All posts for the month August, 2020

This news story was originally published here:

Two years after releasing their exceptional debut, Dukes of the Orient return with their sophomore release, Freakshow. I must confess, I hadn’t expected there to be a second album as the release of the debut felt more like unfinished business; ‘Asia Featuring…’ finally putting a ten-year old album onto disc. That, combined with a lack of touring, suggested that Dukes… was a one-off. Well, whether this proves to be just a studio project or not, the Dukes have returned, as they inform us triumphantly on the album’s opener.

Freakshow is, on the whole, a quite different beast to the debut album. Whilst 2018’s effort was John Payne Asia in everything but name, this is a much more ambitious and experimental collection of songs. Personally, I regard the Payne-era Asia albums as some of the finest melodic rock ever recorded and so I was initially a little disappointed that Payne and Eric Norlander had cast out into new territory. That said, this band isn’t Asia and it would be a disservice to Norlander’s exquisite playing and compositional skill to expect him to copy Geoff Downes.

In interviews for the new record, Norlander and Payne have spoken of their excellent writing partnership and, also, of the stability afforded by having a five-person line-up throughout. Rather than a series of guest guitarists who happened to work on the various songs during their respective stints in Asia/FJP, Andy Garcia plays guitar on all tracks. With Payne’s voice and bass alongside Norlander’s keyboards, and Frank Klepacki on drums, the band is rounded out with a saxophonist, Eric Tewalt. On my first listen, I still hadn’t looked at the personnel so the arrival of the sax on the first track proved to be the first of a number of surprises that the album had in store.

As I write this review, Dukes… have released two of the album’s tracks as singles which happen to be the ones I would class as holding most closely to the Asia heritage. The Dukes Return has a chord progression in the verse which is very reminiscent of Remembrance Day from Aria and a chorus that bounces along, with ‘homecoming’ energy and anthemic synths. The chromatic descension after the second chorus leads into a bridge with a Sixties feel and, finally, a sax solo that would have fitted well on a piece of mid-’80s AOR from the West Coast. Perhaps a little less ‘Asia’ at the end.

Track two, The Ice Is Thin, opens with Norlander’s piano playing the chords across the beats with some very melodic fills and haunting chord progressions. Then the chorus breaks into a Breakfast In America – style ‘oompah’ rhythm. The keyboard bass lines are distinctly Rick Davies and this time when the sax kicks in, in the second verse, one anticipates it. Just when it’s all beginning to feel like a homage to Supertramp, the song moves into a wah-wah guitar solo. This track is undoubtedly one of the album’s highlights.

The title track is another unexpected offering. The menacing intro is followed up with a brassy synth line and a vocal melody and style that’s a bit like the ‘bad-guy’ song in a musical. There’s a hint of AC/DC or Alice Cooper to the vocals. The theme of the song is modern-day political corruption dressed up in a ‘circus of horrors’ Gothic nightmare. It just about carries it off. The sax and organ solos provide a bit of colour and variety, but I can’t help feeling glad that this track doesn’t outstay its welcome by finishing at the four and half minute mark.

The Monitors, the first of the album’s two singles, is the track that most resembles their first album. It also happens to be the best track on this latest effort. The verse is strong, the chorus is extremely catchy, the keys bold and anthemic and the guitar is given its first proper rock solo. Man of Machine follows, a solid rocker which thunders through its dystopian theme with a frenetic urgency. There is some excellent guitar and saxophone work on this.

The second half of the album has more surprises in store. The Last Time Traveller is the sort of ‘penny dreadful’ fiction mined by Clive Nolan on the likes of Arena’s Pepper’s Ghost. It’s pleasantly melodic, but interspersing the singing with spoken lines in a Cockney twang just doesn’t work for me. Musically, it’s great though, and I love the keyboards on this. Norlander is a superb player, no doubt.

A Quest For Knowledge doesn’t add much, though the Beatles-y chorus foreshadows what’s to come on Until Then. The Great Brass Steam Engine is a fun Norlander solo which probably doesn’t need five minutes of space. Things pick up with the album’s penultimate track, When Ravens Cry. There are one or two quirky changes in the piano chord progressions and an infectious chorus of arpeggiated chords backed by the gentle tap of rim shots on the snare. The solo is synthesised vocal, which works surprising well.

Finally, Until Then closes out the album with textures, progressions and effects which pay affectionate homage to The Beatles (The Fool on the Hill even gets a mention). Alex Garcia gets an opportunity to release his ‘inner Harrison’ and the whole piece pleasingly plays out in true ‘album closer’ fashion with a repeated synth and vocal melody.

