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All posts for the month June, 2018

Edition 141 of Steve Blease’s Heavy Elements is now available as a podcast.

Playlist:

Symphony X – Children Of A Faceless God
Redemption – Indulge in Color
Innosense – The Fall
To-Mera – Another World
Flor de Loto – Tempestad

Live at 11: Gojira live at Live at 11: Gojira live at the Brixton Academy, London, March 24th 2013

Flying Whales (live)
Oroborus (live)
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe (live)

Riverside – Driven To Destruction
Aeon Zen – Divinity

Album of the Week: Swallow the Sun – Songs From The North

Heartstrings Shattering
Pray for the Winds to Come
The Clouds Prepare for Battle

Thaikkudam Bridge – Shiva

It was my turn on 101 Dimensions again and I lined up a veritable smorgasbord of electronic and ambient music for your listening pleasure! Here’s what you can expect:

1. The Buggles – Technopop; and Island (Edit Version) (from the album The Age Of Plastic, 2010 Japanese reissue)

2. Synergy – Into The Abyss; Prairie Light; and West Side Nights (from the album Metropolitan Suite, 1987)

3. The Buggles – Vermillion Sands; and I Am A Camera (from the album Adventures In Modern Recording, 1981)

4. Aphrodite’s Child – Chakachak (from the album Babylon The Great – An Introduction To Aphrodite’s Child, 2002)

5. Matt Baber – Suite For Piano And Electronics, Pt. 1-5 (from the album Suite For Piano And Electronics, 2018)

6. Silicon Psychosis – Sound Is Holographic; Encroaching Psychotic Entity; Pyramids Of The  Global Matrix; Calling All Aliens; and The Machine Elves (from the album  Electronic Tonalities for Like-Minded Aliens, 2018)

7. Vangelis – Beaubourg, Pt. 1 (from the album Beaubourg, 1978)

I hope you will join me!

Until next time, be good to each other, and Prog On, my brothers and sisters!

Tony

101 Dimensions – June 2018-2

 

Progressive Tracks Show #267 (Words Cannot Express…), originally broadcast on Saturday, June 23, 2018, is now available to download or listen to anytime you desire.

Sometimes music will take you on a roller-coaster of emotions…  more than mere words can describe.  This week we’ll explore music that speaks for itself.

Warning:  Either clear your mind for the experience… or the show will clear it for you.    ;o)

Exclusive Tracks Alert:  This week you’ll hear a couple of track premieres from two of my favorite artists:  Ángel Ontalva & Vespero, from their upcoming collaboration, “Carta Marina”!

Take time to relax, put on some headphones, and immerse yourself in some quality progressive rock.  It may well be the best part of your day.

Remember, you can access any previous edition of The Progressive Tracks Show at: http://www.progzilla.com/?s=progressive+tracks.

PLAYLIST:

  • Jason Rubenstein – “Conviction” from Four Points of Focus on Jason Rubenstein
  • Cthulhu Rise – “Opus 34” from The Second One on Cthulhu Rise
  • Subsignal – “Teardrops Will Dry In Source Of Origin” from La Muerta on Gentle Art Of Music
  • Yowie – “Ineffable Dolphin Communion” from Synchromysticism on Skin Graft Records
  • Ángel Ontalva & Vespero – “Sea Orm” from Carta Marina on VMS
  • Curlew – “Kangaroo” from Paradise on Cuneiform Records
  • Xavi Reija – “Deep Ocean” from The Sound Of The Earth on MoonJune Records
  • Lorenzo Feliciati – “The White Shadow Story” from Frequent Flyer on RareNoiseRecords
  • Jazz Robots – “Ligamentous Laxity” from Jazz Robots Learn to Ride a Bike (With Training Wheels) on Jazz Robots
  • Ángel Ontalva & Vespero – “Sledges Crossing the Gulf of Bothnia” from Carta Marina on VMS
  • Jason Rubenstein – “Unequivocation” from Four Points of Focus on Jason Rubenstein
  • Meteor Vortex – “Absorb” from Absorb/Implode on Independent

If you have comments (always welcome), or suggestions for show topics/music, feel free to contact me anytime via email:  ProgTracks@KPTZ.org

But first… enjoy the show!

Mike “ProgTracks” Pollack

P.S.  You can skip looking for these posts each week by subscribing to the podcast below!

Edition 111 of THE PROG MILL – first broadcast on Progzilla Radio on Sunday 24th June, is now also available to listen to any time or download. Two hours of simply beautiful melodic and symphonic progressive rock.

This weeks playlist

1 Ring Van Mobius – When the sea and the universe were at one (title)
2 RanestRane – Ambasciatore Delle Lacrime (Starchild)
3 La Bocca Della Verita – Reprise -Speranze Distorte (Avenoth)
4 Matthew Browning – Underneath the Willow Tree (Love and Grief)
5 Strangefish – Spotlight Effect (The Spotlight Effect)
6 Drifting Sun – Atlantis (Remedy)
7 Paul Gunn – Been A While (Single)
8 T Rex – Tenement Lady (Tanx)
9 Also Eden – Photograph (Its Kind of You To Ask)
10 Khan – Space Shanty (Space Shanty)
11 Silhouette – March of Peace (The World Is Flat… And Other Alternative Facts)
12 Geof Whitely Project – Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (Dangerous Times)
13 Robert Berry & Keith Emerson – Somebodys Watching (3.2)

If you missed the show – here are all the times you can hear it on Progzilla Radio (www.progzilla.com/listen) – also via the tune in radio app on your mobile or tablet and on all main internet radio platforms.

Sundays 10pm – Midnight UK (2100UTC) – Main Broadcast
Tuesdays 0300-0500 UK (0200UTC) – For North America (Mon 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern)
Tuesdays 11pm-1am UK (2200UTC)
Saturdays 6-8pm UK (1700UTC) Family friendly teatime performance!

