A mix of four album covers: Thank You Scientist’s Stranger Heads Prevail, Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia, Animals as Leaders’s Joy in Motion, and Native Construct’s Quiet World.

An Introduction to Progressive Rock and Metal

By Leighton Gambles
Music Journalist

Progressive rock and progressive metal are genres that are not as well known as their alternative or indie relatives, but are just as deserving of recognition. When introduced to a new genre, it may be difficult to know exactly where to look and where to begin. However, I will introduce four songs that I feel are a good starting point. Hopefully these suggestions will allow you to unearth and find the gems that are progressive rock and metal– yes, pun intended.

First up is “Mr. Invisible” by Thank You Scientist. A good amount of progressive rock is largely identified by rapidly changing time signatures, which is quite different from many songs in other genres. I believe that “Mr. Invisible” is a great song to start with because even though it does change time signatures, it doesn’t occur as often and because of this, is easier to digest. The band Thank You Scientist has a unique style that fuses funk, jazz, and rock. This combination can easily make anyone want to tap their foot and nod their head in rhythm.

Another characteristic that a lot of progressive rock songs share is a slow and gradual progression throughout the song. “Trains” by Porcupine Tree is no exception. The beautiful sounds created throughout the entire six minutes are nothing to bat an eye at. The mixture of acoustic and electric guitars with ambient background sounds creates an atmosphere like none other. This is the type of song that someone would listen to while lying in bed, looking at the ceiling, and just absorbing the music.

Our first song in the progressive metal genre is “Physical Education” by Animals As Leaders. This one starts to get a tad bit more difficult to digest because Animals As Leaders is a band without a vocalist. So there’s nothing but sweet, sweet instrumental goodness. The musicianship and technicality of all of the performers is outstanding enough to earn them a spot on this list, but to top that, the songs that they create are absolutely fantastic as well. “Physical Education” has certain key themes that it sticks to throughout the song and builds upon them. This song is something that you may play on repeat just to pick at and analyze more and more each time you hear it.

The final song on the list and the second progressive metal song is “Mute” by Native Construct. Their entire album, Quiet World, could be deserving a spot on this list because of the theatrical and overall grand nature of everything that they write, but “Mute” was chosen because of its compact simplicity, which also makes it the perfect way to start out this amazing album. The multiple sections explored throughout are yet another characteristic that is shared amongst many progressive rock/metal songs and is clearly present in “Mute.”

Now it’s time to go out there and expand your horizons with some new music.

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