Issue 51 - December 1, 2002


cheating the polygraph
Apr 29, 2001
dead between the walls
The second annual Thanksgiving Leftoverview.
Written November 30/December 1, 2002 - …and music? Well, it’s just entertainment, folks.

Greetings, devoted readers. I saw Symphony X and Blind Guardian last week, and they were both unbelievably good. Symphony X but on a virtually flawless performance, and Blind Guardian has the crowd at The World enraptured from start to finish. Setlist spoilers below…and now, the songs…

Akashic - Memories, Dove: One of those obscure progressive metal bands rarely emnbtioned outside of Perpetual Motion, both of these songs have some good playing on them, especially the instrumental section in the former track. Latter has a strong chorus.

Andromeda - Parasite, This Fragile Surface: The band returns on II=I (or Two Is One) with a more mature sound than on their admittedly excellent debut. Latter song is a slower paced heavy prog track, while the former sounds like POS with its propulsive chorus and its brooding midsection. Keyboardist Martin Hedin and new vocalist David Fremberg both sound awesome here.

Aztec Jade – Visions, Issues: Progressive rock act whose new album Concrete Eden is a definite improvement over their previous releases. The former track contains a memorable lead riff, while the latter contains a great rhythm and has some sections reminiscent of Fates Warning.

Cea Serin - The End Of Silence, Meridian's Tear: Two new tracks from a long suffering unsigned progressive metal act. Both tracks contain some impressive instrumental acrobatics, especially the multitude of great riffs on the lengthy former track and the bass solo on the latter. Both songs available at

Crucible - The Swordplayer, Curtains: Second album for this Connecticut-based progressive rock act. Both songs feature a vintage keyboard sound and feel reminiscent of prog’s first age, especially on the latter instrumental, and the former has some intriguing lyrics (nevermind the visions the title inevitably inspires.)

Dakrua - The Outer Void, Of Life And Will: Doom metal act with progressive influences that has been receiving a lot of attention lately. Both of these songs, especially the latter track, contain some innovative arrangements, which suggest this could be among the more intriguing debuts of this year.

Death Machine - Believing, Genocide: Side project featuring everyone in Zero Hour except the vocalist operating under aliases (Jasun Tipton as Thrak after the Crimson album, etc.). Both songs are technical death metal performed with a purpose often lacking from side projects, and comes off as something other than mere novelty (attn. Mikael.)

Diabolical Masquerade - Death's Design excerpts: The last entry obliquely mentioned Bloodbath, and here is a more substantial side project from one of its members, Anders Nystrom (aka Blakkheim, another alias, things are coming full circle here…). This was conceived as a soundtrack to a low budget horror film, and consists of numerous small doses of avant garde extreme metal mayhem. Bits and pieces of this puzzle available at

Division - Trinity, Tapping The Vein: Unsigned progressive metal act from Virginia, both of these songs are highly impressive, the former containing an especially great buildup. Both songs available at

Embracing - Chased By a Shadow, Stranger: This band has put out several self-released albums and Eps, evolving from death metal into a more progressive sound, but still with growls. Former song contains some well executed tempo shifts, while the latter incorporates clean vocals and a great guitar harmony and keyboard coda. Both songs available at

Everon - Cavemen, Simple Truth: A few earlier tracks from this German prog act who has remained quite consistent over six releases…the latter track from Flood, with features some great piano playing from Oliver Phillips, who doubles on vocals, could have easily been on this year’s releases. Former is a more energetic track.

Iluvatar – Given Away, The Final Stroke: Progressive rock act who falls squarely in the often maligned (and not without good reason) neo-prog category, but this band is definitely one of the better in the genre, especially on the epic latter track, which contains some sweeping instrumental sections and thought provoking lyrics.

Izz - Coming Like Light, Star Evil Gnoma Su: Prog act from upstate New York who has performed at several recent festivals and gained many positive reviews for their self-released album I Move. Former eleven-minute track features some accomplished playing, while the latter (read each word backwards) is an instrumental that contains some unusually heavy sections.

