(TheMadIsraeli prepared this review of the latest album by the long-running Australian band Alarum, which was released in June by Dinner For Wolves.)
The very idea of progressive metal in modern metal is trapped in a weird state of limbo. We have a problem lately with labeling things progressive that are, frankly, not at all. They meet none of the requirements for the style, but the songs are over seven minutes long so we think surely that’s the qualifier. As someone who appreciates the eccentricity in progressive metal of any sort enthralling, it’s a bit insulting to me that “our” standard has dropped so low that we consider bands like Black Crown Initiate to be progressive. They are, no doubt, an excellent band, one of modern extreme metal’s best current acts, and fantastic musicians, but their music is not progressive.
When I think of metal that is progressive, I think envelope-pushing, I think weird fusion ideas or the ability to write a comprehensively diverse album that hits an insanely wide array of peaks and valleys while maintaining a cohesive core sound. A group could do this based on a “gimmick”, of course, and could have an objective, perhaps oriented around jazz for example, and that’s fair as long as the music you’re writing actually tries to push and incorporate jazz into your metal in such a way that the spirit of jazz is in no way diluted.