Showing posts with label Prog Rock Music Talk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prog Rock Music Talk. Show all posts

7/18/2020

Crossover Prog Review: Fatal Fusion-Dissonant Minds

Release Date: July 10 2020


Label: Apollon Records

I have been a follower of the band, Fatal Fusion since I heard a track from an early album. Fatal Fusion was formed in Oslo, Norway in 2008, and utilize classic instruments, vintage synthesizers, mellotron, and Hammond organ as they pay homage to the 70’s prog bands, but they have their sound.

That sound has been described as a blending of different genres such as rock, classical, metal, blues, jazz, and even psychedelia and Latin. The band has released four albums, from the debut, Land Of The Sun (2010), through The Ancient Tale (2013), and Total Absence (2016) and onto the album being reviewed, Dissonant Minds (2020).

Fatal Fusion has had a settled line-up since its inception in 2008 and the 5 members appear on all albums; Knut Erik Grontvedt (vocals), Stig Selnes (guitar), Erlend Engebretsen (keyboards), Lasse Lie (bass) and Audun Engebretsen (drums, percussion).

Dissonant Minds
is a four-track release with a running time of just over 43 minutes (43:08), with track 3, “Beneath The Skydome,” the shortest at 4:23 minutes and the final track., “Broken Man Pt 2,” is the longest track on offer at just under 17 minutes (16:42).

The opening track, “Coming Forth By Day” (14:22), is straight to work almost immediately with the band into full flow with 2 distinct passages, the sound building up, dropping away and then this flow repeating, so when the 3-minute mark is reached, the sudden arrival of an acoustic Spanish style guitar passage is a great surprise. The electric guitar puts in an appearance, now and again, before the acoustic passage is joined by a flute, which heralds the entrance of the instantly recognizable vocals of Knut Erik Grontvedt. Initially, there follows a very gentle passage before the vocals harden, and the band starts to rock, changing the style, before a switch back into the gentle, almost meandering passage, which then repeats ensuring the listener is kept on their toes (aurally speaking). Around the 7:10 minute mark, the electric guitar of Stig gets the opportunity to shine and he carries the track until the vocals return around 9:00 minutes. By 9:30 minutes, the pace has changed again and the band is in full flow with the keyboards of Erland getting the chance to come to the forefront. A more choral style keyboard passage appears around 11:20 minutes and the vocals return, as does the electric guitar of Stig and the band start to drive towards the finish. However, at 14:00 minutes, the band leaves the finale to the vocals of Knut Erilk and the superb piano of Erland.

I feel that the opening track to any album requires to be one that will grab the listener and “Coming Forth By Day” does just that. The listener is taken on a journey from the soothing and gentle to the harder and rockier areas which leave the listener looking forward to the rest of the album.

The final track, “Broken Man Pt 2” (17:22), is the second epic-length piece of music on the album and it has taken from the debut album in 2010 to come up with Part 2 of “Broken Man” which graced that earlier album. The opening of “Broken Man Pt 2” starts in a relatively gentle style with the band working as a tight unit with bass (Lasse Lie) and drums (Auden Engebretsen) setting down the solid foundations of the track. By the 6th minute, the style changes with keyboard swathes and an insistent drive from the powerhouse, the bass, and drums, behind Knut Erik’s vocals. The keyboards and that driving beat then switch with the entry of Stig’s electric guitar around the 9:00 minute mark. The track continues to drive along with the keyboards to the forefront and similar to track one, the listener is frequently teased with “retro snippets” which hark back to time away in the past, but no sooner have they appeared then they are gone. Around 11:45 minutes, everything drops away leaving the solitary piano playing a plaintive theme, which heralds the appearance of the vocals again, which are similarly plaintive, before the band are off and running, if not quite as fast as earlier, before again taking a backseat as the vocals come to the fore. The band again gets to flex their collective muscles with a keyboard-driven passage taking the track onto 15:30 minutes. Stunning guitar work just after 16 minutes heralds the impending end of the track, with the sound building to a crescendo and then simply vanishing.

A terrific final track, with the regular movement from the gentle to the more aggressive style, gives the track an edginess and the stunning solo passages, both from guitar and keyboards, completing the superb ending to Dissonant Minds.

