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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/atlas-empire-live-session-premiere/

Glasgow’s ATLAS : EMPIRE is premiering their second live session video “It’s All In The Reflexes” via Prog Sphere today in support of their third Canadian tour this coming April (dates listed below). The track is off their debut album The Stratosphere Beneath Our Feet released this past December.

Watch the live session below.

Guitarist and vocalist Steven Gillies comments:

This is the second song from our recent live session with Papercrane Recordings, who are based in Kent, England. We recorded the session on an off day between shows in December. It’s the first live recording we’ve done in a few years, it was a lot of fun, but also pretty challenging – specifically for Jamie & I as we didn’t have monitors or headphones! “It’s All In The Reflexes” was our last single from the album, the song is about never giving up on what’s important to you, always growing and evolving, despite the obstacles thrown in your way. It’s become a microcosm for Atlas : Empire in general.

Weaving their way between the multitudes of different genres that influence them, the trio visits the worlds of heavy progressive rock and expansive ambient shoegaze. Crossing the Atlantic to North America, the proggers will be visiting Canada for their third time since their performances in Ontario in 2017, which included showcasing at Indie Week in Toronto.

Bassist Robert Hasebe adds:

We are unbelievably excited to cross the Atlantic for our third tour of Canada. This is an important tour for us as we will be touring our brand new album ‘The Stratosphere Beneath Our Feet’. We worked really hard on this record and are elated to share live versions of these songs with our Canadian fans. Touring here is by far one of the most enjoyable things about Atlas : Empire. The unique challenges and rewards of touring this part of the world are what makes Canadian artists and performers truly great. They are not only so wonderful to work with but also so friendly and exceptional at their craft. Canada produces so many good bands and such talented musicians that we are so fortunate and so grateful to be able to tour here regularly. Also, poutine…”

ATLAS : EMPIRE‘s latest album The Stratosphere Beneath Our Feet is available for stream and download on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify.

To date the band has released 3 EPs, To The Astronaut… (2012); Somnus (2013) and For the Satellites (2015) with The Stratosphere Beneath Our Feet as their 2018 debut full length.

Hasebe adds:

The Stratosphere Beneath Our Feet‘ is a concept album that explores what would happen to humanity if we became entirely reliant on technology/automation in every aspect of our lives – and more importantly, what happens when that system fails? Across its 10 tracks, we delve into different aspects of that very-possible future, with each song takes place before, during or after a mass technological collapse, from the perspective of a different ‘character’.

Atlas - Empire Canadian tour

For more info:
https://atlasempire.co.uk
https://facebook.com/atlasempire
https://twitter.com/atlasempireUK
https://www.instagram.com/atlas_empire

The post Exclusive: ATLAS : EMPIRE Share 2nd Live Session Video “It’s All In The Reflexes” appeared first on Prog Sphere.

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

Witnesses is a doom band from New York City. The trio, featuring guitarist Matt Kozar, violinist Suvo Sur, and multi-instrumentalist Greg Schwan, has just released their new album titled ‘To Disappear and to Be Nothing.’

Schwan spoke for Prog Sphere about their work, the latest release, and more.

Define the mission of Witnesses.

“Mission” is an interesting word; I’ve never thought of art in those terms. To simplify the discussion, though, I just want to reach people. Every single person who comments that the music is beautiful or meaningful to them is a high for me. I think it’s bad faith to say that one does art for themself. At least in my case I know it’d be comically bad faith to say that. So I guess reaching people is the goal, and I derive particular satisfaction reaching people abroad. Breaking through cultural barriers with art reveals a kind of lingua franca, I guess. Surely the world could use more of that.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recent album “To Disappear and to Be Nothing” and the themes it captures.

The creative process is a bit tough to explain. I write and arrange the songs, but allow the collaborators to express themselves with the constraint of making sure we do not stray too far from the original vision. As an example, I’d never imagine trying to write drum fills for Mark Zonder. That said, if a certain part is supposed to open up into a big groove, I do lay out that framework and will stick to it unless a compelling alternative reveals itself. Same goes for the other musicians, whether it be Matt’s additional guitar harmonies or Suvo’s violin lines. And this is especially the case for vocals. Telling Kody what to sing would have been a sure way to destroy these songs. But to be clear, the original progressions and arrangements are mine, and the goal is to have very strong collaborators pile on and complement this original vision.

Thematically, TDATBN focuses on a few key themes–namely, identity, loss, and history. I’ll have to leave it up to the listener from here, though.

