Fire Garden’s Immediate Past and Immediate Future

“Best ofs” are flying around every where at the moment.

The top 10.  The top 22.  The top 25.  Best albums.  Best songs.  Best gigs.

Admittedly, I not only love all of these lists, but I encourage and contribute to them.  List, list, list!  Yet, in the middle of it all, I also worry.  Are we allowing the conventions of time to limit our vision?  Things that came out in 2015 have relevance, while things that came out in 2010 have weight.  What about those things that came out between 2010 and now?

So, in the spirit of lists and in the warning labels that should come attached to every one of them, I offer the following about a favorite from. . . not 2015. . . but 2014.  May it never be forgotten.

Do not–I repeat–DO NOT enter 2016 without having purchased this brilliant album from 2014.

On June 10, 2014, Zee Baig, Chicago prog mastermind and professional artist (photography), revealed to the world Fire Garden’s first full LP, the gorgeous SOUND OF MAJESTIC COLORS.  A little less than two years earlier, he had tempted us all with his three-song EP, appropriately entitled THE PRELUDE.  It was a smart move on Zee’s part, as it truly whetted the appetite.  For eighteen months, I looked forward to the full album.  And, when it finally arrived, it did no–in any way–disappoint.  It was everything the EP had promised and, then, so much more.  The band kindly sent me a review copy, but I was also more than happy to purchase a personal copy.  And, so glad that I did.  Zee does nothing if not perfectly, and a beautiful package arrived promptly from the Windy City, complete with a lovingly-crafted CD and case, a poster, small stickers, and a large bumper sticker, “GOT PROG?”  I had never applied a bumper sticker to my car before.  I generally find them entertaining but tacky.  This one was so good, however—and I was moving to Boulder, Colorado—I had to apply it.  And, there it proudly remains.  It’s actually attracted a lot of attention, especially when I was in Colorado.

As I type this, the band is recording (literally, as I type this) its second album.  I type “band” for convenience, but Zee properly labels Fire Garden a “project,” rather than a band, and, of course, he’s right.  As a project, it magnifies the art, soul, and mind of Zee rather than being a mere expression of each.

SOUND OF MAJESTIC COLORS has been in constant rotation in my playlist for eighteen-months now.  Never has it left that playlist, and never has it bored me.  Indeed, as with all true art, the album reveals more and more to me with each listen.  Granted, I received the album just days before moving to Colorado for a year, so it is tied up with very good personal feelings and memories of my time at CU-Boulder.  But, lots of albums could have done that—at least in terms of possibilities—but it was Fire Garden that best expressed my love of life along the Front Range.  Even now, as I listen to it, I can remember with absolute clarity the view of Rocky Mountain National Park from our back deck.

Zee describes his own music as a reflection of his love for progressive metal bands such as Dream Theater as well as for much harder prog such as Rush.  He also properly notes that he doesn’t really like categorization and that he goes where the muses lead him.  Amen.

Intense perfectionist, Zee Baig.

As many times as I’ve listened to the album, I still can’t quite place it into any specific category of music.  Yes, I hear Zee’s love of Dream Theater, Drama-era Yes, and Rush and other bands too, but Zee offers something quite different than any one of these bands does.  He shares the tightness of both DT and Rush, but he’s also more melodic than DT and more intense than Rush.  His lyrics, too, speak to a million things.  If I’m understanding every thing I’m hearing, I assume that Zee and I have a fairly similar view of the world, but I may be missing some depth here.  He’s younger than I am by almost two decades, but I still think we view the world in a rather similar fashion.  His love of intensity and perfection certainly inspires me.  No doubt about it.

And, interestingly enough, the lyrics point out everything from a love of Christopher Nolen’s Dark Knight trilogy to existential angst to perseverance to the nature of grace.  All to the good!

Jimmy Keegan and Zee.

Zee has offered a few teasers from time to time on social media about the forthcoming album, and, of course, he is genius.  The big news is that the new album will feature Jimmy Keegan, the drummer from Spock’s Beard.

Add to this the fact that the first album featured engineers from Dream Theater and Rush, and you get a really good sense of what means what to Zee.  As I’ve already written, this is not a guy to do anything half way.  If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing with excellence.  Zee is excellence, and excellence is Zee.

