Album Reviews

Issue 2014-037

Various Artists - Progstravaganza XIX

Various Artists - Progstravaganza XIX: Convergence
Country of Origin: various
Format: download
Record Label: Prog Sphere Promotions
Catalogue #: n/a
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 5:12:05
Info: Progstravaganza
Samples: Click Here
This is the sixth of the Progstravaganza compilations to get the DPRP treatment. Created four years ago by Prog-Sphere - a website and agency – this series aims to help promote up-and-coming bands from around the world. The compilation is accompanied by the official Progstravaganza website where all the artists have profiles plus interviews and reviews of their releases. As before, the aim of this "review" is not to provide a detailed analysis of each track but a brief comment to signpost songs which may be worth further investigation.

With such a broad compilation, we have provided four differing viewpoints. Joining Andy Read, Roger Trenwith and André de Boer, we have DPRP's Basil Francis giving his view on each song. You can stream individual tracks of interest from the Progstravaganza 19 Bandcamp page whilst you read through the comments. You can also download the entire "album" via Bandcamp in the usual different audio formats under the "pay what you want" format.

1. David Maxim Micic - Smile (9:33)
Roger Trenwith (RT) An unfortunate start to proceedings that almost put me off completely. A hideous, shapeless racket defined by the worst kind of OTT metal screaming vox it has been my displeasure to hear in many a satanic moon. No doubt some of you will take that as a recommendation.
Basil Francis (BF) Prog-death-sympho-metal from the country that produced A Serbian Film. Over its nine-and-a-half minute length, this track encounters several complete makeovers. Not a wholly consistent piece, but worth listening to for its sheer unpredictability.
Andy Read (AR) There are a dozen great ideas in this song and a dozen which should never be tried again. The female screamo section and the opera is embarrassing.
André de Boer (AdB) Quite nice, heavy-ish intro buggered up by evil, frightful screaming.

2. Eyot - How Shall the Dust Storm Start? (6:51)
RT After that first one anything would be a relief but this is actually rather good. Funky, piano-led, art rock that progresses from near ambient beginnings, gently upping the ante with some intricate interplay between the piano and the guitar. Nice.
BF A brisk instrumental piece with jazz fusion sensibilities in alternating time signatures of 9/8 and 10/8. Easy to unwind to and very kind on the ear. Eyot is also Serbian and is the only group here to have been previously featured on a Progstravaganza compilation
AR Piano-led jazzy instrumental, which meanders inoffensively as such songs tend to do.
AdB Easy-going instrumental which does not lead to an explosion but nicely meanders along.

3. 2KX - Prometheus (17:58)
RT Only three tracks in and here's the first epic. There can't be many bands led by female keyboard virtuosos, but 2KX are one such, producing a hard-driving collision between Genesis, Edgar Winter and ELP, and Scandi-prog. Not bad, but gets far too histrionic as it meanders along aimlessly. Needs severely editing.
BF From the very get-go, this instrumental epic seems to offer something different. One gets the feeling they're being taken on a musical journey with no idea of the destination. However, the sedate pace of this piece is likely to cause the listener to switch off before the halfway point. Mercifully, the action starts to kick off afterwards, and the whole thing comes to a triumphant close. A surprisingly captivating instrumental, given its length.
AR The only reason this is 18 minutes long is to ensure it has included every 80s Prog cliché possible. Regressive.
AdB Prometheus starts bombastic, continues pondering, classic-like instrumentally and ends with a very long, fantastic and impressive load of keyboard noise!

4. Murky Red - Black Beast Rising (5:10)
RT About the only positive thing I can think of saying about this is that it is not, as the band name might suggest, a prog metal barbed-wire gargler. Instead it goes for a dreary Pink Floyd clone effect. Entirely forgettable, although Airbag fans would love it. Only they will have the stamina to stay awake for long enough.
BF Thirty five minutes in and we're only on track four. Next up is a spacey concoction tainted by the vocalist, who sings in English with a Belgian accent. The Gilmourian guitar solo towards the end makes up for this a bit, but in the end it ain't for me, as there is too little going on.
AR If you like your Prog to have progressed since the 80s then avoid this. If you like Airbag, give it a go.
AdB Belgian melodic Floyd-styled song that sounds great although not renewing.

