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Death By Wall of Text
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Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:18 pm
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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2021 6:31 pm 
 

Metal_On_The_Ascendant wrote:
I hear you. I agree about them not having done anything fresh in a while. I wish they'd ditch the formula and do some really radical stuff but we all know that's not going to happen. Systematic Chaos was pretty good for at least turning up the crazy in the technical department.

I keep hearing that and I seriously don't know what people expect of them that would be "fresh enough". They've done all sorts of "radical stuff", including a 42-minute track, a 150-minute rock opera, one of the most famous/notorious ridiculous instrumentals in existence (Dance of Eternity), even-lower tuned heavy stuff, two DVDs with an orchestra and that part in the middle of Illumination Theory, the list goes on. They've released some of the most gorgeous songs and ballads on recent albums (Beneath The Surface, Surrender to Reason, a whole bunch of others), alongside some of the heaviest shit to date and besides The Astonishing, there's been a clear move to shorter and tighter songs on their recent material.

Their evolution is slow, but take pretty much any three-four albums apart in their discography, and the changes are obvious. And I seriously prefer that to some prog bands I am/was a fan of (in some cases it's murky) who decided to just flip the table and forcibly change their style while abandoning their core strengths in the process. Evolution or even revolution is great when it's natural.

And that's probably the reason why they keep rotating live setlists to include all kinds of rarely played stuff, and pretty much all of it always gets a good reception, unlike so many bands that dare not step outside of their tried and true "classics".

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MetalVermont
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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2021 8:04 pm 
 

Thanks for adding some reason to the discussion.

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LithoJazzoSphere
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Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:11 pm
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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2021 8:19 pm 
 

Death By Wall of Text wrote:
I keep hearing that and I seriously don't know what people expect of them that would be "fresh enough".


I think we often have rather unreasonable standards. How many bands with 30+ year careers are still doing "fresh stuff"? Probably not too many. At some point you mostly know what sort of things you're getting into with an older band that is still active and you either are interested or you aren't.

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
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Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2021 9:19 pm 
 

@Death By Wall of Text, I am a fan of the bulk of what you mentioned especially Six Degrees and Dance of Eternity. I don't mind The Astonishing but I am not a fan of the S/T - that one sounded especially formulaic and uninspired to me. For the most part, I maintain that Dream Theater is a solid band overall. Distance Over Time was strong and even though I do not expect anything truly radical on the next album, it is exciting to wonder where they will go next.

The formulaic part of Dream Theater is the sorta-thrashy number ("As I Am" carrying over to "Constant Motion" to "The Enemy Inside"), the overt ballad, the half-ballad and the slow burn epic with the solo that doesn't know when to quit in the midsection; "Endless Sacrifice", "The Ministry of Lost Souls", "Outcry", "A Nightmare to Remember". These are not qualms that keep me up at night but DT is not beyond critique either - a fault of their own since they set the bar so high. In the ensuing years since their first remarkable six albums, the instrumental sections have gotten more bloated, the ballads sappier and the lyrics well...you be the judge. Occasionally they will pull out all the stops and make truly momentous material like "Breaking All Illusions" but they established a formula and don't take as many risks. It sounds like I'm complaining but really I don't expect anything truly radical from them anymore as I've stated. To kinda echo Litho, I know what I am getting into these days with a DT album.
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MetlaNZ
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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2021 11:48 pm 
 

Even though I've tried (20 years ago), I just could not get into either Dream Theater or Opeth. On paper they sound like something I should dig, but I need songs from bands like this that can hook me in. Neither of them had memorable songs with the hooks to drag me into them.