Fatal Fusion has continued to build from the foundations set down in 2010, and Dissonant Minds is the culmination, thus far, of the evolution of the band. If you like your prog rock to sound fresh, but still give a nod of the head to the prog scene from the ’70s, welcome to the sound of Fatal Fusion. This is an album that should find its way onto many listeners CD shelves or storage areas, so give it a good listen and if this is the first Fatal Fusion release you have heard, be prepared to dig deep to collect the earlier albums.


Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson - Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
July 9, 2020

Tracks:
1. Coming Forth By Day (14:22)
2. Quo Vadimus (7:41)
3. Beneath The Skydome (4:23)
4. Broken Man Pt 2 (16:42)


4/30/2020

Rock-Americana-Progressive Review: Euphoria-The Reverie Suite

Release Date: September 17, 2019
Label: Independent

Euphoria’s second release titled The Reverie Suite was released in September 2019. This is the kind of music that can be hard to put into a corner and stick a label on. For my ears, that is a fine start knowing that I was in for a lot of diversity and surprises.

I would call it Rock-Americana with a Progressive twist, just as the band describes it. What is initially indicative of the progressive leanings is the length of the tracks.

The band explains the album like this: It is a concept album based on the life of vocalist Saskia who delivers her story with an earnest passion that’s hauntingly beautiful. Its theme is centered around childhood and musically presented with a sound that evokes America in all its beauty – whether it be folk, rock, jazz, or Native purple mountains majesty with progressive tinges.

I think that statement puts it all into a proper perspective for potential listeners. It serves as a looking glass into what you can expect. It is everything and more than one would expect actually. Saskia has a rich powerful voice that pulls you right into the story and holds you. The music is all very tasteful and well suited to the lyrics and vocal style of Saskia. Every track is a musical carpet ride that will capture your imagination. In a word, it is all quite cinematic. Choosing the recording to be a concept album worked well.

Hoyt Binder’s guitar is fantastic. He can be powerful with some meaty chords or tone it down to sound quieter and more textured. He also utilizes a banjo and mandolin to get that Americana element in place sandwiched in between his power strokes. I most certainly appreciate all of his work with the stringed instruments. His multitude of talent leads the way, inviting Saskia’s inviting vocals to come out and play with the music making it a complete experience for a listener. Her vocals were giving me goosebumps.

The Reverie Suite is engaging, precise, diversified, exciting, and filled with the many colors of the world and cultures. I sincerely appreciate that kind of take on a recording, it is always impressive and something you cannot forget. The musicianship is stellar. Ronald Van Deurzen adds the quintessential keyboard element while The Americana Daydream Revival Orchestra delivers background harmonies, flute, percussion, harmonica, bass, and strings, which in turn gives their sound a layered effect that makes each track a real musical journey. (I have included a list of all contributors below)

Their magnum opus is ”Paradise Road,” which clocks in at a hefty 9:42. With this one track, you get the whole package and stylings that this band commands in one track. It is quite impressive to sit back and hear everything going on. I loved every minute of it. The long instrumental breaks are a testament to this band’s all-around talent. This is the one track I would call definitively progressive. The way it ends so suddenly with Saskia singing “And paradise is her name,” puts the final touch on the elements of prog as the door shuts and you get ready for the next track (or another one opens).

Then you get the full instrumental track “Remind Me.” It is a delight, bringing a distinct Americana/Celtic flair to your senses, transporting the listener to a world stage. Getting the full instrumental treatment of their sounds encourages you to paint your personal picture on the canvas of their music.

The Reverie Suite
may take a few listens to get it all into perspective, but I believe that any listener that has an appreciation for rock, prog, Americana, folk, or any combination thereof, will find great value in this album.

LINE-UP:
Saskia Binder - Vocals
Hoyt Binder - Guitars, banjo, mandolin, background harmonies
Ronald Van Deurzen - Piano, organ
Trevor Lloyd - Strings
Tollak Ollestad - Harmonica
Rebecca Kleinmann - Flute
Paulo Gustavo - Bass
Chris Quirarte - Drums
Mike Disarro - Background harmonies
Bobby Albright – Percussion

Mixed by Smiley Sean
Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Howie Weinberg Mastering

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 28, 2020
Founder of:

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

Track List: 
01. Prelude/ She's Calling 04:54
02. Reverie 07:12
03. On My Way 07:31  
04. Heartbeat 04:53
05. Bridge of Dreams 04:38
06. Queen of Hearts 04:47
07. Paradise Road 09:42
08. Move On 05:21
09. Seasons 07:00  
10. Reprise 03:24
11. Remind Me 05:44
12. Content 05:57

