Mammal’s Top 25 In-Betweener Albums: #5 – #1

Thus concludeth my selection of albums that couldeth be either prog rock or prog metal, as the mantis said unto the moth before eatething it. Muncheth, muncheth, went the mantis. “Ow! Verily, friggin’ oweth!” wailed the moth.

This is the first time I’ve started a music post with a biology lesson.

#5: Ayreon (Netherlands), prog metal
Album: 01011001
Song: Liquid Eternity

This was my first Ayreon album. I called my son and said: “Hey, listen to this fantastic new symphonic prog!” I really thought it was pure prog. Actually I think that about a lot of Arjen’s work. (My son said: “Nah, too many twiddly bits.”)

#4: Frost* (UK), neo-progressive rock
Album: Milliontown
Song: No Me No You

The asterisk at the end of the band’s name is intentional. What it signifies, I have no idea. Frost* was a supergroup project that brought together members of two top British neo-prog bands, Arena and IQ. In many places their first album – this one – feels very much like prog metal.

#3: Porcupine Tree (UK), heavy prog
Album: Deadwing
Song: Deadwing

Porky Tree isn’t metal and never has been. In fact it started as a psychedelic/space rock band. Steven Wilson gradually steered the band towards heavier and more melancholy prog. This album happens to be my favourite by Porcupine Tree and its title song is my favourite by the band as well.

#2: Galahad (UK), neo-progressive rock
Album: Empires Never Last
Song: I Could be God

Other albums by Galahad tend to be more directly prog. This one could be prog metal too, don’t you think? The guitar riffs have a lot to do with that, although the album is still rich in keyboards as one would expect from prog.

#1: Haken (UK), heavy prog
Album: Aquarius
Song: The Point Of No Return

This was Haken’s debut album, in 2010. Like their second album, Visions (2011), it was a big hit with prog fans and much less so with prog metal lovers. Their newest album, The Mountain (2013), marks Haken’s strong swing to prog metal. Their first two albums were my albums of the year in 2010 and 2011 respectively. I’ll be interested to see where The Mountain ranks in my Top 20 of 2013, which I’ll be posting at the end of next week.

Posted on December 19, 2013, in Mammal's Top 25 In-Betweener Albums and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I see the asterisk in Frost* as a snowflake. Frostflake? Iceflake? It looks pretty anyway.

    I’m sorry to say that the only song in the last five that I like is Porky Tree. That’s also my favourite album by them but the best song is Arriving Somewhere… closely followed by Lazarus (that one always makes me cry..)

    Great job with finishing your list!

  2. ChristopherMammal

    I have a girl friend (as opposed to girlfriend) in the USA who is nuts about Porky Tree. Her favourite song is Lazarus.

    There’s no need to be sorry that you don’t like the same music that I do. It’s my job here to be the odd bloke. Just wait until you see how many you won’t like on my Albums of 2013 list next week, har har!

  3. I haven’t heard much of that list except the aforementioned popular band you discussed. Some cool things though, nice to be exposed to new material. Congrats on finishing your list.

  4. I bought “Into The Electric Castle” because it’s considered a Prog classic, but after several times of listening I can say that it doesn’t work for me. It’s (sorry) too treacly, somehow too artificial and I can’t see how it is progressive in any sense… Not my band.
    Galahad and Frost* I like better also I’m more a fan of 70s Prog than of what came after that period.
    Porcupine Tree..hmm..well. I may be the only one, but I think Steven Wilson is way overrated. Especially for someone who leaves no chance pass to say how (Prog) music is just plagiarizing and has nothing to say, his music is reminding me of a bunch of other artists and if there is anything spectacular in his compositions I have missed it. But I’m saying this by just knowing “The incident” and his two solo records. Also he is a great producer.
    I have listened to Hakens “The Mountain” today and really enjoyed the whole record. Cool stuff!

  5. ChristopherMammal

    You make some interesting points, SirMillich, because your opinions are shared by many on both sides of the fluid division between prog and metal. Steven Wilson in particular seems to be either loved or scorned by people in both camps for the reasons you’ve mentioned. Those who like his work, as I do, consider him to be experimentally creative. His critics regard him as experimental but derivative.

    The same goes for Ayreon, although most of the flak Arjen Lucassen receives comes from followers of the more classic styles of prog. To many of them he is a pop-opera showman rather than another Roger Waters.

    Galahad and Frost* are both neo-progressive rock bands, and Haken started as one before leaning more towards prog metal. There are some very good modern symphonic prog bands that stay closer to the styles of Yes, Genesis and other classic prog bands, but you probably know them better than I do!

  6. Pleased to see Frost* on your list CM – Milliontown is a stone cold prog classic imo, and I love that Jem Godfrey’s day job as pop producer keeps the emphasis on memorable melody, even when things go a bit ‘Supper’s Ready’ on the title track: very Genesis in that respect – show off a bit but never neglect the songwriting side. I liked Experiments In Mass Appeal, too; and I’m wondering what happened to this mooted third outing which reputedly features the talents of Mssrs Rudess and D’Virgilio.. As an aside, have you heard Kino’s Picture album, also featuring John Mitchell; Pete Trewavas, Chris Maitland and the It Bites guy? If you like Frost* it’ll probably appeal.

    My fave tracks (from Milliontown) are Snowman, Black Light Machine and Milliontown, and I like how The Other Me pays homage to Gary Numan a bit.

    Steven Wilson is, if not a genius then a very clever man, and a consummate musician, Like Godfrey, he balances pushing pure musicianship with a firm grasp of melodic songwriting so well. He also has a beautiful, soulful voice. Deadwing was my first PT album, and still a favourite, though my very favourites are Lightbulb Sun and Fear Of A Blank Planet. I love that a band that started out as a private joke between friends went on to sell out The Albert Hall. You couldn’t make it up! I like that he’s able to imbibe so many influences from pure pop to darkwave to psychedelia to drone to death metal to ambient house…. and still produce such listenable, memorable music; and I really like that he pulled the stops out to tour his solo project knowing full well that he’d lose money but wanting to do it anyway. Hat off to the man, a real maverick. Fair enough if you don’t like his music, and I don’t like all of it, but overrated? No way, SirMullich.

  7. Finally writing to the Mammal! I used to comment on this blog more often but the last few months of my life have been mostly offline. Still, Ive been reading some of your stuff through emails I received over the last few months and I’m excited to finally say Ive been able to listen to some of your recommendations. Still have a way to get through this list because I started with Ayreon and was too swept away by it to move on. I’m a big fan of both musical theater and progressive metal etc (Pain of Salvation is one of my favorite bands of all time) and Ayreon is so hitting that sweet spot right now! Eventually Ill get to your other recommendations. My favorite Porcupine Tree album is actually In Absentia. If we’re talking Deadwing, have to say that Arriving Somewhere is the best for me. Thanks for sharing man!

  8. ChristopherMammal

    Thank you, Doc, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed some of my music. I’m with you totally as far as Pain of Salvation goes. It’s high time they did a new album.

    When I was selecting albums or songs by some of the bands for this series — Porky Tree was one of them — it was damned difficult to choose what to post.

    Erm… have you seen the first 20 albums in my top 25 in-betweeners?

  9. Not yet! I cant wait. I clicked on this one first and got so into Ayreon and now Haken that I havnt gotten back there yet! I definitely will soon.

  1. Pingback: Album Review: Steven Wilson, “The Raven That Refused to Sing (& Other Stories)” | Revolutions Per Minute

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