There are moments on this album where I start to think ‘This hasn’t quite worked’ only for Dukes… to knock it out of the park, like they did on the debut. To stick with the baseball analogy for a moment, this is an album of great ingenuity and inventiveness that pitches a couple of curveballs too many. For instance, the sax doing fifty percent of the guitar work is a little too much. It’s perfect on The Ice Is Thin, but it’s unnecessary on The Dukes Return. The sci-fi horror, the circus-master, the jaunty Norlander solo – there are a few two many shifts away from what Payne has done well in the past. I’m all for them not trying to release Aqua 2.0, but there’s a reason that The Monitors is the album’s best cut.

Nevertheless, this is a thoughtfully constructed and intelligent piece of prog, with some superb playing and a good range of catchy and melodic song-writing.

01. The Dukes Return (5:01)
02. The Ice Is Thin (6:01)
03. Freakshow (4:30)
04. The Monitors (4:39)
05. Man Of Machine (7:37)
06. The Last Time Traveller (6:46)
07. A Quest For Knowledge (5:52)
08. The Great Brass Steam Engine (5:05)
09. When Ravens Cry (6:54)
10. Until Then (7:56)

Total Time – 59:27

John Payne – Vocals, Bass, Guitar
Eric Norlander – Keyboards
Frank Klepacki – Drums
Alex Garcia – Guitars
Eric Tewalt – Saxophone

Record Label: Frontiers Music SRL
Catalogue#: FR CD 1051
Date of Release: 7th August 2020

Dukes of the Orient – Website | Facebook

This news story was originally published here:

The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, recently announced the release of their 11th studio album ‘Auto Reconnaissance’ on the 21st August 2020. The follow-up to 2018’s ‘Proxy’, sees them continuing the band philosophy of celebrating the golden age of prog, whilst bringing it to the present and exploring new paths for the music to take in the future. On ‘Auto Reconnaissance’, they bend that philosophy to their will, taking in prog rock foot stomping, sublime Jazz, humour, narrative, a modern R&B love song, funk/soul and a 28 minute long emotional epic about the band’s home country of England.

Andy Tillison sat down to answer some questions about the new album from his home in the North of England, watch the video now here:

The band recently launched a video for ‘The Tower Of Babel’, filmed with each member remotely. Watch it now here: 

You can also check out the first single, titled ‘Life On Hold’, here: 

‘Auto Reconnaissance’ will be available as a limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP + CD + LP-Booklet and as a digital album. Pre-order now here:

Andy comments: “I utterly refuse to accept that Progressive Rock Music is some kind of museum piece. It is actually a living and breathing movement that has a past, a present and above all, a future. It once had an album-chart-topping golden age, but the genre was never about that. It has subtly and virally kept itself alive for decades where many new musical genres have risen to glory and faded away.

For this release, Andy is once again joined by long-time collaborators Jonas Reingold, Luke Machin (who co-produced the album with Andy), Theo Travis, and Steve Roberts. Together they bring to life an album that has been influenced by the likes of ELP, The Isley Brothers, Steely Dan, Aphex Twin, National Health, Rose Royce, Squarepusher and Return To Forever amongst others. 

Andy comments of the current line-up: “In the past 6 years the line-up of The Tangent has become more stable than at the beginning. I think that the identity of the Tangent as a “Group” rather than a “Project” started to come together on the album ‘A Spark In The Aether’ in 2014. Essentially Luke, Jonas, Theo and myself have appeared on the last four albums, and we added Steve Roberts for the tour that supported ‘Slow Rust’ in 2017 and we’ve settled on this line-up. I hope for a while because I find this unit to be productive, in tune with the band’s purpose and manifesto and a lot of fun to boot. The new album ‘Auto Reconnaissance’ is the first time that the core band has been identical in structure to its predecessor. For the first time I feel that everyone is totally onboard with the fusion of Jazz, Prog, Punkishness and electronica that The Tangent likes to cook up. We are a good group of friends and although we don’t meet up often, it’s a real blast when we do. I’ve always considered Ed Unitsky the cover artist to have been a recurring member of the cast – his artwork has been a huge part of our story and although we move away, we always return.

