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Progressive metal

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Progressive metal

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Progressive metal
Stylistic origins: Heavy metal, Progressive rock, Jazz/Fusion, Hard rock, New wave
Cultural origins: 1970s, United States
Typical instruments: Electric guitar - Bass guitar - Drums & Percussions - Keyboards
Mainstream popularity: Popular among heavy metal music fans
Other topics
Timeline of heavy metal

Progressive metal (often shortened to prog, or prog metal when differentiating from progressive rock) is a genre of heavy metal music which shares traits with progressive rock including use of complex compositional structures, odd time signatures, and intricate instrumental playing. The high level of musical proficiency is often combined with a lyrical counterpart in the form of epic textual concepts, resulting in lengthy songs and concept albums. As a result of these factors, progressive metal is rarely heard on mainstream radio and video programs.



The origins of progressive metal can be traced back to progressive rock acts of the 1960s and '70s such as Yes, Queen, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Genesis and Rush. However, progressive metal did not develop into a genre of its own until the mid-1980s. Acts such as Fates Warning, Queensr˙che and Dream Theater took elements of these progressive rock groups – primarily the instrumentation and compositional structure of songs – and merged them with heavy metal characteristics attributed to bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Death, and Iron Maiden. The result could be described as a progressive rock mentality with heavy metal sounds.

The genre received mainstream exposure in the early 1990s when Queensr˙che's "Silent Lucidity" (from 1990's Empire) became a radio and MTV hit. It was not a typical progressive metal song, but nonetheless it opened Queensr˙che's music to a whole new legion of fans, which in turn had an effect on the popularity of other progressive metal bands of the time. In 1993, Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under" (from 1992's Images and Words) became popular on radio and MTV. It is a more typical progressive metal song than "Silent Lucidity", but still more accurately described as straight heavy metal.

Today progressive metal thrives and is at its most popular. Leading the way is Dream Theater who have gained in popularity over the years. They now sell out shows and have many instructional videos and side projects. They have influenced and helped the evolution of the genre. Much of the progressive metal that has come out in their wake has had a very similar sound (Vanden Plas, Threshold). On the other hand, in the true spirit of progressive music there have been some unique bands to emerge from the growth in popularity of the genre.

Emerging in the 90's bands like Pain of Salvation, Opeth, Ayreon, and Symphony X each inadverenly re-invented the wheel with their styles, straying from the typically traditional progmetal sounds of Dream Theater and 1990's Fates Warning into almost their own band specific genres.

Also important to the development of progressive metal was the idea of "technical" metal that arose almost simultaneously in the 80's, having a big impact on bands to come. At the forefront were bands like Watchtower, Atheist and Cynic showing of their technical skills in time signature and guitar playing. But these bands tended to be much more heavy metal based than focused in progressive metal, however this kind of playing style went on to become conducive to the progressive metal genre.

Currently progressive metal stands on the principle of using all the past traits associated with it. While many bands still look back to other rock bands for inspiration, main influences on bands of the progressive metal genre have belonged to its pioneers. Bands like Sun Caged and Circus Maximus show heavy influence of both traditional progressive metal and several of the 1990's bands. Bands like Dark Suns look to the influences of Opeth, Pain of Salvation and Anathema to find their own interesting sound.


Progressive metal can be broken down into countless sub-genres corresponding to certain other styles of music that have influenced progressive metal groups. For example, two bands that are commonly identified as progressive metal, King's X and Opeth, are at opposite ends of the sonic spectrum to one another. King's X are greatly influenced by softer mainstream rock and grunge. Paradoxically, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament once said, "King's X invented grunge," meaning that they influenced a genre which had influenced them. Opeth's growling vocals and heavy guitars (liberally intermixed with gothic-evocative acoustic passages) often see them cited as death metal.

Classical and symphonic music have also had a significant impact on sections of the progressive metal genre, with bands such as Symphony X and Shadow Gallery fusing traditional progressive metal with a complexity and grandeur usually found in classical compositions. Similarly, bands such as Liquid Tension Experiment and Planet X have a jazz influence, with extended solo sections that often feature "trading solos". Furthermore, Liquid Tension Experiment exhibits an improvisational element that is rare in heavy metal, usually a very structured genre. Another important band, Cynic, fused progressive metal, death metal, and jazz/fusion in a very diverse and unique work known as Focus.

Influential and important artists

Black Sun
Devin Townsend
Dream Theater
Fates Warning
Into Eternity
King's X
Liquid Tension Experiment
Mercyful Fate
Pagan's Mind
Pain of Salvation
Shadow Gallery
Symphony X
Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Vanden Plas

See also

External links

Heavy metal
Black metal - Death metal - Doom metal - Folk metal - Glam metal - Gothic metal - Grindcore - Industrial metal - Neo-classical metal - Power metal - Progressive metal - Symphonic metal - Thrash metal
Other topics
Fashion - History

Home | Up | Timeline of progressive rock | Afro prog | Progressive metal | Cprog | Krautrock | Space rock

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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