What is the message you are trying to give with “To Disappear and to Be Nothing”?

I wouldn’t say there is a message. Something about an explicit message to me disempowers the listener; it potentially means they cannot interpret and think for themself. That said, the artist who developed our recent t-shirt design remarked that the despite the gloom, the album also had a lining of hope. I think that’s very fair. After all, we do end with a song that has “hold the light inside” in the title. But holding the light inside is in a “dark age”. I think there is a lot if ill in the world; I think there is a lot of very good reason to be pessimistic. But I wouldn’t completely eliminate hope. That’s about as close to a message as I can get, though.

Witnesses - To Disappear and to be Nothing

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

It depends on what you mean here. I certainly didn’t score the music; I don’t even know what chords and scales I am playing. I have no theory background to speak of, for better or for worse. So while I have some chords and such written down in tablature, that’s only because my memory is terrible. In terms of tracking the songs, that’s all just done in Logic on my end. I’m not entirely sure what DAWs everyone used, but since we were sharing WAV files it of course doesn’t matter.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Yes. Dynamics are key–extremely key. I think I’ve actually gotten to an unhealthy place in terms of measuring DR. It’s just a number in the end, and while a very low DR has a clearly brickwalled sound, I don’t think it’s realistic to aim for Tchaikovsky-level dynamics. But music without dynamics at all I find very tiring. I’m a fan of a fair amount of extreme metal, but what I find as I get older is that after three songs I’m just exhausted. God forbid it’s a show with four extreme metal bands in a row and I’m standing in a big fire hazard mob of people. Anyway, the challenge is that we still have Blackstar amps cranking, so to some degree we’re boxed in. But we do have the arrangements at our disposal, and we certainly made an effort for a stark contrast between a quiet section immediately followed by something heavy. If those were the same volume it’d just be a travesty.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

The recording process for this album was in a sense very modern. I basically wrote the songs with scratch guitar and Toontrack–EZDrummer of course being for arrangement purposes, not to write specific fills or anything like that. We then hired Mark Zonder to track the drums out in his Hollywood studio. It’s a blur from there, but then in some order I can’t remember, Matt and I recorded live guitars, Suvo tracked his violin parts, and Kody Ternes tracked his vocals local in Tennessee. If it isn’t obvious, there was never any kind of band rehearsal or anything. I’ve never played a single riff off this album with anyone else.

In terms of mixing, I had intended to take it somewhere professional. But honestly, that got more complicated than I would have hoped, so I decided to just mix it myself. That brought with it some serious limitations; I had never mixed a band before, so just took a stab at it. The results obviously have a lot of room for improvement. But I think that’s OK; it’s out there, and the songs are I believe powerful.

How long “To Disappear and to Be Nothing” was in the making?

Too long. The songs were written in 2016 and I nearly gave up on them numerous times. The last I recall was over vocals. I just wasn’t having any luck finding the right singer for this music. I recall even deciding that the project was effectively on ice–and then I found Kody Ternes online I believe the following week. He wasn’t doing metal or anything remotely close. But it was clear his timbre was perfect. That saved the project, full stop. From there it was just a matter of time to get it all done. As an independent project we didn’t have any real time pressure.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

I try to shy away from being too forthright on this question as it relates to music, and will probably be a bit vague. But we certainly have an affinity for some of the earlier British doom acts. I’d prefer not to talk about specific bands and albums as that would reveal too much. But certainly if you want to learn about this era, just Googling “1990s British doom” will lead you down the path.

Otherwise, it’s really important to note that other bands/musicians are not the only influence. I’m a bit more forthcoming about this area, actually. From the category of film and television, most notable would be Twin Peaks and 2001: A Space Odyssey. And then from comics, The Sandman. Some of these references are very explicit, others less so. I hope listeners find them and discover the connections.

What is your view on technology in music?

With some caveats, I have zero concerns about technology. I am not a purist or luddite; I really just care about the outcome. I think things do get a tad questionable if you use technology for something you want to pull off live, and just end up embarrassing yourself. But if all you aim to do is a studio record, then I say game on. I truly do not care about using pitch and timing correction for a good result. If you use that to the point that thing sound inorganic and stale, well, that’s your own problem. But the technology is not bad in-itself.

I’d add that as a city dweller, technology has empowered me to a great deal. I’d love to fire up some ENGL amps in my home, but it’s not at all feasible. So Bias FX it is.

