Prog Down Under Part 1

5 of the best and up-and-coming prog bands from Oz

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Think of Australian bands and you’re probably thinking AC/DC and PARKWAY DRIVE, am I right? Well, if you’ve had your ear to the ground, you might have noticed a rise of prog bands emerging from Down Under (sounds painful). Hopefully some of these bands will be familiar to you already, but delve a little deeper and you’ll be bombarded with ridiculously good stuff. So grab a beer, put another shrimp on the barbie and have a gander at the first part of Metalmance’s Prog Down Under…

 

CALIGULA’S HORSE

Formed in 2011 and already three albums in, this progressive alt rock band from Brisbane are now signed to Inside Out Records, home to DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT, LEPROUS and RIVERSIDE. With backing such as this it won’t be long until CALIGULA’S HORSE gallop full pelt into bigger and brighter pastures (sorry). All horse puns aside, this band are set to stun with their unique prog rock sound. They enter the melodic prog territory of later OPETH, and the polished LEPROUS, but the band sound like no other, thanks to frontman Jim Grey’s distinct vocals. No two songs sound the same, with CALIGULA’S HORSE mixing up the styles; a hint of folk here, a little indie there, but it’s all wrapped up in their own brand of infectious melodic prog. They’re currently on tour in Australia but fingers crossed we’ll see them on our shores next year.

 

KARNIVOOL

Hopefully you’re already familiar with these chaps from Perth, if not…why ever not? Their tour with the mighty DEFTONES starts in Australia this week so now is a perfect time to revisit what makes KARNIVOOL so good. Their third album Asymmetry was released back in 2013 and proved a worthy follow up to 2009’s mightily impressive Sound Awake. With a mesmerising sound like genre greats TOOL, the organised chaos of FALL OF TROY and a sprinkling of MESHUGGAH and THE MARS VOLTA, KARNIVOOL are an interesting beast. Beautifully melodic yet complex and heavy, they manage to capture the essence of progressive metal. Frontman Ian Kenny croons, barks and seduces the listener with his distinct vocals, but the instrumentation is equally as spellbinding. With little nuggets of genius happening in the background, you discover something new with each listen which makes KARNIVOOL a very exciting band to listen to. Let’s hope it’s not too long a wait until the next album.

 

CHAOS DIVINE

Another band from Perth, CHAOS DIVINE will be playing Melbourne’s Prog Fest in December along with CALIGULA’S HORSE. CHAOS DIVINE wear their influences on their sleeve, with the instrumentation having a retro feel in places (refer to the beginning of Badge of Honour) and having the melodic ambition of bands such as TOOL and SOILWORK. But CHAOS DIVINE have such a solid sound with the punchy guitars coupled with David Anderton’s strong vocals, that they can hold their own when it comes to melodic bands with soaring choruses. 2015’s album Colliding Skies features their massive, stadium-friendly sound and it surely is only a matter a time before we see this band in bigger venues (and hopefully over ‘ere!). If you like your prog metal of the variety you can belt out around the house, then look no further. Like the chaos in their namesake, their prog is pretty divine.

 

VOYAGER

They’ve managed to wrangle their way onto the DEFTONES and KARNIVOOL tour in Australia and they rightly deserve your attention! With plenty of tricks up their sleeve, this talented band from Perth mix all sorts of progressive influences along with an 80s tinge to proceedings. Already on their 5th album V, released in 2014, the band are finally making waves in the UK, albeit small ripples for now but with their song writing abilities don’t be surprised if it ends up being a full blown progressive tsunami. It is hard not to be impressed with charismatic frontman Danny Estrin and co, as their material spans across a diverse melodic spectrum. Heavy progressive riffs and keys work seamlessly with the band’s catchy lyrics and their unique new wave element which creeps in to give the band a truly refreshing sound. Here’s hoping they’ll voyage to our shores again soon.

 

DEAD LETTER CIRCUS

Another band hailing from Brisbane, you might have already heard DEAD LETTER CIRCUS’ alternative rock as they formed way back in 2004. They’re a similar level of progressive rock as fellow Australians THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, with soaring melodies with plenty of prog tinkerings in the background. Citing bands such as PEARL JAM and SOUNDGARDEN as influences, these guys may sound like radio friendly rock on first listen, but there’s plenty of treats happening in the layers of sound. Their third album Aesthesis was released in 2015 and continues to garner praise. Heartfelt yet intelligent lyrics along with deceivingly complex accompaniment keeps DEAD LETTER CIRCUS interesting and relevant. You’ve just missed them play in the UK but fingers crossed 2017 might bring new music or another European tour. This is one Australian band adored both at Home and Away (haha, sorry).

 

 

 

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