ProgSphere

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/uncategorized/james-labrie-about-the-astonishing/
JAMES LABRIE on "The Astonishing" Album: "I Think It Polarised Our Fans"

Dream Theater‘s James LaBrie recently talked for British webzine Rock Sins about the Images and Words album, its 25th anniversary tour which is currently in progress, and the band’s most recent offering, The Astonishing.

Asked about the reception of the latest album and a move to release a double album in 2017, LaBrie commented: “It was a very bold move. [laughs] And a courageous move, especially in today’s musical environment where it’s soundbites and singles and moving from one artist to another in the blink of an eye. I think it made perfect sense for us, truth be known I think it polarised our fans. But that’s where we were at that particular moment in time and the kind of album that we wanted to produce and make. Each and every one of us are exceptionally proud of how the album turned out and what it means to us as a band. The tour was a great tour but we’re moving on, obviously now we’re focusing a bit on the 25th anniversary of Images and Words and then it’s onto talking about and discussing the next album. But that won’t be until 2018 that we’re in a position to consider getting together and writing and getting into the next album, though that being said we are already discussing the situation in terms of what kind of album we would like to consider doing.”

Read the full interview here.

Photo by Getty Images

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/james-labrie-about-the-astonishing/
JAMES LABRIE on "The Astonishing" Album: "I Think It Polarised Our Fans"

Dream Theater‘s James LaBrie recently talked for British webzine Rock Sins about the Images and Words album, its 25th anniversary tour which is currently in progress, and the band’s most recent offering, The Astonishing.

Asked about the reception of the latest album and a move to release a double album in 2017, LaBrie commented: “It was a very bold move. [laughs] And a courageous move, especially in today’s musical environment where it’s soundbites and singles and moving from one artist to another in the blink of an eye. I think it made perfect sense for us, truth be known I think it polarised our fans. But that’s where we were at that particular moment in time and the kind of album that we wanted to produce and make. Each and every one of us are exceptionally proud of how the album turned out and what it means to us as a band. The tour was a great tour but we’re moving on, obviously now we’re focusing a bit on the 25th anniversary of Images and Words and then it’s onto talking about and discussing the next album. But that won’t be until 2018 that we’re in a position to consider getting together and writing and getting into the next album, though that being said we are already discussing the situation in terms of what kind of album we would like to consider doing.”

Read the full interview here.

Photo by Getty Images

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/10-prog-songs-non-prog-bands/
10 Prog Songs by Non-Prog Bands

We all know by now that there are thousands Prog bands out there who defined the genre in its early years, and who continue to develop it further. But, in the past there were many non-Prog bands that went out of their way and did one or more Prog-ish songs. I have compiled a list of Prog songs by non-Prog bands below, so make sure to check it out. Feel free to leave a comment with your favourite Prog songs by non-Prog bands.

Led Zeppelin – No Quarter (Houses of the Holy, 1973)

“No Quarter” is one of the dearest songs from the Led Zep’s catalog. It was recorded in 1972 at the Island Studios in London, and appears on the band’s 1973 album Houses of the Holy as the seventh song clocking at seven minutes—it is the longest track on the record. Ever since its release, the song has been a big part in the band’s live repertoire. The album version actually evolved from a faster version of the song that was previously recorded at Headley Grange. Jimmy Page applied a variable speed pitch control in order to give it a more intense vibe. In addition to this pitch change, the version that made it on Houses of the Holy also includes a highly-compressed guitar track. Although the original version of the song clocks at seven minutes, at live performances the song length varied, leaving space for improvisation at concerts.

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Black Sabbath – Megalomania (Sabotage, 1975)

“Megalomania” is the fourth song from Black Sabbath’s 1975 album Sabotage. Being the lengthiest song on the album, it gave the band plenty of space to experiment with different moods. Although doom, heavy sound is what the band was known for, at ten minutes long, “Megalomania” is a step above most hard rock in terms of its sophistication, fitting in crunchy guitars with piano and eerie soft spots.

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Billy Joel – Prelude/Angry Young Man (Turnstiles, 1976)

In 1976, Billy Joel released his fourth studio album Turnstiles. Although those were the times when Progressive Rock was at its peak and also influenced a wide spectre of artists, Billy Joel’s music was more of a mixture of at the time Classic Rock, Folk and Pop. However, the sixth song on the album “Prelude/Angry Young Man” is possibly the groggiest number the musician ever recorded. As the title of the song suggests, the song is divided in two parts: one serving as a prologue, and “Angry Young Man” which paints a slightly sardonic picture of youthful, militant rebellion that is unflagging, trying to fight life’s ills despite constant failure.