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Smalley
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Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:06 am
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PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2021 4:47 am 
 

LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
The mods have explicitly said they consider Tool-style riffs to be more hard rock-related than metal, which is why bands that most everyone else considers progressive metal like Soen don't count here. I also suspect there could be an issue with the ratio of heavy to light material. Tool has a predilection for long builds and releases that may culminate in more metallic sections, but spend a lot of time hypnotizing you with not as metal passages.
Yeah, but it's those "metallic" sections that are what their music tends to build up to, since they serve as the all-important climaxes of their songs (like the way "Parabol" builds up to "Parabola", like I mentioned). It wouldn't matter to me if the overall ratio of their sound is split perfectly 50/50 even between being Metal and non-Metal (although I imagine their actual ratio isn't actually that close) because I think the metallic sections are ultimately the main reason why most people listen to Tool (it's why I listen to 'em, after all. I mean, about half of "Fade To Black" is an acoustic-driven ballad, without a Metal riff in sight in that half, but I still consider it a Metal song on the whole for the parts of it that are Metal, you know?
Opus wrote:
Smalley wrote:
I don't see how; I mean, the opening riff to "Parabola" alone is significantly heavier than anything I can remember off of Images & Words, if you ask me.

Heavy ≠ metal
Yeah, but I don't think anyone's gonna confuse Tool for a Hardcore Punk band, you know? : D
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Death By Wall of Text
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Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:18 pm
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PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2021 10:41 am 
 

Metal_On_The_Ascendant wrote:
@Death By Wall of Text, I am a fan of the bulk of what you mentioned especially Six Degrees and Dance of Eternity. I don't mind The Astonishing but I am not a fan of the S/T - that one sounded especially formulaic and uninspired to me. For the most part, I maintain that Dream Theater is a solid band overall. Distance Over Time was strong and even though I do not expect anything truly radical on the next album, it is exciting to wonder where they will go next.

The formulaic part of Dream Theater is the sorta-thrashy number ("As I Am" carrying over to "Constant Motion" to "The Enemy Inside"), the overt ballad, the half-ballad and the slow burn epic with the solo that doesn't know when to quit in the midsection; "Endless Sacrifice", "The Ministry of Lost Souls", "Outcry", "A Nightmare to Remember". These are not qualms that keep me up at night but DT is not beyond critique either - a fault of their own since they set the bar so high. In the ensuing years since their first remarkable six albums, the instrumental sections have gotten more bloated, the ballads sappier and the lyrics well...you be the judge. Occasionally they will pull out all the stops and make truly momentous material like "Breaking All Illusions" but they established a formula and don't take as many risks. It sounds like I'm complaining but really I don't expect anything truly radical from them anymore as I've stated. To kinda echo Litho, I know what I am getting into these days with a DT album.

But haven't they changed each of these pretty much just on time whenever these things became formulaic? DOT has a bunch of heavy songs that completely break their songwriting formula (Room 137 which instantly surprised me on first listen, and At Wit's End which just blows up the DT song structure altogether). The instrumental sections did get longer and crazier in the late Portnoy era, but pretty much right after he left and especially on the self-titled there was a noticeable shift away from those and writing tighter songs. Sure, there are parts of their style that you can just expect on every album, but despite definitely seeing some flaws, there is nothing about them that ever made me go "oh shit, here we go again" - it always felt like they realised when something was overdone and a fresh approach was needed.

(And frankly, I was always puzzled why "Breaking All Illusions" is so revered - it's a good track and one of my favourite albums actually, but it actually is the "textbook DT prog epic" on that album. The same album has much more unusual material, "Outcry" especially and the twisted yet absolutely badass masterpiece that is "Bridges in the Sky")

Oh, and I do think they've held up well as lyricists, especially in some areas. One of the things I do not like about I&W is that it also set the template for "abstract poetic stuff that no one seems to know what it's about" (other than Wait for Sleep and Learning to Live which are obviously brilliant). They've started writing about real and impactful subjects over time, and tracks like The Enemy Inside or especially At Wit's End really hit hard. I know that's not a 100% popular opinion, but I far prefer prog bands writing about things that mean something than basically the lyrical equivalent of a 5-minute keyboard solo.

MetlaNZ wrote:
Even though I've tried (20 years ago), I just could not get into either Dream Theater or Opeth. On paper they sound like something I should dig, but I need songs from bands like this that can hook me in. Neither of them had memorable songs with the hooks to drag me into them.

Depends how heavy you want it, but from the top of my head - as for Dream Theater, "Home" immediately comes to mind (it's massive, atmospheric and with a glorious chorus), "Pull Me Under" is an obvious one for catchiness, "These Walls" is actually the track that hooked me the first time I heard them. And from newer stuff, "Fall Into the Light" just ROCKS with one of my favourite riffs they're written, and "On the Backs of Angels" is imo one of the best singles they ever released, which basically announced "yes, we're still doing great even without Portnoy".

