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posts about progressive metal.

last wednesday, i was with a friend at another concert in the z-7. according to orphaned land‘s singer kobi farhi, this concert was part of the first (european?) oriental metal tour ever. the tour features four bands: the french hardcore/punk/metal band artweg, the tunesian progressive metal band myrath, the algerian/french melodic death metal band arkan as well as the israelian progressive death metal band orphaned land.
the opening band, artweg, wasn’t my personal favorite, mostly because i’m not that much into hardcore. nonetheless, they delivered a very good stage show. the second band was myrath from tunesia (according to encyclopaedia metallum, the first tunesian (metal?) band to be signed on a label). they are playing very progressive metal, and influences from bands like symphony x and dream theater are very audible, but also their oriental influences. this band is really fantastic, and made me buy their two albums which were available on the merch stand ;-) after myrath, arkan entered the stage. during the first song, there were only screamed male vocals, which i didn’t liked too much, but as soon as their female singer entered the stage and the vocal quality increased a lot :-) from that point on, i really enjoyed their music. i ended up buying one of their albums as well… finally, orphaned land entered the stage. i’ve been waiting for some years to finally see them live, and i have to say that it was totally worth it. (no need to buy albums here, since i already have them all ;-) )
one thing i felt really bad about was that the concert was very poorly attended. there were maybe little over 50 attendees, in a hall which fits many hundreds. this was really a shame, as the concert was – at least for me – probably the best one this year. i really hope the bands are more lucky at their other gigs!

tuesday night, i attended a concert by the chilenian progressive doom metal band mar de grises, the islandic viking metal band sólstafir, and the finnish death doom metal band swallow the sun, held in the matrix in bochum. i went to this for two reasons: first, to see swallow the sun another time; last time i saw them was last year before christmas in leipzig. the second reason is mar de grises. i was really glad to finally have a chance to see them.
i arrived slightly late, due to bad weather, which was no problem since the concert was opened by two local bands i didn’t really wanted to see. the first one seemed to be a doom band, and i didn’t really like the second band’s music style. they both were ok, but i would have rather not seen them and heard mar de grises playing longer ;-) both opening bands were pretty much ok though, compared to many other openers i’ve seen so far…
while the openers were playing, i checked out the merchandizing booth. there was nothing new of interest in the swallow the sun section, so i inspected the mar de grises section. they had a special edition of draining the waterheart (including a 16 minute bonus track called unconscious passenger), the new album, some t-shirts, and two albums from other chilenian bands, one of them a funeral doom band called lethargy of death, a project of one of the band members. i bought the digipack, the new album, the lethargy of death album as well as the last available unconscious passenger t-shirt. some money invested well, i hoped. (and so far, i’m right about this :-) )
after the two openers, mar de grises started playing for 45 minutes. i was in the front row, which was no problem since the location wasn’t exactly stuffed, and nobody tried to be at the very front. in fact, i was like two meters away from the stage. unfortunately, the audio quality was really bad. i don’t know whose fault this was, if it was the mixing, the location, or whatever, but it was just bad. i was happy that i knew many of the songs they played, so i knew what it was supposed to sound like, so it was more a problem for sólstafir, since i heard them the first time…
well. despite the poor sound quality, mar de grises‘ performance was great. i really like this band. following mar de grises, sólstafir entered the stage. at that point, i wasn’t feeling very well, thanks to all the fucking bastards smoking inside the location. you can’t really enjoy a concert with itching eyes and having a headache. i really miss the nonsmoker protection laws i experienced in canada and other parts of europe…
i didn’t like sólstafir‘s performance too much, but i’m not sure whether this is just related to the horrible air and the awful sound quality, or if it’s their music. some time ago i listened to a couple of songs of them, and i don’t remember being disappointed back then. so maybe i have to give them another try…
finally, swallow the sun started playing. they played songs from all over their albums, which was really nice. some of my favorites, such as the giant, were played as well!
unfortunately, it seemed that the crowd got thinner and thinner. when they went off the stage before the encore, luckily enough people were still there to make some noise. they came back pretty fast, before the people started making noise and launching an awkward silence. they played descending winters, and after that the concert was over.
well. if the sound and air quality would have been better, this concert would have been really great. but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case… (but that’s not the bands’ fault…)

the eighteenth video is norra el norra by orphaned land. it’s sung in hebrew. the lyrics can be found here, together with an english translation.

this is progressive oriental metal, and mostly accoustic. you can give it a try.