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Midnight Oil – Scream in Blue (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1982)

“Scream in Blue” is a song from Australian rock act Midnight Blue from their 1982 album 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. It’s over two minutes long Progressive Rock-influenced intro features extremely esoteric and intense instrumentation of the band. Afterwards, the song becomes piano-driven, allowing singer Peter Garrett to become dominant.

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Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988)

Maiden’s flirting with Prog had never been a question, and I’m a firm believer that starting from their 1983 album Piece of Mind (which was the first record I heard from them), the British Heavy Metal band has been channeling the Prog influences through their songs. It’s arguably not until 1988 and the release of their seventh album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son that the band didn’t go for a full-Prog sound. The album marks their first to include keyboards, and due to that fact, it could be said that Maiden expanded their sonic horizons. The title song in particular is full of twists and atmospherics that die-hard Prog fans easily can be acquainted with.

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Metallica – To Live is to Die (…And Justice for All, 1988)

With a few longer songs, Metallica’s 1988 album …And Justice for All hinted that the band went for a bit experimental sound. “To Live is to Die” is the longest song on the record, and for the most part it’s instrumental, apart from the spoken-word part at the end of the song. “To Live is to Die” is a tribute to Metallica’s late bassist Cliff Burton, and it features a lyric the bassist wrote, making this song the last song that featured Burton’s contribution. The song combines its interweaving guitar harmonies with multiple dynamic contrasts (mainly in the middle section in which Kirk’s guitar sound resembles two harmonizing violins) to get its point across. James Hetfield recites a poem near the end, symbolizing the loss of Burton and their mourning for him.

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Jane’s Addiction – Three Days (Ritual de lo Habitual, 1990)

“Three Days” is the longest song off Jane’s Addiction’s 1990 album Ritual de lo Habitual. The tune feels as sort of a mantra mediating on death and rebirth. It features a repetitive patterns of the band’s rhythm section and a great Dave Navarro’s guitar solo—the song often changes its pace, accentuating the dynamic throughout its almost 11 minutes.

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Megadeth – Holy Wars… The Punishment Due (Rust In Peace, 1990)

Many will agree that Megadeth’s line-up between 1989 and 1992 is the band’s best, and looking at the two albums that were produced in these years, 1990’s Rust In Peace and 1992’s Countdown to Extinction, that seems to be spot-on. “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” from Rust In Peace opens the album, and is the song that was inspired by the Northern Ireland conflict. It features quite a few changes in dynamic, it builds from the band’s characteristic Thrash Metal-inflected opening over an acoustic bridge by Marty Friedman to more melodic, Heavy Metal-inspired second part of the song.

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Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Possess Your Heart (Narrow Stairs, 2008)

Bellingham, Washington-based alternative rockers Death Cab for Cutie released their sixth studio album in May 2008, and “I Will Possess Your Heart” was a lead single which debuted two months prior the album release. Stylistically, the tune is dominated by a repetitive bass riff and singer Ben Gibbard’s vocals. Filled with reverberated guitar tones and the distant echoes of a childlike “dah dah dah” phrase, the song gradually builds to an unsettling climax.

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Daft Punk – Contact (Random Access Memories, 2013)

“Contact” is off Daft Punk’s most recent studio album, 2013’s Random Access Memories, and it was confirmed already that with this release the band pays tribute to the late 1970s and early 1980s music. “Contact” closes the album, and it also credits members of the Australian rock band The Sherbs, as it includes a sample of their song “We Ride Tonight.” The song is Prog-layered; it features drummer Omar Hakim and bassist James Genus, with modular synths arranged by Daft Punk.

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What are your favorite Prog bands by non-Prog bands? Let us know in the comments below.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/top-10-female-singers-in-prog-rock-metal-around/

Over the course of time, progressive rock and metal has seen many great singers (both male and female). While male-fronted bands are definitely more dominant in terms of quantity, the numbers of female-fronted bands is far lower, but it could be said that the “quality-quantity” ratio is probably higher on the side of female fronted bands.

There are certainly lots of great female singers in progressive rock, metal and its related genres. Prog Sphere made a selection of 10 best singers that we consider to be the cream of the crop within these genres.