As we exit 2015 and contemplate the best of this year, let’s not forgot what led into it, what came immediately before it, and what will spring from it.  Fire Garden’s new album is certainly one I anticipate the most for the upcoming year.

Make sure you visit Zee’s official site:  He keeps it up regularly, and I’m always interested in what he’s listening to at the moment.


New Fire Garden EP forthcoming

Great news from Zee:

Fire Garden is going to record new EP

Yes you read it right, after one year of highly accomplished ‘Sound of Majestic Colors’. This update is for exclusive email list members. Zee has written 4 new songs which is about 30+ minutes of music and planning to do special Vinyl +CD release. Expect a special announcement soon.


Zee Baig’s New Song

Zee Baig, the present and future of American prog.
Zee Baig, the present and future of American prog.

Just now (10am, Central Standard Time), Zee Baig, mastermind behind one of the best American prog bands, Fire Garden, has released a solo song.  It is beautiful, haunting, and earnest.  “Yeh Jahan.”

Please check it out here:


To purchase the first album from Fire Garden, SOUND OF MAJESTIC COLORS (and you should!), go here:

Fire Garden's first.
Fire Garden’s first.

Hit By a White Car: The Best 8 ALBUMS of 2014

And, my final “best of” post for 2014.  Let’s hope that you’re not getting too tired of these!

I’ve saved the albums that hit me the hardest—at level of mind and soul—for the last.  I guess it’s somewhat goofy to have a “top eight,” but these are my top eight.  These are the albums that did everything right, the ones that pulled it all together, offering real glimpses of the turning spheres.  The first seven are in no particular order.  I like them equally, and I think they’ve each attained the highest an album can reach but in quite different ways.

Poland's best.
Poland’s best.

What can one say about Poland’s greatest, Newspaperflyhunting?  Craig Breaden has already explained—in perfect detail—why this is a perfect album.  From atmospherics to piercingly intelligent lyrics to mood swinging melodies, these Eastern Europeans have created what is certainly one of the most innovating and interesting albums of the last few decades.  The album, ICEBERG SOUL, has much in common with early 1990’s American psychedelic revival, and there’s a real Mazzy Star and Opal feel to much of the music.  But, whereas Mazzy Star was really good, Newspaperflyhunting is simply excellent.  Droning, walls of sound, haunting guitar lines—this album has it all.

Two guys named Dave.
Two guys named Dave.

Salander, a new band from England, has blown me away as much as Newspaperflyhunting, and the two bands have much in common.  Slander is only two guys, each named Dave, but you’d never know it listening to the music.  Much as Cailyn plays every single thing on her album, the two Daves do the same.  Their two albums this year, CRASH COURSE FOR DESSERT and STENDEC, are really one album, a journey through the wonders and terrors of the world, seen and unseen.  The two Daves move effortlessly from one style of music to another, but they always hold it all together with what can only be described as a Salander sound.  These two albums provide a journey that you hope never ends.

The end result of Americans, Brits, and Dutch working together: pure goodness.
The end result of Americans, Brits, and Dutch working together: pure goodness.

Armed with some new producers and engineers and a barrel full of confidence, the Anglo-Dutch-American band, Fractal Mirror, has proven the worth of community and friendship a million times over with GARDEN OF GHOSTS, a landmark album.  As mentioned previously, there’s a lot of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets in this album.  But, whereas those 1980’s bands felt as though they had one cool trick, Fractal Mirror is the real deal.  GARDEN OF GHOSTS is mind-bogglingly good—stunning in every way—and we are so blessed to be catching them at the beginning of their journey.  Certainly, it’s Gothic in tone, but it’s always soaring and light and dark and maddening and enlightening and loving. . . .  It’s also quite defiant, and, at times, the lyrics make Neil Peart look like a softy.

Sowing some seeds of love.
Sowing some seeds of love.

I think the first album by the Tin Spirits one of my all-time favorite albums.  It would certainly be in my top ten all-time albums.  In particular, the song “Broken” is a masterpiece, a progged-out Allman Brothers kind of song.  I eagerly awaited SCORCH, and I’ve not been disappointed.  This is guitar prog, pop prog, rock prog—however one might label it, it’s just amazingly good.  The four guys in the band obviously really like one another, and their friendship comes out in a myriad of ways in the music.  The best song on Scorch, “Summer Now,” might very well be the best song of the year.  As with Flying Colors, the Tin Spirits should be playing on every single album-rock radio across North America.  The contrast between the two bands?  Where Flying Colors might cross the line and go “over the top,” the Tin Spirits go for taste, class, and a dignified restraint.