Plus a listen anytime or download podcast of the show which is normally online by Monday or Tuesday each week.

Your melodic and symphonic progressive music suggestions are very welcome. Email shaun@progzilla.com, or message via twitter @shaunontheair or facebook.com/theprogmill

NEXT WEEK – A chance to win Pete Ballam’s Manic Machine album (From the Archives of Bram Stoker) – on double vinyl album.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.insideoutmusic.com/newsdetailed.aspx?IdNews=22350&IdCompany=8

In late 2017, Dream Theater signed with Sony Music’s progressive imprint InsideOutMusic.  Now, in preparation for the band’s fourteenth studio album and their first album ever produced in collaboration with this leading worldwide label, they are pleased to announce that they have entered the studio to begin the writing process.  Recently, John Petrucci and James LaBrie shared a quick video update from the writing sessions on the band’s official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dreamtheater


James comments: “We’ve been here for one week and it is going sensational. Everybody is in the one room…and I gotta tell you, if the first week is any indication of where this album is going, you’re in for a treat.” 


John adds: “There’s a lot of ideas flowing, and it’s already been really productive after only a week in. So far the music is heavy, progressive, melodic, shredding and it’s epic.”


The band will hold a live Facebook Q&A with fans during their time in the studio on June 28th at 3PM Eastern Time / 8pm UK time.  Make sure to tune in!


For a first impression of the studio, watch John’s tour here:
https://www.facebook.com/johnpetrucciFB/videos/1974052929313376/



Dream Theater is:
James LaBrie – Lead Vocals
John Petrucci – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
John Myung – Bass Guitars
Mike Mangini – Drums, Percussion



Find Dream Theater online:
www.dreamtheater.net
https://www.facebook.com/dreamtheater
http://twitter.com/dreamtheaternet
http://instagram.com/dtimages



Check out InsideOutMusic online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.insideoutshop.de

I’m delighted to announce that The Ancient One Show No 85 “Short Stories Vol 1”, is now available as a podcast.

Playlist

1 The Nice – Brandenburger (excerpt used as Intro)
2 The Nice – Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon (Emerlist/Elegy 1967/1970)
3 Moon Safari – Lady Of The Woodlands (Blomljud 2008)
4 Blackfield – Glasshouse (Welcome To My DNA 2011)
5 Jon Anderson – Flight Of The Moorglade (Olias of Sunhillow 1976)
6 ELP – Hoedown (Trilogy 1972)
7 Focus – House Of The King (In and Out of Focus 1970)
8 Curved Air – Back St Luv (Second Album 1971)
9 Genesis – After The Ordeal (Selling England By The Pound 1973)
10 Caravan – Surprise Surprise (For Girls Who Grow Plump 1973)
11 Jethro Tull – Teacher( B Side Witches Promise Single 1969)
12 Jon And Vangelis – I Hear You Now (Short Stories 1979)
13 MoonWagon – Super Altar (Night Dust 2010)
14 Rare Bird – Sympathy (Rare Bird aka Sympathy 1969)
15 Tiger Moth Tales – Ripples (Selling England For A Pound 2015)
16 Arzachel – Queen Street Gang (Arzachel 1969)
17 Family – Song For Sinking Lovers (A Song For Me 1970)
18 Kosmoratik – Years Ago Miles Apart (Gravitation 2011)
19 Deep Purple – And The Address (Shades Of Deep Purple 1968)
20 Porcupine Tree – Waiting Phase 1 (single 1996)
21 Big Big Train -Uncle Jack (English Electric Pt 1 2012)
22 Pink Floyd – Learning To Fly (A Momentary Lapse Of Reason 1987)
23 King Crimson – Cadence and Cascade ( In The Wake Of Poseidon 1970)
24 Eros – Capricornia (No Desolation 2012)
25 Seconds Before Landing – Alice Springs (The Great Deception 2013)
26 Sammal – Janiksen Vuoksi (Sammal 2013)
27 Atomic Rooster – Tomorrow Night ( Death Walks Behind You 1970)
28 Nordagust – In The Woods (In The Mist Of Morning 2010)
29 Johannes Luley – Voya (Tales From The Sheepfathers Grove 2014)
30 Procul Harum – A Salty Dog (A Salty Dog 1969)
31 Pete Sinfield – Still (Still 1973)
32 Argos – Papership Dreams (Cruel Symmetry 2012)
33 Days Between Stations The Man Who Died Two Times (In Extremis 2103)
34 Toon Marten’s Project – Babylon (TMP 2011)
35 Bram Stoker – Climbing The Gyrosphere (Cold Reading 2014)
36 XII Alphonse – Earliest Recollections (Charles Darwin 2012)
37 Comedy Of Errors – Spirit (Spirit 2015)
38 Martin Orford – Ray Of Hope (The Old Road 2008)
39 David Gilmour – And Then…..( Rattle That Lock 2015)
40 Willowglass – Into The Chase (Willowglass 2005)
41 The Nice – Brandenburger (Excerpt used as Outro)

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/10-best-prog-albums-of-1988/
Best Prog Albums of 1988

Continuing from our last year’s series on the best prog albums from the 1980s, and after the one-year break, we continue with the year 1988. By many, 1988 was the year when progressive metal started to shape up.

Albums from Queensryche, Voivod and Fates Warning have created a starting point for many international prog acts from that moment on. The regular prog heralds from the 1970s and early 1980s have not returned with new records in 1988, but there have been quite a few surprising releases.

More on the 10 Best Prog Albums of 1988 below.

10. Sieges Even – Lifecycle

Sieges Even are one of the many often over-looked progressive metal acts from the late 1980s, overshadowed by contemporaries like Queensryche and Fates Warning. With their debut album, despite never truly gaining prominence in the metal community and eventually moving towards a more standard-yet-modernized progressive rock sound in the ’90s, they solidified themselves as one of the most technically proficient and talented bands on the planet, taking obvious inspiration from their contemporaries and blending that heavy metal sound with the progressive forefathers of the 1970s in a fashion that many of their contemporaries failed to achieve.

