Issue 2 - June 13, 2001


Not blessed, or merciful
Apr 11, 2001
Sarf Lundin, Innit
Greetings, devoted readers!

Lots of news this week, foremost of all being the lineup announcement for ProgPower USA, which is reposted below along with an essential album from each artist I'm familiar with.

Iced Earth - 'The Phantom Opera Ghost': Less than two weeks left in the Horror Show Countdown! Along with 'Damien' and 'Dracula', this track has received the most prerelease attention for its unexpected additions to the IE sound, including Matt trading verses with a female vocalist and Jon playing an acoustic in his trademark style. An incredible song all around, and one that manages to be both theatrical and brutal at the same time.

Zero Hour - 'Voice Of Reason', 'Awaken': The Towers Of Avarice is an incredible tech-metal album. Don't believe me, read the review at These songs are from their self-released debut, and while being more keyboard heavy they hint at the intensity of the album to come.

Magnitude 9 - 'No Turning Back', 'What My Eyes Have Seen': This band's second album Reality In Focus has been well-received in prog circles, and is one of several 2001 sophomores to significantly improve upon the debuts. The band's sound is reminiscent of early Dream Theater and features a skilled young guitarist in Rob Johnson. First song available at

Pain Of Salvation - 'Idioglossia', 'King Of Loss': Despite having an overabundance of slower material, the sorrowful and deeply personal prog of Perfect Element has finally grown on me. These are two of the album's more extended pieces, which showcase both their highly emotional and technical aspects.

Gordian Knot - 'Rivers Dancing', 'Grace': Thanks to "Progmetalfan" for suggesting this all-instrumental unit featuring members of Cynic and Watchtower. The first song is an extremely complicated progressive excursion with a few exotic influences, whereas the second, true to its name, is a very calm and moving piece.

Shadow Keep - 'The Silver Sword', 'The Trial Of Your Betrayal': A British band that has a sound reminiscent of both Queensryche (whose namesake song they have covered) and Crimson Glory, but with more power metal elements. The vocalist especially sounds like he's greatly influenced by them…

Derek Sherinian - 'Matahari', 'Frankenstein': The second former Dream Theater keyboardist to release his own project, featuring assists from many well-known session musicians. The first song is a slower, relaxed piece, while the second is a cover of the classic 70s instrumental.

October Thorns - 'Jihad', 'Soul Forge': A promising unsigned progressive metal act whom I have had the pleasure of seeing open up for Symphony X and on the Nevermore/Opeth/Angel Dust tour. Somebody pick up these guys! All six songs from their demo can be heard at their site on

Porcupine Tree - 'Don't Hate Me', 'Stop Swimming': By now you probably know of the connection between this British progressive rock band and Opeth, who are mutual admirers of each other. These songs from 1999's Stupid Dream are highly innovative and contain some beautiful sections.

Katatonia - 'Tonight's Music', 'Teargas', 'Passing Bird': Another band with connections to Opeth, as Mikael Akerfeldt appeared on an earlier album. This band plays highly emotional doom metal. A limited edition release of their latest album Last Fair Deal Gone Down contains a free Peaceville compilation, so buy it now if you're interested. First two songs available at the band's site at

Tiles - 'The Learning Curve', 'Ballad Of The Sacred Cows': Thanks to Scud for recommending this Detroit (of all places!) prog rock band's excellent album Presents Of Mind. The second song is a great instrumental reminiscent of Rush's classic 'La Villa Strangiato'.

Falconer - 'Royal Galley', 'Substitutional World': This Swedish power metal band's highly acclaimed debut is really growing on me after a few unconvinced listening sessions, as their melodies and vocals in particular are great. The former song has an addictive chorus, while the longer second piece features a great instrumental section.

Manticora - 'The Nightfall War', 'The Puzzle': (UM Staff writer) Rodrigo (happy belated birthday!) wrote a suggestion for this Danish band's latest release Darkness With Tales To Tell. The songs I've heard from it are great, including these two, the former of which is a scorching power metal track while the latter is a slower pieces whose time changes remind me of the greatest power metal band of them all, Blind Guardian…

Adagio - 'The Inner Road', 'Sanctus Ignis': One of the best debuts of the year, although a few of the members are veterans with bands such as Elegy and PC69. Their album, named after the second song, is composed of classically influenced prog/power metal a la Symphony X, and much like that band, they are led by a superb young guitarist.

Attention Deficit - 'The Risk Of Failure', 'Low Voter Turnout': An all-instrumental trio featuring Alex Skolnick on guitar, but much closer to improvisational progressive music than the thrash of his former band. Ignore the pointed political overtones in the titles and focus on the accomplished playing…

The Flower Kings - 'I Am The Sun pt. 2', 'A King's Prayer': Thanks to "Rumblefish" for suggesting this band, which plays progressive rock in a more traditional fashion, along with some quirky psychedelic interludes. I'm not completely sold on them yet, but these songs do feature some great playing, especially on guitar. Isn't the band's leader Ronnie Stolt involved in a DT side project? (but who isn't?)

Vanden Plas - 'Rainmaker', 'Crown Of Thorns': Speaking of Dream Theater, this German progressive metal act has opened for them in Europe and has received frequent comparisons with them. Both of these songs are from their album The God Thing…the former features a strong chorus, while the latter begins as a ballad but slowly evolves into a guitar-laden symphonic track.

Skyclad - 'Penny Dreadful', 'The Wrong Song': A quick nod to this innovative British act, known for two things: the use of folk instrumentation and the caustic, wordplay-laden lyrical genius of the now departed Martin Walkyier. I chose these songs as they are from my first experience with them, 1996's Irrational Anthems. One song from each of their ten albums can be found at

PROGPOWER SPECIAL: A festival to be held in Atlanta on November 10, 11. Here are the bands, and a recommended album. Unfortunately, I'm either not familiar or don't particularly care for three of them, in which case no album follows:

Angel Dust - Enlighten The Darkness
Ark - Burn The Sun
Balance Of Power
Evergrey - Solitude Dominance Tragedy
Kamelot - Karma
Spiral Architect - A Sceptic's Universe
Symphony X - V: The New Mythology Suite
Vanden Plas - Spirit Of Live