American demi-god Zee behind the wheel.
American demi-god Zee behind the wheel.

Not to be too jingoistic, but one of the best aspects of 2014 has been the emergence of a number of North American prog bands.  I’ve already mentioned several over the last few posts.  The very best of the American prog bands, though, is Fire Garden.  Holy Schnikees these guys are good.  Scratch that.  These guys are amazing!  They clearly love Dream Theater, but they’re also 20x better than Dream Theater.  Just as the Tin Spirits goes for dignified restraint, so does Fire Garden.  Rather than play 30 notes in a millisecond, master musician and lyricist Zee Baig goes for just the necessary ones, the ones most needed for creativity and beauty.  Again, that dignified restraint, when employed properly, can be such a beautiful thing.  As I noted with Threshold and Haken, I don’t generally gravitate toward the heavier stuff.  With Fire Garden, I happily embrace it.  Of course, their heaviness is more Rush than Metallica.   But, again, everything is perfect.  I’ve focused on the band’s ubercoolleader, Zee, but everyone is in top form here.  Zee pulls it all together.

So much greater than a muppet.
So much greater than a muppet.

I’m almost afraid to mention John Bassett.  I’ve praised the that English stocking cap-wearing bard so many times, folks might start to wonder if I have some bizarre motive or some mancrush.  Trust me, I’m married and have six kids.  Yet, I do really love Bassett—just not in THAT way.  Bassett’s music, through Kingbathmat, appeared in my life just a few years ago, but I can’t imagine my love of prog or music without him now, even as I look back to four decades of music obsession.  Bassett’s first solo album, Uneßarth, is a psychedelic folk album, the kind of album that Storm Corrosion should have been.  Somehow, Bassett’s actual voice (vocals) have a guitar-like quality.  It’s bizarre.  Beautifully and wondrously bizarre.  And, despite his own self-deprecating remarks about merely being a “muppet”, Bassett is one of our best cultural critics.  Of course, I love Animal, and there is a slight resemblance.  Equally interesting, Bassett went the Matt Stevens/Fierce and the Dead route with his second album of 2014, a vocal-less progressive metal affair called Arcade Messiah.  Each reveals a fascinating side to this very fascinating artist.  What would I love to see—Bassett to bring these two styles together in Kingbathmat, writing a full-blown prog epic, unapologetic and unrelentingly so.

Taste defined.
Taste defined.

Once again, here comes the bro-mance.  Sorry, Sally!  I love your man, too.  Just in very different ways than do you.  I’m not sure Andy Tillison is capable of a misstep.  Not only has he been one of the two or three most important musicians of what he’s insightfully called “Third Wave Prog,” he’s now becoming one of the two or three most important musicians in what I’ve attempted—admittedly, not very successfully—“Fourth Wave Prog.”  His only release this year (what a funny thing to type) is under the name, cleverly, The Andy Tillison Multiplex.  The album: ELECTRONIC SINFONIA 2.  Just as Cailyn has brought classical music back into the world of prog, Andy is bringing jazz and jazz fusion back into prog.  This album is beyond stunning.  It is the very essence of taste itself.  Every note, every line, every segue is just astounding.  Tillison is a perfectionist, and it shows on and in all that he does.  Thank you, Mr. Diskdrive.  Rage on.

The best album of 2014 and a masterpiece for decades to come.
The best album of 2014 and a masterpiece for decades to come.