 (Anneke van Giersbergen photo credits by: E van Dijk)

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/mute-prophet-interview/
Mute Prophet

In December last year, symphonic prog metallers from St. Louis, Mute Prophet released their debut album titled ‘The Unheard Warning.’ Three months later, they put out a remixed version of the album, something that not so many bands actually do in such a short span of time. We talked with the band about their decision behind this move, the record itself, and more.

Define the mission of Mute Prophet.

Kevin Goetz: I think the mission of Mute Prophet is, at its core, just to create the kind of music that we love as listeners, and that we enjoy as performers.

Chris Tompkins: And if other people enjoy it along the way, that’s even better.

Adrienne Odenthal: It was basically to make something we were happy with, and hopefully other people will like it too.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut studio album The Unheard Warning and the themes it captures.

Kevin Goetz: The creative process was basically us living in our basement studio for a straight year, spending literally every day working on this. We even set up air mattresses and slept down there, so we would wake up and immediately be motivated to get to work. As for themes, it’s actually a concept album, though I like to keep people guessing on what the story actually is, so they can try to relate to it themselves and with what they’re going through. On the surface, though, it’s about surviving various forms of adversity and coming out empowered on the other side.

The Unheard Warning

What is the message you are trying to give with The Unheard Warning?

Kevin Goetz: It sounds cheesy as hell when I summarize it like this, but… No matter what you’re struggling with, there’s always a way to overcome it. The album explores a question of whether victimhood can be blamed on someone else, or if we should focus on ourselves and our choices. There’s also some really cool occult symbolism that I hope people will dig into as well.

Adrienne Odenthal: Basically what Kevin said, the idea that there’s nothing that can’t be overcome.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Kevin Goetz: The drums and orchestrations were written in Guitar Pro, exported as MIDI and then programmed, and then we recorded the guitars over that base.

The album was originally released in December last year, but last month you re-released it, with new remixes. What initiated the decision to remix it?

Kevin Goetz: Mainly it was because I realized I hated the original production. It’s not easy to mix an album where drums, vocals, massive orchestras and complex guitar riffs are all equally clear and audible. I took some bad advice on the first mix, and it came out… Not where I wanted it to be. So the remix is much more my original vision for the album.

Chris Tompkins: Yeah… That was Kevin‘s whole thing. He was just kinda like, “Hey, surprise! Look what I did!

Adrienne Odenthal: At first Kevin put himself under a lot of pressure to conform to kind of a “standard” mix, and the remix was more just what he originally wanted with it.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces on The Unheard Warning carefully architected?

Kevin Goetz: Absolutely. There was a lot of time spent on dynamic flow. We have a lot of songs that include clean sections in addition to the aggressive distorted sections, and we took the time to make sure each song’s ending flows into the beginning of the next. I think my best example of that is the transition from “Ardor of the Flood” to the title track, “The Unheard Warning.” We realized it ended way too abruptly and the sudden aggression of the next song felt jarring, so we re-worked the ending to tie its main riff in with some of the riffs from the title track.

Chris Tompkins: Yeah, and I really like how the second half of “Theurgy” slows down and flows really nicely into “To Be Gone,” the album’s only real ballad.

Adrienne Odenthal: The songs also create tension and resolution as part of the album’s overall story. There’s definitely a conscious pacing that we all got together and agreed on after a lot of experimentation.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

Kevin Goetz: Well, like I said, we usually have a core of drums and orchestra programmed beforehand. Then I’ll sit down with my guitar and run it direct into my computer and record different ideas until I’m totally happy with the guitar parts. Then we’ll double the guitar parts with bass, then Chris and I will record our solos, then finally Adrienne will add the vocals.

Chris Tompkins: You forgot how you constantly go back and redo everything because you suddenly decide it’s not good enough.

Adrienne Odenthal: At first we had to do a lot of trial and error figuring out how to get good vocal recordings out of our home studio, and then I needed a good amount of time to refine my vocal style to suit the band’s newer approach post-2015. I used to sing everything in a very operatic way – it was how I learned – and we wanted something a bit more belty for this album, so I had to learn to add kind of a rock edge without losing the opera. That was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do musically. As for the actual recording, there’s a lot of down-time where I’ll record my parts and Kevin will mix for a good chunk of time between takes, sometimes up to two hours, so I’ll work on website design or merch. I realized I could still be productive when I wasn’t able to sing, because there were so many other jobs that needed to happen simultaneously during the album’s creation.

