“The quality of bands is much higher than it used to be… There’s something going on here that we cannot describe”: Why is Australia turning out some of the most amazing prog metal guitarists on the planet?

[L-R] Sam Vallen (Caligula's Horse), Brandon Lloyd (Reliqa) and Simone Dow (Voyager)
[L-R] Sam Vallen (Caligula's Horse), Brandon Lloyd (Reliqa) and Simone Dow (Voyager) (Image credit: Shaun Williams/Getty Images/Future)

With Australian progressive metal in a rich vein of form, we ask some of the key players behind its success about the big questions. What defines the Aussie brand of prog metal? Why is the country so fertile when it comes to creating unique guitar-driven music?

Australia, despite its geographic isolation, has a rich lineage of standout progressive metal bands, each with their own outlook on guitar playing and songwriting. “Our metal history has always bucked trends simultaneous to different developments,” Caligula’s Horse guitarist Sam Vallen explains.

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.