And, so I come to my favorite album of 2014.  It took a while for me to get here, and if you fine progarchist reader are still with me, bless you.  God has granted you immense patience.  Though, as I’ve noted, this has been one of the best years ever in prog—and I’ve loved everything I’ve mentioned in the previous posts—I’ve loved this the most: Cosmograf’s CAPACITOR.  Made by master of chronometry, Robin Armstrong, CAPACITOR is the perfect album.  To those of you who write and produce instrumental music, thank you.  And, please accept my apologies.  I love what you do, but, not being trained in music, I don’t always get what you’re doing, even if I love it.  For me, prog has been centrally about the lyrics and the story telling, with the music augmenting the two.  I love the Word and the words.  And, that brings me to CAPACITOR, a story that has everything.  It’s a mix of science fiction and the occult, a play on religious revivals and scientific fetishes of a century ago.  It’s not steam punk, it’s seance punk!  And, what a story.  Simply put, it’s the best sci-fi story of 2014.  Part Arthur Conan Doyle, part Ray Bradbury, it’s purely Robin Armstrong.  And, as we all know, Robin is not only a perfectionist, he’s an aural genius.  He knows exactly how to mix word and note.  This album is so good, it, almost by itself, redefines the entire genre.  This is an album to match CLOSE TO THE EDGE, SPIRIT OF EDEN, and, much more recently, ENGLISH ELECTRIC and LE SACRE DU TRAVAIL.

N.B.  Please forgive any typos.  I have a three-year old princess acting rather grumpy as she deals with the flu.  Lots of distractions in the Birzer household.

Previous posts in my “Best of 2014” series:

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Have We Entered a Fourth Wave of Prog?

I’ve been thinking about this for much of the year.  2014 seems like a very different year for prog—especially when compared with 2011, 2012, and 2013.

8 page booklet P8&1The incredible music of 2014 in the prog world—from John Bassett, Newspaperflyhunting, Fire Garden, Tin Spirits, Arcade Messiah, Andy Tillison, Cailyn Lloyd, Galahad (Stu Nicholson), Salander, Fractal Mirror, and a host of others–further convinces me we’ve entered into a new wave of prog, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post.

Andy Tillison and Brian Watson have convincingly argued in favor of dividing the history of prog into three waves, the third wave beginning around 1994 or so.

If Tillison and Watson are correct, and I suspect they are, I believe we might have entered what we could call the fourth wave.

The turning point came in 2013 with grand and profound releases from Big Big Train, The Tangent, and Glass Hammer.  These albums were so excellent, perhaps the best in prog history, that they might very well have represented the apex of third-wave prog.

arcade messiah artTake a listen to any of the above mentioned artists in 2014.  Their music, especially when compared to the releases of the previous several years, offers something much more experimental and reflective.  The story telling is less narrative and more punctuated, the lyrics more imagistic.

Anyway, I’m thinking (and typing) out loud.  I’ll give it more thought.

Zee Baig is an American: Long Live, Fire Garden!

I just found out that Chicago’s master of all things Prog, Zee Baig, became an American citizen today.  Getting to know Zee–even if only virtually–over the last year has been one of the great joys of editing progarchy.  

Sound of Majestic Colors (2014) by Fire Garden.  A masterful work of prog metal.
Sound of Majestic Colors (2014) by Fire Garden. A masterful work of prog metal.

His success today is the kind of thing that makes me say: good for Zee and incredibly good for America!

So, let me be blunt–let’s please help Zee celebrate by supporting his excellent band, FIRE GARDEN.  


A U.S. citizen.
A U.S. citizen.

The Dramatic Rock of Fire Garden’s “Sound Of Majestic Colors”


During the month of May, some of us Progarchists switched into “Rush Appreciation Mode” as we paid tribute to the group that, for some of us, forever altered our view of what music could be on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut release. This very site is a reflection of our appreciation for a genre of music that, for so many of us, started with our first exposure to Rush. For so many, they were springboard into the world of progressive rock.

Of course, there’s another generation of progressive rock fans from the 1990’s who cut their teeth on prog through Dream Theater, while for some of us older folks, Dream Theater was the group that picked up the torch for progressive rock starting in the 1990’s, when iconic bands such as Rush and Yes had either changed their songwriting approach and/or gradually declined in popularity. Still other prog fans recently found their love of the genre through Tool’s and/or Steven Wilson’s works.

In the spirit of the more recent iconic, progressive hard rock groups such as Dream Theater, Chicago-based Fire Garden has released their first full-length album, “Sound Of Majestic Colors,” which follows their December 2012 EP release, “Prelude.” As is the case with most prog, repeated listens will reveal layers within the music, but the album is also accessible from the get-go.

Prog fans will have little trouble picking out styles and sounds similar to Dream Theater, but anyone who dismisses the group simply as a knockoff of DT does so at their own peril, for Fire Garden is very much their own band.