3/24/2020

Progressive Metal Review: Epic Tantrum-Abandoned In The Strangers Room

Release Date: January 20, 2020
Label: ET Productions
One look at the cover of Abandoned In The Strangers Room from prog-metal band Epic Tantrum and you are thinking prog. It is something similar to what you would have seen on a Pink Floyd album. The choice for a band name? One word, brilliant! I love it and the artwork is eye-catching and it makes you wonder what is underneath that mask. Is it a person, alien, or creature from some dark corner or from hell itself? If you remove the red cloth what exactly will you see, something that is going to have an Epic Tantrum? It leaves it to your imagination, which in effect, is perfect for the listener with a sense of humor and an off-center thought process. It is indeed a strange cover and a creepy title for the album. There again lies the mystery and your perception of the entire package, figure it out for yourself.

Let me tell you something about this band, this is my first taste of their music, and they rock with a definitive progressive twist. I would be willing to bet at least one of these band members listened to Zappa. Lines like “I’m gonna take your skull and make you look pretty,” are not for the faint of heart. The band members are all part of the “Tantrum” family that includes Peter (guitar, vocals), Paul (guitar, vocals, keys), Greg (bass, vocals) and Z (drums). When you are endorsed by a legendary figure in prog-metal like Mike Portnoy that is very telling. Mike said of “The perfect blend of prog and metal.” And that statement could not be truer.

With a total on 19 tracks and 2 CDs, you get a ton of great music. CD1 is the studio cuts then CD2 presents all the cuts live to show you that indeed they are for real. Epic Tantrum is explosive, quirky and melodic all at the same time. And this is exactly what makes them “progressive.” According to the band’s website, the first part of the album, Abandoned, features studio recordings of previously unreleased material. The second part, In The Strangers Room, features live versions of songs from Abandoned as well as material that appeared on previously released demos. That fact there is quite impressive knowing that some of the music is just demos? They are high-quality demos that is for sure. Again, this just shows how talented this band of men are, with limitless potential ahead of them.

They are juggernauts with a vocalist perfectly suited to the music. I have to be honest though, the first time I heard the vocals I did not care for it at all (I think most people that enjoy prog-metal will love this after the first listen). Then a second try, a different day, and now I cannot figure out why I did not like it to begin with. So, there you go, with music it depends if all the sensory doors are open to the sounds and you are not sidetracked with another train of thought with the inability to really “hear” the music. And did I ever hear it all this time? You can count on it. Their ability to play at a slower pace and make some beautiful sounds that are pleasing then immediately bust right out of that at any second and peel off some vicious guitar licks backed by a powerful rhythm section is quite impressive. To see them live must be a real treat.

The guitar work is fabulous and what drives this well-oiled machine. Every track is packed with the firepower to get your blood pumping but you can also pause, and should, to hear the incredible musicianship at hand. In the end, what you get to enjoy is one of the more exciting up and coming bands in progressive metal that are going to raise some eyebrows from this point forward.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

March 23, 2020

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk


Tracks

CD 1:
01. Don't Bother...
02. Unfold
03. Accessory
04. Fables Of Fortune
05. Outside The Wire
06. Into the Clutch
07. Letting Go
08. False Idols
09. A Howling
10. Abandoned

CD 2:

11. Baillee's Gone Again (Live)
12. Franklin Park Blues (Live)
13. Letting Go (Live)
14. Now I Know (Live)
15. Accessory (Live)
16. Fables of Fortune (Live)
17. The Artist (Live)
18. Don't Bother... (Live)   
19. Drown (Live) 





3/10/2020

Progressive Rock Review: JJ Chardeau - In Terra Cognita?

Release Date: November 15, 2019
Label: L RECORDS, Muffin Records Productions USA

A chanting overture, “Evolution,” leads into a battle-like track with “Dream In Moscow.” In Terra DCognita? (The Music of the Rock Opera Magic Musical Man) is a musical phenomenon. Not only is it an impactful recitation of wonderful instrumentation, but, the listener is gifted with a culture shock of all different languages and origins.

JJ Chardeau is certainly a man of uniqueness. As seen throughout this album, Chardeau does not limit himself to one particular styling or sound. Instead, he will push boundaries to see great success in his work and artistic expressions. For over 30 years, he’s been making Progressive Rock all his own and bending every rule he can.