‘Auto Reconnaissance’ will be available as Limited CD Digipak (incl. bonus track), Gatefold 2LP + CD + LP booklet & as Digital Album, all featuring the artwork of Ed Untisky, whose visuals have not been seen on a Tangent album ince 2014’s ‘A Spark In The Aether’. The full track-listing can be found below:

1. Life On Hold
2. Jinxed In Jersey
3. Under Your Spell
4. The Tower Of Babel
5. Lie Back & Think Of England
6. The Midas Touch
7. Proxima (Bonus Track)

The Tangent are the following players:
Andy Tillison – Vocals, Lyrics, Keyboards, Composer
Jonas Reingold (The Sea Within, Steve Hackett Band) – Bass Guitar
Theo Travis (Soft Machine, David Gilmour, Travis-Fripp) – Sax & Flute
Luke Machin (Maschine, Francis Dunnery Band) – Guitar
Steve Roberts (David Cross Band, ex Magenta, Godsticks) – Drums

The Tangent online:


This news story was originally published here:

LONG DISTANCE CALLING, Germany’s most internationally successful instrumental rock act, released their seventh studio album ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ in June, and recently took part in the Wacken Worldwide streaming event which was viewed by over 11 million people across the globe.

Today, Long Distance Calling have launched a track taken from that stream, and you can watch them perform the song ‘Sharing Thoughts’ here:

The band comments: “We had a great time shooting our special show for WACKEN WORLD WIDE. Of course it was a bit weird to stare into cameras instead of real people´s eyes but we had fun doing it and it was a cool experience, especially with the beautiful video content behind us and the atmosphere of the studio. We feel we have reached a bunch of new people and this kind of event during these difficult times shows that creativity is blooming the most when it´s needed the most. LOVE LDC

‘How Do We Want To Live?’ has been receiving a fantastic reaction being awarded Album of the Month in publications such as Metal Hammer Germany, Rock Hard Germany, Guitar, Gitarre & Bass & more, while Metal Hammer UK have called it a “full-blown sensory experience”.

Following a successful appearance at Dong Open Air in Germany, the band have announced 3 further special, socially-distanced, outdoor shows for 2020:
05.09.2020 DE-Bremen, Zollkantine OpenAir
26.09.2020 DE-Munich, Backstage Kultursommer in der Stadt
27.09.2020 CH-Aarau, KiFF

Watch the bands recent video for ‘Immunity’ here:

The band previously launched a striking video for the track ‘Voices’, a short film exploring the relationship between a human and AI. The video was created by AVA Studios and you can watch it now here:

Watch the video for the album’s first single ‘Hazard’ here:

Jan and Jansoch from Long Distance Calling have also launched a German-language podcast titled “Lachend in die Kreissäge” where they discuss the new album, and will also be inviting guests to join them on future episodes. Listen now here:

‘How Do We Want To Live?’ sees the band forging a sharply defined & artistically tight exploration of the relationship between humanity and artificial intelligence, and the state of digital progress. Comprised of 10 tracks which contain all the classic LDC-trademarks whilst also bringing something completely fresh and unexpected to the table with their ambitious use of electronic sounds, a perfect symbiosis between man and machine.

‘How Do We Want To Live?’ is available as a Limited Edition CD, Gatefold Black 2LP + CD & as Digital Album. A limited deluxe box-set has been released, containing a special coloured edition of the album, an exclusive 7inch featuring two remixes, a beautiful poster featuring the albums stunning artwork by Max Löffler, and 4 individually signed art-cards all contained in a lift-off box.

Order now here 

The full track-listing is as follows:
1. Curiosity (Part 1)
2. Curiosity (Part 2)
3. Hazard
4. Voices
5. Fail/Opportunity
6. Immunity
7. Sharing Thoughts
8. Beyond Your Limits
9. True/Negative
10. Ashes

The track ‘Beyond Your Limits’ continues the band´s tradition of having one track with a vocalist, and features the talents of Eric A. Pulverich of the band Kyles Tolone. As the band comments: “We got to know him over our producer Arne Neurand. We were instantly fascinated by his voice and we wanted to show the quality of his voice and melodies.”

It was recently announced that the band have been nominated for the GEMA Musikautorenpreis 2020. This is an integral part of the German music landscape and unique in its focus on music writers. GEMA has been honoring composers and lyricists for their musical work in this way for 12 years, and is representative of the great diversity and the enormous range of fascinating works across genres.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, LONG DISTANCE CALLING have rescheduled their September ‘Seats & Sounds’ German tour for September 2021.