[[for legal reasons, i do not want to include youtube videos here anymore. please click on this link to watch the video at youtube.]]

i like it because… it’s a beautiful song, mostly accoustic, but partly also very heavy. the video has a strange story, but is well-done and i like to watch it.
there’s another very good video of orphaned land, namely sapari, which i embeded almost eleven months ago (which also doesn’t work anymore as an embedded video… this is really annoying!). i like sapari even more than this one, but then, i didn’t want to repeat myself :)
it’s really a pitty that orphaned land’s north america tour came nowhere close to calgary (the closest place in canada was vancouver, almost 1000 km away…), and that their europe tour is this month, i.e. before i’ll be back to europe. i really want to see them live once…

the seventeenth video is set the world on fire by symphony x. you can find the lyrics here.

this is progressive power metal. you can try it if you want.

[[for legal reasons, i do not want to include youtube videos here anymore. please click on this link to watch the video at youtube.]]

i like it because… is a very powerful song, making me want to jump up, throw my hair around, with a lord of the rings like story based video which just fits perfect to the music.
another symphony x song i really like is through the looking glass. i really love the part ii, starting at 5:19 in the link’s video. (part iii apparently was cut off from this video…)

last year, some days before christmas, we attended a concert by swallow the sun in leipzig, germany, with support by insomnium and omnium gatherum. it was the last concert of the new moon tour. (no vampire shit, though ;-) ) you might know that swallow the sun is one of my favorite bands. they played in a small youth club, conne island, which wasn’t the easiest to find. but eventually, we found it. fortunately, nobody complained that i took my favorite toy with me; so this time, i managed to make some good photos.
i think that this concert was the best one i attended in 2009. ok, i have to admit there haven’t been many concerts in 2009 anyway. but nonetheless, this one was very good. the bands played great music and obviously had fun. (and: they played the giant, one of my favorite songs, in the encore!) unfortunately, the audience didn’t manage to sing “we want more” in finnish, so most sang a few times “zugabe” and then stopped doing anything at all, resulting in an awkward half-silence. but the band fortunately still came back.
now have fun watching some of the photos. if you want to know more about the concert, read someone else’s report ;-)

omnium gatherum.


during the concert of insomnium, members of the other bands showed up on the stage, and equiped insomnium‘s singer niilo with a funny hat and a sign saying “korpiklaani”. he eventually removed the hat by banging his head:

swallow the sun.

during swallow the sun‘s performance, members of the other bands had fun installing a pink dildo first at the keyboard and then, later, at the singer’s microphone:

as opposed to the korpiklaani “hat”, the dildo stayed there for the rest of the concert.

in my post on wikipedia, i was complaining that the article about the chilenian doom metal band mar de grises has been deleted because it the band is “irrelevant”. hence, i thought it would be a good idea to write a bit about them. when writing the post on wikipedia, i re-started listening to them more intensely, and in fact have been listening to their two albums the tatterdemalion express and draining the waterheart pretty intensively over the last weeks.
their music is a beautiful mixture of dark, gloomy metal, intense doom, beautiful melancholic melodies. progressive elements, sometimes experimental elements, often slow, always dark. it is complex, never boring.
mar de grises is one of the bands you should keep an eye on, as they are rising and they are good.

