Prog. It’s an unfamiliar word to many, and an unfamiliar branch of rock and heavy metal music to even more people. Put simply ‘prog’ is short for progressive.
Progressive rock is characterised by its lengthy songs, exceptional level of musicality, complex time signatures and rhythms changes, fantastical lyrical themes and many instrumental passages. But as the word progressive would also suggest, it is a style of music that continually develops, progressing from one theme or idea to the next as quickly as it came.
For those who say they have never heard any prog bands they are probably wrong. Radiohead, Muse, Sigur Ros and Mastodon are all commercially successful bands who have been labelled as prog by the rock and metal community.
You may be thinking it all sounds a little chaotic and haphazard, but we love prog and there are plenty of reasons why you will too:
Firstly it is a branch of rock that dares to defy the expected norms of commerciality. It is unlikely you will hear any prog on commercial radio, headlining huge stadiums (other than the odd few who make it big) or appearing at awards ceremonies twerking alongside Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball.
Secondly it’s a challenging listen, and for those who revel in the journey rather than the destination, the development and expressiveness of prog will have you hooked. Never becoming stationary or predictive, it is an attention grabbing thrill of musicianship and songwriting rebellion.
Third, musicians in prog bands are seriously good. They are often the finest bunch of virtuosos you will never have heard of, but all pulling in the same direction for the sake of the song. The most modest of musicians when their playing suggests they could be forgiven for being the most flashy.
But perhaps what we love most about prog is the drama those songs create. Whether it is the sprawling symphonic work of Dream Theater to the soaring otherworldly imagery created by Yes, there is a level of storytelling nous and original ideas that makes listening to prog such a fascinating experience. Never will you find two bands the same, or even sounding remotely similar because the genre allows such freedom of creativity that everyone can make their own unique mark. Take the plunge and find out just why prog is one of the fastest growing genres today.