Thursday, January 17, 2013

The 21st Century: The New "Golden Age" of Prog?

History has pretty well concluded that the "Classic Era" of Progressive Rock music was the years 1967 through 1975 or 1976. The "Dark Ages" (though not-so-very dark, IMHO [see my blogpost from November 2012, "The 80s: The Prog Dark Ages?") which followed were from 1976 through about 1988. Many critics and listeners have begun to recognize that a veritable Prog "Renaissance" began in somewhere in the 1989-92 period. I will now argue that since the Renaissance forged a strong foundation for new progressive rock artists to thrive and succeed, a new "Golden Age" of progressive rock has ensued.
     Since about the year 2001, a new generation of progressive rock artists has arisen. From Scandanavia--one of the hotbeds of new prog--we have Taylor's Universe, Paatos, Kamelot, Nightwish, 5Briodges, Flamborough Head, Kayak, Mindgames, After Forever, Sun Caged,  Within Temptation, Pain of Salvation, Opeth, Beardfish, Enslaved, Moon Safari, Gazpacho, Gösta Bërlings Saga, Mind's Eye, Ritual, Leprous, Green Carnation, Seventh Wonder, Cult of Luna, Karmakanik, Motorpsycho, Pagan's Mind, Von Hetzen Brothers, Mew, Arcturus, A.C.T., Simon Says, Introitus, Airbag, My Brother the Wind, Ihsahn, Wobbler, Lalle Larsson, Grand Stand, Agents of Mercy, Beyond Twilight, Anekdoten, Hidria Spacefolk, Ulver, Sigur Rós, First Band from Outer Space, Black Bonzo, Diablo Swing Orchestra, White Willow, Therion, Samuel Jackson Five, Magic Pie, Thomas Bodin, Wolverine, Ageness.  From the Low Countries we have Ayreon and the other projects of Arjen Lucassen, Life Line Project, Hypnos 69, The Gathering, Sky Architect, Trion, Quantum Fantay, Odyssice, Exivious, Leap Day, Battlestations, Silhouette, Knight Area, Epica, Aranis,  From France we have Nemo, Minimum Vital, XII Alfonso, Fen, Jean Louis, One Shot, Nil, Gojira, Seven Rheizh, NeBeLeST, Taal, Adagio, Setna, Thork, Delusioin Squared, Death Spell Omega, Silver Lining, Lazuli, Syrinx, Skeem Zaar, Xing Sa, The Black Noodle Project, Progression by Failure, Alcest and Camembert. From Germany we have Sylvan, Frequency Drift, RPWL, Blind Guardian, Vanden Plas, Disillusion, T, Shamall, Panzerballet, Subsignal, Seiges Even, Long Distance Calling, Samsara Blues Experiment, Electric Orange, Martigan, Effloresce, The Ocean, Argos, 7 for 4, Lacrimosa, and Everon. From Poland we have Riverside, Lunatic Soul, Satellite, Mr. Gil, Believe, Quidam, Lebowski, Indukti, Pinkroom, Millenium, Votum, Osada Vida,  and Retrospective. From Eastern Europe, Russia and other former states of the Soviet Union we have Gourishankar, Vespero, From.UZ, Negura Bunget, iamthemorning, Rational Diet, Thy Catafalque, Little Tragedies, Sunchild and Karfagen and other projects by Antony Kalugen. From The Middle East, Africa and the Occident we have Orphaned Land, Distorted Harmony, Mytrath, Sanhedrin, Siddhartha, Soul Enima, Nemrud, Trespass, and Ephrat. From Latin America we have Nexus, Tempano, Aisles, Factor Burzaco, Cabezas de Cera, Anima Mundi, Calez, Pez, Cartoon, Agora, Seti, Mar de Robles, Mindflow, Cast, Seven-Sided Diamond, Violeta de Outono, Alas, Akinetón Retard, Jaime Rosas, Abrete Gandul, and, of course, Omar Rodriguez-Lopéz. From Canada and the United States we have Discipline, Toby Driver and his projects, maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot, The Mars Volta, Phideaux, Dan Britten projects like Cerebus Effect, Birds and Buildings, Deluge Grander, and All Over Everywhere, Devin Townsend, Tool and other Maynard James Keenan projects, Spock's Beard and Neal Morse, UneXpect, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Russian Circles, Shadow Gallery, Death, Neurosis, The Decemberists, Agolloch, Isis, Miriodor, Dredg, Dean Watson, Stephen Desbiens, Mastodon, MiRthKon, The Tea Club, Mystery, The Dear Hunter, Shadow Circus, Astra, Shaolin Death Squad, Cirrus Bay, Oblivion Sun, Symphony X, Ephemeral Sun, Grails, Greylevel, Planet X, District 97, The Box, 3rd Degree, OSI, Rishloo, I and Thou, and a whole bunch of Post Rock/Math Rock bands. From the United Kingdom we have Steven Wilson and his projects Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, and No-Man, Big Big Train, Arena, Haken, Anathema, Diagonal, DeeExpus, Magenta, Nine Stones Close, Riversea, Transatlantic, Galahad, Mostly Autumn, Iona, The Future Kings of England, Abel Ganz, Oceansize, Amplifier, To-Mera, Guapo, Manning, Credo, North Sea Radio Orchestra, Bark Psychosis, 65daysofstatic, IOEarth, Comedy of Errors, Headspace, Mogwai, Autumn Chorus, Crippled Black Phoenix, It Bites, Pineapple Thief, Thieves' Kitchen, Radiohead, Frost*, Touchstone, Sean Filkins, Cosmograf, The Lens, Willowglass, Tinyfish, and many many others.

This new wave of prog has inspired many of the older artists from the Classic Era to return to the format. Some have returned to or reformed old bands that they had left (Magma, PFM, New Trolls, Alphataurus, Van Der Graaf Generator, Nektar, Renaissance, The Enid, Rush, and Anglagard [sort of]) or in new combinations with other band mates of similar ages. (Levin/Torn/White, Brian Eno, King Crimson, Steve Hackett, Keith Emerson, etc.)

The lists of active prog bands provided here on this page are enough to give more convincing weight to the fact of a prog Renaissance, but the claim as to this being a new "Golden Age" can only be verified by the reception this new music is receiving--the reviews and ratings. Were one to do a statistical comparison, I think it would be shown that the Naughties provided far more critically acclaimed music (certainly in quantity) than the (early) Seventies did.

Hail! to the new Golden Age!

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