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

I certainly don’t view our music as pure entertainment. That sets an extremely low bar and to me sounds like some kind of escapism. I think art can be entertaining, but the two are certainly not synonymous. I think one of the ultimate experiences one can have with music is for it to be something of a soundtrack in their journey. There are certain albums for me that mark specific periods in my life. That is something extremely unique to me and also very powerful. If we can earn that place in the experience of listeners, it’d be truly amazing. And I think that is more powerful than entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, I can reminisce about when I saw certain silly movies in the 1980s, etc. But when I think about the years during which I was discovering Dead Can Dance, that association is something far more meaningful and profound.

What are your plans for the future?

We’ll have a follow up single hopefully this Summer, which will be in the style of TDATBN. Otherwise, we have two cinematic albums in the works and will do another full-length in the style of TDATBN. After that, I would like to do a dark folk album. This will of course span a few years, which means things could change. But from this vantage point and with the information I have now, it’ll look something like I’ve described.

To Disappear and to Be Nothing is out now; order it from Bandcamp. Follow Witnesses on Facebook and Instagram.

The post WITNESSES: A Lining of Hope appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/kalika-poison-mouth-exclusive/

International experimental prog rock quartet Kalika return this Spring with the release of their sophomore EP entitled Data Religion. Comprised of six songs Data Religion comes a year after the group’s debut EP effort Enter Kalki. Teaming with us at Prog Sphere, the band is premiering a lyric video for “Poison Mouth,” a lead single from the upcoming release. Watch it below.

Commented singer Prannay Sastry: “When I was writing lyrics for each of the songs on the EP, I wanted to convey some complex and abstract ideas as comprehensively as I could. I was looking to express feelings, states of mind, thought patterns, sensory perception and other abstract things using the crude implement of language—an artistic challenge. Always aware that I would fall short in that endeavour, I decided to approach the lyrics in a minimalistic way. The lyrics for ‘Poison Mouth,’ therefore ended up being written as a sort of riddle—making it easier for me to hint at the abstract. The answer to the riddle is anyone’s guess, but I had intended for it to be understood within the context of the theme of the EP. Other songs on the EP will also explore the theme of ‘Data Religion,’ but from different points of view.

He continued: “‘Poison Mouth’ came together in a wonderfully organic fashion, like many other songs on ‘Data Religion.’ It began with a few small ideas that were introduced into jam sessions. In a matter of days, the song had grown and taken on a life of its own. Though most of the original ideas and parts were unchanged, the song itself seemed to bear almost no resemblance to what we had started off with. The song really felt like more than the sum of its parts, and this was, quite frankly, the best result we could have hoped for. We used this sort of ‘holistic’ writing process for other songs on the EP, but the outcomes were all quite unique. Each song has its own sound and its own message, but they all sound very much like Kalika. Much like in ‘Poison Mouth’, there are moments on the EP when we explore our progressive, experimental sides, and there are some jam-like moments too. Overall, what can you expect from the EP? A journey that is emotive and at times cinematic.

On Data Religion, Kalika explore the overall climate/atmosphere of the time and delve deep into psychological effects “technological advancements” have on the average person.

In Sastry’s own words: “The first song begins with the chant ‘the one who knows you, owns you’. These lyrics set the tone for an EP that explores the ever growing societal trend towards domination, aggression and greed in a time where a rich data hoarding elite call the shots.

Data Religion will be launched this Spring. For more information visit thekalika.com, and follow the band on Facebook and Instagram.

The post Exclusive: Listen to KALIKA’s New Single “Poison Mouth”; Second EP Out This Spring appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/news/neal-morse-jesus-christ-the-exorcist/
Jesus Christ – The Exorcist is a monumental project in Neal Morse’s already impressive discography. A Progressive Rock Opera 10 years in the making, it was written and produced by Morse and includes performances by Neal and an all-star cast of vocalists and musicians. Jesus Christ – The Exorcist will be released on June 14, 2019 on a double album set featuring about two hours of music that will encompass all the spectrums and genres Neal Morse is known for and will, of course, tell the Story of Stories.

Pre-order the 2CD, 3xLP, or Digital versions of the album.

Signed albums, limited edition color vinyl, & more available at:

– Frontiers U.S. Store: https://shop.bandwear.com/Frontiers
– Frontiers EU Store: https://www.frontiers.shop

Today, the first song from this masterpiece has been unveiled. Hear the song and watch the video for “Get Behind Me Satan” below.

