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All posts for the month March, 2020

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/reviews/novena-eleventh-hour-review/

The music is relentless, yet restrained; heavy, yet soaring; familiar, but adventurous. It is passionate, melancholic, tragic, and occasionally euphoric. And this all perfectly sums up Novena’s debut album Eleventh Hour, out now via Frontiers Records. Following up on 2016’s EP Secondary Genesis which showed a prospect of greater things to come, Eleventh Hour takes more than a couple casual listens to fully appreciate it. But once you sit back, give it attention, and really experience the album, you will catch a glimpse of the spark of genius that inspired this record.

With the album tackling “the stories about an experience we all share in at some point – death – and the feelings we all have regarding them,” thematically Eleventh Hour seems to be a dark release with lots of uplifting music.

The songs themselves work best in context, but “2259,” “Lucidity,” “The Tyrant” and “Prison Walls” stand confidently on their own. Some of the best moments exist in contrast, and Eleventh Hour is full of them. The album maps out a prudent direction right from the start, swirling through soundscapes built on the foundations of alternative, progressive rock and metal, isolated yet sociable. With each listen Eleventh Hour grows, making one recognize how extremely determined Novena is about their work here.

The interweaved narratives of Eleventh Hour are disclosed in the dramatic 15-minute “Prison Walls,” a song that in the best possible way reveals what the band is made of. The six-piece is enjoying playing with contrasting elements, but the way they are merging these into one cohesive whole is not something you bump into very often. Tracks like “Sun Dance” and “Sail Away” are what glues the distinctive pieces of an overall very diverse release. The fun-loving rhythms of “Corazon” which, figuratively speaking bring the heart of Havana to the capital of prog, all signal that there is still unexplored space within the overly exploited genre.

The ardour with which Novena penned these songs glows through the members’ performances. Dan Thorton and Harrison White’s guitars are buoyant, and Cameron Spence’s drums are equally powerful and joyous. Clean vocals by Ross Jennings and growls courtesy of Gareth Mason are both utterly enthralling.

With its playtime of 73 minutes, Eleventh Hour may not really look as an attractive listen, but behind that this whooping amount of time there is a varied album that never becomes tiring. This is a very refreshing listen and one of the strongest candidates for the album of the year.

Eleventh Hour is out now via Frontiers Records; order it from the label’s webstore here. Like Novena on Facebook.

Novena - Eleventh Hour

The post Album Review: Novena – Eleventh Hour appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/reviews/novena-eleventh-hour-review/

The music is relentless, yet restrained; heavy, yet soaring; familiar, but adventurous. It is passionate, melancholic, tragic, and occasionally euphoric. And this all perfectly sums up Novena’s debut album Eleventh Hour, out now via Frontiers Records. Following up on 2016’s EP Secondary Genesis which showed a prospect of greater things to come, Eleventh Hour takes more than a couple casual listens to fully appreciate it. But once you sit back, give it attention, and really experience the album, you will catch a glimpse of the spark of genius that inspired this record.

With the album tackling “the stories about an experience we all share in at some point – death – and the feelings we all have regarding them,” thematically Eleventh Hour seems to be a dark release with lots of uplifting music.

The songs themselves work best in context, but “2259,” “Lucidity,” “The Tyrant” and “Prison Walls” stand confidently on their own. Some of the best moments exist in contrast, and Eleventh Hour is full of them. The album maps out a prudent direction right from the start, swirling through soundscapes built on the foundations of alternative, progressive rock and metal, isolated yet sociable. With each listen Eleventh Hour grows making one recognize how extremely determined Novena is about their work here.

The interweaved narratives of Eleventh Hour are disclosed in the dramatic 15-minute “Prison Walls,” a song that in the best possible way reveals what the band is made of. The six-piece is enjoying playing with contrasting elements, but the way they are merging these into one cohesive whole is not something you bump into very often. Tracks like “Sun Dance” and “Sail Away” are what glues the distinctive pieces of an overall very diverse release. The fun-loving rhythms of “Corazon” which, figuratively speaking bring the heart of Havana to the capital of prog, all signal that there is still unexplored space within the overly exploited genre.

The ardour with which Novena penned these songs glows through the members’ performances. Dan Thorton and Harrison White’s guitars are buoyant, and Cameron Spence’s drums are equally powerful and joyous. Clean vocals by Ross Jennings and growls courtesy of Gareth Mason are both utterly enthralling.

With its playtime of 73 minutes, Eleventh Hour may not really look as an attractive listen, but behind that this whooping amount of time there is a varied album that never becomes tiring. This is a very refreshing listen and one of the strongest candidates for the album of the year.

