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Greetings friends, the PM Show #192 is ready for your listening pleasure.

Featured on this edition of The PM Show is part four of the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway special featuring the Lamb story written by Peter Gabriel and read by Jason Dennington. Also featured is new music from Big Big Train. Playing on the ADS beachfront Magenta yells out “I’m alive!”. Watching this Allan Holdsworth shakes his head and says “The things you see…”. Tony Levin yells out to Magenta that he has an aquafin if they’d like to use it. And Chris Squire tells Billy Sherwood “say goodbye Billy” as they pack up for the day.

All this and much more on this weeks edition of The PM Show.

All the best. And thanks for listening! JB

The PM Show is dedicated to world peace. Believe it.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/bandcamp-undercover/heyokas-mirror-loss-of-contact-with-reality/
Heyoka's Mirror - Loss of Contact with Reality

Enjoying their launch to orbit, Calgary progressive metal trio Heyoka’s Mirror released Loss of Contact with Reality as an concept album dealing with the story of Mr. Loomis, who is blinded by greed and power. It’s a short one, but even with a 30-minute running time, the EP cobbles together enough intricate twists and turns that it feels massive, and each of the three songs is an epic journey in precision.

The concept plays out very well with the music, combining wild signatures, scales, drastic genre shifts from one minute to the next, and syrupy vocals that erupt into roars. More than three songs of this caliber would be exhausting, so an intermission to break up this prog-metal opera feels necessary. The trio is at the top of their game, and couldn’t seem much more adventurous on their instruments as they interweave virtuoso parts that barely seem humanly possible. Meanwhile, the dynamic production courtesy of the band’s own Andrew Balboa and Omar Sultan is perfectly suited, and only enhances the band’s ever-intensifying talents. TesseracT’s Acle Kahney has done a wonderful job with the master, making for an overall very satisfying listening experience.

Highly recommendable!

Heyoka’s Mirror is:

Andrew Balboa – vocals, keyboards and rhythm guitars
Omar Sultan – guitars
Bayan Sharafi – drums

Links: 

Bandcamp

Facebook

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/bandcamp-undercover/heyokas-mirror-loss-of-contact-with-reality/
Heyoka's Mirror - Loss of Contact with Reality

Enjoying their launch to orbit, Calgary progressive metal trio Heyoka’s Mirror released Loss of Contact with Reality as an concept album dealing with the story of Mr. Loomis, who is blinded by greed and power. It’s a short one, but even with a 30-minute running time, the EP cobbles together enough intricate twists and turns that it feels massive, and each of the three songs is an epic journey in precision.

The concept plays out very well with the music, combining wild signatures, scales, drastic genre shifts from one minute to the next, and syrupy vocals that erupt into roars. More than three songs of this caliber would be exhausting, so an intermission to break up this prog-metal opera feels necessary. The trio is at the top of their game, and couldn’t seem much more adventurous on their instruments as they interweave virtuoso parts that barely seem humanly possible. Meanwhile, the dynamic production courtesy of the band’s own Andrew Balboa and Omar Sultan is perfectly suited, and only enhances the band’s ever-intensifying talents. TesseracT’s Acle Kahney has done a wonderful job with the master, making for an overall very satisfying listening experience.

Highly recommendable!

Heyoka’s Mirror is:

Andrew Balboa – vocals, keyboards and rhythm guitars
Omar Sultan – guitars
Bayan Sharafi – drums

Links: 

Bandcamp

Facebook

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/heyokas-mirror-interview/
Heyoka's Mirror

Calgary, Alberta-based prog trio Heyoka’s Mirror has launched their debıt EP ‘Loss of Contact with Reality‘ earlier this month, a three-track concept story about a man blinded by money and power. Taking on a mix of progressive metal, death metal, avant-garde, and jazz fusion, along with excursions to the world of opera, Heyoka’s Mirror display a huge amount of talent with ‘Loss of Contact with Reality,’ which was mastered by TesseracT‘s Acle Kahney.

Define the mission of Heyoka’s Mirror.

Our mission is to spread knowledge and a message from the heart. The message is to look at yourself, look through the looking glass, realize who you are, do you know who you are? We want to open your mind, to make you see things, see emotion, see feelings.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recent EP Loss of Contact with Reality and the themes it captures.

Andrew: We wrote “Face of Void,” “Time Manager” and “Chronovisor” for a battle of the bands back in 2015. It took us 4 to 5 months to write those 3 songs. I would go to Omar’s and just sit there and write. First we would talk about the story, then we would come up with themes for every emotion our character would be going through, pretty much like a storyboard, and then we would present it to Bayan, he would add the drums, and then we would practice, practice, practice, perform, perform, perform. Finally, two years later, we thought… maybe we should record this!

The EP is a concept album. It talks about a man, who we named “Mr. Loomis,” he is a man blinded by money and power. “Face of Void” introduces Mr. Loomis and makes him experience his first awakening; “Time Manager” talks about all the money and power he is made of, and finally, “Chronovisor” is the story of his demise.

Heyoka's Mirror - Loss of Contact with Reality

What is the message you are trying to give with Loss of Contact with Reality?