While bands like the aforementioned Queensryche and fellow prog-metallers such as Crimson Glory were certainly progressive and had complex and thoughtful music, they were still primarily heavy metal bands at their core. In a band like Queensryche, however unique they might have been, there was more Judas Priest or Iron Maiden influence to be heard than, say, Genesis, King Crimson, or Rush. And this is what separated Sieges Even from their fellow prog metallers – they wanted to have equal parts progressive rock and metal, making them more similar to Watchtower, but even more complex and progressive.

Any fan of progressive metal, or technical music in general, should pick this up. It shows the heavy beginnings of a group that would go on to make some of the best progressive music of their era, and if you’ve ever once wondered why those damn prog metal bands couldn’t just sound a little more proggy than metal, this album should satisfy you.

[embedded content]

09. Ozric Tentacles – Sliding Gliding Worlds

Sliding Gliding Worlds (also known as “the blue one”) is the fifth of Ozric Tentacles‘ first six independent releases on cassette, each one with a different background color. Released by the band in 1988, it was reissued on CD by Dovetail Records in 1994. This album is the most accessible of the first six, the most “easy listening.” Crunchy riffs are few (only “Kick Muck” represents the Hawkwind side of the band) and the whole thing falls into a pleasant trippy mid-tempo pace. Ed Wynne‘s writing is more melodious and less jam-oriented. World music colors (Chinese, African, Amazonian) can be found in the four last tracks. Highlights include “Soda Water,” “Sliding and Gliding,” and “It’s a Hup Ho World,” plus the comical “Yaboop Yaboop” which includes aboriginal-esque vocals. The sound quality is better than on the other releases in this series, as is the overall quality of the songs and, even though it lacks the fast-paced energy found on some material on There Is Nothing and Live Ethereal Cereal, it remains overall the best album from the band’s early days. Recall, a division of Snapper Music, has reissued the album as a two-CD set (including new artwork) with The Bits Between the Bits under the title The Bits Between the Bits/Sliding Gliding Worlds.

[embedded content]

08. Cassiber – A Face We All Know

This album, the last studio album from Cassiber, is their most complex. For their first two albums (Man or Monkey and Beauty and the Beast), they entered the studio with prepared texts and improvised the music. On their third album, Perfect Worlds, Cassiber preconceived the pieces ahead of time and did the final arrangements in the studio. Here, not just the pieces, but the album’s “plot” and some of the texts were written by Chris Cutler in the summer of 1988, six months prior to recording and two years before the final mix was complete.

The length of gestation and the attention to detail show in the finished product. There is a great deal more overdubbing and sampling than in any previous album, especially in the voices. Christoph Anders‘ voice is perhaps an acquired taste, as he passionately declaims texts by Cutler, American novelist Thomas Pynchon, and German playwright Rainald Goetz, but his delivery is unique, and ultimately gripping. Cutler also recites some of his own texts, and the voices are layered in many places to the point of unintelligibility. Goetz‘s texts in German are another difference from their previous work, where all texts have been in English. The tracks here are divided into three long pieces, two related suites sandwiching a third with texts taken from Thomas Pynchon‘s great novel Gravity’s Rainbow. Themes and texts recur in the first and third parts, providing a unity that makes this the group’s most powerful album.

07. Last Exit – Iron Path

Last Exit‘s major-label release, their first studio recording, and a record that iconoclastic critic Chuck Eddy considers one of the 500 greatest heavy metal albums in the history of the universe. But that doesn’t mean you should invite all your Deep Purple and Iron Maiden loving friends over for a listening party; they won’t be amused. Using the studio to their advantage, Last Exit explores sonic texture on “Prayer” and “The Fire Drum,” but never loses sight of the power and energy that makes their live recordings so memorable. If you were to have one Last Exit recording, this might well be the one. But any one of their live records would enhance your appreciation of this great record immeasurably.

[embedded content]

06. Marty Friedman – Dragon’s Kiss

Guitarist Marty Friedman unleashes his virtuosic six-string fury on the excellent Dragon’s Kiss, which may be the most definitive sampling of Friedman‘s talents available. Spiking his supersaturated heavy metal sensibilities with texture, imagination, and a flair for the exotic, Friedman proves to be a distinctive modern metal soloist. This all-instrumental offering marks the end of his more indulgent, progressive solo artist phase, as he was recruited to join Megadeth‘s ranks shortly after its release.

[embedded content]

05. Crimson Glory – Transcendence

Unjustly qualified as one of the ’80s best American-made progressive metal albums, Crimson Glory‘s Transcendence is actually one of the decade’s best pure metal albums by an American band, period. Sure, they shared many sonic traits with fellow ’80s metal bands like Queensrÿche and Fates Warning, but Crimson Glory‘s songwriting was relatively straightforward by comparison, and generally shied away from ultra-complex prog rock arrangements employed by their peers. In fact, barnstormers like “Lady of Winter” and “Red Sharks” are almost ordinary in their no-frills headbanging intensity, and even the band’s more “progressive” material, such as the ambitious “Burning Bridges” and the very eclectic “Eternal World,” don’t venture out that far.

Instead, Crimson Glory show commendable restraint in their songwriting, and it is singer Midnight who ends up drawing the most unwanted attention due to his now dated, painfully strident delivery. On the other hand, not even the intervening years have managed to dull the sheen of nuggets like the majestically sparse title track or the impressive “In Dark Places,” which remains one of the group’s crowning achievements, thanks to its instantly recognizable riff. And although their Iron Maiden influences sometimes get the best of them (the Eastern-flavored “Masque of the Red Death” is a near remake of “Powerslave”), Crimson Glory still prove their worth with this excellent release. Sadly, the band wouldn’t capitalize on its promise, following it with the disappointing Strange and Beautiful.