Eleventh Hour is out now via Frontiers Records; order it from the label’s webstore here. Like Novena on Facebook.

Novena - Eleventh Hour

The post Album Review: Novena – Eleventh Hour appeared first on Prog Sphere.

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

Swedish adventure rock unit Hällas returned with their sophomore album entitled ‘Conundrum‘, out now via Napalm Records. Drummer Kasper Eriksson talks about his musical upbringing, the new album, the band’s writing approach, and more.

Let’s start from your early music beginnings. How did your musical career begin? When did you start playing? Which groups have been your favorites? Please tell us something more about your early life.

I first started playing music when I was about 10. A couple of friends formed a band, before anyone even owned any instruments, and the only vacant position was the bass. I initially thought bass was played using keyboards and when we went to the store to check out instruments I was very surprised that the bass was actually some kind of weird guitar! After a while, everybody actually managed to get their hands on their instruments and we started to rehearse. As it turned out, my friends had also promised another friend to be a part of the band and apparently he was also supposed to play the bass. In the end we had one drummer, one guitarist, two bassists and one guy who was very inspired by Slipknot that played “samples” using CD-Rs from his stereo. It was a mess.

On beforehand I was not particularly interested in music but with this band I discovered more music that wasn’t on the radio like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest and even some Slayer. I kept on playing the bass and discovered W.A.S.P. who was huge for me at that point. As I grew slightly older I also stumbled upon black metal and until I was around 18-19 I predominantly listened to bands like Bathory, DarkthroneImmortal and all the obscure bands that you could find on MySpace and that I don’t even remember the names of. This is also the period where I found the album “Bergtatt” by Ulver that, I think, made me want to create music of my own and also made me buy a guitar to be able to record my music using programmed drums, bass and electric guitar.

As I got even more into music I started to play more guitar and less bass but also learned more about music and the influences of the bands I liked and discovered bands like Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol and Pagan Altar. That was the spiral that eventually led me to my current biggest influences like Genesis, Rush, Yes, Thin Lizzy, etc.

How did you go about starting Hällas? Who was the most influential when the band started its musical journey?

Hällas was started by Kasper and Tommy in Jönköping. They were always the driving force and when Kasper moved from Jönköping to Linköping he met me and Alex who also joined the band after the first guitarist left.

In the beginning, did you have some “fixed” tempo in composing songs or everything was a product of jamming, improvising?

Just like now, even in the beginning there was a very low frequency of jamming within the band. The songs are composed by individual ideas made at home and tweaked or adapted to our style in the rehearsal room. On rare occasions some riffs are made up on the spot but very rarely through jamming or improvising. What does happen, however, is that someone plays something wrong or improvises over an already set foundation that adds another layer to an idea or sometimes even creates entirely new passages.

How would you describe Hällas’ music on your own?

I think the description “adventure rock” is spot on. The music is not heavy enough to be heavy metal and not progressive enough to be progressive rock. It does have the foundation of heavy metal but is heavily inspired by progressive rock in the non-linear progression of the songs and the albums. The music is often uplifting but at the same time brings you down and evokes different feelings through various musical landscapes. Just like my idea of what an adventure would bring.

Hallas - Conundrum

Tell me about the writing and recording sessions for the new album Conundrum.

Conundrum started out as a meeting where we decided to continue on the story that was indicated on the first EP, realized on Excerpts from a Future Past and finalized on the new album. We discussed and decided on the most important parts of the story and Kasper and Tommy wrote the plot. A bit like when writing a soundtrack (I guess) we then started gathering ideas and riffs at home which we later composed into songs in our rehearsal room in Jönköping in order to fit the story right. Every member of the band is very much part of the songwriting and with five different visions and musical influences a lot of compromising and tweaking is often what almost every piece of our music has to go through. It’s a lot of work to make it at least feel okay for everyone but that’s how we know the end result will be good. After little less than a year of songwriting we entered the studio in Stockholm for 10 days and the album was later mixed by Nicklas at his studio in Jönköping.

What ideas did inform Conundrum in particular?

The ideas mostly came from the story we had written for Excerpts… and continued on for Conundrum, which in turn is some kind of mash-up from all the collective interests of the band like music (of course), books, movies, video games, art, you name it. I think the idea is essentially grounded in an underlying escapism – a yearning for what lays between the future and the past; a parallel universe where everyday life no longer matters. 

What evolution do you feel Conundrum represents comparing with your previous works?