Omar: The message of this EP is that we’re here as a band. It’s an introduction to what’s to come. Again… it’s a message, a request… an invitation to lose contact with your current reality.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Andrew: We always record video on our phones while we’re writing, then I go home and watch the videos, transcribe them on GuitarPro and that’s it! Once the tab is complete I send it to everyone so they can practice with it.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Andrew: Hell yeah! Sometimes we spend up to five hours just creating a bridge or a verse. We have a lot of ideas all the time, but we only work on the ones that we feel 100% connected with. Also, you have to remember that by the time we are writing the music, we already have a “storyboard” so we don’t just fuck around with random ideas that fit the key, we focus on the emotion the character is going through at that moment.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

Omar: I guess the way we decided to record was when everything was written and we had practiced a lot as a band. We performed those songs many times live so that gave us a little bit of an idea on how it should sound like, it also gave us new ideas for certain parts… there’s always a new vibrato or a new slide here and there. So, even when we’re 100% happy with a section… there’s always room for improvement. And just like in any album, Bayan started recording the drums, Andrew recorded bass, then Andrew and I recorded rhythm guitars. Andrew recorded keyboards and vocals and I recorded the guitar solos at the very end.

How long Loss of Contact with Reality was in the making?

Andrew: Oh man, it took forever! [laughing] We started writing on May 23rd, 2015 and finished around March 2016… Wow! That’s nine months! Not 4 or 5!  [laughs] Our very first show for the battle of the bands was on November 14, 2015 and the finals were on March 19, 2016. We only had time to practice the songs we needed to perform and not so much time to write new material during that time.

When we were done with the battle of the bands we just kept on writing and writing and writing. It wasn’t until July 2016 that we decided to create the EP. We all have full time jobs so the recording process took 10 months! We were finally done by May 2017.

[embedded content]

The EP was mastered by TesseracT’s Acle Kahney. How did you go about getting in touch and what was his input to the overall process like?

Andrew: I love TesseracT and I follow them on their social media, of course. It was on their Facebook page that I found out that Acle runs 4D Sounds. I sent him an email and he replied right away. He is super nice and down to earth. We started by sending him “Face of Void,” we wanted to test the waters and see what he could do to our sound. When “Face of Void” came back…. It was a monster! Acle knows exactly what a prog band wants and needs. We sent him the other two songs and when “Time Manager” came back, for some reason I still don’t know, I wasn’t 100% happy with the sound. So I asked him if he could do some changes… and so he did. When the new master came back I listened to it and I was like: “oh yeah, this is awesome!” Then I listened to the first version he sent again and my mind was blown away!!! WTF was I thinking??? Remember kids… Always listen to your mixes and masters on different monitors, speakers, systems, etc.

I sent him an apology for making him work extra time when his first master was the best. You can get in touch with him at www.4dsounds.com

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Omar: That’s pretty simple… Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Meshuggah, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Transatlantic, Animals as Leaders… and some good old Metallica! m/

What is your view on technology in music?

Andrew: I love technology! As long as whatever gadget I’m using allows me to play single notes and gives me creative freedom, I’m onboard! Music always comes first, so if the gadget helps the music we’ll use it. Technology makes everything easier for humans… but we also want to play our own music! That’s why we never use backing tracks during shows, everything you hear is coming from us.

Let technology help you, but never let it do everything for you.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Andrew: I hope so! That’s what I want and that’s why we write. We don’t write to entertain, we write because we love music but also because we want you to get to know yourself and make a change.

What are your plans for the future?

Omar: We will start recording the full album in March 2018. It will consist of 8 songs and we expect to release it by January 2019. In the meantime we will like to keep playing around the city and plan a little tour in the west side of Canada. We would love to write new material but first things first! Recording!

Andrew: We would also like to release a music video for “Chronovisor” and maybe a live recording of a new song? Something, so you don’t forget about us during 2018 ;)

Loss of Contact with Reality is out now; order it from Bandcamp. Follow Heyoka’s Mirror on Facebook for future updates.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/heyokas-mirror-interview/
Heyoka's Mirror

Calgary, Alberta-based prog trio Heyoka’s Mirror has launched their debıt EP ‘Loss of Contact with Reality‘ earlier this month, a three-track concept story about a man blinded by money and power. Taking on a mix of progressive metal, death metal, avant-garde, and jazz fusion, along with excursions to the world of opera, Heyoka’s Mirror display a huge amount of talent with ‘Loss of Contact with Reality,’ which was mastered by TesseracT‘s Acle Kahney.

Define the mission of Heyoka’s Mirror.

Our mission is to spread knowledge and a message from the heart. The message is to look at yourself, look through the looking glass, realize who you are, do you know who you are? We want to open your mind, to make you see things, see emotion, see feelings.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recent EP Loss of Contact with Reality and the themes it captures.

Andrew: We wrote “Face of Void,” “Time Manager” and “Chronovisor” for a battle of the bands back in 2015. It took us 4 to 5 months to write those 3 songs. I would go to Omar’s and just sit there and write. First we would talk about the story, then we would come up with themes for every emotion our character would be going through, pretty much like a storyboard, and then we would present it to Bayan, he would add the drums, and then we would practice, practice, practice, perform, perform, perform. Finally, two years later, we thought… maybe we should record this!

The EP is a concept album. It talks about a man, who we named “Mr. Loomis,” he is a man blinded by money and power. “Face of Void” introduces Mr. Loomis and makes him experience his first awakening; “Time Manager” talks about all the money and power he is made of, and finally, “Chronovisor” is the story of his demise.

Heyoka's Mirror - Loss of Contact with Reality

What is the message you are trying to give with Loss of Contact with Reality?