I don’t know why it came to me in quite this way, but definitely the influences on this song are Black Sabbath and Deep Purple primarily. I even asked Rich Mouser when he was mixing the song to listen to ‘Paranoid’ because I thought that vocal effect would be cool on Ted’s (Leonard) voice,” says Morse of the track.

When asked about what fans can expect sound wise from the album, Morse explains, “Oh, it is completely diverse. There are touching ballads, rousing ensemble pieces, classical elements and dramatic Broadway musical type songs as well. It is really meant to be listened and experienced all the way through as you would a play or an opera. I hope the people will experience it in that way because I think that’s where they will really find the power in this piece of music.

He continues, “These songs and pieces of music were all written for this rock opera specifically. I wrote the first draft in 2008 and 2009, I believe. Then, last year in preparation for a performance at MorseFest I rewrote the whole musical again. I couldn’t be happier with the final outcome and I am thrilled that it is coming out on Frontiers this June.

With a cast of amazing vocalists and musicians like Ted Leonard, Eric Gillette, Nick D’Virgilio, Randy George, Bill Hubauer, Matt Smith, and others, this progressive rock opera is a landmark event that will leave its mark on every listener. “Let him who has ears to hear… let him hear!”

Jesus Christ – The Exorcist, had its live world premiere in 2018 and was performed by a Prog Rock all-star cast featuring Neal Morse (keys, guitar), Paul Bielatowicz (lead guitar), Bill Hubauer (keys), Randy George (bass), and Eric Gillette (drums). Featured vocalists included Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard, Enchant), Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard), Jake Livgren (Protokaw), Matt Smith (Theocracy), Wil Morse and more. Also, John Schlitt (Petra) and Rick Florian (White Heart) have been added to the performance as well.

Tracklist:

CD1
1. Introduction
2. Overture
3. Getaway
4. Gather The People
5. Jesus’ Baptism
6. Jesus’ Temptation
7. There’s A Highway
8. The Woman Of Seven Devils
9. Free At Last
10. The Madman Of The Gadarenes
11. Love Has Called My Name
12. Better Weather
13. The Keys To The Kingdom
14. Get Behind Me Satan

CD2
1. He Must Go To The Cross
2. Jerusalem
3. Hearts Full Of Holes
4. The Last Supper
5. Gethsemane
6. Jesus Before The Council And Peter’s Denial
7. Judas’ Death
8. Jesus Before Pilate And The Crucifixion
9. Mary At The Tomb
10. The Greatest Love Of All
11. Love Has Called My Name (Reprise)

Full Cast:

Ted Leonard – Jesus
Talon David – Mary Magdalene
Nick D’Virgilio – Judas Iscariot
Rick Florian – The Devil
Matt Smith – John the Baptist
Jake Livgren – Peter and Caiaphas
Neal Morse – Pilate, Demon 1, Disciple 1
Mark Pogue – Israelite 1, the Madman of the Gadarenes, Pharisee 2
Wil Morse – Israelite 2, Demon 3, Pharisee 1
Gabe Klein – Demon 2, Pharisee 4
Gideon Klein – Demon 4
Julie Harrison – Servant Girl

Connect with Neal Morse:

The post NEAL MORSE To Release “Jesus Christ – The Exorcist” on June 14th appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/reviews/dream-theater-distance-over-time-review/

Progressive metal champions Dream Theater have recently returned with their new, fourteenth studio album Distance Over Time. The band has been on Roadrunner Records for number of years prior this new release, and for the purpose of releasing Distance Over Time they signed with InsideOut.

What’s obvious upon the first listen of the new record is that Dream Theater are back to what they do best — and that comes after their very bland try to create a rock opera with the 2016 album The Astonishing. That release sort of divided the band’s audience and it received mixed critical reception.

Now with Distance Over Time the group, as mentioned, is back to the basics — they served a convincing album which literally showcases how far they’ve come in their 30+ year long career. And the title of the album “distance over time” reflects that.

Dream Theater 2019

Kicking off the album with “Untethered Angel,” the quintet kind of recreates the atmosphere found on Systematic Chaos and Train of Thought albums. One of the things that pops out immediately is the sound of drums — this is the first album with Mike Mangini that sounds really, really good production-wise.