That said, the album opens with perhaps the group’s biggest nod to its Dream Theater influence in “The Joker.” Guitarist/songwriter Zee Baig channels John Petrucci’s guitar sound from “Train Of Thought,” there are echoes of the Derek Sherinian era DT with some nice organ work, some percussive keyboard patches that take from Jordan Rudess’ work in later years and even some fast kick drum work that might recall Mike Portnoy’s heavier playing prior to his departure from DT.  A vocal-heavy middle section breaks up the influences noted above, showcasing the group’s range.

Despite liking “The Joker” quite a bit over repeated spins, I was a bit fearful that I might be subjected to an album not unlike “Train Of Thought,” which is one of my least favorite DT albums, but oh, how Fire Garden quickly proved me wrong.

It’s rare that I’ll hear a succession of tracks for the first time and think, “This one’s my favorite!,” then say to the next, “No – THIS one’s my favorite,” but that’s exactly what unfolded during the first four tracks on “Sound Of Majestic Colors” as “The Joker” gave way to the soulful “Alone,” abandoning the bombast of the opening track for a slower, more atmospheric vibe. We then get a touch of “Images And Words”-era Dream Theater with the big-sounding “Time Machine,” but Fire Garden then shows us an altogether different side with “Endless Memories,” with bassist Barry Kleiber weaving melodic bass lines over acoustic/electric guitars, setting the tone for what is easily the most accessible track on the album. The track features a lovely, soaring chorus that’ll no doubt have audiences singing along.

This changing up and blending of styles that Fire Garden seem so comfortable writing continues throughout the album with a trifecta of big rtracks in “Redemption,” “Behind The Face”, and “Echoes Of Silence,” then broken up by the lovely, harmony-laden “Far From Grace,” and finally, the cinematic album ender, “The Last Step.” If rock radio was still open to progressive hard rock they way it was 20 years ago, tracks from “Sound Of Majestic Colors” would find a place in station’s rotation, to be sure.

It’s worth mentioning that throughout “Sound Of Majestic Colors,” singer Kevin Pollack does a fine job using his range – a bit lower but a welcome change from the wails of many prog/metal vocalists – bringing the proper measure of energy, emotion and, well, gravitas to each song.

The lyrics on the album tend to explore dark themes – battling demons both internal and external, sometimes literal – in “Alone,” “The Joker,” “Echoes In Silence” and “Redemption,” greed in “Time Machine,” love lost in “Endless Memories,” and finally, reaching for redemption/rejuvenation in “The Last Step.”

Half of the 10 tracks on “Majestic Colors” clock in between eight and nine minutes, giving the band plenty of space for stylistic exploration without falling into the noodling/padding trap that’s so often a cliche of prog.  They also avoid cramming as many time signatures into each tune as possible just for the sake of it, making the album quite accessible to those ears tripped up a bit by odd-meter shifts.

Fire Garden also gets it right with the album packaging and liner notes, very much reminiscent of Hugh Syme’s best work with Rush and Dream Theater, as each lyric is mated its own piece of artwork, beautifully complementing our listening experience in way that liner notes from the aforementioned bands do.

Knowing that the prog community is a tight-knit one, I would highly advise any reader with influence over any prog festival or cruise – as is the case these days – to quickly snap up Fire Garden as they’d be a worthy addition and sure-fire fan favorite. Better still, how’s about groups like Rush and Dream Theater consider the next generation of prog by dropping the well-worn “Evening with…” format and getting these guys out on tour to build as big a following as possible?

“Sound Of Majestic Colors” is more than enough evidence that Fire Garden has an extensive palette of talent and styles to “paint” with, making this release a more than worthy addition to prog fans’ libraries.  Dream Theater’s ridiculously, prodigiously-talented lineup may still have a tight hold on prog’s hard rock torch, but Fire Garden stands as a potential successor with “Sound Of Majestic Colors.”

Fire Garden Band Photo 1


The Fire Garden of Infinite Delights

[The first of at least two reviews of Fire Garden, Sound of Majestic Colors (Fire Garden Music, Chicago, IL, 2014).  Official Website for the band and label:  Kevin Williams will also be reviewing the album.  Frankly, I’m not qualified enough re: prog metal to review this.  But, my love of the album kind of forced my hand.–BjB]


Fire Garden's SOUND OF MAJESTIC COLORS comes out, officially, tomorrow, June 10.  Order now!
Fire Garden’s SOUND OF MAJESTIC COLORS comes out, officially, tomorrow, June 10. Order now!