“Dream In Moscow” is a beautifully written out build-up of battle or struggle. It begins as an illuminating piece, soothing the listener’s ear with a piano intro, as the orchestra and Chicago’s Danny Seraphine, along with Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre lending their voices to this piece amongst others throughout the album. “Black Taj Mahal” is a good contour for the prior track as the chimes, flute, and what sounds to be a triangle echo out a mental escape to a serene picturesque land.

“Farewell Lhassa” is another ode to a foreign area, China. One that offers up a more haunting vibe of chimes and an occasional gong and guitar riff. Voices arise of an alert message that conflict has now arisen and materials (missiles) have been stolen, almost as though someone has been compromised. This is followed up by another strictly instrumental piece.

Filled with the xylophone, keyboard, and drums to keep the rhythm in place, “DMZ” bridges the album together keeping a steady relaxed tone throughout the track. Leading into “Frisson Nippon,” is a thrilling, excitement lead-up of chimes and whistle-into-chant. It feels as though the song is taking the listener sailing through steady waters or hiking up to conquer some challenges on land or sea. “Les larmes du pacifique” starts as a tropical island getaway, going into a tragic song of tears and struggle.

“Nunavut,” is a hushed and fluted piece that has a god-like messenger speaking throughout. It sounds as though, a mission is being explained or what might be next to come on the listener’s journey, wherever the figure may be thinking of. Then we approach “The Last Rockaway.” It is different and fun from the rest of the record where it feels more like a classic rock n’ roll song. It asks of the individual’s humble beginnings as he is the sole person left of his own.

“Pablo Tequila” is a fun international song that throws even the most anti-dancer into a hip-shaking good time. It is a simple feel-good song that poses as a rarity for the record. Following that up, “Machu Picchu” is a strictly instrumental styled piece that has a very simplistic sound to it. A piano at the beginning and end, a flute, and some percussion give life to this song as it sends the listener through another conflict-to-resolution type of scenario; ending with a serene resolution.

Heading into what sounds like a Middle-Eastern piece, the majority of “Cabale Kabyle” is an easy, melodic tune that appeals well to the average listener. Towards the end there seems to be a bit of struggle or issue of sorts but, within a minute the struggle resigns to more of the strings ending the tune with peace. Next, “Walls of Lament” (the single off the record), gives a feel to me like a spy movie. It reminds me of where the spy or hero is trying to get past the laser-covered room to reclaim his stolen artifact. But, by the middle of the song, it becomes something back into a foreign land to adventure through thickets of fog as the listener wanders.

“Tchad” is probably the most complicated of the tracks to understand to a person whose only language is English. It sounds as though the vocalist is proclaiming the area their own. The fact that they will not go down without a fight shows their strength and resilience to protect what is theirs. This, combined with the finale of “The End” leads to a very powerful finale. The brightness and intensity show how to end a story properly.

Key tracks include: “Dream In Moscow,” “Les larmes du pacifique,” and “Pablo Taquila.” 
 

Gregg Keniston- MuzikMan.net Staff
March 8, 2020




Reviews Provided By:




Rate The Tracks

Track Listing:
01. Evolution (Magical Musical Man Ouverture)
02. Dream In Moscow
03. Black Taj Mahal
04. Farewell Lhassa
05. DMZ
06. Frisson Nippon
07. Les larmes du pacifique
08. Nunavut
09. The Last Rockaway
10. Pablo Tequila
11. Machu Picchu
12. Cabale Kabyle
13. Wall of Laments
14. Tchad
15. The End? (Magical Musical Man Finale)


2/22/2020

Progressive/Rock Review: Bernie Shaw & Dale Collins -Too Much Information

Release Date: September 13, 2019
Label: Bernie Shaw / Dale Collins
Website
Kicking off the album Too Much Information, Bernie Shaw is very bright and uplifting as "So Many Times" begins. The album reminds me a lot of the band Journey and their unique sound to 80's Rock. Longtime friends Bernie Shaw and Dale Collins team up to produce an album of seismic proportions. With the assistance of Ron Restall on drums and Jason Gardenits on the keyboard, the perfect blend of Blues and Progressive Rock chemistry.

The depiction of the artwork can be interpreted as a dawn of a new day, or as the light in the sea of gray. It sizes up to the tone of the record as it avails the roughness of the waves and the heaviness of songs like "Alone" and "Hey Jimi," while that glimmer of light shone beyond the sea reflects on a more positive note of "Here We Go" and "Rock On."

