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 The Serpent & The Sphere by AGALLOCH album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 85 ratings

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The Serpent & The Sphere
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars AGALLOCH pretty much dominated the American metal scene for the first decade of the 2000's as they cranked out not only one or two but four outstanding classics that showcased their idiosyncratic visionary fusion of black and doom metal with dark neofolk, post rock and ritual ambient music. Add to that, several EPs distinct from their full-length canon and numerous tours that took them around the world. And not only did they deliver the goods on each of their albums, but they steadily ratcheted up new aspects of their sound which made them quite popular by the time their fourth album 'Marrow Of The Spirit' hit the world in 2010. It seemed the band would continue the trend forever. Not so fast.

Following the single tracked EP 'Faustian Echoes' which not only displayed AGALLOCH's longest track of their career but also their heaviest that utilized the fullest effects of black metal riffing only intermittently punctuated by dark folk interludes to provide a soft canvass for the poetic prose to be recited. Two years later the band would release their fifth and final album as fate would have it. THE SERPENT & THE SPHERE offered another slice of the dramatic melding of the folk and metal that fans had come to expect so well. The band continues the same lineup as 'Marrow' with Aesop Dekkecontinuing his drumming duties but this one contains a guest appearance of Nathana'l Larochetter who plays acoustic guitar.

THE SERPENT & THE SPHERE pretty much continues the AGALLOCH signature sound however for once in their career, this one seems to have lost all inspiration and as a result sound like an AGALLOCH by-the-numbers type of album. It contains nine tracks with two extending past the ten minute mark however where previously albums soared and took you on left turns after building up crescendoes of folk and metal glory, SERPENT seems to slither down a one way path. Once again the band builds long repetitive riffs that continue to grow in speed and volume utilizing the raspy shrieked vocal effect and distorted guitar atmospheric layering that offers the desired doom and gloom and all that. But something is seriously missing here.

Firstly, the riffs and melodies are rather flat. There is not one track on here that keeps my attention and not one that demands my returned listening. This happened upon first listen but in order to review this i've spun it numerous times and unlike the other four albums that made me want to listen to them over and over, this one makes wanna take it out and put in, you got it, one of the other four albums! This one seems to completely lack that magical mojo and spirit that made AGALLOCH albums so great. It seems the magic wasn't isn't the riffing, the post-rock build-ups, the black metal outbursts or any of the describable ingredients. It was in the epic compositional constructs that cleverly tied it all together.

It really seems AGALLOCH lost the passion and burned out and apparently that's exactly what happened since the band broke up two years later. There is nothing bad about this one per se but in all honesty, there is nothing great either and since it's AGALLOCH, well, ok doesn't cut the mustard. This is by far their worst album in my world. I'm glad they called it quits having realized the game is over and pumping out mediocrity for time immemorial would only tarnish their past glories. After the breakup, John Haughm would form a new band called Pillorian, Don Anderson, Jason William Walton and Aesop Dekker would begin Kh'rada. While it's never a glad day when a legendary band calls it quits, personally i'd much rather see a band do so than litter the market with bland lifeless locust shells of their past.

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 Dreams No Longer Hesitate by COMBAT ASTRONOMY album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.98 | 12 ratings

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Dreams No Longer Hesitate
Combat Astronomy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A big thanks to Ian who has recommended this band at different times over the years. COMBAT ASTRONOMY play an Avant style of music, quite dark with bassoon. This gets tagged with "Brutal Prog" as well with those heavy, distorted sounds that are quite prominent at times here. What a pleasant surprise it was to hear Elaine Di Falco's voice who many will know from THINKING PLAGUE and HUGHSCORE. Plenty of electronics, programmed sounds, horns which are usually dissonant, flute and bass flute, electric piano and the usual rock instruments. A 5 piece band out of the USA this album really scratched an itch for me a few weeks ago and has received lots of spins as a result.

The first two songs really start the album off the right way in my opinion with Elaine's reserved vocals not sounding as RIO as with THINKING PLAGUE. "Lightning In Her Eyes" with the brutal sounds as vocals join in. Just a catchy sound believe it or not with vocals standing out with the heaviness. "Touch The Moon" is even better in my opinion. More laid back with plenty of vocals again and I like the vocal arrangements here. Oh and the electric piano is a nice touch. "I Can't Breathe" is quite heavy with reserved vocals and electric piano standing out. I like the vocal melodies late.

"Alive Inside Eternity" opens heavily with spoken words then dissonant horns take over along with some experimental sounds. It settles some after 4 minutes but there's these screaming sounds. It turns heavier again as a loud humming arrive then more horns, bass and electric piano. It kicks back in again. "Sentinel" is the longest at almost 17 minutes. This is such a trip. High pitched horn sounds cry out of the dark atmosphere. Pretty cool. Heaviness around a minute with vocals in tow. It settles right down after 6 1/2 minutes before rising up again before 8 minutes. Horns to the fore after 9 1/2 minutes. Lots of dissonance here and vocals return a minute later. It settles again around 11 minutes, slow and heavy before picking up with vocals, flute and more. Check out the bass horn too.

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 Benediktus Und Vobis Quoque, Catafalcus Est Tu by CATAFALCHI DEL CYBER album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.71 | 17 ratings

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Benediktus Und Vobis Quoque, Catafalcus Est Tu
Catafalchi Del Cyber Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars In 2003 a few young Italians witnessed a King Crimson gig, this was their starting point to make progressive music. With the support of the known Italian Cristiano Roversi (Moongarden, Submarine Silence and a project with singer Bernardo Lanzetti in CCLR) the four piece formation Catafalchi Del Cyber released their debut CD entitled Benediktus Und Vobis Quoque Catafalcus Est Tu (8 songs, running time around 41 minutes) in 2011.

What a pity that the singer at some moments sound like "John Wetton who has caught a cold", because instrumentally this band has a lot to offer in the alternating and varied compositions, from dreamy to fluent rhythms and bombastic eruptions. Listening to this album USA formation Holding Pattern comes to my mind, due to the fiery guitar and dynamic music.

Also interesting is the sound of the unsurpassed Mellotron, from celestial violins in Dark Degluation to breathtaking choirs in the awesome and varied final track Ipercomunismo Postaliend III (from spacey and prog to folk), what a joy for the Tron-maniacs!

This band has succeeded to deliver an interesting album (I don't consider this as Neo-Prog as PA has categorised) with lots of own musical ideas, unfortunately the music is not entirely instrumental but the mediocre vocals are not very present.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 No Man's Land by PERAINO'S KINGDOM COME, VICTOR album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.22 | 9 ratings

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No Man's Land
Victor Peraino's Kingdom Come Crossover Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Victor grew up in the USA city Detroit, where once Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper were born. In the late Sixties he was a drummer in de band Up, they were the support-act for many legendary formations, like The Stooges, Cream, Janis Joplin, Soft Machine and Jimi Hendrix. After leaving Up he went to Europe in order to broaden his musical horizon, now enjoying gigs from famous progrock bands, from Genesis and Hawkwind to Magma and PFM. After one of these concerts he met Arthur Brown who asked him to replace his keyboard player Vincent Crane (who then founded Atomic Rooster, with Carl Palmer). Although Victor only played drums, he decided to accept the challenge and went on tour with Arthur Borwn's Kingdome Come. And under the name Victor Peraino's Kingdome Come he went back tot he USA, also releasing the album No Man's Land in 1975.

On this album (in 2010 re-released on CD by the Italian prog label Black Widow Records) you can hear the wide range of influences when Victor made music as support-act in the USA and when he attended the concerts in the UK. Especially from Hawkwind (propulsive rhythms, fiery guitar and fat synthesizer flights), Jethro Tull (rock guitar and swirling flute),PFM (flute and Moog runs), Yes (powerful bass) and Atomic Rooster (in the track Demon Of Love). Victor is supported by outstanding musicians, like the dynamic drum work. The most remarkable element is the omnipresence of the majestic Mellotron flute - and choir section, especially in Empires Of Steel and Garden Of Death. But also other vintage keyboards, like the Moog, ARP and VCS-3 synthesizers,along with the Mellotron these distinctive keyboards embellish Victor his music. The sound range from space rock and symphonic rock to hardrock and even a wonderful ballad,Lady Of The Morning (exciting build-up and final part).

In 1981 Victor his band released the EP Were Next (as bonus on this CD): no Moog and Mellotron but again swinging and propulsive rhythms with fiery guitar, like late Seventies David Bowie. In the final track Athena the Hammond organ is the most important instrument, with powerful waves.

In 2009 Victor started to tour again and in 2014, he made another album entitled Journey In Time under the same group name, this time with guest appearances from Arthur Brown on five of the tracks.

If you want to enjoy the typical Sixties and Seventies 'progressive vibe' (layered with The Mighty Tron), this is an album to discover.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 Kansas by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.99 | 559 ratings

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Kansas
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Incredibly good debut by already a seasoned band. Kansas was the only potent answer from the US in the first half of the 70's to the European tornado of progressive acts. And Walsh's vocal belongs to the best ones in the history of progressive rock together with Gabriel/Collins and Anderson, With one foot firmly rooted in hard rock with boogie/bluesy guitar, the potential in composition and playing suggest much more coming. The first two songs are accessible rocky numbers with a unique sound of violin in hard rock. Lonely Wind is a relaxing song with a really fitting Walsh's vocal. Clear progressive elements come to the surface in Belexes with church organ runs but still remain restrained and explode on the epic "Journey from Mariabronn" - I was looking for such city in the US in vain. Amazing moog/hammond run and anthemic guitar chords must give boomps to majority of the attentive listeners. The violin takes lead and calms things down to be replaced by piano and hammond solos. Dramatic spirit rises all way through the song until the fourth minute and the strong jazzy/Canterbury instrumental part starts led by inventive moog/ARP and violin solos. The composition returns to the emotional vocal and slows down to retain the drama and let the listener enjoy the chords. The bombastic end of the song with rising notes are typical for Kansas epic tracks. The "Pilgrimate" is a short relief from the complex music and features likeable country/boogie violin and guitar.

"Apercu" is the flagship of this album and easily one of the best Kansas tracks. After the starting dynamic keyboard part, jazzy guitar opens the sung part. It is incredible how easily Kansas create stunning and emotional melodies. The typical "walking" instrumentation follows before the speeding up and slowing down to enjoy the keyboard layers in the background and then vocal harmonies. Classical music led by violin separates the calm and progressive rock "march". This time, guitar takes active role too and supplies nice riffs. Things get back to the main motive but stay pompeous until the end.

"Death of Mother Nature Suite" highlights a heavy ominous riff and splendid guitar work by Kerry Livgren. Hammond organ and violin add nicely to the track atmosphere. Also, check out the brilliant and wild Wakemanesque hammond organ solo.

The three longest tracks alone are reason to acquire this album as they take influence from the best of progressive rock.

Even better albums are to come in the next years ;).

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 False Memory Archive by OAK album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.05 | 4 ratings

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False Memory Archive
Oak Crossover Prog

Review by shaunch

4 stars I really like this. It is thoughtful, melodic, dark and moody. I enjoyed it even more, once I had got those, "where I have I heard this before' niggles out of the way. This started on track one with "We, the Drowned". There is an Arena groove going on from the "Moviedrome" album followed by a sneaky piano line from the album " The Incident" (Porcupine Tree). It took me a day to figure out the main tune during "the lights" which is "Sound of contact" and then the obvious clapping from "Trains" from PT which also appears in the title track. (That could become a distraction) Now I could start listening, I enjoyed "Claire De Lune" with a Lunatic soul or No-man vibe, the title track with it's reference to polaroids and faded dreams of summers past, "The Lights" which has a groove with a spoken word, reminded me of Depeche Mode or Placebo, not sure why.

On the first few listens, I thought the album faded a little after this, but actually, after repeated listens I actually enjoyed the mood of the last three tracks, in particular, "Psalm 51" which rounds everything off with a Floydian feel with saxophone (not my fav but used well here) and underlying voices reminiscent of DSOTM.

This has the sound of their previous album because it is unmistakable due to the vocals which remind me of Colin Vearcombe of "Black" from the eighties which I think is a good thing, however, there is more variety in the use of instruments and style. At times you can make comparisons to other artists, in a positive way, but their sound is unique and it gives me melodic and moody sounds that I enjoy, I suppose like a more accessible Thomas Thielen or hook filled "Mice on Stilts" (New Zealand band worth a listen if you like this)

This band is up there with Gazpacho and Airbag, adding to the Norwegian list of top artists producing this type of music.

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 Birth by CIRCULUS album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Birth
Circulus Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars Given the 9 years recording hiatus, it's perhaps not surprising that this English outfit has moved in a new direction. The CIRCULUS sound remains folk based for the most part, with plenty of synthesized accompaniment as before, but the influence of neo folk and ambient styles are evident for the first time.

The opening number 'The Ecstasy of Digging in Graveyards' signals the shift immediately, with vocalist Michael Tyack's new narrative style and a minimalist approach musically. While it works well here and on the mystical 'Seeking out the Sacred Sites' and 'Stories from my Book of Dreams', what should be the prog centerpiece, 'Creation Wears a Golden Coat', at 10+ minutes, is at least 3 or 4 minutes too long, and I'm being generous. While the running time is higher than past efforts, the repetitiveness and the higher ratio of instrumentals do pad the output. Luckily, both the medieval 'Scarlatti', with its harpsichord-ish leads, and the space age 'Earth Disco' triumphantly confirm the band's continued prowess. In the meantime, the single, 'Tintagic', is nigh as delightful as anything we've heard from them, whimsical and addictive in both lyric and melody.

