Issue 16 - September 27, 2001


cheating the polygraph
Apr 29, 2001
dead between the walls
Written September 27, 2001

Greetings, devoted readers. This is my first time writing Songs To Watch since the redesign of the UM site, which should make it easier to access and respond, and more importantly eliminate the posting delays caused by having to E-mail a copy before it could be posted. The World Trade Center disaster still continues to consume our minds, and has caused me to generate less time in preparing this column as it has placed the importance of music in perspective. The title of this week’s edition may be misleading as I have not attended a concert since the terrorist attack, but instead focuses on an incredible alignment of live albums from three of the best bands in the history of progressive metal. More on that below. And now, the songs…

Bruce Dickinson – Wicker Man, Real World, No Way Out pt. 2: I’ll begin with the recent compilation of solo Bruce efforts, which doesn’t come close to collecting all of his nonalbum tracks, many of which are stylistic departures (like the last track) but still successful. This Wicker Man is completely unrelated to the Maiden song, and has an atmosphere similar to that found on Chemical Wedding.

Edguy – Golden Dawn, Pharaoh: The End Records has picked up their latest album Mandrake for US release. While the advance single does nothing for me, the former track previewed on the same EP is top-flight power metal from this band that has improved with every album it has released so far. The latter song is a 10-minute track that should keep Avantasia admirers reaching for the skip to button…

Anathema – Pressure, Alternative 4: Just about every inclusion of this band in my column has mentioned the anticipation surrounding A Fine Day To Exit, which is being hailed as a major progression for the band, and the former opening track by itself could help this leading UK band win many new fans, who should then sample excellent tracks like the extremely haunting title track from the latter album.

Jag Panzer – Power Surge, The Wreck Of Edmund Fitzgerald: The band looks back to their early claim to fame Ample Destruction on the latter track, featuring a savage riff and piercing screams from Harry Conklin, who also gives a commanding performance on the latter cover of the popular folk song, a home recording available at the band’s official site.

Porcupine Tree – Sever, Dark Matter: British progressive rock act cited as a major influence by Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt, and one that has received many rave reviews from critics worldwide. Both of these songs are from Signify, a particularly dark and powerful effort exemplified by the haunting former track. Leader Steven Wilson contributes some stunning guitar solos to the lengthy longer composition.

Satyricon – Supersonic Journey, The Scorn Torrent: A bit of a surprise inclusion, as this black metal act made a transition from a more atmospheric sound to a rawer experimental one, yet the latter direction on Rebel Extravaganza has captured my attention more. Both of these songs feature strong arrangements, and the latter has a great riff midway through…

Aghora – Satya, Frames: Sean Malone is one of those outstanding musicians who brings his talents to everything he participates in, and this tech-metal act he and Sean Reinert joined at the last minute is a prime example. Both of the songs feature dynamic and complex arrangements, particularly the long instrumental sections in the latter song.

Nostradmaus – World War III, I Don’t Believe: Continuing with the same theme, this rock opera led by classically trained musician Nikolo Kotzev (who contributes a great solo on the former track) has featured some of the best performances in the career of many of its participants. The latter song is indicative of the album’s many great arrangements.

Amorphis – On Rich And Poor, Levitation: The Finnish band that has caused wildly dissenting opinions among metal circles ever since the release of Elegy in 1996. The former song is one of the more overlooked tracks from that highly innovative album, featuring an addictive main riff and great outro. The energetic latter track from the My Kantele ep is the best of their many interesting nonalbum tracks.

In The Woods – Kairos, Yearning The Seeds Of A New Dimension: Reader suggested experimental black metal act. The 12-minute latter song from their debut Heart Of The Ages is definitely an experience, featuring a long atmospheric intro, an arrangement suggesting a BM version of opeth, and some truly disturbing vocals. The shorter former song isn’t quite as mind-altering, but still worth reading.

Threshold – Sunseeker, Virtual Isolation: British progressive metal act whose first two albums have recently been reissued by Inside Out. The former song from the stupidly titled Psychedelicatessen, available at the band’s official site has a great chorus, while the latter song features a more complex arrangement with a great intro and highly emotional vocals from Damian Wilson.

Chroma Key – Astronaut Down, Get Back In The Car: The experimental one-man project of former Dream Theater keyman Kevin Moore (think Space Dye Vest as being typical of an entire album.) Both of these tracks from last year’s You Go Now are an interesting listen, the latter having a disarming atmosphere and the former having an addictive hook. Both available at

The Flower Kings – Serious Dreamers, Slave To Money: Highly acclaimed progressive rock act whose latest album The Rainmaker was released by Inside Out last month. The former is the only song I’ve heard from it so far, and it is typical of the band’s sound, which features both 70s prog eccentricities and warm guitar-keyboard interplay, especially prominent in the latter song from Space Revolver.

