While bands such as Pallbearer and Khemmis have been roundly lauded as the prime exponents of modern Progressive Doom, Boston’s Magic Circle has received less attention but is no less of a creative talent. The third album Departed Souls takes up where predecessor Blind Journey (both 20 Buck Spin) left off but sees positively lumimous advances from a whole host of instruments. Continue reading →
Sometimes modern bands can forget the lineage of Progressive Rock – if we go back in time to the seventies and early eighties, it was an experimental style of music that often incorporated twinges of Psychedelia, Pop and Rock whilst still allowing for extensive sonic exploration with elements of Blues, Folk, and Jazz along with constructs such as longer song formats. Continue reading →
“The Killthrax Tour” will be wrapping up next week in Boston, and what a run it’s been. Anthrax and Killswitch Engage have put on incredible shows each and every night, while adding in some memorable moments in different cities. Continue reading →
In Part 2 of our chat with Richard Williams of Kansas, we discussed the new make up of the band, and how it made the difference their new album The Prelude Implicit. We also discussed their relationship with their label, touring, and when and if the band plans to retire at some point.Continue reading →
Kansas is one of the greatest bands of all-time, and certainly the best progressive rock band to ever come out of America. The band is best known for their slew of radio friendly cuts from the 70s, but always had strong rock albums musically, and were top-tier musicians, especially live. They are back this month with their first new album in over a decade and half, The Prelude Implicit, from InsideOut Music. Longtime guitarist, and band leader Rich Williams chatted with Keith Chachkes of Ghost Cult to discuss changes in the group, their bright new future.Continue reading →
You can’t call yourself a proper prog band until you’ve attempted those two most indulgent of propositions… the ten minute long epic and the concept album. For their fourth album, Swedish retro rockers Horisonthaven’t just attempted both, they’re brazenly flaunting it, kicking the Rise Above released album off with ten minute prog opera and title track ‘Odyssey’.
“The whole thing started when we were joking around saying “Let’s do a 10 minute song”,” laughs vocalist and keys man Axel Söderberg. “We really did think of it as a joke at first. But then we came round to it saying “You know, we should really do that, it’d be really cool”. So we proceeded from there, building the other songs around the same subject and it came together. It’s one of those songs where a 10 minute song doesn’t feel like a 10 minute song, so, then it’s a good 10 minute song!!”
And what a subject it is, too. Raiding such luminiferous source materials as an entire book-shelf full of sci-fi paperbacks, and a life-time worth of Blakes 7 and Buck Rogers ideals, via a touch of War of the Worlds, the story of Odyssey“concerns a supreme race of mysterious beings” confirms bassist Magnus Delborg. Of course it does… but just what do we encounter these beings doing? “(they) experiment with the creation of life and start to populate planets around the universe. This is the story of one of those planets…”
“The main theme of the album is Magnus our bass players story,” affirms Söderberg before explaining how the title track served to feed the rest of the album. “When we started with this 10 minute song, that started with me buying a synthesizer and trying out the main riff and finding something that the song was going to evolve from.”
The main keyboard lick reminds me of Magnum (a band I never thought I’d reference when talking a new release in 2015). “Ha, yes, I like them. Well, the first album only” grins the voice of Horisont, before diverging more about his additional input to the album; synthesizers… “I’ve always played the keyboards and we never got around to using them live before. So now I’ve bought myself 3 proper keyboards, so it’s going to be nice trying it out live. I can’t drink as much, anymore, though…” he muses on his new live responsibilities with just a pang of regret in his voice.
The introduction of synthesizers has rounded out the Horisont sound, like the pair of Doc Martens that have finally stopped giving you blisters and now fit like a foot-glove. “I’m not really sure why it works better now”, is the shrugged reply. “It’s like, this album is more a mix of what we actually listen to. I listen to lots of Kansas. Not the “proper” prog groups like Yes or that, but more AOR prog-ish stuff is really what I like. So that shows on this album more than the others. We’re into UFO and Black Sabbath as well, obviously, but this one really reflects what we listen to.”
“We probably would have liked to have played this stuff before, but I don’t think we had the skills back then!”