5. Brieg Guerveno - Al Liver (5:31)
RT "Al Liver" he a mate of Bob Kidney? Soz, couldn't resist that. Singing in Breton, Brieg Guerveno sounds like the sort of indie band you'd find halfway down a bill headlined by Foo Fighters. Next.
BF I'll admit, I'd never even heard of the Breton language before listening to this song. Suddenly, a whole track sung in this rarely heard tongue! Unfortunately, Celtic dialects aside, there's nothing particularly interesting about this metal tune until very near the end when Guerveno breaks out a fast-paced time signature change.
AR Pub rock with fiddle sung in the "severely endangered" Breton language, of which only about 30,000 people use on a daily basis. Wrong compilation.
AdB Sung in Breton, this is not the only amazing element of this intriguing progressive song that feels to hear more.

6. Quiet! - Florist (7:13)
RT The exclamation mark in opposition to the band name and the track title make me think this lot should be a Situationist collective aping Wire moves. Instead this Vancouver band, who do indeed list Wire as an influence along with Gabriel-era Genesis (never!) and Amon Düül II (different, at least) and others, present us with a slice of psychedelic whimsy that sounds like Love rehearsing with the Incredible String Band. Too long and let down by weak vocals.
BF Nice little psychedelic ditty sourced from Canada. The subtle addition of the flute makes sure that the proceedings feel as light as air. The instrumental segment is a lot of fun indeed.
AR From the debut album, 'Librarian'? Pleasant, lightweight instrumentation. The out-of-tune vocalist blocks a repeat listen.
AdB A quiet song indeed, with flute, a great little jazz and mesmerising vocals.

7. Kindler - Shifting Ground (5:25)
RT Powerful prog metal (possibly, I'll let an expert decide) with Son of Geddy on nails-down-a-blackboard vocals. Sets my teeth on edge.
BF Kindler is quite noisy. I had to turn my volume down a bit as soon as this came on. The singer has an impressive vocal range, but his execution reminds me too much of the singer of Dragonforce . In the end, this is just one of the myriad of forgettable prog metal tunes.
AR Best track on the disc. Part folk, part rock, part metal. Think early Uriah Heep and Magnum, with The Levellers and Soundgarden. The melodies and groove just works for me. Debut EP available for "Free" from their Bandcamp page.
AdB Surprising clear vocals and guitars build a great prog metal song.

8. Sounds Like the End of the World - Lunar Tide (5:47)
RT Apparently the world ends, not with a bang, but a weary whimper to the sound of dull, unimaginative, carbon copy prog-by-numbers wallpaper featuring all the usual grandiose keyboard atmospherics and drab riffage. I'm afraid we've heard it all many, many times before.
BF Instrumental prog-metal. Shifting between sections in 5/8 and 6/8, Lunar Tide seems to contain too much symph-metal cliché be taken on its own merits. The loud power chords, double-bass drumming and busy structure take away from what is otherwise a rather decent composition.
AR Nice if rather formulaic rock instrumental.
AdB Instrumental building up the tension, it's good but not the end of the world.

9. Dream The Electric Sleep - Elizabeth (8:22)
RT Dream? With a five hour compilation to wade through? This band has been described as "Prog-Shoegaze", but to my by now frazzled ears this sounds like early 80s U2 with a modern production sheen, and a guitarist who can actually solo. Not bad.
BF Ooh, look! Some neo-prog! Dream the Electric Sheep... err... Sleep's track Elizabeth is basically an Anathema rip-off. One pounding rhythm with shifting dynamics. It's been done before guys!
AR U2 meets Anathema in the back seat of a Chevy driven by Coldplay. Solid performances and some great guitar details. If you like this sort of thing this is well worth a listen.
AdB Sorry, huge fan of DTES since 2011; Elizabeth is the best track on this Progstravaganza edition.