As for Opeth, three words: Ghost. Of. Perdition. But also "Bleak" is a tried and true classic, and "The Moor" is my favourite Opeth track of all time, including the vocals and lyrics.

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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2021 10:44 am 
 

I tried several times to get into "A Dramatic Turn of Events" but that one just never did anything for me - no bite to it at all. In fact I really haven't been interested in anything they did since Portnoy left, save for The Astonishing which was at least somewhat interesting, albeit overblown as fuck. They seemed to lose something like weight or gravitas when Portnoy left - the newer albums mostly feel too light and insubstantial to me, for all the grandiose songs, etc. The newest one felt very bland and safe to me. Maybe I'll give that one another try though.
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MetalVermont
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Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:23 pm
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PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2021 6:37 pm 
 

Empyreal wrote:
I tried several times to get into "A Dramatic Turn of Events" but that one just never did anything for me - no bite to it at all. In fact I really haven't been interested in anything they did since Portnoy left, save for The Astonishing which was at least somewhat interesting, albeit overblown as fuck. They seemed to lose something like weight or gravitas when Portnoy left - the newer albums mostly feel too light and insubstantial to me, for all the grandiose songs, etc. The newest one felt very bland and safe to me. Maybe I'll give that one another try though.


Shitty production definitely killed some great songs on that one. Since Portnoy left they have ditched the dumb tropes he brought in and are writing tighter songs. Only 1 song over 12 minutes in the 11 years since he left.

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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
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Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
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PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2021 9:36 am 
 

Death By Wall of Text wrote:
Oh, and I do think they've held up well as lyricists, especially in some areas. One of the things I do not like about I&W is that it also set the template for "abstract poetic stuff that no one seems to know what it's about" (other than Wait for Sleep and Learning to Live which are obviously brilliant). They've started writing about real and impactful subjects over time, and tracks like The Enemy Inside or especially At Wit's End really hit hard. I know that's not a 100% popular opinion, but I far prefer prog bands writing about things that mean something than basically the lyrical equivalent of a 5-minute keyboard solo.

Yeah At Wit's End is good because surprise, surprise James LaBrie is a better lyricist than John Petrucci. And so is John Myung. Dream Theater lyrics especially in the latter phase mightily suck because they are over-earnest, ridiculously sentimental and just plain fucking overblown like their solos.

Regarding Images and Words; the lyrics DO mean something GTFO!! "Pull Me Under" uses obvious Hamlet analogies to create a statement about the common metal lyrical trope of being unafraid and confident. Always thought that was clever. "Take the Time" which was largely directed by Portnoy is also self-explanatory. As is "Another Day" which Petrucci wrote about his late father. The only truly obscurantist song on that album (lyrically) is "Under A Glass Moon" but it is so well crafted musically that it doesn't matter.
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Last edited by Metal_On_The_Ascendant on Sun May 09, 2021 9:45 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Metal_On_The_Ascendant
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Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:38 am
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PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2021 9:38 am 
 

MetalVermont wrote:
Empyreal wrote:
I tried several times to get into "A Dramatic Turn of Events" but that one just never did anything for me - no bite to it at all. In fact I really haven't been interested in anything they did since Portnoy left, save for The Astonishing which was at least somewhat interesting, albeit overblown as fuck. They seemed to lose something like weight or gravitas when Portnoy left - the newer albums mostly feel too light and insubstantial to me, for all the grandiose songs, etc. The newest one felt very bland and safe to me. Maybe I'll give that one another try though.


Shitty production definitely killed some great songs on that one. Since Portnoy left they have ditched the dumb tropes he brought in and are writing tighter songs. Only 1 song over 12 minutes in the 11 years since he left.


Whatt?? Have you heard Illumination Theory?
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Bands are do music way too close to others to get recognized as "X genre" bands are fucking mediocre. Do Metallica's riffs sound Kreator's riffs? no!

