A Progressive Rock Sub-genre
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Symphonic Prog definitionSymphonic is without doubt the sub-genre that includes the most bands in Progressive Rock because for many people it's almost synonymous classic Prog, something easy to understand being that most of the classic and/or pioneer bands released music that could be included in this sub-genre, except JETHRO TULL and PINK FLOYD (who still blended some symphonic elements), even KING CRIMSON who very soon expanded their horizons to more experimental music, made their debut with a Symphonic album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" which is a cornerstone in the development of the genre.
The main characteristics of Symphonic are the ones that defined all Progressive Rock: (There's nothing 100% new under the sun) which among others are:
- Mixture of elements from different genres.
- Complex time signatures.
- Lush keyboards.
- Explorative and intelligent lyrics, in some cases close to fantasy literature, Sci Fi and even political issues.
- Non commercial approach
- Longer format of songs
In this specific case the main characteristic is the influence of Classical music (understood as Orchestral works created from the late Gothic to Modern Classical) using normally more complex structure than other related sub-genres like Neo Progressive (That's why sometimes the borderline that divides Symphonic from Neo is so unclear being that is based mostly in a degree of complexity rather than in an evident structural difference)..It is easy to find long keyboard solos reminiscent of Johan Sebastian Bach or melodic works that could have been written by Handel.
As in any other genre, different Symphonic bands had different approaches to Classical music, for example YES and GENESIS are mainly influenced by the Baroque and Classical periods, while EMERSON LAKE & PALMER has a predilection for post Romantic and modern authors like Mussorgsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Bartok or Ginastera, being that their sound is less melodic and more aggressive.
The peak of the genre starts in 1969 and lasts until the mid/late 70's (more precisely until the release of A Trick of the Tail), when the genre begins to blend more mainstream influences that took to the birth of Neo Progressive (a new approach for a new decade).
It is important to remember that even though the creative peak of Symphonic Progressive ended before the 80's, we can find a second birth in the 90's coming from the Scandinavian countries (specially Sweden with ANGLAGARD or PAR LINDH PROJECT) and even bands that still in the 21st Century recreate music from this period like SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN.
Before ending this short description I feel necessary to say (In order to be strictly accurate) that the term Symphonic is not 100% exact, because these bands very rarely played symphonies and was probably used because the music that influenced the genre was performed by Symphony Orchestras, but it is so widely accepted by the Progressive Rock community that would be absurd and futile for anybody to attempt a change after so much time.
Iván Melgar Morey, Peru 2006
Current Team as at 09/07/17
Iván Melgar Morey (Iván_Melgar_M)
Anton Fritz (SouthSideoftheSky)
Symphonic Prog Top Albums
Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Symphonic Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters
4.67 | 4767 ratings
CLOSE TO THE EDGE
4.64 | 4419 ratings
SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND
4.61 | 3836 ratings
4.46 | 3793 ratings
4.42 | 3374 ratings
4.41 | 2881 ratings
4.39 | 2457 ratings
4.38 | 3268 ratings
4.36 | 1793 ratings
4.31 | 3164 ratings
THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY
4.31 | 3102 ratings
THE YES ALBUM
4.30 | 2454 ratings
THE SNOW GOOSE
4.28 | 2764 ratings
A TRICK OF THE TAIL
4.38 | 774 ratings
FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE
4.31 | 1308 ratings
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES
4.24 | 2228 ratings
EMERSON LAKE & PALMER
Emerson Lake & Palmer
4.29 | 894 ratings
DEPOIS DO FIM
4.26 | 1133 ratings
4.25 | 1081 ratings
4.22 | 1219 ratings
Symphonic Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums
Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Symphonic Prog experts team
HIJOS DEL AGOBIO
BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER - THE LIMITED EDITION
Latest Symphonic Prog Music Reviews
3.37 | 27 ratings
Cotó En Pèl Symphonic Prog
"Aura De Sons" is the 13 1/2 minute opener and it starts with some heavy atmosphere as thunder cracks in the distance. Soon the music arrives but it's very distant sounding until around 4 minutes in when they amp it up with intricate guitar, bass and rumbling drums. Guitar solo follows a minute later with jazzy drums. Synths growl 6 minutes in as the bass throbs then the tempo picks up a minute later. Love that bass. Those growly synths remind me of LE ORME. A calm 9 minutes in as spacey synths and vocals lead the way. Organ follows and the vocals will come and go. "Lamentations" is of course sad sounding with acoustic guitar, cornet and melancholic vocals mostly.