25.02.21 Berlin Passionskirche 
26.02.21 Dresden Lukaskirche 
27.02.21 Leipzig Ankeroff
01.03.21 Mannheim Capitol 
02.03.21 Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle Club
03.03.21 Stuttgart Mozartsaal
04.03.21 Bochum Christuskirche 
05.03.21 Köln E-Werk 
27.03.21 München St. Matthäus Kirche 
29.03.21 Hannover Pavillon
30.03.21 Hamburg Kleine Elbphilharmonie (sold out)



This news story was originally published here:

Neal Morse is set to release ‘Sola Gratia’, his new solo progressive rock concept album, on the 11th September 2020. Originating from a seed planted in his mind about writing a record based on the apostle Paul, ‘Sola Gratia’ quickly came together at the beginning of 2020. The album sees Neal working with long-time collaborators Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer and Gideon Klein. 

Watch the video for the albums second single ‘Seemingly Sincere’ here:

Neal comments: “Seemingly Sincere is one of the last songs I wrote for Sola Gratia. Having a song about the stoning of Stephen seemed appropriate and when I started writing it, I immedi-ately felt the drama and intensity. I wasn’t really expecting for it to have a really long instru-mental section with keyboard and drum solos, but that actually turned into one of my favorite parts of the album. 

I think Christian Rios has done amazingly well on this video as it is so difficult to create good music videos remotely during Covid. I think he did a fabulous job and I hope you all enjoy it.”

The title ‘Sola Gratia’ of course has echoes of Morse’s 2007 epic ‘Sola Scriptura’, about the life of Martin Luther, but was in fact originally the result of a simple marital misunderstanding: “I was talking to my wife Cherie about debuting this new piece at Morsefest 2020 (Morse’s annual fan convention in Nashville) and she said she thought it would be good for me to do a solo al-bum. However, I thought she said ‘Sola album’ and – because some of the new ideas involved Paul’s aggressive pursuit of the early Christians, I could see a link to some of the themes of per-secution in ‘Sola Scriptura’.” 

The music was recorded ‘virtually’ in April 2020 at the height of the Coronavirus lockdown with long term collaborators Mike Portnoy (drums) and Randy George (bass): “It’s the first album we have ever made remotely: I sent them the basic tracks and asked if they wanted to rearrange things, but they just said ‘No, it’s great!’, so they just played to it and sent their parts back over. It wasn’t an easy way to make an album, but creating always has its challenges, no mat-ter how you do it.” 

As Morse explains, it was this process that decided that ‘Sola Gratia’ was to be a Neal Morse al-bum, rather than being credited to The Neal Morse Band: “With the Neal Morse Band, the whole band works together on the writing, and while Eric Gillette plays some guitar and Bill Hubauer has added some keyboards on this one, neither of them wrote – or is singing – on this album.

Watch the video for the first single ‘In The Name Of The Lord’ here:

‘Sola Gratia’ will be released as a limited CD/DVD Digipak (featuring a ‘Making-Of’ documentary), Gatefold 2LP + CD, Standard CD Jewel Case and as a Digital Album. The cover art was created by another longtime collaborator, Thomas Ewerhard.
Pre-order now here: 

The full track-listing is as follows:

  1. Preface
  2. Overture
  3. In The Name Of The Lord
  4. Ballyhoo (The Chosen Ones)
  5. March Of The Pharisees
  6. Building A Wall
  7. Sola Intermezzo
  8. Overflow
  9. Warmer Than The Sunshine
  10. Never Change
  11. Seemingly Sincere
  12. The Light On The Road To Damascus
  13. The Glory Of The Lord
  14. Now I Can See/The Great Commission

Neal Morse will debut ‘Sola Gratia’ live at his annual Morsefest convention on the 18th and 19th September 2020. A very limited number of people will be able to attend in person, with the event also being streamed online. More details and tickets are available here:



Proving that prog isn't just for dinosaurs!

I’m delighted to announce that the podcast for edition 353 of Live From Progzilla Towers is now available.

