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5 stars So apparently Facebook's "targeted ad" campaign actually works.. This band was brought to me by advertising. And I am thanking them as we speak (via one-way text). This band is exactly what my taste dictates. It's instrumental, progressive, heavy at times, and just oozes atmosphere. Some of the keyboard tones remind me of Dream Theater. The guitar and atmosphere reminds me of bands like Jolly. These guys have struck a good balance between heaviness and keyboards. The drum beats are so sick that I think they gave me AIDS. The overarching keyboard tones together with the guitar and bass riffs create a medley of melodic sound that drills its way through your eardrums in 7/8, 5/8, and 4/4 (although not often.). The song jumps always catch me off guard, which is exactly what any good prog band will do until you memorize when it happens. Altogether I am very impressed with this album.

Obscenities: None (instrumental)

Indecencies: None (instrumental)

Recommended: 5, 3, 4

Review kindly provided by James Debo of KVRX Radio, Texas.

Report this review (#775312)
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars Recently a number of bands have emerged that fuse a 'light' progressive metal tone with an overtly hard rock styling with neo-progish overtones to create an incredible dense, lush sound. Bands like Haken, Sylvan, and Disperse have been gathering large followings due to their potent tone, infectious use of potent melody, and a creative use of classic progressive rock stylings mixed with modern technique. A new face to come to this scene is the Aussie group Kettlespider, who utilize many of the same approach to craft their debut album Avadante. The album, while short, contains numerous moments of wonderfully crafted melodies, deep and dense instrumentation, and enjoyable compositions.

Avadante is truly an epic album, although more in the style of its music than the length of the album or breadth in scope. The instrumentation is designed in a complex, thick, and almost lush way, mixing heavy guitar riffs with viscous synth tones to make an incredibly powerful medley of sound. However, the band not only masters the mélange of heavy and thick but also the harmony of dual guitars playing a slightly gentler melodic riff over lighter keyboard lines. The album is full of memorable melodies played effectively by the band's five instrumentalists that make this album shine with musical light.

Instrumentally, the band scores yet again. Each of the guys quite obviously knows what they're doing, as every part is played to its full potential so that the entire arrangement expresses its best qualities. The intense, heavy sections have their necessary degree of punch; the gentle sections have their tender need for emotion; the airy moments have their required space. To top it off, the production of the album is perfect for every song that's presented on the album: clean, transparent, and natural to give each song room to explore its sonic ability rather than confining a song's potential due to technical difficulties.

However, while the album is obviously full of great musical moments, excellent musicianship, well-crafted compositions and more, I feel like something is missing from the otherwise complete album. Other than the fact that I think it's quite a short album, I feel that either vocals or a similar texture such as a wind instrument would have added a supreme color to the otherwise wonderful aural painting. Another aspect is the fact that the lack of lyrical value leaves a lack of creative expression for the album, especially because the album is in fact a concept album. While the journey of our nameless protagonist can be seen through the excellent progression of musical themes - there is a clear, although it sounds cliché, beginning, middle, and end - I feel as though a vocal exploration of themes would add a fantastic new element to be considered to this album and leaves a bit of a gap in the album's whole.

Overall, though, this album leaves little to be desired. The album has what most fans of heavy progressive rock want - great riffs, an excellent utilization of melody, strong keyboards, and great musicianship. While the compositions can border on 'standard' or, dare I say, cheesy at a few brief moments during the album and the album lacks a vocal element, the album still is incredibly strong in its musical direction, execution, and creativity. The album is a must for those who like either like their progressive metal to be on the light side or their progressive rock to be on the heavy side, as it's a great rendezvous in the middle ground of the two. The band shows quite clearly they have an incredible ability to make great music, and this album shows that they have the potential to do even greater work, and I look forward to it. 4- stars.

Report this review (#777355)
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Burke and Hare's Backyard

I heartily loathe what I call parochial aesthetics i.e. proximity to the source as a measure of artistic worth. Where does this skew-whiff madness end? Citizens of London are expected to bask in the reflected glory of their adopted sons William Blake, Bobby Moore, Christopher Wren and Francis Bacon while the reflected gore of the Krays, Jack the Ripper and Dr Crippen are quite appropriately, disowned but with less anguish than would be considered decent. If the premise that we law abiding but talentless souls created the conditions to allow these magnificent artists to thrive and prosper is taken on board, prepare to walk the gangplank dear readers provided by say, Glasgow whose Bible John, Arthur Thompson and sectarian murder razor gangs all survived despite the backdated encouragement extended to the Simple Minds, Alasdair Gray, Billy Connolly and James MacMillan. Cut to the chase: those things that make living worthwhile exist in spite of the prevailing societal conditions at any given time.'Twas ever thus and enrolling people in educational establishments designed to produce a surfeit of what is by definition scarce will only produce floods of tears. Does anyone remember the Hue and Cry for Love and Money? (Thought not)