10. Destiny Potato - Addict (7:38)
RT Best Band Name of Compilation award goes to Destiny Potato...Come on down! Surprisingly only slightly over-boiled, despite it being the band of the vocally frightening geezer from Track 1. Sensibly he hands over the majority of the vocal duties to a rather feisty young woman who could win a shouting match on her own. Unfortunately her name is not Maris Piper. For most of its length this tuber-rock stompathon is ok, but then Mr Micic later has to go and let the side down with some unintelligible cookie monstering. Shame.
BF Back to Serbia with the "brainchild" of the first artist on this list. The band take heavily after To-Mera (review here) extreme metal with symphonic breaks and female vocals. Sadly, the music of Destiny Potato is simply nowhere near as endearing or memorable as that of their icons.
AR In the wake of Bad Salad and Pigeon Toe, another name to remember! Great female singer. Not enough Prog to get me excited. Has promise.
AdB Love the renewing, eclectic start and sound, the much used FFB vocal style doesn't do it for me though.

11. Galactic Pegasus - Invertebrate (2:59)
RT God-awful, tuneless mess of growling nonsense that any government could use as a positive argument for censorship legislation. Dreadful, but thankfully short.
BF The only redeeming feature of this migraine-inducing assault on the ears is that it ends; in fact it does so quicker than all the other tracks so far. Still those three minutes couldn't seem longer as the dissonant chords, exploding drums and incomprehensible lyrics seem to do all but take a block of TNT to your eardrums.
AR Growly noise. Pass
AdB Wow, I have never heard anything like this before! No, sorry, this is awful and boring....

12. Orpheus Blade - Dismissal (8:51)
RT Full-on, epic musical drama that beats its chest as it swings through the trees shouting its head off, changing direction on a whim. OTT but not off-putting vox suits the high musical dramatics perfectly. Not my bag of nails, but I can see its appeal.
BF The press-note for this track suggests that the female band leader is singing, which caused me some very great confusion, as the voice is most assuredly masculine. A trip to the band's website soon cleared everything up. A forgettable, but not altogether bad blend of prog, metal and film score.
AR Singer sounds like Zach Stevens (Savatage) over atmospheric soundscapes with a folksy vibe. I could like this...
AdB Very long track for a prog metal song which is interesting at times because of its many progressive elements but can't win me as a whole, even after a few listens.

13. Fuseboxx - Animated (5:57)
RT All too predictable instrumental, metalish, sympho-prog. No danger of any blown fuses here.
BF Fun, heavy-prog instrumental from the Philippines - admittedly not the most prominent prog nation - with some retro keyboards thrown in for good measure. Think Dream Theater with a mellotron.
AR A decent intro to a heavy prog song. I was waiting for a singer who never arrives.
AdB prog metal of high quality with a chunk of synth can be listened to here with Fuseboxx.

14. Jedediah Smith - Meander (16:30)
RT I really want this to be a loony neo-fascist Southern Baptist preacher in full-on fire'n'brimstone mode in 7/8 time. It ain't of course. Calling a 16-minute epic "Meander" is asking for trouble, as wander about it does, but in a fun way. Fast metal riffing mixes with baroque interludes and much syncopation and furious interplay. I have no idea what "djent" is, but it's probably in here too, next to the kitchen sink. Being a contrary bugger, it may surprise you that I quite like it, as indulgent as it is. Too long by half, though.
BF If you're going to spend over a quarter-of-an-hour listening to a track, you'd at least hope it had good sound quality. This decidedly homebrew instrumental has me reaching for the 'Stop' button before two minutes are up. More a mess of shredding and djent ideas, than a credible musical composition, making the title rather apt. And it goes on for too bloody long!
AR Bed-sit instrumental with minimalistic production values and the musical focus of someone with ADHD.
AdB High pace, high class metal here with fine interludes of jazzy acoustic guitar.