“Paralyzed,” structurally strongly resembles “Forsaken” from the already mentioned Systematic Chaos. LaBrie’s vocals are in the mid range, and that’s where he gives his best performance nowadays, and I’m glad to hear that they embraced this kind of approach on these new songs. John Petrucci is constantly in a good form, and that’s heard throughout the album through numerous solos and riffs.

Third song on the album “Into the Light” starts with somewhat more heavy metal vibe, with sound that could easily be found on Metallica’s Master of Puppets album. Jordan Rudess shines on this ones with, for him, characteristic acrobatics which this time also incorporates some Hammond organ.

Amusingly titled, “Barstool Warrior” features some of the best performance from Petrucci, especially in the guitar solos department. “Room 137” on the other side is quite groove, courtesy of his riff work.

Continuing on a groovier side, a Dream Theater album wouldn’t be the same if there was no interplays between Petrucci, Rudess, Myung and Mangini, and “S2n” serves that purpose very well.

“At Wit’s End” is the longest song here, clocking at about 9 minutes 20 seconds, and it’s a piece about the cycle of stress and damage inherent in women victimized by abuse. Musically, you can hear everything that would expect from Dream Theater in 2019, with strong connection with one of their best studio efforts — 1999 concept album Scenes from a Memory.

“Out of Reach” comes to the picture as a relaxing experience and is a mandatory Dream Theater ballad that leads into the closing “Pale Blue Dot,” the second longest track on Distance Over Time. Getting its name from Carl Sagan’s book, this piece deals with a reflection of how humans are to treat each other on this little planet in the vast cosmos of space. The song is filled to the brim with the intricate instrumentation.

There is also an edition of the album with a bonus track which is called “Viper King” which is totally different from the material presented on the album, hence the bonus track tag. Ruddess is back on Hammond organ letting out his inner Jon Lord of Deep Purple fame. The song overall is the 1970s Deep Purple with a touch of modern prog.

So what do we make from Distance Over Time? After quite polarizing release that The Astonishing was, it can be said that this is Dream Theater that we know and we’ve been wanting to hear. The performance here is flawless, like on any other Dream Theater record. I already mentioned Mike Mangini’s drums sounding good — this is certainly his best sounding album since he joined the band back in  2010. Overall, it’s great to see the band still has to offer a bit of the mastery that’s found on some of their best moments.

It has to be said that the band members gathered together and isolated themselves from the outer words when working on Distance Over Time, and that cohesion can surely be heard throughout these ten songs.

Order “Distance Over Time” from this location.

The post Album Review: Dream Theater – Distance Over Time appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/reviews/periphery-hail-stan-review/

Periphery, one of the frontrunners on the modern progressive metal scene, return this April 5th with the release of their new album titled Periphery IV: Hail Stan, released on 3DOT Recordings — a label that was founded by the members of the band. Before, Periphery were on Sumerian Records since their 2010 debut album.

The band has launched two singles from the new album so far “Blood Eagle” and “Garden in the Bones,” both of them being at different sides of the specter, what certainly tells how much stylistically diverse Hail Stan is.

One of the biggest surprises of the album actually lies right at the beginning — the opening song “Reptile” is the group’s third song ever clocking over 10 minutes — this one goes just a bit over 17 minutes. Previous two include “Racecar” from Periphery I and “Omega” from the 2015 album Juggernaut: Omega. And right off the bat, Periphery hint that we are about to experience their most progressive and most versatile release yet, and combining symphonic passages with quite a few electronic moments goes very well with my previous statement.

Periphery IV - Hail Stan

The already mentioned “Blood Eagle” is as ferocious as the terrifying torturing method it takes its name from. You can certainly feel some sort of resentment coming from Spencer Sotelo’s screams, Matt Halpern’s heavy hits and the guitar trio’s burst fire. Speaking of which, Misha Mansoor, Jake Bowen and Mark Holcomb are back with their 7-string axes throughout the album, and this fact surely works in the album’s favor being on a heavier side. I’m saying “they are back with 7-string guitars,” as the band’s previous album Periphery III: Select Difficulty featured “only” two 7-string songs.

“CHVRCH BVRNER” is a Dillinger Escape Plan moment on the album, and it could take an epithet of being the most twisted track here. “Garden in the Bones” is a risk-free, typical Periphery number, whereas the following “It’s Only Smiles” is possibly the most “straightforward” track on Hail Stan.

