Call for Papers
Progressive Rock and Metal: Towards a Contemporary Understanding
The 4th Biennial International Conference of the Progect Network for the Study of Progressive Rock
Hosted by Lori Burns at the University of Ottawa, May 20-22, 2020 (Ottawa, Canada)
CFP Deadline: September 15, 2019
Progressive Rock and Metal: Towards a Contemporary Understanding aims to explore the past and present contexts of the genres of progressive rock and metal. With its origins in the psychedelic counterculture and freeform rock radio (a format featuring long-playing records) in the late 1960s, progressive rock of the 1970s was characterized by formal complexity, dynamic variety, instrumental experimentation, and the influence of classical and jazz music. While progressive rock flourished in the 1970s with bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Rush, the 1980s and 1990s saw the rise of progressive metal as a major development within the metal scene. Bands such as Dream Theater, Tool, and Meshuggah presented a new style of metal that embraced many of the values of progressive rock (e.g. harmonic, rhythmic, and formal complexity, instrumental virtuosity, and concept-driven albums) and ventured into new and innovative musical territories such as dense chromaticism and polyrhythmic structures. Since 2000, progressive metal has thrived with artists such as Pain of Salvation, Symphony X, and Devin Townsend. At the same time, metal bands such as Opeth, The Gathering, and Anathema have shifted away from metal subgenres towards progressive rock. Artists such as Porcupine Tree, Riverside, and The Pineapple Thief have reprised 70s progressive rock aesthetics while also exploring progressive metal and alternative rock stylings. Progressive bands have also explored genre intersections, resulting in a diversity of styles and crossovers. For instance, the progressive aesthetics of the 1970s have been revitalized in “new-prog,” a genre which blends contemporary punk stylings with progressive rock, as exemplified by bands such as The Mars Volta, Coheed & Cambria, and Circa Survive. The progressive bands of the new millennium are thus influenced by a range of genres, including progressive rock and metal, post-hardcore, electronica, industrial, alternative rock, jazz-rock, experimental rock, and post-rock. The genre fusions and stylistic eclecticism of the past twenty years have led to a profusion of progressive rock and metal styles, and progressive features have surfaced in other music genres such as alternative rock and indie rock, as exemplified by bands such as American Football, Minus the Bear, and The Dear Hunter. With this musical corpus, artists engage with a range of musical and worldbuilding strategies. In the 70s, progressive rock advanced the concept album and intermedia forms with works such as Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour (1974) or Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979). Contemporary progressive bands have continued and furthered the transmedia aspects of musical expression through elaborate concept-based recordings, music videos, films, print materials, and other media forms (e.g. Steven Wilson’s Hand Cannot Erase (2015) or Coheed and Cambria’s Amory Wars series (2002-present)). Much scholarly work is needed to explore the musical expression, structural elements, production values, worldbuilding strategies, critical and fan reception, and other discursive aspects of the genre.