20 Best French Prog Bands

20 Best French Prog Bands

We have recently started a series of articles which cover the Prog scene worldwide, thus we have looked at Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and we did a scene report of Iceland.

Moving south, we are landing in France, a country that has always been a big part of the world Prog scene, and where many great bands emerged from in the past.

In this post we are looking at the bands that are still actively making and releasing new music. Here are 20 best prog bands from France in our opinion.

Alcest

Alcest’s sound over the years has drastically changed. The band that emerged in 1999 as a project by multi-instrumentalist Neige started as a black metal band, just to make a progress towards different styles. Alcest today is stylistically very diverse. The group put out five studio albums; the most recent being last year’s Kodama.

Demians

Demians are the brainchild of French multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Chapel. He is the only member of the band, although for the live purposes he hired musicians to perform shows in Europe. They played with bands as diverse as Anathema, Oceansize or Jonathan Davis. The latest album is last year’s Battles.

Richard Pinhas

French guitarist Richard Pinhas led the group Heldon from 1974 to 1978, releasing seven albums with them. Pinhas’ solo work covers a lot of ground. Since 1977 he released 19 studio albums, the latest being this year’s Reverse.

Lazuli

Lazuli were formed in 1998 and in almost 20 years the band from Gard released six studio albums. In their music, Lazuli do a relaxed blend of prog rock (classic, retro and modern spots altogether, but mostly the last two), instrumental songs and alternative/warm world music—the edge between pop and rock being, mostly, a good one.

Ange

Formed in Belfort in 1969, Ange are one of the first progressive rock bands emerged from France. The group’s debut album, Caricatures, was released in 1972. Ange released 23 studio albums in total, and numerous live, compilation and single releases.

Nemo

Nemo (not to be confused with another French band of the same name that was active in ‘70s) emerged in 1999 and over the course of 18 years, the group put out nine great studio albums. Their latest studio full-length is 2015’s Coma.

Aqua Nebula Oscillator

ANO was formed in 1999 by David Sphaèros, and the band has released five studio records, with their latest being 2015’s Friday the 13th. They play psychedelic rock with plenty of different influences, including prog.

Hacride

Hacride formed in Poitiers in 2001, and for more than 15 years every album of the French crew has represented a move forward, one more step towards musical emancipation. From indie ‘90s metal to the syncopated grooves of the early ‘00s, the progressive extreme metal elements that characterized the band have progressively merged into one entity: Hacride is the legitimate son of a different and ingenious generation of extreme modern music.

Adagio

Adagio was founded by guitarist Stéphan Forté in 2001 with the worldwide release of the first album Sanctus Ignis. This neoclassical progressive release soon establish Adagio as a strong contender for the “Best newcoming progressive metal act” title. The group went on to release three more albums, and are about to launch their fifth, long-awaited release Life.

Dirge

Dirge is a Parisian band founded in 1994. From the industrial metal genre that exploded in the first part of the ‘90s, the band slowly evolved towards more atmospheric sounds and progressive structures, related to the post-metal scene. After three demo releases, the band put out six studio albums from 1998 to 2014.

Jack Dupon

Since 2006, Jack Dupon went on to release five studio albums. Jack Dupon is primarily a live band communicating a lot through music, but also by their personal universe which really comes through at performances. This adds a higher human dimension, which is mostly felt by the public. An opportunity then appears: let experimental music emerge from the shadows, in order to discover a new landscape remaining accessible to everyone. And this perhaps corresponds to an expectation, even a desire to offer an alternative to formatted music.

Mörglbl

Led by guitarist extraordinaire Christophe Godin as well as the phenomenal Ivan Rougny on bass, Mörglbl gained an international reputation with the release of their two first albums in 1998 and 1999. The group that celebrates two decades this year released six studio albums.

Jazzcomputer.org

Yves Potin started playing guitar while Dark side of the Moon, Close to the Edge and Klaus Schulze‘s Timewind were just released, widely opening new musical territories. Jazz was also like a revelation to him, especially the fusion styles with Weather Report and Scott Henderson.

The music of Jazzcomputer.org is an even mixture of soaring ambient synthesizers, traditional Eastern instrumentation, and guitar and other instruments played in an improvisational jazz-style. The project released ten studio albums, the most recent being 2016’s Waters.

Jean-Luc Ponty

Jean-Luc Ponty isn’t only a virtuoso violinist but also one of the greatest Fusion composers who blended different genres with great success and a pioneer of the electric violin, his solo works include very different albums as the brilliant and almost symphonic Aurora or the less inspired Afro Jazz oriented Tchokola, in other words not only a prolific but also a very eclectic and talented Progressive musician. Ponty has collaborated with many bands over the years including Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa, Jon Anderson.

Spheric Universe Experience

Progressive metallers Spheric Universe Experience have been around since 1999. The group mission to bring toghether technical, melodic progressive metal, in the vein of bands such Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Symphony X and Fates Warning, but filled with an incredible intensity and an original identity of their own.

 

Thierry Zaboitzeff

Composer and multi-instrumentalist, one of the members of Art Zoyd from 1971 till 1997, Thierry Zaboitzeff writes nowadays for dance, theater, multimedia events and movies, as well as for his own projects and performances. In the period from 1997 until 2017, Zaboitzeff has released 17 albums which are situated somewhere amongst the genres of symphonic rock, electronic music, and acoustic music.

Magma

Led by classically trained drummer Christian Vander, the Paris-based Magma have been, in their way, perhaps the ultimate progressive rock group; while other artists have achieved greater commercial success and critical acclaim, Magma have typified the many ambitions and excesses of the genre that won them as many detractors as fans, even going so far as to invent their own lyrical and musical language in order to bring their unique vision to life. With 12 studio albums released since 1970, Magma is one of the greatest prog groups emerged from France.

Blut Aus Nord

Blut Aus Nord, unlike many bands in the European death metal/black metal scene, do not govern by brute force alone; while they can be loud, dissonant, intense, and forceful, they are also moody, darkly haunting, and relatively melodic. Atmospherics are quite important to Blut Aus Nord, who thrive on an eerie, gloomy sort of ambience. Blut Aus Nord bring an interesting variety of influences to their work — some metal, some prog, some industrial, some goth. The band has frequently been compared to Neurosis, and other influences (either direct or indirect) range from Cradle of Filth and Godflesh to Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke, and the infamous Slayer.

6:33

Paris, France based act 6:33 was conceived in 2010 featuring an eclectic and at times avant-garde style akin to adventurous artists such as Devin Townsend, Diablo Swing Orchestra and Mr. Bungle.

Gojira

Originating from the town of Bayonne on France’s southernmost Atlantic Ocean coastline, Gojira recorded the first in a sequence of almost yearly demos in 1996, gradually honing their sound until the year 2000, when band members Joe Duplantier (vocals/guitar),  Christian Andreu (guitar), Jean-Michel Labadie (bass), and Mario Duplantier (drums), felt ready to record their first album, Terra Incognita, relying solely on their own devices. And despite its independent status, the aptly named LP made significant waves with its unpredictable blend of death, thrash, groove, progressive, and math metal — recalling bands as diverse as Pantera, Meshuggah, Suffocation, and Sepultura. The band released seven studio albums; the latest being last year’s Magma.

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