Beginning with 1970s progressive rock acts Rush and King Crimson, Mean Deviation unfurls a colorful tapestry of sounds and styles, from the “Big Three” of 1980s prog metal—Queensrÿche, Fates Warning, and Dream Theater—to extreme pioneers Voivod, Watchtower, and Celtic Frost. The flirtation between heavy metal and progressive rock grows with bold creative leaps, spawning countless valiant launches toward infinity. Today, the spark of inspiration thrives in obscure outposts such as Scandinavia, Florida, and Japan, bursting into full flame with the successes of prog metal overlords Opeth, Meshuggah, Tool, Between the Buried and Me, and their progressive peers.
According to Wagner: “Mean Deviation highlights many impossibly scattered bands and movements that widened the scope of the heavy metal genre. To some, progressive metal starts with Dream Theater and ends with an interminable stream of bands that sound like Dream Theater. By my interpretation, the term ‘progressive metal’ allows for consideration of cosmic post-black metal band In the Woods, avant-garde metal surrealists Thought Industry, and those obscure purveyors of corrupted Swedish death metal, Carbonized-along with more obvious entries such as Fates Warning, Opeth, and, of course, Dream Theater.
“One thing prog metal certainly is, is metal. Hard and bold and brash, but refined, adulterated, and mutated; it is heavy metal taken somewhere illuminating and sometimes bizarre.”