There seems to be a lot of confusion in this thread about what prog rock is.
There are two ways to answer this. The first I would say is the most correct.
1. Prog is not a real genre. One could say that its just anti-pop.
To be progressive is not one thing. Instead it would be correct to say that there a lot parameters that can be more or less progressive. Parameters that often is involved when something is prog are
- The composition of the songs are more advanced than mainstream music
- Use of advanced time signatures
- Use of changing time signatures
- Often use of elements from other music sources (Classic, Jazz, Blues, Folk, Rock, Metal and more)
- Musicians often very skilled in playing their instrument(s)
- Lenghtier parts where only the music is in focus and not the singing
- Instrumental parts of songs are much more important than in mainstream music
- Solos are often a must
- Concept albums is most seen in this genre
- To be innovative is common here (technical, composition, style, instruments)
- To find new ways of getting from today common music to tomorows new music
Almost no bands are extremely progressive in all the above parameters. Almost all bands only use some of the above paramteres to define their personal progressive style.
2. Prog as a specific genre. When people have strong positions on what is prog and what is not they see prog as a very defined genre. That genre being the progressive scene of the late 60's and most of the 70's. Bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Van der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant are the frontrunners of this genre.
Now a lot of people say "All modern prog is crap. The only thing that counts is the old prog. No one today can play prog. Prog is dead because it had its time in history and that has ended a long time ago".
Well that only makes sense if only look at the second definition. In that sense its true that no bands today really with meaning can play old style prog rock. But that is not only related to prog rock. That is true for ALL music. No one play like Beatles anymore. No one play like Led Zeppelin anymore. No one play like Queen anymore. No one play like Pearl Jam anymore. Hell McCartney doesn't sound like Beatles anymore. Bowie doesn't sound like Ziggy Stardust anymore. Metallica doesn't sound like Master of Puppets anymore. Oasis doesn't sound like Wanderwall any more. Even Coldplay today doesn't sound like thier first album anymore.
And that is how it should be. Music is evolving. Now mainstream music is maybe getting more and more surface and image. That is just my opinion. But away from the mainstream music every decade have brought more and more quality bands forward. Only a very few copying old masters. Most being influenced by past masters but doing it their own way.
And if one thinks of prog rock as the first definition then its nonsense to say that prog is dead. Prog have never been more alive if you look past the definition of a specific old genre. There are TONS of prog rock/metal bands that play all kinds of prog.
Now to my own taste. This is my taste. Not something that counts for all others. My music taste is defined by only one band. Pink Floyd. Though I like and love a loads and loads of other bands one could say like them despite I only like Pink Floyd. LOL. That is of cause exaggerated. But in some basic sense its true. What I like about PF is that its not too prog. There is an element of "easy to get into" in their music. One can easily listen to most of their music with just one ear and still being satisfied. But one can also listen intensly to their music and being a lot more satisfied.
I love their lyrics. I love their songs. I love their music in the songs. I love Gilmours way playing guitar.
My taste is that pop and anti-pop (prog) both have something important to say. Not every time but most of the times then prog gets stupid if its too prog and pop gets annoing when its too pop. In almost all music I like then its a combination of some pop and some prog and not too much pop and not too much prog. For me there most of the times have to be
1) Pop-elements that make the songs easy to digest, something thats easy for the ear to listen to, catchy harmonies, expected developments in the harmonic progression.
2) Prog-elements that make the songs interesting, surprising, dynamic, candy for the ears, deep, been taken on a longer journey, intense.
To my taste there are two traps that a lot of skilled bands and musicians fall into.
1. Too skilled and show that too much in their music: A lot of shredders and prog metal bands fall into that trap. Instead of developing the feeling and mood of the songs and simple just make "a whole" of the song they play overly high technical soloing.
2. Too prog and show that too much in their music: A lot of prog bands are simply too prog for me. Here its often the extreme blend of styles being played "against" each other, the overly complex compositions, taking too extreme journeys in the unknown, the complete absence of even a little poppish melody or harmony that alienets me from their music.
