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Friday, 26 September 2008

Dream Theater: Gods of Prog-Metal? Debatable

I've always noticed how Dream Theater is the 1st name that springs to mind when the term 'Progressive Metal' is mentioned. How everyone marvels at their sheer ingenuity with time signatures and technique. How (surprisingly) many people think that James LaBrie is one of the best vocalists in Rock/Metal ever. I personally, don't really agree.
Granted that each and every instrument player in that band is HIGHLY,extraordinarily talented. I myself am a HUGE admirer of John Myung(bass), John Petrucci(guitar) and Mike Potnoy(drums)(I think Jordan Rudess overdoes the honky-tonk on the keyboard). But THAT very talent is something that works against this band at times. Overall, I feel their music is just TOO calculated (weird time signature-this and beat skip-that). Once you think you've FINALLY figured out the beat pattern of one section of the song,they change the damn pattern to another mind boggler. It just gets too frustrating. I mean,music is something that connects with the soul as much as it does with the mind. I feel the soul connection lacking in bulk in Dream Theater's music. And lets not even START with the solos, those things go ON AND ON!!! Its like: "Yeah OK,you can play.I believe YOU!!!NOW can you stop??". Another aspect that troubles me is the vocals. At times, his voice is soothing, but for the most part of the song he's just WAILING. There's no other description. They are the kind that make you want to say "SHUT UP!!!" more often than not. And I'll never forgive him for pooping all over 'Master of Puppets'.

These were the reasons why I seldom heard Dream Theater and for the most part, Progressive Metal itself. But then there came a time when I thought "They can't ALL sound like DT,can they?" and that was when I treated myself to a HOST of AMAZING bands. Bands that strike the perfect balance between progressive thinking and melodic outlook. Bands that make catchy YET intelligent music. To hear them,click on their names. To all you adamant worshippers of Dream Theater, let me help you free your mind...

1.Opeth :

Well, lets just say that if you're HALF the metal (or even music) fan that you claim to be and you haven't heard Opeth, hiding your face around other metal-heads would be a good idea. For me, Opeth are nothing short of phenomenal. Their unique style combines progressive song structures, unconventional time signatures, switches between aggressive and calm moods and between clean and harsh singing. Yes,their songs are long as well, but at least there are no 4 to 5/4+5 minute long solos and frustrating beat skips involved. Opeth instead,rely on continuous rhythm and scale changes AND of course,the vocal style changes. The latter is the reason why Mikael Akerfeldt counts as one of the best vocalists in metal today,and THE best for me. To sum it up in layman's language, expect soft,haunting melodies laced with fast,aggressive ones,topped with vocals of both dark and light kinds and seasoned with jazz-influenced basslines and occasional death metal-influenced drum patterns. A treat indeed.

2. Symphony X :

Well if Opeth were progressively haunting, these guys are EPIC. With a guitarist who could give more than fair competition to John Petrucci (Michael Romeo) what with his 8-finger tapping style and all, these guys take the 'Progressive' aspect to a whole new level. Expect sweep tapped neo-classical leads, atmospheric keyboard rhythms as well as solos, neo-classical bass shreds, well above average drum playing and semi-aggressive yet clean singing. All nicely packaged within a progressive shell of long,multi-rhythm songs with well-placed beat skips and unconventionally epic time signatures. Unleash the FIRE!!!

3. Amaseffer

Well if you've visited my blog regularly,you would have noticed my review of Amaseffer's debut album 'Slaves For Life'. If not, well these guys are a VERY new band from Israel whose debut album released in June this year. Their style is basically storytelling oriented. They use traditional instruments along with the regular guitars and drums (AND symphonies as well). Their song-structuring involves continuous rhythm shifts and is regularly punctuated by dialogues in Hebrew,serving as the perfect backdrop for the story of Moses. The vocals on this album have been given by Mattias Levin (most well known with Therion) and are REALLY well delivered. All in all,these guys are going to be under many a watchful,hopeful eye of fans of great music.

4.Into Eternity :

This particular band from Canada is one of the most enjoyable prog-metal bands I have heard till date. Their music is a combination of modern Death Metal and Progressive Metal styles. Think fast,technical(yet melodic) riffs, mood and time signature swings, the occasional blast beat battery among the regular double bass-dominated drumming style and VERY dexterously played bass. The vocals,as in Opeth, are both clean as well as harsh. But instead of the progressive singing style adopted by Mikael Akerfeldt, Into Eternity's Stu Block uses a very modern rock style of clean singing and guttural death metal vocals. All in all, VERY catchy and very progressive at the same time. DO NOT overlook. I mean it.

5.Evergrey :

Another very talented band is this one from Sweden. Evergrey's music can be described as dark/gothic progressive metal. They regularly use symphonies and clean guitar tones. Their music tends to be very dark and a bit ambient and their lyrics are usually about negativities associated with society e.g kidnapping, extortion, war, abduction etc. But this band also has its fair share of romantic poetry. They tend to not use very unconventional time signatures but their 'progressive' stems from their rhythm changes and choice of note sequences. Highly reccomended.

6.Circus Maximus :

When I heard this band, I was simply SWEPT AWAY. Even more so when I learned that these guys are from Norway (the world's unofficial black metal beehive). Their style comes a bit close to Dream Theater's at times, but they maintain their originality by playing heavier,more aggressive riffs and dabbling less in beat skips. The vocals are a very power metal-reminiscent style but also have a bit of James LaBrie in them (but NOT the irritating wailing thankfully). Their rhythms tend to be epic and laden with lots of palm-muted powerchords. A brilliant band and a MUST HEAR.


