Washington Think with W.: What Does It Mean to Be Progressive?


Greetings, constituents. I hope this post finds you well. I know I’ve been absent for quite some time, but like sweet mother democracy, I am a faithful lover, and I will always return to you. You, in turn, lend me your big sexy brain to help me solve riddles of a musical nature. Today I bring you a timely quandary that builds upon some discussions we have previously had.

Today’s Question: What Does It Mean to Be Progressive?

In truth, this is not a new question. Forsooth, our pal Guacamole Jim tackled this very subject on an earlier post about regression vs. progression. Though I would never want to put words in my dear friend’s mouth, Guacamole essentially claimed that there is in fact a key different between progressive music and Progressive music. I essentially echoed this assertion in my review of Leprous‘ The Congregation. Our thesis: progressive music is that which pushes the boundaries of a genre and may in fact be subjective to where a listener is located along the highway of his or her musical journey. In contrast, Progressive music has largely become associated with certain common tropes. In the context of metal, Prog is typically characterized by long songs, cheesy synths, soaring vocals, and instrumental noodling. None of these things are negative in and of themselves, but when many emerging Prog bands sound exactly like Dream Theater, there isn’t much actual progression being made, correct?

Why am I bringing this up again, then? I was browsing the social media superhighway and noticed a post from Leprous talking about reviews of their new album. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in lauding the record.


That’s only the tip of the iceberg. The list goes on and on. So what is it that sets this record apart from its contemporaries? In all honesty, I think it’s the fact that Leprous have penned a truly progressive album without stumbling in the doldrums of Progressive metal. As I asserted in my review, this is a truly groundbreaking record that is unifying in its singular vision of incorporating everything that makes this genre amazing while never becoming simple idol worship. It would seem that the rest of the critics are united with me in this assessment.

So, this brings me back to today’s question. What do YOU think makes music progressive? Perhaps more interestingly, what do you see as the limits of evolution in metal? Has extremity been reached? What do you find challenging? Do you like to be challenged?

Sound off in the comments below.

P.S. Do you have an idea for Think Tank? Send it to toiletovhell@gmail.com! I’d love to collaborate.

Don’t know what the Washington Think Tank is? This is a weekly column where your former President poses a pressing question and allows the top minds at the Toilet ov Hell to investigate his query.

P.P.S. Akercocke of Steele, if you’re out there on a boat somewhere reading this, I have not forgotten you, my friend.


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