Word to the wise Kettlespider, ditch the wanky artwork which has the snot haired Gothic angel in a wedding dress raising her right hand (read GOOD, it ain't carrying a hammer or a syringe) towards the hospitalised coma victim she is presumably offering succour to. Wouldn't she be better deployed by smacking that creepy little dude dangerously nearer the pillow who is thus protected from the one supernatural being unable to negotiate the obstacle of a window innit? (Go Around, Go Around) I was pestered incessantly by an Australian female fan of this band to review this album in PA under the delusion that my snide prose would raise the group's profile mate? She clearly neglected to do her homework as Prog has never been about profile or appearing on the hottest f*ckwit's chat show i.e. you exist and are viable in spite of prevailing market conditions. Country retreats and sportscar collecting were funded by Prog only from 1969 to 1974 tops so enjoy the little family hatchback and commanding views of the labour exchange instead and just count your blessings. I like Kettlespider hugely as they clearly consider both Metal and Prog brands as completely irrelevant to being working musicians in 2012. They can eat and live in the current economic climate regardless of how their music is presented, packaged or categorised: Fuck PA gentlemen, you are self evidently an anachronism deserving of no further comment.

Avadante occasionally betrays the tender years of both the players and their contemporaneous inspiration from the likes of Mogwai, Miriodor and late Radiohead yet they never quite plant both feet onto Avant soil but instead step back into a predominantly more traditional and bombastic realm redolent of Areknames, Rush, Haken or (gulp) earlier Radiohead. A particularly attractive and refreshing facet of this band is their lack of self consciousness when utilising timbres that carry way too much referential baggage for the Avant crowd i.e. Kettlespider are not afraid to sound like a Rawk band and can be heard quite unashamedly and joyfully getting down and dirty with it on Avadante This is clearly 'programme' music in that it smacks of having a linear narrative at it's source (but as to what such a tale or design could be, I'm none the wiser without tell tale sung lyrics) Personally I rather like instrumental records from the Prog stable as things can go rapidly downhill whenever an Anderson, Sinfield or Lake open their stallion hearts via their gelding mouths on an expectant world.

Seeing as though I'm a sad and pitiable 50 year old man I cannot avoid pointing out that the guitar riff deployed on the last track Reflections is identical to The Puppet by Echo and the Bunnymen. Kettlespider being youthful Australians, found this revelation baffling and amusing and I now live there, so draw your own conclusions because they cannot reasonably be expected to give a discarded fig about my formative years and vice versa. Challenging and sumptuous instrumental rock music that never resorts to 'bums on seats' economics. Kettlespider have a justifiable contempt for our counterfeit nostalgia for events that never occurred in the first place. You can hear their lineage quite clearly in the textures, grooves and moods at play on Avadante and although healthily irreverent, they have sufficient nous to respect those elements of the past untarnished by the vagaries of fickle fashion. I am not a fan of metal in any of it's infinite variations on an incredibly small theme, but would recommend this album to anyone with an open mind and a taste for a wide variety of stylistic avenues.

Report this review (#778785)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hailing from the land down under in Melbourne, Australia, comes Heavy Prog/Prog Metal band Kettlespider. Kettlespider was formed in 2011, and released their instrumental debut, Avadante, in 2012. This album adds a light touch to the Progressive Metal riffs, giving it an almost Neo Prog feel, and as a result has (in my opinion) a lot of crossover appeal for fans of both the lighter and heavier forms of Prog. I would describe the style to be a bit like Liquid Tension Experiment but with the "riffage" factor turned down, which may disappoint those who are fans of insanely fast and tight riffs, but attract others who are turned off by the "over-complicated-ness" of bands like LTE. There is a sense of accessibility to this album, without being simplistic ? I think it boils down to being a sort of subtle complexity. One of the things I loved about this album was how the band showed off more than one side of themselves, artistically speaking: the first few tracks were a bit heavier, more on the side of what you might expect from an instrumental band labeled by some as Progressive Metal, and then they turned it way down for "Comatose". This track was more ambient and peaceful, with the piano playing a big role. Mixing this track in with the others in this way added to the overall beauty of the album in a big way. Each of the instrumentalists shows skill and competency, and the arrangements show maturity ? with good contrasts between light and heavy, good timing, good buildups to climactic moments, and enough technicality to keep the listener interested and engaged. My one critique would be that I do feel like the band could use a more present melodic element, whether that be coming from a singer, or perhaps the addition of another instrument, say a flute, violin, or saxophone (to name a few possibilities). But the band has shown an excellent sense of compositional structure and thoughtfulness in this album, and I look forward to seeing what they produce next.

