While many know what metal is as it often gets a bad name on the radio in comparison to popular hip-hop and dance music, it’s important not to let these artists be marginalized. Many of them have worked very hard to achieve the instrumental skills to be able to play long arrangements intermixed with long and fast movements. Some of the most famous progressive metal bands, as far as radio play and mass reception go, would have to be Tool, Audioslave, Coheed and Cambria, and some of the recent Muse. However, these artists leave much to be desired from a technical standpoint, considering that much of their sound is shortened and filtered for mass consumption. When really getting down to it, progressive metal never started midst radio waves in America, but in eastern European countries like Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Some of this music suggested is American, but the best progressive metal is across the ocean. Here are a few songs and bands for your enjoyment:
- The Human Abstract “Faust” – From 2010’s long-awaited release, Digital Veil, The Human Abstract have made a name for themselves molding hardcore and progressive metal styles. Their guitars are both sharp and heavy, generally with one guitarist in drop tuning and the other playing sweeps in metal distortion. “Faust” was my favorite from the album, as it showcases the singer’s expansive vocal range, backed by some of the heaviest arrangements on the album.
- Gojira “Vacuity” – The spread of Djent metal across Europe and America since the influence of Meshuggah has been extensive. Known for frequently palm-muted polyrhythmic style, Djent takes from several genres including technical math metal and even jazz-fusion. Some of the more famous Djent artists are Animals as Leaders, After the Burial, Meshuggah, and Gojira, themselves. From France, Gojira has released four albums with a fifth on the way. “Vacuity” is from 2008’s The Way of All Flesh, yet my favorite album from them is From Mars to Sirius, a concept album centering around oceans and whales.
- Opeth “Hessian Peel” – Swedish prog-metal Gods, Opeth, recently released an album entitled Heritage with only clean vocals and very little drop-tuning. Largely jazz-influenced and elegiac, Heritage still hasn’t listened like an achievement. Opeth’s prior work, however, has greatness and legend written all over it. “Hessian Peel,” an 11-minute track that starts acoustic and ends in thrash with ambient and heavy moments in between, is from 2008’s Watershed album – the last album the band made before the recently released Heritage. The guitar work on this song goes from peaceful to havoc in the blink of an eye and back again, the vocals going from slow cleans to crushing growls. Just sit back and let the masters of progressive metal permeate your ears.