With no intention of being jingoistic, I’m very happy to see a nice resurgence of progressive rock in America.  The English and the Scandinavians currently provide the touchstone, but I would hate to see the Americans not compete at all!

Of course, when it comes to North America, we’ve had some great prog bands and individuals in for the long haul: Rush, Glass Hammer, IZZ, Dream Theater, John Galgano, Kevin McCormick, 3RDegree, Neal Morse, Spock’s Beard, and a few others.  Recently, we’ve seen the rise of Hour of the Shipwreck and Astra as well.

Now, we have Fire Garden, a new progressive rock/metal band from America’s third largest city, Chicago.

The brainchild of professional photographer Zee Baig, Fire Garden will release its first full-length album, Sound of Majestic Colors, tomorrow.  This closely follows the band’s first EP, The Prelude, which came out at the beginning of the year.  Three songs overlap: “Time Machine,” “Far from Grace,” and “Forsaken,” though the former two appear in slightly different versions on the EP and the LP.  Certainly, each of these releases from Fire Garden is well worth owning.

When I first heard the Sound of Majestic Colors, I wrote my thoughts down quickly:

Confident, melodic, intense, moving, driven.  Fire Garden is the present and the future of progressive metal.  Sound of Majestic Colors is a triumph in every way.

Additional listens have only added to my wonder and astonishment regarding this album.

First, let me discuss the superficials, that is, the appearances of things.  Visually, Sound of Majestic Colors is an incredible package.  The CD case (very important to me) provides a fascinating mix and incorporation of black and white photography, psychedelia, Macintosh imagery (a play on the spinning beach ball of doom—at the center of the cover photo), and weapons of mass destruction.

If I had to compare it to anything, I would compare it to the best packaging Dream Theater ever produced—that for Train of Thought LP.  But, frankly, Train of Thought’s artwork tried to be a little too psychedelic., little too Floydish.  The eyeball on the cover has failed to age well, and it now appears far less creepy than it does derivative.  Fire Garden avoids the clichés, creating its own vision for the album.  Far from contrived, its psychedelia comes from the heart and the soul.

My copy of Sound of Majestic Colors arrived with business cards, bumper stickers, circle window stickers, a full-size poster, and bookmarks (see photo below).  All of this is done with absolute class, and I welcome such things greatly.  Indeed, I will be keeping these things in a very safe place accompanying similar items I’ve collected and received from Rush, North Atlantic Oscillation, Porcupine Tree, etc.

Second, instrumentation, performance, and ability of the musicians.  My first reaction to my even asking this is simply: “Holy Schnikees!  Are you kidding me?”

Though these guys are young, they sound so very, very good.  I am not a huge fan of Dream Theater, as I feel they really have little soul and more or less write music to chase notes, all of it trapped in a graceless cycle.  I have always, however, respected the talents and abilities of the individual musicians in Dream Theater.  Imagine that same ability, but augmented by and with real story telling strengths and melodic overrtones and undertones.  Combine Dream Theater’s skills with some serious artistic class, and you have Fire Garden.  Kevin Pollack—vocals.  Perfect.  Zee Baig—guitars.  Sheesh.  Beyond perfect.  Frank Lucas—keyboards.  Perfect.  Barry Keliber—Bass.  Perfect.  Chuck White—Drums.  Holy Moses.  More than perfect.

Production and mastering—perfect.  The depth to this recording is astounding.  Everything is clear, everything is deep, and everything is layered.  Again, imagine Dream Theater’s production, but even more top notch.

Third, lyrics.  I’m a huge fan of good lyrics, and I consider them essential to the success of any album.  Lyrically, this album is as layered and dark as its production.  Lots of angst, guilt, and questioning in the lyrics.  In the end, though, the lyrics exist for a real and meaningful purpose, a poetic one.   Song titles such as “Alone,” “Endless Memories,” “Redemption,” “Forsaken,” and “Far from Grace” reveal everything about the seriousness and intent of the album.  That Baig offers his greatest thanks in the booklet to Almighty Allah says about everything that needs to be said.  Baig is a serious man, and he takes his art as seriously as he takes his faith.  If you’ll permit some Aramaic—Amen, Zee.