One aspect of Circulus remains intact, their ability to distinguish themselves in a crowded field while never quite threatening to capture the flag. On most days, that's good enough for me, and reason enough for them to be born again in whatever form.

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 For Moments Never Done by CIRRHA NIVA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.88 | 12 ratings

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For Moments Never Done
Cirrha Niva Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "For Moments Never Done" is the 4th full-length studio album by Dutch progressive metal act Cirrha Niva. The album was released through Parnassus Records (Europe) and through The End Records (US/Canada) in September 2009. Cirrha Niva were formed in 1993, and released their debut full-length studio album "The Mirror World Dimension" in 1997. Their last album before "For Moments Never Done" was "Liaison de la Morte" from 2001, so there has been an 8 year recording break between the two albums. There have been quite a few lineup changes from the last album too and the only remaining members from the lineup who recorded "Liaison de la Morte (2001)" are Rob Willemse (guitars) and Tommy White (drums). New members are lead vocalist Legrand (real name Michael de Groot), Carlo Heefer (guitars), and Daniël Huyben (bass).

The music on "For Moments Never Done" is a fairly eclectic type of progressive metal. Eclectic in this case means that the band incorporate elements from alternative metal and a few extreme metal traits too. Legrand is a relatively versatile vocalist and in addition to his relatively high pitched metal singing, he also occasionanlly ventures into semi-growling and other raw type of vocals. It happens very seldom though, and it´s not the dominant vocal styles on the album. Knowing Legrand´s background in various Dutch underground thrash and death metal acts in the 90s his use of those types of vocals aren´t as surprising as it may initially sound. But as mentioned he mostly sings using his clean voice. The alternative metal vibe mentioned above is also something that is only touched upon during the playing time, but I hear nods here and there and especially towards an artist like Faith No More. Again we´re dealing with a minor element of the overall sound, but it goes to show that Cirrha Niva deserves the eclectic tag although they are predominantly a pretty standard progressive metal act. The music can be quite heavy and punchy at times (listen to a track like "Self Chosen"), but also more mellow and atmospheric.

The material on the 7 track, 46:47 minutes long album is generally well written and relatively varied, the musicianship is on a high level, and the sound production is professional, powerful, and well sounding. So "For Moments Never Done" is overall a good quality progressive metal release. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

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 Operation: Mindcrime by QUEENSRYCHE album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.24 | 994 ratings

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Operation: Mindcrime
Queensr˙che Progressive Metal

Review by Cylli Kat (0fficial)

5 stars This album set a new benchmark in the Progressive Metal canon.

I remember having the privilege of working in a music store as a guitar instructor when the manager came out with a "White Paper", Pre-Release of this album. I immediately grabbed a cassette and the first cut of the vinyl went onto my tape...

I'd already been very familiar with this Bellevue, Washington band from the first strains of The Warning, and was certainly a fan. But I was unprepared for how great this album turned out to be from concept to execution. I literally spent the summer of 1988 (much to the dismay of my girlfriend at the time and all my other friends to boot) dissecting this album and learning every nuance of every note, the meaning behind every word. I even (correctly) figured out who killed Mary...

I have adored this album from the first time I heard it, and am still overwhelmingly enamored of it. And I believe, I always will be...

An all-time classic, well deserving of a 5 star rating.

As always, your actual mileage may vary.

Grace and peace, Cylli (Jim)

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 Images And Words by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.28 | 2729 ratings

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Images And Words
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Cylli Kat (0fficial)

5 stars Dream Theater - Images and Words Review № Stardate 11810.19a

THIS is perhaps the ultimate, most influential Progressive Metal album of all time. THIS is THE Badass Monster Mütha Fükka in my Prog Metal sensibilities..

(That is not meant to discount Fates Warning, Queensr˙che, Redemption, Pain of Salvation, etc. and others that have genre defining albums themselves).

A fantastic set of classic songs played to perfection by a group of very well practiced musicians. Well produced virtuosity tastefully on display, mixed with strong, interesting, adventurous compositions. I loved it then, and love it to this day.

This album spawned an entire generation of clone bands that tried to brave the waters that my friend, Mr. Portnoy & company set the course for and continually raised the standard of when relating to virtuostic, Progressive Metal.

This album deserves all the praise that has been heaped on it, and then some...

An absolute classic, and a MUST HAVE for any Prog Metal enthusiast.

A complete, no debate, gotta have, full-on 5 + stars on my scale. Obviously 5 stars here at PA.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Grace and peace, Cylli (Jim Calistro)

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.41 | 607 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Cylli Kat (0fficial)

1 stars Dream Theater The ASSEATISHING review № Stardate 11810.19...

Wow!!! Everything that Dream Theater could've done wrong they did do wrong on this remarkably horrendous pile of puerile, juvenile dreck.

After being endlessly assaulted on facebook every 28 seconds with some new bit of "blah, blah, blah", about this album (I'm talking about during its initial release days), I unfriended all the band members and unliked/unfollowed the band.

I literally thought: 'Whats next? A video game, a graphic novel, a CGI movie?!?!?' Not knowing I was actually close to the mark on that one...

This is so beyond dreadful. I've tried repeatedly to garner some type of appreciation for this album; but as of this writing the only thing I'm willing to do with the discs are turn them into coasters...

Completely vapid, inane, & banal concept, hyper-overdone virtuostic masturbation with the inimitable Dream Theater (in extreme bad taste mode) aplomb.

Time for Dream Theater to get back to making good music again...

Or, it's time for them to retire...

Believe me; I wanted to go on a song by song tirade, but I literally don't think I could bear to hear this album ever again, so, I scrapped that idea...

A great big fat ZERO on my personal scale. Forced to give it 1 star due to the PA rating process.

As always, your mileage may vary,

Grace and peace, Cylli (Jim Calistro)

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 The Dance Of Light And Shade by SOUL DOUBT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.35 | 58 ratings

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The Dance Of Light And Shade
Soul Doubt Progressive Metal

Review by Cylli Kat (0fficial)

4 stars This is one very IMPRESSIVE debut, indeed...

This is prog with absolutely everything including the kitchen sink, & your neighbor's uncle's cousin's pet amoeba included too!

Soul Doubt (Or, as I sometimes jest about their name Sold Out, or if I'm feeling ridiculously festive about it So Ul Doubt "So You'll Doubt"), really pulled out all the stops on this one. Crossing into so may territories and sub-genres of prog with graceful ease. You'll find Prog-Metal one second, AOR the next, Crossover-esque immediately after that and then, a touch of Symphonic leading into... (ad infinitum).

This certainly has its basis in the Prog Metal/Heavy Prog territory, but it's also quite an epic project; so there are a great variety of styles, colors and flavors to be found here. Great production, songwriting, and performances from more than capable musicians adds up to a truly exceptional release.

I'm going with 4.7 PA stars

As always, your actual mileage may vary.

Grace and peace, Cylli (Jim)

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 The Digression Theory - Part Two by ALEXANDER, REESE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.09 | 2 ratings

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The Digression Theory - Part Two
Reese Alexander Progressive Metal

Review by Cylli Kat (0fficial)

4 stars Reese Alexander expertly delivers on the follow up to the first part of this duology with another excellently crafted album.

Sometimes there's a hint of Transatlantic, Haken, David Maxim Micic, etc.

Again, Mr. Alexander covers some impressive bases with consistently strong, adventurous songwriting and virtuostic performances across a broad range of instruments including voice. Virtuostic in service to the song, not the over done style of the Dream Theater-esque [and the endless clones they spawned] "Time to blow you away with an album of constant flurries of hemidemisemiquaver (64th) notes played sometimes in harmony just to impress".

I find that I'm liking this quite a lot.

Going with 4.71 PA stars on this one.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Grace and peace to you all,

Cylli (Jim Calistro)

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 The Digression Theory - Part One by ALEXANDER, REESE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 2 ratings

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The Digression Theory - Part One
Reese Alexander Progressive Metal

Review by Cylli Kat (0fficial)

4 stars This is an impressive, dramatic debut album by any standard; but the fact that this is a one man show makes it all the more remarkable.

Mr. Alexander has adroitly covered a great many progressive bases with this release, reminding me at some points of Sold Out errr... Soul Doubt The Dance Of Light And Shade. I find it to be rather mature for a debut album, rich with well-crafted writing, the playing of a multi-instrument virtuoso, and rather well done vocalizing.

I'd recommend this for aficionados of Soul Doubt, Haken, & maybe also for Devin Townsend.

I have to give this 4.7 PA stars.

Looking forward to digging into Part Two!

Well done, Mr. Alexander.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Grace and peace to you all,

Cylli (Jim Calistro)

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 Devin Townsend Project: Epicloud by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 320 ratings

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Devin Townsend Project: Epicloud
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars After 3 years, DT returns to his more classic sound with wall of sound behind the heavier tracks and flowing acoustic songs. Thankfully, he kept collaboration with Anneke Van Giersbergen whose vocal lights up every song. The first a-capella short ouverture informs the listener that he won't come short of harmonies. "True North" continues in the melodic vocal driven song flow. Gone are the overblown massive epic tracks from the last albums, most music here is more stripped down but don't expect just a guitar, bass, drums and vocals, that would be too plain from DT. "Kingdom" is the best prototype of the typical DT's style with a strong melody. ALso, note the opera vocal by DT himself. A few sublime tracks such as "Divine" keep the sunny spirit high. Angel has an almost Christmas-like ending with vocal chorus. This is the album that will be praised equally by many DT's fans and beyond.

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 About Time by ALSO EDEN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.63 | 52 ratings

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About Time
Also Eden Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nş 210

First of all, I must say that I heard to talk about Also Eden, for the first time, on this website. I also must say that, since the first moment that I've heard talk about this band I became very interested about it, especially after read their biography on Progarchives, a couple years ago. So, soon it was possible, I decided to buy their first debut studio album, 'About Time'. I also must say that this wasn't the first time that a thing like that happened to me. Unfortunately, this is a very common situation with many other progressive rock bands. Many of those bands are practically unknown for almost all of us, which is also this case. This is very unfair, but luckily, we have Progarchives to do its great job.

Also Eden is a very interesting but quite obscure neo-prog band from United Kingdom. In reality, this is almost an unknown group. The band's members said that their music is influenced by the traditional symphonic progressive rock bands, like Genesis, Yes and Flower Kings, by neo-prog bands like Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Arena and Pallas and even by some other progressive rock bands with other styles of music like, for instance, Rush and Porcupine Tree. The group was formed in 2005, when vocalist Huw Lloyd-Jones and keyboardist/vocalist Ian Hodson, who had been working together up to that point, invited guitarist Simon Rogers to join them. With the addition of bassist Ralvin Thomas and drummer Mark Hall, the band's sound began to take evolve, culminating in this 2006 release, the album 'About Time'.

So, the line up of the band on 'About Time' is Huw Lloyd-Jones (vocals), Simon Rogers (guitars), Ian Hodson (keyboards), Ralvin Thomas (bass) and Mark Hall (drums). The music is all composed by Also Eden and the lyrics were all written by Huw Lloyd-Jones.

'About Time' is the debut studio album of Also Eden and was released in 2006. The album has five tracks. The first track 'Between The Lines' is a great song to open the album. It's a very powerful and vigorous song where we can clearly detect the influence of Genesis, Marillion, IQ and Arena, and also some slight influences from the progressive metal style. The sound is akin to some of the 80's progressive bands and Abel Ganz, in particular, come to my mind, while there are some traces of the early Marillion, towards the end. This is really a great track. The second track 'For Bumble' is a song that oscillates between calm and vigorous parts. It's a song with a beautiful beginning, with a very calm and nice acoustic guitar work, and again we can feel some influences from progressive metal sound. Near the end, there is a spectacular keyboard work that reminds me Tony Banks of the good old days in Genesis. This is probably, in my humble opinion, the best track on the album. The third track 'Pandora' is the smallest and calm song on the album, and probably, is the less spectacular, but it still is a very good track. It has an interesting start that reminds me the work of a clock. It's the more uniform song on the album with some good individual performances, which at times, reminds me Marillion. The piece is more centred on the lyrics and as a consequence the song seems somewhat flat. However, Hodson contributes with a reasonable guitar solo. The fourth track 'The Enemy Within' is a song with a piano opening that reminds me the beginning of an Anglagard's song, that fantastic Swedish progressive symphonic rock band of the 90's. It's a very nice, calm and uniform song, very melodious. The track has a spectacular final where again the influence of Genesis, in the Gabriel's era, is present. We can also hear the influence of David Gilmour's guitar on this track. Some shades of early IQ in a good way to wind up the track. This is another great track. The fifth track 'Children Of The Night' is a very powerful and vigorous track with great individual performances. It's a song more in the vein of 'Between The Lines' with a sound more in the rock style. This has another great vocal performance by Huw Lloyd-Jones, whose vocals are, in my humble opinion, very similar to the vocals of Alan Reed, the vocalist of Pallas. The band really shines on this song. It's a song very well arranged and the song has a rousing end to this surprising first album.

