Nili Brosh, Spectrum, 2019

nili brosh - spectrumIf ever there was a title that fits the contents, then it must be this one. This is an album that showcases the many influences and genres  Nili is capable of writing and performing, making it a real broad spectrum of songs.

But first a step back. Nili Brosh has shared the stage with many bands and guitarists and released this, her third solo album, late 2019. Openers Cartagena and Andalusian Fantasy rely very much on nylon stringed guitars and therefore have a very Spanish folk feel. Circus Wedding and Rachel in Paris take you from polka to chanson before arriving in more rock territory with Solace. And despite whether you like tracks like that, every single one is done with style and finesse.

Still, I cannot deny that the moment the electric guitar is plugged in, my blood really got pumping and I was listening with more interest. Co producer Alex Argento made sure the keyboards added lots of texture to the often fabulous fretwork from Nili. Who not only shreds, but is also more than capable of playing very melodic phrases, creating melodies you will find yourself whistling for days.

Going from polka to progressive metal is asking a lot from your audience. But for me, taking risks like that should be applauded. Phenomenal album!


Blind Ego, Preaching To The Choir, 2020

blind ego - preaching to the choirWhile this marks the first Blind Ego album to get a feature, it certainly is not the first time Kalle Wallner (RPWL) makes an appearance. And if this album is anything to go by, I certainly need to check out previous releases.

Especially people like me, who are quite fond of progressive music that is melodic and wanders between rock and metal and is not afraid to add dynamic passages, cannot really go wrong with this album. I was hooked the first time listening so that makes for an easy write up.
Openers Massive and the title track make it very clear what you can expect, riffs, solos, great singing and a surprise here and there. What else do you need? Lot’s of groove present too.

Combine that with what I said before and a band that writes songs instead of vehicles to show off technical prowess and you will understand why I can fully recommend this!


Midnight Sun, Dark Tide Rising, 2019

midnight-sun---dark-tide-risingFrom the UK comes this debut album. Yes it is a debut and yes, I am aware the band name has been used before by a Swedish (I assume) band at the end of the previous century.
But while I do not recognize all members by name, one sure popped; lead singer Huw Lloyd-Jones. You might know him from Also Eden or his contribution to the track Glynyd from Cryptic Nature‘s Pandor album.
Anyway the album is promoted as bringing together a mix of metal and progressive rock with keyboard sound-scapes and melodic vocals. And you know what? That is actually accurate! Maybe we can call it an updated form of neo-prog…

So, Scheherazade opens with sequencing keyboards before the guitars kick in the door. Huw’s voice is very recognisable if you have heard him before. Somehow reminds me a bit of Abel Ganz I reckon. And the band gives him many platforms to shine. Be it metallic, proggy, laid back or furious, his characteristic tones lead the way.
The way the songs melt all their influences is quite interesting, especially since I feel they flow really well. Time spent on arranging this must be big. Great playing throughout the songs as well. And with some tracks clocking in at 8, 9 or even almost 11 minutes, those wanting epics are served too.

I do not want to present this as a “pleaser” album though. For me the band have indeed created an original sound that is very much worth checking out if you like progrock and are not afraid if the band wander into other territories. Very convincing!



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!


Odin’s Court, Turtles All The Way Down vol. II, 2018

odin's court - turtles all the way down vol iiThe reason that I very much prefer to receive a CD for review purposes, is not only that I still think that it sounds better than a compressed file. Or that it suits my listening habits more. It is also because mp3 files often get lost somewhere on my pc and I have a hard time keeping track. So sorry Odin’s Court, now you know why these words are arriving late.

Okay on to the album then. The guys boldly start with a 20+ minute epic called A Brief History Of Time. Which serves as a perfect way to introduce all you can expect from the band: progressive metal, soaring melodies, breaks, solos, and also laid back interludes to give you some breathing space.
And they prove to be very good at what they do. Every musician gets a chance to shine without making it sound like they thought “oh wait, we need a spot for a bass solo”.
No they keep it together and the songs flow. As a result the 8 tracks and almost 60 minutes fly by as I am listening to this. And every time I just hit repeat. This not only because of what I said before, but the melodies and especially the choruses are damn catchy too. In the genre they are more comparable to Threshold than to Dream Theater if you know what I mean. I feel the songs are still more important that showing off their capabilities.

Very good album, go check it if you have not tried it yet.


Sky Empire, The Dark Tower, 2018

sky empire - the dark towerSometimes an album just blows you out of your socks. And simply put, this is one of those albums! Yes I may be a bit biased, but what this UK, London based band deliver on The Dark Tower is of the highest progressive metal order in my humble opinion.

But let’s start with the musicians: Tom Hobson on keyboards does not limit himself to adding colour, but manages to shine on his solo spots as well. And does not mind playing some beautiful piano either. Singer Yordan Ivanov delivers his vocals in a wide variety of styles and with a great reach too. Also the clever placed harmonies add nice touches to melodies. Which tower magnificently over the often complex rhythmic music. Remi Jalabert provided the drums, keeping all together like clockwork. Main songwriter and guitarist Drazic Lecutier… what can I say… he is up there with the best. Be it as a shredder or delivering stunning and heartfelt melodic solos or bone crushing riffs, he delivers in spades. Rounding out the band is Tony Snow on bass, providing that much appreciated low end.

Then the songs; 5 in total, starting with Marionette (over 6 and a half minutes) and closing with the title song, delivering all its beauty in an epic 26 minutes. Every song on the album lasts longer than its predecessor. But all of them create a punch, even in the quieter moments. All tick the necessary prog metal boxes: complexity, solos, breaks, orchestral parts and choruses that hook you.