To me Conundrum is musically more refined than our previous works. It is bigger, more adult and more complex. Both the drums and the keyboards and synthesizers are taking a greater part of the soundscape that adds a lot to the dynamics. I think the foundation is the same but taken to another level adding layers for additional complexity. We also worked a lot with the dynamics, having the guitars, for instance, take a step back at times when needed. This was rarely the case on previous works where we wanted every instrument to be heard simultaneously at pretty much all time. I also think we approved a lot with the vocal melodies and harmonies doing what we probably wanted to do, but did not really have the skills to do, on previous albums.

What is the most important thing for the structure of your songs? Is it a riff, a melody line, vocal arrangement? Provide some insight into your own creative process.

I think the most important thing for Hällas is the lack of structure. We often let the riffs and the melody lines dictate what comes next and we all are kind of reluctant to have just one or two ideas in one single song. There must be more happening and you should not be able to predict what is coming next. With that said, songs are often the product of many riffs by different people composed together into a foundation with melody lines added to them. The vocal arrangements are often what come last in the process. However, I think the best parts we have written have been parts where the vocal arrangement was written early or even in conjunction with the actual riff. Like I mentioned before, compromise is also a big part of it. If I come up with an idea at home it is usually tweaked or something is added to it by the others in the rehearsal room. Hällas is never a one man show and that is very important, not least for the sake of complexity and the unexpectedness.  

How has your perspective on the possibilities of songs arrangement expanded over the years?

My first thought is that we have become more independent in a way. There is a greater extent of self-reliance in terms of boundaries and what kind of arrangements that is possible. In earlier days we often had ideas for arrangements where we asked ourselves “can we really do this?”, perhaps with a  fear of non-acceptance. Nowadays I feel that the only important thing is that we all think that the songs are interesting and challenging enough for us and that the music evoke the feelings we want them to evoke. Maybe we have become braver! 

How much does the challenge mean to you in terms of creativity or performing live?

The challenge is a huge incitement for me playing music. We always make music that challenges us both technically and in terms of musical boundaries. To see the progression and development of myself and the other guys in the band’s songwriting is a big part of it. To me it also seems like the greatest bits of music or ideas come at random. At least I haven’t figured out any pattern yet and the randomness is a challenge in itself meaning that you have to plow through a lot of ideas before you can harvest only the best of crops. Regarding live shows it is also a different challenge with so many more variables at hand. Making the best of every situation and often to adapt to new circumstances is what keeps it interesting. All those miles on the road is worth it for the moments when you feel that everything clicks and the audience is with you!

What does the future hold?

For obvious reasons with the whole virus situation, the near future is quite uncertain. We have some festivals in Europe confirmed for the summer that hopefully won’t be cancelled. We have postponed our European release tour for Conundrum to September. We are also looking into the possibilities of playing in previously uncharted territories and I am very much looking forward to that.

Conundrum is out now; order it from Napalm Records’ webstore. Like Hällas on Facebook.

Cover photo by K. Bengtsson

The post HÄLLAS: Uplifting Music That Brings You Down appeared first on Prog Sphere.

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

Swedish adventure rock unit Hällas returned with their sophomore album entitled ‘Conundrum‘, out now via Napalm Records. Drummer Kasper Eriksson talks about his musical upbringing, the new album, the band’s writing approach, and more.

Let’s start from your early music beginnings. How did your musical career begin? When did you start playing? Which groups have been your favorites? Please tell us something more about your early life.

I first started playing music when I was about 10. A couple of friends formed a band, before anyone even owned any instruments, and the only vacant position was the bass. I initially thought bass was played using keyboards and when we went to the store to check out instruments I was very surprised that the bass was actually some kind of weird guitar! After a while, everybody actually managed to get their hands on their instruments and we started to rehearse. As it turned out, my friends had also promised another friend to be a part of the band and apparently he was also supposed to play the bass. In the end we had one drummer, one guitarist, two bassists and one guy who was very inspired by Slipknot that played “samples” using CD-Rs from his stereo. It was a mess.

On beforehand I was not particularly interested in music but with this band I discovered more music that wasn’t on the radio like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest and even some Slayer. I kept on playing the bass and discovered W.A.S.P. who was huge for me at that point. As I grew slightly older I also stumbled upon black metal and until I was around 18-19 I predominantly listened to bands like Bathory, DarkthroneImmortal and all the obscure bands that you could find on MySpace and that I don’t even remember the names of. This is also the period where I found the album “Bergtatt” by Ulver that, I think, made me want to create music of my own and also made me buy a guitar to be able to record my music using programmed drums, bass and electric guitar.

