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4 stars It's been a long time coming, but Melbourne Australia-based prog outfit Kettlespider have released their second full length album, aptly self-titled.

While "Avadante", their 2012 first album, was immensely enjoyable, KS have really hit their stride with this newest release. Production quality is through the roof, and is a real testament to how the industry has evolved in the past 10 years in allowing artists to self-record/produce their products to an extremely high standard. The drums are tight, punchy, and sit comfortably in the mix; both the trained musicians' and average punters' ear can easily pick out everything going on rhythmically. I've always been enamoured with this bands choice of tones for their guitars/bass, from their more focused, djent like riffs, crunchy beefy chords, to their softer clean tones. This, coupled with a fat bass tone that reminds me of early Karnivool releases, keep the rhythm sections of the songs fat but tight and nuanced enough to hear all the overtones going on. With the addition of some choice snyth/keyboard lines accompanying everything, it really builds a massive foundation for the lead lines to sit comfortably over. Expanding their instrumentation to include horns in certain parts of songs really helped add a new layer to what was already an impressive expression of what an instrumental band can do without a singer. In a world of countless 7, 8, 9 string wielding prog bands, these guys have produced a crushingly heavy album that would give bands like Periphery a run for their money.

While I would already give this album more than a passing grade just from the production and soundscape alone, it's the bands songwriting that really it home for me. As with a lot of instrumental acts, it mostly falls down to the melody, in my opinion, to keep a listener interested in a song without a vocalist. KS have an exceptional talent at coming up with catchy melodies and themes that keep me coming back for more. They'll establish a theme, and go to town on it. Whether it's a subtle shift in timing, or two songs down the listing, they'll bring the theme back in a different way, but in a way that aids the song/album as a whole. Influences from bands like Opeth for their almost dream-like landscape clean parts, or Dream Theater's tight, complex timing and rhythm sections, shine through in their virtuosic playing throughout the album. Coupled with some choice, beautiful piano parts, some absolute ripping guitar solos, and a few tasty jazz-fusion style horn solos, KS have really nailed down their sound that they started out with in "Avadante". That said, I would have loved to hear a few more piano leads in the songs, as the melodies are mostly dominated by the guitars/horns; I think the album would have benefited from a few more keyboard-led lead lines.

Complex, catchy, and most importantly just fun to listen to. Kettlespider have released something really special. The album easily sits as my favourite release for 2017.

Must hears: Circus Anubis Rebirth (dat goddamn lead line, my god that's catchy)

Report this review (#1815811)
Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars A Spider's Journey

After thoroughly enjoying Kettlespider's first album, Avadante, a wonderful instrumental concept album that told a compelling story about the battle for a soul at the point of death, I have been eagerly awaiting a follow-up. Earlier this year, the band teased us with their "Eight Legs of a Spider" project, releasing one track each month on bandcamp. Eventually, they withdrew the songs to compile them into a new album. At last, the eponymous album is here, and, after seven complete listens, I can say that the wait was worth it. Everything about this album - its manner of release, the song titles, the artwork - suggests that this is a concept album like its predecessor, but it demands attention and patience to tease that meaning out. Like Avadante, "Kettlespider" is compelling and wonderful.

The artwork is unusual: a black-and-white schematic for assembling a robotic spider. This fits the original "Eight Legs of a Spider" concept. With the music, it suggests more: life can be viewed as pieces or cycles that, if properly coordinated, build a good life.

The introductory track is "Climber," a short playful number that begins with some cramped riffs and opens up into soaring guitar melodies and dreamy atmospheres. The spider has awakened to life.

"Circus" is a very busy, cheerful piece that is by turns robotic and expressive. Suggestive of a circus, busy street market, or public square, life is a contradiction here - often pleasant but sometimes threatening or mysterious. The band employs trumpet for the first time, and it lends a wonderful color to the surroundings. As in Avadante, rappings on a woodblock usher in a new phase, accompanied this time by one of the best guitar solos I have heard from this band. Increasingly robotic and heavy beyond this point, the song comes to a satisfying and intense conclusion.

"Samsara" is a Sanskrit word meaning "world" or "wandering" and signifies some kind of change, often cyclic. Although perhaps the weakest track due to its brevity, this does herald a change as a lullaby grows into something unwieldy that collapses and burns itself out.

