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Anteater 10-15-2009 08:13 PM

Anteater Presents: An Essential Guide To Modern Prog.
Anteater Presents:
An 11+ Album Guide to Modern Progressive Rock & Metal

Greetings and salutations readers and forumers! Or, to be more specific, welcome to my (AKA Anteater's) modern guide to some of the more interesting highlights of ‘modern progressive rock’, a phrase that generally gets the average music enthusiast say something like this if brought up in conversation:

In order for everyone to avoid the idiocy that the picture above represents, I want you guys to realize that there are a good many hard working and worthwhile artists and groups out there in progressive rock/metal beyond The Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree, Muse and Coheed & Cambria, etc. who are worth a few minutes of your oh-so precious time and attention, obscure or not.

But then again, that's why I decided to do this guide in the first place: To save you folks the trouble of wading through all the shit yourselves!

The following 10 or so reviews here will be fleshing out some of the more interesting sounds and ideas, from the early 90's up til today, that have been cultivated in today's oversaturated & generally lame progressive rock & metal scenes, a musical collective where far too many bands who actually manage to get their names out there (such as Dream Theater, IQ , Pendragon, Marillion, etc.) happen to be rather underwhelming and generic to people who are into music for more than just the technicality and fandom that many such bands proliferate.

In conclusion, lets stretch out our tentacles, keep our YouTube and/or Spotify handy, and enjoy the ride as I lay out a few guideposts for you guys to reference in your quests for prog. rock that doesn’t suck total assballs!

PS: Don't forget to download the compilation below!


Essential Modern Prog. Compilation & Track List


1. Big Big Train - Evening Star (4:52)
2. Ritual - Waiting By The Bridge (4:40)
3. Advent - Your Healing Hand (8:39)
4. Mansun - Serotonin (2:33)
5. The Gourishankar - The Inexpressible Chagrin (6:56)
6. Frost* - Black Light Machine (10:07)
7. Moonlight - My own words (3:59)
8. Sigh - A Sunset Song (6:48)
9. Ozric Tentacles - Vita Voom (4:47)
10. Thieves' Kitchen - Om Tare (7:44)
11. King Crimson - Walking On Air (4:38)


Eleven Progressive Guidepost Reviews


Going Overtime: Further Reading For The Modern Proggie

Anteater 10-15-2009 08:15 PM


Advent – Cantus Firmus (2006)

1. GK Contramundum (2:00)
2. Awaiting the Call. (5:10)
3. Parenting Parents (6:45)
4. Utter Once Her Name (5:30)
5. Remembering When (4:00)
6. Ramblin' Sailor (18:14)
7. Your Healing Hand (8:18)
8. Firmus Finale (4:40)
9. Rear View Mirror (3:34)
10. Alison Waits (A Ghost Story) (10:40)

New Jersey is not generally the first place that comes to mind when you think of progressive rock. Hell, its not a place that comes to mind for a whole lot of other things either. Imagine my surprise then that one of the most interesting standout bands working within the genre today call the place their home, a lineup that combine some of the cooler medieval stylings of Gentle Giant with the Baroque-classically influenced Procol Harum together under the moniker known as Advent.

Yes, I just compared this group to two prominent progressive rock bands from the past, but remember that ALL bands are influenced by artists, ideas, and styles from the past, regardless of the genre. In progressive rock’s case however, this is usually a curse and a turn-off to those who are looking for something meaty in a genre market that’s oversaturated with new releases every year.

Advent, thankfully, avoid many of the pitfalls that make a lot of modern progressive rock and metal rather boorish for two main reasons:

1. The technicality a lot of prog. bands seem to revel in is eschewed in favor of instrumental eclecticism and ambience. Flute, piano and a light symphonic wash provide often take center stage, building a delicious sense of atmosphere that remains engaging, yet they never forget the liquid guitar picking and pulsating basslines that make up their sonic foundation.

2. Outstanding vocals. Although a fair amount of progressive rock bands from the late 70’s and onward have adopted, or atleast taken a stab at, Gentle Giant’s trademark point-counterpoint vocal delivery, most of these groups, such as Spock’s Beard and Salmon, treat it as a gimmick and throw it about randomly on only one or two songs. Advent, however, doesn’t pull any punches. When they sing, you can expect point-counterpoint for sure in almost every track that isn’t purely instrumental.

Cantus Firmus, when all is said and done, is the splendid result of people playing what they love concisely yet with a sense of adventure and a grand vision of sailing the big blue sea. And most importantly of all, it stands out despite its flaws, which is really all that matters in this kind of genre. They're hella good live too!

Anteater 10-15-2009 08:24 PM


Mansun – Six (1998)

1. Six (8:07)
2. Negative (4:21)
3. Shotgun (6:38)
4. Inverse Midas (1:44)
5. Anti Everything (2:25)
6. Fall Out (3:47)
7. Serotonin (2:33)
8. Cancer (9:31)
9. Witness To A Murder (Part Two) (3:06)
10. Television (8:21)
11. Special / Blown It (Delete As Appropriate) (5:32)
12. Legacy (6:33)
13. Being A Girl (7:59)

Once upon a time in the U.K., when the Blur – Oasis war was in its death throes and the release of Radiohead’s OK Computer was the biggest thing since sliced potatoes, a relatively successful but little known British alternative/Brit-pop act named Mansun released their sophomore album with blood in their hearts and bolts of creative lightning sizzling in their brains….but the world didn’t change at all. Pretty odd really, especially considering the fact that they had hit number 1 on the charts before with 1997’s Attack of the Grey Lantern. But, then again, nobody said that progressive rock had to be popular in order to kick ass right?

