Contrary to what some people might think, top notch progressive rock did not descend into a shame spiral after the 1970s never again to see the light of day. It is a sub-genre that has survived for nearly fifty years and somehow continues produce surprises all around the world every year. It has always been a niche market populated by a small, discerning crowd but that never stopped bands from passionately pushing themselves to ever more creative frontiers. One of these bands is California’s Spock’s Beard, a prolific band that’s been on the prog scene for more than 20 years, presenting a more subtle style of prog that comes with a tangible songwriting ethos. 2015 sees the release of the band’s full-length number twelve The Oblivion Particle, a sixty six minute feast of soaring keyboards, retro synths, intelligent drumming and very catchy main riffs and vocals.
Tag Archive Rush
Today we tackle something a little bit different with our Starter Kit. Rather than covering a particular genre or subgenre of music, I am here to discuss what is arguably the greatest prog band of all time, and definitely one of the best bands of all time. That band, as made evident by the title, is Rush. With a career spanning over 40 years, 20 studio albums, and some of rock’s most memorable anthems, the band have been absolutely killing it since their inception, and until recently only had a leave of absence due to personal tragedies in drummer Neil Peart’s family. Their sheer musical prowess cannot simply be expressed based on one thing; instead, it is due to a number of factors that really set them apart.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to.
As is typical of these updates, there are numerous inclusions that have received the Heavy Blog seal of approval via a positive review. August Burns Red‘s Found In Far Away Places (review here), Between the Buried and Me‘s Coma Ecliptic (review here), Drewsif Stalin’s Musical Endeavors‘s …Comes To An End (review here), Ecstatic Vision‘s Sonic Praise (review here), Eidola‘s Degeneraterra (review here), Hope Drone‘s Cloak of Ash (review here), Lamb of God‘s VII: Sturm Und Drang (review here), Rosetta‘s Quintessential Ephemera (review here) and Thy Art Is Murder‘s Holy War (review here) are all excellent albums worthy of your time. Additionally, several other albums listed reflect our staff’s input into various recent Heavy Blog features. Entries into our “For Fans Of – Pig Destroyer” post (Insect Warfare; feature here) and “Starter Kit – OG Progressive Deathcore” (Veil of Maya; feature here) appear here, and while Nuclear Assault just missed our “Best Of – Old School Thrash” list, the thrash legends who did make the list may be explored here. Finally, it was with a heavy heart that we covered the passing of After the Burial guitarist Justin Lowe; check out our tribute here.
For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
Head past the jump to see which receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
Just over a month ago, I attended Temples Festival in Bristol. The festival, in it’s second year, completely blew my mind. The alcohol helped, but the banter, atmosphere and performances from some of the heaviest acts in extreme music were primarily to blame for the blowing of said mind. I have not had that much fun listening to music, ever. If I could share another drink with every person I met, I would do so in a heartbeat.
Temples, if you didn’t know, is a completely independently run event. No sponsors or partners involved, it is a music festival for music enthusiasts and snobs like myself. Sludge, hardcore, grind and doom were all very well represented this year. On the final day of the festival, I got to sneak in a chat with the man in charge, Mr Francis Mace. We chatted about the origin of Temples itself, future lineups and of course, chicken shits (Eggs. Duh).
The Jersey boys in Symphony X have been well at it for over twenty years now, releasing some of the most challenging and musically-proficient material in the progressive metal scene along the way. There’s no denying that records like The Divine Wings of Tragedy and V: The New Mythology Suite have laid the groundwork for shredders worldwide, and have probably even gone on to influence plenty of bands in the power metal scene as well. Now on the cusp of releasing their ninth LP, Underworld, the band are working on synthesizing their entire discography while still trying to push their sound to previously unexplored heights. That being said, it’s a definite success and shows the band at their most inspired and consistent in quite some time. I had a chance to speak with guitarist and founding member Michael Romeo a few days ago about taking their time between releases, their upcoming summer tour, balancing technicality and songwriting, and much more.
Names are powerful things, we’ve discussed this in the past. It bears repeating though in the light of the album we are now looking at: Steven Wilson‘s name is one of those which shine brightest in the skies of contemporary music. From a solo project through one of the most successful progressive acts of the past two decades, finally back to a solo project, Wilson is one of the most varied creators working today. His last album, The Raven Who Refused To Sing, was an amazingly well-made record but also touched on one of the gripes that many people have with Wilson: his slow drift into aural nostalgia that some feel is holding him back from creating new and exciting music.
We’ve talked a lot about fun, music and analysis here on the blog and we’re sure to talk about in the future as well (there’s an editorial coming, worry not). What exactly is the relationship between enjoying music, its complexity and its innovation? The question will perhaps remain forever open, but that doesn’t have to stop us from just enjoying what we enjoy, regardless of intellectual matters. This is exactly the kind of approach one should use when sitting down to listen to Nightingale‘s newest album, Retribution. There’s nothing here to innovate or complicate but it rings true with the good kind of nostalgia; the kind that takes the best out of familiar themes and works on them.
The Contortionist are one of many bands in the progressive metal realm that just refuses to stand still. Once a band admired for their intelligent and atmospheric twist on the brutal groove of the deathcore sound that would otherwise beg for ignorant hate-mosh, they’ve since reached for the clouds and shifted towards more psychedelics a la Cynic. Intrinsic was pretty far-removed from the groundbreaking debut Exoplanet. The breakdowns that occupied so much playtime were largely eschewed in favor of post-rock and prog leanings; low-end technical riffing was traded in for jazzy chords and guitar virtuosity. Many of the instrumental sections across Intrinsic brought to mind a modernized interpretation of progressive rock bands like Rush, and it all worked in context as a separate entity apart from the band’s celebrated debut as an unavoidable stylistic evolution. Exoplanet and Intrinsic both embodied the idea of space in completely different ways. Following in step, Language continues the evolutionary journey through the stratosphere in favor of high-concept, cinematic prog.
I’m sick and tired of all these “Best ____ Albums Of All Time”. They’re always voted on by staff, and never even consider the popular opinions of their readers, who mostly disagree. It’s like reading Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list and seeing the top ten albums consist of 8 Beatles and 2 Bob Dylan albums. It’s stupid, and quite frankly keeps me from ever subscribing to their magazines. However, PROG Magazine are deciding to do something different.
The tag “progressive” is assigned loosely today, with every band that features poly-rhythms or non standard time stamps hailed as innovators. However, being “progressive” doesn’t have to necessarily lie in the complexity of your music or a wide swerve off accepted musical norms. It should instead be placed in changing the genre you work in by introducing new elements or interpreting existing norms anew. This is the core idea behind Mirrors for a Prince; Wings Denied strive to graft onto a metalcore theme new ideas and structures. However, is this creation cohesive enough to convince the listener?