Conception – A Million Gods, Carnal Comprehension: Highly innovative Norwegian prog act who disbanded after releasing four albums. Of them, In Your Multitude is the most highly recommended. The stunning former track features a lengthy instrumental section built around an awesome bassline, while the latter features great layered vocals from Kamelot’s Roy Khan.

Hollenthon – Conspirator, To Kingdom Come: Another great reader suggestion from the awesome Opeth forum on this site, this being an innovative symphonic metal act with a unique approach to songwriting. Both of these songs from Vilest Of Worms have incredible arrangements and achieve balance between the orchestral elements and the black metal base. Excerpt from the latter available at the band’s official site.

Artension – Forces Of Nature, Tall Ships: Progressive metal act featuring a pair of noteworthy talents in vocalist John West, now of Royal Hunt, and keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij. The former song is definitely worth attention, as it features some excellent riffs and a stunning keyboard solo, while the latter is a more melodic track.

Persephone’s Dream - Stormchaser, Alternate Reality: Female fronted prog discovered through one of the stations. Both of these songs feature some atmospheric sections and arresting vocals. New album Opposition out now, fans of bands like Nightwish should take interest.

That’s it for the song recommendations this week, as I have an impromptu special planned.
The Third Encore: Dream Theater, Queensryche, and Symphony X. One band almost single-handedly invented and popularized the progressive metal movement in the 1980s, one reshaped it and became the genre’s most influential band of the 1990s, and the other looks to carry the torch into the next decade. All three bands have had incredible careers, and the parallels between them are many, such as DT and SX both releasing their debuts with a vastly inferior vocalist. I’m sure that just about every Songs To Watch reader knows the history and catalogues of all three bands, so I’ll get to the reason for including this discussion: All three have either released or are preparing to release extensive live sets this fall. Dream Theater’s live album Scenes From New York, taken from last year’s Roseland show previously released on DVD, has generated the most attention, for as you all know its release unfortunately coincided with the WTC attack, and forced a withdrawal of its Manhattan-on-fire cover art. The album itself is definitely mandatory for any DT fan, as it includes the complete SFAM and many other pivotal tracks, including a complete performance of A Change Of Seasons. Also this week, Mike Portnoy revealed that the next DT album, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, will include a forty minute composition! The album sounds great and the performances are flawless. Queensryche’s Evolution, released this week, features the best song selection I have seen on a live album since Alive In Athens, it is divided into four “suites” covering a different phase in the band’s history, and features all the prerequisites along with some cherished hidden gems from underrated albums like Warning and RFO. In another parallel, the band has rereleased their complete live performance of their definitive statement in Operation Livecrime. That leaves Symphony X’s upcoming Live On The Edge Of Forever, due out in November. Unfortunately, we don’t get three out of three as the continuous performance of V only extends to Death Of Balance. But the band’s last three albums are well represented, and the second disc includes the band’s magnum opuses Through The Looking Glass and Divine Wings Of Tragedy. I have seen SX in concert three times this year (including on the weekend before the WTC attack) and they play to perfection, one of the tightest and most proficient live performances I have ever seen. The future definitely looks promising, as their first four albums are scheduled to be released in America early next year, along with the followup to V.

Thus ends this chapter…stay strong, don’t let the threat of terrorism break your spirit. Things may look bleak, but through our determination we will survive this tragedy…and Osama will not.
I'm looking forward to the DT live release, although I don't know if it's available down here yet... no doubt it's recalling will put a delay on it.

Conception are brilliant, although I've only heard Flow. I really must look into hearing their other releases.
Mark, check out In Your Multitude. I personally didn't care much for Flow as I thought they went down the commercialized route with that album. In Your Multitude is one FANTASTIC album though, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!
Yeah, I'm looking forward to the DT :) Its supposed to be their best live album yet.

But most of all, Anathema, Alternative 4 is a master piece :) Having just been converted (thanx Anthony) I'm beginning to wish I'd read these a while ago so I'd got into them earlier. I now have all but two albums, (in around a month, which is a record for me!), and the basic reason for this post is to vent my anger that no1 stocks a fine day to exit! Grrrrrr. No cd shop in all of Cambridge has it. How annoying! U would have thought shops would stock it as its just been released? Or has it not been released here yet? Aaaaaah :loco: :loco: :err:

Neway, cool column :) When I have a free internet connection again I'll d/l some of the songs you recommend
MetalAges - cool! I'll try and find it somewhere! :)

Anathema... words fail me. Judgement is soul on a platter, IMO. :) They have a retro coming out soon (or now?) from Peaceville, apparently?? (Maybe I'm mistaken).
Yeah, Resonance 1 & 2, the 1st coming out on oct 22nd :) One has all acoustic and orchestral reworkings etc. I'm looking 4ward. I still can't find A Fine Day To Exit tho :mad:IMO Alternative4 is their best and most emotional, but I don't know judgment that well yet....