Originally written for

Report this review (#802172)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Okay you saw the picture of the band beside their bio here ? They look a little too happy don't you think ? Especially the bass player. Not sure what he's up to. Anyway these young Australians have really come up with a gem on this their first release called "Avadante", in fact the only negative I can come up with is the cover art. Not that I mind it of course but to me it doesn't suit them or the music they created. A minor complaint. The music is all instrumental and clocks in at a tidy 33 minutes. Man I have to tell you, there were times when I was moved by what I was hearing and also the sound quality could not be any better.

"Introduction" is just that as we get some atmosphere and spoken words before "Discovery" kicks in with a vengence. It does settle back with some nice souinding guitar. Everything sounds so good here. Very uplifting. Emotion 4 minutes in. "Avadante" is powerful and crisp sounding as the guitar comes in playing over top around 2 minutes. Great sound here with that powerful under-current. Kicking ass before 4 minutes then a calm descends. Love the synths here. It kicks back in to end it. "Comatose" is laid back with a Post- Rock vibe. It turns fuller 2 1/2 minutes in with the guitar outfront soloing tastefully. It then calms right down before 4 minutes with piano to end it.

"Revelations" features a nice heavy drum led section early on. The bass joins in and now I know why he's smiling. This guy can dig deep man. Amazing sound here. It kicks in after a minute. A calm before 2 1/2 minutes then it builds quickly to a heavy sound. The organ comes in late with some nasty runs. "New Eyes" is so uplifting as they just let it fly in a repetitive manner. "Reflections" starts with relaxed guitar as liquid keys join in. Drums arrive and it all kicks in after 2 minutes. A calm 4 minutes in with some drum outbursts then it turns heavy. It's almost dreamy before 6 1/2 minutes. A calm with nature sounds ends it and we can hear someone walking and taking it all in.

Just a fantastic recording that pushes all the right buttons for me.

Report this review (#808734)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The debut album from Kettlespider simply needs to be heard by every serious prog fan. One will experience a journey of light and crushing darkness with seamless transitions. This album, whilst short in length. says everything that needs to be said from a debut release. Dazzling but controlled musicianship, excellent production, mysterious artwork and intricately crafted songs. The closing track reflections is truly a masterpiece of the genre with uplifting sections blended with soaring guitar solos. I have listened to this album more times than I can count and each listen strikes me in a new way. I suppose thats what avadante is, a personal journey that is unique to each person. Overall, avadante by kettlespider is a strong candidate for album of the year and I cannot wait to hear more from these guys. Definately recommended for fans of dream theater and opeth
Report this review (#812339)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Kettlespider are a 5 piece prog metal group hailing from Melbourne, Australia. Their debut album "Avadante" shows clear signs that the band will be enjoying worldwide success in no time at all as it captures beautifully the 70s prog vibe while remaining true to the sound of prog metal legends Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment and Opeth. The band focus primarily on the music as the album is predominantly instrumental, and the music moves seamlessly from upbeat melodic metal riffs, such as on the title track, to ambient tranquillity, such as the dreamscape beauty heard on 'Comatose'. The diversity in musical styles is a drawcard as is the virtuosic musicianship from Colin Andrews, bass guitar, Scott Ashburn, guitars, Haris Boyd-Gerny, guitars, Geoffrey Fyfe, keyboards, and Simon Wood, drums and percussion.

The album has a conceptual framework right down to the album cover artwork by Breana Johnston, a gorgeous illustration of a man lying on his death bed in a darkened hospital, with a devil standing in the shadows behind him, and an angel behind the window, who is punching a hole into the real world to awaken the sleeper and take him by the hand into eternal rest. The liner artwork opens up to reveal a sumptuous landscape of trees and purple mountains silhouetted with an azure starry sky. The enigmatic symbols of hot air balloons may represent floating into new horizons, and the elephant curled up under a tree may have some religious significance. The back cover is the moon rising above the horizons as darkness closes in. These images conjure up ideas of spiritual realms and the struggle against good and evil, which may be highlighted in the music that has shades of light and darkness, from peaceful passages of keyboards to outbursts of guitar metal rage.