15. Paul Bielatowicz - Etude Op. 10, No. 4 - Chopin (2:16)
RT Prog guitarist sideman who it seems has played with a lot of big names in the small prog pond, plays it straight, but on an electric guitar rather than a piano. Apart from showing amazing chops, I'm not quite sure what this is doing here, but it makes a nice change.
BF I read-up about this guy while the last track was still outstaying its welcome. The question I asked myself was "Will an electric guitar rendering of a classical piece be worth listening to in place of the original?" Bielatowicz's speedy fingerwork is absolutely astonishing, but ultimately this is more of a workout for the guitarist than music you'd want to pay for.
AR Classical shred guitar gym workout.
AdB Classical tune fantastically played, though totally uninteresting.

16. Liquid Shades - Fade to Horizon (5:41)
RT Italian band with a genuinely (no, really!) atmospheric and uplifting flute-led song infused with a Canterbury influence. Despite the rough over-compressed sound, this is a bit of a gem.
BF Interesting and melodious piece featuring impressive instrumentation. Gets quite exciting in the middle. I could be persuaded to put these guys on again.
AR Ambient prog with flute and sax. Would work better for me with a jazzy female singer.
AdB Beautiful groovy emotional song; not sure this reaches the prog zone but plain beautiful it is.

17. Sonic Sky Writers - This a Dream (12:33)
RT William Shatner should have read the portentous spoken word intro to this over-long repetitive space rock mantra. The singer has a really good voice and there is some nice flute work, but it doesn't get past the fact that Hawkwind did this kind of thing first, and far better, 40 plus years ago.
BF Starts off quite groovy and the flute is a nice touch. Can't say I'm too fond of the vocals though. As the song wears on, nothing changes and you wonder what it's all in aid of. At the halfway point, one realises that nothing is ever going to change, and the desire to press 'Skip' is overwhelming. Like a trooper, I stuck with it though. Inevitably, it turns out to be a huge waste of twelve minutes. The things I do for Prog.
AR It begins with a radio tuning (!!) and has the same beat throughout. Trance Flute Prog.
AdB Mixing Myrath, flute and Polish styled prog in a too long exercise to reach the level of ... nice.

18. The Madeleine Haze - The Turning Away (4:42)
RT More mid-bill festival fodder. Crushingly competent hard rock/metal. Dull as tempered steel.
BF Possibly the most cliché prog-metal song I've ever heard. If you must listen to this, pay special attention to the bass player as he is by far the most interesting man on the track, which isn't saying much.
AR Classic melodic hard rock with an above average singer. Wrong compilation.
AdB Solid intro leads to a very welcome metal song and some fine solo riffing to end with.

19. Aisles - Melancholia (10:39)
RT Aisles hails from Santiago, which might mean it is sufficiently different to be interesting. It starts off in a pastoral mood, with a harmony line not dissimilar to More Fool Me , before becoming a tad livelier in a Rush-like fashion. OK, but yet another band which is competent but no more than slaves to its influences. Blimey, I appear to be halfway through at last. Time for lunch!
BF Weirdly, one of the first things I thought of when I heard this track was the theme music for Twin Peaks. It's something in the guitar sound. The opening instrumental seems to hold so much promise, but then the rather twee verses cause me to lose interest. Bucks up a little by the end, but by then it's too late.
AR Lovely vocals and harmonics and interesting atmospheres within a strong production. Worth a second listen.
AdB You know, you come from nothing, you're going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing!

20. Proud Peasant - The Precipice (13:20)
RT Shall I tell you what I had for lunch? Nah...Proud Peasant are American proggers who stretch out on a Bach theme in a pleasant enough fashion. A Gothic choral section in the middle takes the song on a left turn into classical high dramatics before bringing it all Bach home. Not bad at all. There's far worse things on here, it has to be said.
BF A keyboard-heavy intro gets the audience prepared for a progtastic adventure. In musical terms, the first part of this instrumental has a rondo form; a central theme which is played on the drums here, and from which new sonic excursions occur before the band returns to the main drag. A fun and interesting track indeed. These peasants have something to be proud of!
AR Classic 70s prog with a floods of keys, a retro guitar tone and folksy flute. Spoilt by being too long and the extended "la la la la la " vocals at the end.
AdB Some experimental prog going on here, which is quite nice although five or six minutes would've been enough.