Mute Prophet

How long The Unheard Warning was in the making?

Kevin Goetz: Six years, I think. Chris and I had a terrible vocalist who strung us along for the first three of those years, and then Adrienne joined and we spent around 8 months practicing together before recording an attempt at an album, then we didn’t like our style, so we eventually scrapped everything in 2015 and spent all of 2016 working toward where we are now.

Chris Tompkins: That other singer… Yeah, that was an ugly and complicated situation. For anyone who’s interested, we’ve been working on a documentary to answer some of our fans’ questions about that and other things, so keep your eye open.

Adrienne Odenthal: I would argue that it’s actually taken more like a decade. I’d been friends with Kevin and Chris for years even before I joined, and I witnessed that they had been trying to finish the album for an incredibly long time, and they were really held back by band members who weren’t committed in the same way they were and didn’t have the same goals they did.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Kevin Goetz: Nightwish and Epica for the orchestras; Periphery, Children of Bodom and Animals As Leaders for the riffs; Alexi Laiho and Rusty Cooley for my solos.

Chris Tompkins: Paul Gilbert and Michael Romeo are probably the big ones for me.

Adrienne Odenthal: Simone Simons, Floor Jansen, Charlotte Wessels and Tarja Turunen are probably the big ones for my clean singing; Angela Gossow, Christian Alvestam and Juha Harju for growls.

What is your view on technology in music?

Kevin Goetz: It’s a game-changer! We couldn’t have done this without technology being where it is. We didn’t have much of a budget, and we were able to use free VSTs for the guitars and free soundfonts for the orchestra, and EZDrummer for the drums. It’s amazing that such high-quality sound is possible to produce for free like that.

Adrienne Odenthal: I think it’s amazing that people can do things that they were never able to do before. 20 years ago, an album like this would have been literally impossible to make. I know there are still people who think that technology somehow ruins music, but in my experience that’s just their own bias. Ten years ago, bands had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a decent orchestral recording, but now you can program something for free with a computer and the vast majority of listeners can’t tell the difference.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Kevin Goetz: I’d certainly like it to. It does explore some thought-provoking ideas. There’s a lot of emphasis on how our personal focus determines how we feel, and how by shifting our focus, we can learn to overcome the people and circumstances that hold us down. Also, again, there’s some really interesting occult symbolism that enhances this idea. It’s easier and more comfortable to sink into martyrdom and self-hatred, than it is to realize that some people in your life do nothing but harm you, and deserve to be cut out of your life.

Chris Tompkins: In one sense, I think that we’re just trying to leave our own unique mark on music. Maybe someone hears our music and applies it to themselves. It’s cool to think that people could be influenced by our music the same way we were influenced by what we grew up listening to.

Adrienne Odenthal: And in another sense, I feel like our music helped me through some really severe depression. It gave me something to focus on creatively and use that to cope and to grow, and it was something to turn to where otherwise I might have fallen into some self-harm habits. It gave me incentive to figure out my problems constructively instead of sitting there feeling sorry for myself.

What are your plans for the future?

Kevin Goetz: Well, we’re already recording a second album, which people will definitely love if they enjoyed The Unheard Warning even a little bit. We’ve also been putting together some covers of similar bands, to get our music in front of a larger audience. And we’ve been promising a documentary on the creation of this album for a couple years now, and people on Youtube and Facebook are apparently still excited for it, so at some point we’ll do that as well.

Chris Tompkins: I think we’re always going to be trying to make new music. This is something we basically grew up doing, so it’s not something we can ever really stop. There will always be new plans for the future.

Adrienne Odenthal: We’ve got a whole host of things planned. It’s a lot of preparation right now, but we’re all really looking forward to everything.

The Unheard Warning is available from Bandcamp. Follow Mute Prophet on Facebook and Twitter.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/mike-portnoy-about-working-with-neal-morse/
Morse & Portnoy

Drummer Mike Portnoy recently talked with Spanish TNT Radio. You can watch the full interview below.

Asked about the working chemistry between him and Neal Morse, Portnoy said: “This is my 18th studio album with Neal, 31 if you count live albums. Neal and I have a very deep connection, both musically and personally. Like I said, we’ve made 18 albums together, we are in three different bands—four if you count Yellow Matter Custard. So yeah, we have a lot of respect for each other, we’ve been through so many personal ups and downs together, and yeah… He is the deepest musical collaborator I’ve had in my entire career.

