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
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
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
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
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
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Duende, the Metal Blade début from progressive metallers The Great Discord was released this week. As much as the album is a tight and technical metal album, the music has a spirit that is steeped in the history of prog rock. We asked singer Fia Kempe and drummer Aksel Holmgren what was their singular favorite albums in classic prog history. After hearing the bands’ music their answers make perfect sense:
Fia: “I was thinking about this the other day, because we have gotten this question before and you always… always when you get the question you think “Fuck! What am I going to answer?” (laughs) Because there are too many great progressive records out there. If I had to say one album I would say Selling England By The Pound by Genesis, it’s just an amazing progressive rock album which stuck. That opened a whole new world for me. Actually it opened my entire musical world, I guess. I come from a very musical family. I have grown up with these kind of old prog rock bands like Genesis, and Gentle Giant, King Crimson and Jethro Tull. So Selling England By The Pound is an album that really means a lot to me, and also one album that I have so many emotional connections to and definitely inspired me as to why we make the music we make today. So thanks Genesis for that!”
Aksel: “I think it’s probably going to be King Crimson: In The Court Of The Crimson King. I think that album is the one that opened up my eyes to the playfulness of the genre. I heard it the first time when I wasn’t even 10 years old. My dad had it on vinyl and I was listening to it in the background. And I heard it and I asked him “Dad what’s this weird music? And my father said “Oh this is King Crimson. It’s 70s music, you wouldn’t understand.” (laughs) Something like that basically. I was like “Holy shit, I have to listen back to this!” And especially In the Court of the Crimson King and I Talk to the Wind, they just blew my mind! The melodic passages and the way they construct songs, it becomes much more of a story way more than just a 3 minute song. It always you to go on a musical adventure that is so much more intricate than just radio music. That has always been one of the main catch points for me. If its progressive and that type of progressive music, it’s usually something that catches my attention for such a long period of time. It drags me on a long, almost spiritual journey. That’s something that no other musical genre can do for me; to capture my attention, except for Jazz in some ways. Progressive music, it would have to be King Crimson. I love them! It’s ridiculous! (laughs)”
Well now, here’s a bit of a surprise. The last time that I spent a significant time with Swedish progressive outfit Beardfish was with their charming and almost too nice for its own good album, the cheery Mammoth (InsideOut). Beardfish are one of those bands that you can quite easily let slip under your own personal radar, such is their charm and inoffensiveness. That probably sounds like damning with faint praise and I don’t mean that – really, I don’t – but it is certainly the case that you can end up overlooking this most idiosyncratic of bands. Well I did, anyway. My bad.
Well, let’s raise a glass to being wrong. The latest album from the band, the quixotic +4626Comfortzone (InsideOut) is the most interesting and most direct of the band’s releases to date and will have you racking your brains over how you could have ever doubted them, or your own judgement, about what a superlative and hugely inventive progressive band Beardfish are.
As with many progressive artists, Beardfish are unafraid to build diverse and diverting song structures. So far, so very rudimentary but what impresses most on +4626 is not the diversity of the music which covers some very notable and comfortable territory that fans of Yes or Genesis or Marillion would find very welcome. To these ears it’s the intelligent lyricism melded to the musicality that truly impresses. +4626 is an angry record, not that you would guess from your initial listens. Beneath the lovely harmonies and melodious interludes there’s a black self-deprecating humour that pokes right into the heart of small town small mindedness (most notably on the languorous and immersive title track) and a reflective but caustic poke in the eye to the narrow minded attitudes that can infect some of the most tribal of music fans (the jaunty ‘Ode to the Rock n’ Roller’).
The musical, lyrical and emotional heart of this album can be found mid-way through. The fifteen minute plus of ‘If We Must Be Apart’ is where everything comes together. Ostensibly a tale of a broken relationship, what you are actually treated to is an extraordinary psychological journey set to music. It ebbs and flows, builds and drops. It even has a bit of Beelzebub thrown in for good measure. It’s epic and exhausting but in a very satisfactory way.
Comfortzone is a record that fits into that classic mould of revealing more and more with each listen. At one level you could be cynical and accuse the band of covering all their bases, hoping some of their ideas stick. I can’t share that view. Comfortzone is, at its heart, an ambitious and optimistic record and, whilst they (quite rightly) rail against small mindedness, outdated attitudes and misogyny, this is not a downbeat affair. On the contrary, Beardfish leave you feeling optimistic, elated and happy that they are back in your life. This is a handsome, intelligent and beguiling album: hats, off, gentlemen, hats off.