21. Aequilibrium - Aequilibrium (4:57)
RT This young fellow is apparently influenced by both Elton John and Gentle Giant, as well as the usual prog suspects. The end result is a moderately interesting synth-driven instrumental that disappointingly displays none of the influence of those two diametrically-opposed sources.
BF Listening to the opening minute of this instrumental, I made an educated guess that this artist was Italian, and it turns out I'm right. Bright, noisy RPI and heavy on the keys. A refreshing dynamic shift in the latter half of the song leads to a slower, more soulful section.
AR A poppy keyboard prog instrumental which I just find dull.
AdB Lovely keys driven instrumental, really relaxing.

22. Cereus - Cassiopeia (Radio Edit) (4:22)
RT Plodding prog-metal. Next...
BF Are you Cereus? The words "Radio Edit" have no place in the world of prog. This band defines itself as "post-prog". Reading that for me was like finding out the name to an illness I'd had for an extended period of time. The track itself is largely uninspiring and uninteresting, but hey, what do you expect from the radio nowadays?
AR Very interesting alt-rock, spoilt by singer who isn't helped by being too distant in the mix.
AdB Time consuming track because I wanted to listen several time, wonderful prog metal song. Want to hear more of this band!

23. Montage - Strawberry Skies (8:13)
RT Finnish rock band with a competent song, contrasting Queen-like riffola with some subtle syncopation. Not sure it needed to be eight minutes long though. Not bad, not brilliant.
BF These Finnish newbies burst onto the scene with a great mix of old and new. Unlike many bands on this list, Montage knows when to show a bit of restraint, which does the music wonders. The central instrumental is rather breathtaking. The lyrics are a bit daft, but who really cares?
AR Syncopatically-satisfying, modern progressive rock from Finland which I would have loved if the singer wasn't as flat as a pancake (tuning-wise).
AdB I've read some positive critiques on Montage and I agree, this true prog is swell indeed. Love it.

24. Celestial Fury - Comically Mischievious (sic) (4:14)
RT Prog metal with a name like Celestial Fury? Shurely shome mishtake? There are so many bands in this dull genre who essentially all recycle the same old same old, and this is another one. This sounds like some bloke in his bedroom messing about on a guitar effects board. Takes over four minutes to go absolutely no-effin-where. Next.
BF You know what I dislike the most about this track? It's not the fact that this Scottish lad is into djent music, that most infamous of prog metal spin-offs. It's not even that this track seems to outstay its welcome by about... oh, I dunno... four minutes. It's the bloody awful sound quality. Compressed beyond belief, I'd expect better transmission from a 144p YouTube video of someone standing right next to the amp tower at a Meshuggah concert. The music would probably be better too.
AR Riffs chunk and cymbals crash. Repeat for four minutes. End.
AdB A display of metal riffing here. Too much for a whole song, let alone a whole album.

25. False Coda - Respect (7:07)
RT Is that a demand? You'll have to earn it mate. Yep, more cliché-ridden prog metal.
BF If Dream Theater were Greek, they'd probably sound like this. Though being more than technically capable, the band lacks its own sound, copying the larger bands. Heck, the album is even titled Closer to the Edge.
AR Dark, heavy riffs dominate this traditional-style prog metal from Greece. The vocalist is just too strained for my tastes.
AdB Hammond mixed with guitar and dark bass and a bit of Maghreb atmosphere turns into good over average prog metal.

26. Motion - Crawling in the Dark (4:03)
RT I pride myself on listening to every minute of every track on these compilations, no matter how much I want to hit "Skip". More prog metal with some semi-growling, but at least it shows a bit of flair. Next.
BF Oh god, this is just dreadful. Pure noise and awful growling. At least Galactic Pegasus keeps it to under three minutes.
AR Growls / clean vocals / growls. Pass.
AdB Prog metal that's not bad at all but I've heard this a thousand times before.

