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Repercussions is the debut album for Finnish progressive metal band Minutian. The biography I got describes this as “a diverse serving of music, showcasing the band´s characteristic style of audaciously mixing unconventional rhythm patterns and arrangements with familiar, time-tested elements. Sonic landscapes alter between placid motions and menacing walls of distortion, ushered by various time signatures.” … In other words, it is a progressive metal record with some lighter moods and complex song structures.
And complex is a key word here. I found it hard to connect to parts of the album. Only after repeated play familiar melodies and themes present themselves. Although I must admit that especially the more lighter parts and songs are really good. There the song becomes more important than the technical abilities of the various band members. On the other hand, within this genre many fans delight themselves with as many notes and time signatures they can handle.
For me, that is a road less travelled. I always look for identity, feel and just plain good songs. Don´t mind some complexity and love originality, but a catchy melody never hurt anyone either. So the ideas and abilities are there, but to me the only way higher up in the food chain will be to focus on the things they do best and leave some of the muscle play behind. That will make them a serious contender in this genre. Still it is a first album, so very promising at all levels! Fans of the genre, head on over to their website and start listening!
Although it is the first encounter for me with Dutch progressive rock band Illumion (thanks to revived label Freia), this is in fact their second album. Their first, Hunting For Significance is still on my want list. And this CD might just raise their ranking…
So, Dutch and progressive, I hear you thinking, female lead voice? Yes. So it´s Gothic then? Nope. When I say progressive, that is what I mean (okay, not that I am very good at genre tagging, but still). And not only for the use of genre typicals like odd time signatures, ferocious riffing, and some serious shredding from Eveline van Kampen (yes gents, you read it right, it is a lady and she beats the shit out of many dudes out there).
No it is also progressive in the sense that some more obscure instruments are used. Not only more or less mainstream ones like a trumpet, but what to think of the Chinese Zither, the Chinese Spike Fiddle or a mandolin? And I like it.
Another thing there is to like about this album are the way the keyboards are used. They add a more ambient feel to several parts here and there and thus contribute a lot to the dynamics on this CD. And dynamic is a key feature, which I happen to like. One more thing to add, pay attention to the bass work from Peter Boer. Especially his fretless work is awesome! He also produced the album by the way, so they are pretty self supporting this way. If you are into progressive rock and metal, I strongly recommend checking this out, it will not disappoint.
A good friend has been bugging me for months to start listening to this album, such was his conviction I would like this. Well, apparently he knows me well because ever since it landed in the player, it has not left it!
Just take a look at the cover on the left. Strange isn´t it? Well, I have made remarks before about how I think a lot of progressive music is in fact the opposite. But this band is true to the tag. Effortlessly combining elements from various styles of music (not strictly limited to all sorts of metal) and still they have managed to come up with songs that grabbed me from the start. It is hectic, it is varied, it is heavy as it is grandiose. It is soft and it is loud, but above all it is melodic enough to keep you interested and conceived and played with impeccable taste and a clear view of what it wants to be.
Yes I know, that is quite a mouth full of words describing this, but this is surely one of the most intriguing CD´s in the last couple of months. Heck, I love it to death! Might be challenging, but I think any serious lover of quality music should spend at least a day warming up to it. Utterly essential stuff!
Recently I posted about the first Yargos album, which I happen to enjoy a whole lot! So with high anticipation I put new release Magical Karma in the player and started listening. And where the 2005 album struck a connection right away, this 2012 album proved a much more difficult affair. Almost as if it was too clever for it´s own good.
But I am not one to give up easy so persisted in listening. After all, it is the final album where the mighty voice of Mac can be heard. A much more complex album, so you will need more time to connect to the melodies. Where previously the keyboards enriched the songs and added a fresh touch, here we get an almost overproduced album with bucket loads of harmony vocals, riffs, style switches and sonic traits. And under that plethora of ideas those famous vocal melodies are waiting for you to discover them. Because make no mistake, Mac still shines here, even if you have to work harder to reach the beauty.
And when slowly put surely the pieces fall together, you realize they have done it again. In many ways an unique album, not easy to digest, but one that will keep you interested in hearing it for years to come. So no formulaic 3 minute pop, but intense and demanding music. If you are up for the challenge ánd the reward, get it at all costs….
There are many contenders for the premier division of progressive metal. And many of those try to win votes and buyers by throwing in almost unhealthy doses of rhythm changes, technical riffs and often way to many notes. And forgetting many people just want to be able to relate to songs on an emotional level. I mean, we could all be staring at the sun because it is so impressive, but it will make us blind…
So a band I think has got it really together is this new outfit Distorted Harmony. The fact that they originate from Israel makes them all the more exotic But what really caught my ear were their songs, delivery and arrangements. The keyboard work is utterly fantastic with mighty orchestrations and delicate piano. The backbone of guitar, bass and drums is as we are accustomed to in this genre. And then the singing. No way near any wolf-like wailing, no this is a real singer that would probably feel at home in about every genre. Here he comes across as someone who could easily fit into any pop or alternative band. And mind you, that is meant as a compliment as he creates a mood that makes it easy to connect to the already often beautiful music.