Alok said...

"My sentiments exactly" would be saying what I want to say, but that would be being too short.

I found myself agreeing to the post. DT is a very talented band; however, their music has no definite direction. It lacks consistency in emotion. It's very difficult to put a hand on their genre because it keeps changing from song to song, even within songs. Nevertheless, sometimes they do come up with exceptional sections and melodies.

And yeah, I don't like LaBrie's vocals either. Somehow, his voice lacks some kind of power in it, it feels very artificial and hollow. He is a good singer, no doubt, but his voice doesn't suit the band's sound. You're the second person I've come across who shares this view with me.

As you know, I'm in Love with Opeth's music. And yeah Symphony X is of course ethereal. Can you gimme recommended albums from the rest of the artists you've mentioned?

metal-militant said...

I'll never forgive LaBrie for doing what he did to 'Master of Puppets'.And yeah,I DO love 'Pull Me Under','Burning My Soul','The Dance of Eternity' and a few others by DT.

As for the rest,listen to both albums by Circus Maximus:
-The 1st Chapter

The 1st 2 albums by Into Eternity are gold as well i.e 'Into Eternity' and 'Dead or Dreaming'.The 3rd one 'Buried In Oblivion' lacks the melodic aspect a bit and focuses more on technique.The 4th again,is gold as well ('The Scattering of Ashes').

As for Evergrey,I'm yet to explore ALL their material,but 'Solitude Dominance Tragedy' and 'The Dark Discovery' are brilliant albums.

Amaseffer have just one album that I mentioned.

ki said...

you blogged :)

Jadis said...

lovely lovely friggin' LOVELY blog!!!! all metal. oh and btw, despite the fact that DT is like an assemblage of some of the most inhumanly talented musicians ever, i've never really liked them as a band either...
with all due respect to their music, i personally have felt that there is something about them that makes me uncomfortable... haven't figured out what exactly...
though i've never been the hugest fan of prog metal, i happen to like opeth,evergrey and symphony X. :D
the other bands you've mentioned here i blush to admit i haven't heard..but if,as you say, they are in the same league as these, i MUST. :)

metal-militant said...

Thank you Jadis.Thanks a lot.I suggest you go ahead and listen to the other bands,they are in a totally different league altogether.

Shrutilaya said...

I <3 Your template.

So pretty.. and dreaammmy..

= D

metal-militant said...

Ummm,please dont call it pretty.Its SPACE after all.Its...VAST

Express said...

What a write up! I mean, u manage to express ur views without forcing them on the reader and yet manage to have tht killer impact!

Well, heres my feedback..

*~*John Petrucci is GOD!

*~*I ve heard Opeth!!!! yayy!! Thanks alok!!!![for making me a music-lover in the true sense :-P]
My experience with them was nothing short of " absolute magic!" [not magik :-D]
They have variety, a song for every mood.
They have the most killer song writing! I mean, 'atonement' says it all!
ooooo! Akerfeldt! *thinks of 'coil' and her heart aches*

*~*But I will be honest with u, I have not heard anyone apart 4m them 4m ur list.
not even Amaseffer. yes, despite u making tht much noise :-|

*~*Heard of evergrey. that's it.

*~*I wonder wht do I do 2 miss all this awesome music..
Can anyone give me their music?
download [limited n slow :-(] is giving so much pain!

and , LOL at laya :-D
i prefered the wolf one [honest]

metal-militant said...

Wow.Thanks so much Express.Seriously.You should hear the others.ESPECIALLY Amaseffer and Into Eternity.

If I live in Mumbai I would have handed you a CD with their songs.Unfortunately,I don't.

subho said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pervika said...

Hey!! though i agree with most things that you said.. i still would give them the benefit of doubt...

maybe THIS is the music that they connect with.. and they play what they believe in..

so many moods go into solos... though soooooooo draggy for us... it still must feel really good to him/them...

i do not play an instrument.. however, i believe i would stick to my beliefs because there are sooooo many people out there trying to please others..

however.. agreeing with you on some points you've shared... if you feel they're too much... that's when we change CDs...

try spock's beard if you're bummed.. :)

metal-militant said...

Well yeah I'm all for playing the music that you connect with but the thing is that with Octavarium, Dream Theater broke all those rules that you say they set for themselves by playing almost nu-metal style riffs. I haven't heard the album in its entirety but I've heard snippets of songs from there.Sure,they got back to their original style on Systematic Chaos,but I think they are unsure of what to do with the vast talent that they possess.

Thanks for stopping by my blog BTW,welcome to the Processor.

pervika said...

Good point actually.. wasn't speaking wrt to those two albums..
(this is where i shy away and agree with you)

its just too much burden for them sometimes i feel.. its their bread and butter... they dont come out with an album.. they starve..

didn't RHCP come out with 2 albums in a short duration because they didn't make enough money with the first one to survive???

PS: album 1 was downloaded at high frequencies on P2P's.. so these guys didn't have no money...

coming back to your point.. yes.. they could HAVE actually stuck on to their initial idea.. experimenting is not for everyone :)

metal-militant said...

Ah,I've never heard much RHCP so I don't even know what the names of those 2 albums are.But yeah,music piracy is doing bad stuff to artistes and making them change their styles to gain a larger audience.I'm sure thats what happened to Children of Bodom.