"Holocaust" is divided into two parts worth over 18 minutes in total. This is where we get a variety of mellotron sounds, growly and spacey synths along with acoustic and electric guitar and vocals will come and go. This suite is the highlight of the album in my opinion although that opener is right there too. It opens so beautifully with that acoustic guitar as the organ floats in along with some intricate electric guitar. Bass then synths after 2 minutes. Drums and bass are more out front after 4 minutes. So much to like here as those growly synths arrive and the mellotron sounds amazing before 6 minutes. It's very spacey late to end part 1 sounding almost like theremin. Part 2 is more of the same but changed slightly as the mellotron and synths standout and we get a guitar solo late. Vocals again come and go.
I just love listening to this, dig their sound. A strong 4 star album in my opinion and one of the better albums to come out of Spain. My kind of music.
4.64 | 4418 ratings
Genesis Symphonic Prog
Review by WJA-K
I do like this album. But I don't love it. It feels self-important.
Having said this, there are highlights on this for sure. I especially like Firth of the Fifth and The Cinema Show.
Dancing with the Moonlit Knight - Impressive opener. Both musically and lyrically. - 8.5/10
I know what I like - One of the few rather straightforward songs on the album. Good track. - 8/10
Firth of Fifth - This track builds and builds. The ending is the best part for me. I didn't give it the 10 out of 10 because I heard that type of guitar soloing before, and better (Robert Fripp). Still, it's a great track. 9.5/10
More fool me - The song is quite alright. But the issue is, it is out of place on this album. - 6.5/10
The Battle of Epping Forest - This is ok. I like the theme, both musically and lyrically. I have some issues with the silliness of the lyrics. The story is nice, I like the humour. But some passages feel forced. - 8/10
After the Ordeal - Great instrumental. The calm of the storm of the Epping Forest. The second half is better than the first. 8.5/10
The Cinema Show/ Aisle of Plenty - This is a strong song. Especially the instrumental section is great. One of the best of the album. - 9/10
Overall: 4 stars.
4.18 | 28 ratings
Karfagen Symphonic Prog
Review by Trinity S
3.45 | 97 ratings
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog
A Crimson Mellotron
In reality, this 70-minute recording is an almost painful drag - from the meanderings of the instrumentalists and their seemingly directionless playing on several occasions, more notably on the longer songs, to the hardly memorable riffs and melodies, lacking much of the charisma and imagination that is usually associated with the bands in which Roine Stolt is featured. It has to be said that as a solo record of Stolt, it is fine to see him exploring the sides of his music that he would not have otherwise been able to with, say, The Flower Kings, or The Tangent (although the music is not that dissimilar), but this record is just too full of content that it becomes hard to even categorize it (maybe progressive sleep-inducing blues would be a fitting decription).
A big problem with 'Manifesto of an Alchemist' is the overstretching of the compositions, and a very good example would be the opening track 'Lost America' - a song that could have been much more enjoyable had it not been mixed up with several other ideas that hardly contribute to the overall listening experience, resulting in a mediocre mini-epic, full of wacky lyrics and somewhat tedious playing. The following track 'Ze Pawns' does not get better; In fact, it is even harder to get through as the 'ambient rock' tendency prevails once again, as is the case with the 12-minute 'High Road', another long song that is suffocated from its self-indulgent and directionless nature. 'Rio Grande' and 'The Alchemist' are the two instrumental tracks that are actually interesting and listenable, more experimental and adventurous sonically, but the rest of the album is, unfortunately, almost dreadful.
