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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
Metalhead

Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
Posts: 2251
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 12:49 am 
 

I have found that there's two sorts of people when the metal discussions swing to prog elements in metal; those that tolerate it to varying degrees of indifference and the other that utterly despise and hate that sh*t...

...hence this thread; to discuss at length, where you draw the line, what you like/loathe about prog elements in metal or the accepted genre "progressive metal" and its many bands, for the lovers of the style in the house - what your favorite bands/albums are and what you'd recommend for the curious and uninitiated.

My thoughts in brief: I think metal gels well with the whole prog shtick - be it carrying forward the initial '70's burst of unwieldiness incorporated into rock formulae or transfusing extreme subgenres with off-kilter patterns otherwise alien to the tried and true (WHO DOESN'T LIKE CYNIC AND WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU???). Of course mileage varies given the scope of what's currently available and there's some legit unlikable stuff that's either downright jarring or stupidly overwrought under the guise of being technically creative.

Also, what qualifies and doesn't for "Prog"? Is Meshuggah prog?

Let's have a lively discussion for once about the subgenre everyone either rolls their eyes or groans at...
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LilTito
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 3:10 pm
Posts: 193
Location: Croatia
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 3:18 am 
 

I have a simple opinion on it; there's nothing about progressive elements in music that assure me that the music will be either good or bad. It's all about execution.

As for the definition of prog, who the fuck knows lol

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hallowed78
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:53 am
Posts: 431
Location: LV-426
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 3:34 am 
 

Prog is a strange one. I always thought it's a misnomer and dumbing down of the actual matter in hand when it comes to the genre and the term itself is just borrowed from the prog rock movement of the 70s. There is an overlapping between progressive, avantgarde and even technical denominators used for this music, that sometimes it makes no sense at all.

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LilTito
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Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 3:10 pm
Posts: 193
Location: Croatia
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 5:14 am 
 

hallowed78 wrote:
Prog is a strange one. I always thought it's a misnomer and dumbing down of the actual matter in hand when it comes to the genre and the term itself is just borrowed from the prog rock movement of the 70s. There is an overlapping between progressive, avantgarde and even technical denominators used for this music, that sometimes it makes no sense at all.

Exactly. If a band doesn't change their sound constantly or at least seriously spice it up, why on earth would they be considered progressive?

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Anthony Pwl
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:12 am
Posts: 138
Location: Normandy, rebuilt.
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 6:23 am 
 

LilTito wrote:
Exactly. If a band doesn't change their sound constantly or at least seriously spice it up, why on earth would they be considered progressive?


Progressive doesn't mean changing sounds and experimenting album after album.
Prog rock, according to Yes members, is mixing the rock sound with classical and/or jazz structures / rhythm patterns (mostly classical structures). The goal here was to make rock deeper, well-crafted, a bit difficult to apprehend on the first few listens. The prog pioneers wanted to take listeners on a rock journey. No verse - chorus - verse - chorus - break - chorus - chorus shit. The prog song structure is A B C D E F G H (or A B C A B D E A B F G.. you get the picture), not A B A B C B B.
Adding different instruments (flutes, pipes etc) can be a part of the process but this is not necessary.
Strange time signatures and incredible technical abilities to play outstanding or abstruse solos every 10 seconds are very popular in the prog world as well, but they are not necessary either.
Long songs inhere in the style, just because free song structures often lead to song extension, but one can compose a short prog song.

This was the first definition of "prog".
According to this, Dream Theater is still making prog albums despite the fact they are as predictable as ACDC albums since decades.
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joppek
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Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:36 am
Posts: 2293
Location: Suomi Finland Perkele
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 7:19 am 
 

Anthony Pwl wrote:
LilTito wrote:
Exactly. If a band doesn't change their sound constantly or at least seriously spice it up, why on earth would they be considered progressive?


Progressive doesn't mean changing sounds and experimenting album after album.


this. prog is a genre, not some lifestyle trajectory of a band. the titular progression happens within an individual track, and considering anything outside of it is misunderstanding the concept.

anyway, i wouldn't call myself a fan of prog, as it's not very often that i'm in the mood for it, tho' i do like some every now and then
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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 9:13 am 
 

Also, this music was experimental in the 70s. Once it became an established genre with common themes and clearly defined traits, it doesn't need to be experimental anymore. Claiming prog has to be experimental to be prog shows a lack of understanding of the genre. Progressive is usually more related to the music structure anyways.

