I really like the band Dream Theater, but I'm not very familiar with the Progressive Metal genre of which they're a part.

Can anyone suggest a band (or bands) that have a similar feel but aren't as well known?

I've tried Fates Warning (the CD was called No Exit), but couldn't really get into them.

  • 2
    OK, but isn't a site geared towards music fans a good place to ask for band recommendations? Apr 24, 2015 at 13:17
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    Not according to meta. Apr 24, 2015 at 13:20
  • 2
    The problem is, we have 13 pages of users on the main site, and only 5 pages of users on Meta. So, either we need more representation on Meta, or we need a few questions here (like this one) to see how users actually respond. So far, this question is in the black. Apr 24, 2015 at 13:25
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    I think that, due to the low numbers using this site at the moment, the scope of the site needs to increase. If this means allowing list questions and 'what's this song' questions - so be it. I fear if these questions aren't allowed, the site will die :(
    – Pat Dobson
    Apr 24, 2015 at 13:48
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    @PatDobson I've opened a meta question Apr 24, 2015 at 15:35

10 Answers 10


Try :

  • Rush (2112 is a good place to start)
  • Muse (The 2nd law an easy one to get into)
  • Porcupine tree
  • Spocks beard
  • Queensrÿche
  • Ozric Tentacles (maybe)

Wikipedia - progressive rock

Wikipedia - space rock

  • 2
    Porcupine Tree is AMAZING! Could be one of my favorite "underground" finds this year! Thanks! I've heard of Muse but never knew what their music sounded like, I'll hit the youtubes on them today. Apr 24, 2015 at 13:19
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    Muse similar to Dream Theater? Really?
    – Getz
    Jun 18, 2015 at 9:33
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    Similar in as much as people who like Dream Theater may like Muse. In the same way that people who like Glen Miller may like Miles Davies.
    – Pat Dobson
    Jun 18, 2015 at 9:37
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    Mmh, I'm not really convinced. People who like Glen Miller will clearly likes Miles Davis, as they both play jazz. Dream Theater is a progressive metal band, Muse is a rock band, sometimes progressive, and not metal at all.
    – Getz
    Jun 18, 2015 at 12:49
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    I beg to differ, the difference between Glen Miller and Miles Davis is far more pronounced than the difference between DT and Muse.
    – Pat Dobson
    Jun 18, 2015 at 14:20

Last.fm has a very good similar artists page for Dream Theater with over 200 bands/artist listed that range from extremely popular to barely known and has this for any bands/artist.

All the bands above are listed along with many, many other. Just a little taste of bands that are similar to Dream Theater on this page are:

  • Transatlantic
  • Symphony X
  • Flying Colors
  • Haken
  • Adrenaline Mob
  • Opeth
  • Ayreon
  • Fates Warning

And many, many others.


You should look into Liquid Tension Experiment. It was an instrumental project of Mike Portnoy (then drummer of DT), John Petrucci (guitarist in DT), Jordan Ruddess (who became keyboard player of DT), and Tony Levin (King Crimson etc.). I'd say it's like the proggier parts of DT, sans vocals (hich is a plus in my book).


Arcane from Australia, they have a lot of similar sounding elements, particularly the keyboard, but aren't as fast nor are they anywhere near as cheesy as DT.


No Exit is really a terrible album to hear first as it doesn't sound much like old or new Fates. They didn't really hit on the more modern, more progressive sound until right after that album. You should try something later, like Parallels or Disconnected. Or both, as those two albums are very different from each other but will give you much more DT-like experiences. If you like those, try A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Darkness in a Different Light, and Perfect Symmetry. :)

I also recommend Vanden Plas, a lesser-known band that, in my opinion, sort of took over the torch from Dream Theater after that band declined in quality. The Seraphic Clockwork is an absolute masterpiece, but be aware that it takes a few listens for it to really sink in. Their album Far Off Grace sounds very different, but is also very good. The God Thing was their initial progressive breakout, and if you like 90s DT you'll probably like it as well. Also Christ 0, which sounds more like their newer stuff than the last couple I mentioned.

