The Unknown Zone

American AOR/Prog Rock Band

By: Frank Hill
Published: Friday, December 21, 2018
If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, there was a fair level of AOR hard rock that ruled the music scene. Styx in their glory years, mixed rock guitar from the James Young/Tommy Shaw side with musical theater from Dennis DeYoung. That tension between different styles made for songs a bit different than average, but also created pressures between the musicians. They had at least three concept albums and touched in prog rock during the band early years, later moving towards commercialism.

Blue Collar Man
Come Sail Away
Don't Let It End
Grand Illusion
Mr. Roboto
The Best Of Times The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time on My Hands


A.D. 1928/Rockin' The Paradise (Paradise Theater)
Opening track on the PT concept album. Good example of the rock/theater hybrid.

Boat on the River (Cornerstone)
Interesting ethnic Euro-sounding song with mandolin and accordion.

Castle Walls (The Grand Illusion)
Deep cut on TGI. Dream-fantasy lyrics about wanting to journey but not knowing what is beyond. A person's "castle" is prob a metaphor for protections we make for ourselves which also serve as a prison. Amazing harmonies that could have been lifted off a Blind Guardian release.

Plexiglass Toilet (The Serpent Is Rising)
Heard this on Dr. Demento show looooong ago. Hidden track on The Serpent is Rising. Calypso-style silliness.

The Grove Of Eglantine (The Serpent Is Rising)
Prog rock about vagina on this sexual innuendo concept album.

Haven't We Been Here Before (Kilroy Was Here)
Part of the Mr. Roboto storyline that really showcases Tommy's softer singing style.

Just Get Through This Night (Kilroy Was Here)
Another moment from the Mr. Roboto storyline. Moment of optimistic reflection.

Miss America (The Grand Illusion)
Guitar-driven track about the fleeting nature of fame and superficial nature of beauty using the yearly, replaceable Miss America as subject metaphor.

Music Time (Caught in the Act)
Poppy, extra tune from post-Roboto breakup period thrown on the live Styx album, Caught in the Act. DeYoung in full entertainer mode here.

Nothing Ever Goes As Planned (Paradise Theater)
Different urban sound with great horn section.

Pieces of Eight (Pieces of Eight)
Commentary on soullessness of monetary pursuit.

Sweet Madame Blue (Equinox)
Written about the Bicentennial of the US. Lots of movements in this one per the play on the musical term of "suite".

Witch Wolf (The Serpent Is Rising)
Standard rock guitar song about a supernatural thing. Worth a listen to hear the early sound.

[Other Maximum Metal Columns]

<< back >>

. Cathedral. Into Eternity
. Vicious Mary. Exmortem
. Grave Digger. Deceased
. Neck. Anthrax
. Seven Witches. Godsmack
. Warhorse. Queensryche
. Seether. Nazareth
. Mark Boals. Steel Attack
. Rawhead Rexx. Ravage
. God Dethroned. Endless Time
. Supervillain. SelfInflicted
. Biomechanical. Bloodbath
. Runemagick. Kilfast
. Assrockers. Savatage
. Slayer. Lacuna Coil
. Royal Anguish. Fear Factory
. Exodus. Jag Panzer
. Freakhouse. Graveland
. Dimmu Borgir. House of Lords
. Fireaxe. Goatsnake
. Lilitu. Dio
. Beaten Back To Pure. Megadeth
. Jungle Rot. Slowlife
. Jamie. St. James. Mine
. Arch Enemy. Negative Creeps
. Blind Guardian. Made of Iron
. Karmakanic. Rush
. John Oliva's Pain. Of Infinity
. Scenteria. Ligeia
. Corrosion Of Conformity. Belef
. Kamelot. Soilwork
. Labyrinth. Hibria
. Strikelight. Nevermore
. Apocalyptica. Mystic Prophecy
. Diecast. Crimson Moonlight
. Cemetary. Kaamos
. Severe Torture. Chaoswave
. Alex Skolnick Trio. Python
. Testament. Voyager
. Evemaster. Sebastian Bach
. Gaia. The Father Panic Riot Orchestra
. Power Quest. Thor
. Resurrecturis. Iron Maidens
. The Scourger. V:28
. Orphaned Land. Crystal Fate
. Winterfell. Bolt Thrower
. Sun O))). Algol3
. Ewigkeit. Vinterriket
. Damnation. Spellbound
. Overmars. Infliction
. Asrai. Torture Killer
. Vanquished. Vader
. End of Level Boss. Taunusheim
. From This Day. Fallen Wisdom
. Thryfing. Katatonia
. Ephel Duath. Thyrane
. Daylight Dies. Firehouse
. Clawfinger. Valhalla
. Pyramaze. Imagika
. Nicodemus. 8th Sin
. Stormcrow. The Strongest Proof
. Apiary. Dawn of Azazel
. Cult of Luna. Gorgoroth
. War Within. Psycroptic
. Agalloch. Hurt
. Zero Hour. Amputated
. Isis. Teeth of the Hydra
. Lordi. Demise
. Middian. Celtic Frost
. Quest of Aidance. Steve Cone
. Twisted Into Form. Blood Tsunami
. Hardcore Superstar. Dream Theater
. Warbringer. Mithras
. Pentacle. Rob Zombie
. Retrospective. Glorior Belli
. Funeral. Depressed Mode
. Echoes of Eternity. Frosthardr
. Mongrel. Night Ranger
. Alkemyst. Rosetta
. Mortiis. The Obsessed
. Jesus Martyr. Aetherius Obscuritas
. Souls Of We. Medieval Steel
. Mar De Grises. Iron Fire
. Luna Mortis. Earthen Grave