Classic Metal Class – Episode 1


This video is an excellent meditation on classic heavy metal and it is well worth your time.

Like any serious course of study, it comes with significant homework: namely, this truly excellent discography, compiled by Gregory B. Sadler, Ph.D:

Black Sabbath
• Black Sabbath (1970)
• Paranoid (1970)
• Master of Reality (1971)
• Vol. 4 (1972)
• Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

Deep Purple
• Deep Purple in Rock (1970)
• Fireball (1971)
• Machine Head (1972)
• Who Do We Think We Are (1973)
• Burn (1974)
• Stormbringer (1974)

Led Zeppelin
• Led Zeppelin II (1969)
• Led Zeppelin III (1970)
• Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
• Houses of the Holy (1973)

• UFO 1 (1970)
• UFO 2: Flying (1971)
• Phenomenon (1974)

Uriah Heep
• Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble (1970)
• Salisbury (1971)
• Look at Yourself (1971)
• Demons and Wizards (1972)
• The Magician’s Birthday (1972)
• Sweet Freedom (1973)
• Wonderworld (1974)

• Budgie (1971)
• Squawk (1972)
• Never Turn Your Back on a Friend (1973)
• In for the Kill! (1974)

Judas Priest
• Rocka Rolla (1974)

• Lonesome Crow (1972)
• Fly to the Rainbow (1974)

Flower Travellin Band
• Satori (1971)
• Made in Japan (1972)
• Make Up (1973)

Sir Lord Baltimore
• Kingdom Come (1970)
• Sir Lord Baltimore (1971)

• Bang (1972)
• Mother/Bow to the King (1972)
• Music (1973)

Alice Cooper
• School’s Out (1972)
• Billion Dollar Babies (1973)
• Muscle of Love (1973)

Blue Oyster Cult
• Blue Öyster Cult (1972)
• Tyranny and Mutation (1973)
• Secret Treaties (1974)

• Granicus (1973)

• Montrose (1973)
• Paper Money (1974)

Amboy Dukes (with Ted Nugent)
• Call of the Wild (recorded 1973)
• Tooth, Fang, and Claw (1974)

• Aerosmith (1973)
• Get Your Wings (1974)

• KISS (1974)

• Rush (1974)

• First Daze Here (2001 release of 70s material)

Now, go do your homework! (Thus spake Progarchy.)

After you watch the above video, here’s a summary of the first lesson (also compiled by Gregory B. Sadler, Ph.D):

1970 – A Seminal Year For Heavy Metal

February 1970
Black Sabbath release Black Sabbath

June 1970
Deep Purple release Deep Purple In Rock
Uriah Heep release Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble

September 1970
Black Sabbath release Paranoid

October 1970
Led Zeppelin release Led Zeppelin III
UFO release UFO 1

September 1970
Sir Lord Baltimore release Kingdom Come

Other important developments and processes:

  • Jimi Hendrix dies, and Jimi Hendrix experience dissolves.
  • Budgie, Iron Claw, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Blue Oyster Cult, Flower Travellin’ Band, Scorpions, Alice Cooper, Amboy Dukes are all playing and producing music, some of which is heavy metal.
  • Aerosmith, Necromandus, and Bang formed.

If you want to write a midterm exam, Progarchy invites you to reflect and then answer these two difficult questions:

  1. What is the definition of heavy metal?
  2. Where is the origin of heavy metal to be found?

On the latter question, Progarchy recommends that you also read the excellent essay over at Angry Metal Guy about the first Black Sabbath album, which begins thus:

Black Sabbath‘s eponymous 1970 debut might well be the ultimate Yer Metal is Olde entry. Besides being unquestionably metal, it’s also as Olde as Yer Metal can possibly get. Because, despite what a small minority of Coven and/or Blue Cheer fans might say, the release of Black Sabbath marks the birth of heavy metal itself as both a sound and a fully-formed aesthetic. (Some argue High Tide‘s 1969 debut, Sea Shanties is the actual birth of metal, and there is a wicked guitar tone on that album.) Infamously recorded in a single day, the album is more or less a live performance by a young band that was just starting to discover its own power.

If you doubt this album’s influence, just take a listen to the opening title track. That initial three-note riff — you’re hearing it in your head right now — informed everything that would follow, from Judas Priest to Metallica to the entire “doom” subgenre. Vocalist John “Ozzy” Osbourne then enters with an anguished vocal counterpoint, which completely separates this track from any blues or jazz that preceded it. The faster section of this song could be considered a precursor to NWoBHM and eventually thrash metal, although Sabbath would pioneer that more thoroughly with songs like “Symptom Of The Universe” later on. I don’t even need to mention that the song literally mentions Satan by name, decades before black metal bands were casually name-checking the big red guy.

The rest of the album, while not quite as terrifying, is still a fascinating listen. …

And here’s a link to the book discussed in the video above that approaches the subject with academic rigor:

Rock on, children of the grave!

“Bread and Yarn” @District97 & a Progarchy video essay

“Bread and Yarn” is my favorite track from District 97’s Screens album.

Just now they have released a killer high-concept video to complement it.

As a live band, District 97 is a riveting thrill ride, always fully seizing your attention.

For example, check out this tight and nimble cover of Genesis at RoS fest:

Just like all the best bands (for example, Rush, Yes, Genesis, etc.), District 97 is so skilled as musicians that they will impress you equally both on disc and live in concert.