As I got even more into music I started to play more guitar and less bass but also learned more about music and the influences of the bands I liked and discovered bands like Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol and Pagan Altar. That was the spiral that eventually led me to my current biggest influences like Genesis, Rush, Yes, Thin Lizzy, etc.

How did you go about starting Hällas? Who was the most influential when the band started its musical journey?

Hällas was started by Kasper and Tommy in Jönköping. They were always the driving force and when Kasper moved from Jönköping to Linköping he met me and Alex who also joined the band after the first guitarist left.

In the beginning, did you have some “fixed” tempo in composing songs or everything was a product of jamming, improvising?

Just like now, even in the beginning there was a very low frequency of jamming within the band. The songs are composed by individual ideas made at home and tweaked or adapted to our style in the rehearsal room. On rare occasions some riffs are made up on the spot but very rarely through jamming or improvising. What does happen, however, is that someone plays something wrong or improvises over an already set foundation that adds another layer to an idea or sometimes even creates entirely new passages.

How would you describe Hällas’ music on your own?

I think the description “adventure rock” is spot on. The music is not heavy enough to be heavy metal and not progressive enough to be progressive rock. It does have the foundation of heavy metal but is heavily inspired by progressive rock in the non-linear progression of the songs and the albums. The music is often uplifting but at the same time brings you down and evokes different feelings through various musical landscapes. Just like my idea of what an adventure would bring.

Hallas - Conundrum

Tell me about the writing and recording sessions for the new album Conundrum.

Conundrum started out as a meeting where we decided to continue on the story that was indicated on the first EP, realized on Excerpts from a Future Past and finalized on the new album. We discussed and decided on the most important parts of the story and Kasper and Tommy wrote the plot. A bit like when writing a soundtrack (I guess) we then started gathering ideas and riffs at home which we later composed into songs in our rehearsal room in Jönköping in order to fit the story right. Every member of the band is very much part of the songwriting and with five different visions and musical influences a lot of compromising and tweaking is often what almost every piece of our music has to go through. It’s a lot of work to make it at least feel okay for everyone but that’s how we know the end result will be good. After little less than a year of songwriting we entered the studio in Stockholm for 10 days and the album was later mixed by Nicklas at his studio in Jönköping.

What ideas did inform Conundrum in particular?

The ideas mostly came from the story we had written for Excerpts… and continued on for Conundrum, which in turn is some kind of mash-up from all the collective interests of the band like music (of course), books, movies, video games, art, you name it. I think the idea is essentially grounded in an underlying escapism – a yearning for what lays between the future and the past; a parallel universe where everyday life no longer matters. 

What evolution do you feel Conundrum represents comparing with your previous works?

To me Conundrum is musically more refined than our previous works. It is bigger, more adult and more complex. Both the drums and the keyboards and synthesizers are taking a greater part of the soundscape that adds a lot to the dynamics. I think the foundation is the same but taken to another level adding layers for additional complexity. We also worked a lot with the dynamics, having the guitars, for instance, take a step back at times when needed. This was rarely the case on previous works where we wanted every instrument to be heard simultaneously at pretty much all time. I also think we approved a lot with the vocal melodies and harmonies doing what we probably wanted to do, but did not really have the skills to do, on previous albums.

What is the most important thing for the structure of your songs? Is it a riff, a melody line, vocal arrangement? Provide some insight into your own creative process.

I think the most important thing for Hällas is the lack of structure. We often let the riffs and the melody lines dictate what comes next and we all are kind of reluctant to have just one or two ideas in one single song. There must be more happening and you should not be able to predict what is coming next. With that said, songs are often the product of many riffs by different people composed together into a foundation with melody lines added to them. The vocal arrangements are often what come last in the process. However, I think the best parts we have written have been parts where the vocal arrangement was written early or even in conjunction with the actual riff. Like I mentioned before, compromise is also a big part of it. If I come up with an idea at home it is usually tweaked or something is added to it by the others in the rehearsal room. Hällas is never a one man show and that is very important, not least for the sake of complexity and the unexpectedness.  

How has your perspective on the possibilities of songs arrangement expanded over the years?

My first thought is that we have become more independent in a way. There is a greater extent of self-reliance in terms of boundaries and what kind of arrangements that is possible. In earlier days we often had ideas for arrangements where we asked ourselves “can we really do this?”, perhaps with a  fear of non-acceptance. Nowadays I feel that the only important thing is that we all think that the songs are interesting and challenging enough for us and that the music evoke the feelings we want them to evoke. Maybe we have become braver! 