"Break the Safe Pt. 1" ushers in the album within the album. "Break the Safe" was a BBC lottery game show and family board game, and the song title may be suggestive that life is a game of sorts. Mournful moaning on the guitar leads to some powerful riffs and gothic keyboard work that segues to a creepy-crawly ostinato on the guitar. When the song winds down, we find ourselves at death's door.

"Anubis" is the most bizarre track I have heard from Kettlespider: a true danse macabre. It opens pleasantly enough but slowly, inexorably, descends into something quieter, more meditative, and darker. The trumpet returns in a murky, genuinely otherworldly segment that leads to a startling dance of the dead. Once again, keyboards help set the tone. The dance (of spiders or skeletons, take your pick) ushers us into a dark, smokey lounge, complete with jazzy trumpet player and pianist. Although an interesting place to visit, it's not a place to remain, and our spider moves upward toward a better life than this death presents.

Compared to the slick production of "Anubis," "Life" is edgy, dirty, and heavy at the onset. Assuming a rondo-like form, the song alternates the hard passages with interludes that are meditative, jazzy, or soaring. Eventually, the music takes wing away from the dirty city into the expansive heights above. The grime never completely leaves - life is like that. The song ends with a sense of triumph.

"Rebirth" is driving and expansive. In brief, a beautiful guitar melody gives way to a mysterious ostinato pattern, akin to a spider building a web, that morphs slowly and inevitably into a new, writhing melody. Everything before has led to this moment. The changes, depression, and determination to go on culminate into an complete embrace of change. The piece fades into a confident space.

"Break the Safe Pt. 2" is the catharsis of the album: a bright, beautiful exhalation. The prize has been won, and life is good again.

I still enjoy Avadante, but "Kettlespider" confirms that this band is now better, stronger, and continuing to grow. "Climber" and "Samsara" are perhaps too brief for their own good, but they make their contributions to the whole very nicely. The album within the album - both Break the Safes and everything sandwiched in between - is remarkable and tells this new story effectively with a little help from the song titles. Overall, "Kettlespider" is excellent, and I give it four stars for now. It may really be a 4.5 star album worthy of rounding up, but time will tell.

The digipak album, which I purchased, includes a booklet with more schematic diagrams, three photos of the band, and a photo of their mascot (?). Anything by this band merits owning as a physical copy. My only regret is that Inevitable, Tundra, and Evolution - not available on physical discs - were not included as bonus tracks.

Report this review (#1816122)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Last Monday, I had a rather amazing experience listening to the new album by Kettlespider. Having just moved house - and dealing with all of the stress that such a process entails, I went for a walk to the beach to unwind and de-stress. It is here that I first heard Kettlespider's new body of work, a release I have been anticipating for years. As the first song, "The Climber" drew to a close, I stopped by the lookout and watched a pod of Dolphins swim along the shoreline of Beaumaris! The second track, "Circus", started to play and I knew I was in for a journey..

At one stage, I was a mere 50m away from the Dolphins as I walked onto the rock pool to view them up close. The boppy odd-time riff of "Samsara" seemed to move and sway along with the dolphins and the waves, almost as if they could hear it and were performing a dance of sorts. The remainder of the album walked me back home - healed. "Anubis" is perhaps my favourite song that Kettlespider has ever written. The way the album is bookended with "Break the Safe 2", an acoustic guitar driven piece that conjures up a number of earlier themes explored in the album's previous songs, is just wonderful, and offers the album a sense of cohesiveness and completeness. The melodic themes throughout the album are on the whole incredibly memorable and even encourage you to want to sing along at times!

Kettlespider have been working on this new beast of an album for some years now, and I am blown away by what I've heard. Top shelf production, catchy hooks left right and centre, trumpets! And of course a ridiculously high level of musicianship that makes me question my entire existence. Do yourself a favour and check out Kettlespider's new self titled album today!

Note: album may be best heard in the presence of Dolphins.

Report this review (#1817505)
Posted Monday, October 30, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Solid, polished, refreshing heavy prog rock from Down Under.

