After Norway, Sweden and Finland, the time has come to look at the current Prog scene in their southern neighbour, Denmark.
Similarly to other countries in the world at the time, the origins of Prog in Denmark are rooted in the late ’60s and early ’70s, when bands such Steppeulvene, Ache, Alrune Rod, Blue Sun, Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe, Culpeper’s Orchard, Day of Phoenix, Dr. Dopo Jam, Fleur De Lis, Hair, Maxwells, The Old Man and the Sea, Secret Oyster, Pan, Young Flowers emerged.
Most of groups were active for a short period of time, but the seed was planted and years later—today, we have many great bands that are part of the Danish, but also worldwide, Prog scene.
Below is the list of 20 Danish Prog bands that are active today who, in our opinion, are the best representatives of their home country.
Originally formed by guitarist Michael Kammeyer in 2002, Pyramaze came out of the gate with the solid and classic Lance King fronted releases of Melancholy Beast (2004) and Legend of the Bone Carver (2006). The band parted ways with Lance in 2006 and Matt Barlow (Iced Earth, Ashes of Aries) joined as the new frontman in 2007, albeit only to see the release of Immortal (2008). Pyramaze‘s new, fifth studio album is titled Contingent.
Within the last 11 years, the brothers Lars and Dennis Hansen from Aarhus have made a remarkable career in a curious and somewhat unintelligible scene. Releases such as Six Silver Bullets, Was Kommunikation? and … In Preparation of Machines to Fall were received with great interest by the media and audiences around the world, while in Denmark word was spread of the noise duo’s very alternative music.
Wäldchengarten’s debut album, Was Kommunikation?, released as a 10” at the end of 2000, was followed up by Six Silver Bullets 7” shortly before their first European tour in the Fall of 2001. The band put a few releases since then.
This one feels as a cheat, as many of the members of the band come from Sweden, but officially Øresund Space Collective are “registered” in Copenhagen.
The band was formed in April 2004. It started off as a collective of Danish, Swedish and American musicians that got together as often as possible for free form improvised Space Prog Rock music. The flavour of the music is different with each session. The jams can often combine complex interplay between guitar and synthesizer as well intense drumming and bass playing. ØSC released countless studio and live albums.
Chamber pop renegade Kim Nyberg, better known as Afenginn, writes in big, bold colors, in structures with symphonic ambition. Even at his most epic, however, he circles back to the earthy starting points, the odd meters and sonorous modes, the eccentric intensity, of his roots. Since 2004, and the release of the Retrograd album, Afenginn released six studio albums in total.
Causa Sui consists of Jakob Skøtt, Jonas Munk, Rasmus Rasmussen and Jess Kahr, and have released ten albums since 2005. The trilogy set Summer Sessions that saw the band move away from the heavy-psych of their two first albums to more abstract, instrumental sounds that owes as much to electric Miles Davis or Can as to american stoner-rock.
Causa Sui‘s sound has been described as the sound of a giant wave rolling up through the last four decades of rock.
Under Byen Under Byen (Danish for “Below the City”) was formed in 1995. The group is known for producing their own unorthodox interpretation of rock. They rarely use guitars. Instead their soundscape is dominated by piano, cello, violin, electrically distorted saw, organ, drums and percussion. A somewhat different vein of rock (or pop) spiced up with jazzy, folky and classical elements. An important part of the music are also the poetic Danish lyrics which are presented to the listener by female vocals.
Under Byen released six studio albums and four EP releases since 1997.
Family Underground is experimental rock/free form duo from Copenhagen, Denmark, formed in 2000. The band blends experimental rock with various different styles including ambient, electronica, psychedelia. They have released seven albums since 2004.
Papir is a three-piece from Copenhagen who has played together for years under various names while slowly, but surely, perfecting their unique brand of semi-improvisational psychedelic rock. Based around Christoffer Brøchmanns complex and powerful drumming Papir creates instrumental journeys – organic structures of sound that move forward with the hypnotic groove of Can or electric Miles Davis through euphoric peaks, thunderous riffs and beautiful cosmic dronescapes.
