The Czar: Usurper/Escape/Martyr/Spiral (Live At The Aragon)
Onstage in Chicago in late 2009, these prog-metal pachyderms start out cranking their then-current Crack The Skye -- easily their most algebraically intricate album -- from beginning to end. That record's precision plod comes off a bit muddled live. But by its 15-minute-plus climax "The Last Baron," they've found their footing on the time-signature tightrope, and they're making room for exploratory solos. When they delve into more compact and fast-chugging material from their three earlier albums, they really pick up steam; when they finally close, it's with an off-kilter Melvins cover.