Book Review – Roie Avin – Essential Modern Progressive Rock Albums


Well known and respected within progressive music circles as the man behind The Prog Report, Roie Avin has worked with various labels and rock and prog artists over a 20 year career in the music business.

This new book looks into the stories behind the best prog albums from 1990-2016, eschewing the classic prog bands who made their name through the ’60’s, ’70’s and ’80’s, like Yes, Rush and Pink Floyd. As Roie says in the introduction, “Prog didn’t fall off the cliff after getting Close To The Edge, it continued on the Bridge Across Forever.”

A mighty tome of coffee table reading size, ‘Essential Modern Progressive Rock Albums’ looks in-depth at how these albums came about with exclusive interviews from the artists involved and the requisite amount of glossy pictures.

A comprehensive guide to over 50 albums that shines a light on such gems as Queensrÿche’s 1990 release ‘Empire’ that opens the book and ‘Whirlwind’, the 2009 epic from Transatlantic to Big Big Train’s legendary 2013 album ‘English Electric: Full Power’ and ‘Similitude of a Dream’, Neal Morse’s brilliant 2016 retelling of A Pilgrim’s Progress that closes things out. Roie has a genuine affection for the music and the artists who released it and this comes across in his intelligent, and warm writing style.

With a seemingly inexhaustible supply of encyclopediatic knowledge, Roie devotes a chapter to each album with a well written introduction leading into the main description, there seems to be nothing that this man doesn’t know about his subject.

There’s some albums in there that I have never touched on but now will and also some of my favourite records that will gain a new lease of life due to Roie’s enthusiastic and descriptive words, albums such as ‘Milliontown’ from Frost* and Porcupine Tree’s ‘Fear of a Blank Planet’, this engrossing guide brings the history behind the music to the fore.

Yes, there are some albums that don’t make the guide that, in other people’s opinion, maybe should have but there is so much in-depth material here that you will be dipping in and out for many years to come. And, for the music nerd, there is an extensive knowledge base for you to play one upmanship with your fellow music loving friends.

What you have here is exactly what Roie has set out to deliver, the essential guide to modern progressive rock albums and it is an entertaining and engrossing read that you will enjoy for a long time to come.

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