The band put out five studio albums, latest being 2014′s IIII.
Taylor’s Universe is an internationally acclaimed Danish studio project, formed in 1993 by multi-instrumentalist Robin C Taylor. The group has featured many prominent players through the years – especially veteran, Karsten Vogel, of Burnin Red Ivanhoe and Secret Oyster fame. If ’70s progressive jazz-rock ever had its traditions, Taylor’s Universe is a contemporary continuation! The group has released numerous studio, live and compilation albums.
Vola is possibly one of the most interesting bands that emerged from Denmark in the recent years. With the mixture of ’70s progressive rock, modern day electronica, industrial and extreme metal, the band is likely to please Prog fans, both old and new.
Copenhagen-based Town Portal is an instrumental experimental post/math rock/metal trio formed in 2009 from members of Shelflife (among them guitarists Christian Ankerstjerne and Jeppe Nielsson and bass player Morten Nielsen) that was active in 2007-2008. Band members come from different musical backgrounds but they cite Meshuggah as one of their common influences (mainly in the rhythm and groove construction) and they should appeal to fans of unconventional math/post rock/metal.
Defecto was formed in 2011 by singer and guitars Nicklas Sonne, with tendency to channel his melodic and progressive metal influences. Defecto‘s music brings modern songs with catchy choruses, massive riffs, blazing solos and grandiose symphony, while still maintaining an old-school feel.
Wuthering Heights was formed in 1989 by guitarist and songwriter Erik Ravn, who is the only musician to remain through all of the band’s incarnations. The band’s unique brand of heavy metal is a melting pot of musical influences, pulling together the progressive ambition of the 1970s Progressive Rock with the high energy and melodic sensibility of the 1980s Speed Metal, all tinted with a heavy dose of traditional Folk music.
Sky Architects was formed in 2006. Inspired by Metal, Pop, Progressive, Post-Rock, Jazz and Classical, the band offers quite an interesting mixture of different styles with their music.
The name Royal Hunt appeared for the first time in 1989; a brainchild of Andre Andersen (main songwriter in the band) this outfit was created in order to combine basic values of Classic Rock with progressive, current musical elements. Today, after selling around 1.7 million albums and touring the world numerous times, the band’s still going strong… The band released 13 studio albums since 1992, the latest being Devil’s Dozen from 2015.
Theory was formed in 2011 by guitarist Odin L. Madsen and drummer Martin Kilic. The band plays catchy Progressive Heavy Metal inspired by artists such as Dream Theater, Nevermore and Symphony X with lots of shredding, advanced rhythm sections & powerful vocals.
Anubis Gate was founded in 2001 by Jesper M. Jensen and Morten Sørensen under the name Seven Powers. A demo CD of instrumentals was made, but it wasn’t until 2003 when they found vocalist Torben Askholm that things really started to take shape. Over the years, the band has had a fair share of departures; the current line-up, beside Sørensen, includes Henrik Fevre, Kim Olesen and Michael Bodin. The band’s put six studio albums since then.
Prior to his solo career Finn Zierler was/is the composer, lyricist, producer, virtuose keyboard player and founder of the acclaimed progressive metal act Beyond Twilight. Known for his complex compositions and technical abilities, varying his musical style throughout his career, incorporating elements of cinematic horror, progressive metal, classical, jazz, bolero, waltz amongst others into his music Zierler has earned world wide critical praise and his diversity has led him to create music that is often difficult to categorize as anything else than Zierler.
For the last few years award winning metal quartet Cold Night For Alligators have been making a name for themselves and catching the attention of fans with their energetic and positive live show. The band has played all over Denmark as well as in the UK, Belgium and Norway, always trying to give the audience the greatest experience possible. Although not looking like the stereotypical long haired, leather wearing metal band, make no mistake Cold Night For Alligators is all about heavy. Their music is aggressive, highly technical, melodic and has plenty of groove.
Annominus was formed in 2009 with a goal of creating a musical universe in line with their favorite bands from the rock- and metal scene. The intention was not to come up with a revolutionary new sound, but to take the best of what they knew and loved, and adding their own personal touch.