5 new prog acts you must hear in January 2023

composite image of Circles, Gaupa, Astrosaur, Grace And Fire and Onsegen Ensemble
(Image credit: Future)

In our ongoing mission to promote grass roots progressive music of a wide variety of styles, plus to further integrate the magazine and our digital presence, we're now introducing people to the Limelight and Prog Around The World bands for each issue, via the website, and through our social channels.

Prog magazine runs four Limelight features every issue – these are normally up and coming bands taking their initial steps on the ladder to success. And, as its title implies, Prog Around The World shines the spotlight on a band from other shores that we feel is deserving of your attention.

You can read these features in the magazine, Here we'll be precising the information for you but more importantly giving you links to follow and music that you can actually listen to while you check the bands out.

These bands  represent the future of progressive music. Your support is essential. Enjoy...


Gaupa – the heavy Swedish art-rock quintet pushing at the edges of surrealism

Swedish band Gaupa posing in a park with flowers

(Image credit: Press/George Grigoriadis)

This sensational five-piece formed in 2017, after bonding over a shared love of Kyuss and Gentle Giant, but Emma Näslund's have earned her numerous comparisons to the queen of quirk Björk

"She’s a fantastic vocalist and she was the best music teacher I ever had,” says Näslund, who mimicked the Icelandic singer-songwriter while also opening herself up to the experimental music that graces their second album, Myriad.


LINE-UP: Jimmy Hurtig (drums), Emma Näslund (vocals), Daniel Nygren (guitars), David Rosberg (guitars), Erik Sävström (bass)

SOUNDS LIKE: A sludgy blend of art-rock that soars into the stratosphere thanks to Emma Näslund’s frankly brilliant Björkian vocal modulation

CURRENT RELEASE: Myriad is out now via Nuclear Blast

WEBSITE: www.gaupaband.com

Circles – Aussie veterans refining their sound in their most confident era

Prog trio Circles standing against a purple background

(Image credit: Press/Andrew Basso)

Formed around 2009/2010 in Australia, Circles have refined their slick blend of avant-progressive metal in recent years thanks, in part, to the arrival of current vocalist and guitarist Ben Rechter in 2018. 

“I actually had him in my sights right from when the band started," laughs fellow guitarist Ted Furuhashi He was playing in this other band called Glass Empire. I saw them playing and I was like, ‘That guy is going to be in my band one day.’”


LINE-UP: Ben Rechter (lead vocals, guitar), Ted Furuhashi (guitar, backing vocals), Dave Hunter (drums)

SOUNDS LIKE: Crushing riffs accompanied by soaring vocals and soothing melodies

CURRENT RELEASE: The Stories We Are Afraid Of Vol.1 is out now via Wild Thing

WEBSITE: www.circles.band

Grace And Fire – big melodies and a big sound from rising English prog rockers

Prog group Grace And Fire posing in a graffiti space

(Image credit: Press/Neil Matthews)

They've only been around since 2019 but the fruit of Grace And Fire's labour is debut album Elysium, produced by Threshold’s Karl Groom. Vocalist André Saint says the reaction to the record, released in 2021, has exceeded expectations; their stock is bolstered, though, by guest cameos from keyboard whizz Derek Sherinian and ex-Yngwie Malmsteen vocalists Göran Edman and Mark Boals.

“We’re not contriving anything, it’s just taking it as it comes,” Saint says when asked about the future. “We just want to get the music out there as far as we possibly can. It’s never been about money. I just want the music to be heard.”


LINE-UP: Tim Ashton (bass), Graham Brown (drums), Aaron Gidney (guitars, Chapman Stick), Joshua Gidney (keyboards), André Saint (vocals)

SOUNDS LIKE: Classic yet contemporary progressive rock with a metallic edge

CURRENT RELEASE: Elysium is out now on OOB Records

WEBSITE: www.graceandfireofficial.com

Astrosaur – meet the ex-Leprous and Ihsahn guitarist leading Norway’s cosmic jazz-metal explorers

prog trio Astrosaur standing against a clear blue sky

(Image credit: Aina Haukeland)

Guitarist Eirik Kråkenes (Leprous/Ihsahn touring member), bassist Steinar Glas and drummer Jonatan Eikum co-founded this instrumental project in the mid-2010s, while they were studying at the Conservatory of Music in Kristiansand, Norway. Since then they’ve released three albums, the most recent of which, Portals, pulls listeners through a universe of off-the-wall songwriting, jazz-level musicianship and metal exhilaration.

"The main goal for our music is to create a place where the listener can space out and really wander off into their own thoughts,” says Kråkenes. “We include a lot of different influences and don’t limit ourselves to one particular subgenre, but try to create something that’s cohesive and whole. These are dark times; I think some form of distraction is needed.”


LINE-UP: Eirik Kråkenes (guitar), Steinar Glas (bass), Jonatan Eikum (drums)

SOUNDS LIKE: Prog, jazz, space rock and metal pulling you through a wormhole of psychedelic sounds

CURRENT RELEASE: Portals is out now via Pelagic

WEBSITE: www.astrosaur.no

Onsegen Ensemble – The Finnish psych/prog collective who are eyeing up the festival scene

black and white group shot of Onsegen Ensemble in the Finnish countryside

(Image credit: Press)

The Finnish city of Oulu has long been home to a slew of weird sounding bands, and Onségen Ensemble are joining the club. Their newest album, Realms, was produced by ex-Messenger member, and master of the ‘vintage/modern’ sound, Jaime Gomez Arellano. The group use a gargantuan, nine-piece line-up to make the most maximalist of psychedelic rock. On the tune Naked Sky an army of vocalists sings atop of flutes, Ennio Morricone-esque strings and twinkling guitar arpeggios, for 10 minutes. 

 “We aren’t going to become famous,” admits vocalist Esa Juujärvi, “but I’d like to get invitations from bigger festivals to play live. We want to get just big enough to play some really good gigs.” 


LINE-UP: Pasi Anttila (didgeridoo), Vilho Hintermeier (ocarina), Esa Juujärvi (vocals, bass, Mellotron), Merja Järvelin (vocals), Samuli Lindberg (drums, percussion), Joni Mäkelä (guitar), Mikko Vuorela (saxophone, flute, guitar), Jarmo Väärä (trumpet)

Maximalist psychedelic rock with flamboyant landscapes inspired by Ennio Morricone

Realms is out now


Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.

With contributions from