Prog metal trio Black Orchid Empire crank up the technical complexity and again display their playing chops on Tempus Veritas (Season Of Mist). While there is a certain schizophrenia at play here, a clash of styles, if not intent, it has to be said that when these London-based boys (Paul Visser – vocals/guitars, Dave Ferguson – bass/vocals, and Billy Freedom – drums) are good, they are very good.
At this point some thirty years into their illustrious career, Enslaved have truly transcended into their own musical entity. Creating a genre in their own image with a highly unique sound that still stays true to their extreme metal roots, but also blends the darkness with the light of progressive rock, and providing two distinct and opposing vocal styles in a way that no other band does.
There is still a ton left to be done in Metal and Rock music. If you’re one of those people who assumes rock is dead simply because it’s not as mainstream as it once was, I am truly sorry for all the amazing new bands you’re missing out on. Among many others, New Zealand quintet Crooked Royals are opening eyes to the many ways the genre is evolving and raising questions of where else it could go from here.
After a brief hiatus from the overarching conceptual narrative that their previous catalogue followed, 2018’s Vaxis- Act 1: Unheavenly Creatures saw Coheed & Cambria make a welcome return to The Armory Wars saga, commencing a new tale within the narrative, one to be told across a five-album span. A span that follows the titular and, currently, little-known character Vaxis, who at the point of Act 1 is unborn but an almost guiding hand to his parents Nia (Sister Spider) and Nostrand (Creature) in their escape. A welcome return with glorious results which means anticipation is rife again for the follow-up as the narrative continues on Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind (Roadrunner). Where Act 1 largely comprised of deceptively sprawling songs and hit a near eighty-minute mark, Vaxis II’s repertoire is generally more succinct with songs around the three-to-four-minute mark. Arguably a more commercial-friendly effort, that thought belies the still present depth within even shorter songs and the areas of innovation throughout which still feels unmistakably in character for the band, despite clear differences to its predecessor.
After a four year absence (a handful of single releases aside), Pennsylvania-based Black Crown Initiate return with their third full-length release, Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape (Century Media). From black metal to progressive rock via blasts of technical death metal, BCI effortlessly combine a whole range of differing styles resulting in their most captivating and assured record to date.
It appears that Protest the Hero have got some thoughts on today’s, let us say shit, political climate. When your opening track is called ‘The Migrant Mother’ it’s a bit of a tell that Palimpsest (Spinefarm Records) has some issues it wants to address. I mean, regardless of subject matter I’d still be all for Palimpsest. Come on, it’s Protest the Hero, I could listen to songs about cooking bacon as long as it’s a new album.