It’s Saturday, and you know what that means. I’m browsing the ever-high quality website Bandcamp.com specifically looking for the best of the best in progressive metal bands as I work. These bands will all have qualities that I find interesting such as intelligent or philosophical/relevant themes (minus the pretension), fascinating musical choices, and dynamic vocals (though some are instrumental). To have a bit of fun with it, I’m going to post my findings as I go. I hope you find some new favourites, and spread this post if you support independent progressive metal music. Important note: Bands are in no particular order.
Scarlet Hollow – Along with one of the best album titles I’ve ever heard “What If Never Was”, these guys have just about everything else going for them. Beautiful, honest vocals and emotionally charged, intuitive music. No elements are lacking; it’s the perfect mix of beauty and tension. Fans of Porcupine Tree will especially enjoy.
Nami – These guys could easily be the next Gojira. When I say that, I just mean that the band is excellent and they have some stylistic similarities, but make no mistake, Nami walks on their own crooked path, with impressive technical wonders to behold and truly progressive soundscapes. Any fan of prog metal should find something to like here, whether you enjoy Gojira, Meshuggah, Between the Buried and Me or Liquid Tension Experiment.
Raayl – these guys play like they’re on a mission, with a furious but mature and tempered instrumental/technical metal display. The project comes across as unpretentious and ambitious in theme, with song names that seem to match the earnestness of the music itself. Fans of Animals as Leaders and Meshuggah should enjoy.
Sleepers Awake – Like your progressive metal with a human heart, and a dynamic rock spirit at it’s core? Look no further than Sleepers Awake, with vocals that will impress anyone tired of the usual genre-specific screaming motif, and music that is genuinely interesting. It’s a blend that not only metal fans will enjoy, but rock fans too. I predict this band is headed to the top of the heap, mainly because of their superior song-writing.
Sacrum – a very polished industrial/alternative metal mix here with epic choruses and extremely catchy/heavy guitar/rhythm work.
Northern Oak – very dark music for those lost in contemplation, or lost in the woods with only their iPods perhaps. Strong folk and black metal influence, and the vocals are guttural in the best of ways . Fans of “Blackwater Park” era Opeth will enjoy.
Siddhartha – Hardcore progressive death metal makes for a great combo. All aspects hit the mark, both death and hardcore screams, and enough riffage and technicality to calm the purists. Check out “Illusions” below.
Pirate blew me away with the energy of the Mars Volta and the unrelenting heavy, stoner rock vibe of Kyuss mixed. Extremely impressive material from one of my favourite new bands. Their latest release is last year’s “Left of Mind” and it’s unbelievable. Make sure to check out the rest of the roster of The Bird’s Robe Collective. Seems like they have a powerful collective happening.
Failure Epics – Absolutely brilliant blend of King Crimson, Porcupine Tree and Mastodon here for those who like their music both sophisticated and punishing. HIGHLY recommend.
Shattered Skies – These guys do the seemingly impossible and mix djent with industrial and alternative metal…with resounding success. The whole approach is done with a rock n’ roll groove layered overtop and the dynamic shifts are intelligent. The vocals are also top notch, so the whole package is at work here. Listen to the very strong “Shattered Skies” below.
Grayceon – It’s not often that you can say heavy metal tugs at the heartstrings, but this strange mix of metal, progressive rock, and intensely dark folk/Americana feels like a story of lost collective hope, an important step towards seeing what is. Beautiful enough to stop you in your tracks. “All We Destroy” sounds like a masterpiece to me.
From Exile – I thought there was no way they were going to sound as mind-blowingly impressive as their album art looks. But I was wrong. This is an incredibly focused band who take influence from Mastodon and Cynic but have completely their own signature sound. Once again, HIGHLY RECOMMEND!