Prog power so far.....

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Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:30 pm

...... Is Haken and Orphaned Land. Haken laid waste to the place.. They played the whole Visions disc and,then The Architect as an encore. Absolutely spell binding. Orphaned Land,was spot on as,well and,was a crowd pleaser.......they got the crowd going and Haken finished the job. Both amazing.

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:22 pm

How was Vanden Plas? What sort of set did they play?
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:27 pm

Vanden Plas was not themselves....... They had tons of technical issues, and they were clearly agitated....they started late, and Andy was off for a few,songs and then he got his,vibe back....... The song list was a great set of songs picked by the European crowd on,their last tour...... Someone will post the songs. But my highlight was when they played The Final Murder........ This was not the best Vanden Plas show.......but by our love of them, they were great even with their issues......... In terms of performance, Haken blew them away.

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Chris R » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:10 pm

Sucks hard j had to miss day one..

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:28 pm

Myrath laying waste once,again....... This band is so awesome........pure class.........

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:06 am

And then Mike Portnoy came along with Haken, and,the rest as they say, is history. Beyond stunning. Too late to elaborate, and I'm typing on my phone......but suffice it to say, that this show was one of the best ever......

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Cheiron » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:30 am

The Portnoy extravaganza was partially ruined by the Haken singer. Should have let the guitarist sing, he was way better and much more soulful. But I've never liked the Haken singer's nasal style. Overall it was pretty good, but yah... it felt like a cover band, as there was little charisma from the performers since they just stood there, it was all about Mike.

Angel Dust was good, my favorite performance of the night. Daydream entertained Glen, but for me I was bored.

But heck the sound is sooo bad this year. Everything is beyond capped, and its making it all sound mushy with little nuance or room for the notes to breathe.
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Chris R » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:20 pm

Re:Larry
They played my favorite 2 songs off of Scenes (Finally Free especially has big meaning for what it meant for that girl I got out of that domestic violence situation 12 years ago...and has another meaning as well)

The Mirror sounded epic

Loved the set....proves a drummer can front a band...


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Yes the sound is brickwalled this year badly..... :(

And Myrath was incredible
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Stevie WOnder » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:02 pm

Cheiron wrote:The Portnoy extravaganza was partially ruined by the Haken singer. Should have let the guitarist sing, he was way better and much more soulful. But I've never liked the Haken singer's nasal style. Overall it was pretty good, but yah... it felt like a cover band, as there was little charisma from the performers since they just stood there, it was all about Mike.

Angel Dust was good, my favorite performance of the night. Daydream entertained Glen, but for me I was bored.

But heck the sound is sooo bad this year. Everything is beyond capped, and its making it all sound mushy with little nuance or room for the notes to breathe.


Dude, are we at the same show? Portnoy's set was excellent. Of course it's all about Portnoy, it's his band. The Haken singer did a great job.

Daydream XI was surprisingly good. I must be Glenn in disguise cause I really enjoyed their set. We'll agree on one thing, Angel Dust was excellent!!!
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Cheiron » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:06 am

Well, reasonable people can disagree. I just am not a fan of Haken's singer, thus his singing was a distraction. But as I said, it was good otherwise.
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Chris R » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:04 pm

Yes I'll admit it (then again I'm a huge fan....so)

Amaranthe kicked all sorts of ass last night

Loved Katatonia's set from what I heard...because they purposely seem to like to keep the lights dim and only use backnighting

Pain was interestingly good
Dynazty was fun albeit a bit brickwalled with the sound
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby ralfwalter » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:46 pm

How did we not see each other? :cry:

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:41 am

ralfwalter wrote:How did we not see each other? :cry:


***We only saw you once, and you were working with a band ...... the rest of the time, we did not see you around at all ........ we did have you on our minds though......usually we get to see most of the crew at some point during the fest, but for some reason, that did not happen this year ........

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby T'ski » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:05 am

reactions to Tom Englund taking over vox for Redemption?

anyone?

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:19 am

reactions to Tom Englund taking over vox for Redemption?

anyone?


Stunned silence?

I don't know WHAT to think of this, honestly. Nick and Tom are both very dominant, very personal songwriters so I think this is a rare opportunity to combine two personalities like that.

That being said..... I don't know from a raw chemistry perspective how that will work out long term. Both have very distinct stories to tell in every song, so it will be interesting to see how that is reconciled in the songwriting process.

I am very curious.... VERY curious....