'Manifesto of an Alchemist' is unnecessarily long, boring, uninspiring, and sounds like a collection of B-sides and leftovers that have been reworked to not very satisfactory results. What could have been a very curious piece of modern prog, is in reality a disappointing addition to the excellent discography of Roine Stolt.
3.66 | 250 ratings
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog
A Crimson Mellotron
So, the big question is, and this has to be valid both for people who are well aware of TFK's catalogue and for music lovers that are eager to explore something new: Why is this album worth my attention? Well, from one side, it is incredibly eclectic - the band venture on to the realms of classical music, free improvisation, electronica & electronic rock, suspenseful prog, and even, joyous flowery pop, so what's not to like about an album that present so many different moods, sounds, and types of songs? As for the lengths of the composition, the listener might either get a 10-minute mini-epic or a 5-minnute instrumental, it is all in there. Another positive of 'Waiting for Miracles' is that it is so uplifting - as mentioned before, this album is a departure from the sound that The Flower Kings last presented with 'Desolation Rose' in 2013; Now it seems like their world is more carefree, more approachable, more easily enjoyable. And another interesting aspect of this 2019 release is that it is quite a memorable one, despite the variety of the songs, and the sometimes-complex instrumentation, the songs just stay in your head, whether you like them or not. However, I truly believe that this is an album of which every single listener can make up something - a meaning, a connection, an interpretation, a criticism, an association; It is an album that allows you to tune in to it and to analyze it, without putting pressure on you. It is an easy-going and welcoming album, and once again, this is on the premise that you might end up loving it, hating it, or just appreciating it for what it is.
Some highlights from 'Waiting for Miracles' would certainly include the epic 'Black Flag', with the gradual build-up of expectation, the catchy 'Miracles for America', the romantic ballad-type song 'The Bridge', the instrumental 'Ascending to the Stars', 'Sleep with the Enemy', another great song by the band, or even the more cosmic and dreamier 'Spirals' from side two. But please do not disregard the rest of the record as unworthy of mention or anything of this sort because there really are no band songs or compositions, you could really have any track as your favorite, and this has to be one of the strengths of The Flower Kings' 2019 offering. Still, it is a record on which the core of the band get familiar with the new kids on the block, and sometimes the results might not be as 'epic' as the listener familiar with the band's previous output might expect, indicating that there are stronger LPs in their discography.
3.80 | 536 ratings
Focus Symphonic Prog
Review by WJA-K
I love the free-flowing nature of the album, the experimentation. And I love the mix of short pieces and long tracks.
The album reminds me of the jazzy period of King Crimson, also around 70/71. This also applies to Jan's guitar. Who influenced who?
Round goes the gossip - I don't think this is the perfect opener, despite the instrumental craftmanship 6/10
Love remembered - I love this one much better. Great flute work 8/10
Sylvia - classic Focus track and a great tune 9/10
Carnival Fuge - I like this track, again especially when Jan plays 7/10
Focus III - great track, awesome rendition of this work 8/10
Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers! - Absolute masterpiece. The best track on the album. This could be a KC track on Islands. Jazzy, great dynamics, great guitar. The best part is 8 minutes in, when Jan Akkerman hits it 10/10
Elspeth of Nottingham - Not my favourite tune, but a nice break between the two epics 6/10
Anonymous II - Focus shows what they have in store, which is a lot. Great extended jamming session 9/10
I give this album a 4-star rating, similar to Hamburger Concerto.
3.92 | 658 ratings
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog
A Crimson Mellotron
As with the band's first two releases, 'Stardust' was also released on Foxtrot Records and was produced by Roine Stolt himself, who is playing all guitars, sings, and handles some of the keyboards on the album. Alongside him we see Tomas Bodin on keyboards, Michael Stolt on bass, Hasse Fröberg on vocals (this time as a proper band member), Jaime Salazar on drums and Ulf Wallander contributing once again some saxophone bits and Hasse Bruniusson playing some percussion as well as Håkan Almkvist who plays sitar and table on a couple of songs. With this mighty ensemble of very talented and inspired musicians, it should come as no surprise that the music they have created is quite fantastic, very memorable and perpetually impressive.