[embedded content]

04. Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden

Compare Spirit of Eden with any other previous release in the Talk Talk catalog, and it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the work of the same band — exchanging electronics for live, organic sounds and rejecting structure in favor of mood and atmosphere, the album is an unprecedented breakthrough, a musical and emotional catharsis of immense power. Mark Hollis‘ songs exist far outside of the pop idiom, drawing instead on ambient textures, jazz-like arrangements, and avant-garde accents; for all of their intricacy and delicate beauty, compositions like “Inheritance” and “I Believe in You” also possess an elemental strength — Hollis‘ oblique lyrics speak to themes of loss and redemption with understated grace, and his hauntingly poignant vocals evoke wrenching spiritual turmoil tempered with unflagging hope. A singular musical experience.

[embedded content]

03. Fates Warning – No Exit

Usually regarded as the finest release from Fates Warning‘s early years, when their progressive leanings were tempered with no small amount of classic metal riffing, No Exit is a typically difficult album to come to grips with. As was often the case on prior releases, the band has a hard time reconciling its ruthless experimentation with the need to construct coherent songs, leading to any number of awkward passages in which melodies and riffs are recklessly spliced together. Still, the album is another step forward, and tracks like “Anarchy Divine,” “Shades of Heavenly Death,” and “In a Word” rank among the best of their career thus far. Side two is entirely taken by the daunting “The Ivory Gate of Dreams,” which at over 20 minutes and eight separate parts, finds the band in its most extreme and complex progressive metal mode. Like his predecessor, new vocalist Ray Alder‘s piercing screams are something of an acquired taste (coming off like a less disciplined version of Queensrÿche‘s Geoff Tate), but the rest of the band perform to their usual high technical standards.

[embedded content]

02. Voivod – Dimension Hatröss

Released nearly two years after the transitional Killing TechnologyDimension Hatröss is the first album where Voivod‘s experimental metal is explored from beginning to end. Shedding the clichéd lyrics that the band relied on for their first two releases, they’re thankfully replaced by much more thought-provoking lyrics. The group has also grown as musicians — guitarist Denis d’Amour is one of metal’s finest, the rhythm section of Michel Langevin on drums and Jean-Yves Theriault on bass is tighter than ever, and vocalist Denis Belanger sings more conventionally (no more shrieking).

The band’s sudden songwriting maturity becomes evident from the opening track, “Experiment,” when futuristic imagery collides head on with heavy sounds. “Macrosolutions to Megaproblems” contains impressive, busy interplay between the bandmembers, while “Tribal Convictions” is a simpler, Sabbath-like number that opens with some primitive drumming courtesy of Langevin (who also designed the album’s cover). Dimension Hatröss is Voivod‘s first fully realized album and sets the stage for their best ever, 1989′s major-label debut, Nothingface.

[embedded content]

01. Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime

Queensrÿche scored their breakthrough success with the ambitious concept album Operation: Mindcrime, which tells the story of a fortune hunter whose disillusionment with Reagan-era American society leads him to join a shadowy plot to assassinate corrupt leaders. For such a detailed story line (there is also a tragic romance thrown in), the band keeps its focus remarkably well, and the music is just as ambitious, featuring a ten-minute track with orchestrations by Michael Kamen. Those experiments don’t tend to work as well as the tighter, more melodic prog metal songs, which are frequently gems, especially the singles “Eyes of a Stranger” and “I Don’t Believe in Love.” Granted, the lyrics and political observations can sometimes be too serious and intellectual for their own good (few bands, metal or otherwise, can make lines like “There’s no raison d’être” work). But despite the occasional flaws, it’s surprising how well Operation: Mindcrime does work, and it’s a testament to Queensrÿche‘s creativity and talent that they can pull off a project of this magnitude.

[embedded content]

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/10-best-prog-albums-of-1988/
Best Prog Albums of 1988

Continuing from our last year’s series on the best prog albums from the 1980s, and after the one-year break, we continue with the year 1988. By many, 1988 was the year when progressive metal started to shape up.

Albums from Queensryche, Voivod and Fates Warning have created a starting point for many international prog acts from that moment on. The regular prog heralds from the 1970s and early 1980s have not returned with new records in 1988, but there have been quite a few surprising releases.

More on the 10 Best Prog Albums of 1988 below.

10. Sieges Even – Lifecycle

Sieges Even are one of the many often over-looked progressive metal acts from the late 1980s, overshadowed by contemporaries like Queensryche and Fates Warning. With their debut album, despite never truly gaining prominence in the metal community and eventually moving towards a more standard-yet-modernized progressive rock sound in the ’90s, they solidified themselves as one of the most technically proficient and talented bands on the planet, taking obvious inspiration from their contemporaries and blending that heavy metal sound with the progressive forefathers of the 1970s in a fashion that many of their contemporaries failed to achieve.

While bands like the aforementioned Queensryche and fellow prog-metallers such as Crimson Glory were certainly progressive and had complex and thoughtful music, they were still primarily heavy metal bands at their core. In a band like Queensryche, however unique they might have been, there was more Judas Priest or Iron Maiden influence to be heard than, say, Genesis, King Crimson, or Rush. And this is what separated Sieges Even from their fellow prog metallers – they wanted to have equal parts progressive rock and metal, making them more similar to Watchtower, but even more complex and progressive.

Any fan of progressive metal, or technical music in general, should pick this up. It shows the heavy beginnings of a group that would go on to make some of the best progressive music of their era, and if you’ve ever once wondered why those damn prog metal bands couldn’t just sound a little more proggy than metal, this album should satisfy you.