Kamelot - Center Of The Universe, The Mourning After: The new year should start strong, and along with the new Gordian Knot, this band’s much-anticipated concept album Epica is the main reason why. Former track, available as an E-card on their label’s website, is a rousing track that strikes a comfortable balance between power and prog metal, while the latter contains some great orchestrations.

Karmakanic - The Spirit Remains The Same, Entering The Spectra: Side project featuring several members of the perpetually prolific Flower Kings, and fans of said band should feel right at home here…the lengthy latter track features some great instrumental sections and has Roine on vocals. Former track contains a strange chanted vocal hook…

Kataklysm - In Shadows And Dust, While The Enemy Sleeps: The latest in a long series of albums from this Canadian death metal act has been getting some good reviews, and with good reason…the former title track crushes, while the latter displays more depth than the hyperspeed of previous albums.

Lacuna Coil - Self Deception, Heaven's A Lie: Despite still being burdened by that male vocalist, this band continues to improve. Former track contains an addictive chorus (I don’t know what to doooooooooo!) and more detail in the arrangement, while the latter also sticks in the listener’s mind.

Lunaris - In Contempt Of Humanity, Arise: Another side project with dangerous implications for its parent band: 1. It features three-fifths of Spiral Architect, whose second album is already long delayed and 2. It goes in a completely different direction, in this case black metal. But both songs are very good BM, and the latter shows traces of SA’s extreme technicality. Former song available at

Machine Called Man - The Witch And The Whisperer, Of Things To Come: Another unsigned progressive metal act who needs a contract badly. Both of these songs are heavier than most in the genre, the latter featuring some great riffs and deft time changes, while the latter stuns by starting out thrashy but slowly evolving into a delicate closing section. Both songs available at

Madder Mortem - Rust Cleansing, Silverspine: Yet another intriguing release from our favorite mailorder sources at The End, here consisting of doom metal with abstract but powerful arrangements and arresting female vocals. What, did you expect this label to release something traditional? J

Manticora - The Old Barge, A Long Farewell: The Danish power metallers return with the concept album Hyperion. Former song goes through a number of transitions in a short amount of time, while the latter contains a great instrumental section and adds some female vocals. Former track available at

Nightingale - Shadowland Serenade, Eternal: Alive Again is another highly anticipated early 2003 release, and Progpower USA attendees got an early chance to preview it. Fomer track contains an eerie spoken interlude and a great guitar solo, while the latter epic should satisfy Swano’s devoted following as it weaves through many great sections.

Opeth - Wreath, By The Pain I See In Others: The verdict is in: Deliverance is another link in the chain of successive Opeth masterworks. Former track contains a series of punishing riffs and works in a tribal percussive interlude, while the latter contains many surprises, among them a cavernous death growl and the now infamous “circus organ” section, that are worked seamlessly into the gathering of progressive and death metal performed with utmost passion and originality that is Opeth.

Pagan's Mind - Through Osiris Eyes, Seven Sacred Promises: This Norwegian progressive metal act has taken the prog community by storm lately, even being touted as one of the year’s best albums by Larry Daglieri among others. Both of the songs live up to the praise, as they come across as a missing link between Crimson Glory and Dream Theater with some added aggression, especially on the former’s chorus and the latter’s excellent instrumental midsection.

Pandemonium - The Hollow Grounds, Nightlike Silence: Don’t know much about this band besides what I’ve heard, which basically sounds like progressive death, with an emphasis on the keyboards…

Paradise Lost - Mystify, Erased: The former emperors of the British doom scene continue the electrogoth trajectory they have explored in recent years on the new Symbol Of Life. The results, which include an addictive chorus on the latter with a female counterpoint, should satisfy their loyal fans. Former track available at

Poverty's No Crime - Lead Me To The Door, Future In My Hands: German progressive metal act who has remained in obscurity despite some rave reviews. Both of these tracks are from the out of print Autumn Years, an album recommended to me by Seismic Radio’s Chris Lira. Both tracks are quite impressive, especially the rhythm on the former.