The band is back to the djent mode on “Follow Your Ghost,” with an absolute killer of a guitar solo at the end of the track. For “Crush” it could be said that is a school example of what cyber-electronic-progressive-metal(core) would sound like if there was such a thing. In my opinion it’s the most bizarre track here that works very well with the rest of the material — kind of a Periphery’s Devin Townsend moment on the album.

Hardcore punk element is present in the way of “Sentient Glow,” although the song constantly switches between different styles and moods. Closing “Satellites” starts right where “Sentient Glow” left, with lush ambient guitar and Sotelo’s voice leading the game until the middle of the track. Sotelo screams at the top of his lungs with the guitar trio punishing earholes with the staccato riffs Periphery is known for.

What has been announced with Select Difficulty is fully realized on Hail Stan — the band has taken the time to create an album that is by far their most mature and well-thought release. How well it will stand the test of time remains to be seen, but the nine songs found here show how far Periphery have come in a span of only six albums.

Pre-order “Periphery IV: Hail Stan” from 3DOT Recordings.

The post Album Review: Periphery – Periphery IV: Hail Stan appeared first on Prog Sphere.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/news/john-petrucci-on-new-solo-album/
JOHN PETRUCCI About Solo Album: "It's Something That I'm Just Almost Embarrassed About"

Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci says that he is “almost embarrassed” about not having released a solo album since 2005′s Suspended Animation.

Since the 2010 departure of drummer Mike PortnoyPetrucci, along with keyboardist Jordan Rudess, has taken on much of the songwriting load for the progressive metal giants, including 2016′s controversial double concept album, The Astonishing, and the recently released Distance Over Time.

In a new interview with The Everyman PodcastPetrucci was asked when fans can expect to hear a new solo album from him.

It’s something that I’m just almost embarrassed about, because my first one — only one — was released in 2005,” he responded. “And I do — as people may know, from watching the G3 tours — have plenty of material for that. So, next time I can sit down and get into a studio and I’m not making a Dream Theater record or touring with Dream Theater, I will record music for a follow-up solo album.

Petrucci told Guitar World magazine last year that the song ”Damage Control” from Suspended Animation was particularly challenging to play in a live setting. “It’s just a crazy… I’ve said this before — I feel like I’m doing damage control the entire time I’m playing,” he said. “It just has so many weird things about it — time signatures and technical challenges and things. A concentration song, that one.

Distance Over Time was released on February 22. The disc, which marks the band’s first for their new label InsideOut Music, was produced by Petrucci, mixed by Ben Grosse and mastered by Tom Baker.

The Distance Over Time tour of North America will kick off on March 20 in San Diego, California and will run for seven weeks before wrapping up on May 4 in Mexico City.

This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/interviews/whitesides-daughter-interview/
Whiteside's Daughter

Looking at the “influences” section on Whiteside’s Daughter‘s Facebook page reveals quite an interesting selection of artists that this Jackson, Mississippi trio cites in order to describe their work. The genre they make — dubbed as Southern Gothic Prog Rock/Proto Metal — is possibly the weirdest tag you could discover, but take a listen to a promo the band launched on Bandcamp, and you’ll be exposed to quite a pleasant collection of tunes.

The full-length album titled ‘The Life You Save‘ will be launched this June, and the trio — featuring Steve Poff on vocals, Brian Hughley on drums, and Steve Deaton on guitars, bass, and keyboards — tackles a concept story “about James, the gay son of an Alabama Pentecostal preacher, who in high school rebels and falls in with John, his ex-Baptist atheist classmate and guitarist for a high school death metal band called Village Witch.” 

Deaton spoke for Prog Sphere about the upcoming release.

Define the mission of Whiteside’s Daughter.

Our primary goal is to make music that we would want to listen to ourselves. We do aspire to create conceptual music that will catch the ear of those who enjoy adventurous music and narrative concepts.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album “The Life You Save” and the themes it captures.

I’ve had this concept about fundamentalist religion brewing for some years, based on my own experience of growing up Southern Baptist and from the many similar stories I’ve heard from friends or read in literature. I’ve always loved the dark, grotesque, and taboo themes of Southern Gothic literature, especially in Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, and I thought the story of hellfire preaching, guilt, suicide attempts fit nicely in that narrative genre.  I’ve also been drawn to dark music (Sabbath, Pentagram, early Opeth) with dramatic riffs and minor keys, and thought it would be cool to merge Southern Gothic literature with progressive rock, gothic rock, and proto-metal.

What is the message you are trying to give with “The Life You Save”? 