Running back on "So Many Times," the song captures a lighter side of Bernie Shaw, where he typically adheres to more of an intense Metal sound. It is an excellent battle between letting the light in, feeling good, and thinking there was more one could have made a better choice along the way. "Alone" is an immediate stark contrast. The song proclaims how the singer will now be operating daily life on his own, he cannot continue to carry the weight of his other half with no sign of change or improvement.

"Here We Go," keeps the beat of every traveler's anthem. However, the song speaks of an irritating, repetitious situation that he finds himself caught in the middle of. To me, it feels very much like hiking up an endless trail or mountain; albeit, it even reminds me of the scene in Rocky, climbing the Philadelphia stairs.

"Too Much Information," the title track, is a great bridge-like track. It is not too detailed or overly emotional. Rather, it is a pleasant earworm for guitar lovers everywhere. Contrary to the title, it doesn't feel like overload at all. I probably stand alone in this thought, however, it is nice to see an artist not make the title of the album his or her main focus.

We turn now to a darker note, but, it turns out to be my favorite track of the album. "Sad Song" possesses a great blend of Shaw's vocals and both Shaw's and Collins' instrumental technique. The song has a great way of rocking like the sea, building up like a solid wave and crashing into the shore, at the height of Shaw's chorus lines.

An excellent ode to the late, great Jimi Hendrix follows up a solemn track. Upon initial listening, one is safe to assume, this might be a more somber or even heartwrenching tribute. As the song progresses it is anything but. The song calls out to the spirit of Hendrix and does his honor well by majoritively dedicating this track to being an instrumental piece. One of the great kings of Rock music would be jamming right alongside Shaw and Collins if he were able to hear this today.

"Just A Little Bit" is a great in-your-face anthem of how someone can just try to break another person down in every possible way. The person being tormented wants nothing more than to see the damage right in front of their face. You can tell as the song progresses, the singer won't let this irritation get the best of him and builds upon the harm caused by the other party.

With that rise-from-the-ashes tune, we arrive at the final song of the album, "Rock On." It is a steady, fun track emphasizing the carefree spirit of the duo. The song solidifies what every musician, band, and concert-goer have in common; and that's to simply – rock on. When everything around you seems to be on sensory overload or you might just be feeling a bit down about something in life, the message is clear; rock on with Too Much Information.

Key tracks include: “Sad Song,” “Hey Jimi,” and “Rock On.” 


Gregg Keniston- MuzikMan.net Staff
February 19, 2020

Reviews Provided By:

Track Listing:
1. So Many Times
2. Alone
3. Here We Go
4. Too Much Information
5. Sad Song
6. Hey Jimi
7. Just A Little Bit
8. Rock On

2/16/2020

Progressive Rock Review: Art in America - Cloudborn

Release Date: August 1, 2019
Label: Art in America



Like a book, music can catapult you into an imaginative adventure. Art in America most definitely built their latest LP, Cloudborn around the concept of an alternate universe where all your troubles just disappear and the listener cannot wait for what may lie ahead.

The theme of experimental simplicity is fitting for this band as the band members started, as they state on their site, “in their living room kicking around some musical ideas with guitar, bass and some unusual instrumentation - … and a Japanese Koto.” Band members and siblings, Chris Flynn – lead vocals and guitar, Shisonee Flynn – harp, koto, tamboura, and vocals; and Dan Flynn – on drums and percussion, began the venture of artistry and bringing together the framework of a band. Soon, after adding Jim Kuha – on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Garry Galloway on the keys; the band was finalized and two albums later, Art in America is on the rise to become a part of every Progressive Rock N’ Roll lover’s collection and earworm.

“A Tale of the Unexpected” sounds like that of a videogame cut scene. It offers the listener a way to both, relax and get introduced to a realm of unusual instruments that typically is not included within Progressive Rock album concepts. The harp, an Indian piece called a tambura, and a Japanese koto are fused throughout the track list.

Much of the rest of the album gives off a blend of 80’s and 90’s Progressive Rock/Pop vibe. As soon as I heard the first few lines of “I Am I,” I felt like I was inside a Classic Progressive Rock or Action movie soundtrack music video. “Someday” hits right in the heart of any listener with half a sense of aspiration and hope. It proclaims that one day soon he (the singer), will get to where he needs to be.