How much does the challenge mean to you in terms of creativity or performing live?

The challenge is a huge incitement for me playing music. We always make music that challenges us both technically and in terms of musical boundaries. To see the progression and development of myself and the other guys in the band’s songwriting is a big part of it. To me it also seems like the greatest bits of music or ideas come at random. At least I haven’t figured out any pattern yet and the randomness is a challenge in itself meaning that you have to plow through a lot of ideas before you can harvest only the best of crops. Regarding live shows it is also a different challenge with so many more variables at hand. Making the best of every situation and often to adapt to new circumstances is what keeps it interesting. All those miles on the road is worth it for the moments when you feel that everything clicks and the audience is with you!

What does the future hold?

For obvious reasons with the whole virus situation, the near future is quite uncertain. We have some festivals in Europe confirmed for the summer that hopefully won’t be cancelled. We have postponed our European release tour for Conundrum to September. We are also looking into the possibilities of playing in previously uncharted territories and I am very much looking forward to that.

Conundrum is out now; order it from Napalm Records’ webstore. Like Hällas on Facebook.

Cover photo by K. Bengtsson

The post HÄLLAS: Uplifting Music That Brings You Down appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/03/27/luo-unspoken/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=luo-unspoken

People who go to gigs and deliberately choose to miss the support bands are very silly.

Yes, some supports can be dire, but the opposite is also true and over the years I’ve been startled by many bands I’d never heard of previously, even to the point of having to find out their names afterwards. Such a situation occurred last October when I went to see Battles in Bristol.

Luo were a brilliant support, in a similar vein to the main act, being an electronic duo with prominent drums, but sufficiently different to enhance the evening’s entertainment beautifully. They made quite an impact.

Luo began around 2015 as a project for Brighton-based electronic musician Josh Trinnaman, the first EP arriving that year with debut album Sleep Spindles in 2016. Drummer Barney Sage came aboard after another EP in 2017 and the current formation has been releasing singles over the last six months towards the upcoming release of Unspoken later this month.

And it’s a thoroughly entertaining listen, opening quietly as Testament expands majestically with drums and swathes of keyboards. Melody emerges, frenetic rhythms driving it forward as synths dance around them. There’s an epic quality against which the almost claustrophobic density of the drums fight, neither taking control, until the drums drop away, replaced in a dream-like section by a plaintive guitar figure. It’s a fine opening, dynamic and engaging to draw the listener in, ending with a further fusillade of drum pyrotechnics.

Eldritch Rhythm starts darkly, soaring keys lifting things beautifully before falling away, the tranquil yet sinister echoing drops and pops giving the feeling of being trapped in a cave, the ceiling eventually collapsing under the weight of drums. There’s a frenetic rush of electronically enhanced rhythms and synths, eventually stabilising. The opening sirens of Septa drag in a spectacular drum track to ground the piano and synths in an almost Ozric Tentacles way, the spaciness continuing with simple note patterns over driving rhythms, melody lines springing to life. It’s uplifting and energising stuff, repetitive phrases weaving around soloing melodies and the ever-shifting rhythms.

The variety is fascinating, Problem Ball, the latest single, exploring a heavier direction, more dissonant with almost metallic guitar working its way in to support the stop/start drums. There’s a calming section of picked out guitar lines before the mayhem returns, a soaring synth heading skywards as wordless vocals slide in. In contrast, The Gapper is tranquil and more spacious, the rhythmic outbursts more restained with the sedate lead line dropping off into free-form sounds, from which a delicate guitar melody emerges. It’s time to take a breath and step back from the intensity before the somewhat jazzier vibe of Boss Fight, keyboards searching for melody as the drums keep the forward momentum. It’s inventive and compelling as the theme subtly changes.

The two-part Pangolins is as enigmatic and curious as the scaly mammals of the title, the epic drive of Part 1 moving into the more introspective acoustic guitar-led and shorter Part 2, the two sides of the track complementing each other very nicely. This calming state of safety continues into Interval, another short track of chiming bell-like keys before Elegy, where forthright and structured drumming becomes more intense as the synths rise, eventually morphing into something of a showcase for the drums alone.

Finally, the longest track, Threnody, sees a slow build through keyboard melodies, drum attack and electronics. It doesn’t come across as the song of mourning that the title suggests, but there is an element of suggested loss in the hook lines. The various parts come together beautifully, stripping away in the mid-section before rising again to a sophisticated and calming close.