In this edition we heard the following music:

  • Bill Bressler – The Liberated 2.0
  • Chris Squire – Silently Falling
  • Deep Purple – Nothing At All
  • Sintonia Distorta – Solo Un Sogno (…Dimmi Che Ti Basta)
  • Dukes Of The Orient – Man Of Machine
  • Ensemble Nimbus – Three Stories From The Blue Cage
  • Electric Mud – Quiet Days On Earth
  • Kaipa – Sist Pa Plan
  • Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better
  • Greenslade – Pilgrims Progress
  • Beardfish – This Matter Of Mine
  • Groundhogs – Thank Christ For The Bomb
  • Jethro Tull – Flying Dutchman
  • John Wetton – The Circle Of St Giles/The Last Thing On My Mind
  • Gunesh – Ballad Of Destiny
  • Kino – Holding On
  • Matt Berry – Solstice
  • Premiata Forneria Marconi – Impressioni Di Settembre/Romeo E Giulietta – Danza Dei Cavalieri
  • Tiger Moth Tales – Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright
  • Robert Reed – Chi Mai

iTunes/iPod users*: Just search for ‘Progzilla’ or subscribe to:


This news story was originally published here:

Last year’s De Facto was the fifth release by Mexican duo, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, the third of their albums to be released internationally, and the first that I heard. It grabbed me immediately, from its jarring and bruising opener. The intriguing mix of dream pop gone wrong and electronica providing a psychedelic nightmare soundscape, with every beautiful and serene moment being met with something darker and more threatening, had me hooked. The duo released an EP earlier this year, which is just as enthralling. Also this year, Lorena Quintanilla (Lorelle) has released a second solo album as J. Zunz, and it has quite a different feel to the 2017 debut.

Actually, I’ll admit I was unaware that there had been an earlier J. Zunz album, until I visited the Bandcamp page. I listened to that earlier album (Silente) before moving on to this new release, Hibiscus. In every way, Hibiscus is a more impressive album than its predecessor. Although Quintanilla’s idea for J. Zunz to be stripped right back, Silente felt too stripped back for me. Even though you could argue that Hibiscus is still stripped back, compared with Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, is is far more lush and full than Silente. It’s somewhat odd, perhaps, to describe such almost ambient and quite minimalist music as having fullness of sound, but it’s also undeniably true.

Hibiscus is far closer to silence than Silente was, and it works incredibly well. ‘Less is more’ is a cliché often pulled out by reviewers (including myself), but it’s hard to deny how well that approach works on an album such as this. Even Quintanilla’s vocals are pulled back into the mix, a ghostly and ephemeral undertone adding texture and colour, and working more as another instrument. There’s an otherworldly sound to the vocals that helps transport me away to another place for the duration of the album.

Unlike Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, although the music of J. Zunz might sound, as aforementioned, otherworldly, it never really feels ominous. That is, until you hit the midpoint of the album, but even 33:33 never feels threatening. There’s never that sense of teetering on the edge of a precipice that Lorelle Meets The Obsolete can give. The harsher notes and stronger percussion of the heavier moments of 33:33 don’t really even add a sense of unease, so much as a point of interest. Which is a good thing, as otherwise it might break the almost hypnotic feel of the album. Bandcamp describes “compelling trance states”, and it’s not wrong. 33:33 provides a passage on the album that makes the listener take note, without being jolted out of the comfort zone the album provides as a whole.

White Labels uses the same rhythmic tune of 33:33, with a different sound, which is a really neat trick. Both tracks sound so similar as they begin, and yet so different. The drone which gradually and increasingly takes over the song is mesmerisingly beautiful. When it drops away, to leave soft vocals in the background, it’s even more so. This is the overwhelming feel of Hibiscus – something gentle, hypnotic and hauntingly beautiful. At times eerie, but never uneasy. And yet, the beauty of the instrumentation hides how dark and harrowing – even violent – the album often can be lyrically. Quintanilla has described the recording of Hibiscus as being cathartic, and this is reflected in the way the lyrics deal with exorcising her demons and fears, over music that is almost overwhelmingly calm and tranquil. It provides a sense of strength overcoming vulnerability.

I’ll admit that when I first listened to Hibiscus, I was a little underwhelmed. But this was because I was unfairly comparing the album to Lorelle Meets The Obsolete. J. Zunz is not that band, and the music is not the same. However, it really didn’t take too many listens to realise how deep under my skin this album had dug, and how much I love it. If this is the direction Quintanilla is taking with her solo work, then I am entirely onboard, and though Hibiscus has only just been released, I’m already impatient for the next album!

01. Y (4:06)
02. Four Women And Darkness (5:56)
03. Jùpiter (2:55)
04. 33:33 (5:06)
05. White Labels (5:11)
06. Overtime (3:37)
07. America Is A Continent (5:16)
08. Ouve-Me (3:30)

Total Time – 35:37

J. Zunz – Vocals, All Instrumentation

Record Label: Rocket
Country of Origin: Mexico
Date of Release: 21st August 2020

J. Zunz – Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

This news story was originally published here:

This is what John Collinge wrote on PE:

I am writing to transparently explain the fate of Progression Magazine of which I am — was — owner/publisher. That I hadn’t fully done so before is in itself painful to me, but remains necessary for all involved. A friend called my attention to an old, lengthy thread on PE regarding Progression’s fate. I realized this was my opportunity to break from subconsciously self-imposed exile to address matters driven by a dying print industry and also of personal origin, which I’ve been reluctant to share publicly.