The 10-minute extravaganza 'In the Eyes of the World' opens up the double album, a song that bombards the listener with quirky sounds and an upbeat tempo that gradually reaches the middle part guitar crescendo, one of the best things you will ever hear on a Flower Kings album. Tomas Bodin is quite impressive, so is Roine Stolt and drummer Jaime Salazar. Then we have a small instrumental piece written by Bodin; the album sees several of these splitting the longer songs. 'Just This Once' is a very 70s Genesis-sounding piece, where the band display their mellower side. 'Church of Your Heart' sees Hasse Fröberg doing some majestic vocals. However, this is hardly one of the album's highlights as it falls into the cornier category of prog songs. The next four tracks are all instrumental, the most impressive of which is the 12-minute 'Circus Brimstone', a composition on which the band really go all in, each member explores the full capabilities of his instrument and the end result is quite impressive. Finally, disc one concludes with 'Compassion', another mini-epic that sets the tone for the next disc.
Side two, if compared track-by-track and as a whole, as a listening experience, is certainly weaker than side one. The songs might seem a bit harder to digest, the listener might be tired after the first hour of music on disc one, and yet, it is still full of interesting sounds, beautiful vocal harmonies, and grandiose instrumental work, with Roine Stolt doing some magical things on his guitar. 'The End of Innocence', 'The Merrygoround', 'Don of the Universe', 'Kingdom of Lies', 'If 28' are all very good songs that can be found here, but none of them can compete with the final song on the album - the 25-minute title track, a prog epic that is certainly on par with things like 'Supper's Ready' or 'Thick as a Brick' (Yes, I said that). The band are at the very top of their creativity and writing on this mighty composition that has deservedly remained a staple of theirs.
'Stardust We Are' is a great album that encapsulates quite accurately what The Flower Kings are all about. This makes it not only an excellent addition to any prog lover's collection but also a very good introduction to anyone who might dare to investigate this colorful band's majestic world!
3.74 | 574 ratings
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog
A Crimson Mellotron
Musically, 'Retropolis' sounds just like the album you would expect to hear from the band after you've heard the preceding one - it is so predictable actually that it almost sounds like 'Back in the World of Adventures' Part 2. Not to dismiss the many qualities of this very good record, it has to be said that it presents some majestic melodies, mind-altering instrumental passages, and once again, abstract and thoughtful lyrics that are sung beautifully by Roine Stolt (and on a few occasions, by Hasse Fr'berg, not a proper band member yet).
Particular highlights would include the 11-minute instrumental title track, a powerhouse of a composition on which each member shines and displays enviable amounts of skill, talent, and imagination, certainly of the strongest instrumental compositions in The Flower Kings' entire catalogue; The more ballad-y 'Rhythm of the Sea', a song that is quite melancholic and tranquil when compared with the madness of 'Retropolis'; 'The Melting Pot' is also very interesting, a song that could only appear on a TFK album for sure with its unwelcoming structure, peculiar sounds and memorable hooks; 'Silent Sorrow' and 'Judas Kiss' are excellent songs as well, all of these tracks strongly reminisce the debut album.
The difficult second album stereotype kind of applies for 'Retropolis', as the album suffers mainly because of its similaritirs to the record that precedes it, and is probably a bit overlong, on top of the fact that the band sees itself meandering on a couple of tracks. Despite all of this, there are some pretty strong compositions that make this sophomore release a valuable moment in the band's history; Still, they have released much better material throughout the years.