Ring Of Fire - Murder By Numbers, Ghost Of America: Australian power metal act (both songs here are closer to prog metal) featuring several notable talents, among them drummer Virgil Donati and keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij. The Planet X skinsman shows off his considerable skills on the latter track, while the former features a great guitar-keys duel.

Solefald –CK II Chanel no. 6, Speed Increased To Scaffold: Two more offerings from one of the most bizarre acts in metal, the latter featuring one of the most peculiar vocal arrangements I’ve heard while the former is a withering critique of consumerism. For open minded listeners only.

Soniq Theater - Gulliver's Travels, Centaurus: One man instrumental project mostly doing cinematic keyboard stuff, but the latter track caught my attention for one strange reason: It contains guitar parts extremely close to Symphony X, so much that when I heard it on an online radio station, I thought I had left my copy of V on in the background…

Spiritual Beggars - Killing Time, Beneath The Skin: Michael Amott’s homage to 70s hard rock, returning with a new album called On Fire and a new vocalist who sounds well suited for this type of material. Latter track contains a great lead riff, some Purple-ish keyboards, and a catchy chorus, available at

Sylvan - Artificial Paradise, Encounters pts. 8-10: Ambitious German progressive metal act who has released three albums to date. The former title track from their latest goes through numerous changes and diverse influences over its twenty minutes, but remains compelling throughout. The same can be said of the latter tracks, which complete a song cycle, especially the stirring Would You Feel Better (part 8).

Thieves Kitchen - John Doe Number One, Mute: British progressive rock act who specializes in lengthy compositions (both of these approach the twenty minute mark) that wander instrumentally while retaining the unity of the composition. The former song contains some especially striking sections, and avoids being perceived as lightweight neo-prog…

Twisted Motivations - Man Of Stone, Unbeliever: Yet another unsigned progressive metal act brought to my attention lately, both of these songs contain a good balance between technicality and heaviness, and both contain commanding vocals and thought provoking sections. Former track available at official site.

Under-Radio - Acrobat, Spinning Wheels: Project of multi-instrumentalist Eric Zimmermann that includes a few notable names, among them Mark Zonder. Both of these tracks are more song-oriented than his pedigree (he appeared on a Jason Becker tribute and studied under John Petrucci) would suggest, the latter sounding very much like King’s X…

White Willow - Gnostalgia, The Reach: Female fronted prog act from Norway noted for its delicate instrumental sections, especially the acoustics on the former track, and the hauntingly fragile vocals of Sylvia Erichsen, who contributes a memorable hook to the eleven-minute latter track from Sacrament.

November 23, 2002: As (WWE) The World Burns…

Symphony X:
Sea Of Lies (both of which were awesome beyond words)
Wicked (led to an amusing interplay between Russell and Romeo after the former hit that high note towards the end. The rhythm was infinitely more powerful in concert.)
King Of Terrors (another Odyssey track that gained strength live)
Egypt leading into Death Of Balance (great performance on this one)
Smoke And Mirrors (Mike Lepond kicked butt on this one.)
Of Sins And Shadows (great way to close up, as Evolution was a perfect opener...)

Blind Guardian:
War Of Wrath (taped intro leading into...)
Into The Storm (sounded great in concert, as did all the other NIME songs)
Welcome To Dying (one of the evening's most rousing choruses...)
The Script For My Requiem (an intensity surpassing the album version...)
Harvest Of Sorrow (first of several acoustic offerings)
Valhalla (featuring an extended crowd participation segment)
Bright Eyes (the most daft of Hansi's overwrought song intros, but the song's performance was nearly flawless)
Mordred's Song (possibly my favorite BG song...)
Time Stands Still
And Then There Was Silence (only up until the first chorus, but it translated surprisngly well, leading into...)
Under The Ice
The Bard's Song (if you have The Forgotten Tales, you know how this sounded…)
Imaginations From The Other Side (excellent)

encore (we want more!):
Punishment Divine (as my good friend Gennady pointed out, ferocious drumming...)
Lord Of The Rings (can’t wait for The Two Towers…)
Mirror Mirror (we asked for it. great way to close a triumphant evening.)