Anyone know (Nick, chime in here! :)) why Ray departed?
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:21 am

Also very interested to hear more detailed thoughts on this year's show, and next year's lineup. Honestly, next year features more bands that I am not familiar with than any prior year. I know many of the names involved, but have never sampled most of the music. James LaBrie and Tarja are instant selling points alone though.
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Chris R » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:14 pm

Sir Exar Kun wrote:Also very interested to hear more detailed thoughts on this year's show, and next year's lineup. Honestly, next year features more bands that I am not familiar with than any prior year. I know many of the names involved, but have never sampled most of the music. James LaBrie and Tarja are instant selling points alone though.

Voyager headlining Wed night is must see
Kinda disappointed Kingcrow didn't get a more prominent spot...but I'll take it
Redemption and Labrie ...great ending for Friday night
Vuur will be my highlight for Sat night......
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby ToddS » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:24 pm

Wednesday

Larry nailed it, OL and Haken were amazing! Haken's musicianship is just stunning (proved even further with Portnoy)!

Thursday

Vanden Plas
Really nice set list. Had some difficulties. Enjoyable, but not their best from the 3-4 times I've seen them.

BtB&M
To lay it out there, I was really disappointed when I learned they were playing Colors. Coma Ecliptic is their masterpiece for me. It is the only BtB&M record I like. Colors is all about brutality. Its technical, but the focus seem to be the brutality of it. I watched about 3/4 of their set before bailing. Incredible playing, but not my style vocals. The mosh pit was entertaining. Especially the square dancing. lol

Metal Church
Wow! I only planned on staying for a couple of songs, but I just couldn't leave. Fantastic sound all the way around! That guitar sound was so killer! Howe was quite amazing too. Great live band!

Friday
For the first time in so many years, I never left the venue. Watched every band. Not being so young anymore (only in body :)), this wasn't so easy.

Daydream XI
I'm loving their new disc "The Circus Of The Tattered And Torn", and they did a fantastic job live. The sound wasn't quite dialed in, but great performance!

Distorted Harmony
I like this band most of the time. Very quirky style, and great players. Solid performance, but the sound just wasn't there.

Lords of Black
It took a few minutes to dial the sound in, but once the sound man did, it was far better than the first 2 bands. Great performance, all the way around. Ronnie Romero was incredible! just a natural front man, with an out of this world performance! Their Sat morning cover set was a blast too! They played some great songs, but covering Ark's Heal The Waters was quite the shocker for this huge Ark fan!

Angel Dust
Good set from AD, though Dirk had some issues.

Myrath
Fantastic! Such a great band. They have come a long way from the SX clonage of their early days. Great all the way around with Zaher being one of the coolest front men around! One of my favorite sets.

Mike Portnoy's Shattered Fortress
I knew this would be good, but wow! This was beyond amazing! The Haken dudes delivered in spades! Eric Gillette has Petrucci down big time! He is effortless in his playing! This one was on a whole other level! To get The Mirror, as well as several songs from Metropolis Pt. 2 including my 2 faves in Home, and the beyond stunning Dance Of Eternity was a huge bonus. DoE was beyond words really. As Portnoy mentioned, "these songs are sacred", so I don't take this lightly, but this was even better than when I saw DT do it. 3 guitarist being the reason with all the multi parts. Incredible!

Saturday

Lords Of Black cover show
I touched on this already, but it was great fun! Here is Ronnie Romero who played with Blackmore to tens of thousands, now playing to 100-200 people. So cool and intimate!

Seven Spires
Quite good. The female singer is just unreal!

Snowy Shaw
I didn't plan on going, but decided since it was Larry's bday, and he being a fan, I would hang with him for this. I made it through 3 songs before leaving. To say this isn't me is quite the understatement.

Katatonia
Quite tight and excellent live. I was quite exhausted by now, but watched the entire set. Having the lights face the audience, and no spot lights on the band fit the mood. However, this got annoying over time. I didn't have lights shinning in my face as some, but I wanted to see the band better. Still enjoyable, but think they should go to standard lighting at some point during their set.

It was another great ProgPower! Huge props to Glenn, Jen, and the crew. Simply amazing! I'm missed being there already. Missing friends, great music, and the entire atmosphere of PP.
Bring on PP 2018, and long live ProgPower!
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby ToddS » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:31 pm

Cheiron wrote:The Portnoy extravaganza was partially ruined by the Haken singer. Should have let the guitarist sing, he was way better and much more soulful. But I've never liked the Haken singer's nasal style. Overall it was pretty good, but yah... it felt like a cover band, as there was little charisma from the performers since they just stood there, it was all about Mike.

Angel Dust was good, my favorite performance of the night. Daydream entertained Glen, but for me I was bored.

But heck the sound is sooo bad this year. Everything is beyond capped, and its making it all sound mushy with little nuance or room for the notes to breathe.