I started Progression in 1992 as a 12-page bimonthly newsletter, which evolved over the years into a 182-page internationally circulated quarterly magazine at its peak. It was a labor of love, mostly for the music but also for the challenge of bringing serious journalism to a deserving genre. Suffice to say this publication — which I built from scratch “learning by doing” – consumed my life 24/7 for 26 years. Having no children, Progression was my “child.” But being a journalist foremost and businessman a far distant second, I was ill-equipped for navigating financial growing pains as advertising and circulation duties soon eclipsed editorial. I ran myself ragged wearing all three hats, could not afford to hire help but pressed on for years longer than I probably should have. Why? Simply put, celebrating progressive music’s visceral and intellectual appeal through the journalistic process fed my soul. Plus, a lot of folks liked the results.

The Internet came of age during Progression’s tenure spelling the print industry’s inexorable decline, which I resisted to the very bitter end. The first big blow was my primary newsstand distributor, Desert Moon Periodicals, going bankrupt losing me thousands. Then Tower Records folded, Progression’s biggest retail outlet. As people gravitated to online reading, magazines – especially indie publications – began to fold.

The emergence of social media and DIY websites forced me to don a fourth “hat” for online promotion and content that proved unmanageable. From the very start in ’92 through Progression’s last issue a bit over two years ago, this has been a one-man operation augmented by paid graphic artists and generous contributions from volunteer writers/reviewers. Between selling ads, managing subscriptions, writing, editing and overseeing online functions, my workload reached critical mass. Problem is, progressive music remains a tiny niche market with limited resources.

Progression’s last few years were plagued by an erratic publishing schedule. Job one for each issue cycle was first covering the printing bill (which ultimately drained my personal savings). Things stalled completely when a medical scare limited my ability to focus long hours on a computer screen as the work required. I am blind in my right eye from birth which made my left eye better than 20/20, but a condition called severe vitreous detachment clouded vision in my good eye that I still am coping with.

My hope all along has been to reinvent Progression in more manageable form, perhaps digitally, but finding a workable path forward has been elusive. Frankly, it is incredibly hard for me to abandon this “child,” this creation, with which I so closely have identified through three decades. As a result I’ve been unwittingly avoidant of hard truths and of properly apprising all subscribers/supporters where things stand. I thought this had been addressed – or at least, told myself that. Then I figured no one really cared. Then I’m alerted to a lengthy PE thread with posters calling me “scummy” and “leech,” so apparently some folks care after all.

That hurt. Eventually I came to accept that my efforts toward saving Progression at such high personal cost were counterproductive and a disservice to others. Back issues remain available in the webstore which no longer accepts subscriptions; anyone attempting to subscribe since publication ceased has been/will be refunded. I apologize to those left hanging with partially completed subscriptions, which has caused me sleepless nights. Piecemeal monetary reimbursement is not possible right now as I seek acceptable alternative solutions. One possibility might be filling the balance with available back issues, of which there remain many. Those in that position should please advise if it’s something you would consider (e-mail address below).

Along the way, of course, many things have been said. True, obligations to current subscribers in the end were not fulfilled. Other accusations are NOT true. For example, one member here publicly suggested the magazine’s website is a front to solicit promo submissions for surreptitious sale on This definitely (and demonstrably) is untrue. Yes, out of financial necessity I opened a Discogs store to liquidate items from my personal music collection (CDs/DVDs/vinyl) plus items I bought wholesale, along with some promos (via multiple sources, not just Progression) dating chiefly from 1996-2011. Since 1992 most promotional discs sent to Progression for review were parsed out to reviewers. The rest including duplicates, items we had insufficient space to review and items I reviewed personally, stayed with me. At no time have promos been sought through Progression targeting re-sale, anywhere. I honestly cannot imagine how, even with all that happened, anyone could suggest such a thing.