1. "The Climber" (2:24) the opening thirty seconds reminds me of some of the classic rock songs of the 70s--Damn Yankees or Loverboy or somebody like that--but then it switches at the forty-five second mark to something more complicated, more prog rock-like, more metal-like. (8.5/10)

2. "Circus" (4:34) the jazzy, delicate, melodic central third is the prize here. (9/10)

3. "Samsara" (2:31) opens with acoustic guitar being gently picked before keys and the rest of the band join in on the weave. They manage to maintain a nice melodic sense throughout this medium-paced instrumental. (9/10)

4. "Break The Safe, Pt. 1" (3:18) opens delicately but then becomes quite in your face in a kind of King Crimson way. Over and over they kind of "trick" you into relaxing and enjoying their beautiful sound groove before they bring in the distorted guitars and power chords. The final odd-time-signatured section is nice. (8.5/10)

5. "Anubis" (7:16) this one has quite a RUSH-like sound and feel to my ears (think of the excellent instrumental music of "Subdivisions"). The shift at the end of the second minute to a gentle and spacious section is quite unexpected and interesting. Steven Wilson comes to mind. Then comes the gun at 3:05 and they're off to the races, breaking into a heavy metal guitar-shredding section that tries to turn jazzy but then gets funneled back into the heavy prog world until 4:15 when another tricky, quirky, almost avant/RIO switcheroo tries to take hold. Just kidding! We're still heavy progging! But that trumpet is trying to say otherwise. Damn the influence of that Latin lover! I like this song because of its tricks and turns, surprises and maintained high quality and high entertainment value. Well done, arachnids! (9.5/10)

6. "Life" (6:06) Djent! Now they're getting into my comfort zone! (Don't know why I love those djenty guitar chords.) But then they turn sharp left in the second minute, trying to trick me again, but, no, it's just a short cut into some heavy prog, semi-djented. Nice work on the batterie, by the way, Simon. And props go out to precision bass work of Colin Andrews. Loving the fourth and fifth minutes: much more humane! And the guitar "ascending" from out of the birth canal effect is brilliant! My favorite song on the album! (10/10)

7. "Rebirth" (7:01) Oh, oh! Are we in for some Norse Black Metal? O Dark :30 and I'm still not sure. Even the delicate soft interlude at the one minute mark has me on pins and needles. 1:40: Here it comes. It's building! 2:10: Oh! It's so cute! It's just a big Totoro! 3:00: or is it the bad Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? We'll know soon. 3:45: He's leaving! He's not going to kill us or destroy our city! He likes Nature! 4:30: And video games. He's social! He has a family! And friends! Aww! He was just looking for his own kind! And they're going to live happily ever after! Such a cinematic gem! (9/10)

8. "Break The Safe, Pt. 2" (4:18) Safe. Solid. Unbreakable. Cohesive. Even pretty. And hypnotic. Cool Devy Townsend ending. Likable and yet unspectacular. (9/10)

A five stars masterpiece of instrumental progressive rock music. While I see lots of potential for improvement--both is sound and composition--these guys are definitely on to something!

Report this review (#1817656)
Posted Monday, October 30, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars So I have been following kettle spider boys on there progressive rock journey for several years now, I still remember the first time I saw these guys at the espy at least five years ago. A unforgettable performance to say the least. I have been a fan of progressive music for a very long time since I was about ten to be precise when my grandfather gave me a box of cd's which include stuff like Opeth, king crimson, yes, pink floyd, dream theatre and other similar artists but the real turning point for me is when I heard Opeth deliverance! I will still never forget the emotions I felt that day and still crave to date. So straight to the point after discovering kettle spider I bought there first album avadante which was in my eyes the best Australian instrumental progressive rock album that came out that year.. I was super impressed with the result of their first album. years where passing buy and I was becoming quite anxious to hear what these boys have been up to checking in quite regularly with the band "where's the new [&*!#]". slowly they where chipping away behind the scenes bringing out little teasers here and there which was enough to get the taste buds going. Then recently Simon the drummer from the band gave me early access to their new self title album after dream theatres most recent Melbourne show. Wow omg damn are you guys hearing this, Was my initial response!! These guys absolutely nailed it. Not only is the album mixed and recorded to perfection the musicianship and the level of complexities in this album really show case how much these guys love progressive music and know their audience, a album I'm sure they would enjoy listening to them selves. Starting at track one you feel at home with the more classic kettle spider feels and vibes... Move forward about 2 mins this is where the head exploding begins. I have been asked to write a review about this album but to be honest I don't even know where to begin this album has it all. spacey yet beautiful melodies complemented by Godzilla riffs to back them up, tasty and punchy rhythm section pushing the whole album forward and down when its appropriate ,Spooky yet powerful keys sections which bring chills to listener and the guitars. guitars. GOD damn these boys know how to tell a story the satch man would be proud. On top of this the song writing on this album is beautiful it has all the riffs and dynamic changes that prog fan needs as well as some crazy circus vibes going on. Do your self a favour by this album and support these guys they have tapped on to something special. A Australian progressive album to chuck in the collection album to chuck in the collection that's for sure. I'm truly inspired and very impressed. you want riffs they got them .... in odd time.

