Inventions, Logica, 2019

Invententions - LogicaThe latest music from Dutch multi-instrumentalist Chris(tiaan) Bruin (Chris, The Black Codex, etc) is being released under the Inventions moniker. This is the 3rd album in the series, and the first I have been able to give a listen. With him on this album are Theo Travis on flute and saxes and the Rotterdam based DOT quartet on strings. Story telling is by Andy Rowe.
Parts of the album were recorded in churches and theatres which suits the album pretty well. Because there is no denying that this ambitious album is leaning heavily on classical music inspired ideas. No wonder it is advertised as having a symphonic, orchestral sound.

As a result this is an album to listen to from start to finish. It is an experience rather than it is a collection of songs. So that repeat button will come in handy as I also feel it needs more plays in order to fully appreciate it. It is a world of its own so to say.
Therefore it will not come as a surprise that the music is carried mostly by the strings and the saxes and flutes. Of course Chris sings here and there and adds his drumming and other stuff, but a lot of musical themes are built on these instruments. And this creates something entirely different which you really have to hear for yourself.

I think it is magical, even when I am not always keen on narrations. But the guy does not seem to know any boundaries in what he can do. Amazing!

Website

 

Tragik, The Power Of Suggestion, 2019

tragik - the power of suggestionThe man that never sleeps is back! This time with Tragik and the Power Of Suggestion. Of course I am talking about Phil Vincent, singer and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire.  On this album he is joined by regular mates Damian D’Ercole and Dirk Phillips, but also by Vince O’Regan. And Tom Bushell, who co-wrote Her, plays bells on that track.

Opening the album are a couple of rockers, Victim, All I Have and Crazy, which are carried by the trademark vocals and harmonies as well as by more guitar extravaganza from O’Regan. Then comes Learning To Live which has hit written all over it. Should there be any justice in the world…
Already Gone is another rocker, where Over You has a pulse akin to Maneater by Hall & Oates. Done in Vincent style of course. Through It All has a nice solo section where the spotlight is on keyboards and guitar. Told You So is another track with a chorus you sing for days. It is kind of a Seventies classic rock track transported into a modern metal song.
The album closes with the epic (almost 10 minutes) of Her. Opening with an a capella vocal line after which the piano comes in and the song really takes off. Of course the song moves through several arrangements, including a couple of beautiful solos.

In short: he’s done it again!

website

Crystalline Dream, Seventh Chakra, 2019

crystalline dream - seventh chakraBeen a while since some kind of instrumental ambient / new age typed music arrived. But here we have Crystalline Dream, which is in essence Richard Ross and guests. As far as I can tell this is his fourth album under this moniker. With of course 7 tracks, all clocking in at around 7 minutes.

Opener Grounding is a slow and brooding track. The addition of a guitar finger picking throughout, while the sequencers ebb and flow, is a bit surprising. And on the other hand, the addition of flute(s) is something I hear a lot in chilled music. More flutes on Sensual Waters, the longest track. There is a bit of chirping going on in the first minutes, as well as something that sounds like monks chanting in the background. My guess is that this would be perfect background music for meditating.
Next up is Inner Will, where son Korey Ross (see Volte) adds guitars. For me the combination of percussive sounds with the synth pad layers and the guitar playing really works well. There is also more melody in this one, which always suits me more.
It will not come as a surprise the remaining tracks work just as well within this described frame.

So there you go. Anyone looking for new music to relax to, for meditation, or just to enjoy some chilled sounds, have a listen to this!

Website

Brighteye Brison, V, 2019

brighteye brison - vBrighteye Brison are a name I had heard of before, but this is the first time actually hearing their music. Well, and if I tell you that  there are 3 songs on this album, that clock in at almost 67 minutes, I think most of you (when not already familiar with the band) will know exactly what this is about. Yup, progressive rock it is.

I must confess I am usually not a big fan of lengthy tracks. Mostly because they often give me the feeling of a bunch of individual ideas being forced together,  “because long songs are so popular amongst the fans”.
Yet when they really flow, and transitions and time signature and arrangement changes are made in a way that I find logical, these songs can work.

So now the question is; how are these 3 songs delivering? Well, let me first say that I really like the multi-part vocals from the Swedish quintet. They sound influenced by bands like Gentle Giant, Yes, Kansas and the like. Also their sound, with a great balance between keyboards and guitars is really up my alley. Especially since the music is melodic and not unnecessary complicated.
Having said that; the first few spins did not convince me that all the tracks and parts flow in a natural way. At least to me.
Of course this type of music needs time and a lot of listening. So over time I might feel different.

Still, lots of good stuff to enjoy, and overall interesting enough to make me want to investigate previous releases.

Website

Rob Cottingham, Back Behind The Orchard Tree, 2019

rob cottingham - back behind the orchard treeEx  Touchstone and now Cairo frontman Rob Cottingham first surfaced with Behind The Orchard Tree in 2002, which was in essence the start of Touchstone. And this release is a new version of that album, an “itch that needed scratching”.
New in many ways: new programming of drums, bass and sequencers. The mighty John Mitchell on guitar and Rob’s daughter Kerry adding vocals, etc.

Not having heard the original, I cannot compare. For people familiar with Touchstone and or Cairo, this sounds familiar. In songwriting and of course because of Rob’s vocals. Also, when the female vocals share the spotlight, the comparison to his bands are even more evident.
Having said that, this is still an interesting album. The man knows how to write a tune… And having John Mitchell on board will always raise the bar. Even when the keys carry lots of the arrangements, the guitar maestro still manages to catch some light.
It turns out there have been a few changes to the songs too. One track was ditched in favour of adding an orchestral version of Hero. And a new song in the shape of Out Of Time was added. Completists might like to know 😉

A very enjoyable album that current fans will lap up. And people who like diverse and melodic progrock, should check this one.