To each their own on singers, but I thought Ross did a great job. I like Eric's voice as well. It was cool that he sang a few songs. He doesn't have nearly as much range and variety in his voice as Ross though. I couldn't disagree more with the cover band statement. They did these songs justice, and then some.

The sound was bad for some bands, but dialed in nicely for others. Where you are in the venue also plays a part.

You didn't find issues with Dirk's voice?
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby ToddS » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:33 pm

ralfwalter wrote:How did we not see each other? :cry:


Sorry we didn't get to chat Ralf. The only time I saw you was at the LoB cover show. You were hard at work. :(
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby ToddS » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:35 pm

Sir Exar Kun wrote:
reactions to Tom Englund taking over vox for Redemption?

anyone?


Stunned silence?

I don't know WHAT to think of this, honestly. Nick and Tom are both very dominant, very personal songwriters so I think this is a rare opportunity to combine two personalities like that.

That being said..... I don't know from a raw chemistry perspective how that will work out long term. Both have very distinct stories to tell in every song, so it will be interesting to see how that is reconciled in the songwriting process.

I am very curious.... VERY curious....

Anyone know (Nick, chime in here! :)) why Ray departed?


I think all of us are trying to wrap our heads around this. The crowd response during the video was Ray leaving = awe, Tom taking over = Yeah!
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby SubEffect » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:49 pm

I haven't been "here" in forever, but since I FINALLY went to a ProgPower I figured I'd stop by and say "Hi". After "thinking about it" for the last 4-5 years (very long story - let's just say these days, I travel for music and that wasn't the case just 4-5 years ago) I'm glad I went (wife went too).

I won't bore anyone with my review of the show. I only attended days 2-4 and of course did not see all bands.

That said, I am thoroughly happy that my wife and I finally went to a PP and plan to make it a regular thing. Our experience was overall very positive. The venue, hotel, shows, people, food (near the venue) - all excellent. We stayed at the Atmore for the "full experience" but didn't hang out too much in the courtyard - we were pretty tired each night.

What I enjoyed: Daydream XI, Myrath, Seven Spires, Katatonia, Snowy Shaw, Pain, Angel Dust, and yes, MP's Shattered Fortress (sheepishly, maybe - still not sure how I feel about this "project"). The rest I either didn't know enough about to enjoy them or simply didn't attend.

What I'm excited about next year: ((VUUR!!!)), James LaBrie, Tarja, Soen, Redemption (I'll miss Ray), Tarja, Cellar Darling, Voyager, Kingcrow, and some of the others to a lesser degree.

We get 2 days of a breather, then it's off to NL to see Ayreon (did I mention we travel for music now).

Maybe I'll try to meet up with some of you next year..

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:31 pm

Back from Prog Power -- sick as a dog -- of course. I've stayed off the "PP Plague" now for years ..... this year I wasn't so lucky.

I posted some quick thoughts on the show from my phone while I was there, here are some further thoughts on the rest of the show.........I will leave the personal moments out, just the performances. Years ago we used to post on what happened in the Room of Death. We have learned that whatever happens at PP, stays at PP. :wink:
I will say that this year less people showed up at the Room of Death than in previous years, but that's ok - I completely understand the fear.......

ORPHANED LAND -
They started off my personal show with a bang. Have seen them every time at PP, their first show being the best and this one matching it in intensity. They were spot on, and the crowd was really into them. I am not sure how many times we will ever get to see this band again, but if you have not seen them at a good venue like Prog Power, you are missing something special. Fantastic band.

HAKEN -
Playing the entire "Visions" disc. I've seen Haken every time now at PP. I was more than excited to know that they were playing the whole Visions disc for this show, and it was one I was most looking forward to seeing. I wasn't prepared. As I wrote on my phone from the show, they blasted the place to bits. The sound, the emotion, the performance itself was the best I've ever seen from Haken. Those of you who think Ross can't sing, well - all I can say is that he brought his A-game to Atlanta this year. As far as I'm concerned, Dream Theater aside, these are the best damn prog players in the world right now. I cannot remember a time when I so into a band at the beginning of Prog Power than I was this one. Absolutely flawless and spectacular. My favorite show of all 4 days.

VANDEN PLAS -
I'm always excited for a Vanden Plas show. I'll get slammed for this, but this was not the best VP show I've seen. Right off, they had their problems. And this was after cutting into their own time with a sound check. They had technical issues right away, Andy wasn't hitting the notes, he had trouble turning the mic on and off at times, and Stephan Lill didn't like the fact that the lights kept going off and stopped playing mid-song. There was just something odd about their performance, and they clearly seemed agitated, except for the drummer who was spectacular. They all of the good stuff as requested by a European audience, and when they played "The Final Murder", they had captured me in but it was too late. I'd been wishing to see that song live since it came out, and I got my wish.