last week tuesday, i attended the first non-classic concert this year, namely the calgary instantiation of the progressive nation tour 2009, featuring dream theater, zappa plays zappa, bigelf and scale the summit. originally, pain of salvation and another band should have played instead of bigelf and scale the summit, but unfortunately they had to pull out due to some side effects of the financial crisis. too bad, i would really have liked to see pain of salvation.
i decided to spare my energy in particular for the last two bands, and hence skipped scale the summit. the announced timing for the concert was perfect, and so i arrived directly when bigelf began to play. they were ok, but i was more waiting for the next band. and the very bad part of the evening started during their gig (maybe even before, but i wasn’t there), namely some [insert your favorite curse word here] potheads started smoking weed. it was not as bad as last year, but still very annoying. why can’t these idiots smoke somewhere where they don’t annoy anyone? at least there was no moshpit and the crowd’s density was really pleasant.
after hearing so many good things about them, i was really happy to finally see zappa plays zappa, which is not just another frank zappa cover band, but founded and lead by one of zappas sons. (not that this makes a difference to me, as i have no comparism of zappa plays zappa to other frank zappa cover bands.) i really enjoyed their performance – even though the potheads annoyed the hell out of me.
finally, dream theater entered the stage. they played several songs from their new album, but as usual also a lot older songs, everything including some improvisation and extensions, and several solo performances between the songs.
the concert was really good, even though the potheads repeatedly tried to ruin the whole thing to me. the only way to make it better would be to throw the potheads out and re-add pain of salvation (and maybe reduce to three bands, all of which can play a bit longer in that case).

in the last two weeks, i attended three concerts:

  • the first one was by the norwegian prog black metallers enslaved in the z-7. the concert was really good, even though enslaved could have played longer in my opinion. unfortunately, the place was pretty empty, which is something enslaved does not deserves.
  • the second concert was by the swedish prog death metallers opeth in the rohstofflager, with the ocean and cynic as support. the guys in the ocean apparently have an urge to move around. i’ve had it so often that stupid kids constantly jump you in the back if you’re standing in the front, but so far i never had it that band members constantly jump in front of you from the front. pretty annoying, somehow. anyway. they were ok. after them, cynic entered the stage. i never heard anything from them, but i heard some people praise them a lot, so i was really looking forward to hear them. well, i’m not sure yet how much i like them, i guess i should listen to their music intensively. but at least they sounded pretty cool. well, then, finally, opeth began to play. as usual, they were simply fantastic. here’s the playlist:
    1. heir apparent;
    2. the grand conjuration;
    3. godhead’s lament;
    4. the lotus eater;
    5. hope leaves;
    6. deliverance;
    7. demon of the fall;
    8. the drapery falls (encore).

    it’s nice to finally have heard godhead’s lament live.

  • finally, i saw the german medieval metal band in extremo. the support was the cologne based alternative rock band the black sheep, consisting of four girls, who did a good job opening the gig. then, finally, i was experiencing in extremo. as a lot of famous bands, the concert was also attended by a lot of annoying kids who gave their best to chase people away from good places. anyway, after losing my very good place in the very front, i found a still good one a bit farer away. i don’t know too many albums of in extremo, mainly older stuff, so i didn’t knew at least half of the material, but i still enjoyed it. (they were also the first band i saw who used pyrotechnics.) but there were also lot of songs which i knew, for example vollmond, wind, spielmannsfluch and ave maria.

the third piece of art i bought is the grimalkin by the german prog/doom project noekk. the cover depicts a beautiful black and white image of an old, wooden house with a window and lots of green in front of it, which made me wanting to listen to it. the album begins very interesting, with a small foreplay which sounds both strange, somehow, and, at the same time, makes the prog interested hearer curious on how this thing continues. the music evolves into a stream of various styles interwoven to a beauty, taking you by your hand, pulling you into a colorful world of fantasy. featuring three tracks, of eleven, ten and twenty minutes, this album sounds like a real gem of beautiful prog, which is not only a beautyful soundscape, but also tells stories, of beautiful dream worlds, having dark, gloomy parts, secrets.

another beauty i found while browsing around in the record store is apokatastasia‘s demo waiting four. apokatastasia is a swiss progressive/experimental metal band, featuring besides classical instruments like guitars, bass, drums also violoncellos and e-cellos. the demo features thirty minutes of a gloomy trip through a mystic world. beginning with a drone, turning into the sound of someone running, maybe fleeing. the music is intense, progressive, dark. the (violon)cello is perfectly integrated into the music, sounding almost like its perfectly normal to have cellos playing. equipped with screams, choirs, and sound effects like steps, breathing, the music turns into a thirty minutes long stream of horror, gloom, darkness, reminding me of the blair witch project. in particular in the running scenes at the beginning and at the end, i can almost see the scenes with my inner eye, like taken with a shaky handheld camera. makes me feel the fear.
i hope i’ll get hold of the band’s first album, shedding, somewhen near in the future.