Omar: The message of this EP is that we’re here as a band. It’s an introduction to what’s to come. Again… it’s a message, a request… an invitation to lose contact with your current reality.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Andrew: We always record video on our phones while we’re writing, then I go home and watch the videos, transcribe them on GuitarPro and that’s it! Once the tab is complete I send it to everyone so they can practice with it.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Andrew: Hell yeah! Sometimes we spend up to five hours just creating a bridge or a verse. We have a lot of ideas all the time, but we only work on the ones that we feel 100% connected with. Also, you have to remember that by the time we are writing the music, we already have a “storyboard” so we don’t just fuck around with random ideas that fit the key, we focus on the emotion the character is going through at that moment.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

Omar: I guess the way we decided to record was when everything was written and we had practiced a lot as a band. We performed those songs many times live so that gave us a little bit of an idea on how it should sound like, it also gave us new ideas for certain parts… there’s always a new vibrato or a new slide here and there. So, even when we’re 100% happy with a section… there’s always room for improvement. And just like in any album, Bayan started recording the drums, Andrew recorded bass, then Andrew and I recorded rhythm guitars. Andrew recorded keyboards and vocals and I recorded the guitar solos at the very end.

How long Loss of Contact with Reality was in the making?

Andrew: Oh man, it took forever! [laughing] We started writing on May 23rd, 2015 and finished around March 2016… Wow! That’s nine months! Not 4 or 5!  [laughs] Our very first show for the battle of the bands was on November 14, 2015 and the finals were on March 19, 2016. We only had time to practice the songs we needed to perform and not so much time to write new material during that time.

When we were done with the battle of the bands we just kept on writing and writing and writing. It wasn’t until July 2016 that we decided to create the EP. We all have full time jobs so the recording process took 10 months! We were finally done by May 2017.

[embedded content]

The EP was mastered by TesseracT’s Acle Kahney. How did you go about getting in touch and what was his input to the overall process like?

Andrew: I love TesseracT and I follow them on their social media, of course. It was on their Facebook page that I found out that Acle runs 4D Sounds. I sent him an email and he replied right away. He is super nice and down to earth. We started by sending him “Face of Void,” we wanted to test the waters and see what he could do to our sound. When “Face of Void” came back…. It was a monster! Acle knows exactly what a prog band wants and needs. We sent him the other two songs and when “Time Manager” came back, for some reason I still don’t know, I wasn’t 100% happy with the sound. So I asked him if he could do some changes… and so he did. When the new master came back I listened to it and I was like: “oh yeah, this is awesome!” Then I listened to the first version he sent again and my mind was blown away!!! WTF was I thinking??? Remember kids… Always listen to your mixes and masters on different monitors, speakers, systems, etc.

I sent him an apology for making him work extra time when his first master was the best. You can get in touch with him at www.4dsounds.com

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Omar: That’s pretty simple… Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Meshuggah, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Transatlantic, Animals as Leaders… and some good old Metallica! m/

What is your view on technology in music?

Andrew: I love technology! As long as whatever gadget I’m using allows me to play single notes and gives me creative freedom, I’m onboard! Music always comes first, so if the gadget helps the music we’ll use it. Technology makes everything easier for humans… but we also want to play our own music! That’s why we never use backing tracks during shows, everything you hear is coming from us.

Let technology help you, but never let it do everything for you.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Andrew: I hope so! That’s what I want and that’s why we write. We don’t write to entertain, we write because we love music but also because we want you to get to know yourself and make a change.

What are your plans for the future?

Omar: We will start recording the full album in March 2018. It will consist of 8 songs and we expect to release it by January 2019. In the meantime we will like to keep playing around the city and plan a little tour in the west side of Canada. We would love to write new material but first things first! Recording!

Andrew: We would also like to release a music video for “Chronovisor” and maybe a live recording of a new song? Something, so you don’t forget about us during 2018 ;)

Loss of Contact with Reality is out now; order it from Bandcamp. Follow Heyoka’s Mirror on Facebook for future updates.

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/12/26/a-different-aspect-11-christmas-special-2017-pt-1/


Big Bad Wolf – Pond Life
Philip Taylor – One Year On
Aelita Red – Aelita Red
Trallskogen – Trollskogen
Scriptures – Lucid
Days Of Confusion – Yin & Out

Ah, Christmas! A time of good cheer, eating, drinking and buying more “stuff”.

Well here’s some stuff that you might have missed – we almost did! Pull up an eggnog and join us for another look behind the sofa to see what might be lurking in the musical backwaters in this, the first Christmas Special ADA (TPA’s occasional ‘A Different Aspect’ series) for 2017. This is where we sweep up some of the worthwhile releases that might have disappeared down the cracks of the main reviews section. Have a listen via the links provided and hopefully you’ll find some new sounds to investigate further during the Holiday Season and beyond.

Don’t be put off by either the band name or the album title, for what we have here is an utterly charming confection of brass-tinged pop dipped in melancholy and laced with a very slight mathrock tincture. The latter is supplied by guitarist Rob Luft’s usually subtle and intricate interjections that occasionally soar into the stratosphere in a winningly genteel fashion. Again, do not be dissuaded by the “math” adornment, for this is a very human record and the lab coats have been left in the laboratory.

The title track is as good a place as any to use as a reference point for the rest of the album. Pond Life the track is melodic yet complex, and is capable of soothing the furrowed brow for all its undoubted cleverness, which is quite a trick to pull off, methinks. Definitely an unusual yet not at all difficult album, and one I would have wittered on at great length about had it not slipped under my radar when it came out in July. Highly recommended.