Conclusion: I must confess that I only know this band's album, until now, but I was very impressed with it. I bought 'About Time' some years ago and I became very excited with the quality of this album, when I listened to it for the first time. The rich textures of their music and the emotional lyrics about the real world, brings to us the great quality of Also Eden's songs, which has the result of bring more richness to our progressive world. Despite the influences mentioned by the band, on this album the main influences are Genesis, Pallas, IQ, Marillion and Arena, sometimes with a little touch of the progressive metal sound. However and despite all these influences, Also Eden has a very own and modern sound. Unfortunately, I think Also Eden is still an unknown band in the progressive rock world, and even on this site, we just need to see the small number of reviews and rates to conclude that. So, the last thing I can say is that 'About Time' is a fantastic debut album, and Also Eden is a band that deserves much more attention that it has had, until now.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Devin Townsend Project: Ghost by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 323 ratings

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Devin Townsend Project: Ghost
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The metal chameleon Devin Townsend tries it acoustic, new age, folk and above all, very peaceful. A total contrast to Deconstruction released in the same year. The female voice suits the laid down atmosphere of this album. The atmospere is dreamy, sunny and that is the only album during playing which you can even have Thai massage ;) Some of the highlights - flute ending in the track 2, the folky marching and memorable Ghost (unlike most of the tracks here), vocal harmonies in "Blackberry", acoustic and electronica harmony on "Dark Matters", Alan Parsons Project feeling on "Tuxada". Overall a pleasant albeit not memorable work that we're used to from DT.

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 Scratchin' the Surface by SAGA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
2.87 | 4 ratings

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Scratchin' the Surface
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As the cover art alone surely immediately reveals to those familiar with Saga, this single is an outtake from the Canadian band's fifth album Heads Or Tales (1983). It's usually regarded as the first one to be more pop than prog, but I'd like to think it closes their classic era, not only because the song material is stronger than on its followers, but partly for subjective reasons also: Heads Or Tales, like two other Saga albums, was among my big brother's vinyls when I was in my early teens, so there's the nostalgia factor. And of course it has much better cover design compared to e.g. Behaviour (1985) or Wildest Dreams (1987).

'Scratchin' the Surface' is closest to a ballad on that album, sung rather tenderly by keyboardist Jim Gilmour instead of Michael Sadler, who handles the suitably powerful chorus. Mostly because of that dual nature of the song I like it quite a lot, even though it's not as interesting as the band's finest [earlier] songs. Some time ago, after listening to the album first time for years, I had this song playing in my head when I was slowly waking up from sleep, and it felt surprisingly nice, so I let it linger in my mind while biking to work.

The B side track 'Sound of Strangers' is also taken from Heads Or Tales. It's a bit duller pop-rock song, but some details in the typically keyboard-oriented arrangement save it from being a bore. 2½ stars rounded up for the nice sleeve.

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 Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.92 | 394 ratings

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Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The heaviest DT album, although the first three minutes are relaxing and showcase very interesting electronic drums and textures. Then slowly heaviness creeps in. First, it is not more than heavy heavy progressive metal. The second track shows the album potential and introduces death metal growling my Mr. Akerfeldt by Opeth. This is no ingenious composition, it is play with rhythms and vocals. It should have been shorter. Next tracks oscillate between death/black metal, progressive metal and a few softer but still rocking sections. There is little time for the ears to rest, the music is uncompromising, relentless and the guitar, drums and bass overshadow other elements such as vocals, keyboards or orchestration.

Because of its ambitions, structure, guest vocalists and structure, I would call it the most extreme metal opera. Yes, there are also symphonic moments with strings (though not well heard).

This album is mainly for metal fans but I doubt that other progressive fans will like this one, try something older by DT.

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 Bohemian Rhapsody (The Original Soundtrack) by QUEEN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2018
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Bohemian Rhapsody (The Original Soundtrack)
Queen Prog Related

Review by Kingsnake

— First review of this album —
4 stars I didn't know where to put this album, so I put in the compilation- section.

This album is the o.s.t. of the forthcoming movie about Queen and Freddie Mercury, focussing on the life of Freddy upto their legendary famous concert at Live Aid (widely regarded as the best live performance ever by any rockband/artist). The release of this album also coincides with Freddy's 72nd birthday!

The songlist looks like a greatest hits collection but is so much more than that.

The 20th century fox theme is a newly recorded song and Keep Yourself Alive is newly recorded by a reformed Smile. Also Don't Stop Me Now features newly recorded guitarparts.

We Will Rock You is a nicely remixed mix of the studio and liveversion.

On top of that: the livesongs of Live Aid were never before made available on an official release before. A real treat. The other livesongs are previously released on various live-albums.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this film an although some songs on this album are played to death and available on a million- and-one albums, the revisited and live-songs make this album so much more than just another Queen-compilation.

Highly recommended to any Queen-fan and rockfan in general.

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 The Wall by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.08 | 2748 ratings

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The Wall
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by The Jester

5 stars The Wall was the band's 11th studio album, and it was released on the 30th of November 1979 as a double album. It became a smashing hit almost everywhere. It is a concept album, produced by Pink Floyd and Bob Ezrin. (Famous for his work with Alice Cooper, Kiss and Lou Reed among others).

The Wall was a concept album, and it's about Pink (the main character), and his relations with the people around him as he grows up, starting from his over-protective mother, his teachers in school, his girlfriends, his wife, all his friends, etc; and it ends with his final breakdown. The main idea was that Pink builds an imaginary wall around him as he grows up, and in the end he is isolated from everyone. There he collapses. There were rumours saying that this album was actually a Roger Waters project, and the main character was based on himself as he was growing up. The story contains also many traumatic memories that Roger Waters (as a child) had from the 2nd World War where he lost his father. (Eric Fletcher Waters died in Italy in the battle of Anzio in 1944). Some other rumours were saying that Pink is actually a mix between Roger Waters and Syd Barrett. (The band's first singer in the '60's). In any case, the only sure thing is that Roger Waters was heavily involved with the story of this album.

During the recordings there were many problems between the members of the band, and at this point, Richard Wright (the keyboard player) quit the band, but he remained as a session musician, and performed with them during 'The Wall Tour'. Actually, The Wall was the last album including the line-up Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright.

Commercially, it was a huge success. Up to 1999 its sales were over 11.500.000 records in the USA, and over 20.000.000 worldwide, and it was certified 23 times platinum! It is also Pink Floyd's best selling album, after The Dark Side of the Moon. Upon its release, it received contradictory critics. Some fancied it as a masterpiece, whereas others found it pompous and shallow. Despite the mixed critics, the album climbed at the charts all over the world, reaching No.1 on many occasions. In 1982 the director Alan Parker made The Wall a movie with the same title, and Bob Geldof (of Boomtown Rats) played the role of Pink. For the needs of the movie, one extra song was recorded (When the tigers broke free), and many others were re-recorded (or re-mixed).

Speaking for myself, I literally grew up with The Wall, and in my opinion is a very important album and a must-have for every Rock fan. Nothing more, nothing less. 5 stars

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 Still Life by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.29 | 1391 ratings

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Still Life
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by The Jester

5 stars I'm sure that VDGG fans will propably disagree with me, as they would prefere one of the first period's albums. But for me the second period (that starts with 'Godbluff' and finishes with the live album 'Vital'), is more mature, less experimental, and contains some of the band's finest moments.

Van Der Graaf is a difficult band to listen to, if you are not 'well trained' with Progressive Rock. Their music is dark, based more on piano/organ and saxophones, and with Peter Hammil's unique voice which at some parts is melodic and soft, while other times it is flirting with cacophony. (Many times that happens during the same song). Still Life was released on 1976 a few months after Godbluff and a few months before World Record. (The band actually released these 3 albums in a 13 month period). It wasn't commercially successful, (only in Italy became kind of a success), but it is a very strong album, that if you get used to it you will discover the magic of VDGG in all its glory. I got all their albums in my collection, but Still Life always had a special place in my heart.

Songs like Pilgrims, Still Life and Childlike Faith in Childhood's End are, in my opinion, among the greatest synthetic moments of VDGG. Definetely Recommendd! 5 stars

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 Living the Dream by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.09 | 59 ratings

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Living the Dream
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Uriah Heep is a legendary band, that need no introductions or recommendations. They have been around since forever, and they wrote their name with gold in the history of Rock (or Hard Rock if you like) music. I have been listening to them since my teenage years, and I have in my collection no less than 17 albums; studio and live ones. This year they have returned with their 25th (or 26th? I lost count) studio album, named as Living the Dream. I still can't believe how good this album is! I was expecting a very mediocre album, like their previous ones, but this time I must admit that they did a really good job!

I don't think that there is anybody who believes that after a 50-years-old career, they will release another The Magician's Birthday or Demons and Wizards, correct? But you know what? Living the Dream is a high-quality album, that can be compared directly with some of their old releases. The sound is modern Hard-Rock, with many guitar riffs and solos, lots of classic-sounding keyboards and very good compositions. Bernie Shaw's voice is in very good condition, without having to add 'for his age'' Mike Box's recorded some very nice and 'catchy' guitar riffs, that are accompanied by the keyboards of Phil Lanzon, and the result is very good to say the least. The album includes some classic Hard Rock songs, some ballads and even a couple of "proggy" ones.

In a nutshell, Living the Dream is a very 'decent' album that totally worth its money. I bought it, and I never regret it. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed! Favourite Tracks (so far): Living the Dream, Knocking at my Door, It's all Been Said, Dreams of Yesteryear. 4 stars from me.

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 Still by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.00 | 92 ratings

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Still
Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by FalconBleck

2 stars #25 Review

After a long hiatus i'm finally back, there have been many changes in my life, but i also had lost inspiration in reviewing for some time, that's why i'll approach this really simple to approach album... well, not really, every time that i listened to it i wasn't paying atention because of how simple it felt, but now i'll try to pay atention and actually do a review about it.

I like that many people are cooperating with Tony here, some people that we've seen in his past work and people that we will see later again. It'd be cool if he worked with them again... except with whoever designed his album art, really boring.

1.- Red Day On Blue Street 5/10 Mostly happy and harmless pop song, i have the feeling that this album will keep being like this, not good, just ok.

2.- Angel Face 5/10 This one gets more intense, like what i've been accustomed already, something that i forgot to mention about the past song that this one also has, lyrics over music or atleast music at the service of lyrics, nowadays is voice over instruments.

3.- The Gift 4/10 Reminds me of a later release... Strictly inc. Heavy on scales, reminds me of "The Serpent Said" where in the review i said "chord progressions" when i wanted to say scales . It is happy, sounds like a modern church song near the end, really basic.

4.- Still It Takes Me by Surprise 7/10 The title track, a normal ballad, more complex than everything so far. Finally a piano solo, not the best one but good. I like the chord changes and scales, i would've done the song shorter and added some more instruments... like a mellotron, everything is better with mellotron.

5.- Hero for an Hour 4/10 I haven't pointed who was singing in each song, that's the sellout of the album, i really don't care that much if the songs are still boring, but it is always something special to know when Tony is singing his own songs. This song is just ok, a little simple again, more lyrics than music again, repetitive and a little charming, but it doesn't have much going on.

6.- I Wanna Change the Score 6/10 Reminds me of "Moving Under" from "The Fugitive". This song fits right into a slice of life relaxing 90s movie, better than ok, gives a good mood and does it right even tho i don't feel like the music should be so happy because of the lyrics.

7.- Water Out Of Wine 6/10 A haunting song, its average, the chords sound special tho, it gives some certain intranquility. I have to point out Jayney Klimek because i really liked her work in Bankstatment and here she shows that she works really good with Tony Banks.

8.- Another Murder of a Day 7/10 Already a really nice atmosphere, the best song from Tony with Fish on vocals. This song is really good, but near the last 3 minutes, it feels as if Tony went tired, and the song gets happy while also giving the queue to the short guitar solo, if it wasn't for the last 3 minutes, this would be 1 point higher, it is still the best song on the album. The last piano notes are too late to save the song from losing my interest.

9.- Back to Back 5/10 Pumping that rythm out, it sounds good, it gets very repetitive but it has some moments near the end. At this point i'm a little tired of this album, i would've given it a 4.

10.- The Final Curtain 4/10 Another song that reminds me of "Strictly Inc." and i'm already tired of this album, but wait, at half of the song, it gets more hyped, but that doesn't stop the song from being repetitive and boring. I don't feel like it deserves a 3 tho, its a little better than that.

Overall this album gets a 53/100, wich is 2 stars and the lowest overall score so far, i expected less but i finished surprised. I still feel like not recommending any song unless you like the musicians involved that aren't Tony Banks, this album offers good moments instead of good entire songs.

I still don't know what's certain in the future but who does, i'll probably review Six next.

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 Heavy Moon 12 by HEAVY MOON album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Heavy Moon 12
Heavy Moon Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Talk about an amazing piece of space rock. Jakob Relinger is from Canada, aside from his Moonwind project, is Heavy Moon. What I love about Heavy Moon is there is zero confusion in chronological order in discography as they're all numbered (even Chicago and Soft Machine didn't number every release). This, like Trip Lava out of Minneapolis is entirely a one-man space rock project. Jakob plays everything you hear here, including guitars, keyboards and synths, bass, and drums. Musically I get reminded of the early space rock-era Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, and Hawkwind, with that Pink Floyd-type pace, and lots of great space synthesizers. Also what I really love is the consistency of this album so there's really no use trying to pick out highlights. For those who enjoy this type of music, this stuff needs to be heard! 12 just happens to be the first thing I ever heard, and I was able to acquire the cassette, whose quality really blew me away, because I've encountered many cassettes from various artists from Bandcamp and the sound quality left something to be desired, but not here! For those who love space rock, this comes highly recommended!

