ALBUM REVIEW: Deftones –  Ohms

“Deftones 2020” would be quite the fitting campaign slogan this year.  Faced with frightening realities, unexpected downs, and challenging changes, Deftones have swooped in to provide a sonic escape and maybe even a ray of hope in a time that has been plagued by a series of unfortunate events. Though President Chino Moreno may seem like a stretch (for now), Deftones have spun these unforeseen circumstances and unprecedented experiences into something fans can hold onto during this period of struggle: the highly-anticipated LP, Ohms, due out September 25th (Warner Records).  2020 is also a hallmark year in the Sacramento-born band’s career, as they celebrate 25 years since dropping their searing debut Adrenaline, 20 years since releasing their incomparable album White Pony, 10 years since unveiling their emotive and piercing record Diamond Eyes, and one presidential term since gracing fans with their eighth studio album Gore. Now, vocalist Chino Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter, drummer Abe Cunningham, programmer Frank Delgado, and bassist Sergio Vega welcome Ohms,  10 tracks of heavy and reflective material that mirror the emotional distress of the pandemic and lockdown, the political power struggle that the world is witnessing, and the internal conflicts many are facing. Continue reading

Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford Reunite as Genesis, Book Late 2020 Tour Dates

In some feel-good news, the longest-running lineup of Prog Rock and Pop band Genesis, comprised of Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford has reunited and will tour in late 2020. The UK tour begins on 23rd of November in Liverpool and ends in Glasgow on the 11th of December. The animated Gif featured artwork from their 1986 album Invisible touch,which turns 35 years old, in 2021. Hopefully, this will lead to more tours in the future. Tickets go on sale this Friday, the 6th at 9 AM local time. This is great news as the band last played with Phil Collins in 1996 when he announced his departure from the band to focus on his solo career. Phil has been in ill health for the last few years but just completed an extensive world tour regardless. No word yet if frequent Genesis conspirators Chester Thompson on drums and Darryl Strummer will join the band for the tour. Continue reading

Watch “Down With The Sickness” by Disturbed in the Style of Metallica, Faith No More, Rush, Strapping Young Lad

Anthony Vincent of the YouTube Channel 10 Second Songs is back with another amazing parody video. Here is tackles Disturbed’s original classic hit single ‘Down With The Sickness” in 20 popular styles including Simon and Garfunkel, Metallica, Tears for Fears Faith No More Childish Gambino, Buju Banton, Michael Bolton, The Hu, Bill Withers, Yungblud, Pink Floyd, Barney The Dinosaur, Strapping Young Lad, Beethoven, Earth, Wind & Fire, Genesis and more! Continue reading

CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED: Nine Inch Nails Released The Fragile 20 Years Ago

Even geniuses get beat up by the press and fans sometimes. There were very few albums as big, pervasive in music culture and brilliant as Nine Inch Nails career highlight The Downward Spiral (Nothing/Interscope) was in 1994. The problem is, how do you follow it up, especially when the entire world jumped on the bandwagon and copied your style? Well, you don’t do a belly flop into stasis, you work harder than ever to expand, change drastically and do all the things. The Fragile (Nothing/Interscope) is Trent Reznor doing all the things, really well. Continue reading

Superfjord – All Will Be Golden

Finnish Prog Rock merchants Superfjord have the kind of name that should cement immediate status as cult legends. Somewhat marvelously, they also sound as if the last forty-five years have never happened. The powerful resonance of the music they produce has, incredibly, seen the band embraced by BBC Music, and second album All Will Be Golden (Svart) could leave the average rocker wondering if this is finally an avenue into awards that have previously excluded our genres. Continue reading

Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

When they toured with Palestinian act Khalas a few years ago, Orphaned Land‘s Israeli frontman, Kobi Farhi would joke on stage every night about how, considering the two bands were from two Middle Eastern countries divided by a brutal and long-standing conflict, the only time they would actually argue with each other was over whose turn it was to buy the beer. Continue reading

Diatessaron – Sunshine

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Despite being a new name on the tongues of many a prog fan, Canadians Diatessaron have in actual fact been an active unit since 2007. That it has taken 8 years to get to their full length debut overlooks their numerous EPs and the member’s parts in an absolute bucket load of other projects. Now that the debut Sunshine (self-released) has seen the light of day, the mammoth ambitions of this quintet are clearly evident.

Rather than a pure rehash of prog’s past, Sunshine shows influence and likeness to Coheed & Cambria as much as the quirkiness and colour of the likes of Genesis, with a masses of technicality and dexterity. The moniker (named after the 3 track centre piece to the album) suggests images of happiness and joy, and musically on the surface this sounds bouncy and almost care-free; lending itself as much to power pop hooks as it does to prog. Beneath this exterior, however, is a darker underbelly, with lyrical themes proving more depressive and morose than the music would have you believe.

Coming from a rich diversity of influences, Sunshine is a rich and layered effort, with unpredictable twists and turns throughout which will please even the most ardent of prog fans. This ambitious effort aims at matching the complexity of prog with some pop immediacy and catchiness, and it begins to live up to these expectations. At times the disjointed songwriting process does reveal itself as its flow doesn’t always feel organic or sensical, but aside from this Sunshine proves a very strong effort for a debut (albeit one with some experience and pedigree).

There is much to take from this, but also plenty for the band themselves to fine tune and grow in to.