3.56 | 177 ratings
Cressida Symphonic Prog
Review by mickcoxinha
With all that, the bast lacked, as I see, consistency in songwriting, and it kinda dissolves the quality of the original and interesting passages in mostly good-but-not-great songs and when you finish listening the album, you are sure that you heard something very good, but, apart from a few songs, not very memorable.
The best songs are Depression, which represents the band at its proggiest (maybe together with One of a Group, with has lots of things going on but not very consistent), plus Cressida, Down Down and Tomorrow is a Whole New Day, each one on its own style representing Cressida's signature sound dominated by great organ passages. I'd include in the list of the best Lights in my Mind, which works well as a more straightforward and commercial song with Cressida's best, and The Only Earthman in Town, with great organ solos.
The rest of the songs are not bad at all, they are all fine, but they don't highlight the strengths of the band and you end up almost with the case of a stronger song followed by a not so strong, followed by another strong, and so on. Anyway, fans of organ-dominated early prog will find a lot to enjoy here, but people who are not a lot into early prog probably will not find a lot of value in it.
4.25 | 1081 ratings
Focus Symphonic Prog
Review by WJA-K
But while enjoyed discovering the works of acts like Yes, Pink Floyd and King Crimson I ignored Focus altogether. I couldn't imagine their output would be approaching these greats.
Then I saw the top 100 of this site and HAD to listen to Hamburger Concerto. I am happy I did.
This is a great album. What a great musicianship. I am in awe of Akkerman's skills on guitar. It's no wonder he became the worlds best guitarist in 73. A heavily contended category those days.
Delitae Musicae opens the album and is a nice piece to set the tone 7/10
Harem Scarem is a variation to Hocus Focus. One that works great. I love the energy of the song 8/10
La Cathedrale De Strasbourg is beautiful. 8/10
Birth is a highlight. This instrumental has so many great guitar escapes from Akkermnas. It is a joy to listen to. 10/10
Hamburger Concerto is a beautiful 20-minute piece that feels like it's much shorter. 10/10
Early Birth is a variation to Birth and almost as great 9/10
This record deserves a 4-star rating.
Symphonic Prog bands/artists list
|AD ASTRA||United States|
|AFTER THE FIRE||United Kingdom|
|AGENTS OF MERCY||Sweden|
|ALL TRAPS ON EARTH||Sweden|
|LEON ALVARADO||United States|
|ANCIENT VISION||United States|
|ANDERSON - BRUFORD - WAKEMAN - HOWE||United Kingdom|
|ANDERSON / STOLT||Multi-National|
|ARS NOVA (JAP)||Japan|
|ARS PRO VITA||Brazil|
|ART IN AMERICA||United States|
|ASA DE LUZ||Brazil|
|ATLANTIS PHILHARMONIC||United States|
|AVIVA (AVIVA OMNIBUS)||Russia|
|BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE||Italy|
|ZELJKO BEBEK & PODIUM||Yugoslavia|
|BEGGARS OPERA||United Kingdom|
|BLACK SEPTEMBER||United States|
|BLUE SHIFT||United States|
|BONDAR & WISE||United States|
|LARS BOUTRUP'S MUSIC FOR KEYBOARDS||Denmark|
|BOX OF SHAMANS||United States|