It begins after an introduction, that sounds like someone left a recorder in a hospital corridor, with a beautiful guitar sound that is crisp and clean, locking into riffing elegance that drives it headlong. 'Discovery' is a great way to launch the album and the musicianship is high quality. The bright uplifting sound is refreshing and sanguine continuing into the melodies of 'Avadante', with more soaring lead work.

The heavier sounds calm down considerably on the haunting 'Comatose' that has a dreamy texture like drifting into deep sleep as the title suggests. At this stage the music begins to make sense for me as a conceptual framework for someone who has experienced a dramatic event and is in a coma in hospital. When the patient awakes he is able to see through new eyes, as if a new perspective has presented itself upon the awakened protagonist.

'Revelations' powers out with tribal drum rhythms and sustained synthesizer notes. The heavy distortion returns like a machine switched back on and the music sounds darker. There are passages of dark and light with intense angular guitar flourishes and softer keyboard ambience as if the patient is experiencing anxiety in his newly awakened state. The shimmering Hammond sound is glorious, reviving the golden sounds of the 70s, and ends this piece on an epic note.

'New Eyes' is a short sharp shock of prog guitar riffs and heavier layered keys, leading to the conclusion 'Reflections', clocking 8.46. This begins with a hypnotic clean guitar picking motif, spacey cosmic chimes, and soft guitar embellishments. A heavier riff locks in, ascending and descending, and then is joined by very accomplished lead guitar. The music breaks into a gentler passage with some chilling atmospherics, and a sporadic percussion explosion inflicting chaos over the structured chords. There are some odd time sig changes drawing it to a conclusion, and finally it ends with bird calls and nature's voice signifying the beginning of a new life. Perhaps the outtake of breath is breathing new life into the lungs of the protagonist who has escaped certain death.

Overall Kettlespider's new album is a wonderful excursion into some virtuosic instrumental musicianship with a relentless rhythmic pace, pentatonic scales, mystical atmospheres and blazing lead attacks. It would have been nice to hear some vocals to tell the story, but musically it is headphone bliss. The music is relaxing without too much aggressive distortion, yet there is enough guitar here to enjoy for those who enjoy the sounds of prog metal. "Avadante" is a high quality musical journey and hopefully will catapult Kettlespider into deserved worldwide recognition.

Report this review (#831902)
Posted Tuesday, October 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ah Australia, the land of wide open spaces and sandy beaches, where General Motors sell strange cars called Holdens and innocent looking little spiders can drop you with one bite. But to dispense with the cliches for a moment there also seems to be a burgeoning prog movement in the antipodean continent and Kettlespider are one of the more recent to appear on the scene. They are a young heavy progressive rock band from Melbourne. This is their debut release "Avadante" which is billed as a concept album.

"A patient in a critical comatose condition explores the paths of heaven, hell and a mysterious healing ground known as "Avadante", within an atypical series of impossible dreams. His experiences within the otherworldy "Avadante" guide him; as he seeks atonement and redemption for a misguided life of sin on earth". Well, that is apparently the concept according to the band's home page but it's rather difficult to form any link between the music and the story in your mind as this is a purely instrumental offering. So let's forget the window dressing and move on to the meat and potatoes of the album - the actual music. The band describe themselves as heavy prog and although they veer towards the metallic end of the spectrum on occasion that just about nails it. After a short introductory piece sets the scene 'Discovery" takes over with a tasteful motif of multi-tracked guitars and synth before introducing a chugging riff. This isn't overtly technical but the band display their chops competently without over-indulging. 'Comatose' lives up to its title and starts off as a sleepy, blues tinged number culminating in a beautifully plaintive solo piano section. Album closer "Reflections" starts off in a Rush-like vein and features one of those riffs that you feel sure you have heard somewhere before but entertains nevertheless with its jazzy middle section and classy guitar work. The music on offer here is entertaining throughout and there is a high standard of musicianship. However, one is left with the impression that maybe the band need to take a few more risks with their sound. The melodies aren't quite memorable enough, the powerful sections aren't quite committed enough; there is definitely a lot of potential here but they come across as maybe being wary of causing too much offence and choosing to tread the safe path instead of letting loose and being more adventurous.