For me a clear winner with cross over appeal. So not only progressive metal heads should pick this up, but also all people with an open ear for quality and not afraid of some heavy riffing here and there should give it a try. Impressive!
The late Mac (Andrew McDermott – Threshold, Sargant Fury) is too good a voice to ever be forgotten. That is why I decided to pay some more attention to the man in the form of this not so recent release of Yargos, with To Be Or Not to Be. Which was at the time supposed to become his next band, after returning to Germany.
Besides Mac we find amongst others Peter Pichl (Running Wild), and Andy Kienitz (Human Fortress). In many ways this is a truly progressive disk. Obviously rooted in the progressive metal genre, but because of the arrangements, with heavy emphasis on keyboards besides the typical metal guitars, the end result is quite mind blowing. Especially when Mac opens his mouth. The way he manages to keep it all melodic, despite all that is happening in and around his parts, great! And reminds me how much I miss his singing.
So with songs touching upon many genres (from jazzy, to ambient, to electronic to AOR, to heavy metal), we have a very versatile yet highly entertaining album. Convincing from start to finish. If you never picked it up, please do. It is very much worth it.
To round it up: good news is on it´s way as the band is about to release their new album Magical Karma. Let´s find out where time has taken them…
Talking about misconceptions… Somehow my mind tricked me into believing this Dutch outfit was a neo prog band. So can you imagine my surprise when I started playing this? From the opening riffs and screams of The Fooling (how fitting) it became clear that this is a complete different animal. We are talking progressive metal here. And of international allure as well! Think Fates Warning (dual guitars and complexity) combined with modern rock acts (vary varied vocal delivery).
So after shedding my bewilderment, I became very enthusiast about this album. A shame I did not pick this up earlier! The seven tracks range in length from 5 to 8 minutes and together clock in at over 46 minutes. Very convincing in every department, a band not shy of exploring the boundaries of the genre, yet keeping themselves firmly rooted. And no matter where the song takes them, they still mange to deliver enough catchy hooks and melodies to keep you on track. Another good selling point is that many solos are also more melodic than about firing as much notes as possible.
So an album that is easy to get into, melodic and dynamic. Great stuff! But does anybody know where the name comes from?
One of those band that was on my buy list forever, yet never came around to picking up. Until now that is. Had read some nice things about them, but it is always unsure what one can expect from those comments.
Well ladies and gentlemen, if you are looking for a band that makes a highly entertaining crossover of melodic and progressive metal, look no further. Sometimes reminding me of Symphony X in the way the vocals are arranged (and in my book that is a BIG compliment) Seventh Wonder have struck the right, eh, chords with me.
Partly delivering more compact songs like opener Wiseman or Long Way Home. Who still hold a lot of ideas that are held together by the excellent vocals and arrangements. And also some longer songs like The Angelmaker and King Of Whitewater. But the title track is the stunner. Not only for clocking in at over 30 minutes, but also for it´s richness in ideas. Never a dull moment here and still does not sound like a lot has been thrown together just for the sake of creating an epic. And did I mention I really like the vocals? Well if more complex instrumental stuff is what you seek, you don´t need to worry either. Very competent players all around!
So I find myself enjoying this immensely and am quite sure you will too if this type of music suits you.
Can you imagine Jorn Lande joining a band like Threshold or Dream Theater? (yeah I am aware of the albums Jorn made with Ark) Well that might lead to the sound of Mind Key, a stunning singer stretching his vocal cords to an infectious progressive metal band.
So that ain´t a bad reference or? Well, not in my book in any case. In all honesty I had read some good things about this outfit, but they have surpassed that with ease. Besides the vocals, who really are that good, the songs proved to be highly entertaining as well. Mainly because you never feel it is about making as many noise and notes as possible. A lot of feel in the guitar playing, some nice keyboard effects, and overall just songs with heads and tails. Always nice when a band in this genre chooses songs over muscle. And still they impress with intricate instrumental parts. So if that is what you are after, this will not disappoint either.
So whatever the reason, if you are into progressive metal, enjoy melody and power, or just have a knack for Jorn typed vocals, you know what to do. For me a highlight and a reason to delve deeper into the band. Congratulations to Frontiers for another winner on their roster.
Just when I thought that the summer was gonna drown out all the energy in me, this Leverage CD popped up to play. Maybe you remember I was already saying a lot of good things about their 2008 album Blind Fire? Well, if anything, the boys have set out to be just a little more better on all accounts.
So still emphasis on writing good songs and melodies. The basis of the band is very strong, with excellent guitar work. Yet my attention was caught by the playful and outright fantastic keyboard work this time round. Cleverly avoiding the sounds everybody uses, and still adding depth. And sometimes the keys give a very vibrant flashy solo (solo, or in unison with the guitar) or add deep, almost ambient moods.
So you will have guessed this album really made my day the last couple of sunny days and made me enjoy my beer just that bit more. But I am quite sure that it will also work on rainy days. The melodies and the clever rhythmic variations are just too good to only work on casual listening. Pretty sure anyone into the genre will love this band. So get it if you are not yet familiar with it.