Yuval Ron, Somewhere In This Universe, 2019

yuval ron - somewhere in this universeLet me first set the record straight on the title. The official full length title of this album is Somewhere In This Universe, Somebody Hits A Drum. Featuring Marco Minneman.

With that out of the way, a confession; I have played this album many times now, and I still hate the title track that opens the album. The wordless “singing” from Ron destroys it for me. And there are other spots which keep putting me of. Something to do with the label name; Wrong Notes… On the other hand, there are also moments that I enjoy very much, like in Wifi In Emerald City and The Discovery Of Phoebe.
The strange thing is that it is advertised as a progressive rock album while for me it is above all a fusion record. And while it is less free form as some other albums discussed on these pages, in my current mood I have a hard time connecting to this.

No discussion about the musicianship on offer, technically this is great. Guess my expectations were just wrong, and I might also not be in the right state of mind. For me it is now time to move on. Sorry!

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Bryan Beller, Scenes From The Flood, 2019

Bryan-Beller-Scenes-From-The-FloodSome musicians are so talented it’s almost inhuman. And when they often work with other guys whose chops are also out of this world, I get suspicious. Maybe the aliens are already amongst us and just dazzle us with their musical capabilities…

Well one can never tell for sure, but Bryan Beller sure is a guy that has talent in spades. And not just as a bass player, the job he’s best known for.

This double album proves he is much more. And thus delivers another album to prove people wrong who do not believe instrumental music can be as entertaining as vocals songs. (There are some vocals present on the albums by the way).
A lot of diversity on offer too, and all packed in Songs, not just your (above) average rifferama. From catchy to spectacular and everything in between, the album delivers! And accessible too, I loved it at first play. But that is not surprising or else I would have chosen other words to describe the joy of listening to this. Stellar!

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25 Yard Screamer, Natural Satellite, 2019

25 yard screamer - natural satelliteWhile I had promised myself to start writing shorter reviews to try to catch up a bit on all the albums waiting for their turn, this little ditty turned up.

And since at first play I thought it was rather pretentious, I was about to write a few lines and move on. But as this is a progressive rock band, that just did not feel right. Something to do with “taking the time to get into an album…”

The good news is; it does getter better after repeated play!  I read in the press info that the album is a combination of improvisations and one take performances with careful arrangements and playing. They’ve kept the sound rather sparse, which possibly contributes to the need of repeated play. But when you stick to the album, slowly it will reveal its magic to you.

Since this is a grower, I would not be surprised I will consider it a classic in a few years time. For now I think it is a damn good album that moves around a lot in various subgenres of progressive music and beyond.

Or as they say themselves: melody, beauty and aggression. And a bit of fun. Exactly!

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Jolly, Family, 2019

jolly - familyAfter a rather lengthy break (the album title hints at one of the reasons behind that) the incredible Jolly are back with their 4th album.

And I don’t know about you, but their music always speaks to me. Whether it is a soft short piece like Who Will Remember, or a lengthy prog metal roller-coaster like Let Go, I feel at home with whatever they come up with. Guess some things are meant to be…

Anyway, if you are a regular follower of the blog, you will know that their previous output has all been discussed here and I like every single second of music. So welcome back guys, and please don’t take 6 years for the next one!

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The Gift, Changeling, 2019

The Gift - AntennaApparently the fourth album from this London-UK based band and the first to make it to my playlist. According to the press sheet, the band created more shorter and rockier songs for this album.

Lot’s of good things to say about this really. Yes a lot of songs rock, but melodies are never far away. Also a lot of diversity on offer, they do not shy away from calmer, more peaceful parts and arrangements either. Nor hide their progressive nature in songs like the 9 plus minutes of Changeling or album closer Closer.

The lead voice of Mike Morton needed a little getting used to for me, but overall I enjoyed listening!

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Introitus, Shadows, 2019

introitus - shadowsSince the review pile has become unacceptably long, I had to decide to start writing shorter reviews. I hope that with this (contemporary) change in process, I can finally catch up a bit and work much quicker through the backlog.

The first album presented this way is from 6 piece Swedish band Introitus. The album is called Shadows and I would like to tag it as a neo prog album with a female singer. There are some family relations in the band, with singer Anna being the wife of composer and keyboard player Mats Bender, and their son and daughter are active in the band too.

For me this is a solid prog release, with special mention to keyboards and guitars. The 7 melodic songs range from 4 to 13 minutes, keeping the total playing time just under an hour. The singing of Anna is not bad, but somehow just not my cup of tea. This is of course a matter of personal taste, so you might feel totally different about it.

Fans of modern prog should give it a listen and make up their own mind.

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Magic Pie, Fragments Of The 5th Element, 2019

magic pie - fragments of the 5th elementAlbum number 5 for these Norwegian musicians. And 3 of the earlier albums you can find on these pages! And if you go look those up, you will find that not only they were the second band to get featured here, but so far I have loved everything they released!

And let me tell you upfront, nothing has changed in that respect. If you, like me, love melodic progrock with a bite and stellar playing, brought with a vibrancy and energy that is impossible to resist, you do not read on. Just go buy the thing!

Okay, if you are still here, you are either curious to read my thoughts, or just have too much time on your hands 😉 Whatever the case, I cannot stress enough how I love this band’s music. Always melodic, with loads of harmonies (2 lead singers and 3 additional vocalists), clever arrangements with songs / lyrics that do bring a smile on your face. And last but certainly not least, the musicians… For me Kim Stenberg is a player that can combine lightning fast shredding with above average melodic phrasing. But the whole band play tight and change style, tempo and metre in a heartbeat.
For the occasion they also recorded an epic track;  album closer The Hedonist clocks in at almost 23 minutes. And is still entertaining as hell.

Another winner then, kudos!

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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!

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Intelligent Music Project IV, Sorcery Inside, 2019

intelligent music project iv - sorcery insideIndeed album number 4 for the Intelligent Music Project.  All songs are written and produced by Milen Vrabevski and are dedicated to the searching mind. And when I tell you that this album involves musicians like Simon Phillips, John Payne, Joseph Williams and Carl Sentance, you might already have an idea about what you can expect.

Yes, the  music as made popular by Toto and Asia must be an inspiration for Milen. So in essence this is a melodic rock album. But make no mistake, the project caries its name with pride so expect more complexity within. All done with a class cast and executed to perfection. So the richness in ideas and arrangements will also appeal to people who like their progrock melodic.

The result is a very entertaining album, on many levels. On the surface it has lots of appealing melodies and fantastic playing. But when you dig a bit deeper you will notice the intricate arrangements used in the songs. In short, fans of the bands and music mentioned should check this one immediately as they will not be disappointed.

My only comment is that I would love to hear these ideas in a bit more longer songs. Most of this albums’ 12  tracks range 3 to 4 minutes and a couple of 5 to 7 minute songs could give way to even more exiting ideas. But that is just minor, this album is compact and every song packs a punch.

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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.

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