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 Behind The Sun by MOTORPSYCHO album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.02 | 299 ratings

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Behind The Sun
Motorpsycho Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'Behind the Sun' was released in 2014 and was another of many Motorphsycho albums. This album had an interesting thing about the vinyl version. It was a double album, but the music from the album fit on 3 sides. On the A side of the album, it is noted that there is an etching, but there is also a double etched track that features 2 instrumental songs. The song that plays is determined by where the record needle is put down on the track. Both of these songs are about the same length, nearing 4 minutes long and neither one of them is available on the CD or download versions of the album, only on the vinyl. Unfortunately, I have not heard them because I don't own the vinyl. But it's a neat little hidden surprise for those that do.

This is one of Motorpsycho's more progressive albums. You will swear, with the classic vibe that runs through this album, that you have been transported back to the heyday of progressive rock, namely, the 70's. You get a heavy dose of stoner, psychedelic, progressive amazing-ness,

'Cloudwalker (A Darker Blue)' starts off the album, officially that is. Right away you notice the tricky rhythm and the nice progressive sound. The melody is reminiscent of 70's style progressive rock and it grabs your attention right away. There is great guitar, and the mellotron sticks out quite well during the instrumental break, and there is a nice acoustic, folksy feel during this time, but otherwise it is a fairly heavy, yet the rhythm is not your standard meter, and that makes it all an excellent sound.

'Ghost' comes next. Like the last track, it lasts a little over 6 minutes, and has lead vocals from Bent Saether, who has the mellower voice of the 2 lead singers. This one starts off on a more acoustic and slower tempo, and the mellotron comes in early, giving this a classic and amazing sound. The vocals have a softer edge with the right amount of vulnerability to them. Very pensive and nice. The 2nd verse adds some effects to the vocals and some other interesting accompaniment that gives it that psychedelic feel that will make you think you are listening to an awesome band from an earlier decade that for some reason you completely missed. Beautifully done.

'On a Plate' is a more hard rock oriented sound, but still retains a tricky guitar riff keeping things progressive. Hans Ryan has the lead on this, and his vocals are gruffer and fit the feel of the harder tracks. This one features a great guitar solo over the top of another guitar doing this amazing hard riff. It also has a great psychedelic vibe underlying everything. 'The Promise' carries forward with the same general feel, but there is some alternating acoustic and electric riffs. This one is also more complex sounding than the last, but still just as great. Again, there is another kickin' guitar solo in the middle.

'Kvaestor [incl. Where Greyhounds Dare]' has a complex beginning with crazy drums, a fairly basic guitar riff against a repeating background that all somehow fits together nicely. The guitars get a bit crazy and chaotic as they take charge of this instrumental. Things pull themselves back into order as the double guitar riff re-establishes itself. When everything breaks down, there is a lot of feedback against wild drumming. Things go psychedelic for a minute, then the music kicks around a bit with it's wild meter before returning to the riff again, this time with more improvisation involved before a dose of more psychedelia tears the track apart. This is 7 minutes that goes by way to quickly.

'Hell Pts 4 ' 6: Traitor/The Tapestry/Swiss Cheese Mountain' countinues the multi suite that started on the previous album 'Still Life With Eggplant'. Starting with a mid tempo beat and a nice mellow, folk sound, you would think you were almost listening to Paul Simon at times, except for that excellent multi-electric guitar interlude after the 2nd verse. After a while, it changes to an ambient, somewhat subdued, acoustic guitar with some mellotron added in for atmosphere. The ambience lasts for a lot longer than you expect, but it gives everything a nice, peaceful setting. Then it starts to build at about the 7:30 mark that leads to more vocals in a folk setting, then a sudden interruption as everything suddenly breaks loose. This section of the suite has a slight lilt to it that still give a folk feeling, but at a more intense and intense level. Somewhere after 11 minutes, vocals start again, but at a much more intense level than before and some great harmonies. Things end rather quickly after the 12 minute mark.

'Entropy' starts with a strummed acoustic guitar and bass. Vocals start, almost reminding one of the early songs of Dewey Bunnell of 'America', just less poppy and more progressive, but seriously, it sounds a lot like him. Just before 4 minutes, electric guitars take on another great solo. After this, things calm down again for another vocal section, then grow more intense again. I can't believe how fast these songs fly by even when they exceed 7 minutes like this one. This album is just full of stellar performances and amazing tracks.

'The Magic and The Wonder (A Love Theme)' is surprisingly heavy, not what you would expect from this title. Again, we get another complex song with some excellent harmonics and more tricky rhythms. This is a shorter track at just over 4 minutes, but it's still quite excellent and progressive.

'Hell Pt. 7: Victim of Rock' starts off very chaotic with everything coming at you full bore and stays that way for over 7 minutes of run time. Even the vocals, when they start, sound quite unhinged. It remains quite unrelentless throughout with a wall of noise. It suddenly goes into a more processed sound with some very strange effects when the vocals reappear. It is almost if they pulled out all of the stops for the last track.

This is Motorpsycho at their best, with an album full of top quality progressive rock. Every track here is amazing, this album has no filler, just some of the best hard, progressive music. Motorpsycho has explored many genres in their time together as a band, sometimes they get everything right, and sometimes they miss the mark, but on this album, they hit it right square on the nose. If you are wondering where to start with this band, this is the place. I tell you, this one will impress you. 5 stars!

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 Faustian Echoes by AGALLOCH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
3.97 | 37 ratings

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Faustian Echoes
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars AGALLOCH hit the metal scene in 1999 just in time for the turn of the millennium and soon became one of the 21st century's most revered bands as they found the perfect formula to meld their black metal sensibilities with dark neofolk a la Death In June with a post-rock compositional prowess in the vein of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The band bedazzled the world with masterpieces such as 'The Mantle' and 'Ashes Against The Grain' and even managed to keep their musical mojo flowing when they decided to up their metal creds on 2010's 'Marrow Of The Spirit' which deemphasized but didn't destroy the dark neofolk properties that made this Portland, Oregon band stand out amongst the contemporary crowded metal universe.

Sticking to their guns and releasing an EP (or two) between their full-length studio albums, AGALLOCH followed up their fourth album 'Marrow Of The Spirit' with yet another EP, this time taking inspiration form Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play 'Faust.' While this is a mere EP with a running time of only 21 and a half minutes, it is actually a single track titled FAUSTIAN ECHOES that borrows the lyrics directly from the English translation of the original German text. Lyrics exist in the form of the familiar emphatically shrieked black metal style to actual film samples from Jan Svankmajer's 1994 film adaptation. Originally only available as digital downloads, the vinyl and CDs were sold at live shows. The cover art displays the Salvador Dal' etching of 'Faust Lisant (Faust Reading).'

AGALLOCH have always had crossover appeal by implanting roughly equal doses of dark neofolk, post-rock and atmospheric black / doom metal but beginning with 2010's 'Marrow Of The Spirit,' the band got the itch to create a more ramped up version of their visionary style which adrenalized the tempos, distorted the guitar riffage and vocally shrieked like there was no tomorrow. The metal bug had hit the band big time no doubt due to the addition of ex-Ludicra Aesop Dekker joining the cast to bring some black metal life to the scene with extreme guitar riffing aplenty and more drum abuse graced by lengthy ever-changing workouts.

FAUSTIAN ECHOES is their 5th EP and continues the love affair with the heavier side of their music but much like the album that it follows keeps the folk and post-rock vibes bubbling beneath the surface. In fact, 'Marrow Of The Spirit,' despite ramping up the extreme metal effects still eschewed it for much of the album. FAUSTIAN ECHOES sounds like AGALLOCH were trying to correct that and in the process created the most extremely metal release of their career.

While dark neofolk hasn't been booted out of the overall compositional scene, it sure has been forced to take a backseat and merely supply brief intermissions and a backdrop for moments of spoken poetic prose that provide brief interludes of spoken word storytelling between the moments of extreme metal bombast.

Lyrically, a tribute to one of Germany's most celebrated and well-known writers whose 'Faust' play is perhaps one of the nation's most revered contributions to the literary world, musically FAUSTIAN ECHOES shows a band losing their grip on the grandeur of its tight and diverse four album run that launched AGALLOCH into the top dog realms of the folk metal universe. For the first time, this band of seemingly endless ambition sounds a bit stagnate. At least for this band.

True that a 21 minute track dedicated to one of the non-English world's closest competitor to Shakespeare is a bona fide tour de force to tackle, however the problem is that the music doesn't quite measure up to the expectations laid forth. While the EP isn't bad per se, it does echo a bit of been there done that and has a hard time delivering the expected (by now) multitude of diversity that AGALLOCH had mustered up quite successfully in its noughty heyday.

AGALLOCH's selling shtick has always been a carefully crafted and calculated mixing it up between their folk and metal elements that were all laid out in post-rock fashion, however on FAUSTIAN ECHOES, it seems they try to hard to stick to the metal aspects of their sound and practically suffocate the dark ambient neofolk that has always been a key element to their overall vibe. Vocal tradeoffs of clean and shrieked are shattered in favor of the latter and while black metal remains a favorite pastime of mine, AGALLOCH don't have the black metal chops to pull off a kvlter-than-thou purity party that they are attempting to achieve.

While FAUSTIAN ECHOES is by no means a throwaway release, it does seem to demonstrate that the band hat peaked and can no longer sustain its essence which seems to be rooted in the dark neofolk as evidenced on the brilliant 'The White EP.' Sorry guys, try as you may, you are a folk band which dons a metal cape but a bona fide metal band you are not. I've given this EP more than enough spins to let it grow on me and it always comes out the same. OK but not outstanding. The reign of AGALLOCH ended with 'Marrow Of The Spirit' and on FAUSTIAN ECHOES, the band seems to have found itself on a downward spiral that it would never recover from.

3.5 rounded down

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 Sound on Sound ( as Bill Nelson's Red Noise) by NELSON, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.98 | 12 ratings

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Sound on Sound ( as Bill Nelson's Red Noise)
Bill Nelson Crossover Prog

Review by Clyde Crashcup

4 stars

Coming from the glam clad, progressive leaning, and romantic arrangements of Be Bop Deluxe, this album came as something of a shock in 1979. Freed from the commercial shackles of Be Bop Deluxe, Bill let his freak flag fly without the label pressure to write a hit. Certainly, punk and garage rock had made its late 70’s mark, but here was something utterly new and delicious. Roaring in at breakneck speed and sequenced in such a way as to be unrelenting, Bill Nelson introduced a new style of music that he never again replicated.

What we have here is Bill packing into 3:00 what was previously a 6:00 song, replete with mandatory (but concise) guitar hero solos, screaming saxophone and distorted keyboards; all to a breakneck beat. Back in the day it seemed as if the turntable had been switched to 78 speed. The songs are catchy as all get-out, with some of Bill Nelson's best lyrics to date touching on isolation, art, fashion, fear, technology, sex and love. Sometimes in the same song!

File under common knowledge Celebrate our foreign bodies The nervous and the naked Run screaming through our burning eyes This heat shows in our faces Innocence has gone to blazes No fake or simulation This time it's penetration, darling

If you're new to Nelsonia, The Love That Whirls (Diary of A Thinking Heart) may be a better starting point in terms of accessibility. However right here we have an absolute masterpiece. Probably an acquired taste (as is much of Nelson's extensive output), but one you will continue to crave from time to time. Breathtaking, powerful and unequaled. Not just great, perfect.

CD versions include either the live versions of Art/Empire/Industry and Revolt Into Style (originally included as 45 with LP) or the reggae inspired Wondertoys that Last Forever and Acquitted By Mirrors which was released as a single 45. I’d suggest the former.

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 The Friday Rock Show Sessions Live at Reading '86 by HAWKWIND album cover Live, 1992
3.23 | 24 ratings

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The Friday Rock Show Sessions Live at Reading '86
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars By 1986 Hawkwind had released a tremendous body of work that ranged from the early spacerock chaos and madness through to the early 80's excursions into electronic music, succesfully fusing their own particular brand of hard rocking space music with extensive use of keyboards and electronic sounds. It's quite a magnificent journey, really. Hawkwind might seem as the salt of the Earth but they are truly larger than life and absorbed every part of the majesty of pomp into their repertoire. Drawing alot of inspiration from author Michael Moorcock and staging the epic live concerts around "The chronicle of the black sword" they carved out a space of their own. Quite brilliant and breathtaking.

1986 saw them gaining a spot at the Reading Festival and, man, did they put on a show. It's true that the repertoire is played in a severely loud hardrock fashion, a bit different than usual. But then again, they always maintained the hard edges in both studio and live settings, so I wouldn't mind too much about the alledged "heavy metal" branding the album sometimes seems to be associated with. What you get is high energy Hawkwind playing stuff going back to "Warrior on the edge of time" and all the way up to their, by then, current album "Chronicle of the black sword". The energy level of the performance does not eradicate the subtleties that in effect are the soul of Hawkwind. Au contraire. There are enough of the wonderful, spacey keyboards to go around and in "Dream worker", which is my personal favorite on the album, the spacey effects makes me shiver and wish I'd been there. Yes, Lemmy does appear on "Silver machine" and while that is a treat in itself and the result is a fun and loving rendition of the track it's the rest of the album that really kicks up a storm.

There's so much ambiance and enthusiasm on this recording that I find it hard to not put this live album in my personal top10. I know it's kind of difficult to track down these days but if you do get the chance I'd advise you to get hold of a copy. I had the unexpected fortune to land my very own copy at a flea market for a measly £1. That is a bargain, I know.

Simply put, a great live album and a great example of a band blowing it all off the stage. Great album.