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VaderCrush
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Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:05 am
Posts: 80
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2021 2:55 pm 
 

Dream Theater is just wildly inconsistent as a band and I've always been curious what caused it. I&W and Awake are both amazing and after that it's crazy peaks and valleys. The boring Falling Into Infinity spiking to the very good Scenes From a Memory plummeting to the empty excess of Six Degrees dipping further and further down with every release after that up until Portnoy left. When he was out they immediately put out one of the most refreshing things they'd made in years so I started to think it must have been his influence that was dragging them around, but no, the self titled and The Astonishing were both very meager blobs of nothing. And then Distance Over Time is great, so...?

Who knows. I'm just glad I don't have to listenin to mike portnoy cry about jesus saving him from booze or rap about beating up his dad anymore

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MetalVermont
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Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:23 pm
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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2021 7:22 pm 
 

Metal_On_The_Ascendant wrote:
MetalVermont wrote:
Empyreal wrote:
I tried several times to get into "A Dramatic Turn of Events" but that one just never did anything for me - no bite to it at all. In fact I really haven't been interested in anything they did since Portnoy left, save for The Astonishing which was at least somewhat interesting, albeit overblown as fuck. They seemed to lose something like weight or gravitas when Portnoy left - the newer albums mostly feel too light and insubstantial to me, for all the grandiose songs, etc. The newest one felt very bland and safe to me. Maybe I'll give that one another try though.


Shitty production definitely killed some great songs on that one. Since Portnoy left they have ditched the dumb tropes he brought in and are writing tighter songs. Only 1 song over 12 minutes in the 11 years since he left.


Whatt?? Have you heard Illumination Theory?


WTF???? That’s the 1 song I was talking about. Reading comprehension dude.

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Eternal Unity
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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 2:41 am 
 

Late 80's, early 90's - Queensrÿche, Fates Warning
Late 90's until 2007 - Symphony X, Pain of Salvation, Andromeda, Time Requiem & Adagio
2010 - Now: Haken and TesseracT
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LithoJazzoSphere
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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 6:04 pm 
 

Pain of Salvation and TesseracT are not particularly good comparisons for DT. Both focus a great deal more on atmosphere and emotion, with relatively little in the way of instrumental acrobatics.

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Subrick
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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 8:09 pm 
 

As stylistically different as they are from Dream Theater, the correct answer here is, as mentioned by several others in this thread, Opeth. They are, along with DT, one of the two clear faces of progressive metal for most of that genre's history, and they're also one of the most influential metal bands ever, with clear elements of their classic sound borrowed, repurposed, and transformed by an ungodly number of bands across both metal and non-metal music (Remember that discovering Opeth and producing Blackwater Park is what caused Steven Wilson to change Porcupine Tree's sound on In Absentia, and that style change was a major part of that band's sudden burst in fame in the 2000s, and Opethian elements could be found on Wilson's solo albums all the way up to 2017's To the Bone).
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Death By Wall of Text
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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 8:14 pm 
 

^ this, and in turn Porcupine Tree had a massive influence on a lot of prog rock bands also getting heavier, and a lot of metal bands also taking influence especially in writing softer sections and tracks. A huge part of the modern heavy prog rock/metal spectrum is basically influenced by those three bands.

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Subrick
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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 8:24 pm 
 

Meshuggah is the other correct answer, by the way. I think less so than DT and Opeth, as while the latter's scope of influence was across so many different genres of rock and metal, the majority of Meshuggah's influence was mostly focused on what became djent. Djent, while obviously a style of progressive music in its own right, was also the dominant trend in prog metal for a couple years, but it really didn't have much staying power beyond propelling Periphery into megafame. It ultimately was more like a fad in that regard, but it still exists and occasionally we get fantastic new bands and artists that were borne from djent, like Plini.
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LithoJazzoSphere
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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 1:11 am 
 

Meshuggah is really much more of their own thing than a comparison to DT. They focuses primarily on the rhythmic aspects of music while DT is as or more interested in melody and harmony as well. But in terms of their impact on the scene, I'd say you're vastly underselling it. Even outside of bands that get labeled as djent, I hear Meshuggah-inspired riffs in countless other subgenres, and it seems that every other interview I read with a more modern guitarist mentions how inspired they were/are by them.