My personal top 10 bands over all
1. Pink Floyd
2. The Doors
4. Porcupine Tree
8. Guns N Roses
9. Black Sabbath
10. Led Zeppelin
My personal top 10 prog (or proggish) bands
1. Pink Floyd
2. Porcupine Tree
3. King Crimson
7. Dream Theater
My top 25 prog albums:
1. Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)
2. Animals (Pink Floyd)
3. Live at Pompei (Pink Floyd)
4. In Absentia (Porcupine Tree)
5. Stupid Dream (Porcupine Tree)
6. Wish You were here (Pink Floyd)
7. Leaving Eden (Antimatter)
8. In Cout of the Crimson King (King Crimson)
9. Judgment (Anathema)
10. Rapid Eye Movement (Riverside)
11. Out of Myself (Riverside)
12. Damnation (Opeth)
13. Meddle (Pink Floyd)
14. Images and Words (Dream Theater)
15. Signify (Porcupine Tree)
16. Operation Mindcrime (Queensryche)
17. OK Computer (Radiohead)
18. The Dark Third (Pure Reason Revolution)
19, The Wall (Pink Floyd)
20. Sounds that I hear (Airbag)
21. Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (Coheed and Cambria)
22. Fear of the Black Planet (Porcupine Tree)
23. Alternative 4 (Anathema)
24. Into the Electric Castle (Ayreon)
25. Obscured by Clouds (Pink Floyd)
Below is some vids that is either good prog or god songs with proggy element:
Pink Floyd - Animals (only part 1)
From one of PFs best albums. A full out battle between genial Water lyrics and Gilmour fantastic guitar playing
King Crimson - Epitahp
Classic super prog
King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man
Jazzy hard rock.
Porcupine Tree - Don't Hate Me
Antimatter - Redemption
Very Live (band) alike in the beginning and then it gets more prog and with super guitar solo.
Anathema - Lost Control
Ambient prof from Anathema
Led Zeppelin - No Quarter (only part 1)
Off cause not real prog. But super classic 70 rock with so much music quality that its easily prog after all.
Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
Best song of my favorite band. Best guitar solo in the world. The solo on PULSE is maybe more "perfect" than this one. But the solo on Delicate Sound of Thunder is more aggresive, angry and painfull. For me the DSOT is the best version of the best guitar solo in the world.
Dream Theater - Pull Me Under
The biggest prog metal band in the world. Hate Labries voice. But the rest of the band is just fantastic. And Petrucci is in any thinkable way one of the best guitarists ever.
Riverside - Reality Dreams II
Polish super band. Pink Floyd meets Porcupine Tree meets Dream Theater meets Tool. Cant wait for their new album.
Riverside - The Curtain Falls
Very Pink Floyd like song from Riverside. Great.
Rainbow - Catch the Rainbow
Same comment as with Led Zeppelin.
Opeth - Windowpane
Opeth playing prog and not death metal. Super song from one of my favorite albums of them.
Erik Norlander - Sky Full of Stars
Electronic, ambient prog. Great solo in the middle of the song....almost gilmourish.
Pineapple Thief - All I Need To Know
Not the most proggy of Pineapple Thiefs songs. But there are not that many songs of them on youtube. Good pop-rock-prog. Good simple solo in the middle.
Airbag - Prelude
Started out as a Pink Floyd cover band. But they have started to make their own music.
Porcupine Tree - Lazerus
Off cause not the most proggy song from Porcupine Tree. But who cares? Super pop-prog. Can never get enough of this song.
David Gilmour - Shine on You Crazy Diamond
From hos solo tour two years ago. Some changes from the Pink Floyd versions. But all the small changes are all great. Magic guitar as always when Gilmour is playing.
Metallica - To Live is to Die
Though pure heavy metal no one can deny the advanced composition and big format of this fist in the face.
That must be that for now.