DAYDREAM XI -
I'm convinced that it sucks to be the opening show at Prog Power. Especially one that isn't well know and with a brand new disc that most haven't heard. I'd say that the disc will start selling well now, and that there is a much better appreciation for this band. Great musicians, and the singer was one of the better of the fest.... This is an excellent melodic prog metal band and I'm extremely proud of their performance.

DISTORTED HARMONY -
I have never cared for this band, and after seeing them, I remember why. This is not my thing at all, and the band name fits the description of the music and singer together..... it just doesn't work for me.

LORDS OF BLACK -
One of the other reasons I came to Prog Power, was to hear Ronnie Romero sing. And sing he did. Most likely voted best singer this year at Prog Power, and LoB slammed into all of their material with ease and class. Ronnie Romero owns a crowd when he hits the stage, and never lets go. His stage presence, his class, his laid back personality all creates a magic singer - um, sort of like DIO was ? 8) Absolutely bad ass band and world class singer. Their version of Neon Knights at the end of the show prepared the lucky folks for what was coming the next day.

ANGEL DUST -
I will be one of the few to say this I imagine. I love the band, I loved their first PP show way back in the day, but I felt they were a little awkward during this show...... technical difficulties started off the show, and Dirk has some vocal trouble. By mid show, they started to own me, and Dirk was getting his mojo back.....one of the most fun bands of the fest, needles to say that if you liked them before, you would liked them now...... I just felt a little awkward at times maybe because Dirk could not hit the high notes he once could and it hurt to watch him struggle through it - but then I figured he didn't care, so why should I .... after I got past that feeling, they went on to rule me and the crowd.

MYRATH -
I've been a fan since day one. I am more of a fan now. Their last show at PP was more than amazing. This show was mystical. The band is to tight and these guys can play with the best of them. I'm so glad to see them moving on forward and upward. It was special when the singer went down into the crowd, and had everyone on the floor sitting down on the floor so he could tell a story to begin the song. My third favorite band of the fest. We actually cornered them in an airport restaurant for pictures, and even though they seemed a little afraid of us at first, they gladly posed with us. Incredible band.

MIKE PORTNOY'S SHATTERED FORTRESS -
My second favorite band of the fest. I'm not going to go into how awesome this show, it would take me all day. Let me say that I had my doubts. First, I didn't think Portnoy could pull this off. I apologize Mike. Second, I didn't think Ross (Haken) could pull off the vocals. I apologize Ross. The best sound of all bands, the best stage lighting and visuals of all the bands, and lastly they had Eric Gillette ( Neal Morse ) on guitars and vocals along with the rest of the Haken crew. Glenn I bow down to you, and Portnoy, I apologize to you for not believing. Spectacular show from start to finish.

LORDS OF BLACK - special cover songs show
12pm, next day of Prog Power. LoB going to play a bunch of cover songs for us. I personally thank Glenn for doing this, and I think I would have flown to Atlanta to see this one hour show, and then fly back the same day. This show was intimate, right up to close to Ronnie, and the fun began. I would have never guessed I heard Queensryche coming out of LoB, but it shows how talented this guy really is. Blasting through Deep Purple, Rainbow, DIO, and others ( Journey as well ), Ronnie owned me and this crowd for another hour. If you have not been to any of these Saturday shows that Glenn puts together for us, you are missing some of the best shows ever put together. Another reason that Prog Power is so special is that you will never get to see these shows anywhere else on earth. If you did not show up because you were sleeping, hung over, or just didn't give a shit - please be jealous.

SEVEN SPIRES -
Thank you again Glenn for letting these guys ( and gal ) play. This is a great band fronted by a fantastic female singer with a range beyond. And she growls. This band is like a cross between Kamelot, Nightwish, Serenity and symphonic bands like that ...... This little power house of a singer can reach the stars with her range, and her humble personality showed through as well...... they were very happy to play the fest, and I was very happy to see them. This band has promise and a great career ahead of them of they stick it out.

SNOWY SHAW -
I think everyone was scared off by Snowy, but I stayed there and watched every minute of this bizarre, wonderful extravaganza.......thanks to my buds who stayed with me during this show as it was my birthday and I know you were horrified by this. Snowy is an incredible performer, put on a great show, and his hooded druids playing great music was fun to watch. Glenn always tries to have an odd band to play the fest and blow everyone away. Consider this that band and show......absolutely fantastic and finally got to see Snowy play live. I wish he played more King Diamond, but every song he played was great so it didn't matter.

After this, my ear drum blew out and I couldn't spend any time in the venue...... but this was another fantastic PP, and I thank Glenn, Jen and the crew for another monster Prog Power !!!!!!