And Plini is one of my favorite newer artists and guitarists in the last few years, and a great example of using some of the components of that sound but not being defined by it, and incorporating many other enchanting elements.

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Texas King
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Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:55 am
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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 3:48 am 
 

Eternal Unity wrote:
Late 80's, early 90's - Queensrÿche, Fates Warning
Late 90's until 2007 - Symphony X, Pain of Salvation, Andromeda, Time Requiem & Adagio
2010 - Now: Haken and TesseracT


I don't get why are Queensrÿche considered prog metal. To my ears they are not.

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LithoJazzoSphere
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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 8:57 pm 
 

Texas King wrote:
Eternal Unity wrote:
Late 80's, early 90's - Queensrÿche, Fates Warning
Late 90's until 2007 - Symphony X, Pain of Salvation, Andromeda, Time Requiem & Adagio
2010 - Now: Haken and TesseracT


I don't get why are Queensrÿche considered prog metal. To my ears they are not.


They weren't that way consistently throughout their entire career, but particularly in the era of Operation: Mindcrime they were one of the inventors of the idea of progressive metal. That work is a concept album like some of the 70s progressive rock bands would do, and it has some longer songs, experimentation with song structure, and some odd time signatures at times. It's not as full-blown and excessive as some of the later bands influenced by them would take the limits of the genre to, but they were one of the ones laying the groundwork for it, and a transitional bridge between the heavy and glam metal of the 80s and the more overtly adventuous and often more technical bands starting in the 90s.

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MawBTS
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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 9:11 pm 
 

Texas King wrote:
I don't get why are Queensrÿche considered prog metal. To my ears they are not.


Yes, all of their progressive elements (long songs, lyrically storytelling) are also found in Iron Maiden, which isn't normally considered a progressive metal band.

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LithoJazzoSphere
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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 9:14 pm 
 

Maiden definitely flirts with it at times, as do many power metal bands, but they don't generally sustain it on the average song of theirs.

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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2021 2:15 am 
 

Queensryche along with Crimson Glory sometimes get the prog metal label just because their songs are more sophisticated sounding than some 80s acts... but yeah they're both just trad/power.
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Texas King
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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2021 8:21 am 
 

LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
Maiden definitely flirts with it at times, as do many power metal bands, but they don't generally sustain it on the average song of theirs.


If "Operation Mindcrime" is prog metal then "7th Son" can be considered prog metal too.

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InnesI
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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2021 8:31 am 
 

Texas King wrote:
LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
Maiden definitely flirts with it at times, as do many power metal bands, but they don't generally sustain it on the average song of theirs.


If "Operation Mindcrime" is prog metal then "7th Son" can be considered prog metal too.


Yeah, I never really saw Operation: Mindcrime as that proggy either. Not really much in common with 70's prog bands except its a concept album. If anything Promised Land is way more proggy and experimental. But maybe it's sort of like Mercyful Fate and Venom being called black metal but not really sounding anything like what we now associate black metal with.

Both great albums though, Operation: Mindcrime and Promised Land.
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Pitiless Wanderer
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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2021 8:56 am 
 

Stratovarius should be mentioned. They're a power/progressive act, depending on the time/album, that has made a huge impact.

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LithoJazzoSphere
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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2021 11:15 am 
 

InnesI wrote:
Texas King wrote:
LithoJazzoSphere wrote:
Maiden definitely flirts with it at times, as do many power metal bands, but they don't generally sustain it on the average song of theirs.


If "Operation Mindcrime" is prog metal then "7th Son" can be considered prog metal too.


Yeah, I never really saw Operation: Mindcrime as that proggy either. Not really much in common with 70's prog bands except its a concept album. If anything Promised Land is way more proggy and experimental. But maybe it's sort of like Mercyful Fate and Venom being called black metal but not really sounding anything like what we now associate black metal with.


This happens with a lot of genres, where later acts take the tropes of the style up to 11, and make the originators retrospectively seem like they might not even be part of the same genre anymore. Some people who listen to primarily extreme metal go back to Black Sabbath and they come across as more of a rock band. That's why it's also important to look at it from the other direction as well, and see what makes the earlier artists different from the bands that came before them, and you can see certain elements in more nascent form before they were more fully developed by successive acts.

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