Album Review: ARAN PROG PROJECT – EVO: A Progressive Journey


When thinking of a prospective ‘album of the year,’ bands that I have followed for years come to mind. Generally, an established band at the peak of their creative finesse, or an older band making a big comeback will take the cake. Very seldom however, does a relatively new band on the scene ever get a chance at releasing something that makes most of the other albums released last year shallow in comparison. Composer and producer Massimiliano Gentilini  may have achieved this with his project Aran’s debut album EVO – A Progressive Journey, and while the project’s breed of progressive metal is certainly nothing new to the scene, Gentilini does a brilliant job of emulating established acts, and in parts, even trump the giants that have influenced him.

While Aran Prog Project can easily be likened to the sound of Dream Theater or Fates Warning, it is astounding that a new name can stand up to even the best, most experienced musicians the genre has to offer.

Regardless of its derivative nature however, EVO is for all intents and purposes, a technical, meticulous and emotional masterpiece. With much progressive music these days seemingly trying to hard to pull a facade of intelligence over our heads, Aran Prog Project manages to give a listening experience that only grows with time, while still developing a set of catchy and seasoned melodies in the mix.

While every musician (the project features 20 guest musicians coming all over the world) is at the top of their game here, it seems that EVO really showcases the talent of its mastermind over all else. There is soulful, yet brilliantly technical guitar work that would make Petrucci proud, and while there is certainly a lot of time here where the band struts their instrumental wizardry, the overall direction of the song and composition seem to be always kept in mind. No soloing goes on for too long, and no ego gets out of hand.

While the album maintains a high level of consistency throughout, the highlights are arguably three pillars, including “Origin,” “Cambrian,” and closing “Modern Era.” For anyone who hasn’t heard any music from the project yet, these tracks are certainly worth looking into. While not having the apparent “sections” and sonic variety some more well-known epics might have, they flows seamlessly; melding beautiful anthemic choruses and frantic instrumental sections together in perfect function, and always too keen to throw something unexpected and pleasantly surprising our way.

Despite adopting a pretty familiar sound through all of this, I can safely say that Aran Prog Project is one of the best new names that has come out onto the progressive metal scene in years. To those that might simply write off the band as a “Dream Theater/Fates Warning clone” however; twenty years before this album was released, Dream Theater was taking it’s first steps, and sounding all-too much like Rush. However, it took until their second album to find their trademark sound. Like the old masters of the genre held their influences in high regard, as does Aran Prog Project, and with EVO – A Progressive Journey, they have crafted the best-possible first impression for me. Even if I’m wrong, and APP does not become one of the flagship bands of the genre in years to come, the proje t has still imprinted its mark upon the music scene for this majestic work alone. Simply put, one of the greatest debut records of 2022 and, sadly, a (very) late discovery.

Get the album from Bandcamp here.

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