Monday, January 20, 2014

the time for prog metal is upon us: Lalu; Prospekt; Tragødia

Lalu (France): “Atomic Ark” (Sensory Records)
Prospekt (U.K.): “The Colourless Sunrise” (Sensory Rec.)
Tragødia (Italy): “Mythmaker” (Kolony Records)
Today I have three albums by three bands that contrast from each in several ways, yet all three albums have strong qualities to which progsters will be attracted.
Lalu features particularly strong, upfront singing and variety in the songwriting that makes them stand out. Besides, of course, being a “prog metal” entity, Lalu has plenty of “adult contemporary metal” and prog rock elements. On one side of the equation, Lalu ends the album with “Revelations,” which is over 19 minutes. Lalu appears relatively oblivious to commercial pressure because this song is mellow and perhaps a bit spacey for some 8 minutes, and then it gets a bit heavier in places, but it never gets into the rocking mode. This song is one that only the true proghead will love: patience is a must.
“Greed,” “War on Animals,” and “Slaughtered” are examples of the rocking elements in Lalu, while “Dee Blue” “Tatonka,” and “Momento” require more effort from the listener, and are not particularly metal songs, although the metal is present.
The instrumentation is easy to hear, such as the riffing and the bass guitar, while the drums sound very clean (too clean and plastic, but this is the “normal” state of drumming in so much metal, including on the other bands’ albums reviewed in this little section.).
While Lalu is less metal, and more prog/adult contemporary metal/rock, Prospekt proves to be 100% total modern prog metal. The singing sounds very inspired by classic 70s Rush and traditional, melodic metal: notes that go for the high register, often and a lot.
Prospekt has lots of the tempo found in thrash/power/speed metal, but here and there, they show different glimpses of other tempos, although they are conscious to keep things uptempo and/or fast. Prospekt tends to alternate between longer and shorter songs, aware of pacing the mood of the album in a balanced way, to keep the sound metal. The instrumentation puts focus on guitar solos, shredding and riffs, and the guitar work is one of the major highlights of the album, the other being the singing.
The youthful energy of Prospekt contrasts with the more “middle age metal” of the previous band Lalu, and the proggy adult contemporary metal of the next band, Tragødia.
Tragødia wants to have the cake and eat it, too; and after you hear the album, you just might think so. Tragødia relies almost entirely on the power of the singing which by itself basically carries the complete album. The guitar work is a bit strange in the following sense: there’s a careful, almost minimalist approach to it and it’s odd to call them prog with such a guitar style, too: play-on, heavy riffs are the foundation, with hooks throughout, powered by the appealing singing, and a bit of keyboards atmospherics.
Tragødia is by far the catchiest, most ear-friendly and easy listening of these three bands. To me, Tragødia sports an Evergrey-ish energy that’s difficult to reject. The dark, gothic-ish proggy style is tempered by the adult contemporary, ear-candy vibes.
I would be curious to know what Evergrey supporters think of Tragødia, actually, because, to my ears, this band writes songs with a similar objective towards convincing the listener through strong vocal lines. In conclusion, all three bands work with certain specific spheres of sounds, and even though all three are “prog,” they invoke very different identities.

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