It’s been a natural evolution, and a return to the music that is in their hearts. “We’ve played this kind of music for ten years now and genres and new kinds of music they come and go, but the classic rock sound is something that will always come back. Everyone that listens to rock in general always goes back to the classic bands.”
The amiable frontman gets sheepish about his love of the retro… “I started out singing in a Misfits and Danzig covers band! That was what pulled me into playing music, made me realize I could play music and it sounded OK! Then I proceeded from there, so I guess that’s my musical background – punk and hard rock.
“I’m actually really not that good at listening to new bands, because there’s no other bands like the classic bands. I do try to check out newer bands, but it’s been a long time since I bought a new record, put it that way.”
Not content with breaking new ground with Odyssey, the upcoming tour will also see the band pushing their horizon(t)s (#SorryNotSorry). “Yes, I just came back from practicing vocal harmonies… and we’ve got a lot of work, as that’s something we’ve never done before! We’re rehearsing hard for the tour and realizing how much work we have to do in learning the songs!”
But it seems like it is hard work that’s paying off. There seems to be a genuine buzz and interest in Odyssey and the bands fourth, most organic and natural album, appears to be the one set to raise their profile all across the board.
“I can feel it; it all feels promising. Yes, it’s looking good! We had more time writing and recording this album than before. All the other albums were a bit stressful, this one, though, just feels really good.”
Odyssey will be released on Friday 18th September via Rise Above Records
“The first concert I ever went to was the Rolling Stones Tattoo You tour. My dad worked at CBS, so we were in the press box. It was 1980, so I was about 12 years old. There was this chick in the press box next to me and she kept saying to me “I’m on acid! I’m on acid!” So she was tripping on acid really bad and my dad had to ask her to leave me alone. (laughs) My second show ever was Heart and Kansas. I remember me and my sister were behind the stage watching from there, and Ann Wilson walked out on stage. And she and looked up at me and my sister, saw us and she gave us a thumbs up. It was really cool that she saw us as fans, so young. It really meant a lot to me for her to do that, that she was cool enough to shoot a thumbs up over at me. And this really set the bar for how I have treated fans the rest of my life in my career.”
At the ‘Gig of the Milennium’ in Manchester, England, last September, a little-known London duo blew apart a path for Pallbearer and Yob to follow. Ghold certainly left their filthy, mammoth mark on that evening, and carry that on into their second album Of Ruin (Ritual Productions).
Following the path of brutal weight and minimal lyrics blazed by the likes of Conan, Ghold’s fearful cacophony carries added omen; a grimy edge to the fizzing, ploughing bass notes and a gruff, screamed vocal rather than the distant, atonal holler expected. There’s variation too with the whispered intonations of opener ‘Saw The Falling’ exploding into a Coltsblood-style roar, time switches expertly and forcibly executed by cavernous drums for a downright earth-shaking opening. The voice develops into a crackling roar à la Matt Pike during the ensuing ‘Partaken Incarnate’ with chaotic and pummelling rhythms building the atmosphere for a booming mid-section, the staccato riff savage and violent; whilst the clean vocal, reminiscent of Kansas‘ Steve Walsh, shouldn’t fit but really does, and introduces a whirling, psychedelic coda.
The apparent belief in scene-setting is borne out in the sinister vignette of jazzy structures and false heartbeat to the building intensity of ‘All Eyes Broke’, whilst the mashing, uncontrolled battery of ‘Pursed’ and ‘Odic Force’ leads to passages of ominous pondering. The middle section of ‘Odic…’ is an horrific, quickening confusion, sound attacking from all directions and showing an inventiveness to the crawling, evil resonance.
The only issue is the rigidity of tone and cold lack of emotion which the occasional contribution of a guitarist, so effective in the live show, would awaken considerably here. Of Ruin represents the monstrous warrior, unmoved by pleasantry and unwavering in his savage wielding of a weapon, the merest hint of a switch in direction garnering devastating results without flourish. The riff and clattering bass of closer ‘Rid The Gleam’ drop from the heavens, whilst the squeaking of the viciously-treated strings attack the nerves like a prowling psychopath. More adventurous than many such cave-dwellers however, there’s mystique and intrigue in Ghold’s approach, showing the ability to lead and even change the game.