Philip Taylor – One Year On
by Bob Mulvey

Around this time of the year I rummage around for some music that will offer suitable respite from the mayhem of the festive season. This year my searching proved to be slightly longer than normal, however the end result was well worth the effort as it brought me to this delightful release from acoustic fingerstyle guitarist Philip Taylor.

Very simply, Philip Taylor and his acoustic guitar offer twelve tastefully written and superbly executed instrumental pieces. His arrangements employ a number of opening tunings, deftly played with the emphasis on feel rather than flamboyant displays of technique. The resulting music is melodically vibrant and serenely beautiful…

One Year On is a wonderful album which I heartily recommended. Hardest job was selecting just one track to include in this review, as there’s not a bad composition on the album.


Aelita Red – Aelita Red
by Jez Rowden

The main reason I delved into this one was the highly entertaining promo sheet that came with it. And I’m glad I did. Aelita Red – “sounds better than the ‘Dave White messing around on a laptop band’” is the solo project – and that means completely solo – of the aforementioned Dave. “This is not his brainchild either because that makes him sound like a guy who wears a cape.”

It’s a very nice listen start to finish, laid back but compelling, put together with real care and attention to detail for which Dave (and his laptop) are to be applauded. It isn’t flash for the sake of it, instead the pieces work in a layered and consistent way. Dave, a guitar tech by trade who travels the world to tender to the merest (hopefully just musical) whim of his rock star employers, assembled the album during his down time, abiding by a number of set rules, including: No more than three guitar tracks at any one time; You can only use a Mellotron, no other keyboard sounds; Samples are OK (but only a couple, don’t get daft); Make the next bit more interesting (and more unexpected) than the last; No singing.

The result is fresh, modern and entertaining. There’s a sophisticated tastefulness to it that bears repeated listens with ease, it doesn’t sag (despite the requirement to have “a bit in the middle for a breather or toilet break”) and isn’t an over-the-top album of guitar histrionics for the sake of it. Nicely done Dave.


Trallskogen – Trollskogen
by Mel Allen

A ‘Trall’ singer tells stories about people and creatures while travelling from one village to another, a style which has been passed down for generations, and Trallkogen is a musical project led by vocalist Annika Jonsson, beginning as Swedish folk music it displays elements of jazz, pop and rock, but anything is possible.

The focus here appears to be on the jazzier elements of their sound with some folk influences thrown in, and Annika’s voice is pleasant and engaging throughout. Singing in her native language she is ably supported by the other band members on guitar, bass, piano, and drums. This nine track album starts with the eerie Intro, which is a little sinister, like a stroll through a dark Swedish wood, leading you into the title track. The remaining pieces show some diversity in their musicianship before the finale with the beautiful Farval and the subsequent hidden track which appears after a short pause.

Overall it’s an interesting album which uses a number of musical styles, the prominent being jazz. A good debut but not captivating enough for me to keep hitting replay.


Scriptures – Lucid
by Bob Mulvey

Notts based Scriptures return with their second album, Lucid, which “covers the themes of death, rebirth, struggle, and the monotony of day to day living”. So not a cheery affair you might think, however despite the core subjects Scriptures employ an array of electronica, subtle and grungy guitar textures and a solid rhythm section to create a sound that absorbs and engrosses. Weaving its magic throughout Lucid is Siobhan Sand’s haunting and ethereal vocals, sitting a little too low in the mix for me, but that’s a minor gripe.

A couple of listens and you quickly appreciate what a varied album Lucid is, from the upbeat April Showers, to the contrasting delicacy and a personal favourite, Sara Tonin, to the title track, which combines both admirably.

Released in April this year Lucid is a well-crafted album, showing a maturing sound from their 2014 debut, Our Problems Revisited, and with the greater involvement of Siobhan Sand, promises much in the future.


Days Of Confusion – Yin & Out
by Tony Colvill

[embedded content]

Days of Confusion are a Romanian Djent/Progressive Metal band and this is their latest album. Yin & Out comes complete with a board game, comprising a very artistic board and the smallest dice I’ve ever seen, in which you play as a member of the band. This aside, the music is fairly generic heavy djent/prog metal with lots of muscular guitar and some metal vocals.

The songs are OK but nothing that stands out significantly, although I am no connoisseur of such genres. I found this noisy but energetic, and certainly not to my taste, but if you like Prog Metal then I’m sure that this is a perfectly acceptable example of such. There are a few softer passages that make it more enjoyable and rounded, such as the middle section of Killing You is Killing Me. before the noise returns.

Sadly, not for me at all.


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I’m delighted to announce that The Ancient One Show No 72, “A Bit Of A Mixed Bag Vol 1”, is now available as a podcast.

Playlist

1 The Nice – Brandenburger (Excerpt used as the Intro)
2 Genesis – Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (Selling England By The Pound)
3 Gandalf’s Fist – Winter’s Mourning (Seasonal Digital Single)
4 Shit and Giggles – Wake Up (Seasonal Digital Single)
5 Cosmograf – A Festive Ghost (Seasonal Digital Single)
6 Garth Hudson – The Breakers (The Sea To The North)
7 Fish – The High Wood Suite Pt 1-5 (A Feast Of Consequences)
8 Atlantropa Project – Star Atlantropa (Atlantropa Project)
9 PRP – Rubber Hands (2 Track Digital Single)
10 When Mary – Wonderful Warning (Tainted)
11 Rick Wakeman – Music Reincarnate Pt 1-5 (Music Reincarnate)
12 Yes – Time And A Word (Time And A Word)
13 Holger Czukay – Persian Love (Movies)
14 Jethro Tull – Living In The Past (Living In The Past comp)
15 Abel Ganz – So Far (Shooting Albatross)
16 Airbag – Safe Like You (Identity)
17 Grus Paridae – Forthcoming Non-Intellectual Decadence (Digital single)
18 The Nice – Brandenburger (Excerpt used as the Outro)

I’m delighted to announce that The Ancient One Show No 71 “An Eclectic Mix” is now available as a podcast.

