20 Best Canadian Prog Bands

20 Best Canadian Prog Bands

Touring around the world in our quest for the best contemporary Prog bands, we are landing to Canada, a country known for the ice hockey and, of course, maple syrup. But what it’s also known is definitely prog, and we all know why is that.

Below is a list of 20 Prog bands coming from Canada that are, in our opinion, the best representatives of the genre today.

Into Eternity

Founded in Regina, Saskatchewan by Tim Roth in the late ‘90s, Into Eternity first caught the attention of a small Dutch label that released their self-titled debut in 2000. The group went on to release five studio albums since then, and they are currently working on a new record.

Karcius

Karcius is a band from Montreal teamed with unique musical vision. Combined, they create a unique style of fusion, emanating from Rock, Pop, African, Classical, Jazz, and ambiant grooves. The group was formed in spring 2001 with Simon L’Espérance on guitars, Thomas Brodeur on drums, Mingan Sauriol on keyboards and Sylvain Auclair, who joined the band in 2009, on bass and vocals.

Beyond Creation

Beyond Creation was formed in 2005 in Montreal by Simon Girard (guitar/vocals) and Nicolas Domingo Viotto (guitar). The band is known for combining progressive and death metal influences while relying on jazz structured patterns.

Mandroid Echostar

Mandroid Echostar is a six-piece experimental/progressive metal band from Guelph, Ontario. The band’s sound has been described as a combination of melodic technical guitars, progressive metal, and heavy metal.

Voivod

Voivod were one of the first thrash bands from Canada to gain popularity outside of their home country. From their beginning in the early 80s, their main goal was to be different from anyone else, and thus they incorporated odd musical tempos and futuristic story lines into their songs, often dealing with technology taking over the world. With their unique style of performing and writing, Voivod opened the way for other Canadian metal bands. The group released 13 studio albums, numerous singles, EP’s and live releases.

Heaven’s Cry

Heaven’s Cry was formed in the beginning of the ‘90s as a progressive rock band with a metal tangent. From a French part of Canada in the city of Montreal, Pierre St-Jean (vocals, guitars) and Sylvain Auclair (vocals, bass) decided to join their efforts, building a dual voice oriented band. The group most recent album, Outcast, was released last year.

Blood Ceremony

Blood Ceremony’s distinct style of flute-tinged witch rock evolves from an infernal marriage of occult-inspired acid folk and vintage hard-rock riffing. Their sound bears witness to the heavy bands of yesteryear, fusing progressive rock elements with folk and an early ’70s downer vibe. The group ,fronted by singer and flutist Alia O’Brien, released Lord of Misrule in 2016.

Gorguts

Technical death metallers Gorguts were formed in 1989 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The band is known for its complex, musically dense form of technical death metal. They released five studio albums, and their most recent release is an EP titled Pleiades’ Dust from 2016.

Anciients

Anciients from Vancouver has been active since 2010. The Season of Mist artist is a hybrid child of High on Fire and Opeth. The band released their new album Voice of the Void last year.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Often praised as one of the greatest Post-Rock bands, Godspeed You! Black Emperor formed in Montreal in 1994. The band began with three members, but usually has nine, and has contained as many as 15. The group’s unique and volatile sound is a mix of classical, avant-garde, and progressive, with most of their songs broken up into symphonic movements.

Mahogany Frog

Mahogany Frog is an instrumental electronic rock band from Winnipeg. The group is comprised of four multi-instrumentalists: Graham Epp (guitar/keyboards/trumpet), Jesse Warkentin (guitar/keyboards), Scott Ellenberger (bass/keyboards/trumpet) and Andy Rudolph (drums/electronics). The music draws influence from ’60s psychedelia, electronica, ’70s progressive/kraut-rock, jazz, 50′s “ultra” lounge and ambient/experimentalism.

ONI

Formed in 2014 by singer Jake Oni, the initial vision was “to be the band I never got to see”, one that was deeply rooted in progressive metal but that had a feel all of its own, to rise above a genre that has constantly churned out new groups to an often numbing effect. In doing so, their sound comfortably situates them among the genre’s heavy hitters—the likes of The Human Abstract, Protest The Hero and Between The Buried And Me—all of whom have stuck to their guns, constantly pushing forward and refusing to stagnate. With Jake Oni handling vocal duties, Martin Andres and Brandon White on guitar, Chase Bryant on bass and Joe Greulich on drums, they are also perhaps the first metal band to feature a Xylo-synth player, in the form of John DeAngelis, which adds an interesting and intriguing dynamic.

