ProgPower USA XIII – Sep. 14-15, 2012

ProgPower USA XIII
@CenterStage, Atlanta, GA

We decided to arrive in Atlanta on Wednesday this year in order to do a little sightseeing.  We arrived on Wednesday and settled into our hotel room with our new roommates for this year, who were absolutely wonderful!  That night, we saw Kamelot and Nightwish perform.  This was the first time I’d see new Kamelot vocalist Tommy Karevik performing as part of the band, although I was certainly familiar with his awesome voice from the band Seventh Wonder.  They put on a solid show, but I think Tommy is still getting the feel for things.  Next up was Nightwish, and although I am not a fan of their music, the song Storytime from the latest album Imaginaerum is pretty catchy, so I was hoping to be entertained.  The show was only slightly entertaining until they did a section of songs with Troy Donockley on uillean pipes – that part was really cool!

Thursday was spent checking out the World of Coke and sampling the brews and touring the facility of Sweetwater Brewery – good times!

FRIDAY (14 Sept 12)

First up on Friday was German band Sinbreed, whose vocalist is also in the band Beyond The Bridge who would play the following night.  It was some good, enjoyable power metal!  Next up was Kingcrow, hailing from Italy and the proggiest band of the fest, and therefore not something I’m a fan of but they did a nice job.  Solution .45, from Finland and Sweden, was up next. This vocalist is also in the band Scar Symmetry. They do a mix of clean and dirty vocals with harmonies on the clean parts. Again, good job but not really my cup of tea.

I was looking forward to the next band, Serenity, from Austria, as I have their last few albums and find them enjoyable.  Their mix and sound was perfect and they put on an outstanding show.  They received a standing ovation at the end of their set and made many new fans from their terrific performance.

The next band I figured might be interesting to watch, and I was right. Primordial, from Ireland and with vocalist sporting facial corpse paint, put on a well-done and intense performance.  It’s the type of show that, for me, is awesome live, but I can’t quite get into the music outside the live setting.  I was very impressed with the band both musically and, after reading the interview in the ProgPower booklet, with their attitude and philosophies.

Redemption played next and were one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing. The last release by this US band, This Mortal Coil, had really grown on me the last few weeks leading up to ProgPower, so I was ready to hear anything off this album.  They recorded the performance for a DVD and so they had a projected backdrop that really added a lot to the atmosphere of the show.  They were all in top form and apparently well-rehearsed.  I was especially happy to hear them play Parker’s Eyes, but the whole set was great.

Next was headliner Epica from Holland.  I like their older material, but hadn’t been into their last few albums until the most recent one, Requiem for the Indifferent.  They put on a good show as usual and have an already strong fanbase.

But the night wasn’t over yet because up next was the highly anticipated video announcement of the band roster for 2013.  Those bands are:

Damnation Angels – UK
Myrath – Tunisia
Xandria – Germany
Wolverine – Sweden
Ashes of Ares – US
Soilwork – Sweden
Shadow Gallery – US

ReinXeed – Sweden
Heaven’s Cry – Canada
Wolf – Sweden
Circus Maximus – Norway
Armored Saint – US
Sabaton – Sweden

SATURDAY (15 Sept 12)

Saturday morning came too early, but I was eagerly anticipating the first show of the day as one of my favorites of the fest, German-based band Beyond The Bridge, would perform.  Having won their latest and only CD, The Old Man and the Spirit,  in a contest through Audio Renaissance, I had ample time to get to know and love all the wonderful songs on the disc.  The set was nothing less than magical – I was up on the rail with fellow fans, hearing and watching nearly the entire album being performed, and to top it all off seeing my friend Cory propose to his wife Jessica on stage!

The next band up was another new favorite of mine and another band hailing from Germany – Lanfear. I had really been enjoying their music up until the show, and the performance really sealed the deal for me – I am a big fan of this band now.  The vocalist was a great frontman, was pretty humorous on stage, and hit the high notes perfectly.

Amaranthe, from Sweden and Denmark, came out onto quite an empty stage but I didn’t know why until a bit later into their set.  The airline had lost of their bags with their master backing tracks in it, but they had devised a way to play them via an iPod and still do their show. It actually sounded quite good and they were able to be very energetic on stage despite the bad luck.

Since I had already checked out Mystic Prophecy, another German band, via Spotify and wasn’t really into their music, I took this time for a dinner break.  Back in time to see Mayan, another Dutch band, they put on a good show and I was happy to see Floor Jansen on stage with them for some of the songs.

I didn’t catch all of Danish band Pretty Maids, but they were certainly accomplished musicians with many fans in the crowd.  Last, but not least, was US-based headliner Symphony X.  No stranger to ProgPower, Symphony X played the fest in 2001 and 2003.  The curtains were pulled back to reveal a huge Symphony X banner at the back of the stage, and the boys put on a great show that included one of my favorite epic songs – The Odyssey.

It was another great time this year – great bands, great sound, great weather, great friends and great food!

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