Playlist

1 The Nice – Brandenburger (excerpt used as Intro)
2 Looking Glass Lantern – An Evening Soiree (Candlelight and Empire)
3 Zenit – Matrimandir (The Chandrasekhar Limit)
4 PFM – The Lesson (Emotional Tattoo)
5 Argos – Cruel Symmetry (Cruel Symmetry)
6 Tempus Fugit – The Lord Of 1000 Tales (Tales From A Forgotten World)
7 The Nice – John Peel Advert/Ars Longa Vita Brevis (Ars Longa Vita Brevis)
8 Pendragon – Masters Of Illusion (The Masquerade Overture)
9 Galleon – Long Lonely Shadows (King Of Aragon)
10 Thieves Kitchen – Germander Speedwell (One for Sorrow Two For Joy)
11 Unitopia – Justify (The Dream Complete)
12 The Nice – Brandenburger (excerpt used as Outro)

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/prog-albums-celebrating-10-in-2018/
10 Prog Albums Celebrating Their 10th Anniversary in 2018

With 2018 being just around the corner, it’s time to focus on what it brings, and in the first in the series of articles we look at the Prog albums that were released in 2008 — albums that celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Beardfish – Sleeping in Traffic (Part Two)

Although progressive rock’s popularity peaked in the ’70s, it continued to enjoy a cult following in the 21st century — and one of the noteworthy prog rock bands that came out of Europe in the 2000s was Sweden’s Beardfish, who had no problem balancing intellect and emotion on their fourth album, Sleeping in Traffic, Pt. 2. The material on this 74-minute CD has plenty of complexity; tracks like “The Hunter,” “As the Sun Sets,” “South of the Border,” and “Sunrise Again” have all kinds of twists and turns, and none of them adhere to a simple verse/chorus/verse/chorus format. But complexity never comes at the expense of feeling on Sleeping in Traffic, Pt. 2, nor does it come at the expense of humor. Granted, “humor” isn’t a word that one often hears in connection with progressive rock — which has often been accused of taking itself too seriously — but it’s a word that is definitely applicable on parts of this album, and some of Beardfish‘s sense of humor comes from having a healthy appreciation of the late Frank ZappaGentle GiantYesGenesis, and Camel have all been cited as major influences on Beardfish, but the Scandinavians have learned some things from Zappa as well. Zappa had no problem being cerebral and goofy at the same time, and his oddball sense of humor is a positive influence on Sleeping in Traffic, Pt. 2. This album is a consistently appealing demonstration of what prog rock has (had) to offer in the 21st century.

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Cynic – Traced in Air

It is safe to say Traced in Air is a unique album in the world of both metal and rock music, and one crafted with such love and fondness it would be a wonder if they don’t continue on to write more material (but they will). Its short length means you don’t get burned out on the riffs or Masvidal’s airy singing, or annoyed at the slapped-on growls (which aren’t bad, but just aren’t necessary anymore). Traced in Air is one of the most impressive records in last ten years, and one in which one can mindlessly headbang to a riff one minute, and then sit back mouth agape the next minute at an extended jazzy guitar solo with nothing lost in translation.

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Gojira – The Way of All Flesh

When The Way of All Flesh was released, it came out at a time in which the band genuinely had something to prove. From Mars to Sirius was the band’s first album that really bubbled up on the metal world’s collective radar, garnering critical acclaim and essentially being their breakthrough record. Luckily, in a very logical progression, Gojira managed to utilize a much darker and more melancholic sound on The Way of All Flesh; it’s also very different from a production standpoint, abandoning the sludgy and murky feel of From Mars to Sirius for something a bit more mechanical and cold. That may almost sound like an insult, but it works perfectly with the overall atmosphere. It also gives heavier songs like “Toxic Garbage Island” and “All the Tears” a lot of punch, especially in regards to Mario Duplantier‘s drumming. But the melodies are more prominently featured here (something that would apply to their subsequent albums as well), and while some older Gojira fans may be turned off by this, I believe it was the right move for the quartet.

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Karmakanic – Who’s the Boss in the Factory?

Album no. 3 in Karmakanic‘s discography marked no real departure from the previous two albums or from the sound of leader Jonas Reingold‘s main engagement the Flower Kings. In fact, fans of the mighty Swedish prog rock battalion have felt right at home with Who’s the Boss in the Factory? The Flower Kings‘ bassist can carry the band’s torch as high and bright as Roine Stolt or Tomas Bodin, and — in the case of this particular album — with less inclination to push things in a different direction. “Send a Message from the Heart” and “Two Blocks from the Edge” could easily have been recorded by Reingold‘s headlining band, and they would have figured well, although the 20-minute “Send a Message from the Heart” plays the “positive vibrations” card a bit too strongly.

