The question that divides fans of the prog sub-genre the most. Ask any two prog fans “what is Prog?” and odds are you will get two different answers. No other sub-genre of music has this problem. Country music is obvious. Doom, death, rap, and yes even deathcore are all very easily defined.
Why the fuck is it so hard to describe what prog is? The root of the problem is that being progressive means changing. Back in the late 60s to the early 70s when the progressive rock movement began, it was a lot easier to tell what prog was. They were the fucking oddballs doing what was considered strange and new. They were the mad scientists of music.
Eventually, the climate changed and not all prog rock bands changed with it. Evolve or die. Yes, Genesis and King Crimson did evolve and change. Since they progressed (for better or worse), they gained and lost fans. Because the music was no longer these massive suites of music, many of the bands were no longer considered prog. Yet, King Crimson turned into something else entirely. Maybe they were prog?
At that point, it probably was unclear if prog was still alive or had actually passed on. Not long after, bands who were influenced by those 70s bands all cropped up. Marillion, IQ and the rest of what would be known as the neo-prog movement. That’s where we have our first division of “what is prog.” These bands had the old school prog idea but also tried to maintain a modern (at the time) sound.
Then, metal bands who were influenced by both the old school prog bands and the more technical metal bands invented their own version of prog. Prog metal was the next division. From there prog metal has used every fucking single type of sub metal genre to mesh with prog. Not all of it works but I think you can probably think of at LEAST 5-10 bands that fall into one metal sub genre and prog.
By now, shit has officially gotten confusing. You have bands using the old 70s blueprint and then metal bands cloning Dream Theater. Add in the Opethian strain of prog DNA and who knows? This just led to more experimenting which pisses off the people who are locked into one school of thought.
You have those folks who think anything that isn’t like old Yes or old Genesis, isn’t prog. Those are those neo-prog heads. Then you have the DT fans who do enough in-fighting that they don’t even have the time or energy to fight with the neo-prog heads. Then you have those that are so hung up on the word “progressive” that they hate ANY sort of imitation at all.
They are all right in my book. The places where the lines are blurry are those that really have no interest in challenging the listener and just write songs to call it “prog.” Anything CAN be prog. I think that’s where I am at this point. The question is always HOW MUCH prog is it? If the music isn’t intelligent or forward thinking enough to challenge the listener in a positive way, it’s not prog. But that’s just my own view of it. I am probably full of shit just like you are.
Just write a good song.