great work guys!!

kettle spider self titled 2017 5 stars

Josh Olave

Report this review (#1818726)
Posted Thursday, November 2, 2017 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Kettlespider have released a new 2017 album called "Kettlespider", a followup to their successful 2012 debut "Avadante". The album has eight tracks to make up the 8 legs of the estranged spider. The cover sat on the kitchen table for a while and scared my wife several times as she caught sight of the crouching spider. The packaging is effective enough, replete with a cool booklet with schematics on how to construct your own mechanical arachnid in 100 easy steps. The band make an attractive centrefold, but they keep their distance; that's personal space for you. They've also hidden their 4 wheel drive but the tyre tracks are still evident. The next page is the money shot of the band, then a shot of a scruffy dog, and the next pages show the band recording in shadows, looking for a light switch. Behind the CD is another spideriffic schematic.

It is a completely instrumental album from end to end with some heavy sounds juxtaposed by quiet reflective passages. The musicians are well accomplished, and a very tight unit, having played together for some time on other projects and Kettlespider adventures. The band play on this album like their life depended on it; Fyfe on keys and squiggly bits, Ashburn and Boyd-Gerny on axes, Andrews on boom bass, and Wood on drums and banging devices.

Kettlespider explode out of the blocks with a dynamic metal crunching blaster, "The Climber". It blows the gasket off the carboretter with a ton of staccato guitar punches and a relentless rhythm section. It is followed by the more complex "Circus" with soaring lead breaks and synth swirls. The jazz trumpet sounds augment the soundscape masterfully. "Samsara" flows along beautifully with acoustic guitar flourishes and infectious rhythms.

"Break the Safe Pt. 1" is a bone jarring keyboard workout with guitar blasts and thunderous drums. "Anubis" locks into hypnotic drum beats and a melodic lead guitar riff. It flows from heavy prog to a light refreshing mood, and swings into odd time signatures. Then it submerges into soft keyboards and glorious trumpets. The awesome lead fills and sporadic tempo shifts that keep the metronome swinging in crazy directions make this one of the best on the album.

"Life" blasts out of the speakers with hammered ferocity. There are compulsive percussion and bass lines to create a fractured rhythm, then a sweeping orchestral keyboard ignites the darkness. Time meter changes and galloping guitars competing with syncopated drums make this a definitive highlight.

"Rebirth" chugs along frenetically and breaks through the prog prison into wide open spaces of free form synth pads and bass. The wall of sound permeates the atmosphere. Then the bass gets impatient and starts its own rhythm, accompanied by sporadic guitar strumming, and a lead break with hammer-ons and pull-offs and sizzling string bends. A chilling high pitched synth whine screams in with another adrenaline pumping time sig. It is a fabulous track.

The eighth leg of the spider is "Break the Safe Pt.2" closing the album wonderfully with uptempo drums and guitar vibrations competing over the retro keyboard sound. It explodes into a paroxysm of keyboard wizardry and guitar excellence. It is a great way to cap off the album.

Overall, "Kettlespider" is adventurous prog with some heavy guitar replenished by orchestrated keyboards and a relentless rhythm section. Being an instrumental album it is up to the listener to engage in whatever way they seem fit. It could be a great album to throw on to kick back to after a heavy day, or could serve as a way to fire up the imagination as the music lifts the spirit and always comes across as exciting. The musicianship is excellent and innovative so vocals are not necessary. I can recommend this album from these Australian proggers without reservation. Take the Kettlespider test and taste for yourself.

Report this review (#1818746)
Posted Friday, November 3, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow!!! I hadn't heard of Kettlespider before, yet there is a Facebook music group site that specifically is for Progressive Rock acts here in Australia. I have made comments on there and I was observed by one member of Kettlespider who, thankfully, asked me to have a listen to their latest release simply titled Kettlespider. Wow, what a revelation. If you knew my personal history of discovering Prog in the mid to late 1970s just as Punk overruled the genre and in this country took Prog off the map. The days of sitting around discussing details of every inch of the groove on a long epic rock song or dare I even mention, an instrumental, was long gone!!! Punk brought to the world 2 chord wonders and sometimes one minute and fifty seven second songs back again, and, took us away from more complex time signatures or virtuoso musicianship. Australia virtually took the British anti- everything that came before too serious. Many great acts that I adored and loved folded due to a glut of Punk and New Wave bands appearing everywhere. So I am so glad that Kettlespider here in 2017 and back in 2012 have been holding the long held torch for Progressive Rock Music for an Australian and overseas audience. This album is a must in anyone's collection and the fact they do instrumentals is a big step into normally vocal Progressive bands! If you want to hear that Australian bands are up there on the World Stage then invest in this great band with many more albums to come and great music!!!! Worthwhile in any market, hopefully this will take their career to greater heights!!!👍❤
Report this review (#1823604)
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Kettlespider' - Kettlespider (78/100)