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Lunatic Soul – Lunatic Soul

Musically, the debut solo album by Riverside‘s Mariusz Duda, feels honest and has quite a few interesting moments which are demonstrated immediately with the short intro giving a taste of some of the dreary elements that encompass the rest of the album. Most of the compositions focus on the use of percussive instruments, acoustic guitars, vocal layering and keyboards for the majority of the music. With the bass guitar, flute, guzheng and additional instruments being used to accentuate the main foundation of each song. This works well on a lot of the tracks including “The New Beginning” and “Summerland,” and indeed a few songs have that ‘oriental’ feel that Mariusz was hoping to embody. As a result the songs exude a certain freshness that keeps them interesting. The vibe throughout is usually pretty relaxed, but is intensified in some songs with the aid of the drum and bass work, such as in songs like the title track. The vocal work is what you’d expect from Mariusz with good emotion and frailty that fits the music well, especially the lyric-less vocals with multiple harmonies. Most of those are just fantastic like on “Summerland” — magnifique.

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Enslaved – Vertebrae

Proving to be one of Norway’s most proficient and consistent long-running metal bands around, Enslaved continued marching to the fore-front of the extreme metal genre with Vertebrae in 2008, an epic, crushing, progressive metal record that found the band extracting their black metal roots momentarily in favor for the spacey progressive rock roots of Pink Floyd. Enslaved once played intense Viking themed black metal in the early nineties garnering a huge fan base in the process. As years started passing by with the black metal scene starting to decline immensely, Enslaved had started to lose interest with their current situation and began to incorporate new musical styles while staying true to their black metal roots. The album, Isa, showed the future of where Enslaved could be heading with the band’s new found experimentation of clean singing and melodic passages. Needless to say, the diehard Enslaved fans were more than upset by this radical new shift and cried sellout. More often than not however, the band received plenty of positive support as well as critical acclaim with Isa managing to snatch up a Grammy. The next album RUUN followed it’s predecessor and explored the progressive rock spectrum further more than Isa accomplished so if anybody was paying attention to these last two albums it wouldn’t be a surprise for how much farther Enslaved have shifted away from pure black metal.

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Amaseffer – Slaves for Life

Slaves For Life was originally conceived as the first part of a trilogy about the history of the people of Israel as portrayed in the old testament. The lyrics and the concept of the album are two important points, of course, but the music is probably the thing which attracts the most. Here Amaseffer offers some kind of Epic Progressive Metal with a lot of Oriental folk sonorities. This is beautiful, deep and so epic that it sounds a bit like the music of a movie. The songs are long, complex with a lot of different passages with speeches, and the performances of Mats Leven and Kobi Farhi are just amazing.

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Ayreon – 01011001

01011001 was definitely a good experiment in modern metal of epic proportions for Arjen Lucassen, but it also showed that it definitely is not for everyone. 01011001 featured Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-the Gathering), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Floor Jansen (After Forever, Nightwish), Tom Englund (Evergrey), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Simone Simons (Epica), Ty Tabor (King’s X), and Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation), among many others. These singers are the focal points of their bands, but in Ayreon, they’re merely characters in Lucassen‘s rock operas. Ray gun synths, operatic vocals, fake and real strings, and even Celtic melodies adorn this sonic mansion.

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Steven Wilson – Insurgentes

It caused a stir when it was announced back in 2008: Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree and No-Man fame) was to release his first-ever full-length solo album. The first question to pop up was: why? After a couple decades of activity under his belt, and two handfuls of bands and projects past and present (including several solo outfits, like Bass Communion), why would he release an album under his own name, and what would that album be like? Well, as it turned out, Insurgentes is basically a Porcupine Tree album in which Wilson wrote all the songs and made all the decisions, including the one to not include all current members of Porcupine Tree in the project. Insurgentes is an excellent slab of progressive-tinged alternative rock, and a logical next step from Fear of a Blank PlanetPorcupine Tree‘s last album at that point. The songwriting is sharp and punchy in the short tracks, and atmospheric and contrasted in the longer ones (the wall-of-guitar entry in “No Twilight Within the Courts of the Sun”), with maybe a tad bit more input from Wilson‘s experimental project Bass Communion filtering through in the textures department.

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Opeth – Watershed

After album (or “observation,” as the band likes to call them) number eight — Ghost Reveries — Opeth could have very easily coasted, merely rehashing their sound. Instead, they opted to challenge themselves and their listeners, creating an album that could — at times — expose its true nature and scope slowly and — at other times be jarring, as if it were turning itself inside out. Opeth take chances that many bands in the same situation would be too scared to have a go at. It’s hard to say if the membership changes affected bandleader Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s writing and production here, or if he was enjoying his trip down classic rock lane. For whatever reason, Watershed was a new benchmark for Opeth. The tricky part is pointing out that while Watershed IS a fantastic record, one that takes chances while remaining totally metal, it feels less like a complete statement than a preview for something even greater. After the pastoral introduction of “Coil,” Opeth move into pummeling mode with “Heir Apparent.” It’s one of the few tracks here to feature growling death metal vocals. But it is track three where Opeth really take the listener by the ear and twist. There’s a gently humming prologue, then “The Lotus Eater” becomes a slab of blastbeats iced with clean vocals that — as with many Opeth tunes — takes a “break” two-thirds of the way through, only to take one hell of a left turn out of nowhere. The tune doesn’t just go back to heavy riffage, but explores a prog metal, psychedelic organ quasi-freakout that touches on pure jazz. “Burden,” arguably the strongest of the classicist tunes on Watershed (closely followed by “Hessian Peel”), is lush and grandiose. It’s the moment on this collection where the listener realizes how incredibly talented this band is (was). And if the songs themselves aren’t enough, the structures and fade-outs on some of them are. An example: “Burden”‘s gentle guitar outro is deconstructed by someone manually detuning Åkerfeldt‘s guitar as he plays. Another: “Lotus Eater”‘s Dark Side of the Moon-esque ”voices in your head” send-off. These add more depth to an album that surprises continually, even after repeated listens. A perfect blend of the death metal of Still LifeBlackwater Park, and My Arms, Your Hearse, the monolithic riffage of Deliverance and Ghost Reveries, and the prog/classicism of Damnation combined with classic Deep PurplePink Floyd, and ScorpionsWatershed opened a new chapter for Opeth, one that promised infinitely more than its predecessors.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/prog-albums-celebrating-10-in-2018/
10 Prog Albums Celebrating Their 10th Anniversary in 2018