Simply put, Mansun's sophomore album Six was the sort of album that could have, possibly single-handedly even, revived progressive rock in the mainstream half a decade before groups such as The Mars Volta or Coheed and Cambria started selling out stadiums. It’s got the chops, the uncommercial song structures, the killer distortion, the electronic influences, the brilliant as hell production values...all the qualities that are necessary if you want a chance in hell in attempting to make a style like progressive rock work in a modern musical environment. Furthermore, this was the sound of a band, who could have easily done a pedestrian chart-smasher follow up to their debut without too much effort, trying to reach out and evolve themselves in a drastic way most groups never have the balls to attempt.

Within a minute or so of listening through the opening title track, you know this is going to be a weird trip, and it’s an attractive example of Mansun’s focused yet deliciously fragmented approach to songwriting. The mini-epic jumps between contrasting mood and tempo over the course of its 8 minute run with little rhyme or reason, shifting often but never treading obnoxious waters in the process.

Still, Six isn’t all insanity and pretentiousness. Tracks such as ‘Negative’ and ‘Serotonin’ are refreshingly catchy and straightforward in all the right places, single-length escapades that cut their hooks as close to the bone as you can go, while instrumental break ‘Witness To A Murder’ brings in opera of all things for extra album flavor. The overall result is an album that possesses a rock solid balance between the crazy experimental 6-8 minute suites and the shorter 2-4 minute songs that could be played on radio, and this is something a lot of progressive rock bands in both the past and present seem to fall all over themselves about.

For fans of The Mars Volta, Pink Floyd, punk music, Radiohead, etc, this is a work you will end up loving unconditionally. I also highly recommend it to anyone who is curious at hearing a cult classic that is far, far more than the sum of its eclectic parts.

Terrible Lizard 10-15-2009 09:51 PM

Yeah. . . I should work on my thread.

gunnels 10-16-2009 12:23 AM

I've heard three (all thanks to you) and parts of the Frost* album (really wasn't my thing).
Downloading the comp now!

Anteater 10-16-2009 07:29 PM


Ozric Tentacles – Jurassic Shift (1993)

1. Sunhair (5:43)
2. Stretchy (6:51)
3. Feng Shui (10:24)
4. Half Light in Thillai (5:35)
5. Jurassic Shift (11:05)
6. Petranodon (5:40)
7. Train Oasis (2:45)
8. Vita Voom (4:48)


...And all the orchard trees blossomed forth in strange colours, and through the stony soil of the yard and adjacent pasturage there sprang up a bizarre growth which only a botanist could connect with the proper flora of the region. No sane wholesome colours were anywhere to be seen except in the green grass and leafage; but everywhere were those hectic and prismatic variants of some diseased, underlying primary tone without a place among the' known tints of earth.

- H.P. Lovecraft
The Colour Out Of Space
When you listen to your favorite genre of music, a song you hold close to your soul, or see the band or artist you enjoy the most at a live show, what kinds of sensations do you experience?

Do your nerves tingle, moved to attention by the cascading sounds your little mind perceives? Or perhaps your emotions are touched, the beats stimulating the oozings of memory and feeling that make you who you are.

When it comes to the Ozric Tentacles and myself, I neither feel nor move. Rather, I close my eyes and see colors. And not just any nameable shade or tincture, but sharp bleeding brightnesses that simply cannot be categorized within the confines of human language.

Such is the power of this band for me, an instrumental group who bring about a powerful timbre in their playing that blends the best of psychedelia, space rock, dub, house, trance, prog. and even reggae into a cocktail that only gets better the longer you sip, and 1993's Jurassic Shift is where I bought my flagon.

This particular work, the only one within the Ozrics somewhat prolific discography that ended up charting on U.K. charts back in the early 90's, represents the band at their most mature and accessible. Proggers will get a kick out of the elastic track structures and hypnotic keyboards, as well as the epic track lengths that mark both "Feng Shui' and the title piece as this record's set of lungs, yet even so there a variety of hooks and layers to keep even the casual listener engaged.

Throughout the shorter pieces on the album, a contrast between Ozrics' progressive guitar-driven tendencies ('Sunhair', 'Vita Voom') and their electronic/dub groovings ('Stretchy', 'Pteranodon') should be readily noticed and appreciated by people who are turned off by epic track lengths. It's duality that later Ozric Tentacles' albums would not have, but on Jurassic Shift such arrangement makes the album flow about as perfect and balanced as you can get.

Modern progressive bands really need to take a few notes from the Ozrics; not only are they quite complex and rocking here, but there's a compulsiveness and liquidity that is in unfortunate short supply within both the prog. rock and metal schools of thought today. In a sense, this is the ideal antidote to the poison that are boring shred fests.

So take heed children. When you go treading on toadstools in the depths of a forest, these are the guys to have on repeat.

Guybrush 10-18-2009 03:17 AM

Lovely thread with really well-written reviews! All three have so far been a joy to read and the bands sound good too.

I got me some Ozrics already, but I'm definetly gonna look more into Advent and Mansun! Looking forward to the rest. :)

By the way :

Although there are no numbers along the X axis, looking at this chart, one could think that ELP and Gentle Giant are the greatest prog bands ever! Nice graph :p:

zeppy111 10-18-2009 03:28 AM

Really great thread already, looking forward to the rest of the reviews. Listening to the Mansun album as we speak. Sounding good! Gonna try find the other two now.

Great write-ups.

Molecules 10-18-2009 05:36 AM

Mansun, brilliant, 'Six' is one of my faves. Plus i have friend in Cheshire (Mansun's place of origin) who used to erm 'hang out' with Paul Draper and his circle as a teenager. Wild!

Arya Stark 10-18-2009 10:18 AM

So far, I haven't thoroughly enjoyed any of these songs, but the reviews are really well written.

Well done, Capernicus. ^_^

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