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:54 pm

Good write-ups..... I am regretting not being able to catch the Shattered Fortress set now more than ever.....

Larry, regarding your comment:

As far as I'm concerned, Dream Theater aside, these are the best damn prog players in the world right now.


I'm not sure I'd put Dream Theater "aside"; Haken might well stand above them even now.
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:35 pm

As far as I'm concerned, Dream Theater aside, these are the best damn prog players in the world right now.

I'm not sure I'd put Dream Theater "aside"; Haken might well stand above them even now.


***I'm sure you would find many who would say this ..... but I'm not one of them at the moment ......... :wink:

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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby BC » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:01 pm

For those wondering about Redemption, Nick said on Facebook that Ray left on good terms and that he will talk about the change to Tom in interviews coming up. My guess is that Ray is focusing his time with Fates Warning right now and couldn't spare the time to get with Nick to record the new album.
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Chris R » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:09 pm

LarryD wrote:
As far as I'm concerned, Dream Theater aside, these are the best damn prog players in the world right now.

I'm not sure I'd put Dream Theater "aside"; Haken might well stand above them even now.


***I'm sure you would find many who would say this ..... but I'm not one of them at the moment ......... :wink:

To me Haken are going to be that "next" band that the prog cult latches on to that Dream Theater now has..and is filling the void that Rush will or has created if indeed they are retiring as a touring band..
No dobut that Affinity was the next step for them.. ( to me it's by far the best thing they have ever done and has allowed me to go back and take another listen to the older stuff I dismissed..especially Visions]
And being Portnoy's backing band pretty much has me more peopleasant aware of them
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby ToddS » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:06 pm

Sir Exar Kun wrote:Good write-ups..... I am regretting not being able to catch the Shattered Fortress set now more than ever.....

Larry, regarding your comment:

As far as I'm concerned, Dream Theater aside, these are the best damn prog players in the world right now.


I'm not sure I'd put Dream Theater "aside"; Haken might well stand above them even now.


Not to rub in in, but Shatter Fortress exceeded my high expectations! Still on a high from that set. The Dance of Eternity was just completely stunning! For what it's worth, I'm a huge Haken fan as well.

Agree, Haken is certainly at the very least on the same level as DT. A bit different with the two 8 sting guitarist though. JP has an 8 string in the works btw. For me, I would take any Haken record over DTs last 2 hands down. Especially the last DT one. Just my $.02.
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby elendil » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:43 pm

DT has been a bit meh for a long time, but IMO Haken isn't elite until they have an elite vocalist. Now, I'm not the sort of person who cares a lot about vocals in music relative to the instrumental performances, but I'm analyzing the question just from the perspective of "prog cult" potential in Chris' terms. ;)

outprogged42
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby outprogged42 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:00 pm

POWER QUEST
Straight power metal is generally not my thing. That said, some acts in that genre really impressed me this year. This was one of those that didn't really enthrall me much, although I quite enjoyed the Neverworld album and having Alessio Garavello show up for some of the songs was a big and quite welcome surprise. Ashley Edison is a decent singer but not very distinctive. The same generally applies for the band.

SERENITY
Case in point. This isn't ordinary power metal as there are plenty of classical and orchestral parts (they're from Austria after all) and Georg Neuhauser is a much more interesting vocalist to my ears. The frequent use of choir vocals got the crowd involved and Neuhauser's stage presence, and also his distinctive outfits, gave their stage presence some unique charm and gravitas. Serenity was apparently the highlight band in 2012 and I can't fairly compare that, but I really enjoyed this set.

ORPHANED LAND
One of the several bucket list items on this year's bill and they did not disappoint in any way, excepting that only the rock band instruments were live, but this could be expected given the expense of shuttling live players overseas compared to more local shows. The sound and musicianship were outstanding and Kobi's stage presence and crowd interaction was top-notch. He was a lovely guy in person as well as I took the time to thank him for the "ORWarriOR" album helping me through a rough time of transition into college.

HAKEN
Having seen them last year, this performance was flawless on a technical level and packed a decent amount of energy for such incredibly complicated music. People who criticize Ross Jennings' live singing really have lost some of their credibility as he is perfectly in tune nowadays. Portnoy was definitely right when saying Haken are some of the best prog musicians around today.

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NEXT TO NONE
I was sincerely expecting them to play a "typical" set of their typical material, which might turn off some of the crowd due to the metalcore vokills. However, they played only two songs in their short 30-minute set, one 10 and one 20 minutes. Overall their songwriting is a bit messy and Portnoy Jr. is clearly designed to be the highlight with the rest of the band overly restrained. However, the lead singer has a better voice than I remember and obviously Portnoy Jr. has some quite impressive skills. People might end up shocked when they bought "Phases" from the booths, though, not realizing what this band typically sounds like.

