Means End: The Didact
Recently, I have been focusing on a style of music which was only brought to my attention a few years ago: progressive metal. I started traveling down this path after a friend sent me a link to the Disperse album "Journey Through the Secret Garden." Being a huge jazz fusion junkie, I immediately found myself immersed in the complexity of the syncopated guitar, bass, and drum parts, and fell in love with the variety of guitar tones, combined with often esoteric keyboards.
One of the highlights of "The Didact" is its flow from beginning to end. There is a clearly defined style and theme, which can be followed both in the music and the lyrics. I will warn you that the lyrics are rather dark. But, the vocal performance is outstanding, and the band is phenomenal. I'm always impressed with drummers who can play such cleanly syncopated kick drum patterns along with guitar melodies. There is no space for "holding back" in a style like this - the energy level must stay high throughout. Christian Schreil performs on this album.
Overall, the power projected from this group of musicians is outstanding. I am usually very critical of adding vocals to music with this level of complexity. However, the vocal performance on this album is one of the best examples of combining sophisticated music with a powerful lyrical element I've ever heard. In fact, I've also enjoyed reading the lyrics, which are more like free-form poetry than I see in most music (there is no effort to have verses and choruses, no effort to rhyme lines, etc). This may actually be my favorite vocal performance in progressive rock to date.
My favorite track from the album is called "Arbiter of Time".
You can find "Arbiter of Time" along with the rest of the album, free to stream on Bandcamp. Means End Bandcamp.