[embedded content]

09. Ozric Tentacles – Sliding Gliding Worlds

Sliding Gliding Worlds (also known as “the blue one”) is the fifth of Ozric Tentacles‘ first six independent releases on cassette, each one with a different background color. Released by the band in 1988, it was reissued on CD by Dovetail Records in 1994. This album is the most accessible of the first six, the most “easy listening.” Crunchy riffs are few (only “Kick Muck” represents the Hawkwind side of the band) and the whole thing falls into a pleasant trippy mid-tempo pace. Ed Wynne‘s writing is more melodious and less jam-oriented. World music colors (Chinese, African, Amazonian) can be found in the four last tracks. Highlights include “Soda Water,” “Sliding and Gliding,” and “It’s a Hup Ho World,” plus the comical “Yaboop Yaboop” which includes aboriginal-esque vocals. The sound quality is better than on the other releases in this series, as is the overall quality of the songs and, even though it lacks the fast-paced energy found on some material on There Is Nothing and Live Ethereal Cereal, it remains overall the best album from the band’s early days. Recall, a division of Snapper Music, has reissued the album as a two-CD set (including new artwork) with The Bits Between the Bits under the title The Bits Between the Bits/Sliding Gliding Worlds.

[embedded content]

08. Cassiber – A Face We All Know

This album, the last studio album from Cassiber, is their most complex. For their first two albums (Man or Monkey and Beauty and the Beast), they entered the studio with prepared texts and improvised the music. On their third album, Perfect Worlds, Cassiber preconceived the pieces ahead of time and did the final arrangements in the studio. Here, not just the pieces, but the album’s “plot” and some of the texts were written by Chris Cutler in the summer of 1988, six months prior to recording and two years before the final mix was complete.

The length of gestation and the attention to detail show in the finished product. There is a great deal more overdubbing and sampling than in any previous album, especially in the voices. Christoph Anders‘ voice is perhaps an acquired taste, as he passionately declaims texts by Cutler, American novelist Thomas Pynchon, and German playwright Rainald Goetz, but his delivery is unique, and ultimately gripping. Cutler also recites some of his own texts, and the voices are layered in many places to the point of unintelligibility. Goetz‘s texts in German are another difference from their previous work, where all texts have been in English. The tracks here are divided into three long pieces, two related suites sandwiching a third with texts taken from Thomas Pynchon‘s great novel Gravity’s Rainbow. Themes and texts recur in the first and third parts, providing a unity that makes this the group’s most powerful album.

07. Last Exit – Iron Path

Last Exit‘s major-label release, their first studio recording, and a record that iconoclastic critic Chuck Eddy considers one of the 500 greatest heavy metal albums in the history of the universe. But that doesn’t mean you should invite all your Deep Purple and Iron Maiden loving friends over for a listening party; they won’t be amused. Using the studio to their advantage, Last Exit explores sonic texture on “Prayer” and “The Fire Drum,” but never loses sight of the power and energy that makes their live recordings so memorable. If you were to have one Last Exit recording, this might well be the one. But any one of their live records would enhance your appreciation of this great record immeasurably.

[embedded content]

06. Marty Friedman – Dragon’s Kiss

Guitarist Marty Friedman unleashes his virtuosic six-string fury on the excellent Dragon’s Kiss, which may be the most definitive sampling of Friedman‘s talents available. Spiking his supersaturated heavy metal sensibilities with texture, imagination, and a flair for the exotic, Friedman proves to be a distinctive modern metal soloist. This all-instrumental offering marks the end of his more indulgent, progressive solo artist phase, as he was recruited to join Megadeth‘s ranks shortly after its release.

[embedded content]

05. Crimson Glory – Transcendence

Unjustly qualified as one of the ’80s best American-made progressive metal albums, Crimson Glory‘s Transcendence is actually one of the decade’s best pure metal albums by an American band, period. Sure, they shared many sonic traits with fellow ’80s metal bands like Queensrÿche and Fates Warning, but Crimson Glory‘s songwriting was relatively straightforward by comparison, and generally shied away from ultra-complex prog rock arrangements employed by their peers. In fact, barnstormers like “Lady of Winter” and “Red Sharks” are almost ordinary in their no-frills headbanging intensity, and even the band’s more “progressive” material, such as the ambitious “Burning Bridges” and the very eclectic “Eternal World,” don’t venture out that far.

Instead, Crimson Glory show commendable restraint in their songwriting, and it is singer Midnight who ends up drawing the most unwanted attention due to his now dated, painfully strident delivery. On the other hand, not even the intervening years have managed to dull the sheen of nuggets like the majestically sparse title track or the impressive “In Dark Places,” which remains one of the group’s crowning achievements, thanks to its instantly recognizable riff. And although their Iron Maiden influences sometimes get the best of them (the Eastern-flavored “Masque of the Red Death” is a near remake of “Powerslave”), Crimson Glory still prove their worth with this excellent release. Sadly, the band wouldn’t capitalize on its promise, following it with the disappointing Strange and Beautiful.

[embedded content]

04. Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden

Compare Spirit of Eden with any other previous release in the Talk Talk catalog, and it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the work of the same band — exchanging electronics for live, organic sounds and rejecting structure in favor of mood and atmosphere, the album is an unprecedented breakthrough, a musical and emotional catharsis of immense power. Mark Hollis‘ songs exist far outside of the pop idiom, drawing instead on ambient textures, jazz-like arrangements, and avant-garde accents; for all of their intricacy and delicate beauty, compositions like “Inheritance” and “I Believe in You” also possess an elemental strength — Hollis‘ oblique lyrics speak to themes of loss and redemption with understated grace, and his hauntingly poignant vocals evoke wrenching spiritual turmoil tempered with unflagging hope. A singular musical experience.

