Issue 48 - September 12, 2002


cheating the polygraph
Apr 29, 2001
dead between the walls
Preliminary song list
Written September 12, 2002

Greetings, devoted readers…a moment of silence for those lost one year ago. Remember the Towers.

Arch Enemy – Burning Angel, Shadows And Dust: I still find it hard to believe that the vocals on this album are provided by someone lacking a Y chromosome. And to be honest, I don’t really care for them and greatly prefer the last two albums. But the music on both of these songs shred. Also worth noting is Amott’s solo piece Snowbound which precedes the latter track.

Ascension Theory – Lovers (I’ll Wait For You), Regeneration: Another impressive progressive metal debut from this year. Latter track is a carefully crafted composition featuring some layered keyboards and a memorable chorus, while the latter delicate ballad features female vocals.

Ashes To Ashes – Embraced In Black, Cardinal VII: Norwegian act playing a doom-tinged version of progressive metal. Former track has a dirge-like feel to it, while the latter creates a commanding presence. Band is scheduled to perform at Progpower Europe.

Atheist – The Formative Years, Samba Briza: One of the first technical death bands, their albums have been elevated to legendary status among many in the metal community. Former track from Unquestionable Presence is a thrashy bit of instrumental mayhem, while the latter from Elements is a superb but brief jazz-inflected instrumental.

Avant Garden – Oceania, Path Of The Farwinds: Instrumental progressive act, one of several promising bands who performed at the recent Progday festival. Both of these tracks are lengthy excursions, both making great use of flute and saxophone, and have an enveloping atmosphere.

Divided Multitude – Focus, No Man’s Land: Another Norwegian prog act on the Progpower Europe roster. Both of these songs from their latest Falling To Pieces are accomplished prog metal with some obvious Dream Theater and Fates Warning influences, but the choruses and keyboard work definitely stand out. Nice vocal arrangements as well. Former song available at

Djam Karet – Raising Orpheus, Feast Of Ashes: Veteran instrumental experimentalists who also appeared at Progday. The band is highly adept at creating dense soundscapes, as heard in the latter track (which includes some eerie passages), and Gayle Ellett is a supremely talented musician, listen to his solos on the former.

Eldritch – The Last Embrace, Dawn Of The Dying: Italian power/prog act who have released four albums to date. Both of these are from Headquake. The band reminds me of Angel Dust in some respects, both bands use their keys in a similar manner, although their guitars aren’t as prominent.

Elsesphere – Luna Sea, Waging A War: One of my favorite debuts of this year, this is a progressive metal release with an aggressive edge to it…vocalist Johnny Berntsson sounds a bit like Warrel Dane on the excellent former track, which also has some great instrumental sections. Latter track contains some similarly powerful moments, and some well-placed keyboards.

Gordian Knot – Muttersprache, Fischer’s Gambit: Sean Malone. Sean Reinert. Paul Masvidal. Bill Bruford. Steve Hackett. Holy shit. Here merely listing the personnel involved will speak more than any description can. Former track available at As for the latter track, I know I shouldn’t include it because I’ve only heard the version from Malone’s solo album, but a sample of it is on his official site.

Heaven’s Cry – A Higher Moral Ground, The Inner Stream Remains: Montreal-based progressive metal band whose sophomore release Primal Power Addiction comes after a long hiatus. Both of these songs are highly impressive, the latter being chaotic in its technicality (actually, part of it sounds like RHCP gone prog metal! Hope that didn’t scare anyone.), while the latter is a gentler, acoustic-heavy track.

Higher Circles – Eleven Seconds, Stigmata: Progressive rock band introduced to me by the good folks at Delicious Agony. Former song is extremely impressive musically and veers on prog-metal territory, and the latter is similarly strong.

In Flames – System, Trigger, Dawn Of A New Day: I don’t think of Reroute as a disappointment, but I do find it to be inconsistent, and Anders’ clean vocals, now heard on every song, to be awkward often, the first track being a good example, although it does stick in your head. However, the second is one of the more successful attempts to balance the new elements with the old, and the third uses acoustics very well.

Izz – Assurance, Another Door: Another band on the Progday roster, this New York act plays a lighter form of progressive rock, but it does hold my attention, especially the soulful latter track. The lengthy former track is a good showcase for their talents.

