Microdose: Psychotic Waltz, Vandan Plas, Vulkan & Haken

Written by Mass

  • Artist: Psychotic Waltz
  • Album: The God-Shaped Void
  • Genre: Progressive Metal
  • Release Date: February 14, 2020
  • Country: USA
  • Highlights: Sisters of the Dawn – While the Spiders Spin – Devils and Angels (minus the intro)
  • Rating: 8.5

Spotify

It took more than two decades (24 years to be precise) for these American proggers to get back and release their fifth studio album! Many things have changed since then and so has the whole prog scene but what Psychotic Waltz offers is relatable to modern prog listeners as well as the older fans of the band. The God-Shaped Void is an album that only bands of high caliber and great mastery can create. The music so resembles the common sound of past years in the genre with a more modern approach and quality, but that is what I like much more to this “modern prog” sound which has garnered many fans. The guitar solos, and hefty riffs as well, team up with Devon Graves’ vocals to make the band’s ultimate mix. It’s very interesting that the longest track Sisters of the Dawn is in fact my highlight. It is an epic narrative with all aspects of music in their finest place. It will probably be my choice of prog this year.


  • Artist: Vanden Plas
  • Album: The Ghost Xperiment Illumination
  • Genre: Progressive Metal – Progressive Power Metal
  • Release Date: December 4th, 202
  • Country: Germany
  • Highlights: Fatal Arcadia – When the World is Falling Down – Krieg kennt keine Sieger (Saltatio Mortis cover)
  • Rating: 8.0

Spotify

A venerable band which has an array of highly-regarded progressive metal albums under their belt, Vanden Plas has always been on par with progressive giants like Dream Theater or Symphony X or Fates Warning and have been able to establish a fandom of progheads. It is true that they do not revolutionize the genre or even offer music for every taste, but they are good at what they do and they deliver what you expect from them. They released the first half of a duology with The Ghost Xperiment – Awakeningin 2019 and this time round they even upped their game a bit in the second half with massive guitar riffs and steady drumwork. Above all, however, I liked Günter Werno’s keys solos, something I barely take pleasure in. so good job indeed.


Vulkan - Technatura
  • Artist: Vulkan
  • Album: Technatura
  • Genre: Progressive Rock – Progressive Metal
  • Release Date: May 8, 2020
  • Country: Sweden
  • Highlights: The Royal Fallacy – Rekviem – Bewildering Conception of Truth
  • Rating: 8.0

Bandcamp

Vulkan is a prog band from Sweden and Technatura is their third release. What pleased me the most on this album was the fact that they demonstrated their technical skill in a modest way and unlike many other prog bands, avoided being ostentatious and gaudy in their music, prioritizing melody and feel of the song over sheer technicality. Using instruments as well as language liberally but prudently to obtain their desired target, Vulkan delivers a diverse yet congruent sound in all departments. One shortcoming that I could pinpoint in songwriting and the structure of the album is that there are too many fillers – almost after all the lengthier tracks you can find a filler which somehow kills the joy. We know we are listening to prog, so go ahead and give us a 10-minute track; we can take that much; we wont budge.


  • Artist: Haken
  • Album: Virus
  • Genre: Progressive Metal
  • Release Date: July 24th, 2020
  • Country: England
  • Highlights: Messiah Complex II – A Glutton for Punishment – Prosthetic – Messiah Complex V Ectobius Rex
  • Rating: 8.5

Spotify

Maybe the leading figures in British progressive metal in the recent years, this steady, young band has yet again offered an astounding album to harvest praise from the fans and critics alike. Focusing on the melody of the language (thanks to their remarkable lyricism and choice of words) as well as that of their music has made Virus a congruous and integrated album which pleases the audience on more than one level. Richard Henshall’s and Charlie Griffiths’ guitar work is worthy of commendation with their elephantine riffs and driving solos. Besides, Ross Jennings’ towering voice makes the album all the more pleasurable to delve into. I feel the urge however to say that, on a more personal note, I still would like to hear more growls and harsher vocals on my prog metal albums. This is by no means to undermine Jennings and his vocal prowess; it is merely a personal preference. This is the bone I also pick with Einar Solberg of Leprous.

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