[embedded content]

03. Fates Warning – No Exit

Usually regarded as the finest release from Fates Warning‘s early years, when their progressive leanings were tempered with no small amount of classic metal riffing, No Exit is a typically difficult album to come to grips with. As was often the case on prior releases, the band has a hard time reconciling its ruthless experimentation with the need to construct coherent songs, leading to any number of awkward passages in which melodies and riffs are recklessly spliced together. Still, the album is another step forward, and tracks like “Anarchy Divine,” “Shades of Heavenly Death,” and “In a Word” rank among the best of their career thus far. Side two is entirely taken by the daunting “The Ivory Gate of Dreams,” which at over 20 minutes and eight separate parts, finds the band in its most extreme and complex progressive metal mode. Like his predecessor, new vocalist Ray Alder‘s piercing screams are something of an acquired taste (coming off like a less disciplined version of Queensrÿche‘s Geoff Tate), but the rest of the band perform to their usual high technical standards.

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02. Voivod – Dimension Hatröss

Released nearly two years after the transitional Killing TechnologyDimension Hatröss is the first album where Voivod‘s experimental metal is explored from beginning to end. Shedding the clichéd lyrics that the band relied on for their first two releases, they’re thankfully replaced by much more thought-provoking lyrics. The group has also grown as musicians — guitarist Denis d’Amour is one of metal’s finest, the rhythm section of Michel Langevin on drums and Jean-Yves Theriault on bass is tighter than ever, and vocalist Denis Belanger sings more conventionally (no more shrieking).

The band’s sudden songwriting maturity becomes evident from the opening track, “Experiment,” when futuristic imagery collides head on with heavy sounds. “Macrosolutions to Megaproblems” contains impressive, busy interplay between the bandmembers, while “Tribal Convictions” is a simpler, Sabbath-like number that opens with some primitive drumming courtesy of Langevin (who also designed the album’s cover). Dimension Hatröss is Voivod‘s first fully realized album and sets the stage for their best ever, 1989′s major-label debut, Nothingface.

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01. Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime

Queensrÿche scored their breakthrough success with the ambitious concept album Operation: Mindcrime, which tells the story of a fortune hunter whose disillusionment with Reagan-era American society leads him to join a shadowy plot to assassinate corrupt leaders. For such a detailed story line (there is also a tragic romance thrown in), the band keeps its focus remarkably well, and the music is just as ambitious, featuring a ten-minute track with orchestrations by Michael Kamen. Those experiments don’t tend to work as well as the tighter, more melodic prog metal songs, which are frequently gems, especially the singles “Eyes of a Stranger” and “I Don’t Believe in Love.” Granted, the lyrics and political observations can sometimes be too serious and intellectual for their own good (few bands, metal or otherwise, can make lines like “There’s no raison d’être” work). But despite the occasional flaws, it’s surprising how well Operation: Mindcrime does work, and it’s a testament to Queensrÿche‘s creativity and talent that they can pull off a project of this magnitude.

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This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/graveborn-interview/
Graveborn

Boston progressive death metal unit Graveborn was founded in 2012, and in six years they released an EP and three albums, the latest being this year’s revelation ‘The Athenaeum‘ which sees the band reaching new heights. One of the strongest contenders for the 2018 AOTY lists, ‘The Athenaeum‘ is a challenging release for Graveborn, but they have more than enough potential to come up with something greater in the coming years.

Read an interview with the band below where they introduce us to their world.

Define the mission of Graveborn.

We want to be something unique amongst all the other metal bands out there, which is a staggering challenge, considering there’s already so many different flavors and styles of metal that you can find pretty easily with just a little bit of digging. Musically, we want to stick out by emphasizing good songwriting over anything else. What this means is we’re not really looking to push the envelope on technicality, speed, heaviness, or anything like that. We don’t also want to be thought of as a band that just patches riffs from different styles of metal together in an attempt to sound different. Rather, we’re pulling from all of our influences and focusing on the moment-to-moment flow of each song, while simultaneously stepping back to make sure the entire composition has an arc that’s fun to follow. Lyrically, our philosophy has always been the same, down to our band name. Graveborn writes about using negative experiences as a positive force, or transforming the things that burden you mentally, whether it be existential or emotional in nature, into positive drives that lead to growth and understanding of oneself.

Graveborn - The Athenaeum

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recent album The Athenaeum and the themes it captures.

The first riffs were written about two and a half years ago, right after we put out Seeds of Life. We felt we may have rushed the production of Seeds a little bit, and wanted to really take our time and introduce more layers of sound into the compositions. Seeds is almost a one-guitar record – it was written mostly when we were practicing with one guitarist, and the philosophy was we didn’t want to write anything we couldn’t also play live, so a lot of the parts on Seeds lack a harmony or second part that could have maybe added a little more flair. But that record was designed to be raw and straight to the point. With The Athenaeum, we wanted to take our time and give the listener a little more to chew on. On a hardware level, this resulted in the purchase of many guitar pedals! Our guitarist Chris Ramusiewicz had been inspired by Fallujah‘s The Flesh Prevails to experiment with octave harmonies and many layers of reverb/delay while writing some of the hooky melodies. The level of effects was dialed back a bit on the final mix, in favor of supporting synthesizer or piano sounds to add depth to the melody, but the live show still makes heavy use of those effects in the lead tones. This, combined with a focus on making sure every moment of each song was there to serve the song’s arc and nothing else, led to the sound we cooked up.

We usually work on lyrics well after instrumentals are done, and in this case, we wanted to present different lenses that life is perceived through. Every track carries the name of some type of knowledge-seeker, and the lyrics reflect how that type of person might face and surmount obstacles, or interpret their position in the universe. The titles actually came after the lyrics were written, in order not to box ourselves in too much with what each track “should” be about. Rather, each track was written with a vague emotional or mental focus in mind. For example, “The Astronomer” is someone grappling with the idea that you don’t always know what you actually want out of life, and sometimes the hardest thing is articulating exactly what your body and mind are telling you to seek. “The Pathfinder” was inspired by Westworld, and depicts someone musing about whether their personality is a product of their own choices or the influencing factors around them. You could interpret the album as a sort of meeting-of-the-minds, discussing their interpretations and approaches to conflict and obstacles. Or, it’s the many different aspects of a single person, each with their own ideas, coalescing into the full personality of one human being.