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EvergreenSherbert
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2021 5:48 pm
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 9:29 am 
 

I love prog elements, and I wish there were more prog bands that don't suck.
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LilTito
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Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 3:10 pm
Posts: 193
Location: Croatia
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 10:11 am 
 

joppek wrote:
Anthony Pwl wrote:
LilTito wrote:
Exactly. If a band doesn't change their sound constantly or at least seriously spice it up, why on earth would they be considered progressive?


Progressive doesn't mean changing sounds and experimenting album after album.


this. prog is a genre, not some lifestyle trajectory of a band. the titular progression happens within an individual track, and considering anything outside of it is misunderstanding the concept.

anyway, i wouldn't call myself a fan of prog, as it's not very often that i'm in the mood for it, tho' i do like some every now and then

Ah well, some people including myself see prog as a philosophy more than anything else, hence many prog rock bands which don't sound the same yet are still in the same genre

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LithoJazzoSphere
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:11 pm
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 11:33 am 
 

The confusion is over using "progressive" as a descriptor or adjective, vs. using it to denote established tropes of a particular subgenre. In the 80s when the style was being developed it was both, but now they're effectively independent variables that can coexist or not, and are partially subjective. In practice, the subgenre just means applying the elements that the late 60s/early 70s progressive rock bands did in a metallic context.

*Influences from other styles of music, particularly classical and jazz.
*Incorporation of less common instruments (violin, flute, saxophone, sitar, etc.)
*Conceptual songs and albums
*Odd and/or changing time signatures/meters
*Longer songs, with multiple sections and thematic development
*Lengthier or frequent virtuosic showcases and solos, sometimes in the form of instrumental tracks
*Unconventional song structures that don't just follow normal formats
*Unusual scales, harmonies, and chords
*More complicated or elaborate riffs, patterns, and arrangements

Any particular given element by itself doesn't necessarily mean the band is progressive, but when you start stacking them the sum of them begins to resemble it.

One of my favorite varieties of it is the all too uncommon blend of technical riffing and soloing contrasted with calmer vocals like in Aghora or To-Mera, or even Katatonia at times.

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draconiondevil
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Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:21 pm
Posts: 441
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 12:12 pm 
 

My take on it is that pure progressive metal is usually bad, but it can work well when mixed with other genres like death or thrash.
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Nocturnal_Evil
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Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:00 am
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Location: The Summerlands
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 12:17 pm 
 

There's a nebulous line in the sand for me when it comes to prog. I don't like when some stuff is too proggy, but will jam out to a lot of technical death metal that's just as complex as other prog bands I dislike. It depends on the band, but generally I don't care for pure progressive metal.

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CreepingDeath16
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Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2021 12:49 am
Posts: 273
Location: Hyperborea
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 12:19 pm 
 

Gravetemplar wrote:
Also, this music was experimental in the 70s. Once it became an established genre with common themes and clearly defined traits, it doesn't need to be experimental anymore. Claiming prog has to be experimental to be prog shows a lack of understanding of the genre. Progressive is usually more related to the music structure anyways.

This just shows how the definition of terms changes over time. I'm sure Robert Fripp would politely yet vehemently disagree with you. It's like calling Venom black metal: they certainly were at the time, but over time the term has taken new meaning.
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DanielG06
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Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:11 pm
Posts: 510
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 12:35 pm 
 

joppek wrote:
Anthony Pwl wrote:
LilTito wrote:
Exactly. If a band doesn't change their sound constantly or at least seriously spice it up, why on earth would they be considered progressive?


Progressive doesn't mean changing sounds and experimenting album after album.


this. prog is a genre, not some lifestyle trajectory of a band. the titular progression happens within an individual track, and considering anything outside of it is misunderstanding the concept.

anyway, i wouldn't call myself a fan of prog, as it's not very often that i'm in the mood for it, tho' i do like some every now and then


True, the "progressive" elements come from the changing structure of the songs themselves and not the band constantly changing their sound. Though I wouldn't necessarily say that everything to do with prog has to have a concept, the genre itself is defined by more adventurous songwriting, more experimental sonorities etc, not changing everything constantly.
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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 1:43 pm 
 

CreepingDeath16 wrote:
Gravetemplar wrote:
Also, this music was experimental in the 70s. Once it became an established genre with common themes and clearly defined traits, it doesn't need to be experimental anymore. Claiming prog has to be experimental to be prog shows a lack of understanding of the genre. Progressive is usually more related to the music structure anyways.