 

7.0/10

 

CHRIS TIPPELL

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Serpentyne – Myths and Muses

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The quickened yet subtle rhythms of Myths and Muses (Serpentyne Music), the second album from London Neo-Folk outfit Serpentyne, are the only aspect that would ordinarily stir the discerning Rock or Metal fan. It’s an attractive sound nonetheless, heavily rooted in traditional Folk whilst bleeding melodies of both Celtic and, more prominently, Eastern origin: the enchanting, mystical instrumentation and chants of ‘Alexandria’ and ‘Valkyries’ in particular.

The template is set from the start – samples and sequencing underpinned by both authentic and programmed rhythms, while melodies skip along the surface like a giddy yet graceful child. The voice of Maggie Beth-Sand is at once beautiful, delicate and haunting; occasionally adopting a narrative style yet soaring and lilting with fragile ease. Constant bursts of Electronica have more in common with Dub Trance: the pulsing lynns, manufactured beats and samples erasing some of the core sound’s natural charm. It shows adventure however, and affirms the varying influences the band blend together with no little skill. ‘Freya’s Firedance’ and the classic ‘Gaudete’ carry much of the traditional Folk feel yet ally this with subtle but pacy beats, French harmonies and Asian chanting which add a quirky life to the body.

The rustic charm of ‘Hymn to Cynthia’ has that up-tempo feel akin to modern Dance music and, while the inclusion of other genres is refreshing and inventive, it begins to grate after a while if it ain’t your bag. The horribly cheesy 80’s Synth-Pop of ‘Pastyme With Good Company’ comes across like late Genesis meets Bucks Fizz and is the prime example of that creative freedom going a little too far. The French reel-laments ‘Je Vivroie Liement’ and ‘Douce Dame Jolie’ and the beautiful ‘A Rosebud in June’ are pure fiddle-and-pipes Folk: jaunty yet eerie; the harmonies mild yet perfect and as soul-piercing as they are throughout the album; and it’s where the real joy can be found.

If it’s steel you’re after you’ll find little here. There’s enough about Myths and Muses, however, to delight the closet folkies among us, and it’s a toasty chillout after a hard day’s worth of crushing noise.

 

6.5/10

 

PAUL QUINN

Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic

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In their fifteen year existence, Raleigh, North Carolina quintet Between the Buried and Me has resisted all attempts at categorisation largely by the ever-changing nature of their music. Breakthrough record Alaska in 2005 saw them being lumped in with the ascendant metalcore scene largely by virtue of their choice of record label and haircuts, despite that critically acclaimed release being very different in content to anything post-Killswitch.

Further records such as Colors in 2007 and The Great Misdirect two years later (all Victory) saw the band flirting with death metal and grind yet the overarching theme was that of fully-fledged progressive metal, something that has now come to fruition on Coma Ecliptic (Metal Blade) a bona-fide rock opera that was always in the works, yet few thought would ever be quite so glorious.

With a concept detailing a coma patient’s self-induced exploration of his past lives, facing the choice to either stay or move on to parts unknown and the strange, arcane machine which enables him to do this, none could accuse Between the Buried and Me of lacking a sense of the grandiose. However it is the music that matters and on this record the band has wandered further into the lands of bewildering, arcane prog than ever before, while thankfully still in touch with their metal safety ground. Bands such as Genesis, Queen and Pink Floyd are notable reference points here, with BTBAM seeking to emulate the sense of wonder and freedom those noted acts managed to achieve with their seminal records back in the 70s.

The guitars on Coma Ecliptic are more interested in swirling leads and deft licks than common-or-garden heads down riffing, with rhythm largely left over to the solid, yet often playful bass guitar. This is apparent from the first time the axes make an appearance; with a brief yet histrionic solo which closes the soulful, piano-led opening track ‘Node’. Of course, this is still a metal album at heart and most tracks feature basic one/two chugs during the verses, although the attention will mostly be focused on the ever-present spiralling leadwork. A prime example of this is ‘The Coma Machine’, which develops the themes of the opening track into a surreal yet wholly engaging journey of bewildering prog rhythms, fluid guitar acrobatics and soaring, mysterious keyboards. It’s one hell of an impressive start to a record and things only get better from there.

Between the Buried and Me, photo by Justin Reich

Between the Buried and Me, photo by Justin Reich

Whether it’s the Zombi style 80s synth of ‘Dim Ignition’ complete with buzzing vocal effects which pitches the listener straight into a John Carpenter action film, the absurdly fun Vaudevillian stomp of ‘The Ectopic Stroll’ which Faith No More would have killed to have included on their recent comeback album or the emotionally devastating ‘King Redeem – Queen Serene’ which flits between soulful acoustic introspection to searing melodic death metal with a few maniacal prog flourishes thrown in for good measure, it’s utterly impossible to get bored. This is a record that you could listen to over twenty times and still find surprises waiting for you at every turn.

Each member of the band has come on leaps and bounds since the early days with Paul Waggoner surely staking a claim for one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation and the man Dream Theater should be keeping a close eye on when they next suffer a crisis in the ranks. But it is mainman Tommy Rogers who deserves most of the plaudits. His soulful croon will tug at your heartstrings on ‘Rapid Calm’ during the wondrous guitar solo-used-as-verse, but will instantly switch to feral death growl without breaking sweat, and crucially without ever sounding contrived.

The record that they were always promising to make but you weren’t sure was possible, on Coma Ecliptic Between the Buried and Me have exceeded all expectations and delivered not only the album of their careers but one of the most monumental ambitious rock concept pieces this side of Operation Mindcrime (EMI).

How they will ever top this remains the only sticking point.

9.0/10

 

JAMES CONWAY