In closing, from the bottom of my heart I wish to thank everyone who supported me and the magazine throughout our headfirst dive into the oft-bumpy, glorious unknown of independent publishing. I knew what I wanted with Progression but obviously didn’t know what to expect. One guy serving thousands of people over a quarter century wasn’t the best formula for 100-percent customer satisfaction, but I hope we at least made some of you feel better informed along the way. Thanks again.

Your friend in prog,
Scummy Leech (a/k/a John Collinge)

P.S. I recently was notified of some back-issue orders left unfilled from a webstore data recovery glitch. Anyone potentially affected by this please e-mail me directly at [email protected]. You also can message me there with other questions, comments, complaints, insults, etc. I promise to respond.”

This news story was originally published here:

I don’t know if it’s something they add to the water supply in Sweden, but it has been a hotbed of great new progressive music for years now, with a seemingly endless list of new bands emerging each year to delight music fans the world over. Well, here’s another band to add to the list, Vulkan, who hail from Karlstad.

Technatura is the band’s third album, and right from opener This Visual Hex it is clear that we have a band who occupy the heavier end of the prog spectrum. Whilst undeniably there is a good bludgeon quota, it is balanced with melody and interesting embellishments. We find sounds flitting in and out of the arrangements which could be violin, flute, trumpet even, but are probably keyboard-generated. However they are made, they provide textural and melodic interest which elevates the overall sound above the standard ‘heavy prog’ we often hear. The atmosphere is slightly eerie and dark, with intriguing percussive effects, but the overall musical sweep of the verses is quite uplifting, evocative of early Haken perhaps. The vocals of Jimmy Lindblad are a highlight, providing the melody behind which the band drive forcefully on. Drummer Johan Norbäck provides a very solid lively beat alongside Oscar Pettersson (no, not the legendary jazz pianist – no jazz here!) on bass, and together they propel the band energetically along.

Several of the tracks on the album are sung in their native Swedish, which I find works very well, just as Opeth’s last album sounded somehow ‘right’ in the native language version. One of these is Marans Ritt, which is the first single from the album. It is a delightfully light, largely acoustic song, but slightly mystifying as a choice of single in that it is not at all representative of their normal dominant style. Whatever, it is a beautiful interlude. Elsewhere, there are moments of calm ambience interspersed between the longer heavier workouts. It makes for a well-paced and sequenced listening experience.

There are many stand-out tracks, so I’ll just mention a couple: Klagans Snara with its throat singing and keyboard textures segues beautifully into Rekviem, which starts as a pastoral lush ballad, but gradually builds in intensity to a superb full-on climax. It’s a stunning piece of controlled power and restraint. Christian Fredriksson excels on guitar on this piece. Although he can riff along with the best of them, his solos are relatively few, and played with restraint, preferring to provide colour and texture for the most part. In fact, despite all band members clearly being excellent musicians, they play throughout as a band, with NO showboating!

The last two songs combine to provide a suitably epic conclusion. The Royal Fallacy is the longest track at ten minutes, but is worth that time as it builds in layers, winding the tension up all the time. There is a suspicion of some ‘harsh’ vocals for a few moments as the intensity increases, but I hesitate to mention it as it in no way dominates, and I know how some baulk at the very idea. Forget I said anything! We segue into The Madness Sees No End with its stark simple drum beat intro, but which soon gives way to a semi-chugging riff. It is a sort of off-kilter processional march with keyboard ‘trumpets’ emphasising this feel. It makes for a superb ending, completely unexpected and yet makes total sense.

So there we have it, another band well worth investigating, whom I earnestly hope can make some headway with this excellent release. I know there are so many bands out there who are similarly worthy of attention, but I heartily recommend Vulkan if you appreciate the heavier end of the genre.

01. This Visual Hex (9:09)
02. Hunter/Prey (1:26)
03. Redemption Simulations (4:03)
04. Bewildering Conception Of Truth (7:56)
05. Klagans Snara (2:52)
06. Rekviem (7:41)
07. Spökskepp (7:54)
08. Technatura (0:58)
09. Marans Ritt (3:19)
10. Blinding Ornaments (4:07)
11. The Royal Fallacy (10:22)
12. The Madness Sees No End (4:25)

Total Time – 68:12

Olle Edberg – Keyboards
Johan Norbäck – Drums
Jimmy Lindblad – Vocals
Oscar Pettersson – Bass
Christian Fredriksson – Guitars

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Sweden
Date of release: 8th May 2020

Vulkan – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube


Progressive Tracks Show #376 (What IS It?)