Website

Volte, Self Titled, 2019

volte - sameBasically consisting of Korey Ross (guitars and compositions) and Carter Lane (singer and lyricist), Volte has released their debut independently. I have been listening lots and lots to this album the last couple of weeks. And it is one of those albums that gets better with every play.

A great singer who is able to deliver catchy melodies, powerful riffs, and damn tasty guitar solos. In all honesty I do recall that I wasn’t all that convinced at first listen. But like I said, over time, the album proved its worth. I did find that opener Fire Away, with it’s spoken intro, is a bit of a strange way to lure listeners in. To me, that spoken word does not add much, especially since the song itself is a better way to get familiar with the band. Because lovers of melody and or competitive guitar solos will get a lot of what they like on this album.  Many songs on here have hit quality if you ask me. Just listen to tracks like The Weekend, Burn The Ships, Hostage or Breathe, and you will hear what I mean.

And a bonus is that the album is varied, with enough mood changes to keep you interested. So they stay far away from being a one trick pony.

For an album that mixes grunge influences with more contemporary rock styles, this is very convincing and an album that deserves a big audience!

Website

Legion, Rising, 2019

legion-risingNo matter how hard I try, I just cannot seem to get the backlog in album reviews finished. One of the reasons might be Phil Vincent, because the man that never sleeps just keeps releasing new music. And this time it is with his UK buddies from Legion.

After some problems with their previous record company, they are now part of the Rock Company family and have delivered a damn fine album if you ask me. This time bordering into melodic metal, with Phil taking care of the melodies and vocal harmonies and trusted sidekick Vince O’Regan handling guitar duties. And boy does he shred his way through the 10 tracks on offer.

Kicking the album off in high gear with Nothing To Me, the band prove they have left the past behind and moved forward. Back with a vengeance so to speak. The sound is meaty, with a punchy bass and drums giving you enough oomph to go with the energetic songs. Riff after solo the band sound on fire and take no prisoners.
I know some people are afraid Phil is saturating his fanbase with all these releases. But when the outcome is this good, who cares…

Bring it on! Well, we already know there is no stopping Phil 😉

Website

Euphoria Station, The Reverie Suite, 2019

Euphoria-Station---The-Reverie-SuiteIf you think the cover of this album hints a bit at Country or Americana music, you would not even be very wrong. But the funny thing is, it is basically a progressive rock album! Although the prominent use of acoustic guitar, as well as some harmonica, flute, banjo, mandolin and violin, adds that different flavour to the album.

The album is a concept based on the childhood life of singer Saskia. And with 9(!) additional musicians featured, it will not come as a surprise that this sophomore effort is as diverse as you’d expect.
The thrill of it however, is that this is a very enjoyable discovery. There are several excellent songs on the album, and for me no filler in sight. The way their influences and inspirations are used in a prog rock setting has taken me by surprise and I find myself enjoying the album over and over.
Key tracks for me are Reverie, On My Way and especially the epic Paradise Road. Great melodies, killer hooks and instrumental sections, dynamics used to perfection, etc. So even when Yes and Genesis are cited as inspirations, this is in no way an outdated memory trip. No, it is fresh, vibrant and authentic.

Incredible that this is an independent release. The 71 minutes and 12 racks fly by! Anyone with a love for quality music should at least give it a try.

Website

Ruphus, Ranshart, 1974

ruphus ranshartOf course this is not a 1974 CD, but the 2019 remaster of an album that is considered to be one of the best Norwegian prog albums ever.
Now the problem with such a claim is, that when you are not familiar with the original album, there will be no emotional ties to the album. And time is not always kind to such an album either.

Well, on to the album then. When listening to this, it is easy to hear why they were seen as the Norwegian counterpart to Yes. You hear similar polyphonic vocals, extended instrumental parts, a prominent bass, tempo changes and various solos. And of course long compositions with diverse arrangements.

So I have no doubts that people into the original will love it is now again available, even on vinyl. And it is clear why the album is held in such high regard. Both the songwriting as well as the playing are on par with their far more well known colleagues. So no problems there.
But it is clearly an album of it’s time, no matter how good the remastering was done. Yet when you consider how many prog addicts keep returning to the classics, that is not a bad thing either. This will sit effortlessly along all their beloved albums…

Website

Stamina, Live In The City Of Power, 2019

Stamina - live in the city of powerHow do you get people to buy a live album from you (after 4 studio albums) when you have not yet reached the premier division of power / prog metal bands? Well, you could add a bonus DVD with the concert. You ‘d also have to make sure the band is on fire during the show. And last but not least, you’ve got to have the songs that the fans of bands like Royal Hunt and Symphony X lap up.
Italian band Stamina, with principal songwriter and guitar player Luca Sellitto at the helm, decided to just do all that!

Recorded at their September 2018 concert in Zgierz, Poland, this album serves not only as a fine introduction to the band for those not yet familiar with them. It also is a clear statement that all around the world there are still bands delivering quality music.
The 9 songs on the audio CD and the DVD are packed with very convincing performances from all involved. Not just the guitars, everybody (drums, bass, keys and vocals) gets to shine in their mix of power metal, progressive metal and some touches of fusion here and there.  There are also a couple of bonus features included on the DVD.
I’ve read online that there were some concerns about “fixing things up” afterwards, but Luca has assured me that everything you hear was recorded on that very day.

All that is left to say is that I was so impressed with this album, that I had to have their studio albums too. Says enough me thinks!

Website