27. Vicinity - Walk All the Way (11:42)
Rt Look, I'm really struggling here, someone help me out. I'm fast running out of adjectives that essentially mean dull. A prog metal Mostly Autumn. It seems to go on forever.
BF Not terrible, but a little overbearing at 12 minutes. Hardly any breaks in the high-energy music. I've also had quite my fill of prog metal by now!
AR Melodic progressive hard rock in the vein of Circus Maximus. Decent.
AdB Twins with previous track; prog metal that's not bad at all but I've heard this a thousand times before. Why 12 minutes??

28. The Parallax - Obliquity of the Ecliptic (8:46)
RT What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this? Someone's just called me lazy, so I suppose I should try harder, but I really cannot think of anything to say about this. Try combining various parts of my scribblings on the last four. Plus, there's a comedy squeaky growler, and a normal growler. Yikes!
BF The opening sentence of the press note contains the phrase "progressive melodic death metal band". Enough already! The only thing worth noting on this track is the inadvertently comical high-pitched growling. Scarily, this is one of the shorter tracks from their album whose title is the same as this track. I bet nobody has misspelled it yet.
AR Hard-driven alt-rock ruined by hideous screams and growls.
AdB Overgrunting, no thanks.

29. Shadow Merchant - The Kindness of a Stranger (11:19)
RT Starts with piano and riffing, nails down a sub-Metallica riff, with some keyboard squiggles on top. A bit Heep-ish in places, particularly the guitarist who likes his Mick Box wah-wah, and there is a strong Kansas influence. Not too bad actually. Phew!
BF Thank you Shadow Merchant! You have restored some of my faith in this compilation. Epic neo-prog this time, with some spacey vibes. This even had me air drumming! It's not brilliant by any means, but I'll take it over that awful (done-to-) death prog metal any day.
AR A heavy, extended instrumental leads into a rather uplifting light rock song with the best singer on this compilation. Not sure the two parts make the same whole but I enjoyed this song.
AdB Very nice song, soft and tender without getting mellow, added up with some great rough edges.

30. Anger in the Reward System - Hearse Accident (6:01)
RT Scary band name, great song title! And at last, something that is actually progressive, marrying electro-beats and jazz chops, and riffing, heaven forfend. This French band shines like a shaft of sunlight when all around is dark.
BF Over the course of this compilation, I've come to forget what it was I liked about progressive rock in the first place. Anger in the Reward System is there to remind me. A fantastic spoonful of fusion rock with a dollop of alto sax and a peppering of tongue-in-cheek humour. Just look at that track title! Exactly what I needed after all that metal nadir.
AR Certainly progressive but I can't work my way past the strange, overlapping mix of instrumentation on parts of this.
AdB A bit odd and that's why it is that attractive. Listen to this great song!

31. Eternal Journey - Nebula Movement IV (7:41)
RT Good guitar chops from German one man band with guests. Prog metal spacerock that is certainly very well executed.
BF Amazingly, I had never heard of "space metal" music before listening to Eternal Journey. But when you think about it, it's actually a match made in heaven, as long as neither genre is compromised in the execution. The sensuous chords of space rock combined with the power of heavy metal makes for a surprisingly potent concoction. A thumbs up from me!
AR In short: space rock does nothing for me. Pass.
AdB Squire-ish bass riffs lead to a well balanced light bombastic atmosphere, like it.

32. Mile Marker Zero - Trick of the Tongue (4:06)
RT Slick prog metal powered along by some beefy drums. A better example of this much over-populated genre.
BF With the open hi-hat, snare and bass drum pattern that begins this track, it's difficult to work out which side of prog metal these guys will fall down on. Fortunately, they don't go too far, practicing power chords without destroying your eardrums. Some retro keyboard sounds make for a more digestible listen. An above average track - certainly above the average of this compilation anyway.
AR Tasty track with a great singer. Proof, if any was needed, that four minutes is quite long enough for one's ears to decide if they wish to discover more. Mine do.
AdB High speed metal, nothing interesting here.