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 New York City 3/4/93 by DREAM THEATER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.57 | 42 ratings

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New York City 3/4/93
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars 'New York City 03/04/93', released in 2007, is the fifth album in the live series of Dream Theater's official bootlegs. With only two albums under their belts, this is an interesting look at the band in their early days, especially as there are some who consider the Kevin Moore years their best.

Featuring most of the songs from their first two releases, 'When Dream and Day Unite' and one of my all-time favourite albums, 'Images and Words', the set list is incredibly strong, despite the limited material they had on hand. The performances are (mostly) impeccable (hey, it's Dream Theater!), and the sound quality is really good, considering this is a 'bootleg' lifted directly from the soundboard. The band all sound clear, and the audience is audible enough without sounding fake.

With the likes of 'Pull Me Under', 'Metropolis', 'Take the Time', 'A Fortune in Lies', 'Learning to Live' and 'The Killing Hand', it's evident that even after only two albums, Dream Theater had a wealth of solid material to choose. Also included is a work-in-progress of 'A Change of Seasons', the 23-minute epic that'd end up getting its own EP release. It's for this alone that most die-hard fans will be interested in hearing this album, especially as the version played here is quite different from the finished product.

However, since I've always preferred studio albums to live ones, I can only look at what I get out of this release, and in that case, it's the things that I've learned:

1. Even Dream Theater make mistakes! (Yep, it's true, there're quite a few bum notes in there!!!)

2. Even in his younger days, vocalist James LaBrie struggled replicating all the recorded vocals live. Bless 'im for trying, though.

3. Dream Theater's early shows had intermissions. Weird.

Strange things to take out of this, I know, but there we go. 'New York City 03/04/93' is a nice little nugget of joy for fans of Dream Theater, but as far as live albums go, it'll take a lot to improve upon 'Live at Budokan', 'Score' or 'Live Scenes from New York'.

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 III: Facultades del Alma by AUREA HYBRIDE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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III: Facultades del Alma
Aurea Hybride Post Rock/Math rock

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Review originally posted at www.therocktologist.com

For those who are not familiar with Aurea Hybride, let me tell you they are a talented Mexican band that plays something close to post-rock / metal and progressive rock. They play instrumental music that always has something to say. I discovered some years ago with their debut EP in which I was attracted by that aggressive sound that was close to metal but without being metal at all. I think their first two releases have so much in common, however, this third release entitled III. Facultades del alma, offers a much softer sound, less aggressive but at the same time powerful, bringing a lot of emotions that any mind in need of freedom could grab.

The band's concept goes deeper than the music. Their name "Aurea Hybride" tells us that they are also interested in the Golden Ratio (Proporción Áurea, in Spanish) and also in the Fibonacci Sequence, so they take inspiration from those numbers and math to create music. This new album is a consequence of that passion, an album that has 9 songs divided in 3 parts, each part equals to one Soul's Faculty (the album name means Soul's Faculties), giving us a running time of 33 minutes, their shortest album so far.

I am happy to be here now writing about it since they had to postpone this release for some months due to some issues, but fortunately it finally saw the light and they must be proud of it.

It opens with "Memoria", a short introductory track has cool atmospheres led by keyboards. It leads to "Ocaso Lunar", a beautiful song in which strings appear as main actors, wonderfully complemented by drums and those relaxing but deep atmospheric synths. The post-rock feeling appears here for the first time, bringing a sense of hope and a bright future. After two minutes the mood becomes a bit heavier, using elements of math rock, djent and metal, letting us know of course, their skills as composers and performers. This first part finishes with "Luciérnaga fugaz", in which synths plays a more important role. At first the musical feeling has again that math rock element, but later it calms down a little bit offering passages with an evident post-rock vibe. A funky guitar appears later, so in moments even a jazzy tune can be appreciate and contrasted by a metal.-like drumkit. I like this song a lot because in 5 minutes they managed to produce countless sounds and atmospheres based on several musical genres.

The second faculty opens with "Entendimiento", which again delivers that sense of hope and a bright future (at least that's my interpretation). The djently strings are noticed and wonderfully contrasted by the atmospheric sounds produced by synths. "Nube de cometas" if I'm not mistaken, was the first single of this album, a song the band themselves shared to me months previous from the album's release, and a song that they could take as an anthem, because it is wonderful, very well composed and produced, so one could say that it sums up what the current Aurea Hybride lineup shares: passionate post-rock with some heavier hints that might hit you with introspective powers, but that will make you look forward to reach your goals. Yeah, this is the power of music. "Signos fractales" is another cool track in which they combine post rock with post metal, some passages of this song might remind you to the "old" Aurea Hybride sound. Here the bass lines are remarkable, and I am really delighted about the synths' work because they produce the most suitable atmospheres to any of its passages. Great!

The last part is also the shortest and probably my least favorite. It starts with "Voluntad", which is an odd 1-minute track that sounds like an old recording. It leads to "Metamorfosis" which I believe is the rockiest of them all. It has again a combination of some metal, djent and post rock elements that generate both soft and heavy passages. I must say that I don't like how it finishes, because it all of a sudden vanishes and disappears, so a couple of seconds later we are already listening to "3 x III = 3" which is another short track but this time with a different feeling, because the jazz resemblance is more evident here. It passes fast and then the album finishes.

I would like to invite you to discover Aurea Hybride's music, I bet you will be delighted. Overall, this is a wonderful album with two super-solid parts (I & II) and one just nice (III), of course this is a personal opinion.

Enjoy it!

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 Elementario by AUREA HYBRIDE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Elementario
Aurea Hybride Post Rock/Math rock

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars Review originally posted at www.therocktologist.com

It is wonderful to discover every year new bands from your country, but it is better to know that those bands are actually great bands, with talented musicians who are willing to create music of high quality. Aurea Hybride is a young project from Zacatecas, Mexico, which was introduced to me a month ago, and whose music I have really enjoyed ever since. They surely have a bright future. Now, I hope we, the listeners, reviewers, producers, help them to spread the word and make them noticed, because their music is worth it.

Their debut album is entitled 'Elementario' and was self-released as a digital album (I hope they get the support to release it as CD, I would love to own one), it comprises five songs that make a total time of 39 minutes, so as you can imagine, you will not really find short tracks here. Their music is a blend of progressive rock, with post-rock and metal (post-metal, maybe), so if you feel attracted to those genres, then I recommend you to listen to it.

'Minimal Signo' is the song that opens the album. It starts with mellow guitar with an obvious post-rock sound, but half a minute later the metal side of Aurea Hybride appears with other guitars, and makes a wonderful contrast between calm and anger. Just before the second minute, the calm side vanishes and the metal-like sound prevails. Here the game of the guitars is pretty cool, each and every of the guitars produce a different sound, and a different emotion. After three minutes a new structure is being built with a softer mood, but only for some seconds, because the heavier stuff later returns. So this is an example of what some would call post-metal.

'Drama & Caos' is the longest track, with ten minutes of good music. It opens with a soft and dreamy sound which is slowly progressing, the guitars do their work, while drums create wonderful rhythms, and bass put also some good lines and notes. The charm of the beginning is once again contrasted by the energy of the metal-oriented guitars, which little by little enter to the track until they turn it into a post-metal song again. There are some good guitar riffs here and there, which are not that pompous, but made and placed. This is a complex and challenging track, though it is not my favorite.

'Biog'nesis de un sue'o' follows practically the same line as the previous tracks, I mean, it starts with a dreamy and post-rockish sound, morphed a minute later into a post-metal one. And it is this heavier side which actually continues and sentences the music's destiny at least for the first four minutes. There is like an interlude in which a spacey synth appears making a kind of dreamy and futuristic atmosphere. Later the song uses some electronic samples, the atmosphere continues but now with an addictive guitar. Later there is a nice bass sound, and even acoustic guitar that adds a different nuance. Pretty good track!

'M'quinas h'bridas' is probably the song I enjoy the least, mostly due to its first part, which is the heaviest of the album. The first minutes became a bit boring to me due to its repetitiveness, but later when the softer sound enters it becomes more interesting (obviously, this is mere subjectivity). The introduction of the piano after four minutes gives it a very different face, and even a jazzy touch; this part is by far the best of the track, and one of the finest of the whole album.

And the album finishes with 'Balance elemental' which shows repetitive and heavy guitars, lead and rhythm, with a cool bass and great drums. The difference from the previous tracks is that here I did not feel bored, but interested in the other hand. The structure is very well-thought, with several changes and a diversity of elements and figures in the guitar. The last two minutes are softer, with a dramatic, yet enchanting sound.

Enjoy it!

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 Marrow Of The Spirit by AGALLOCH album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.93 | 203 ratings

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Marrow Of The Spirit
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars AGALLOCH's first three albums had a lot of crossover appeal that allowed those who usually don't dabble in extreme metal to find something to latch onto via catchy folk laden melodies, post-rock compositional constructs and healthy doses of interesting electronic segments with an overall brilliant mix of all the elements simmering into a unique product. Add to that the diverse lyrical delivery that showcases John Haughm divvying his vocal dynamics into clean, shrieked and whispered enunciations that allowed a wider spectrum of emotional connection to be conveyed. On "Ashes Against The Grain," the band ratcheted up the metal aspects a bit to add more Isis inspired post-metal riffs to ride the waves of the atmospheric tides of the Godspeed You! Black Emperor inspired post-rock sensibilities. However the band still complained that despite all efforts, the album was still over-produced and not what they had hoped for.

Add to that the fact that "The White EP" which immediately precedes their fourth full-length album MARROW OF THE SPIRIT was almost entirely acoustic folk-based and it's no wonder that the band was wanting to up their metal creds a few notches which is exactly what they achieved (for the most part) on this installment of six tracks teased out into an hour and six minutes of full AGALLOCH glory. There were also many other changes afoot. Not only did they end their contract with The End Records and sign with Profound Lore due to personality clashes but ex-Ludicra drummer Aesoop Dekker was brought into the scene to replace Chris Greene. Having his history as a black metal drummer provided the necessary percussive backbone that allowed AGALLOCH to soar above and behind their folk metal roots and implement some extra rambunctious gusto throughout MARROW OF THE SPIRIT. However, make no mistake about it. Despite the fortified black metal aspects, this is an AGALLOCH album through and though and the metal is only one ingredient in a varied recipe.

As the opening track "And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness" slowly creeps in with a sole cello (provided by Jackie Perez Gratz of Gracyeon) in the company of a babbling brook and chirping birds, it seems as if AGALLOCH had employed the talents of Yo- Yo Ma to do his best interpretation of the soundtrack to "Schindler's List," however after nearly four minutes of Pagan ritualistic remorse music, "Into The Painted Grey" blasts onto the scene with some of the most intense and bombastic black metal of AGALLOCH's entire career as it strikes with a blitzkrieg vengeance in the vain of Krallice or Weakling but soon enough reverts to the familiar past glories of melodic dual guitars painting an atmospheric folk inspired melody accompanied by tribal drumming. The track continues to parade through a variety of styles that fit the AGALLOCH brand name quite well, namely shrieked lyrics under the soaring post-rock textures which only happen to implement a higher octane of distortion and adrenalized tempo marches with the usual unexpected changes and cool production techniques.

All is good as the album begins with the usual high level AGALLOCH quality shining through but the band hits their first major hiccough with "The Water's Monolith." Nothing bad about the track per se but despite a really strong launching into a more aggressive musical scene, this track seems to have gotten cold feet and sounds more like an unreleased leftover from "The Mantle" as it engages a familiar acoustic folk guitar strumming with atmospheric guitar sweeps to augment the emotional depth. Likewise it engages in the same call and response of clean and shrieked vocals with the latter finding the heavy distorted grooves and familiar melodic developments. The distorted guitars attempt to disguise this malapropos piece that evokes a statue of a stag in a city park more than a darkened bleak landscape depicted on a brilliant relief surface of the album cover. A musical faux pas? Not for mere mortals, but for AGALLOCH, a major no no in their impeccable streak of perfectly designed albums.

The album regains its character with one of my favorite tracks of the band's career. "Black Lake Nidstang' is a whopping seventeen and a half minute composition of utter brilliance. It begins with a dramatic timpani and atmospheric ratcheting up effect that evokes a true Pagan ritual is about to take place, much like "The White EP," but with more emphasis on the metal distortion. Add to that the Pink Floyd type echo guitars as heard on "The Wall" and brilliant transitions between segments and all is forgiven for the third track's seemingly out of place role. This track goes through many transitions but the most bizarre comes around the eight minute mark where the track turns into a scary and depressive black / doom metal dirge where Haughm's vocals seem on the verge of breakdown as the doom metal tempos evoke some of the most gut-wrenching performances of his career. The track cedes into a claustrophobic yet hypnotic trance inducing electronica sequence that allows a creepy Moog to allow a vibraphone and glockenspiel to ratchet up the next chapter which emerges as an echoed guitar sequence that evolves into a black metal finale, well more like a sludge metal finale with blackened overtones. Sludge riffs, sludge percussion, black metal shrieks. Outstanding track!

