Force of Progress – Calculated Risk (Progressive Promotion Records, 2017)
Force of Progress is what is described as a progressive rock project put together by four German multi-instrumentalists. It’s a very keyboard-centric album, with great synth and piano work, although throughout Calculated Risk the band adds hard rock and heavy metal guitars.
There is way too much hard rock and metal riffing for this album to be seriously regarded a progressive rock album. Toning down the guitars would have helped a lot.
The lineup includes Hanspeter Hess, Dominik Wimmer, Chris Grundmann and Markus Roth.
Carptree is a Swedish band formed by an excellent vocalist named Niclas Flinck and multi-instrumentalist Carl Westholm. The vocals, the magnificent keyboards and the rhythm section are fabulous, taking the listener to a beautiful world of epic symphonic progressive rock. However, this is one of those bands that injects heavy metal in most of its songs. By the time I got through with the album, I had had enough of heavy metal. This album is a prime candidate for a prog remix.
Flinck and Westholm are joined by the No Future Orchestra, a talented group of musicians who provide support to Carptree.
The new album by Polish rock band Retrospective should appeal to heavy metal fans. The album features a mix of heavy metal, hard rock and AOR.
Band members include Jakub Roszak on lead vocals; Beata Łagoda on keyboards and backing vocals; Maciej Klimek on guitars; Łukasz Marszałek on bass; Robert Kusik on drums; and Alan Szczepaniak on guitar.
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Although this outfit is described as a progressive rock band, most of what I heard here is heavy metal and hard rock. Occasionally, Seeking Raven offers some interesting guitar solo and vocal work, but the metal riffs are prevalent throughout the album. The only track that has more of a progressive rock flavor is “The Last Waltz,” where the band ditches the heavy metal and adds classical music influences and a nice guitar solo.
Although this band is sometimes described as a prog metal band, it’s really a heavy metal/hard rock band. The only progressive rock-connected part is a short symphonic piece with well-crafted keyboard orchestrations and electric guitar solo titled “Voices I.” Aside from that, most of the album is full of the usual heavy metal riffs and solos.
Band members include Steve Dadaian on guitars; Chandler Mogel on vocals; Jon-Michael Caldwell on bass; and Ryan Bertone (drums). Guests are Simon Ciccoti on drums and Thomas Frost on orchestrations.
If ever there was a country most conducive to prog rock, it must be Peru. The molten heart of South American embraces Amazonian rainforest, frozen Andean peaks, mist-shrouded ancient monuments and the incredible folk-prog powerhouse that is Flor De Loto. To sample just one of their extended audio adventures is to fly to all these places and beyond.
The band comprises lead guitarist Alonso Herrera; bassist Alejandro Jarrin; Junior Pacora on wind instruments, charango (Andean stringed instrument) and backing vocals; Alvaro Escobar on drums and Pierre Farfán on lead and rhythm guitar.
“Alonso and I started to play together back in 1998,” says Alejandro, “we just hang out at a drummer friend of mine´s house and jam for hours. We released our first album in 2005,we have eight albums now. We have a lot of influences. A lot of progressive rock bands from the 70s and 80´s, heavy metal, progressive metal, Latin American folk, Jazz, world music, etc.”
“The hallmark of the band is the fusion…” adds Alonso, “…we can have moments oriented more towards metal, hard rock or progressive but always the differential element is the influence of Latin American folklore.”
Says Pierre: “…it is the progressive rock influence that allows us to fuse the metal and Andean music. The expertise in their representatives, their complex structures and capricious cadences, easily seduces [those} who seek music with extensive content. It is a transgressor that has something to offer everyone.”
Composition is very much a group responsibility. “Usually what happens when one of us shows a new song to the rest of the band, we all propose arrangements and sometimes, the song ends being different [from] it´s original version,” says Alejandro.
“We put all our influences and knowledge to the service of the songs,” says Alonso, “ and we make these no longer the work of a single composer, to become part of the whole band. We call this process ‘florlotization’. At this stage what you do is connect with the other members of the band; turning the whole into a single musician.”
This ‘oneness’ is impressively evident in the band’s recordings and live shows. Even on their wildest flights, the guys display an easy togetherness that never seems to falter.
So what next for Flor De Loto?
“After an intense and emotional step towards the Crescendo festival in France,” says Alonso, “we have to make dates in Lima to present our new album, Tree of Life , then in November we will travel to festival Crescendo in Cayenne, French Guyana. 2017 will continue with the ‘Tree of Life Tour’ and we have planned concerts in Mexico and the US.”
Heavy metal band Opeth has been gradually drifting towards progressive rock in recent albums. The band’s 2014 album Pale Communion had discarded a lot of the heavy metal riffs and death metal screaming. On Sorceress, Opeth’s new album, we find a mix of heavy metal, Deep Purple-influenced hard rock and progressive rock.
The metal tracks are straight-ahead metal so they should please heavy metal fans. If you’re into the group’s progressive rock material, you’re better off skipping those tracks.
The highlights of the album are the “progressive” tracks, beginning with the opening piece, a short instrumental titled “Persephone,” featuring acoustic guitar.
Another effective track is “Will O the Wisp” where Opeth uses strong vocal harmonies, mellotron, Jethro Tull-style folk-prog ambience and a great guitar solo.
“Sorceress 2” is a short gem, with acoustic guitars, enchanting mellotron and soft vocals.
One of the high points is “The Seventh Sojourn,” a composition that introduces exotic world music elements.
On “A Fleeting Glance” Opeth offers a good balance between folk rock and progressive rock, with some of the harmony vocals on the album and a memorable epic prog guitar conclusion.
Although the heavy metal community seems to think that Opeth has become a progressive rock band, more than half of Sorceress is heavy metal or hard rock. I look forward to future recordings where the band sheds off the metal or maybe comes up with two versions of the album: a metal mix and a progressive rock mix.