ProgPower USA XVIII Day One Musings (9/6/2017)

Contributor Steven Stolper was following up to some inquiries I had made of him recently and then shared that he was away for the weekend enjoying the findings at the annual ProgPower USA Festival that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the Center Stage Atlanta theater. Historically speaking, PiercingMetal has NEVER been to the event but we’ve occasionally had interest in going based on the lineup for the year. With Steven on point, I asked for a quick briefing of the acts that he saw. Here are his transmissions to the High Command from the field.

ProgPower USA Musings. Day 1: It’s the end of summer. The time for the great annual Southern pilgrimage for fans of progressive and power metal. Every year fans of the genre from all over the world converge on Atlanta to feast their eyes and ears on the kind of music normally reserved for the big European metal fests. Following are some brief comments on the bands’ performances.

Power Quest (UK):

First North American appearance by this veteran British collective. Their guitar players could not make it over the pond so they recruited two Americans , including Bill Hudson (Jon Oliva, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Dirkschneider). The music was solid European style power metal, similar to Helloween. They were let down a bit by lackluster sound mix that did no favors to the vocals. Matt Smith of Theocracy, a great American power metal band, joined them on stage for a few songs.

Serenity (Austria):
Sound was much improved for Serenity. Vocals were a lot clearer and guitars really soared. Serenity’s brand of earnest symphonic metal was well received. Earlier material especially impressed with classy memorable songs.

Orphaned Land (Israel):
The first real taste of Prog for the night. Not many bands mix Middle Eastern rhythms with metal riffs, and few do it as well as Orphaned Land. Songs with clean vocals seemed better suited for the band’s style than older harsh vocal material. The band did use backing tracks for the orchestral elements, but that was understandable in this case since it’s such a big part of their sound. Ululating vocal melodies filled the air with strange but beautiful sounds and hands and hips were moving in unison. Orphaned Land is currently on tour and is definitely recommended for open minded Prog fans.

Haken (UK):
First of all, the band would be performing “Visions” in its entirety for this show. Haken is on tour right now playing a selection of songs from their entire discography to commemorate the 10th anniversary of band’s founding. For the festival appearance though, the band had a special treat for their fans by performing the album Visions in its entirety instead. I appreciated the different setlist since I already saw the band a few days earlier. For encore, the band played “The Architect” from the most recent album Affinity.

Clearly a good time was had by our brave traveler and those interested in this event should stick around for some additional insight from the happening as he shares it. There are two more days and a lot more bands. Until then, please click through some of the websites listed below and look these bands up on Spotify or YouTube.com to get some deeper insight for yourself. We’ve seen Orphaned Land a few times and they are currently on tour with Pain and heading to NYC soon. Steven also submitted a report from the recent Haken NYC headlining show which will go live in the coming days.

Official Websites:
ProgPower USA: http://progpowerusa.com/
Power Quest: http://www.power-quest.co.uk/2016/
Serenity: http://www.serenity-band.com/
Orphaned Land: http://www.orphaned-land.com/
Haken: http://www.hakenmusic.com/

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