What is the message you are trying to give with The Athenaeum?

To put it simply, we’re exploring how different types of people or different aspects of one person use the knowledge they’ve gained to face what comes to them. There’s many different modes of thought or methods of dealing with the relentless chaos of life, and exploring as many of them as you can is always a benefit. Seek knowledge, self-reflect, and improve. That’s what The Athenaeum is trying to say.

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

Lots of GuitarPro files and demo sessions in Logic Pro to keep track of ideas. That’s really all you need in the demo stage. Once strong instrumentals start getting formulated, there’s a lot of bouncing different versions back and forth between band members, so it gets a little tougher to track, but eventually a “master” version of the songs coalesces and that is guitarpro’d and demo’d out so everyone is on the same page.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

On an individual song level, absolutely! We wanted their to be some less intense parts to give the listener a bit of a break from some of the more sonically layered parts. Toppings on your pizza are great, but every once in a while having one of those bites be cheese/sauce/dough only helps you appreciate those toppings more.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

It was a bit ramshackle! The guitar tracks were recorded two years ago in our guitarist Chris‘s bedroom. It took about a week of guitar tracking and another week of editing to get just the guitar parts done. If you listen closely, especially at the start of “The Dream Eater,” you can hear some edits when the guitar tone changes a bit in the intro due to different mic placement in some recording sessions. The guitar tracks were accompanied by demo bass and drum tracks Chris wrote, which was then presented to the rest of the band to re-interpret as they liked. Reggie [Lewis] recorded the bass in Chris‘s home studio around February 2017. That’s about all he could comfortably record well with the equipment he had, so the drums and vocals were tracked with Anthony Lusk-Simone at Zenbeast Audio in Leominster, MA. Anthony is an absolute production wizard with very very good taste, so his technical audio skills as well as his production ideas were an immense part of why our record sounds the way it does. Anything that is not guitar, bass, drums, or vocals, is Anthony‘s own creative additions into the album. He did a LOT of work for us, a lot of key extra layers that elevate the album to an awesome level. Can’t say enough good words about him. After that, he mixed and mastered the record over a few months, and we had our final product!

[embedded content]

How long The Athenaeum was in the making?

About two and a half years! As we outlined previously, it was a bit of a patchwork thing. But taking our time definitely paid off!

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Well, Fallujah is a pretty obvious one, what with the octave-harmony spacey leads alternating with heaviness.. And The Black Dahlia Murder have always been a heavy influence for their focus on straight up amazing songwriting. Rivers of Nihil‘s complex harmony and Archspire‘s relentless aggression were also big drivers in the writing of the album.

What is your view on technology in music?

The mass proliferation of music gear has led to an explosion of output. It’s a double edged sword in that, while there’s SO much awesome, unique content to find, you have to dig through quite a bit to get to something you really really love. So, instead, people rely on the curation of services like Spotify and Bandcamp to highlight the cream of the crop, and don’t really want to do that much digging as they might have done when a record store was their only option. That’s not true for everyone, obviously, but the challenge nowadays is not putting out quality content. It’s being heard through the crowd, and a lot of the times just making good music isn’t enough, you need to be on top of advertising your stuff in unique and interesting ways that grab people’s attention. It’s a little troubling how much mental energy we’ve devoted to “how do we market ourselves” as opposed to “how do we write good music”, but it’s a necessary effort.

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

Hopefully, it inspires someone to be introspective and self-reflective in a way that leads to improvement in their life. We want the passionate energy behind the music to be a catalyst for someone deciding to better themselves, despite the hard work and effort that will require. On the other hand, if you just want some cool riffs and sounds, hopefully it pleases our audience with that too!

What are your plans for the future?

We’d like to expand beyond playing in the New England area, which will require saving up for a good van, which we’re hoping some album, merch, and streaming revenue will help with. The next release is going to be a sort of revival of something that sorely needs it, and after that we’re looking towards releasing a short EP of new songs, so we can focus on making a few great pieces of music instead of a full album for once. But that new material is at least a year away. We’ll see how it goes!

The Athenaeum is out now and is available from Bandcamp. For more information on Graveborn follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/graveborn-interview/
Graveborn

Boston progressive death metal unit Graveborn was founded in 2012, and in six years they released an EP and three albums, the latest being this year’s revelation ‘The Athenaeum‘ which sees the band reaching new heights. One of the strongest contenders for the 2018 AOTY lists, ‘The Athenaeum‘ is a challenging release for Graveborn, but they have more than enough potential to come up with something greater in the coming years.

Read an interview with the band below where they introduce us to their world.

Define the mission of Graveborn.

We want to be something unique amongst all the other metal bands out there, which is a staggering challenge, considering there’s already so many different flavors and styles of metal that you can find pretty easily with just a little bit of digging. Musically, we want to stick out by emphasizing good songwriting over anything else. What this means is we’re not really looking to push the envelope on technicality, speed, heaviness, or anything like that. We don’t also want to be thought of as a band that just patches riffs from different styles of metal together in an attempt to sound different. Rather, we’re pulling from all of our influences and focusing on the moment-to-moment flow of each song, while simultaneously stepping back to make sure the entire composition has an arc that’s fun to follow. Lyrically, our philosophy has always been the same, down to our band name. Graveborn writes about using negative experiences as a positive force, or transforming the things that burden you mentally, whether it be existential or emotional in nature, into positive drives that lead to growth and understanding of oneself.

Graveborn - The Athenaeum

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recent album The Athenaeum and the themes it captures.