"Ghosts Of The Midwinter Fires" continues with more of the echoey Pink Floyd inspired guitars but adds some metal guitar grunge accompaniment and the expected atmospheric mastery. As a near ten minute track, the first third is a build of to the second third where it ratchets up the black metal fury which despite a similar sound that started the album had been neglected for the most part up to this point. While employing the sickest guitar antics providing the necessary atmospheric compositional flare, the entire track retains a soaring melodic majesty that is augmented by an ambient backdrop. The closing ten and a half minute "To Drown" takes MARROW OF THE SPIRIT full circle and reverts back to the Pagan folk ritualistic aspects with a cello reprise, sound samples of nature and also includes unique tones and timbres from petrified bones and glass and metal sheet percussion that create a majestic dark ambient finale replete with whispered poetry, soaring atmospheric guitar and a bleak depressive epic and atmospheric overall feel. While the piano parts are abundant on MARROW OF THE SPIRIT, they significantly contribute to this last track that for the most part sounds like a classical piece that happens to employ some noise, metal and dark ritualistic elements.

AGALLOCH successfully added new layers of complexity to each of their albums. By the time you get to the end of MARROW OF THE SPIRIT you are wondering if you have stumbled into a Holst's "The Planets" recital that has taken on a Wagner-ian bombast as it slowly staggers out. While not as perfectly implemented as "The Mantle" or "Ashes Against The Grain," MARROW OF THE SPIRIT is an amazingly brilliant slice of genre bending fusion that keeps AGALLOCH at the top of their game. While the black metal aspects have been turned up a few notches and might scare aware the crossover crowd only swayed by the abundant folk, this album is more non-metal than metal. The atmospheric prowess is the dominant force that just happens to implement more bombastic metal to add even more dynamic forms of contrast. The album was produced by Steven Wray Lobdell who found the perfect balance between the myriad elements that could easily derail into a cacophonous mess but each strand of sound stands proud as it takes its turn in the great folk/rock symphony that constitutes MARROW OF THE SPIRIT. Did AGALLOCH gain their metal creds? Well, sort of. AGALLOCH was never a pure metal band. This Portland, Oregon bunch is much, much more and on this one they take their game to a staggering new level. Only the third track stands out as lackluster.

4.5 but rounded down

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 False Memory Archive by OAK album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.05 | 4 ratings

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False Memory Archive
Oak Crossover Prog

Review by Antonis Kalamoutsos

4 stars I was recently told a story in which a teacher told his student: ''Don't let the potential of Great destroy what it's already Good''. Naturally, an encouragement like this seems to be a bit discrepant in our beautiful capitalistic world, where creators of any sort have to be competitive and constantly prove their excellence. The teacher obviously meant that pursuing excellence may distract a creator from the simpler forms of creating/producing that should rule his/her everyday life and I can do nothing more than agree, adding to this that many creators in the world of music got lost into some extravagant ambition. We can agree that there are serious risks if a band decides to spend a lot of time in creating something unique. This is a risk that Oak from Norway took and thankfully succeeded.

According to the press release, they started as a folk/rock duo and eventually evolved into a progressive pop/rock band, releasing the debut Lighthouse in 2013. It was right then upon this creative curve that, instead of taking an advantage of the momentum, they decided to take their time to work and to grow. It was probably the only way to make their own personal voice rise above the noisy polyphony of their influences which, in their own words, range from classical and electronica to traditional prog or heavy music. Carefully listening to False Memory Archive indeed one can sense the multifaceted nature of their inspiring origins and feel relieved that their growing procedure and hard work was fruitful. Filtering their influences has been accomplished in an astonishing manner and their personal voice can be heard loud and clear.

To put things into place, the material included in False Memory Archive is that of a great band. To be more precise, most of the regarded as ''big'' bands within the 2018 prog rock cosmos, do not have such good music to offer. It's as simple as that. Being consistent, imaginative and open minded, this David manages to raise his short height and cast an enormous shadow. Moving into a melodic and lyrical rock musical territory ' dominated by their countrymates Gazpacho in recent years -, the artistic quality of False Memory Archive instantly puts Oak in a very prominent place among their context. Let me rephrase: it has been a marvelous year for prog rock and Oak deliver one of the finest albums of the genre. As simple as that.

Oak's style is not necessarily innovative and its progressiveness lies mostly in the atmospheres and the intellectuality of their compositions. Still, it is the exact same compositions that consist of such melodic and arranging richness that can actually be experienced as a flood of colours and emotions. False Memory Archive includes a very wide range of songwriting, from semi-ballads and verse/chorus traditional type of songs to freer, longer 8 to 11 minutes compositions. Both types are equally successful, contributing to the album's very natural flow and the remarkable sequence of lighter and darker parts. Also, you won't find any fillers here, maybe with the slight exception of Transparent Eyes that didn't particularly trip me. Having referred to the dark element, I have to point out the incredible work that has been done to the album's low frequencies in every instrument, frequencies that build a concrete and modern ground for the melodic lines to stand upon. In the above sentence, False Memory Archive 's greatest advantages are being encoded: vocals and production.

Vocals. Simen Johannensen can be proud to own one of those instantly recognizable voices with the very unique timbre, voices that become increasingly rare to find. The warmth and intimacy of his voice is the Trojan horse of Oak's music and his modest performance doesn't disguise the tone quality of a voice fully capable of creeping into one's mind. My personal free associations connect him with the recent legacy of Leprous and of his other countrymen Madrugada, precisely in the middle of their tonal pitch.

Production. Many artists treat studio as an unavoidable obligation but Oak instead have worked their heads off exploring any sonic resources at their disposal, in order to achieve an exquisite and technocratic result. All mixing/processing tools and the perfect use of effects in every instrument at all times make the sound experience a co-star of the album and the music sounding thicker, unpredictable and adventurous. An ideal album to be experienced through good quality headphones so one can dive into its tiny sound details.

We all know very well that music industry is not necessarily fair and no one knows how Oak will develop. What I know though is that the often mentioned ''Home'' in their lyrics, the Home they seek can be easily found in the hearts of their listeners. I know also that this 'Polaroid that's telling a lie about endless summer' may describe many things but not False Memory Archive. For this album tells a small, triumphant truth of a real memory. As simple as that.

Originally written for againstthesilence.com

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 Et Ex by GÖSTA BERLINGS SAGA album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.04 | 4 ratings

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Et Ex
Gösta Berlings Saga Eclectic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Metal / Heavy / RPI / Symph Prog Team

4 stars One thing is sure with this band is that every album is very different from the others, maybe this has to do with the fact that each musician comes from different backgrounds, but one thing is common they create music for fun and that has always been the case from their first to this new album. Someone came in the studio with a riff and the band plays around it long enough until they are satisfied with the result. This time most of the ideas came from the keyboard player David Lundberg which result in a spacey electronica style of an album. The producer decided to bring more new synthesizer sounds apart from the usual mellotron sound. The funny thing is that sometimes it sounds like synth pop music, see the song "Over and Out". The music has that little dark mood, but it's never dull. They enjoy experiment with sounds and extend the melody in a trippy atmosphere. It's not your static electronic music, the melody is there and if the guitar is more in the background in this album the synthesizers parts are so impressive that you won't miss the guitar. You will be seduced by the catchy melody of the song "Over and Out". "Capercaillie Lammergeyer Cassowary & Repeat" show some Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze influence. which is spread out through the album." The Shortcomings Of Efficiency" is the only song that reminds me of the first influence of the band with more guitar in the Anekdoten style. The album ends with another fine piece "Fundament".

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 Behaviour by SAGA album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.03 | 124 ratings

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Behaviour
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars After the successes of 'Worlds Apart' and 'Heads or Tails', Saga got a taste of fame and Michael Sadler wanted more popularity. 'Behaviour' is their 6th album released in 1985, and a big departure from the Progressive Rock sound they had before this album. This was their major move to the Pop/Rock sound, and because of the popularity of their single from this album, 'What Do I Know', this album sold quite well. But it would be the last one that would sell well in the US and most other countries. The new Pop sound turned their old fans against them and their new fans would not stay faithful. But by the time Saga realized that they couldn't rely on the Power Pop fan base to support them, the damage had already been done as Steve Negus (Drummer) and Jim Gilmour (Keyboardist) had been told there was no place for them on the band anymore, mainly because of their resistance to take the band in the Pop direction.

The music still has Sadler's distinctive vocals, but it obviously has a more pop oriented feel, with a lot more typical sounding keyboards and guitars. The sound is an obvious 80's rock sound, but not in a new wave sense as a heavy rock/pop sense. Because of this shift, the music is pretty typical sounding with not a lot of the excitement and ingenuity of their previous progressive rock sound. Now, when you listen to it, it sounds quite dated and can be easily traced to the 80's Power Pop that was also followed by Jefferson Starship, Asia, Alan Parsons and so many others. You keep thinking that they will break out into one of their awesome instrumental breaks or slip into a tricky meter or two, but it never happens.

Most of the songs are quite upbeat, but quite typical of the sound of the day. There are a few ballads that help break away from the same-ness of the sound, namely 'You and the Night' and portions of '(Goodbye) Once Upon a Time', but they are also quite standard ballads that don't really save the album at all. It is also hard to find any real emotion anywhere in this album.

Saga would eventually return to the Progressive Rock sound from time to time, but it hasn't been easy for them to get back their original fan base. They could never chart again except for in Germany and Switzerland, but even there the never regained their popularity. But they still press on, and there is something to be said about that. But as for this album, it's best to stay away from it unless you love the power pop of the 80s.

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 Timanfaya by HEALING ROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.59 | 22 ratings

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Timanfaya
The Healing Road Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "German gem"

This is a musical project by the German keyboardplayer/drummer Hans Peter Hess who has invited several musicians on the five albums he has released between 2006 and 2014. The name is derived from Rush drummer Neil Peart his book "Ghost Rider - Travels on The Healing Road", it is Hans Peter his favourite one. This review is about his second effort entitled Timanfaya (2009).

On his instrumental second album Timanfaya (running time 50 minutes) we can enjoy nine varied and very tastefully arranged compositions. The atmospheres range from spacey, electronic oriented and mellow with sensitive electric guitar or Grand piano to bombastic with powerful Hammond organ and spectacular synthesizer flights. Or propulsive rhythms with fiery guitar and dynamic drums. I cannot trace a weak song but I would like to mention my highlights.

An exciting atmosphere with a fluent rhythm, sensational keyboard work and strong interplay between guitar and keyboards in the great opener Devil's Garden and the alternating Crashing Waves.

The distinctive sound of sultry sounding Indian tablas and delicate Fender Rhodes electric piano, along subtle guitarplay in the strongly build-up Crater Camels.

Wonderful keyboards (from a swinging piano to a slow synthesizer solo) and varied guitarwork (from a Floydian solo to biting wah-wah) in the captivating Observe And Learn.

And lots of dynamics, keyboard pyrotechnics and exciting shifting moods in the long Fire Mountains, this is Prog Heaven!

I am not familiar with the other albums, but listening to this CD I conclude that The Healing Road is e very interesting German musical project to discover!

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 Beacon Of Light by ADVENTURE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.36 | 28 ratings

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Beacon Of Light
Adventure Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars 'Dynamic vintage keyboard layered Norwegian Heavy Prog'

Here's a band from Norway, founded in the early Nineties, in 2000 Adventure released their eponymous debut album, then it took nine years to produce this successor entitled Beacon Of Light (2009). And we had to wait another five years for their third album entitled Caught In The Web. This review is about their second album Beacon Of Light.

The 13 compositions on Beacon Of Light are layered with the sound of vintage keyboards: the Hammond organ, Mellotron violin ' and choir section and especially the Minimoog synthesizer. The atmospheres are often heavy and bombastic, with hints of Heavy Prog bands like Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow and Dutch pride Ayreon. Due to the raw, slightly theatrical male vocals and frequent Minimoog flights also early Rick Wakeman solo comes to my mind.

For me the interesting element in Adventure their music is the contrast between the omni-present Heavy Prog sound (loaded with wah-wah guitar, sumptuous Hammond organ and fat Minimoog flights), the mellow atmospheres (featuring acoustic - and classical guitar, flute, Grand piano and cello) and the slow rhythms with wonderful, very sensitive electric guitar work.

My highlight is the long, varied and compelling title track (Part 2). From the intro with flute and soaring keyboards to a bombastic keyboard sound with fat Minimoog runs and mindblowing Hammond (evoking Jon Lord), majestic choir- Mellotron drops. And in the end a slow rhythm with fiery wah wah guitar and again bombastic keyboards, goose bumps!

In general this Norwegian formation succeeds to generate a lot of excitement with their tasteful arranged compositions, embellished with glorious sounding vintage keyboards and exciting wah-wah drenched guitar play. Especially recommended to Heavy Prog fans.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 Harmonium En Tournée by HARMONIUM album cover Live, 1980
4.22 | 84 ratings

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Harmonium En Tournée
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by Glimpse

4 stars En Tournée has developed a bit of a reputation with it being the only known testament of the legendary Quebec band Harmonium's live prowess. The album itself has a rather odd history, in that it was originally released but quickly withdrawn due to it not being approved by the band. It only recently saw the light of day again in 2002, as a rather reluctant response to the (at the time) recent emergence of bootlegged versions on CD. Even still it's not the easiest album to get a hold of, especially due to it not being available digitally.

The audio quality in this release is absolutely fantastic, and I wouldn't expect any less from a show professionally recorded by Radio-Canada. The show itself only covered the band's 3rd album, L'Heptade an album which I have been quite into at the time of writing this.

Its always interesting to see a live version of an album you've become so familiar with, as you never quite know what to expect. En Tournée provides a rather unique take on L'Heptade, while not as polished as the album itself, the variation presented in the performance is enough to keep anyone familiar with the source material interested. Most songs are faithful to the original recording with some slight variation. For example, the track Le Premier Ciel features a good deal of saxophone work not heard on the album version.

