "trading solos". Cynic, Atheist and Pestilence also blended jazz/fusion with death metal. Devin Townsend draws on more Ambient influences in the atmosphere of his music. Progressive metal is also often linked with power metal, hence the ProgPower music festival. Prog metal has also overlapped thrash metal. Most famously perhaps with Dark Angel's swansong album Time Does Not Heal, which was famous for its sticker that said "9 Songs, 67 Minutes, 246 Riffs". Other bands with recognizable progressive metal elements included Coroner, Mekong Delta, Voivod, Megadeth, Forbidden, Metallist, Heathen, Sadus,Tool (band) and Blind Illusion.



At 4:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

where's Opeth!!!!!!!!!!????????
it is a progressive metal band!!! and the best one!!!!!!!
Dead!! dead will come over you!!!!

At 1:42 PM, Blogger Being A Part said...

Never mind Opeth - they're alright as far as they go, but what about Van Der Graaf Generator? Most modern progressive bands believe that gargling vocals and death metal guitar constitute darkness. Listen to a Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers or The Black Room-The Tower for real nightmarish visions (and superb music).
For more recent stuff how about Mars Volta? Listen to the despair in the 'Now I'm Lost' refrain of Inertiatic ESP.
Great site, by the way, a much needed escape from the R&B/Pop overkill so prevalent elsewhere!

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Valah said...

@being a part: Thanks for the kind words and the suggestions. I think that Mars Volta will be on the next update. The rock side of this site needs to be more developed

At 4:31 PM, Blogger Muratos said...

I agree that Opeth should be on the top of the list. Ok, here is my contribution for progressive metal fans. Super Progressive Metal Videos

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is there no mention of Fates Warning???

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

List of unforgivable omissions:
Poverty's No Crime
Vanden Plas
Thought Chamber
Crimson Glory
Tomorrow's Eve


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