|BILL BRESSLER||United States|
|CAJA DE PANDORA||Mexico|
|ALEX CARPANI BAND||Italy|
|CHAOS CODE||United States|
|THE CIRCLE PROJECT||Spain|
|CITIZEN CAIN||United Kingdom|
|THE CLIVEDEN SET||United States|
|COTÓ EN PÈL||Spain|
|COUSINS AND CONRAD||United Kingdom|
|CROOKED MOUTH||United Kingdom|
|DELUGE GRANDER||United States|
|DIALOGUE (DAWN DIALOGUE)||Ukraine|
|EARTH AND FIRE||Netherlands|
|ECCENTRIC ORBIT||United States|
|ECLAT / ECLAT DE VERS||France|
|EMERSON LAKE & PALMER||United Kingdom|
|THE ENID||United Kingdom|
|FARMHOUSE ODYSSEY||United States|
|JAROD FEDELE||United States|
|FIRST AID||United Kingdom|
|THE FLOWER KINGS||Sweden|
|FOREVER TWELVE||United States|
|FRIGHT PIG||United States|
|GENS DE LA LUNE||France|
|THE GIFT||United Kingdom|
|GLASS HAMMER||United States|
|CLAY GREEN'S POLYSORBATE MASQUERADE BAND||United States|
|SHAUN GUERIN||United States|
|HARLEQUIN MASS||United States|
|LYLE HOLDAHL||United States|
|HOLDING PATTERN||United States|
|HOT FLASH||United States|
|THE INNER ROAD||United Kingdom|
|JACK INTVELD||United States|
|KAIPA DA CAPO||Sweden|
|KARDA ESTRA||United Kingdom|
|LAZA I IPE||Yugoslavia|
|FRANCIS LICKERISH||United Kingdom|
|LIFE LINE PROJECT||Netherlands|
|PÄR LINDH AND BJÖRN JOHANSSON||Sweden|
|PÄR LINDH PROJECT||Sweden|
|CAILYN LLOYD||United States|
|THE LOAD||United States|
|DUNCAN MACKAY||United Kingdom|
|NICK MAGNUS||United Kingdom|
|LA MÁQUINA DE HACER PÁJAROS||Argentina|
|MASQUE PREMIERE||United States|
|MAZE OF TIME||Sweden|
|DAVID MINASIAN||United States|
|MIND SKY||United States|
|NEAL MORSE||United States|
|TIM MORSE||United States|
|MOTH VELLUM||United States|
|MOURNING KNIGHT||United States|
|JESÚS MUÑOZ FERNÁNDEZ||Spain|
|IAN NEAL||United Kingdom|
|THE NEW GROVE PROJECT||Sweden|
|THE NICE||United Kingdom|
|L' ORIENT D'Ô||Canada|
|PABLO EL ENTERRADOR||Argentina|
|PALE ACUTE MOON||Japan|
|PATCHWORK CACOPHONY||United Kingdom|
|PAZZO FANFANO DI MUSICA||Japan|
|OTA PETRINA||Czech Republic|
|ANTHONY PHILLIPS||United Kingdom|
|PIG FARM ON THE MOON||Venezuela|
|THE PINK MICE||Germany|
|MICHAEL PINNELLA||United States|
|POÇOS & NUVENS||Brazil|
|PROGRESSION BY FAILURE||France|
|PROJECT / PPRY||Finland|
|PROUD PEASANT||United States|
|PUPPET SHOW||United States|
|QUATERNA REQUIEM (WIERMANN & VOGEL)||Brazil|
|RAISON DE PLUS||France|
|REALM/ STEVE VAIL||United States|
|RECORDANDO O VALE DAS MAÇÃS||Brazil|
|RING OF MYTH||United States|
|RING VAN MÖBIUS||Norway|
|ROCKET SCIENTISTS||United States|
|THE ROME PRO(G)JECT||Italy|
|KURT RONGEY||United States|
|ANTON ROOLAART||United States|
|RUMPLE STILTZKEN COMUNE||Switzerland|
|SAGRADO CORAÇÃO DA TERRA||Brazil|
|SCHICKE & FÜHRS & FRÖHLING||Germany|
|SENSITIVE TO LIGHT||France|
|SHADES OF DAWN||Germany|
|SHADOW CIRCUS||United States|
|SPOCK'S BEARD||United States|
|CHRIS SQUIRE||United Kingdom|
|STENCIL FOREST||United States|
|STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN)||Germany|
|THIRTEEN OF EVERYTHING||United States|
|TREM DO FUTURO||Brazil|
|VERTICAL ALIGNMENT||United States|
|RICK WAKEMAN||United Kingdom|
|DOUG WOODS & COLIN POWELL||United Kingdom|
|THE YELLOW BOX||United States|
|ZEN ROCK AND ROLL||United States|