TWILIGHT FORCE
From a power metal standpoint, by far the highlight of the festival. This is one of those bands that I would never purchase albums from, but would still watch in concert. The silly costumes, over-the-top theatrics, and incredibly animated stage antics made this show a real riot, but the musical aspect was not lost either as the players showed a great amount of skill, thus eclipsing a set like Power Quest on every level. This is the sort of set that makes you feel happy no matter what, hence my quote in the Quote Thread: "Twilight Force makes everyone happy - even if you're Steven Wilson." And need it I would (see below...)

VANDEN PLAS
Unfortunately I would have to say this set was disappointing. Vanden Plas was the number one band I most wanted to see as I have a very close personal relationship with their The Seraphic Clockwork record, among others. Their chaotic sound issues were well-documented, but also Andy was missing a few notes and flubbed several lines of lyrics, even singing the same verse twice during "Holes in the Sky." The bassist has to be among the most bored-looking musicians I've ever seen on stage. The drummer was outstanding throughout and Andy was having a good time when he wasn't mad at the soundman. I hope I see these guys again when things go better for them.

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME
Very, very few bands in PPUSA history will be able to equal the sheer mastery of musicianship seen in this set. This sort of band seems to generally not appear here anymore, as they are both ultra-proggy and somewhat "nerdy." Native Construct in 2015 seems to have busted down those doors for a band like BTBAM to be themselves. Playing the entirety of Colors is best accompanied by, really, nothing much at all, and thus the band mostly shut up and played, without interludes or downtime. Which just makes their set that much more intimidatingly awesome.

METAL CHURCH
An act with this long of a history is often the breadwinner, especially when their current stage performance and vitality is basically like it was back in their heyday. Like Armored Saint in 2015, the Metal Church boys look, sound, and feel half their age. This was one of the only sets I missed some of, mostly because Andy Kuntz was chatting up fans outside and one of my chief goals was to talk to him in person. But eventually Metal Church got the Vanden Plas boys to step inside and watch world (i.e. Atlanta) domination happen.

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DAYDREAM XI
Up and coming acts like Daydream XI are usually among my favorites, assuming their technical and performance skills are up to standard, as oftentimes they end up being the sort of folks you'd want to hang out with after the show due to absent egos and shorter lines to get to talk to them. Indeed their set was excellent, if somewhat static for such a heavy band, but the humility and realness of these guys on and off stage really stood out. I was quite tired out after Katatonia's set and just wanted to turn in and get ready to leave, like I did last year, but bumping into all of Daydream XI chatting up their fans would fortunately keep me in the Courtyard for another two hours. They were out talking to fans, watching the other sets (Myrath in particular), and being generally amazing people. The guys still talk to me now, even.

DISTORTED HARMONY
I wondered if these Israeli guys would ever come to the US, and fortunately PPUSA is the place where it happens. Also, this set brings one of the greatest joys I have at this festival: knowing the catalog of a very small band relatively speaking, and knowing that other people will not know the band at all and watching their reactions. In fact I was sitting next to a very eminent prog-metal journalist during this set who had never heard of this band before and was immensely satisfied that he was blown away by this set. The addition of a second guitarist has really amplified Distorted Harmony's metal credit and given them more on-stage energy. The musicianship was mind-boggling and Misha Soukhinin's voice has a surprising amount of power and range behind it, even able to tackle some weighty screams, while the drummer was just astonishing to watch and the sound (for once) was beautifully produced.

LORDS OF BLACK
This year was the first time I ever stayed in the venue the entire day on Friday or Saturday. Out of the six bands, though, Lords of Black were my least anticipated and this set confirmed it. While under no circumstance would I call this set anything less than great, Ronnie Romero's constantly scraping tone just wears on me after a while and the live set was better than the studio album, which eventually bored me. But I'm quite glad they played Ghost of You which is an outstanding piece.

ANGEL DUST
Unlike previous years, I found I was unable to overhear the difference between a show and the loudspeakers from inside the vendor room, so I missed about the first 10 minutes of this set from inside the vendor room. I very quickly understood why this was a mistake, as the band sounded incredibly invigorated and among the most grateful bands to ever play here. Just a few weeks ago I had no idea what to expect musically, and three albums in I found myself absolutely enthralled by their music. And fortunately they played many of those tunes, including the incredibly touching "Follow Me" which is partially a love song, and they called up a woman from the front row and sang the song to her in what was one of the more emotional moments of the fest.