I would have wished that it had covered material from all three of their albums rather than just L'Heptade, but I should be grateful there is even as fantastic a live recording as this available at all. I'm feeling a strong four stars, maybe 4 1/2, it's pretty darn close to perfect and should definitely be owned by anyone who considers them-self a fan of Harmonium's work.

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 Begynnelser by MOTORPSYCHO album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.76 | 10 ratings

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Begynnelser
Motorpsycho Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Motorpsycho has definitely tried their hands at several different genres throughout their time as a band, and each time, especially with their later discography, you are not sure what to expect. This album, however, is probably the furthest from their original sound that they have ever traveled. The music on this album is all based on music from a play, which Motorpsycho played live on every showing. The play itself is based on the life of the main character, except it is all done backwards, from death to life, pretty much all viewed through memories of the character. The album title, 'Begynneleser' means 'Beginnings' in English. The music on the album is only based on the music from the play since the actual music can vary quite a bit from what you hear on the album, but it is similar. The music is also all instrumental. Most of the tracks are short, but a few of them venture beyond the 6 minute mark.

It starts off with a nice acoustic lead guitar, but soon changes to a raspy, dissonant guitar on top of it and alternates between laid back and contrasts with that strange raspiness. This track is followed up with 'Terje's Sang' a flute or some other kind of reed instrument played over a nice picked/strummed acoustic guitar. There are parts where the reeds are layered for a nice harmonic effect. 'Jaques Tati' has more of a folkish Jewish vibe with both traditional and strange sounds. This has a nice rhythm to it, but the rhythm is not being carried by percussive instruments, but some kind of plucked bass and guitar. 'Trylleball' uses vibraphone and what sounds like another reed instrument, oboe or clarinet maybe with some psychedelic flavor added in the vibes which have taken on a reverb effect.

Ever ones to surprise, Motorpsycho ventures next into a reggae vibe with mellotron and other processed instrument sounds. Sounds get bent giving this a strange atmosphere that grows a little dissonant and unsettling. 'Taterhjulets Gnaur' utilizes the low reeds again against an electronically reproduced and repetitive riff while bent sounds from the mellotron play along. This one is mostly repetitive with improvised instruments on top of it, and even if it's only three and a half minutes, it gets old fast. 'Englevinger' sounds like an old orchestrated soundtrack from an 1950s movie that eventually gets put through an echo chamber changing it to a scary movie. It's short at just over a minute.

The next 2 tracks break the 4 minute mark at last. Up to this point, the album is nice, but somewhat disjointed which could have been helped with better development. 'Sirkelpust' has a simple motif that sounds like passing time with a strange operatic tenor voice above it all, but I believe this is an electronically produced voice from the choppy sound of it. It's kind of strange, not in a good way. After a while, loud synthesizer chords start playing. As it gets more intense, it gets better. This is one of those tracks that's hard to know what to think about it without seeing the visuals that would go along with the enactment of the play. Next is 'Satan'. I don't know if it's the Satan of religious folklore, or an untranslated word meaning something else, but it sounds like it could mean the former Satan, as the music is discordant and spooky with processed organ and other weird sounds. This is good for Halloween music, but is interesting enough to be something other than just a novelty track.

Finally, a track over 7 minutes. 'Over Nyhavna' is an atmospheric track with crashing cymbals and other repeating percussive noises. Soon, a drone fades in and out alternatively. A maladjusted melloton plays just at the edge of hearing from out of the drone and increases in volume. Suddenly, we have trekked into avant-garde style music with this one. As it increases in volume over time, it gets more unsettling. Personally, I like this one and must say that things are more interesting when the tracks have more room to breathe. This sounds like some of 'Ulver's' more avant-garde music.

Next we get some atmospheric mellotron with a nice warbling electronic effect. Again, there is the feeling of suspense, but in a more mysterious and ambient style than the last track. You again get that 'Ulver' soundtrack vibe. This is followed by a longer track 'Gutan I Skogen'. This one starts out ambient with some keyboard chords that sound far off in the distance, and other electronically produced sounds surround that. You get a sort of Avant-folk feel with this as it gives you a Celtic or Icelandic vibe. Other layered instruments and sound come in, and things build in volume slowly. Very nice atmosphere and imagery with this one. This all wraps up with a very quick reprise of 'Terje's Sang'

This is definitely not the 'Motorpsycho' that you would expect in any way, shape or form. The album starts out interestingly enough, but with several short tracks in a row, it tends to sag in the middle. You will notice, however, that things get stranger as the tracks continue. When you finally reach 'Sirkelpust', and the tracks start to go over the 4 minute mark, things really get more interesting, and the tracks venture from straightforward music to more avant-prog territory. Do not expect to hear any Stoner music on this album, and there is not traditional percussion to be found on this album either. It is all instrumental. I would imagine that the music is even more interesting with the play going on in front of you and it probably makes more sense too. But I can say for sure, that the 2nd half of the album shines and is quite impressive as it reaches the more adventurous and experimental tracks of the 2nd half. Regardless of the weakness of the first half after the first few tracks, this is still overall a great album, and I have no problem giving it a 4 star rating. But remember to keep your mind open because this is not what you would expect even after the band did start venturing into more Progressive music.

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 Chronomonaut by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.29 | 16 ratings

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Chronomonaut
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by OldSchoolProg

4 stars Glass Hammer releases another solid epic with Chronomonaut. Much more melodic and lyrical, the progressive rock elements may remain a bit muted, but the song writing and orchestration is excellent. Added instrumentation, winds and strings, add another layer to their repertoire. Track 4 "The Past is the Past" stands out as a longer more progressive work that I keep going back to. Enjoy the variety of vocals and guest artists, Matthew Parmenter (vocals) and Chris Herin from Discipline is a pleasant surprise. Glass Hammer led Fred Schendel and Steve Babb continue to craft some great stories with music, excellent tone painting, yet they continue to evolve and change, not settling for old formulas. I may be partial to the Cor Cordium and Perilous era, but sometimes you don't need something that heavy musically, the melodic elements are very strong with this release. Buy it, dissect it, enjoy it!

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 Japan Live '94 by SAVATAGE album cover Live, 1995
3.59 | 21 ratings

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Japan Live '94
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars This album is a perfect example of why I've always preferred studio albums to live ones. Savatage are without a doubt one of my all-time favourite bands, but 'Japan Live '94' just doesn't do their music justice.

Recorded while touring for their 1994 album, 'Handful of Rain', this was a short-lived line-up of the band which was reeling from the tragic death of original guitarist Criss Oliva. With Zak Stevens totally owning it on vocals, and guitar master Alex Skolnick of Testament fame stepping in on guitars, the band members are on top form, and the performances from everyone are solid throughout.

The production is pretty good, and everyone can be heard clearly, however, there're two things about this album that bug me. Firstly, I just feel that the album versions sound a lot bigger, grandiose and epic, especially as the studio can allow for multiple layers and dubs, whereas live, they all sound a bit flat. Secondly... ah... the audience... Like so many similar live releases, the audience at times just sound piped in. It's when Stevens is talking and the crowd are constantly screaming and yelling, I know metal fans can be a rabid bunch, but at times it just sounds a bit fake (and if it isn't, well... there's always reason one to fall back on).

Coming at a time just as the band were starting to become more progressive, theatrical and bombastic with their music, 'Japan Live '94', (sometimes also known as 'Live in Japan') does have a pretty decent set list. With the likes of 'Chance', 'Edge of Thorns', 'Gutter Ballet', 'Taunting Cobras', 'Jesus Saves', 'Watching You Fall' and 'Sirens', there's plenty of good material here, making this is a decent enough album, but as a whole, I think I'll probably ignore it and just listen to the bands studio output instead.

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 Ritual by SHAMAN album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.17 | 91 ratings

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Ritual
Shaman Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars Formed by former Angra frontman Andre Matos, Shaman is another one of those typical power/progressive metal bands that are pretty unknown and only have small, cult followings to go by. I'd seen 'Ritual', their 2002 debut album, pop up on a number of websites such as Amazon and eBay, where it was being compared to prog metal pioneers Dream Theater, and while I was never under any illusion that they were as good or prominent, it just seemed like they were a bit of a cult band that had something special to offer.

Unfortunately they're not really anything out of the ordinary when it comes to this kind of music.

That's not to say they're bad, in fact, 'Ritual' took quite a few listens to get used to, but it's actually a pretty decent album. It's not overly 'progressive', but is definitely a typical power metal record with fast, upbeat songs (with an almost 'happy vibe'), incredible musicianship, and in fairness, Matos vocals are damn impressive too. The tracks are all well produced, and with solid songwriting that takes influences from Brazilian music, it's an interesting enough debut, if not generic, but still pretty good none-the-less.

Tracks like 'For Tomorrow', 'Distant Thunder', 'Time Will Come', 'Here I Am' and the title track are all pretty good songs that are definitely worth a listen if you're into this kind of thing. While most of them employ the usual traits of the genre, there are a few moments that do make Shaman stand out. 'For Tomorrow' has a very nice, tribal sound, with some interesting vocals and guitar work, while 'Time Will Come' has some very tasty, speed metal-inspired riffs.

Shaman aren't anything particularly unique or innovative, and while it took a fair amount of time to get into, I'm glad I stuck it out, because 'Ritual' is a pretty solid debut that shows a band that certainly has potential to improve.

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 Archangels In Black by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.47 | 54 ratings

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Archangels In Black
Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Want to hear how extreme metal can be mixed with symphonic metal and headbang to the sophisticated classically influenced metal? If yes, then this is the album for you! If not, then just sit down and enjoy in a calm manner ;). Archangels in Black is a departure from the first two highly praised classical music inspired works. Darkness has always been present in the Adagio's music. The level of ambitions has sunk since 2003's masterpiece and the band has stepped down from the progressive symphonic metal's top. The music still remains a blend of ingredients, but classical music has been partly replaced by brutal death/black metal growls and you will notice short thrash metal moments too. Melodies are as good as before and the vocalist with the guitar players are dominant guests here. Keyboard is used to round up the atmosphere but not as one of the main elements. The most experimental track and kind of return to the previous form is only the lengthiest and obscurely named "Codex Oscura" ;).

Still recommended to most symphonic metal fans who do not mind occassional brutal moments.

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 Underworld by ADAGIO album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.04 | 127 ratings

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Underworld
Adagio Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars Adagio's Underworld is a very tasty and crunchy blend of progressive and power metal underlined with strong influences from classical music. Although it does not bring anything new on the table what hasn't been invented yet, the design and execution is far beyond anything average in this symphony/progressive metal echelon.

The voice fits the pompeous and epic nature well. Guitars sound aggressive enough just to bend down in classical suites and even switch to acoustic guitars in a few moments. Comparing to some other progressive symphonic metal bands such as Symphony X, keyboards play a more dominant role and playing chops are at the same level as guitar shredding by Stephan Forte. The first album featuring a different keyboards already showed that all band members should be taken seriously. Various keyboards including piano, synths, and organs can be found here. Classical instrumentation is delicate and allows to breath out from heavier moments. The compositions are complex, versatile and verse from easily accessible to very pompous and complex arrangements. Yes, the band can be compared to Symphony X and there are many things in common but Adagio is more symphonic and has more balanced sound. With regards to vocals, I still prefer the rough voice of Symphony X.

This album can hold well on its own and is rightfully one of the best and most ambitious work in progressive symphonic metal.

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 March Of Progress by THRESHOLD album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 417 ratings

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March Of Progress
Threshold Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars A more significant change since last like albums. The returning vocalist Damian Wilson proves to be still in a great shape and motivation. The first track is a strong and powerful opener as the band wanted to say: we're here and will be as if nothing has happened. The uncompromising guitar riffing and solos set high expectations on this album from the beginning. "Return of the thought police" is a relief from heavy sound at least in the first part of the track. The drummer keeps the tension on. The thought-provoking track features great lyrics and melody. The fourth track "Liberty, complacency, dependency" is the first epic track with multiple sections. Slow first section with vocals in the background are replaced by a mellow contemplative section to change into a fast-paced rhythm in the middle part. Wait for the tasty guitar solo before returning to the typical heavy sound. "Colophon" is an untypical composition for Threshold - little heaviness, subtle keyboard textures and a the drum pattern more typical for alternative rock/metal than progressive metal. "The hours" features a melody and vocals similar to the previous albums with McDermott. Although the track has above 8 minutes, it does not feel epic, it is rather down-to-earth. The obligatory ballad comes with "That's why we come", naturally, the instruments stay restrained and vocals build the song. The compensation comes with the next track "Don't look down" that reminds of Dream Theater - heavy riffing, fast soloing. The flagship of the album is certainly "Rubicon". Church organ synth sound, majestic sound and well thought-out composition deserve this property. The track combines all faces of progressive metal together to make it a refreshing experience. Solemn church organ chords add more darkness to this epic track. The band enjoy every second of it!

Overall, a less accessible album than the previous one, also with fewer memorable melodies but a return to a more progressive sound and compositions. Well done boys!