33. Cheeto's Magazine - Nova America (25:24)
RT How long? Jeez, pass the dexies, I was flagging even before I got here...Luckily this is actually all rather good fun. Spanish loons turn in a rollicking 25 minutes of goofing about in a highly musical fashion. Has a strong 60s flavour, there's some Beatles in there, some Mothers, and some 70s Brit Prog (Gentle Giant, Argent) for good measure. The fact that they are about the only band on here that sounds (and looks, judging by their promo pic) like they are actually enjoying themselves speaks volumes. Their album is called Boiling Fowls, and it is one hot chicken!
BF I'll admit, given some of the previous dross I've had to wade through, I was incredibly anxious about putting on a 25-minute song. Each track has been a roll of the dice. Getting a '1' on a track this long could be potentially fatal. Fortunately, as the first minute passed, all my fears were put aside and I was able to enjoy this delightfully bright and symphonic Neo-Prog opus for what it was. Gentle Giant-inspired, a cappella vocals break up the piece and show extra creativity from this bunch of talented Spaniards. Effervescent and shimmering retro keyboards make this rather fluffy piece something any prog fan can enjoy. The band even finds time to get soulful towards the end, before perking back up again. I won't say any more, you'll have to put it on and see for yourself! What I will say is that this has been the most enjoyable and fulfilling outing that Convergence has taken me on so far...
AR Quirky vocal inventiveness amidst a meandering barrowful of Prog gymnastics. I think a lot of DPRP readers will like this. But: no-one needs 25 minutes to decide if that is the case.
AdB 25 min track? Really? Well, it doesn't get boring, varies its Prog tunes and it's well worth the listen.

34. Elarcos - Microapología (11:58)
RT Another genre with more than its share of lack-lustre fare is modern fusion. No such problems with this adventurous mix from Uruguay however; if anything it is too full on, almost turning into heavy rock by the end.
BF ... but Elarcos goes one better! This Uruguayan group starts off jazzy, but all of a sudden takes a sudden plunge into complex heavy metal. Fortunately, the fusion element of their music is not left behind! Later the band proves it can string a good melody together, involving a classical theme towards the end, and all these different aspects of the band's music prove that they are a valuable addition to the set. This is utterly fantastic Prog that more people should be listening to. With this and Cheeto's Magazine, Convergence has made up for its atrocious choices in tracks 24-28. Here's hoping something else will make up for the Sonic Sky Writers and Galactic Pegasus!
AR Sprightly jazz fusion turns into jazz thrash with Uruguayan singing in mother tongue. Inventive but not my thing.
AdB 12 mins? Yes, of pure joy! This is what ҰrogressiveҠmeans to my ears.

35. Mahogany Head Grenade - Vinedresser (7:08)
Rt Second prize in Best Band Name competition. I'm guessing prog metal? Yup, fast'n'flash. As you can probably guess by now, not my bag, at all.
BF Not quite as good as what's come before, but this instrumental prog metal trio certainly gives a good performance. Lasting a good Prog standard of seven minutes, this melodic piece weaves its way through different themes and moods with ease, never losing its momentum. Big thumbs up from me.
AR Heavy Prog instrumental. Too predictable for me.
AdB Yet another great, grooving progressive build on pure joy.

36. The Mighty Swine - All That is Evil (4:47)
RT 100mph sprinting pigs. Kerrrrangg! Reminds me of vintage Judas Priest, sped-up.
BF Is this even progressive? Just seems like 80s thrash metal to me. Not even very good thrash metal at that!
AR Heaveee metaaal!! Wrong compilation.
AdB Power metal.

37. Los Asteroide - Diez Vikingos (3:37)
RT More ancient sounding heavy metal, this time with a distinct Sabs vibe, NWOBHM stylee.
BF Decent hard rock instrumental. Great for head banging, although a little unprovocative.
AR Bluesy instrumental. Not interesting, not progressive and not well-produced.
AdB Lazy Sunday afternoon exercise.

38. Omega Diatribe - Forty Minutes (4:06)
RT Forty minutes in a tenth of the time. Bargain! GrnndrrGrnndrrGrrrrrrrrnnnn. My patience is now officially shot.
BF Fortunately, this track is a lot shorter than its title suggests. We're back to growling on this one, and I've simply lost all my patience for it. Talented this bunch may be, but it's wasted on these ears.
AR Growls. Pass.
AdB It can even get less interesting than the previous two samples.