Josh Trinnaman and Barney Sage have built a compelling album, their key ingredients working together thoughtfully and with invention, the result being a highly dynamic and engaging listen that keeps you hooked. It uses rhythmic elements from dance music without straying too deeply into that zone, keeping the music interesting and free-flowing. Highly atmospheric, neither musician swamps the sound, each allowing the other free-rein at times but structured perfectly and well worked out within the demands of each piece.

The sound hovers within the realm of Battles and Three Trapped Tigers, but it is in no way a clone and offers a different experience that comes highly recommended from me. I’ll be making an effort to catch them live again this year, hopefully at the ArcTangent festival near Bristol in August.

TRACK LISTING
01. Testament (4:26)
02. Eldritch Rhythm (4:27)
03. Septa (4:42)
04. Problem Ball (4:24)
05. The Gapper (4:48)
06. Boss Fight (3:27)
07. Pangolins Pt.1 (3:51)
08. Pangolins Pt.2 (1:50)
09. Interlude (1:42)
10. Elegy (2:28)
11. Threnody (5:48)

Total Time – 41:59

MUSICIANS
Josh Trinnaman – Keyboards, Electronics, Guitar
Barney Sage – Drums, Electronics
~ with:
Adam Znaidi – Bass (track 2)

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 27th March 2020

LINKS
Luo – Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Soundcloud | Bandcamp

Northern Star 26th March 2020.

Escape Room!

Theme Pallas – Northern Star

  • Pink Floyd – Run Like Hell
  • Simon Collins – Ocean deep Inside
  • Quantum Jump – Starbright park
  • Krankschaft –The World is Flat
  • Le Orme – Cemento Armato
  • Porcupine Tree – Last Chance to Evacuate Planet earth
  • Comedy Of Errors – A moment’s peace
  • John Beagley – Make It stop
  • IQ – It all stop here
  • King Crimson – Starless
  • A formal Horse – Made In Chelsea (apocalypse 15/8)
  • Blackfield – End of the world
  • Hashshashin – The Ascetic
  • Discipline – When the walls came down
  • Frost – Wonderland
  • Abel ganz – end of rain
  • Dalis car – Judgement in the mirror
  • Carmen – Looking outside
  • The Pineapple Thief – Shed a light
  • Neutrino Pulse – Giants Causeway
  • We Lost the sea – Forgotten people
  • Roy Harper – Work of heart

http://tunein.com/radio/Progzilla-Radio-s242911/

www.progzilla.com/listen

Direct stream: http://stream1.hippynet.co.uk:8005/live

Repeat Shows Tuesdays 00.00 am GMT  & 1.00pm GMT

Subscribe to the show here

http://www.progzilla.com/category/podcast/northern-star/feed/

Podcasts of all the shows are available here

http://www.progzilla.com/shows/northern-star/

If you have a requests or ideas about shows or anything else for that matter?

Contact me on Emma@progzilla.com

 

#progrockradio #progzillaradio

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/03/26/hubris-metempsychosis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hubris-metempsychosis

One of the best things about following a label is being introduced to new bands. Metempsychosis is not the first album hubris. have released, but it is the first I have heard – and I’d likely never have heard it were it not released on Art As Catharsis. That was its first tick of my boxes. The second was the gorgeous cover art, the third was the track titles, as I’ve always loved classical history and mythology. So I’ve not even listened to a single note of the music, and I’m already in a terrific state of mind.

The first hurdle is to find out just what “metempsychosis” is. Turns out it’s a term from Ancient Greek philosophy, referring to the transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death, first coined in the set of religious beliefs and practices known as ‘Orphism’ (after its legendary founder, Orpheus). In a way, then, it’s interesting that hubris. have not given us a piece under that name.

Instead, we begin with Hepius, which may seem an oddity, but so wonderfully sequenced is this album that I am in no doubt it is deliberate. Hepius is a hero who became a god of medicine, better known by his later name of Asclepius. The twin snake-entwined staff of Asclepius remains a symbol of medicine today. In these days of the novel coronavirus, Hepius would be a handy person to have around!

In one of many links to other tracks (by name, if not always by music), Hepius/Asclepius was tutored by the centaur Chiron (Dionysus and Heracles were also tutored by Chiron, and Heracles ultimately was responsible for Chiron’s death). I can’t help but imagine the introductory beat to be Chiron’s hooves, as the music magically rises over it. The music is as peaceful and relaxing as you might expect from a healer, and continues to quietly build in power – just as Asclepius did.

