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Twelve great American prog rock bands

US Prog

NEAL MORSE BAND - SO FAR GONE

From the Neal Morse Band's second band album, 2018's the acclaimed The Similitude Of A Dream, comes this strident rocker, chock full of Morse's trademark melodic flourishes and some serious chops from band mates Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Bill Hubauer and Eric Gillette. The album was a double concept piece based on John Bunyon's epic 17th century religious work.

CYNIC - HUMANOID

The US prog metallers Cynic were considered truly groundbreaking with 1993's debut Focus, but disbanded a year later. They reformed in 2006, releasing Traced In Air in 2008 and Kindly Bent To Free Us in 2015. Drummer Sean Reinart quit in 2015, resurfacing with Perfect Beings (he would later die in 2020), but guitarist Paul Masvidal returned with a new Cynic track, Humanoid, their first new song in four years, earlier this year.

COHEED AND CAMBRIA - IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3

When the New Yorker band Coheed & Cambria moved away from the Amory Wars concept that had appealed to so many prog fans on early albums, with 2010's The Year Of The Black Rainbow and 2015's The Color Before The Sun, some prog fans wondered what was going on. However the band are back firmly in prog territory with forthcoming new album Vaxis - Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures. The title track from their 2003 second album is a timely reminder of why prog fans love them so.

DREAM THEATER - HOME

For many fans, Dream Theater's 1999 album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory stands as their definitive work. A hefty concept piece centred around a man undergoing past life regression therapy, it was also the band's first record with current keyboard player Jordan Rudess. To be honest, you could dip in almost anywhere in the band's canon of work and come up with something great, but from Metropolis Pt. 2..., here's Home.

ECHOLYN - ISLAND

These Pennsylvanian prog rockers have always done things on their own terms - look no further than 2002 mei album, a single 50-minute track - which certainly appeals to prog rock fans. Island, taken from their self-titled 2012 album, harks back to the bands 90s sound, prior to their 1996 split and regrouping in 1999.

FLYING COLORS - BLUE OCEAN

Another track featuring the prodigious Mike Portnoy, Flying Colors where another band he formed having left Dream Theater. Featuring Neal Morse, Casey McPherson, Steve Morse and Dave LaRue, Blue Ocean, the opening track from the band's self-titled 2012 debut ably displays their mixing of a contemporary classic rock sound and progressive rock. 2014's Second Nature upped the prog quota. We await a third instalment with baited breath.

GLASS HAMMER - TALES OF GREAT WARS

Although best known for providing Yes with their current vocalist Jon Davison, Chattanooga prog rockers Glass Hammer have been around since 1992. Davison only joined the band in 2009! We're dipping back to 2002's Lex Rex album, when current singer Susie Bogdanowicz and former drummer Walter Moore took main vocal duties. Tales Of Great Wars captures the band's sense of adventure, still very much in evidence today.

One of America's earlier progressive bands, Happy The Man formed in Harrisonburg in 1973, originally performing Genesis, VdGG and  King Crimson covers. Their own music was complex, with Arista Records boss Clive Davis famously stating  "Wow. I don’t really understand this music. It’s way above my head, but my head of A&R, Rick Chertoff says you guys are incredible, and we should sign you, So welcome to Arista." The band split with the label after two albums, keyboard player Kit Watkins joining Camel, but reformed in 2000, with former Rainbow keyboard player David Rosenthal in the line-up, although little has been heard of the band of late.

KANSAS - ICARUS - BORNE ON WINGS OF STEEL

Probably America's best known prog rock band, everyone knows Kansas for their big hits Carry On Wayward Son and Dust In The Wind. Here we dip back to 1975's Masque album to find the then sextet in top prog form, from an album many prog fans rate os one of the band's very finest.

PAVLOV'S DOG - JULIA

The St. Louis band Pavlov's Dog formed in 1972, led by vocalist David Surkamp and his distinctive high-pitched voice (think Geddy Lee on helium). They released their debut album, Pampered Menial, in 1975, from which comes this, probably their best known song (and opening trtack from the debut). Surkamp still tours with a new line-up of the band, and they're always worth seeing should they play at a venue near you.

THE MARS VOLTA - INERTIATIC ESP

Formed out of noisy alt rockers At The Drive-In, The Mars Volta surprised many of their former fans with their defiantly progressive rock direction. This, from their 2003 debut, Deloused In The Comatorium, shows why they were so influential in opening progressive music to a new audience. The band split in 2012, but current noise emanating from the reformed At The Drive-In is that they'll regroup and make new Mars Volta music soon.

TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA - THE SEVEN RAYS

Inspired by both the jazz fusion and progressive rock sounds that were becoming increasingly popular in the early 70s, Todd Rundgren formed Utopia as a vehicle for a far more progressive sound, a move away from the pigeonholes some of his solo albums and production work had foisted upon him. Here's the band performing The Seven Rays (which featured on the band's 1975 album Another Live) on the BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test, also from 1975.

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock, as well as sleevenotes for many major record labels. He lives in North London and happily indulges a passion for AC/DC Chelsea Football Club and Sydney Roosters.