39. Camelias Garden - Mellow Days (9:38)
RT Right at the end, a band I've heard of. Rather good retro Prog, if more than a tad heavy on ye olde Genesis, even down to nicking a melody line halfway in. Still, after those last four tracks it is a mighty relief. My review is HERE
BF Oh gosh. The start to this song is so gentle after Omega Diatribe, it's like a pair of soft pillows for my ears. Heck, the song is even called Mellow Days! This song evokes the atmosphere of Yes 's And You and I with the help of several retro keyboard sounds. Absolutely blissful stuff. A delightful end to the compilation.
AR Saving (one of) the best to last. Starts off rather Simon & Garfunkel before wandering into neo-prog Land. Beautifully done and, for once, a song that warrants taking up 9+ minutes of one's life.
AdB And mellow it is, great little beautiful song if you like it the quiet way.

RT Just when we thought Progstravaganza had learned the lesson of "less is more" out comes this 39-track near-quarter-day-long bog monster. It is all very well applying the "throw enough muck, some will stick" theory, but you have to have a fair amount of stamina and a strong stomach to wade, knee-deep through the brown stuff to find the diamonds. Not only that, but the sheer number of long tracks, that would have been vastly improved by a minimum 50% reduction in their running times, makes this beast of a compilation a real endurance test. Once again the bottomless pit of prosaic prog metal shows no signs of ceasing its spewing of crushingly dull fare. Amazingly, I didn't hit "Skip" once! Please Mr Progstravaganza, re-employ the editor!
BF Well, it's been a long and occasionally arduous journey, but I for one have been glad to take it every step of the way. I've heard music from as far afield as the Philippines and even new dialects, such as Breton. I've heard new ideas and old ones, good ones and bad ones. Sometimes it's been difficult to wade through the cesspit of sub-par prog metal; let's face it, that particular genre seems to account for a disproportionate amount of duds on each of these compilations. However, in the end it's been worth it, as I've heard new and interesting material that has rekindled the love I have for the crazy genre that is progressive rock. Amazingly, I'd not previously heard of a single band in this five-hour compendium of prog, but it's been an adventure getting to know each and every one of them.
AR Last time, we all praised Progstravaganza for finally getting the balance right between number of tracks, length of songs, Prog credentials and quality. This edition goes back to the old three-ingredient formula of quantity, quantity, and quantity. Hopefully between us, we've highlighted the bands you may wish to skip.
AdB A mostly metal edition, much to my liking, and also some more quiet, beautiful tracks. A big thanks to Prog Sphere. Can't complain if a band like Dream The Electric Sleep is part of this Progstravaganza edition. My winning song at a distance from the other four of my Top 5. This sampler is a great collection to listen to anyway. Could have easily given you a Top 10 with tracks 3, 22, 5, 14 and 30. Tastes are different, that's why four of us DPRP reviewers have been busy to give you a hint which to choose. Enjoy!

Top 5 RT
1. Cheeto's Magazine - Nova America
2. Eyot - How Shall the Dust Storm Start?
3. Liquid Shades - Fade to Horizon
4. Anger in the Reward System - Hearse Accident
5. Camelias Garden - Mellow Days

Top 5: BF
1: Elarcos - Microapología
2: Cheeto's Magazine - Nova America
3: Anger in the Reward System - Hearse Accident
4: Camelias Garden - Mellow Days
5: Eyot - How Shall the Dust Storm Start?

Top 5: AR
1. Kindler - Shifting Ground
2. Camelias Garden - Mellow Days
3. Mile Marker Zero - Trick of the Tongue
4. Shadow Merchant - The Kindness of a Stranger
5. Orpheus Blade - Dismissal

Top 5: AdB
1. Dream The Electric Sleep - Elizabeth
2. Elarcos - Microapología
3. Mahogany Head Grenade - Vinedresser
4. Kindler - Shifting Ground
5. Montage - Strawberry Skies
Album Reviews