Indeed, Asclepius became so proficient as a healer that he surpassed his father, the god Apollo. Ultimately he was able to evade death for himself and others, and also to bring the dead back to life. This wasn’t as great a thing as it might seem, as suddenly there was a huge influx of people, and Zeus resorted to killing Asclepius to restore balance. In my mind, this killing blow takes part approximately five and a half minutes into the track, and after this crescendo, we return to the initial calm to see out the track.

Next up is Dionysus, and just as Asclepius had his staff, so too did Dionysus – although his was of fennel, wrapped in vine leaves. Dionysus is a much more upbeat number than Hepius, as I guess you might expect from a god of revelry. It’s almost disco-like for the first two minutes, before the first of several changes, and I can’t help but think this is a reference to the Mysteries of Dionysus (if we head back to Orphism for a moment, Orphics revered Dionysus, and it was Orpheus who was said to have invented the Mysteries of Dionysus – rituals using dance, music and alcohol, to remove inhibitions and social constraints. Certainly the music here encourages the body to dance – or at the very least, the toes to tap).

Similar to Hepius, there is a dramatic change in intensity about halfway through Dionysus, and just as in Hepius, in my mind, this is down to Zeus, for just as Asclepius was first known as Hepius, Dionysus was first known as Zagreus – although a key difference is that Hepius and Asclepius were the same incarnation, while Zagreus was the previous incarnation of Dionysus. Zagreus was the product of one of Zeus’s many infidelities, and as usual Hera wasn’t too happy. She was responsible for his demise, and Zeus retaliated in a fury.

And then we’re back to Apollo, because just as he was the father of Hepius/Asclepius, he was responsible for the reincarnation of Zagreus as Dionysus. After the fury, we have the calm, because as much as Dionysus has been characterised as a god of drunkenness in the post-Classical era, contemporaneously Dionysus was associated with only a moderate consumption of wine, which could ease suffering and bring joy. Even the “divine madness” of the Mysteries of Dionysus are quite distinct from drunkenness.

Now, I realise that I could be entirely wrong in my imaginings of what the music symbolises, but such is the power of instrumental music that imagery can be quite clear in a listener’s ear, even when it is not that which was intended. I have often believed that instrumental concept albums can convey a story far better than one with vocals. Rivendel’s recent Sisyfos album is another with a classical concept where I was able to easily envisage the story being told, even though there were no vocals. I was amazed by Rivendel’s accomplishment, and hubris. have provoked a similar reaction. I honestly do wonder how much difference it makes to listen to these pieces of music, fitting knowledge to the music, than if one knows nothing of the mythology?

I also wonder how I can be writing what is probably my most wordy review yet for an album largely without words. I would apologise, but all who were bored would have given up long ago, so I can only assume if you’ve read this far, you’re finding my wittering at least vaguely interesting. Or perhaps, you are no longer the same incarnation you were when you began?

Adonis is next, another classical being who visited the Underworld and survived. Raised by Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, once he reached adulthood he spent one-third of each year in the Underworld. This track is the most laid-back yet, and as dreamy as one might expect from the McDreamy of the ancient world (sorry, my wife watches Grey’s Anatomy, and I guess I can’t help but absorb some of the references). Well, at least until the gruesome death, as Adonis is gored by a wild boar. After this suitably dramatic and heavy section, we are left with two minutes of melancholy, as the tears of Aphrodite mix with the blood of Adonis, leaving us the beauty of the anemone flower.

Boars quite often feature in classical mythology. Our friend from the first track, Asclepius was among those who took part in the Calydonian Boar hunt. The brother of Heracles, Iphicles, also took part. Heracles, of course, vanquished a boar of his own – the Erymanthian Boar.

But before we get to Heracles, we have Icarus and Dedalus. Icarus is the only track on Metempsychosis to have vocals, though they are spoken, not sung as the tale of Icarus and Dedalus is narrated. It’s so well known that I don’t think I need to retell it, however it is worth noting that Icarus’ father warns him first of complacency (flying too low), and then of hubris (flying too high). I love the way the calmly narrated story matches the ambient nature of the music, each somewhat expressionless and monotonous yet beautiful.

When Icarus segues into Dedalus, it’s one of the most beautiful moments of the album. The music of Dedalus chops and changes like the pathways of his labyrinth, and provides one of the most breathtaking pieces on the album. A definite highlight, even though I’m not totally sure how the story of Icarus and Dedalus fits into the overall arc of metempsychosis. For my own peace of mind, the jigsaw piece that fits them together is that it was Heracles who erected a tomb for Icarus, and Heracles who killed the Cretan Bull (father of the Minotaur).

