MEAN DEVIATION: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal, by Jeff Wagner

MEAN DEVIATION: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal, by Jeff Wagner

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“Fans of prog metal would be wise to learn more about Mean Deviation“—Guitar World

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MEAN DEVIATION was published by Bazillion Points in March 2011, and is currently out-of-print in original deluxe softcover format. However, the ebook edition (eISBN 978-1-935950-99-8) remains available worldwide:

Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Kobo

Fighting a tide of tradition and conservatism, progressive metal has proven to be one of the most viable, malleable forms in all of modern music; here its preeminent scholar tells the tale.

• ISBN 978-09796163-3-4
• High-quality 400pp trade paperback
• Original cover artwork by Michel “Away” Langevin
• Illus. w/over 100 images + 16pp full-color insert
• Dimensions: 6.75″ x 9.5″ x 1″ (170mm x 240mm x 25mm); 2 lbs. (.75 kg)
eBook: Kindle | Nook | Kobo

“A focused, well-organized narrative from the combined musical output of over 40 years and scores of bands from across the globe…excess comes with the territory.”—Library Journal

“Jeff goes deep into this much maligned music form and presents it with fervor”—Vice

“An extremely fluent read…sits high on the list of canonical metal texts”—PopMatters

Revered former Metal Maniacs editor Jeff Wagner analyzes the heady side of metal in this exhaustive history of a relentlessly ambitious musical subculture. Beginning with 1970s progressive rock acts Rush and King Crimson, Mean Deviation unfurls a colorful tapestry of sounds and styles, from the “Big Three” of 1980s prog metal—Queensrÿche, Fates Warning, and Dream Theater—to extreme pioneers Voivod, Watchtower, and Celtic Frost. The flirtation between heavy metal and progressive rock grows with bold creative leaps, spawning countless valiant launches toward infinity. Today, the spark of inspiration thrives in obscure outposts such as Scandinavia, Florida, and Japan, bursting into full flame with the successes of prog metal overlords Opeth, Meshuggah, Tool, Between the Buried and Me, and their progressive peers.

According to Wagner: “Mean Deviation highlights many impossibly scattered bands and movements that widened the scope of the heavy metal genre. To some, progressive metal starts with Dream Theater and ends with an interminable stream of bands that sound like Dream Theater. By my interpretation, the term ‘progressive metal’ allows for consideration of cosmic post-black metal band In the Woods, avant-garde metal surrealists Thought Industry, and those obscure purveyors of corrupted Swedish death metal, Carbonized-along with more obvious entries such as Fates Warning, Opeth, and, of course, Dream Theater. “One thing prog metal certainly is, is metal. Hard and bold and brash, but refined, adulterated, and mutated; it is heavy metal taken somewhere illuminating and sometimes bizarre.”

Weight 2 lbs


  1. Joshua Wood

    I can’t wait to read this book! It has needed to be written for sometime.

  2. Vijay Prozak

    This sounds beyond awesome. Hopefully it includes bands like Supuration, Kong, Obliveon, Gorguts and Demilich along with the nancypants errrr more traditional heavy metal/prog stuff.

  3. Daru Jericho

    Fuck, this is the book that I planned on writing because I was convinced there was no book on the topic. Will definitely be picking up at some point.

  4. Dave Richardson

    I agree that Supuration (or SUP or Spherical Unit provided) and Gorguts should be in there!I also hope Confessor, Mind Over Four & Thought Industry are mentioned at least.I think this will be a fantastic book and can’t wait for it to come out.

  5. Eric Corbin

    I can’t wait to get this. Jeff is a great guy and I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about the new progressive movement. Especially about some of the band we helped to bring to the masses.All the best,Eric CorbinScreaming Crow PR(former VP of Inside Out Music America)

  6. Chris Roy

    Jeff has been neck deep in the progressive metal scene and movement for the many years we have known each other. It’s great to finally have this metal genre further defined for the masses and by someone who has fully immersed themselves in it. I can’t wait to read it, absorb it and find some new favorite bands!Cheers,Chris RoyProgPower USA Festival(Stage Manager)Reading ZeroTen Ton Rollerskate

  7. big carl

    MIND OVER FOUR ? ? ?

  8. admin

    YES ! ! !

  9. KB

    Congratulations Jeff! I can’t wait to get my copy of this much anticipated work. Paul Masvidal and I were just discussing how awesome it is that you put together the story of prog rock/metal for all to enjoy!Cheers to you!Kurt BachmanBeliever

  10. Paul Robertson

    I just got this book in the post and I devoured it over 48 hours. I LOVE IT…although I vehemently disagree with your position on Calhoun Conquer. Seriously though, kudos to you for taking on this mammoth task and doing it so damn well!

  11. the author

    >>although I vehemently disagree with your position on Calhoun Conquer.Hey, kudos to YOU for reading that far into the book! I should probably amend that part for the 2nd edition: “not a band anyone could truly love, except for [your name here].” And I suspect they have other fans. Much respect, to you and C.Conquer too.- JW

  12. Helm

    Hi, Jeff. I did something of a review of the book herehttp://poetry-of-subculture.blogspot.com/2010/12/jeff-wagners-mean-deviation-four.htmCongratulations on finishing what must have been a monumentally involved project!

  13. Kenn Nardi (ANACRUSIS)

    I got my copy yesterday and can’t wait to dig in. Thanks for including ANACRUSIS in what will surely become classic Prog-Rock/Metal reference material for years to come.

  14. John Kerr

  15. Alan Tecchio

    This book is so amazing and informative. I learned things about bands I was in that I had not previously known!Great job Jeff!!!!!!!! If you are into prog music on any level, you NEED to buy this book. I did. 🙂

  16. Darius

    Is Psychopath’s Making The Transition in this book? One of the earliest to fuse several extreme metal styles, including progressive. How about Angkor Wat or Calhoun Conquer?

    • admin

      Please use the link above to download the complete index of Mean Deviation, and see for yourself where these bands and many others do and don’t appear. Thank you!

  17. jeh

    S’up,After years of these types of METAL Books, I would hope someone will fill it full of pixs. that none of us have seen a bizillion times before!!!! You all know what I mean! I love to read this type of book, yet, nothing grabs me more then pixs. THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN PUBLISHED FROM THE EARLY YEARS OF TRUE METAL – YOU ALL KNOW WHAT I MEAN HERE!!!!!!!!God Bless You Alllllllll…!

  18. metalized

    This book is an essential read for all progressive metal fans. It apparently does not list all progressive metal bands ever, even some I consider that should have been mentioned, but I find this just a minor issue. The passion and sincere energy invested in the writing, is present with every new page turned. The book has made me even more stubborn in my deviating approach on music, but in general too.Thanks Jeff for that; meeting you at PP was really cool too. :-)A deviated metal fan that stands in awe…

  19. Musiclv

    Great list! Thanks for listening for us…

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