Sunday, November 03, 2013

Prog Lives! Canadian Prog Metal, Anyway....

...even if you don’t like prog-anything, I have a video of Star Trek and Star Wars fans having an outdoor slapfight before Game of Thrones roleplayers charge them. You know you want to see that!

I love prog. I love the very idea behind it: “Hey, a lot of us are classically trained musicians! Let’s push the envelope as far as arrangement and instrumentation goes! Let’s do bigger themes other than, ‘You’re so pretty and I love you.’”

Album covers as actual works of art, not some
huge vanity shot of the artist. What a concept!
The people who hate prog, puling and whining about “endless guitar solos,” (actually, it’s the keyboards that do most of the hotdogging, cf. Yes, “Roundabout”), etc., speak more to the greatness of the genre than otherwise. Prog haters are, one and all, disco twinks. These are the people who won’t shut up about the latest teen skank “coming of age” as a full-fledged club slut. These are the nominally grown men who will argue the merits of Lady Gaga vs. Katy Perry. (There is an actual, serious, Onion AV Club post to this effect. You look it up. I quit reading that site after that.) The kind who will expound on the “cultural impact” of Madonna, and what her latest “reinvention” Really Means.

You get the picture. Me, I feel about teen skank pop and club music the way Frank Zappa felt about Van Halen (quote: “It has its place”) but, wowie zowie! Man, do the twinks who write for pop culture and music sites HATE prog. It’s the same intense hatred any plain-faced, socially awkward thing feels about all the pretty and talented people “shaming” her by simply existing.

Being an old-school kind of guy, prog for me begins with King Crimson’s 1969 album In the Court of the Crimson King: An Observation and ends with King Crimson’s 1974 album Red. In between you have Emerson Lake and Palmer’s best albums, culminating with 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery. Yes was finished after 1972’s Close to the Edge. Etc. 

I have a hard time thinking of Rush as a prog act, though the trail blazed by prog enabled them to create 2112, as well as many other masterworks. Some bands have played with the musical and thematic ideas of prog, and I applaud the guitar magazines that do what they can to keep the flame alive. I won’t knock a new act (too hard), but I’m a classicist at heart.

Prog metal? This is a new one on me. It’s hard for me to consider even System of a Down a “prog metal” act because they mainly riff on Frank Zappa’s vibe. Okay, fine. What we have is Protest the Hero, a Canadian prog metal act. Their song “Clarify” was praised to the skies by Mr. Disgusting of the horror site Bloody Disgusting. I’ve listened to it about three times...

...and I still don’t care for it. The vocals, especially the harmonies, have that whiny screamo sound to them that should have died more painfully and more finally before 2006. I kept waiting for the singer to throw in a Howard-the-Duck-ish “WAAAUUUUUGH!” as the singers were wont to do back in the day.

At best, they sound like a System of a Down cover band. For which I’d give them points for good taste and their effort to emulate a good band. Still, I’d rather listen to System of a Down.

I’m not hating. It’s just not for me. Maybe you’ll like it. Or maybe, like me, you’ll simply enjoy the funny video with the Star Trek vs. Star Wars slap fight (stay tuned for the truly evil finale). Or maybe you’ll like both.

Either way, you’re welcome. I’m all about variety and selection and making up your own mind. If that’s so wrong, I don’t want to be right.