As promised, I commit to it. Is Dream Theater, an undefeated ghoul of prog arena, on its knees? The band is set to release brand new self-titled album on September 24th and Prog Sphere was one of the first to have it featured as streaming.
While the topic is still hot (and it’s going to be for quite some time), it felt right to come up with a special that shows where actually this album stands comparing with some of other “flagships” released in 2013. Maybe “compare” is not a right word to use, as there are 5 progressive albums selected by yours truly that are slightly topping the NYC proggers. Shall we begin?
I am not going to make any lists in here, it’s always ungrateful doing so, methinks. Instead I’ll just give a space to five albums that can beat-the-sh*t-out-of new Dream Theater. Oh gosh, I shouldn’t be that harsh.
Progressive rock operas, and rock operas in global, do not seem to be a thing (anymore) nowadays. Jeremias is described as a progressive rock opera for 21st century. If this description makes a sour smile on your face, make sure to remove it immediately, because this album brings badly needed excitement and inventiveness on a dull progressive metal scene, while not risking anything. This is a bombastic, symphonic straight hitter that doesn’t suffer of any pre-configurations. Its joker is that you actually didn’t expect it and when it hits you once, it already wins all over you. You can listen to the album here.
The third album by Norwegians sees the band evolving rapidly, becoming one of the leaders of (if-that-exists) new wave progressive metal bands. In general, I dismiss anything labeled with “new wave”, but this is not to be considered a genre label, but to show that progressive metal in 2013 knows how to be different. And that’s what Leprous serve with Coal. Organic, non-predictive sound that speaks a lot within eight numbers the album is comprised of.
Many will say that it’s easy to produce a great album when you have a great line-up around. Well, that’s not always true. Alessandro Bertoni gathered great line-up, that’s true. Brett Garsed, Ric Fierabracci and Virgil Donati are well known to the broad prog and jazz masses, and Bertoni had definitely a tough task to justify the attention he received. Keystone is a prog-fusion album that is quite focused on the subject. Fully instrumental, it’s an album that puts melody and groove in a mix that is kind of unconventional for this genre. Therefore, it’s positively different. And that makes it stands out. Listen to the album at this location.
UK progressive rockers are back with their third album and their story is quite similar with the Leprous story. Though, they walk the (not so much) different roads, these bands are colliding in terms of innovation and prowess to experiment and bring something unusual. The Mountain is a record that is heavily grounded in 70′s progressive rock, but Haken established their own sound already with previous two albums and with the new one they are transforming to a leading prog force.
This Israeli band emerged on the rocks of already established Amaseffer and Reign of the Architect, employing the band members from this two bands. Although it would be unfair to label them as progressive metal strictly, they are largely based on the mentioned genre expanded by avant-garde sound, what is setting them on a whole new level. Plenty of interesting vocal harmonies, vocals coming all the way from cleans to growls and all that heavily spiced with precise rhythm section and astonishing guitarwork of Yuval Kramer. Stream it here.
Besides these five albums, there are lot more of them that maybe deserved to be found here. I will mention new albums from Virgil Donati, Maschine, Scale the Summit, Volto!, etc.
To summarize, it’s clear that none of these albums will be welcomed as Dream Theater‘s Dream Theater, but just so you know – there is a lot more going on under the surface.