This is a competent and engaging album. There needs to be a bit more creativity in the arrangements and they need to stamp their authority on the music in search of a signature sound but this is pretty damn good for a debut release. The addition of a vocalist would help no end in adding a bit more individuality to their sound. Hopefully there is plenty more to come from Kettlespider and I am looking forward to seeing how they progress. Definitely worth checking out.

Report this review (#833838)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The distance from Australia makes that sometimes we don't get much of what it's been happening there musically. The progressive rock field is not an exception although it's seems to be changing thank's to the internet. One of the things that has arrived to Europe from kangaroo land is this talented prog-rock band called Kettlespider. A young fearless outfit plenty of energy that makes themselves a true revelation. They create an elegant heavy-prog style without too much fanfare. It might sound a bit pretentious but i would say they could be the real Dream Theater's succesors. This is their first album and to tell you the truth it is a must have record. Avadante is a well-produced collection of seven songs full of musical richness that last around six minutes each. They have a powerful sound with perfectly measured heavy guitar riffs without flashing and unpleasant high notes. This is a record of epic heavy-prog neither sounding overproduced nor out of context, totally different from the most of those bands doing the same kind of music. Avadante shows the sincerest and the humblest side of the style. Their pieces are balanced and they flow just between a power house rhythm section and the perfect melody. Scott Ashburn (guitar), Haris Boyd-Gering (guitar), Colin Andrews (Bass), Simon Wood (Drums), Geoffrey Fife (Keyboards). These are the makers of this magnificent instrumental project. Don't miss the chance to hear them.
Report this review (#839666)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Avadante' - Kettlespider (8/10)

On a surface level, Kettlespider plays a sort of music that's all-too familiar to my ears. It's a style of progressive rock that flirts with metal without being metal. It dabbles in post-rock without losing its sense of concise songwriting. I could throw out meaningless pseudo- labels to help describe the band's sound, but emotional descriptions may do it a better justice. For a concept album about a man in terminal comatose, "Avadante" manages to create a remarkable atmosphere of life-affirmation and hope. It's proof that you don't need a singer to make emotionally stirring music, really. Suffice to say, Kettlespider leaves an excellent impression from the first listen onwards; it's accessible and effortless to get into, but the atmosphere and musicianship makes for a rewarding experience many times over.

Although Dream Theater at their most symphonic often comes to mind, the best parallel I could draw for Kettlespider would be Mogwai- specifically their recent material. Although Kettlespider is much closer to the typical 'prog rock' sound palette than something out of the post-rock handbook, there's the sense that this is intrinsically atmosphere-based music, filtered through a relatively accessible set of song structures. The rock-edge in their sound is certainly there, but "Avadante" feels most defined by Kettlespider's ability to create an epic mood in half the time one might expect. Especially given the album's relatively brief half hour span, Kettlespider takes the listener on a fairly diverse adventure. "Discovery" is a wonderful, soaring prog metal tune that sets up the sincerely optimistic tone of the album. Taking things in a less energetic direction is the appropriately titled "Comatose". Although the album's protagonist is essentially facing his physical death, there is no sense of anger or tension here- moreso a nostalgic calm and the kind of 'romantic peace' I usually associate with Explosions in the Sky's music. "Revelations" later takes the album to its heaviest and darkest- not particularly extreme in either regard, but well-indicative of the emotional dynamism Kettlespider brings forth in their music.

The compositions are memorable, perhaps most for the melodies that drive them. "Avadante" is certainly accessible, but not necessarily catchy- I do not imagine to see a pre- teen humming along to these tunes (and if I did, I would be inclined to compliment them). It's more of a sonic accessibility really, the sort of beauty you would often find in effective film score music. Kettlespider's heaviest tracks ironically are the ones to bring the most emotionally stirring melodies.

"Avadante" enjoys a stellar sense of production. While some of their heavier instrumentation feels a bit dry as a result of the studio sheen, there is no loss of atmosphere. Kettlespider do not explicitly attempt to wow audiences with their musical skills. Particularly in regards to the effective keyboard work and cinematic drumwork, the musicianship is beautifully woven into the songwriting. At only half an hour, I am certainly left wanting more from Kettlespider. Some of their more mellowed stuff lacks the emotional 'punch' of their heavy material, but "Avadante" comes across as a remarkably consistent and solid album, especially considering that this is their debut. I hope to hear more from these guys in the future!

Report this review (#841309)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2012 | Review Permalink

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