Manifestations of Prog:
Genre: Progressive Metal,
The first person to use different voices (usually for different persons in songs) has been no other than (admired by me, and rightly so) King Diamond. This inherent manner was remarkable as early as in "Melissa" of 1983, which is certainly one of the five most progressive albums of Mercyful Fate / King Diamond (and the first, as you remember, clear-water Prog-Metal album: see the Birth of the Progressive Metal). King holds unswervingly to this stylistics in all the programs, no exceptions, but especially can emphasize his ability (very rare indeed) to command over several octaves in his main works - conceptual. That all belong to Rock Operas of the second "Metal" category. This very category is for me particularly valuable. And the main reason for such attitude is the feeling of fascination for the talent of one man who can sing for a dozen. Leadership here belongs unconditionally to Diamond, including the number of Rock Operas he created - within both categories. Some people surprise me: "The music is great, but the vocals they dislike". And for me, he is the best singer in the history of Rock at all. Because for me the main criterium for evaluation is not "beauty", "operaness" (the terms I've met in our Rock press), "sexlessness" (someone characterized Robert Plant as the best vocalist for his "sexless" voice, something between male and female, my God!), but Progressiveness, of course! And this notion concerning vocal is made up, as you see, also of diversity and arrangements that are as important for it as for composition. The first example that occurs to me (sorry those who haven't heard, and I recommend it highly): Italian band Black Jester, where on the composition of ammazing progressiveness (especially on their "Divine and Comedy", 1997) a strangely monotonous vocal is laid (Alexis can't even sing properly the texts written not by him), pity all that goes unnoticed for the talented musicians.
Regrettably, but in the first category of Rock Operas, when a lot of guests are invited, including real vocalists from the Opera, nobody has approached to the unforgettable Jesus Christ Superstar. About Ayreon, for example, I talked in my prevoius article. As for Metal Rock Operas of the given character, the uncontested leader here is the album "Burnt Offerings" (1995) of Iced Earth (read the review). And if Tim Rice introduced in "Superstar" Christ's personality in more human (and it means more "sinful") context, the author of lyrics (and a half of musical material: the rest is by the lead guitarist) rhythm guitarist / second lead vocalist Jon Schaffer humanized the devil, in his turn. In "Burnt Offerings" this latter not only becomes angry, but also often and rather deeply contemplates - and exactly within the Bible frames. However, the album belongs rather to the "intermediate" category, since the lead singers, conveying in this Rock Opera different "states of mind" of the devil, are only two in number (band members), and only seldom does a third (guest female) angel voice appear.
Swedish Prog-Doom band Therion, starting from 1995, has been succesfully turning from the extreme music to the more progressive. And if "Lepaca Kliffoth" represented Prog-Doom of fairly good quality, then the band's two last "program" albums "Theli" and "Vovin" are nothing less than Prog-Metal Operas of the first category. For now singers are two stuff members Christofer Johnsson and Piotr Wavrzenjuk, several guests-soloists (one role to each), plus a number of professional male and female choirs in full cast. And in this respect Therion are pioneers here. The works are quite attractive and very original, beautiful, though not profound.
VM (Vitaly Menshikov): October 2000