By Sean Palmerston
This weekend sees North America’s longest running progressive/power metal festival happen when ProgPower USA XIII kicks off Friday night in Atlanta. This year’s edition will be the thirteenth overall and the key to its success has always been the diversity of the acts that are asked to play each year. The 2012 edition has some excellent talent participating on both days of the festival, but here is my own personal top five reasons why I think this year’s edition is a must see, time and finances permitting:
5) Floor Jansen guesting with Mayan
The 2011 debut by Dutch symphonic metallers Mayan was a nice surprise. Led by Epica guitarist Mark Jansen, the album does feature Epica’s Simone Simons on guest vocals, but for me the real surprise was the fact that the band featured members of God Dethroned and Pestilence in its ranks, plus I thought that (After Forever’s) Floor Jansen’s vocals on the album were quite good. I didn’t expect to see her come to ProgPower to do her vocals, but apparently she is. Hopefully Simons will also join the band on stage during their performance too.
4) Pretty Maids playing in North America!
This is either the very first North American performance by the legendary Danish metal band or it is their first in a long, long time. I don’t ever remember them playing a show on this side of the Atlantic and anticipate it will be an exceptional set.
3) Redemption playing a rare gig
Redemption is one of those special bands that you go see when you get the chance. This American prog metal band has made a string of excellent albums, the newest one being 2011’s This Mortal Coil, which both Rob Kachluba and I consider to be the best album of their career to date. It is even more amazing when you realize that R main man Nick Van Dyk wrote most of the album battling cancer, which he has now beaten. His story of beating the odds is one to be celebrated, something I am sure that the PP USA faithful will do on Friday night.
2) Symphony X back at ProgPower USA after nine years!
It’s been a long time since Symphony X has played at PP USA, nine years to be exact. The band has promised a special show for their return to the festival, including maybe breaking out some classic material for the first time in a long time. The band has so much material at this point that they could go in many different directions this year, but you can be sure that whatever they do will be excellent, especially as the closing band of the festival.
1) Primordial will prove why they are one of the best live bands going
It may seem like a surprise to some for me to write this, but I think that every band playing at PP USA this year have their work cut out for them trying to keep up with Ireland’s mighty Primordial. Having just seen the band live for the first time this past Sunday night in Rochester, I can confirm that Primordial are simply one of the best live acts in metal right now. Led by the astute leadership of vocalist Alan Averill, the Irish quintet were only three nights into their mini-US tour but seemed like a well-oiled machine that had been on tour every night for at least a month. As soon as they walked on stage they owned the place, with Averill commandeering the audience in a way only the best frontmen can. They may have only been playing to a few hundred, but it felt like they were playing a major festival to tens of thousands. Primordial might seem like the odd band out on this bill, being more of a pagan/black metal band, but this is an excellent choice and one that every person at ProgPower USA this year absolutely must not miss.
Less than 300 tickets remain for this year’s edition! To find out more about this year’s edition of ProgPower USA, happening this weekend in Atlanta GA, please go here