And this is where I feel, even if it is only by my own inference, that the sequencing is amazing. Not only does every track lead perfectly into the next musically, so that the album is one whole listening experience, so does everything in terms of the classical figures the tracks are named after. Just as Asclepius held a staff entwined by two snakes, and started us on our journey, we end it with Heracles, who when he was just eight months old killed two snakes – strangling one in each hand (the two snakes were sent by Hera to kill Heracles and Iphicles because, once again, Zeus had been up to his usual naughtiness).

As per the Bandcamp page for the album, Heracles “is divided into twelve parts alluding to both Heracles’ labours and the different stages of his life, the last two being musical illustrations of his rise to Mount Olympus and his place among the gods until the end of times.” This is clever in itself, as Heracles was originally given only ten tasks, and it was the additional two which not only saw him granted the immortality Asclepius was denied but also saw him have to visit the Underworld to do so. In so many ways, Heracles completes a circle for Metempsychosis (the album), just as life and death are a circle in metempsychosis (the theory). It’s a glorious way to end the album, but it’s not really an end, because you can go straight back to the start, and play it again…

I realise I’ve said less about the music than the figures named by the track titles, but that’s how vivid a story the music portrays for me. hubris. remind me at times of Long Distance and Sigur Rós (both bands I love), but they paint far more colourful pictures. The artwork for Metempsychosis doesn’t lie, and I can’t help but close my eyes and envisage the stories I studied at school to an entirely modern soundtrack. If you’re not such a classical fan as me, your experience may vary – but I’m sure it would be impossible not to recognise the beauty of the music.

TRACK LISTING
01. Hepius (11:25)
02. Dionysus (10:55)
03. Adonis (9:16)
04. Icarus (5:04)
05. Dedalus (8:51)
06. Heracles (9:23)

Total Time – 54:54

MUSICIANS
Jonathan Hohl – Guitars
Nathan Gros – Drums
Matthieu Grillet – Guitars
Lucien Leclerc – Bass

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Art As Catharsis
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Date of Release: 13the March 2020

LINKS
hubris. – Website | Facebook | YouTube | Bandcamp

Proving that prog isn't just for dinosaurs!

I’m delighted to announce that the podcast for edition 333 of Live From Progzilla Towers is now available.

In this edition we heard the following music:

  • Rick Wakeman – Lancelot And The Black Knight
  • Afenginn – The Impact
  • Fish – Weltschmerz
  • IT – The Working Man
  • Steve Howe – Pennants
  • Kavus Torabi – Silent The Rotor
  • Moth Vellum – Let The Race Begin
  • Principal Edwards Magic Theatre – Mcalpine Versus The Asmoto
  • Peter Gabriel – Signal To Noise
  • Keith Emerson – Fanfare For The Common Man
  • Enochian Theory – This Aching Isolation
  • Queensryche – Spreading The Disease
  • Kevin Gilbert – All Fall Down
  • Mythic Sunship – Olympia
  • Renaldo & The Loaf – Optimism
  • King Crimson – Easy Money
  • Oblivion Sun – Noodlepoint
  • Manu Dibango – Biko
  • Toehider – He’s There… And Then He Does THAT
  • Rymden – Reflections
  • Chimpan A – The World Through My Eyes
  • Zopp – Zero
  • Steven Wilson – Personal Shopper
  • Vita Voom – Infinity Curtains

iTunes/iPod users*: Just search for ‘Progzilla’ or subscribe to: http://www.progzilla.com/media/podcasts/podcast.xml

Enjoy!

Edition 227 of Steve Blease’s Heavy Elements is now available as a podcast.

Playlist:

Caligula’s Horse – The Tempest
Tomorrow’s Eve – Imago
Green Carnation – Leaves of Yesteryear
Shattered Skies – Born of Solder
Conception – Waywardly Broken

That Was The Year That Prog: 2005
Kamelot – March of Mephisto
Spheric Universe Experience – Burning Box Gala
Pagan’s Mind – New World Order
Beyond Twilight – Ectasy Arise
Dream Theater – Never Enough

Epic at 11: Odd Logic – Boundary Division

Nevermore – Sentient 6
Warrel Dane – When We Pray

Album of the Week: Atheist – Unquestionable Presence
Mother Man
An Incarnation’s Dream
Unquestionable Presence

Borealis – Midnight City

Requests/comments to steve@progzilla.com

#progzillaradio #heavyelements