  • 1
    WOW. Listening to The Seraphic Clockwork now and this could easily be outtakes from Images And Words. This is about as close to DT as you can get. Thanks! Sep 16, 2015 at 20:46

First, check what you like in Dream Theater

Dream Theater mixes the Progressive aspect from (mainly) Rush, Deep Purple and similar bands into the Heavy Metal aspect from bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden as their influences by the time. They also have a thing for fast playing (although not being the only thing they do, before someone downvotes for that), which is a predominant characteristic on Power Metal bands.

Either way, really similar bands

  • Haken is a really, really similar band to Dream Theater, independent of your choices above. From my contact with the fanbase, if you are a fan of one, you're most likely going to enjoy the other.
  • A.C.T. also has many musical similarities, especially in riffs. Circus Pandemonium is a good album to start, in the sense it shares many progressive metal concepts from DT.
  • Tool, while not that similar, is also often liked by Dream Theater fans.
  • Symphony X, while being more focused in the Power Metal than the Progressive Metal, is also commonly associated with Dream Theater.
  • Liquid Tension Experiment is essentially Instrumental Dream Theater.
  • X Japan is often called "Japanese Dream Theater" - note that japanese jazz music is usually even more dissonant than western's, and that is true for their prog as well.

The Prog aspect

If you are into the prog aspect, you will likely be enjoying old prog rock bands, such as Rush, Yes, Gentle Giant, E.L.P., King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Camel, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple (ok, DP might not be considered prog, not discussing it) and similars.

If you are interested in recent bands, you should probably follow the works of Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Neal Morse (Spock's Beard, Flying Colors), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and similars.

Other than that, really, progressive metal is a genre with too many bands. A few with renown (presented, for example, in the Essential Modern Progressive Rock Albums by ProgReport) are Queensryche, Marillion, Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, Devin Townsend, Opeth, Transatlantic, Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Ayreon, IQ, Riverside, Frost*, Karnivool, Between the Buried and Me, Big Big Train, The Dear Hunter, Rishloo, Leprous and Sound of Contact.

A few bands also have singular albums that are good, but mostly their other works are not well received. The Mars Volta has De-Loused in the Comatorium, for example. Native Construct has their debut and only album until now - Quiet World.

Either way, it's a big and broad genre. These bands should give you a start, after you know better what you are enjoying, you can pinpoint your searches better.

Portnoy's bands

As a special note, since you are asking about DT, it's interesting to look for bands Portnoy has participated. In particular, his interactions with Neal Morse usually end up in great progressive projects. Examples are the already mentioned Transatlantic, Flying Colors and The Neal Morse Band. Sons of Apollo is his most recent project.

The Heavy Metal aspect

Well, this one is even broader, but AFAIK, less common for recent bands. A fair share of the DT's fanbase is interested in plain heavy metal, such as Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. If that's your case, simply look for more heavy metal, not for more progressive metal.

The Power Metal aspect

If you are instead interested in the fast playing and high tones, you can go for Power Metal. Here, you can go for Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Helloween and Iced Earth as things that a Dream Theater fan might enjoy. This is more likely to be true if you enjoyed When Dream and Day Unite.


If you enjoyed the concept of a really long Opera Rock album (a.k.a. you liked The Astonishing), Ayreon gets a stronger recommendation, as well as the a little bit underground band Gandalf's Fist, known for having 3 hours albums.


You have to check out SEVENTH WONDER from Sweden. It's Tommy Karevik's (Kamelot) main or first band. They have released 5 CD's so far which are all great.. Try " Waiting in the Wings" or "Mercy Falls" or " The Great Escape" first, these guys are fantastic, especially if you like the more melodic side of Dream Theater.


Take a look at music-map. Their list for Dream Theater includes at least half the bands mentioned in answers here, plus many others.


Tool, Psycroptic, Muse (sorta), Meshuggah, Periphery, etc. because they are Prog Rock/Metal mainly, but they are similar. I can't really explain why.

  • 1
    I see that you are relatively new to Stack Exchange and all of its sites. When one gives an answer here, that answer is usually backed up by certain facts that add weight to it. Otherwise, it's more of a comment than an answer. Can you edit this to flesh it out a bit, explaining why you feel those bands might be a good fit? Jun 20, 2015 at 12:12
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    I would be especially interested in the connection between Psycroptic and DT. Jun 21, 2015 at 14:14
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    not on face value, but yes imo.
    Jun 22, 2015 at 7:38

I'm late here, many similar bands were already proposed, you can also check Threshold from U.K., mostly their latest albums, and Shadow Gallery.

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