For example, “Snow Country” is a brilliant track, whether you listen to a live version or to the studio version on In Vaults.

Then again, you may just say of anything by them that you love it even better live, because of the breathtaking musicianship wondrously displayed in real time.

Whether they are covering King Crimson, or anything by Bruford, you are presented with definitive proof that District 97 is today’s upper-echelon prog band.

Leslie Hunt’s vocals are always stunning, as she is consistently one of the best rock and jazz singers on the planet.

Thankfully, District 97 leaves plenty of room for her to rock hard.

Open you eyes, and open your ears, to one of today’s greatest bands.

Prog on, District 97.

You are truly contemporary prog’s rara avis.

Glass Hammer, “The Dreaming City” @GlassHammerProg

This new track from Glass Hammer is freakin’ awesome…

Don’t miss their amazing new disc Dreaming City, to be released during Easter Week (and now shipping).

If you loved Chronomonaut, then this new album is definitely also for you.

Man, I totally loved Chronomonaut, and in my review I pronounced it their finest album ever.

Glass Hammer amazes by constantly taking things to a whole new level with each new album.

The heaviness promised on Dreaming City thrills my prog metal heart, so stay tuned and get ready to rock 2020 with me at maximum volume…

Bob Dylan: “Murder Most Foul”

What the fork?? Bob Dylan releases a song 17 minutes long… “Murder Most Foul“… Holy prog, Batman!

BTW: You can assemble the original “Blood on the Tracks” from “More Blood, More Tracks”: select tracks 69 (CD5, No.3), 71 (CD5, No.5), 34 (CD3, No.3), 76 (CD5, No.10), 48 (CD4, No.2), 16 (CD2, No.5), 11 (CD1, No.11), 59 (CD4, No.13), 46 (CD3, No.15), & 58 (CD4, No.12).

Get ready for @WhiteCrone on 22/02/2020!

Great sounding tracks below from White Crone!

No hype, definitely as advertised: ‘White Crone’s The Poisoner delivers Traditional Heavy Metal, with traces of prog, proto & doom. Featuring soaring Dickinsonian female vocals, epic dual guitars, thunderous drums & (most especially) iron-fisted bass guitar, The Poisoner will take you “back to the day.”‘

Neil Peart marched to his own beat of faith

neilpeartFrom my tribute to Neil Peart, a focus on his lyrics and their spiritual journey:

Fly by Night (1975) was Peart’s first album with Rush. The title track buoyantly celebrates the sense of adventure that should characterize life: “Start a new chapter / Find what I’m after / It’s changing every day.”

But on Caress of Steel (also 1975), with the track “I Think I’m Going Bald,” Peart grapples with mortality: “My life is slipping away / I’m aging every day / But even when I’m grey / I’ll still be grey my way.”

This independent ethos assumed mythical form on 2112 (Rush’s breakthrough hit album of 1976), which depicts a dystopian sci-fi future where a totalitarian priesthood bans guitar music and tries to bring the story’s hero under its total control.

On A Farewell to Kings (1977), the magnificent song “Xanadu” retells the story of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan.” Peart depicts the emptiness that results when one is devoted solely to a life of pleasure: “Waiting for the world to end / Weary of the night / Praying for the light.”

Hemispheres (1978) contains “The Trees,” a memorable parable from Peart about a war between oaks and maples. The terrifying twist ending shows the violent cost of egalitarian revolution: “Now there’s no more oak oppression / For they passed a noble law / And the trees are all kept equal / By hatchet, axe, and saw.”

Although aware of humanity’s evil tendencies, Peart’s humane optimism bursts through in “Jacob’s Ladder,” from Permanent Waves (1980): “Follow men’s eyes / As they look to the skies / The shifting shafts of shining / Weave the fabric of their dreams.”

On the jubilant “Limelight” from Moving Pictures (1981), Peart clings to hope for life lived to the fullest, despite the obstaces presented by social convention: “Those who wish to be / Must put aside the alienation / Get on with the fascination.”

The album Signals (1982) laments those who “sell their dreams for small desires,” in the song “Subdivisions,” which makes the mass-production building zones of suburbia into a metaphor for social conformity: “Subdivisions / In the basement bars / In the backs of cars / Be cool or be cast out.”

Grace Under Pressure (1984) contains the haunting song “Afterimage” about the death of a friend: “Suddenly, you were gone / From all the lives you left your mark upon.”

It’s a testimony to the impact of Neil Peart that so many people felt such a blow from his death.

Music gives shape to our lives as we reflect along with it in our private interior dialogues. Peart was a conversation partner for many in this inner world.

Although he was agnostic in public, yet always “looking for an open door” (as he put it), perhaps the hope and joy he did discover in life may have enabled him to find his way in the end.

Pure Reason Revolution release ‘Eupnea’ on April 3


Pure Reason Revolution announce Eupnea — their first studio album in nearly 10 years!

Last year, Jon Courtney and Chloë Alper reunited the much-loved Pure Reason Revolution, playing their first show in close to eight years at Midsummer Prog Festival and performing their debut album The Dark Third in full. Today they are excited to announce the release of Eupnea, their first new studio album in nearly 10 years, for the 3rd of April 2020.