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"Brutal Prog" was a term coined by Flying Luttenbachers leader Weasel Walter on the "avant-progressive" listserve in 2000 to delineate an aesthetic within the general idiom of progressive rock which is more focused on dissonance and intensity than traditional "prog". Brutal Prog is not an organized movement in any way, but rather a term to delineate newer, more extreme bands from the traditional trappings of what is known as progressive rock.

The so-called brutal prog bands seem to have strong roots in or a likeness to one or more of the following historical aesthetics: DIY/punk attitude and aggression; the econconstructivist/nihilistic "no wave" ethos; characteristics of the Rock in Opposition (RIO) movement from Europe; musical influence from some of the darker traditional progressive rock bands; or the music of Japanese cult bands.

Despite adventurous attitudes towards structure and meter, many classic "prog" bands like Yes or Genesis focused on harmonic consonance, with diatonic tonality prevaling. Brutal Prog bands are generally more challenging harmonically, often engaging sophisticated approaches to dissonance. For many of the groups there is also an emphasis on speed or sonic extremity for its own sake. Audio fidelity is sometimes sacrificed in the name of rawness or urgency.

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