Miriodor

Miriodor was formed in 1980 (in Québec City) by the meeting of Fraçois Emond and Pascal Globensky. The avant-prog group’s ninth studio album Signal 9 was released this year on Cuneiform Records. Miriodor serve instrumental prog rock with the requisite technical skill and virtuosity but none of the pomposity that dragged down better-known prog outfits.

Intervals

Founded in 2011 by guitarist and composer Aaron Marshall, Intervals is a progressive and forward thinking staple in modern instrumental music with roots firmly planted in all things traditional, and an open eye on the future. 2015’s The Shape of Colour is the natural evolution of Aaron‘s sound and a testament to his knack for infectious melody, and engaging compositions.

Saga

Over the course of a career that’s spanned five decades, Saga have established themselves as one of Canada’s most successful progressive rock bands, and have found a loyal, international audience for their ambitious music. Saga was formed in Oakville, Ontario by bassist and keyboard player Jim Crichton, and singer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Michael Sadler. The group’s latest, 21st studio album, Sagacity, was released in 2014.

Triumph

Late-’70s/early-’80s prog metallists Triumph endured countless comparisons to Rush throughout their career, and with good reason; they were both quite similar musically and lyrically, comprised of three members each, and hailed from Canada (although it must be said that Rush were the originator, and were much more commercially successful). Formed in Toronto during 1975, the trio consisted of guitarist/singer Rik Emmett, drummer/singer Gil Moore, and bassist/keyboardist Mike Levine.

The Kindred

Since it’s creation in the winter months of 2005 the Ottawa, Ontario based group has worked endlessly to produce the most honest representations of musical vision they’re collectively capable of. The result: energetic art reflective of a wide range ofsonic expression. The songs are largely recognizable by the aggressive undertones of their hardcore and metal influences, while melodically and rhythmically balanced by the many varying genres which have impacted each individual artist.

Protest the Hero

Combining technical metal and post-hardcore instincts, Whitby, Ontario’s Protest the Hero are comprised of Rody Walker (vocals), Tim Millar (guitar/vocals), Luke Hoskin (guitar/vocals), and Mike Ieradi (drums). Starting as many bands do—with a common musical passion found among high school friends—Protest the Hero worked hard on developing their own identity, and their sound soon became reminiscent of a combination of Coheed & Cambria, At the Drive-In, and Every Time I Die.

Devin Townsend

Devin Townsend was born May 5, 1972 in Vancouver, British Columbia; after picking up the banjo at age five, he moved to guitar at 12, and within a few years was leading the band Grey Skies, later known as Noisescapes. Sending the group’s demo to the Relativity label, Townsend was not only offered a solo deal but was also tapped to sing on Steve Vai‘s 1993 LP Sex & Religion, a collaboration that further extended to the guitar God’s 1996 effort Fire Garden. In between, Townsend worked on a series of projects with Front Line Assembly, and in 1995 issued the solo Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing under the alias Strapping Young Lad. After SYL called it quits in 2007, Townsend focused on his Devin Townsend Project; las year he put out Transcendence.

Rush

Over the course of their decades-spanning career, the most-known Canadian power trio emerged as one of prog rock’s most highly regarded bands; although typically brushed aside by critics and rarely the recipients of mainstream pop radio airplay, Rush nonetheless won an impressive and devoted fan following, while their virtuoso performance skills solidified their standing as musicians’ musicians. Formed in 1968, the group went on to release 19 long-players, numerous live records, compilations, and singles.

6 Comments

  1. Kevin

    May 25, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    As a huge fan of both Triumph and Rush, their music and styles are significantly different. Their lyrics aren’t similar at all. Besides both being Canadian trios, their voices are a little similar, but Rik can really sing. I’d go so far as to say Triumph only really had a few prog songs, like Cool Down and Stranger in a Strange Land. Maybe Never Surrender? They definitely were a hard band to categorize due to the classical guitar and emotional blues pieces mixed between hard rock and their more pop-ish hits.

  2. Simon

    June 2, 2017 at 2:45 am

    Where is Mystery?!

    • John

      June 2, 2017 at 5:06 am

      Somewhere in Montreal?

      • Simon

        June 2, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        Suppose to be on the list :)

  3. Simon

    June 2, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Suppose to be on the list :)

  4. Mike Reiss

    November 24, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Rush rarely on the radio? Are you kidding? Anyway, a few bands who are absent would be: Harmonium, FM, Max Webster and Klaatu. Maybe Mahogany Rush too although they maybe aren’t typically considered prog. Maybe the same thing with MW. Anyway, glad to see Mahogany Frog on there and Karcius. How about Spaced Out? Nice list though. I guess maybe there’s a focus on metal and prog metal on this site more than just plain prog which is fine. I’m just not a hardcore metal head.

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