Ultimately, I hope the story will stand by itself as a compelling narrative without any overt political or religious or anti-religious messages. But that being said, this story clearly wants to display the tragic consequences of young kids being told that Hell is real and that being gay, or having doubts, or listening to Iron Maiden, or having premarital sex or whatever will doom you for eternity. In the Deep South, that stuff is very real. I and many others I’ve known have experienced the depression and suicidal thoughts that come with all that. And a few of my friends have actually succeeded in killing themselves. The story is also about the liberating joy of rebelling against all that religious authority, and embracing the rebellious myth of Satan that comes in the teenage rebellion of Satanic metal, death metal, black metal, what have you. I lived through the “Satanic Panic” of the 80’s and was terrified of listening to Sabbath, Maiden, or Ozzy, or even KISS. No kidding! Some of my friends, though, somehow had already discovered stuff like Bathory, Slayer, and Celtic Frost, and that really scared me. When I began to finally shed all that religious baggage as an adult, it was so liberating to even listen to all that music, and I developed a real connection to it.

Whiteside's Daughter - The Life You Save

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

Well, all three of us have DAW software such as Logic Pro and because we live in separate places in Mississippi and Alabama, we did the whole project through file sharing. So, for instance, I would have a rough idea for some riffs or chord progressions and I would send those to Brian who would come up with some drum ideas and send it back, or send it to Poff with a basic vocal melody and let him elaborate and modify it because he has a broader vocal range. So, a lot of back and forth, trial and error.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Yes. I really wanted the story to have that continuous flow—ups and downs, different moods, loud and soft—just like a good movie. The two albums that were obvious influences are Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

We really wanted the album to have a lot of variety of sonic textures, but overall we wanted a raw, vintage, live sound—even though we were never all in the same room recording. But especially the drums, we recorded with only four mics, using mostly the sound from the two overheads, and tuning the kit loud and open. We wanted it to sound like early Sabbath and Zeppelin, if we could.  And the guitar tones, I wanted to be raunchy at times—very 70’s. And even though we throw in some dramatic synth stuff, it is old FM synth with wild sweeps, like late 70’s and early 80’s Rush. So even though I love a lot of the current progressive metal and rock, a lot of the new stuff sounds very quantized and produced with drum triggers and such. We didn’t want it to sound like that.

How long “The Life You Save” was in the making?

We started throwing around ideas and file sharing early in 2017—so almost two years.

Steve Deaton

Steve Deaton

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

A lot of prog and metal of course—Opeth, King Crimson, Black Sabbath especially. The concept album idea was strongly influenced by Pink Floyd and The Who. But some of our Southern roots sneak in like the dual guitar work of Molly Hatchet or even The Allman Brothers. And the real poppy song about teenage rebellion is straight up power pop like Cheap Trick or early Who.

What is your view on technology in music?

This project couldn’t have happened without modern digital software. I think digital technology is simply a tool and can be used in many ways. Music can still sound very live and organic, if desired. It just makes the work flow a lot easier and a lot cheaper which is great for independent artists. And I don’t even have a problem with modern pop or experimental music that can be made almost entirely sitting at your laptop. As long as people are doing something inventive that is interesting to listen to, I really don’t care. Sure, it can make music production lazy and stale, but it doesn’t have to.

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

As I said earlier, I hope the music is always the primary objective and can stand by itself. But if this story concept by its very nature gets across a message that people can dig, or hate, or find solace in, that’s cool, too.

What are your plans for the future?

Even though this has been a studio project so far, we are planning to put together a live performance of the entire concept. We plan to periodically stage it as a musical dramatic piece in small theaters, in college auditoriums etc. And we already have some ideas for a new concept record, and we have added a bass player to our line up for live purposes, but he also will participate in recording the new project.

This news story was originally published here: https://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/hoia-feat-colin-edwin-single-premiere/
Exclusive: HOIA Premieres New Single Featuring Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree)

Experimental beyond expectations, HOIA is an infusion of musical interests by Prateek Rajagopal. Popularly known for being a virtuoso guitarist, budding film composer and writer/producer for death metal legions GUTSLIT and Indian/American prog metal supergroup The Minerva Conduct, his interest in genres and art forms beyond metal gave rise to HOIA, inspired by Avant-garde, progressive rock, experimental and industrial music. Prog Sphere is premiering a new single today. Titled “Electric Wizard,” it features guest appearances from Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on bass, and Wojtek Deregowski on drums. Stream it below.