If you’re looking for something well done, something taken seriously, and something that—in terms of style—varies from heavy to metal to prog to AOR to arena and back to prog metal, look no further.

Fire Garden is not just the present and future of American prog metal, the band is the present and future of all prog metal.


Fire Garden Extras.
Fire Garden Extras.




Fire Garden’s Sound of Majestic Colors, Forthcoming

Firegarden_somc_lowGreat news from the Chicago proggers, Fire Garden.

We are pleased to announce the details of our first full length studio album ‘Sound of Majestic Colors’ . The album will be released on May 20.

The album will be available on CD with a 24 page booklet containing song artworks and lyrics as well as on all digital stores such as iTunes, Amazon and Google. Pre-orders will be starting soon on Fire Garden website so stay tuned.

‘Sound of Majestic Colors’ is produced by Zee, Mixed by Jared Kvitka (Kevin Shirley, Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Joe Bonamassa), Mastered by Andy VanDette (Dream Theater, Rush, Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson).

I wanted to make a versatile progressive record that could bring all our influences together. The record contains something for everyone from epic prog moments to soulful ballads to skull crushing riffs – Zee

The track listing for ‘Sound of Majestic Colors’ is as follows:

  1. The Joker

  2. Alone

  3. Time Machine

  4. Endless Memories

  5. Redemption

  6. Behind the Face

  7. Forsaken

  8. Echoes in Silence

  9. Far from Grace

  10. The Last Step

– See more at:

Fire Garden: Prelude

The Ep, "Prelude," by Fire Garden.
The Ep, “Prelude,” by Fire Garden.

On one of the social media networks (the social medium?), I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Zee Baig.  As we all know, there exist no dullards in the prog community–neither in the fan base nor on the artist side.  Dullards and prog simply don’t mix.  We might be overthetop, or cynical, or demanding and particular, but we’re NEVER dull.  Zee is not only not a dullard, he’s one of those guys who immediately makes me smile and note proudly, “Yes, I’m a progger–just like that guy over there [me, pointing at Zee].”  Not only is Zee the master craftsman behind this Chicago-prog metal band, but he’s also an excellent photographer.  And, from what I know, just a really good all-around, interesting guy.  Listening to his band’s EP, “The Prelude,” my liking of him grows only stronger.

I should state that Fire Garden’s music isn’t exactly what I’d normally gravitate toward.  It’s really hard and piercing at times.  As I listen to it (and, for the record, I do love it), I keep thinking of Rush at their rocking best, Aryeon in terms of drama, The Reasoning in driving intensity, maybe a hint of Metallica in the choice and executions of the rhythm, and more than a bit of Soundgarden in the vocals.  There’s some metal growling, but it’s not over the top.  In fact, it’s rather tastefully off to the side and more in the background.

As the name of the EP suggests, “The Prelude” is an introduction to a much larger forthcoming work.  The songs here, all clocking in at around 6 – 7 minutes long, are: Time Machine, Far From Grace, and Forsaken.  Despite the rather gloomy titles, the cover art is stunningly beautiful and hopeful–a small, living green thing of life emerging from the cracks of a parched desert.  I can’t help but think of the final lines of Eliot’s Wasteland, the comfort that no matter the horrors of the present, the rains will come again and wash us clean.

Looking over Fire Garden’s website is fun and revealing as well.  Zee lists his favorite albums of 2013:

  • Steven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing
  • Dream Theater – Dream Theater
  • The Aristocrats – Culture Clash
  • Alter Bridge – Fortress
  • Ghost – Infestissumam
  • Lifesigns – Lifesigns
  • Haken – The Mountain
  • The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs
  • James Labrie – Impermanent Resonance
  • Airbag – The Greatest Show on Earth

Ok, I think we at progarchy can accept this list!  Zee might just very well be one of us.

If you’ve been looking for a new sound, a new band, a new love, I very much recommend that you check out Fire Garden.  What they’ve already done is stunning.  What is coming, I predict, is even more so.  Without reservation, I hope we in the prog community get behind these guys and promote them in every way possible.  They deserve it, and I think they’ve already earned it.

The official Fire Garden website is: