Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When Prog Goes Wrong.

Sometimes, friends who know my appreciation for the musical genre commonly referred to as "prog" ask me questions about it. "What bands should I check out?", "Are all King Crimson albums that weird?", "Does technical death metal count at least partially as being prog?", "Why is the singer of Dream Theater wearing a leather vest?", "Why did Rick Wakeman of the band Yes do a concept album about the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle?" These are all common questions, but the one that most often comes up is "Is the band _______ prog?" Some may say that most prog bands barely fit under the "metal" umbrella, but in the spirit of covering all of our musical bases, let's delve deeper into the subject. To start, here are a few items on the prog check list that you should really look into before making a decision.

1. Does the band make concept albums, or primarily write about a certain subject or a continuing storyline?

2. Does the band perform entire albums live (in the same order as the studio recording)?

3. Do band members have an affinity for Tolkien's books, mythology, science or an aspect of technology in particular?

4. Are band members credited as playing more than one instrument, and if so are they multiple version of the same instrument (for example "four, six and eight string bass"). Do band members relish in playing more than one instrument at a time in live settings to further state the complexity of their music?

5. Are the band's songs too long, have interludes, or are they split up in a manner reminiscent of classical compositions? Is the term "Overture" used?

I think that if a band has at least three of these, you are looking at a prog band. But I'm here today to share with you a fine example of what happens when prog goes wrong. I'm talking about the band Persephone's Dream, a band that has all these characteristics and then some (including members that look like cult leaders, magicians, and renaissance fair attendees, multiple female singers, and a stage act that includes puppets.) They describe themselves this way:

Persephones Dream is capable of great extremes: heaviness and subtlety, the metrical complexity of prog and the rhythmic insistency of techno or industrial music, epic grandeur and pop melodicism.

If you listen to their music, and think any of the above statement is true, I'll buy you a cupcake. Holy lord almighty. Check out their site, or myspace page.


  1. I refuse to even listen to this band, though I probably should for a laugh, but I do find it hilarious that one of the members is credited with "Birds". What the fuck is that all about? "Birds"!?

  2. another criteria for if a band is considered "prog" is the ratio of overweight male fans with goatees and glasses vs. female fans. If it's over 100:1, it's usually a safe bet that the band is prog.

  3. another dead giveaway is the presence of someone playing the Chapman Stick