This just shows how the definition of terms changes over time. I'm sure Robert Fripp would politely yet vehemently disagree with you. It's like calling Venom black metal: they certainly were at the time, but over time the term has taken new meaning.

The definition of the genre hasn't changed, it's the culture surrounding it and how we appreciate the music of a genre that has existed for 50 years what has changed. You can't expect a genre that has been 50 years old to keep innovating. To do so, it would probably cease to be rock, which is what happened with a lot of 70s krautrock and prog rock bands that keep on experimenting. The whole kraut/kosmiche scene and how it evolved into progressive electronic and berlin school is a good example of this.

As per what Fripp says, I wouldn't give him too much credit. After all, depending on the interview, Fripp doesn't even consider King Crimson to be a band that was part of the "prog" movement.

Quote:
In its current usage, “prog” tends to signify a fossilized culture where 20-minute songs, “odd” time signatures and lofty or esoteric themes — all groundbreaking in the early Seventies — now act merely as signifiers of a bygone age. Fripp is quick to praise his peers from that first generation. “I loved Yes,” he stipulates. But he never felt like King Crimson had much to do with prog as a movement, and 50 years on, he’s lost all patience with a genre that now, in the minds of both detractors and ardent fans, serves only to keep him in a box. “[I]t’s a prison,” Fripp said of prog in 2014. “If you walk on stage and you’re playing music, fine. But if you’re walking on stage and you’re playing progressive rock: death.”

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
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Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
Posts: 2251
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 2:07 pm 
 

Prog is definitely its own genre - and prog metal grew out of prog rock. Bands that are experimental or avant garde can sometimes make music that has absolutely nothing prog about it. The distinctions are usually very apparent. That said, I think prog is inherently innovative and even the bands whose style and movements you've become accustomed to may surprise you every now and then. Part of the appeal for me with the subgenre was listening to like Opeth's Ghost Reveries and hearing a song like "Atonement". Prog bands always have more liberty to express themselves more out of the box because it comes with the territory.

Someone mentioned liking prog when it is combined with thrash and death and I'd like to recommend the Paranorm album from last year. A recent example of doing it well.
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Benedict Donald wrote:
It is interesting to consider that old school death metal is effectively granddad music now.

Bonziepsycho wrote:
Gravetemplar wrote:
I stopped reading at "Ultra Metal", sorry.

What is wrong with ultra metal?

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LithoJazzoSphere
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:11 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 2:18 pm 
 

Most genre pioneers tend to shun limiting labels and subscribe to the Groucho Marx theory, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member". Look at the original gothic rock bands, they almost unanimously decried association with the genre. That doesn't mean that fans and critics can't identify their genres as a concrete reality.

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Maggot penetration
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2021 3:16 pm
Posts: 260
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 3:53 pm 
 

Best way to go for mature metal dads bands. Flute solos never did anybody any harm

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Thy Shrine
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Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:37 pm
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Location: Golgotha
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2022 6:50 pm 
 

Prague? That's one of my favorite capital cities in Europe, tho I think it clearly pales In comparison to Budapest or Paris.

But idk, in general I tend to prefer organically complex song structure than just outright technical ability.
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MetalVermont
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Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:23 pm
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2022 8:29 am 
 

I like listening to players who have taken the time to actually master their instrument, so I enjoy a lot of crazy playing and odd-time sigs. It needs to be mixed with melody and solid song-writing though to be effective.

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LongHairIsSoFuckingCool
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Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2021 3:22 am
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2022 12:19 am 
 

It's okay I guess. I don't really have any inherent problem with it, but I just tend to keep hearing bad things about a lot of the "big names" in the world of prog metal so I tend not to listen to much of it. My favorite prog band is Mastodon.
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Oxenkiller
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2022 7:45 pm 
 

The thing with "Progressive," whether it's metal based or rock based is, about half the time it works extremely well. The song carries me away on a journey that is rewarding to experience, and the song and all it's components just flows well together.