The first riffs were written about two and a half years ago, right after we put out Seeds of Life. We felt we may have rushed the production of Seeds a little bit, and wanted to really take our time and introduce more layers of sound into the compositions. Seeds is almost a one-guitar record – it was written mostly when we were practicing with one guitarist, and the philosophy was we didn’t want to write anything we couldn’t also play live, so a lot of the parts on Seeds lack a harmony or second part that could have maybe added a little more flair. But that record was designed to be raw and straight to the point. With The Athenaeum, we wanted to take our time and give the listener a little more to chew on. On a hardware level, this resulted in the purchase of many guitar pedals! Our guitarist Chris Ramusiewicz had been inspired by Fallujah‘s The Flesh Prevails to experiment with octave harmonies and many layers of reverb/delay while writing some of the hooky melodies. The level of effects was dialed back a bit on the final mix, in favor of supporting synthesizer or piano sounds to add depth to the melody, but the live show still makes heavy use of those effects in the lead tones. This, combined with a focus on making sure every moment of each song was there to serve the song’s arc and nothing else, led to the sound we cooked up.

We usually work on lyrics well after instrumentals are done, and in this case, we wanted to present different lenses that life is perceived through. Every track carries the name of some type of knowledge-seeker, and the lyrics reflect how that type of person might face and surmount obstacles, or interpret their position in the universe. The titles actually came after the lyrics were written, in order not to box ourselves in too much with what each track “should” be about. Rather, each track was written with a vague emotional or mental focus in mind. For example, “The Astronomer” is someone grappling with the idea that you don’t always know what you actually want out of life, and sometimes the hardest thing is articulating exactly what your body and mind are telling you to seek. “The Pathfinder” was inspired by Westworld, and depicts someone musing about whether their personality is a product of their own choices or the influencing factors around them. You could interpret the album as a sort of meeting-of-the-minds, discussing their interpretations and approaches to conflict and obstacles. Or, it’s the many different aspects of a single person, each with their own ideas, coalescing into the full personality of one human being.

What is the message you are trying to give with The Athenaeum?

To put it simply, we’re exploring how different types of people or different aspects of one person use the knowledge they’ve gained to face what comes to them. There’s many different modes of thought or methods of dealing with the relentless chaos of life, and exploring as many of them as you can is always a benefit. Seek knowledge, self-reflect, and improve. That’s what The Athenaeum is trying to say.

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

Lots of GuitarPro files and demo sessions in Logic Pro to keep track of ideas. That’s really all you need in the demo stage. Once strong instrumentals start getting formulated, there’s a lot of bouncing different versions back and forth between band members, so it gets a little tougher to track, but eventually a “master” version of the songs coalesces and that is guitarpro’d and demo’d out so everyone is on the same page.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

On an individual song level, absolutely! We wanted their to be some less intense parts to give the listener a bit of a break from some of the more sonically layered parts. Toppings on your pizza are great, but every once in a while having one of those bites be cheese/sauce/dough only helps you appreciate those toppings more.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

It was a bit ramshackle! The guitar tracks were recorded two years ago in our guitarist Chris‘s bedroom. It took about a week of guitar tracking and another week of editing to get just the guitar parts done. If you listen closely, especially at the start of “The Dream Eater,” you can hear some edits when the guitar tone changes a bit in the intro due to different mic placement in some recording sessions. The guitar tracks were accompanied by demo bass and drum tracks Chris wrote, which was then presented to the rest of the band to re-interpret as they liked. Reggie [Lewis] recorded the bass in Chris‘s home studio around February 2017. That’s about all he could comfortably record well with the equipment he had, so the drums and vocals were tracked with Anthony Lusk-Simone at Zenbeast Audio in Leominster, MA. Anthony is an absolute production wizard with very very good taste, so his technical audio skills as well as his production ideas were an immense part of why our record sounds the way it does. Anything that is not guitar, bass, drums, or vocals, is Anthony‘s own creative additions into the album. He did a LOT of work for us, a lot of key extra layers that elevate the album to an awesome level. Can’t say enough good words about him. After that, he mixed and mastered the record over a few months, and we had our final product!

[embedded content]

How long The Athenaeum was in the making?

About two and a half years! As we outlined previously, it was a bit of a patchwork thing. But taking our time definitely paid off!

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Well, Fallujah is a pretty obvious one, what with the octave-harmony spacey leads alternating with heaviness.. And The Black Dahlia Murder have always been a heavy influence for their focus on straight up amazing songwriting. Rivers of Nihil‘s complex harmony and Archspire‘s relentless aggression were also big drivers in the writing of the album.

What is your view on technology in music?

The mass proliferation of music gear has led to an explosion of output. It’s a double edged sword in that, while there’s SO much awesome, unique content to find, you have to dig through quite a bit to get to something you really really love. So, instead, people rely on the curation of services like Spotify and Bandcamp to highlight the cream of the crop, and don’t really want to do that much digging as they might have done when a record store was their only option. That’s not true for everyone, obviously, but the challenge nowadays is not putting out quality content. It’s being heard through the crowd, and a lot of the times just making good music isn’t enough, you need to be on top of advertising your stuff in unique and interesting ways that grab people’s attention. It’s a little troubling how much mental energy we’ve devoted to “how do we market ourselves” as opposed to “how do we write good music”, but it’s a necessary effort.

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

Hopefully, it inspires someone to be introspective and self-reflective in a way that leads to improvement in their life. We want the passionate energy behind the music to be a catalyst for someone deciding to better themselves, despite the hard work and effort that will require. On the other hand, if you just want some cool riffs and sounds, hopefully it pleases our audience with that too!

What are your plans for the future?

We’d like to expand beyond playing in the New England area, which will require saving up for a good van, which we’re hoping some album, merch, and streaming revenue will help with. The next release is going to be a sort of revival of something that sorely needs it, and after that we’re looking towards releasing a short EP of new songs, so we can focus on making a few great pieces of music instead of a full album for once. But that new material is at least a year away. We’ll see how it goes!

The Athenaeum is out now and is available from Bandcamp. For more information on Graveborn follow them on Facebook and Instagram.