Commented Prateek Rajagopal: “This song came about in a funny, funny way. I was eating burgers with my mum on vacation, and the restaurant had this smooth-jazz track playing in the background. The next day, I sat to demo out a song for my death metal band, but all these jazz influences that were triggered from the previous day just wouldn’t leave. So I began by programming some piano sketches, and within a day or two the song was done! Of course, it’s not a jazz track by any means, but random unsolicited inspiration & places can do funny things! The brief (for drummer Wojtek Deregowski & bassist Colin Edwin) was very simple – just do your thing and improvise like you’re in a jam room. The entire drum section till the piano-drone break was performed in a single take, and that’s exactly what was required for this song!

Electric Wizard is followed by ‘Part II’ on the album which I wrote a year later and should ideally be played together in one sitting, but I wanted to preserve the fact that this was written in a completely different headspace and hence split it into 2 parts!

After releasing two EPs with HOIA, Prateek is all set to release his debut album titled Scavenger on April 19th, 2019. The record has a more sophisticated songwriting approach compared to his previous releases, albeit still very ‘prog,’ and also features Prateek as a vocalist for the first time. The instruments used on the album are unlike his other projects, using samples of rotating fans and vehicle sounds, analog synthesizers and digital manipulation along with organic instruments like guitars (acoustic, electric), piano and strings.

Says Prateek, “The album deals with human-sentimentality concepts like nostalgia, demise, anxiety and the need to ‘scavenge’ to survive, bubbled in fictitious concepts as individual stories. It isn’t a concept album, but there’s a loose relation across the individual stories.

HOIA’s Scavenger has been in the works for over 2 years and clocks in at 33 minutes. The track-list is as follows:

1. Write Across
2. Escape Orb
3. Electric Wizard
4. Part II
5. Scavenger

Pre order the album from Bandcamp here.

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This news story was originally published here: http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/heavy-metal-rock-stars-gambling/
Heavy Metal Rock Stars Who Enjoy Gambling

We will have heard of stories from the music industry about artists who love nothing more than enjoying themselves by playing their favourite casino games. Heavy metal rock stars are the type of people many would expect to see at the tables, especially with their gung-ho attitude. So it will come as no surprise there have been a few famous characters over the years who have really enjoyed gambling and have made a name for themselves at the casinos.

Sully Erna

Salvatore Paul Erna, more often referred to as Sully, is both lead vocalist and guitarist for Godsmack, an American heavy metal band. Erna, who also performs as a solo artist, was once recognised as one of the finest heavy metal vocalists around and is held in high regard by his peers within the industry.

There’s permanent proof of Erna’s love of poker in the form of a tattoo which covers most of his back. Erna had this done after flopping quad aces in a poker game, with his opponent going all in with a royal flush. After proclaiming “There’s no justice in poker”, Erna had the tattoo of four burning aces with the words “No Justice” done.

Scott Ian

Scott Ian is the last remaining founding member of thrash metal band Anthrax. The rhythm guitarist and vocalist, alongside his love for music, also possesses a deep passion for poker and spend much of his free time playing the game. In fact, Ian at one stage explored the possibility of making it as a professional poker player, which is something many of his fans thought could happen.

The stumbling block for Ian was that he found it difficult to combine music and poker, that was until the internet and improvement in technology came along, thus allowing him to play poker online. Ian has mentioned this as a turning point in interviews, with his victory at the VH1 Rock & Roll Celebrity tournament in 2016 seeing him take the game even more seriously.

Lemmy Kilmister

Rock stars don’t come much bigger than the late Lemmy Kilmister. Kilmister, who founded and fronted Motorhead, was a keen gambler and this was no secret. One of the band’s biggest hits was Ace of Spades, which Kilmister wrote, but unlike many other of his gambling loving peers, it was slot games Kilmister enjoyed playing, rather than being interested in learning the rules of blackjack or other table games.

A documentary on Kilmister’s life “Lemmy: The Movie” offers a great insight into the rock stars love of slot machines, with The Damned frontman Dave Vanian suggesting Kilmister would often been seen in gambling venues in London where he’d spend a lot of time spinning the reels of his favourite games. It seemed slot machines and cocktails of jack and coke were the perfect combination for the all-time great.

While there are bound to be countless other rock stars, both past and present, who love nothing more than escaping the hustle and bustle of the industry by enjoying playing their favourite casino games. The three artists we highlighted, have not only made it in the music business, but are also very much accomplished and at home in the casino as well.