MYRATH
I had to sit way up top for this set because of how packed the venue was for Myrath, and anyone who was there in 2013 knows exactly why. I did not expect the guys to be able to top their previous set because the adverse circumstances that triggered that je ne sais quoi are basically impossible to replicate. However, their set was simply unimpeachable and the band and crowd energy and enthusiasm were second to none. And this time they actually had the entire band - Elyes Bouchoucha was not present last year, and his entrance was greeted with triple the enthusiasm as everyone else's. Meeting Bouchoucha later was an incredibly poignant moment for me, as he was the very first metal musician I ever made friends with, eight years ago on Facebook. I hadn't really spoken to him in six years, but he still recognized me on sight and gave me one of the biggest hugs I've ever had. We only spoke about 15 minutes, but it was one of those unforgettable moments that reminds you why PPUSA is a family.

MIKE PORTNOY'S SHATTERED FORTRESS
It was certainly unjust for Portnoy to never get the chance to play the 12 Steps Suite with DT as originally intended. But fortunately we have this, to bring closure to something I've longed for for eight years - nine years, if you also count me never having seen Portnoy in concert before. The 12 Steps Suite is basically sacred ground for me and watching it come to life on stage with beautiful visuals was simply a watershed moment in my musical lifetime. I took more footage of this show than many of the others put together, to preserve this forever. It's one of those moments where I feel immensely grateful that I was able to emerge from Houston a week after Harvey, to get to witness this. One of those moments where I felt blessed beyond measure.

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SEVEN SPIRES
Nothing these guys and gal could do could bring them out of the shadow of replacing Teramaze (which deserves a digression). It was a very tragic circumstance for me as Teramaze's singer and bassist were two of the people I spent the most time with that weekend, and felt welcomed the most by, and the moment Nathan (the singer) spotted me in the Courtyard wanting to ensure I got a picture with him, was the exact moment I read Teramaze would be unable to perform. I awkwardly took the picture, simply not knowing what to tell these guys, and instead of partying that night, went back to the hotel completely crushed, needing to spend the remaining evening and much of Thursday processing the news and slowly letting go of one of my dream sets. This was not like Anubis Gate where, despite being an enormous disappointment, it was two months in advance; (most of) Teramaze were literally there in the venue, becoming my friends, before they had to cancel. It took until Twilight Force's set to feel normal again.

Despite all that, though, Seven Spires put on a stellar set, sounding incredibly tight and skull-crushingly intense, incorporating Arch Enemy-styled growled passages into a Nevermore-inspired proggy classic metal framework. I eventually got tired of standing and exhausted by the intensity of the music and went outside to line up for Myrath's autographs. In any other circumstance I'd probably have stayed for longer.

DYNAZTY
Also unfortunately for these guys, the sound was very boomy and poorly mixed, which for a rough-sounding vocalist like Nils Molin is a serious defect, as I couldn't really hear what he was singing. The band performed well but their music blended together. They did mix it up by throwing in bass and drum solos, unexpectedly for a heavy/power outfit, in an attempt to break the mold. They did, to an extent, but if the mold itself is not operating at full potential then there is not much that can be done.

SNOWY SHAW I missed, to go get a large dinner at Sausalito's.

PAIN
I would never pick up a Pain album due to his association with Hypocrisy, a type of band I stay away from with a six-foot pole. If Pain hadn't been touted as unique and experimental, I wouldn't watch this either. I did stay for about 25 minutes of the set and the constant hypnotic wall of sound and techno influences made for an odd but compelling style for the festival, including the bizarrely shaded lighting that may have amplified the hypnotic effect of the music. Think an industrial and extreme-tinged version of The Smashing Pumpkins and this is about what you get.

AMARANTHE
Very few bands have three lead vocalists on whom their music is almost completely dependent, but in that elite company one of the primary commandments is to make the singers audible and distinct. Unfortunately, the poor sound quality at this set made it difficult to follow several of the songs and distinguish one from another, and I gave up on trying to fill in the setlist near the end as a result. I have mixed opinions about Nils Molin as the male clean singer and this set confirmed it both ways. He has excellent range but his tone is not as clear as Jake E's, who had fit the pop-rock elements perfectly. I eventually nodded off during this set.

KATATONIA
Many fans, even established Katatonia listeners, have said that the band are spotty live and can be either enormously captivating and haunting, or incredibly boring and lifeless. But on the PPUSA stage, they fell decidedly into the former category. Katatonia is one band whose sound must be utterly perfect, and the soundman delivered, bringing out all of the hauntingly atmospheric qualities that make Katatonia's music what it is while also putting enormous punch behind the drums and guitars. The constantly flashing strobe lights and nearly completely obscured band members were quite controversial, but for me they amplified the haunted mood of the set, the sort of feeling that someone is there even when you can't physically see them that scares the wits out of you. And for old-school Katatonia diehards, there was one song on which Anders Nystrom threw in a few screams!