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 Dead Reckoning by THRESHOLD album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.64 | 221 ratings

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Dead Reckoning
Threshold Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars 3,5 stars and 4 stars as a metal album. I was skeptical after Damian Wilson left the band but Andrew McDermott is a great vocalist and I like his harmonies even more than Wilson's. In fact, it is the vocal and drums that I like most about this album. Threshold produce albums of even quality, less or more progressive, but always very accessible. The first track starts with a brilliant melody and passionate vocals in mid tempo. The speed gains on the second track "This is your life" which may be the heaviest track on the album constantly supported by heavy riffs, featuring the 90's sound. "Elusive" in addition to the first track even has some brief growling which I consider an interesting experiment. A truly progressive track with vocal harmonies and rhythm changes and classic guitar and keyboard soloing. The highlight of "Hollow" is a strong melody and piano parts in the end. The memorable "Pilot in the sky of dreams" is arguably one of the most effective Threshold ballads with emotional instrumentation, but the first impression can be deceiving: after two minutes, things get heavier but still sometimes interrupted by piano chords. The dynamic instrumental part is outstanding. The songs ends on a mellow note just like it started. "Fighting for breath" features a long instrumental progressive section that has its gradient apart from soloing. The vocals stay in the background interested in this track. "Disappear" is one of the most accessible and straightforward tracks on the album, not much to explore here apart from the strong vocal line. "Safe to fly" is another metal ballad. "One degree down" has the momentum and great contributions from all band members - it is the most pompous track on this album. Overall, a very good album but non-essential for a progressive metal lover.

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 Ounds by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.85 | 7 ratings

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Ounds
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by raigor

4 stars Here comes the album of instrumental music which can easily disorient and mislead even the most practiced and informed connoisseur. I mean the long-awaited third album of TRIP LAVA, a modern classic "one-man-bad" directed by composer and multi-instrumentalist Joel Lee from the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. Is it Rock or Electronic? Is it Prog or Psyche? Well, since 2005 this project has been creating instrumental music beyond the traditional genre-style classification.

Joel Lee uses guitars, keyboards, synths, acoustic drum-kit, drum-machine, voice, and variety of electronic devices to create somewhat very special. His music flows and changes stylistic profiles constantly, even within one single track. Any attempt to classify it would be strictly subjective and determined by personal experiences of anyone who dares to do it... Nevertheless, the tacks on "Ounds" (understand "Sounds") are technically separated from each other. And it makes the task of classifying a bit easier. You can say at least that there are tracks rhythmically structured by acoustic drum patterns (like "Ounds, Pt. 1", "Ouseh Of Orsmirr", "Osmicc Oldeng Ordsw Of Onmeldag", and "Ounds, Pt. 2"), and they can be conditionally defined as bizarre and freakish Space-Rock or even Avant-Prog. As well as there are tracks not organized rhythmically or with loose sequenced/programmed rhythmic arrangements (like "Oblivision", "Orf Ontrastc", "Ongadays", "Oopl De Oopl", and "Oomsmushr") which relates to abstract Ambient-Drone, Illbient, or even Futuro-Techno. If/when you try to perceive the album in its contextual eternity, you would get quite weird and intricate Sound-Collage featuring a sort of electro-acoustic pictures/scenes rather than songs/compositions.

In my subjective assessment, this is the most principle characteristic of TRIP LAVA music. Joel Lee creates so called "Hybrid Music Sound-Collage" which can take any stylistic shape depending only on what the author wants to say/illustrate and on what audience he wants to appeal to. In fact, "Ounds" much reminds me a soundtrack to an adult animated film based on sci-fi comics or video-games. And I can guess that the album, aside from a funny anagram puzzle within the track-list, should have kinda funny cripping fabula-plot. Am I right? Anyway, it's definitely not for every Prog-Rock fan or rock-traditionalist, but it's strongly recommended to lovers of weirdly progressive, genreless, hybrid, collage, inventively experimental and loosely cinematic instrumental music.

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 The White EP by AGALLOCH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2008
3.55 | 62 ratings

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The White EP
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars THE WHITE EP

After three full-length studio albums and two EPs, it was clear that dark neofolk was a key aspect in the music of AGALLOCH which when combined with black / doom metal and post-rock, created their signature sound that won the world over beginning with the outstanding sophomore album "The Mantle." After ratcheting up the metal aspects a bit on "Ashes Against The Grain," AGALLOCH may have amped up the distortion and aggressive bombast a bit but it was still quite apparent that dark neofolk acoustic guitar was the underpinning of the compositional flare that the music was built around. While the first few EPs were basically a collection of leftover tracks that showed a little behind the scenes action of John Haughm and Don Anderson's innermost musical leanings, THE WHITE EP, displays a completely stripped down journey into AGALLOCH's most primal musical aspirations and in the process creates their first consistent EP, stylistically speaking.

Technically this is the second and final installment of a pair of EPs that began with "The Grey EP," but really, screw that. The previous EP was fairly weak and uninspiring. It was nothing more than leftovers from "The Mantle" bin, but THE WHITE EP is something completely different. This collection of seven tracks that meander over the 32 minute mark has a complete life of its own and single- handedly showcases ALLOGACH as first and foremost a dark ambient neofolk band that just happened to dabble in metal on their studio albums. Oh, and these are completely original and have not appeared elsewhere. Unlike the previous offerings, this EP is majestic and sublime. It takes the listener on a journey and one that is a pleasant ride on every stop on the way. The passion is afire and quite apparent simply by reading the cast of characters involved. While the full-length albums were limited to four or five musicians at the most, this one hosts a whopping nine.

THE WHITE EP's mission becomes obvious from the getgo with the voices of children on the opening "The Isle Of Summer" which were borrowed from the 1973 film "The Wicker Man." Likewise, the album ends with these same vocal samplings and in the middle develops a rather ritualistic Pagan musical meandering that captures the merging of acoustic folk guitar, electronic ambience, tribal percussion and sounds of nature all intertwined to create an alternative soundtrack to the 1973 film that without a doubt was one of the primary impetuses in the creation of the overall AGALLOCH sound. Listening to this EP is like digging into the soulful essence of a musical act at its primary inspirational level and the fact that AGALLOCH pulls it off so well only showcases the evidence that these guys' heart and soul was in this every step of the way.

This is primarily an instrumental EP with vocals, albeit whispered, spoken and chanted provide mere supplemental instrumental roles rather than lyrically based. While the acoustic guitar is the primary instrument that drives the parade of chords that coalesce into the melancholic melodies that emerge, there is ample additional instrumentation in the form of timpani based percussion, accordion, synthesizers, jew's harp and even a Peruvian ceremonial horn. Oh yeah, there's a goat horn too! While acoustically divine, the electric guitars emerge as an ambient backdrop to great effect and interesting piano runs emerge to create a rather classically inspired connection as well. Despite all these accouterments of timbres and tones, everything really connects seamlessly along with birds chirping alongside dark ambient installations. It seems that everything just flows perfectly from beginning to end.

By the end of this listening experience, it almost seems as if i went on a random hike through the woods in an undisclosed Oregon forest and just happened upon a Pagan ritual underway. Awed by the spectacle, i stopped to observe the entirety as i happened to catch it from its initial opening as i became caught up in the spectacle of it all. The music inspires reflection and inner contemplation upon the physical reality upon which i stand and allows the spirits of the Earth to evolve my consciousness. While neither technically demanding nor commercially distracting, THE WHITE EP nevertheless implements extremely addictive melodic hooks that are augmented by subtle electronic and production techniques yet makes me feel as if this is purely acoustic.

THE WHITE EP is all about atmosphere and emotional upwelling. This is Pagan ritual music at its finest. Perhaps their stint with Nest on they 2004 split inspired a more stripped down approach that eschews the adrenaline inducing emotional responses of metal, but all i have to say is that this is by far the best of the AGALLOCH EPs and despite dropping one of the most characteristic elements of the overall AGALLOCH sound, proves to be quite compelling in its introspective simplicity and soul stirring emotional tugs that inspire a true connection to the natural world much in the way the film "The Wicker Man" was supposed to. I've never warmed up to the soundtrack of that film despite its overall popularity and THE WHITE EP has emerged in my world as the perfect alternative soundtrack for what that movie was supposed to make me feel. No metal here at all. Headbangers beware. This is soul stirring dark ambient laced neofolk all the way with some extra layers of electronic sophistication. Brilliant.

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 Another Shape Of Psychedelic Music by MYTHIC SUNSHIP album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Another Shape Of Psychedelic Music
Mythic Sunship Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Mythic Sunship is a space rock and psychedelic band from Denmark. 'Another Shape of Psychedelic Music' is the band's fourth album, and 2nd one released this year, 2018. The album consists of 6 tracks totaling over 75 minutes, so they are obviously long and exploratory. The band consists of Rasmus Christensen on bass, Fredrick Denning on drums, Emil Thorenfeldt on guitar and Kasper Anderson on guitar. Jonas Munk also appears as a guest on guitar on 2 tracks and Soren Skov guests on saxophone on every track for this album. The music is neo-psychedelic space rock at it's best with hints of jazz and krautrock throughout.

That being said, 'Resolution' starts out with a solo saxophone backed up with minimal bass. As it moves on, guitars, percussion are added and you are put into a psychedelic yet surprisingly jazzy feel. The guitars will get more intense and then back off throughout the track which is over 14 minutes. At around 6 minutes, the saxophone will begin to get dissonant as the playing gets more frantic. The percussion also eventually falls into a rhythm and the track starts to drive forward. Sustained chords take over the sound as guitars become more powerful, replacing the sax for the most part. The stoner, space rock kicks in at this point overtaking the psychedelic sound. The music has changed from the jazz feel to a heavy rock sound. You will hear the sax come back in at around the 10:30 mark, but the space rock improvisation continues with the sax providing a nice layer to the music. Again, things get wild as it continues.

'Backyard Ritual', which clocks in at over 17 minutes, features the guest Jonas Munk on guitar. It starts off with a cool bass riff which is soon echoed by the guitars and percussion. This provides a basis which repeats for a while before the sax comes in. This is has a nice jazz fusion feel. Excitement and intensity builds creating a nice full sound and a surprisingly accessible beat. A funkiness is established as a new guitar layer is introduced and the sax gets rather sassy as things continue. When the track reaches it's apex, things suddenly get surprisingly heavy, almost like doom rock, as the rhythm moves from it's tribal beat to a more solid rock rhythm and the sax drops off completely. The music flows off of a single chord and becomes a very solid and heavy track which utilizes the krautrock style of improvisation. All of a sudden, you hear the sax come in squealing away, trying to reestablish itself in the mix, which it does eventually. A throbbing bass remains as the sax takes control again. Things start to build again with a Pink Floyd-inspired psychedelic rhythm and echoing guitars as the track becomes reminiscent of 'A Saucerful of Secrets, at least in the percussion. The guitars again start to take over as the sax wails and fights to keep control. Things end up getting chaotic as all the instruments battle and the music spins you around faster and faster until everything collapses This is such an amazing track.

'Last Exit' comes next, and starts immediately in a wild frenzy of noise. Things finally get under control as the bass plays a repeating ascending pattern and the drums get things under control by establishing a foundation. The sax takes over an improvised melody with a guitar complimenting everything. This is wild jazz along the lines of some of Miles Davis' more intense music. The music builds and ebbs around a foundation that is built around a single chord for over 8 minutes.

'Way Ahead' follows this track, and is the shortest track on the album, but it is still over 7 minutes. A solo guitar plays a great riff which eventually is joined by drums. This one feels immediately like some of the band's tracks off of previous albums, as it is more solid like stoner rock, but the sax is still there, just not as apparent. This one flows along nicely with snippets of improvised guitar driving the song forward. For the most part, this track is pretty straightforward heavy space rock. After a while, things get more intense and at around 6 minutes, things just go crazy and all of the musicians just open up and let everything fly.

'Out There' returns to tracks that are double digit in length at over 13 minutes. A slow strummed guitar and a pensive sax start the track and soon others join in with some crashing cymbals, shimmering guitar arpeggios deep in the mix and a slow drum pattern. Improvised guitar chimes along with a slight echo. The guitars are wailing a lot more on this one and again the sax is kept to the back of the mix. The rhythm stays at a slower, stoner beat. As things build, everything speeds up, the guitars having free range to move this forward and they push the speed of the rhythm faster and faster. As it nears the end, the noise gets cleaned up a bit as drums pound out a rhythm with the guitars finding a repetitive groove, which soon gets joined by the sax. This time, they let the sax carry the song forward. The unchanging chord puts us back into krautrock mode. This finally gives way to an alternating chord pattern as each layer drops away to silence.

'Elevation', another 13 minute behemoth, ends the album. This starts off with a repeating guitar riff and a slow tribal rhythm. Echoing guitar chords sound off in the background as plucked high strings also play. The sax only plays an occasional sustained note or plays very soft and low as everything else shimmers over the top of it. As it continues, you get that nice, floating feeling, and you tend to easily get lost in this track. Everything tends to melt together as you listen, almost creating a drone like atmosphere, but it's not a drone, it just gives that same feeling. One of the guitar layers starts churning out a improvised solo and the sax comes along to join in the fun. You notice that things are building again, but this time, the rhythm stays the same without increasing in tempo. A heavier guitar churns away and even the percussion drops off to let it continue thumping the same note. Soon, it all starts again, same slow rhythm, but the sax is now much more active, squealing and squawking its way along. Things eventually speed up towards the end as it pounds toward the finish.

This is an amazing Psychedelic/Spce Rock album which pushes the boundaries of the genre into pschyc-jazz and incorporates new genres of shoegaze and drone at times and doing it all improvisationally. This is a definite step forward with neo-psyc music that is easy to get lost in as you listen. The band plays with tightness and assertively. The only real drawback is the lack of variety, but this album definitely packs a wallop and brings back psychedelic music and space rock with a vengeance.

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