With 2018 being just around the corner, it’s time to focus on what it brings, and in the first in the series of articles we look at the Prog albums that were released in 2008 — albums that celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Beardfish – Sleeping in Traffic (Part Two)

Although progressive rock’s popularity peaked in the ’70s, it continued to enjoy a cult following in the 21st century — and one of the noteworthy prog rock bands that came out of Europe in the 2000s was Sweden’s Beardfish, who had no problem balancing intellect and emotion on their fourth album, Sleeping in Traffic, Pt. 2. The material on this 74-minute CD has plenty of complexity; tracks like “The Hunter,” “As the Sun Sets,” “South of the Border,” and “Sunrise Again” have all kinds of twists and turns, and none of them adhere to a simple verse/chorus/verse/chorus format. But complexity never comes at the expense of feeling on Sleeping in Traffic, Pt. 2, nor does it come at the expense of humor. Granted, “humor” isn’t a word that one often hears in connection with progressive rock — which has often been accused of taking itself too seriously — but it’s a word that is definitely applicable on parts of this album, and some of Beardfish‘s sense of humor comes from having a healthy appreciation of the late Frank ZappaGentle GiantYesGenesis, and Camel have all been cited as major influences on Beardfish, but the Scandinavians have learned some things from Zappa as well. Zappa had no problem being cerebral and goofy at the same time, and his oddball sense of humor is a positive influence on Sleeping in Traffic, Pt. 2. This album is a consistently appealing demonstration of what prog rock has (had) to offer in the 21st century.

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Cynic – Traced in Air

It is safe to say Traced in Air is a unique album in the world of both metal and rock music, and one crafted with such love and fondness it would be a wonder if they don’t continue on to write more material (but they will). Its short length means you don’t get burned out on the riffs or Masvidal’s airy singing, or annoyed at the slapped-on growls (which aren’t bad, but just aren’t necessary anymore). Traced in Air is one of the most impressive records in last ten years, and one in which one can mindlessly headbang to a riff one minute, and then sit back mouth agape the next minute at an extended jazzy guitar solo with nothing lost in translation.

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Gojira – The Way of All Flesh

When The Way of All Flesh was released, it came out at a time in which the band genuinely had something to prove. From Mars to Sirius was the band’s first album that really bubbled up on the metal world’s collective radar, garnering critical acclaim and essentially being their breakthrough record. Luckily, in a very logical progression, Gojira managed to utilize a much darker and more melancholic sound on The Way of All Flesh; it’s also very different from a production standpoint, abandoning the sludgy and murky feel of From Mars to Sirius for something a bit more mechanical and cold. That may almost sound like an insult, but it works perfectly with the overall atmosphere. It also gives heavier songs like “Toxic Garbage Island” and “All the Tears” a lot of punch, especially in regards to Mario Duplantier‘s drumming. But the melodies are more prominently featured here (something that would apply to their subsequent albums as well), and while some older Gojira fans may be turned off by this, I believe it was the right move for the quartet.

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Karmakanic – Who’s the Boss in the Factory?

Album no. 3 in Karmakanic‘s discography marked no real departure from the previous two albums or from the sound of leader Jonas Reingold‘s main engagement the Flower Kings. In fact, fans of the mighty Swedish prog rock battalion have felt right at home with Who’s the Boss in the Factory? The Flower Kings‘ bassist can carry the band’s torch as high and bright as Roine Stolt or Tomas Bodin, and — in the case of this particular album — with less inclination to push things in a different direction. “Send a Message from the Heart” and “Two Blocks from the Edge” could easily have been recorded by Reingold‘s headlining band, and they would have figured well, although the 20-minute “Send a Message from the Heart” plays the “positive vibrations” card a bit too strongly.

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Lunatic Soul – Lunatic Soul

Musically, the debut solo album by Riverside‘s Mariusz Duda, feels honest and has quite a few interesting moments which are demonstrated immediately with the short intro giving a taste of some of the dreary elements that encompass the rest of the album. Most of the compositions focus on the use of percussive instruments, acoustic guitars, vocal layering and keyboards for the majority of the music. With the bass guitar, flute, guzheng and additional instruments being used to accentuate the main foundation of each song. This works well on a lot of the tracks including “The New Beginning” and “Summerland,” and indeed a few songs have that ‘oriental’ feel that Mariusz was hoping to embody. As a result the songs exude a certain freshness that keeps them interesting. The vibe throughout is usually pretty relaxed, but is intensified in some songs with the aid of the drum and bass work, such as in songs like the title track. The vocal work is what you’d expect from Mariusz with good emotion and frailty that fits the music well, especially the lyric-less vocals with multiple harmonies. Most of those are just fantastic like on “Summerland” — magnifique.