It's surreal to think it's already been five years since I first heard Kettlespider. It was 2012, and they had reached out to me personally for feedback on their debut Avadante, then newly released and full of potential. Kettlespider's tightly-wound instrumental prog already displayed a skill well beyond their years; on a more personal level the band's sound really mirrored my listening tastes around that time.

Fast-forward a fifth of my lifetime, and I still remember Avadante and the band responsible for it with warmth. Since that introduction my life has changed dramatically, and my musical headspace along with it. I've probably heard a couple thousand new albums since then; the fact I still fondly recall Avadante arguably lends more to this band's credit than anything I could have said at the time.

When a new band knocks it out of the park like that on their first go, the natural conversation to have next is whether they'll live up to the potential. Five years is a long time for anyone to sit on their second album, but I've got to imagine life has been just as busy for the guys in Kettlespider. Even if everything has changed around them, the things that made me love this band are still here with this self-titled return.

As familiar and derivative as the style itself is, Kettlespider were special for the fresh way they approached it. With a lot of the instrumental prog rock/metal I've heard, the musicians involved tend to use that liberation from vocals as an opportunity to go wild with technical instrumentation. If the common complaint people have with tech- happy instrumental bands like Canvas Solaris is that they're somehow lacking heart, the "soulful" alternative tends to involve inordinate amounts of tender David Gilmour solo worship. Those emotional bands still miss the point of what's really often lacking in this style. But Kettlespider knows.

The common preconception is that proper, concise songwriting is contrary to instrumental prog on multiple levels. Kettlespider are lively musicians with a dynamic range of proggy influences. You've got the heart of Pink Floyd, all the way to the bombast of Dream Theater. None of that would have justified me remembering Kettlespider for this long however. It's the tight, melodic approach to composition that lends this band their distinctive personality. Sparing the vocals didn't lead them away from writing palpable earworms and would-be choruses into their music. There aren't any overblown solos on this album, no longwinded freeforming, nothing that could really be seen as inessential to the structure of the music. Across the eight songs here, to varying extents, Kettlespider have effectively translated pop songwriting sensibilities onto an instrumental progressive format.

Each of the songs (or "spider's legs" as the band thinks of them) are immediately enjoyable and cozy, in part due to my obvious nostalgia for prog rock and Kettlespider, but not least of all for their tendency to keep the experience light and friendly. Don't get me wrong-- they still come across as very technically nuanced, but technique's never more than a means to an end for them.

Kettlespider's self-restraint lends them a middle-of-the-road accessibility by instrumental prog standards. They feel consistently focused, and while this comes at the cost of never getting to hear them really letting loose, it's an easy thing to live with when the songwriting's this good as a result. The only significant thing that weighs against the album is the sense that their parts all feel derived from other prog bands. There are many sections that sound directly torn from the script of one of their influences; nothing sounds like it was it was completely born with them. Kettlespider's material can feel like a collage of prog I've been familiar with long before 2012. It's no more true here than with Avadante. If anything, it makes that uncommonly

It's easy to imagine a breezily uplifting track like "Circus" passing for an above-average Dream Theater instrumental with all unnecessary padding scrubbed away. "The Climber", "Circus", "Anubis" and "Life" all particularly feel like we're catching Kettlespider on the best of days. I've listened to this album many, many times over the last few months, and although comparisons to bands like Dream Theater are guaranteed by certain parts here, the accessibly technical vibe of their music feels most akin to Joe Satriani; playful and bountifully talented, but never testing the listener's patience to demonstrate it. Five years was a long time coming for Kettlespider to make this album, and I'm glad to have experienced it. They reminded me of the comfy joy I felt listening to Avadante; in that sense, this is everything I could have asked for.

Report this review (#1884660)
Posted Monday, February 12, 2018 | Review Permalink

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