The other half the time, it just falls apart: Either the song is too long for no appreciable reason, or it's composed of disjointed riffs and sections that don't go together at all, or there is no "Flow" to the track, or else, it devolves into just endless jamming and/or noodling ("The Phish Effect") that bores me to tears. Or a combination of all these unfortunate flaws.

I can honestly say I really like prog music about half the time. And even of my favorite bands of this category (I'm a huge Yes fan by the way, and have loved 70's-era Rush since I was 12) I will typically find half the album absolutely brilliant, and the other half absolutely boring.

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
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Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
Posts: 2251
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2022 8:20 pm 
 

I can think of a few long songs that justify their lengths and truly feel like epic well-thought out journeys.

Dream Theater: Octavarium - The intro goes on for maybe a wee bit longer than it should, I think sometimes, but I respect how organic the transitions in this come off and where they feel like they're taking their time ends up sounding natural and consequential. A more wholesome song than the earlier "A Change of Seasons" and while the later "The Count of Tuscany" may have the more memorable intro, it can't touch the rest of "Octavarium"s body.

Voivod: Jack Luminous - Seriously this is fucking glorious all the way through. It has that cinematic drama that Voivod could pull off well sometimes and here they give you the full-length feature. The intro is so boss and the feast of unconventional genius riffs begins almost right away. Definitely a journey of a song.

Zero Hour: Demise and Vestige - This one disjoints and deconstructs itself in all fucking sorts but it does so with palpable precision the entire time that you're truly tuned in. Might not be for everyone but I like it.

Sieges Even: Straggler From Atlantis - Riffs that have character - jarring, whimsical, persistent, relaxing...this skews towards being techy and even jazzy sometimes but it is very apparently in line with prog metal standards as far as long pieces go and the stacking is done so well.

Pain of Salvation: The Passing Light of Day - It's more in the earnest realism vibe and there's an almost singer-songwriter/folkist quality in there too but I'd doubt you'd feel pulled out of it at all for its entire duration. Flows logically and resonates emotionally.

Caligula's Horse: Graves - Atmospheric and melodic prog with a lot of nods to Yes and King Crimson but through a prog metal lens. It's even truly catchy in spots.
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Benedict Donald wrote:
It is interesting to consider that old school death metal is effectively granddad music now.

Bonziepsycho wrote:
Gravetemplar wrote:
I stopped reading at "Ultra Metal", sorry.

What is wrong with ultra metal?

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Tiam Kara
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Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:28 am
Posts: 118
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2022 9:41 pm 
 

It’s funny: Dream Theater is a band that, for me, sits in a musical superposition of great and awful. There’s always someone shitting the bed: either the instrumental is bland or LaBrie is just phoning it in and being as lazy as possible. But I’d say I still like the bad overall, I think ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’ is very good and underrated in their discog.

There’s something about prog rock and metal though that is very odious to me and I can’t put my finger on what it is. Most would use the term “boring”’ to describe their feelings and I think that kind of fits but there’s definitely more to it. I really want to like prog music but it always comes off as uninterested in writing a song with actual.. musicality? Like there’s very few prog bands that come off as trying to write actual songs.

I’m not trying to disrespect the art, there’s just something about progressive song-writing that usually doesn’t click with me. Despite how much I’d like it to. I really like long songs, Godspeed You! is one of my favorite bands.
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VaderCrush
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Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:05 am
Posts: 117
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2022 9:54 pm 
 

I like a lot of prog rock, especially from the 70s. I grew up listening to a lot of Yes, ELP and Rush.

Prog metal I am a lot more picky about for whatever reason? I have a tendency to just not be able to stand bands that fit that description a lot more commonly than with prog rock. Or even entire albums. Dream Theater's Awake is one of my favorite albums ever for example but I can't stand a lot of their music from their middle period for example and go out of my way to avoid mid-late 2000s DT

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Oheao
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Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:08 pm
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 5:54 am 
 

Wait, what about the third group? Those who like prog metal? You just listed those who tolerate it/are indifferent and those who hate it. Dream Theater, Opeth and Symphony X are all good listens.

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