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Chris R
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Chris R » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:19 am

elendil wrote:DT has been a bit meh for a long time, but IMO Haken isn't elite until they have an elite vocalist. Now, I'm not the sort of person who cares a lot about vocals in music relative to the instrumental performances, but I'm analyzing the question just from the perspective of "prog cult" potential in Chris' terms. ;)


Devils advocate
Was Geddy Lee ever elite?
There are many who say his voice was the worst part of Rush until Permanent Waves (just don't nessiisarily believe so...)
Hell..there are people that can't stand Labrie's voice...

I don't find Ross' vocals any worse than those 2 at all..
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Sir Exar Kun
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby Sir Exar Kun » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:21 am

Devils advocate
Was Geddy Lee ever elite?
There are many who say his voice was the worst part of Rush until Permanent Waves (just don't nessiisarily believe so...)
Hell..there are people that can't stand Labrie's voice...

I don't find Ross' vocals any worse than those 2 at all..


Heck, I can start a lengthy list of GREAT bands (some prog, some not) where the vocalist was very far from elite, but whose voice would really be irreplaceable. Ross is definitely in that category: he is very distinct, and I would not want to hear anyone else sing these songs. Think Savatage, think Watchtower, think Arch era Fates Warning. These are some defining bands (alongside the Rush allusion, which is PERFECT) that have very atypical vocalists.

The only thing that, for me, holds Haken back is that their songwriting sometimes ventures off-track. Aquarius and Visions both were solid front to back, but the last two albums definitely had flaws (The Mountain had serious pacing problems, Affniity has "Red Giant") that hold them back from being masterpiece albums. They bring 100% live, but the songwriting feels like they are only operating at 90% of potential still.
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elendil
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby elendil » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:36 am

Atypical vocalists are not a problem and can even be an advantage in carving out a distinct identity. Some people will be turned off, while others are attracted. Now, I haven't seen Haken live, but on recording the vocals sound... a bit low-energy. It's not a problem with carrying a tune, but it has more to do with the phrasing and power. I'm not saying they're bad, but they just need a stronger personality. YMMV, as always with these things.

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LarryD
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:45 pm

For outprogged --

That was a great write up on the show, and agreed with mostly everything you said ..........especially this:

VANDEN PLAS
Unfortunately I would have to say this set was disappointing. Vanden Plas was the number one band I most wanted to see as I have a very close personal relationship with their The Seraphic Clockwork record, among others. Their chaotic sound issues were well-documented, but also Andy was missing a few notes and flubbed several lines of lyrics, even singing the same verse twice during "Holes in the Sky." The bassist has to be among the most bored-looking musicians I've ever seen on stage. The drummer was outstanding throughout and Andy was having a good time when he wasn't mad at the soundman. I hope I see these guys again when things go better for them.


I couldn't have said it better ... I felt so bad for them, and us at the same time. They were so "off" it felt awkward watching them .....also agree on the bass player, who looked like he would rather have been somewhere else, but the drummer was the only one playing flawless and looking really excited to be there ......that was a saving grace at least. Andy, well - this was not his night. As long as he has been around, and as professional as this band is, I suffered watching him suffer. He tried like hell to come back, and finally reeled me in with The Final Murder, but it was almost too late by then. Something was really wrong on the inside, and it showed on the outside, and these guys have been my boys for the better part of 22 years .......I'm not sure if we will ever see them again at PP, but if we don't, I can at least say I saw them every time and have the PP dvd to fall back on in the future......

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LarryD
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Re: Prog power so far.....

Postby LarryD » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:51 pm

elendil wrote:DT has been a bit meh for a long time, but IMO Haken isn't elite until they have an elite vocalist. Now, I'm not the sort of person who cares a lot about vocals in music relative to the instrumental performances, but I'm analyzing the question just from the perspective of "prog cult" potential in Chris' terms. ;)


*** I didn't want this post to become a Haken vs DT post, and I'm trying to stay away from it..... but I do agree with this statement above. In this day and age, in order to be better than Dream Theater, you have to have the chops, which we know, and you have to have a world class singer. When I saw Haken play the Shattered Fortress set, it was absolutely stunning and brilliant. Let's face it - the only thing missing in that phenom set was Labrie himself, and we know that can't happen. But, Labrie ( to me ) is in a class by himself, and at it for much longer than Haken, but for the total package that you're talking about, Ross would also have to be in his class and I just don't think he is, his stunning performances notwithstanding. Just my opinion - but if we are talking total package, there it is. Let's go back to the Prog Power show .......if you want to talk about how stunning Ross was during his Visions set, I'm in --- his best performance ever at Prog Power.......


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