It took me a while to realize that my favorite music genre was best defined as "progressive" (click on the link for a good explanation of what progressive music is).
Exploring this genre led me to the discovery of a lot of very obscure, indy prog bands very little
people seem to have even heard about!
Here are some of my favorite bands, some of these you may already vaguely know :
- Dream Theater
Probably my favorite band (thanks Andy for introducing them to me!).
One of the most successful prog-metal bands of today, they keep surpassing themselves with each new release. The album "Scenes from a Memory" is in my opinion a rare absolute masterpiece,
but their other albums albums are not very far behind. Each member of the group is a recognized master in his craft, and combined with their broad influences, the end result is truly astonishing.HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
- Liquid Tension Experiment is pretty much a DT side project. As their name implies, this is experimental instrumental music, but is really good if you enjoy Dream Theater.
- Spock's Beard
In my opinion one of the best modern progressive rock bands around. They put out some consistently awesome material, less heavy and more melodic than DT (this is not prog metal). I had the chance to go see them live recently in West Hollywood, and they just kicked ass!
- The Flower Kings
A really brilliant Swedish prog rock band in the vein of Pink Floyd. Some of their music may sound too unusual, and some of their lyrics may sound cheesy, but I consider them along with Spock's Beard to be at the forefront of the modern prog rock scene.
This is a "super-group", i.e. a side project from members from Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, and Marillion. As you would expect from such a line-up, this is truly excellent, with songs reminiscent of the Beatles, and each member brings the influences from their own band as well.
A pretty good British prog rock band, which I discovered through Transatlantic, and seems to have been around for quite some time...
- Pain Of Salvation
A Swedish prog metal band, is one of the rare bands that managed to define their own sound. They keep exploring new musical horizons with each album (often concept albums), and keep surprising the listener while being consistently excellent. Not everybody will agree on this though, as they are so different from everybody else!
Another Swedish band, they are doing prog black metal. Their music is much darker than the other bands in this list. This shows in both the lyrics and the style of music, blending black/death growls with quiet melodic passages (the range of their singer is amazing!)
- Porcupine Tree
Another rising British prog rock band, that reminds me of Radiohead at some times, but started more with a Pink Floyd sound. Truly one of the best prog rock bands around, and accessible as well!
- Symphony X
This is another example of a brilliant prog metal band that is virtually ignored in America... They differentiate themselves with elaborate orchestral arrangements...
An italian band who describes their music as "progressive symphonic medieval hollywood speed metal", well, you get the picture. Loaded with tons of gorgonzola cheese, their bland of speed metal revolves around epic medieval adventures, involving knights and the like. However these metalheads exhibit a surprising talent in composing orchestral symphonies...
A pretty good Brazilian prog metal act.
They were one of the first bands to introduce concept albums, and some of their best work is on "rock opera" opus, where all the songs come together to tell a story.
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra
A side project from some of the Savatage members, check out their rock opera Beethoven's Last Night.
For more information about progressive music, and find more bands like this, you can have a look at the Progressive World web site, which has lots of very good reviews.
The artist list on prog.web.com also helped me discover some gems. Check out ProgRock.com as well.
These next artists don't really qualify as "progressive", but can't be discarded if like me you are interested in technical instrumental guitar music.
On the rather mainstream side, I also enjoy :
- Yngwie Malmsteen, whose technical prowess is only matched by the size of his ego.
- Joe Satriani, the master of them all.
- Steve Vai, another God of the guitar.
- John Petrucci, Dream Theater's virtuoso guitarist.
- Steve Morse is another very talented guitarist, along with his instrumental band the Dixie Dregs.
- Patrick Rondat, a French shredder. So the French can make good music when they shut up :-)
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- Pink Floyd, definitely the most popular prog rock band. If you like this band you will probably like some of the bands above.
- Rush was a major influence to a lot of the bands I listen to
- Metallica, who just plain rock (except for St. Anger, which sucks beyond comprehension).
- Queen put out some brilliant progressive material during the 70s, before falling in more mainstream pop thereafter.
- Genesis fell in the same trap, but their early albums in the 70s (Peter Gabriel era) were very progressive and creative. Spare me the pop bullcrap when Phil Collins took over later on...