Liking prog is no longer the musical equivalent of social suicide. I’ve spent years shielding the Rush, Yes, and Pink Floyd entries from prying eyes on my iPod. But no longer. There are a whole slew of young bands who are proud to muck around with time signatures and steadfastly refuse to adopt the “verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus” structure beloved of their less cerebral cousins. Now, I can take my pick of modern alternatives to the music of my youth.
Among the bands nestling into the widdly-widdly guitar-noodling goodness of modern prog metal, we find the American band 3. Somewhat overlooked in the wealth of choices exhibited by a number of other bands including Porcupine Tree, Coheed and Cambria, and Dream Theater, 3 comfortably and confidently inhabit the same musical milieu.
The best of The End Is Begun is at the beginning which is progressive in form and laden with catchy hooks and a certain grit. Two minutes into the first track, “The World is Born of Flame”, they evoke long lost memories of Saga, a band I haven’t heard for absolutely ages. Then they career seamlessly into the title track, without pausing for a breath, where they throw in some flamenco guitar, some mean drums and guitars and lovely harmonised vocals. And on it goes. Joey Eppard has the sweet voice of a boy band member, though clearly (and thankfully) declines to spend equivalent amounts on hair products.
It makes the album an easier listen than Opeth — who I love, before you get all grumpy – but it means there are no growls and loud burps down the mic to contend with. Unlike Mars Volta — who I also love, relax — they never allow their experimental nature to become over-indulgent and somewhat un-listenable. Though some tracks may veer a little too far for comfort towards the “poppy”, it helps to keep the album, as a whole, thoroughly accessible and makes a good starting point for music of this genre.
The End Is Begun was first released in 2007 and is scheduled for a re-release on Feb 19 with an extra track and a bonus DVD – just in time for the announcement of the dates for the Progressive Nation tour with, among others, Dream Theater. I reckon they’ll sell shed-loads. And so they should.