Good day, readers. This is the first of what will hopefully be a recurring column designed to showcase some excellent up-and-coming bands within a variety of subgenres. Today, we start with prog metal - an enigma wrapped within varying time signatures and obscure song structures. Let's begin:
Ontario's progressive metal scene is currently booming, unveiling bands such as Protest The Hero, The Kindred and Intervals. One of their latest offerings is Mandroid Echostar, a band that seamlessly melds the unadulterated technical prowess of Protest The Hero with the catchy melodies and hooks of Coheed and Cambria. They currently have two EPs circulating with a full-length expected soon.
Walking Across Jupiter
Walking Across Jupiter are an instrumental band from St. Petersburg, Russia. Their first album, showcasing their intriguing sound - the blending of calmer, ambient moments with ferocious djent riffs - was a space-themed record titled "Scent," and was released in 2013.
Quaoar are a Spanish quintet with a style of music that is difficult to define. The best way to put it, in my honest opinion, is Alice In Chains-meets-Opeth - a hard and heavy sound (albeit lacking in harsh vocals) mixed with the occasional acoustic interlude, with a handful of grunge nuances thrown in. As of current, Quaoar have released two full-length albums and are currently touring.
Primarily a groove metal band, Orbit Culture do have their fair share of progressive metal tendencies, and their relentlessly heavy-hitting sound is somewhat comparable to that of Lamb Of God. Hailing from Sweden, the band have currently released one full-length album and are currently touring.
In The Silence
In The Silence hail from Washington, DC, and as of current have one full-length album released (2012's "A Fair Dream Gone Mad") and the band is currently planning to begin crowdfunding the recording costs for their sophomore effort. Their sound primarily relies on atmospheric elements but successfully integrates both acoustic and heavier sections into their compositions.
Andorrian denizens Persefone have been active since 2001 with four full-length studio albums released and are currently on tour. A band that combines blistering technicality and excellent leads with catchy melodies, vocals are almost equally spread between strong cleans and crushing gutturals.
The Room Colored Charlatan
Indiana natives The Room Colored Charlatan have released two full-length albums, the latest being 2014's "Primitives." A band that solely utilises harsh vocals, The Room Colored Charlatan blend brutality with post-rock-esque ambience and some occasional electronic elements - a risky move, yet only used tastefully - thus making their work all the more pleasant to listen to.
Not to be confused with the American psychedelic-prog rockers and starting as a Dream Theater tribute band, Italian power prog band Astra are inevitably heavily influenced by them (to the extent that their guitarist/keyboard player looks suspiciously like a certain ex-drummer of theirs). They have released three LPs so far, their most recent titled "Broken Balance."
Shattered Skies hail from the British Isles, and have released one EP with a their first full length LP planned for release later this year. Combining heavy riffing and a clear jazz influence in regards to their instrumentation, topped with cleans very similar stylistically to those of Karnivool's Ian Kenny, this band just oozes groove.
Another up-and-coming band from Ontario, Canada, Pomegranate Tiger are an instrumental outfit. With one full-length album released so far - 2013's "Entities" - the band are currently working on their second. Pomegranate Tiger's technical yet accessible music seems like it will inevitably stumble into the leagues of more popular instrumental bands such as Animals As Leaders.
末裔 (The Last Successor)
Hailing from Beijing, China, 末裔 (translated into English as The Last Successor) are a power-prog metal band that have released a self-titled album. Mixing cleans and screams, but singing in Mandarin, 末裔 are unlikely to appeal to everyone - but getting past the language barrier allows for one to embrace some excellent music.
Mixing the stylistic properties of djent and metalcore along with the atmospheric nature of neo-prog (bands such as Marillion), all while maintaining melody seems like a difficult task. Yet, Washington, DC-based band Wings Denied have managed to pull it off. Their debut record "Mirrors for a Prince" was released earlier in 2014.
Matavenados are an instrumental band from Mexico. They primarily focus on coupling clean guitars and raw instrumentation with short bursts of technicality and the occasional ounce of aggression. The band have released two full-length albums thus far.
New Keepers Of The Water Towers
Swedish band New Keepers Of The Water Towers are primarily stoner/sludge-prog and their sound can, in some ways, be compared to that of Mastodon's material - particularly their album "Crack the Skye." New Keepers Of The Water Towers have released two full-length albums (with a third expected soon), and two EPs and are currently touring.
A Sense Of Gravity
Also hailing from Washington, DC, A Sense Of Gravity fuse heavy riffing and brutal screams with jazzy harmonies, great clean vocals and some symphonic elements - and throughout all of this, killer melodies are to be found. Their debut album, titled "Travail," was released earlier in 2014 and the band are currently touring.
Crow'sclaw are an instrumental band that have released multiple records and EP's per year, their latest being 2014's "Caramel Crunch." Hailing from Japan, their sound verges on power prog and their later releases are especially heavy.
Another band from Sweden, Memfis' sound combines gutturals and cleans, with their sound leaning towards melodic death metal in some instances. They have released two EP's and two full-length albums, most recently the 2013 EP "Silva" - and the band is planning unveil new material soon.
Founded in Lisbon, Portugal; 11th Dimension have only released one EP as of current, titled "Odyssey" but their sound is clearly influenced by both groove metal and post-metal and often integrates electronic elements in addition to all this.
Shades Of Black
Hailing from Indiana, Shades Of Black is an instrumental solo project by guitarist and programmer Matt Zuleger. The music has clearly been influenced by some exotic and foreign elements, once again combining djent with ambience but also introducing sounds not unlike those found in bands such as Myrath.
Finally, VOLA are a Danish band that blends ambience and electronics with heavy riffing and general djent-esque sensibilities. As of current, the quartet have released one EP, 2011's "Monsters," and are expected to release their debut full-length album later this year.
So, that's it. I hope you have enjoyed the read, and hopefully found a band you feel worth supporting among this list - there are some real gems to be found if you look hard enough. If you wish to share a band that you believe needs more exposition, or even your own music, feel free to post it in the comments. Thanks for reading!