Everyone who thinks of themselves as a serious prog metal fan ought to own this. It is that good!


Tomorrow’s Eve, Project Ikaros, 2018

tomorrow's eve - mirror of creation 3With Project Ikaros, German based progressive metal outfit Tomorrow’s Eve release part 3 of their Mirror Of Creation saga. Which are built around the works of Edgar Allen Poe. In total this is album #5, although I don’t think earlier work has been presented here (even when at least part 2 is somewhere in the collection).

Anyway, what the band present here is certainly worth your time and money. Not only because people like Mike Lepond (Symphony X – bass) or John Macaluso (Labyrinth, Ark – drums) are joining long term singer Martin LeMar and founders Rainer Grund (guitar) and Oliver Schwickert (keyboards). But also because the band have managed to deliver an album that not only ticks all the proper genre boxes yet still has its eyes firmly on melodies.
So the 11 songs and 68 minutes of music are diverse, go from powerful to intimate and from aggressive to epic. And with the strategically placed catchy choruses they still manage to keep you attracted throughout.
Of course all musicians involved are top notch. But I would like to give special props to singer LeMar, whose range and ability to adapt to the various moods really lift the band to the top of the game. Fans of Savatage, Circle II Circle, or the names mentioned above, better pay attention!

Yep, Tomorrow’s Eve are back with a vengeance and ready to take any stage by storm. Should be entertaining!


Hekz, Invicta, 2018

hekz - invictaOh yes! Took a while but with help from Matt (vocals and bass), the latest offering from UK prog metal band Hekz has landed. And the guys even signed it for me, cheers!

Well should you not be familiar with the band, think of them as a cross between the less technical side of Dream Theater with the melodic senses of Threshold, and add to that bits of Rush and Iron Maiden. Yet when I say less technical it does not mean that these guys are not up to par on their instruments. Au contraire, but to me it just feels they use technique as a means, rather than as a goal.  So every song will have exciting playing, but more important, hooks and melodies that attract you to invest time in it. And of course, in my book that is a good thing!

So from opener Quetzlcoatl to closer Victorious, we are taken on an exciting 65 minute journey by a band that seems to go from strength to strength. For a fairly young looking bunch they are well aware of their influences, and now, with a couple of EP’s and 3 full lengths under their belt, seem ready to conquer the world. And when you can bring songs like For Our Lives, The Light Fantastic, the epic The Devil’s Coin or the already mentioned Victorious to the table, that world had better be ready! Talking of Victorious, if ever a prog song seems tailor made to get picked up by a premier league team, this is the anthem that will get the blood pumping.

A clear winner, better check it if you are into progressive metal!



OH, Metallia, 2018

oh - metalliaThis is the second time Olivia Hadjiioannou, better known as OH., makes an appearance here on the blog. The first time was the first ever vinyl here (still is I think) and now she is back with a stunning looking digipack and lush booklet. And this is not the only stunner here. Olivia is a true one woman force. She writes, plays, records, mixes and masters all her music herself, is very into (award winning) video, and if I am not mistaken also models for her art. Truly mindblowing. And speaking of mindblowing, here we have a musician that seems to excel at everything she does. Fluent in drumming, bass, guitars, piano and violin!

So how does that translate to the music on this EP?

Red Lion is opening with her voice (used as an instrument on this release), followed by a slapping bass and then frenetic riffing. She can shred like the best of them. The use of her voice is pretty intriguing throughout. Singing multi layered counter melodies, or dramatic wails, she creates atmosphere for sure. Not an easy introduction maybe, but a colourful and energetic show piece of her abilities. Bee opens with acoustic guitar and proves a song that keeps transforming. Androgyny welcomes you with multi layered vocals before the thrashy riffs take over again. But the combination of vocals and metal again creates something special.
Of the 6 tracks, my personal favourite so far is Dragon Kiss. Maybe one of the most melodic pieces, yet still testament of her vivid imagination and skills to pull off amazing musicality.

I can imagine that people get confused because of the frantic pace of change throughout. But I cannot help but be impressed by the creativity on display. Unique!


Hillsphere, Florescence, 2018

Hillsphere - FlorescenceLots of prog releases and debuts have been arriving here at YMB HQ, and this one doubles as both qualities apply. Hillsphere are a new Dutch prog rock / metal band and Florescence is their way of saying hello to the world. The band are a 5 piece in a familiar prog band setting. Who have decided they’d like to start with a concept album. Bold move!

The album opens with the beautiful and melancholic title track on keyboards whose only problem is that I would have loved to hear more of it… Next track The Breeding Of Us gives us more insight in what we can expect. Modern synths, heavy guitars, dynamics, riffing and soloing. And a band that cares about melodies, even in instrumental pieces. Next up is Home, which is again instrumental, but like Florescence, it is short even when this time mainly based on ambient synths. On track 4, Our Physical Way Of Speaking, we hear vocals for the first time. And they are a combination of clean melodic singing and in part aggressive screaming. For me they could have been more prominent in the mix, but hey, that is a matter of personal taste. The song itself is again very dynamic, something the band proves to be very good at. Which is of course always a bonus as that opens up every album.

The album has 4 more tracks, with a special mention for closer Clairvoyance which I love to bits. The 8 tracks  and almost 50 minutes of music have proven to be a pleasant listen. Lots of emotions, great playing, melody in abundance, job very well done! Congrats to the Layered Reality label.