Portnoy also said that the future Shattered Fortress shows will include only the music he wrote with Dream Theater, the “12 Step Suite” and a few other songs that he wrote lyrics for. On the recently concluded Cruise to the Edge festival, Portnoy also performed music from Liquid Tension Experiment, Flying Colors and Transatlantic.

About how he feels to play these songs from Dream Theater, Mike commented: “It’s very therapeutic, I guess. It was one level of being therapeutic for me to write all of these songs ‘cause it was coming out of my life and about what I was dealing with with the 12 Step Suite of sobriety. So it was one level of therapy to write all of this and release it, but now to actually put it together and perform it—it’s another level. It’s kind of like unfinished business, it’s kind of like closure. I’m getting some closure on this because I never had an opportunity to do it once I completed all of the songs. It was always a dream of mine to perform them from start to finish, and it would have been nice if it was with Dream Theater, but the circumstances are what they are and I’d rather do this and get it out of my system, not only for myself but also for the fans to enjoy. I’d rather do it this way than not do it at all.

About the possibility of releasing the Shattered Fortress live material, Portnoy said: “Believe me I would love to release it for the fans, but I can’t guarantee that I can release it for the fans because of, you know, legal issues with Dream Theater. If I can release it in some form, I would love to, but there’s not guarantees, there’s lot of red tape involved.

Mike also said that he keeps in touch with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess, but that he “barely heard” from James LaBrie and John Myung. In the interview he also mentions that he started working on new Flying Colors and Metal Allegiance albums, beside an album with his new Prog-Metal supergroup.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/led-zeppelin-film-soundtracks/
LED ZEPPELIN's History of Movie Soundtracks

Led Zeppelin remains one of the most wanted bands when it comes reunions, but after years of talks and a $1 Billion offer, it seems unlikely that the remaining members of the band will ever perform again. General opinion is that it’s singer Robert Plant who is not interested in revisiting the past, but the man gave his reasons about why he wouldn’t do that.

Anyway, after the most recent reissues that were overseen by Jimmy Page, it looks like the band still receives a lot of money just from licensing their music in the Hollywood blockbusters. The recent trailers of Thor: Ragnarok and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword both include music from Led Zeppelin; the former featured “Immigrant Song,” which upon the trailer’s release last week entered the Hot Rock Songs chart for the first time. The tune originally appears on Led Zeppelin III which was released in 1970, and is definitely a great fit for the trailer itself.

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, on the other side, features “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” which was released on Zeppelin‘s debut album in 1969. Over the years, Led Zeppelin has become one of Rock’s most-featured bands in films or trailers. The popular opinion about trailers especially is to include a Led Zep song in it, and you immediately go from a perfectly effective to a holy-shit-did-you-see-that trailer.

For most of the last few decades, the band’s surviving members have been notoriously picky about which film soundtracks get to feature their music: Jack Black, who is said to have personally lobbied the band by video to get “Immigrant Song” into School of Rock after director Richard Linklater failed. David O. Russell described his efforts to license “What Is and What Should Never Be” for Silver Linings Playbook as ”like a man determined to marry somebody.

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David Fincher‘s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo includes a cover version of “Immigrant Song” which was recreated by Trent Reznor for the movie. X-Men: Days of Future Past included the orchestral version of “Kashmir.” Ben Affleck‘s 2012 Argo features a scene where his character is putting the record arm down on the right part of the record with “When the Levee Breaks” kicking in. The official trailer for 2013′s American Hustle featured the intro groove of “Good Times Bad Times.” A scene from 2013′s Oblivion has Tom Cruise grabbing a vinyl and putting it on a turntable, after what “Ramble On” from Led Zeppelin II plays.

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Beside films, Led Zeppelin‘s music has been featured in TV shows and video games as well. “In the Evening” was used by True Blood, while “Immigrant Song” (again) was used in a trailer for Activision‘s video game Destiny, and then “Black Dog” was used for the game’s expansion pack.

According to an article from The Los Angeles Times from 2012, the band’s asking price for their song to be licensed usually sees a seven-figure fee.

If all these soundtracks tell something, it is that Led Zeppelin‘s music is very appreciated by the seventh art, and you can’t argue about that.

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