[embedded content]

Enslaved – Vertebrae

Proving to be one of Norway’s most proficient and consistent long-running metal bands around, Enslaved continued marching to the fore-front of the extreme metal genre with Vertebrae in 2008, an epic, crushing, progressive metal record that found the band extracting their black metal roots momentarily in favor for the spacey progressive rock roots of Pink Floyd. Enslaved once played intense Viking themed black metal in the early nineties garnering a huge fan base in the process. As years started passing by with the black metal scene starting to decline immensely, Enslaved had started to lose interest with their current situation and began to incorporate new musical styles while staying true to their black metal roots. The album, Isa, showed the future of where Enslaved could be heading with the band’s new found experimentation of clean singing and melodic passages. Needless to say, the diehard Enslaved fans were more than upset by this radical new shift and cried sellout. More often than not however, the band received plenty of positive support as well as critical acclaim with Isa managing to snatch up a Grammy. The next album RUUN followed it’s predecessor and explored the progressive rock spectrum further more than Isa accomplished so if anybody was paying attention to these last two albums it wouldn’t be a surprise for how much farther Enslaved have shifted away from pure black metal.

[embedded content]

Amaseffer – Slaves for Life

Slaves For Life was originally conceived as the first part of a trilogy about the history of the people of Israel as portrayed in the old testament. The lyrics and the concept of the album are two important points, of course, but the music is probably the thing which attracts the most. Here Amaseffer offers some kind of Epic Progressive Metal with a lot of Oriental folk sonorities. This is beautiful, deep and so epic that it sounds a bit like the music of a movie. The songs are long, complex with a lot of different passages with speeches, and the performances of Mats Leven and Kobi Farhi are just amazing.

[embedded content]

Ayreon – 01011001

01011001 was definitely a good experiment in modern metal of epic proportions for Arjen Lucassen, but it also showed that it definitely is not for everyone. 01011001 featured Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-the Gathering), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Floor Jansen (After Forever, Nightwish), Tom Englund (Evergrey), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Simone Simons (Epica), Ty Tabor (King’s X), and Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation), among many others. These singers are the focal points of their bands, but in Ayreon, they’re merely characters in Lucassen‘s rock operas. Ray gun synths, operatic vocals, fake and real strings, and even Celtic melodies adorn this sonic mansion.

[embedded content]

Steven Wilson – Insurgentes

It caused a stir when it was announced back in 2008: Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree and No-Man fame) was to release his first-ever full-length solo album. The first question to pop up was: why? After a couple decades of activity under his belt, and two handfuls of bands and projects past and present (including several solo outfits, like Bass Communion), why would he release an album under his own name, and what would that album be like? Well, as it turned out, Insurgentes is basically a Porcupine Tree album in which Wilson wrote all the songs and made all the decisions, including the one to not include all current members of Porcupine Tree in the project. Insurgentes is an excellent slab of progressive-tinged alternative rock, and a logical next step from Fear of a Blank PlanetPorcupine Tree‘s last album at that point. The songwriting is sharp and punchy in the short tracks, and atmospheric and contrasted in the longer ones (the wall-of-guitar entry in “No Twilight Within the Courts of the Sun”), with maybe a tad bit more input from Wilson‘s experimental project Bass Communion filtering through in the textures department.

[embedded content]

Opeth – Watershed

After album (or “observation,” as the band likes to call them) number eight — Ghost Reveries — Opeth could have very easily coasted, merely rehashing their sound. Instead, they opted to challenge themselves and their listeners, creating an album that could — at times — expose its true nature and scope slowly and — at other times be jarring, as if it were turning itself inside out. Opeth take chances that many bands in the same situation would be too scared to have a go at. It’s hard to say if the membership changes affected bandleader Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s writing and production here, or if he was enjoying his trip down classic rock lane. For whatever reason, Watershed was a new benchmark for Opeth. The tricky part is pointing out that while Watershed IS a fantastic record, one that takes chances while remaining totally metal, it feels less like a complete statement than a preview for something even greater. After the pastoral introduction of “Coil,” Opeth move into pummeling mode with “Heir Apparent.” It’s one of the few tracks here to feature growling death metal vocals. But it is track three where Opeth really take the listener by the ear and twist. There’s a gently humming prologue, then “The Lotus Eater” becomes a slab of blastbeats iced with clean vocals that — as with many Opeth tunes — takes a “break” two-thirds of the way through, only to take one hell of a left turn out of nowhere. The tune doesn’t just go back to heavy riffage, but explores a prog metal, psychedelic organ quasi-freakout that touches on pure jazz. “Burden,” arguably the strongest of the classicist tunes on Watershed (closely followed by “Hessian Peel”), is lush and grandiose. It’s the moment on this collection where the listener realizes how incredibly talented this band is (was). And if the songs themselves aren’t enough, the structures and fade-outs on some of them are. An example: “Burden”‘s gentle guitar outro is deconstructed by someone manually detuning Åkerfeldt‘s guitar as he plays. Another: “Lotus Eater”‘s Dark Side of the Moon-esque ”voices in your head” send-off. These add more depth to an album that surprises continually, even after repeated listens. A perfect blend of the death metal of Still LifeBlackwater Park, and My Arms, Your Hearse, the monolithic riffage of Deliverance and Ghost Reveries, and the prog/classicism of Damnation combined with classic Deep PurplePink Floyd, and ScorpionsWatershed opened a new chapter for Opeth, one that promised infinitely more than its predecessors.

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