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Recently, ArcTanGent Festival posted on their Facebook page asking their followers what they thought the top five post-rock releases of 2020 were so far. There were a lot of familiar and expected names, but one I was surprised to see was OHHMS. They’ve never been a band I’ve thought of as post-rock. Doom, yes. Sludge. Stoner. Psych. Any of those. But they never struck me as post-rock. OHHMS is a band that bludgeons the eardrums like a mad mix of Mastodon and Motörhead on mescalin. I first became aware of the band with their 2017 release, The Fool, which attracted me initially with its artwork. OHHMS is back this year with another album, yet again with fantastic cover art. Now, of course, you should not judge a book by its cover – nor an album – but rest assured, the music within Close is suitably impressive.

The album begins with Alive!, which like the opening track of The Fool, lulls any unwary listener into a false sense of security, as an almost delicate introduction belies the ferocity to come. It is, I guess, passages such as this which allow the band to be described as post-rock, but they really are the exception. After a minute and a half of sedate introduction, the heaviness and oppression kicks in, and just to ensure there is no doubt, Paul Waller’s tortured vocals erupt out of nowhere. I absolutely love the rhythm section in this track. Chainy Rabbit (bass) and Max Newton (drums) are on fire! Chainy’s bass is as tight as his abs. Alive! is a deep and dirty dirge, and I love it.

I also love the way it falls into the following ethereal interlude (one of two on the album) so naturally. ((Flaming Youth)) is a breathtakingly beautiful composition from OHHMS – something I would never have expected to say. It’s gentle, it’s quiet, it’s melodic. And it works wonderfully as a coda to Alive!. Almost like a nostalgic look back at the vigour and victories of youth through rose coloured glasses, after Alive!’s boasts. That the band can switch from pulverising to peacefully so seamlessly is pretty impressive, and I love the dreamy atmospheric soundscape provided here.

Of course, this can’t last, and Revenge is back to the barrage of doomy and sludgy sounds OHHMS fans know so well. Although at nine minutes, Revenge is the longest track on Close, it’s relatively short considering OHHMS have included 20 minute compositions on their albums in the past. However, nine minutes still presents ample opportunity for some real expansiveness and groove. If Black Sabbath were a stoner band, they might have sounded like this. There are passages where the music evokes the imagery of the deserts famed for helping the stoner scene take off. There are some nifty changes in tempo…

…And then, before you know it, you’re back within another interlude. This gives the impression that perhaps the two interludes are meant to bookend Revenge, but as aforementioned, I really do find ((Flaming Youth)) fits more with Alive!, and when you look at the way the album is presented on vinyl, it becomes apparent that this second interlude is more of an extended introduction to Destroyer, in the same way the first was an extended coda to Alive!. ((Strange Ways)) is far more minimalist and ambient than the first interlude. It reminds me a little of Pink Floyd, too, though I can’t work out why. I love the way the drums come in, almost haphazardly, towards the end. The full on drum-led introduction to Destroyer comes on like an eargasm. Destroyer is a short but sweet song, perfect for release as a single, so it comes as no surprise that it is. All thick and meaty riffs, and thundering drums, with a singalong (as much as OHHMS ever singalong) chorus that will stick in your head long after the song has ended.

Asylum is one of the highest temp tracks on the album, with a relentless marching beat, and another catchy chorus. It’s quite punky, and like any good punk song, doesn’t outstay its welcome. In fact, it’s shorter in length than either of the two interludes (though immeasurably more intense). This leaves only the final track, Unplugged – and, wow, what a way to close out an album! A lot of the album has a reflective nature, and Unplugged definitely comes across as an exercise in reflection. It’s a tossup for me, whether this or Destroyer is my favourite song from Close.

This is easily, in my opinion, OHHMS most accessible album, and could well be the one which finally gives them the renown and acclaim they deserve. I can’t see it becoming my favourite of their albums, but it’s early days yet. I’m far more familiar with their earlier albums, and that familiarity is a bit of a barrier, but there is a lot of really good material on Close. Come back to me in a year, and I’ll let you know….

01. Alive! (5:16)
02. ((Flaming Youth)) (2:27)
03. Revenge (9:10)
04. ((Strange Ways)) (2:00)
05. Destroyer (3:12)
06. Asylum (1:50)
07. Unplugged (6:13)

Total Time – 30:08

Paul Waller – Vocals
Chainy Rabbit – Bass
Max Newton – Drums
Marc Prentice – Guitar
Stuart Day – Guitar

Record Label: Holy Roar Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 26th June 2020

OHHMS – Facebook | Bandcamp