Lacuna Coil – Daylight Dancer, The Prophet Said: Not really a fan of this band, but they have a strong following, and who can deny Christina’s good looks? J New album Comalies out soon, both of these songs follow in the path of their two previous releases, which unfortunately means the male vocals are still there. Former track available at

Land Of Chocolate – Double Standard Booth, Making Friends: Indepenedent progressive rock act whose sound is alternately melodic and playful, but with some harder edges and accomplished musicianship. The former track contains some deft instrumental passages, while the latter contains a rather deviant lyrical theme with an appropriate vocal arrangement and background…reminds me of Faith No More.

Limbonic Art – Funeral Of Death, Last Rites For The Silent Darkstar: After an extended absence, the most well-known band on Samoth’s Nocturnal Art label returns. Latter track is one of the strongest tracks I’ve heard from the band so far, with a creepy intro leading into some savage riffing and symphonic keyboards. The former track is also quite powerful. Could this be their Prometheus?

Masterplan – Enlighten Me: Highly anticipated project pairing Jorn Lande with Helloween exiles Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch. Originally Russell Allen was involved. This song lives up to the hype surrounding, with a huge chorus, a stomping main verse, and a few choice solos from Roland.

Meshuggah – Perpetual Black Second, Straws Pulled At Random: Again, I may not be a committed fan, but I can’t ignore this release. Nothing continues the band’s penchant for technical seven-string dissonance. I find their sound to be highly monotonous (especially with Jens’ horrid screeching), but the music has incredible raw power, and the midsection of the latter is a good showcase for their talent.

Mind’s Eye – Primitive Light, In My Mind: A pair of tracks from this accomplished Swedish progressive metal act’s album Waiting For The Tide. The former track is full of the band’s gift for writing captivating melodies and delicate harmonies, while the longer latter track finds them stretching out instrumentally.

Nocturnal Rites – Shadowland, Birth Of Chaos: While not the about face that Afterlife was, this newly aggressive power metal band’s latest album is still a far cry from the cheese of Sacred Talisman. Latter track contains a memorable chorus and some great guitar solos. Former track available at

Norther – Darkest Time, Last Breath: Reader suggested Finnish melodic death act who frequently gets compared to COB, which should turn me off right away, along with the novelty covers on their debut. While the songs are decent and avoid Bodom’s annoying histrionics, I’m not too impressed with them.

Planet X – Moonbabies, Digital Vertigo: More from one of the best instrumental albums of this year. Damn, why didn’t DT let Derek take a more active role in something besides personality crashes? His backdrop on the former track is stunning, while the latter finds the group’s interplay in overdrive, particularly Virgil Donati’s crazed drumming.

Power Of Omens – Only A Dream, The Calm Before The Storm: After numerous delays, Rooms Of Anguish will finally see release next month. The latter track is a slower track highlighting the band’s more reflective side and has some beautiful sections, while the latter instrumental contains an awe-inspiring acoustic solo.

Skyfire – Dimensions Unseen, Breed Through Me: Yet another melodic death band, but this one does manage to stand out a little, and I’d recommend it to anyone disappointed with that new In Flames album (see above.) Former track contains some strong riffing, while the latter adds some surprises and has a nice extended intro.

Steel Prophet – Magenta, Martyred: I still occasionally get the feeling that this band has purged all of their influences except POM-era Maiden, resulting in a highly dated sound, but I still find them to be a guilty pleasure at times. Former track adds some acoustic elements, while the latter does have a highly Maidenesque riff running through it, but an infectious one.

Stramonio – Appointment With Life, Loose From A Dam: Italian progressive rock act whose name I’ve seen mentioned quite a bit, but I’m not too familiar with their material. Despite being on a power metal label, the band doesn’t indulge in the cheese of some of their countrymen. Both songs contain some impressive instrumental sections, including some guitar harmonies on the latter.

Tunnelvision – While The World Awaits, Long Voyage Back: Finnish progressive metal act whose first album attracted some positive attention. These songs from their new release Tomorrow should increase the band’s profile, especially the eleven-minute former composition, which includes several great keyboard solos. Latter track is also lengthy and musically impressive, and contains a powerful extended coda.

Thus ends this chapter…