Just take a look at this particular album art. It is of a vast and new unexplored world that leaves an imprint of a powerful image on the listener’s mind. “Drool,” on the other hand, gives the feel of a traveler that is in search of something but; no one quite knows what. The singer may just be wandering down an endless road. Rounding out the first half of the track list, “The New Swami” is one of those songs that you just cannot exactly place your finger on how to react. It contains elements of the tambura giving the tune some peacefulness. It is sung so brightly but, if you listen to some of the lyrics: “The new Swami smiles, as rubies turn to rubble;” the Swami is not as peaceful as proclaimed.

“Someone Called My Name,” is all about looking for answers. It’s a journey where all but, the voice he keeps hearing over and over again remains a constant in his life. We never do learn if he discovers who or what he has been searching for. Art in America goes back to a wild-western-type of a theme on “For Shelly.” It sings of coming to a realization of whom he had however, now she’s gone out of his life
Trying to find any remnants of back to when he and his friend or lover back to simpler times, the singer is in a daydream-like state and the rhythm remains constant to maintain that feel of flashbacks. It’s a very mellow peace to bridge the album together, it almost becomes instrumental.

Going from an almost monotone beginning to an action-packed four minutes and twenty-one seconds, “Facelift” is a fun changeup from the rest of the record. It feels like the singer or the listener could be charging up to something blending with a somewhat mystical sound towards the end. It becomes one of the standout tracks on the album for the simple reason that it brings some life and rejuvenation back into the record; like a reawakening of sorts.

The last three tracks create their own personalities. “Don’t Look Down” keeps with the upbeat sequence of the prior track. It’s guitar solo, is on the shorter side but, still offers what every Progressive Rock lover desires, a pure shred of the strings through your speakers. “No Wonder” finds its way on this record perfectly as its unique sound, almost like a movie scene, or story time sequence. The lyrics do not reflect much in terms of positivity because the man in question has made some mistake that he cannot seem to identify but, she knows quite well what he did. It’s the typical couples’ flare-up of arguments, disagreements, and sometimes breakup. Finally, taking a look at the last track “Goodbye My Love / Mind’s Eye / Peace of Mind,” it is truly an ideal finale to a perfect Progressive Rock album. It begins slow and swing-like, then, by the time it gets to “Mind’s Eye,” it blossoms into an up-tempo grand finish to make the listener feel as though they are leaving the concert of their life.

Cloudborn is that album that defines experimental. It pushes all types of Progressive Rock boundaries and draws the ear of various listeners. If you are looking for a record that makes you daydream, that makes you feel good overall, and that can turn any day around; this is the album for you. Often, Progressive Rock is misconstrued as angry – when commonly dealing with Metal, or disturbed when playing a bunch of Alternative artists; there’s a third avenue of eclectic and experimental sound that can accompany a typically positive intonation.

Key tracks include: “A Tale of the Unexpected,” “The New Swami,” and “No Wonder.”

Gregg Keniston- MuzikMan.net Staff
February 15, 2020

Reviews Provided By:

Track Listing:
 

01. A Tale of the Unexpected
02. I Am I
03. Someday
04. Drool
05. The New Swami
06. Someone Called My Name
07. For Shelly
08. When We Were Young
09. Facelift
10. Don't Look Down
11. No Wonder
12. Goodbye My Love / Mind’s Eye / Peace of Mind

1/27/2020

Prog Rock Review: DBA-Geoffrey Downes/Christopher Braide-Live In England

Release Date: November 29. 2019
Label: Cherry Red Records
Geoff Downes and Christopher Braide are DBA. DBA stands for Downes Braide Association. Both gents are well known in musical circles and Downes has carved out a legendary slice of time with Asia and Yes and several other projects over the years, with his keyboard wizardry. Braide is a multi-talented artist, vocalist, musician, producer, and collaborator.

This matchup is one to die for with excellent musicianship and vocals beyond compare. Besides those two key players, there are important parts of the whole to make all this music complete, including Andy Hodge (bass), Dave Colquhoun (lead guitar) and special guests David Longdon (vocals and flute) and narration by Barney Ashton Bullock.

Live In England folds out into four sections holding two CDs and one DVD and an informative booklet.

I have always loved Yes and Asia including the 80s version of Yes with Downes. As all fans know that is why Asia was born. What you will hear in this immense set are 16 audio tracks then the same in the DVD. So, you get the best of both worlds. I watched the DVD first, of course, to get the full in-house impact when it was recorded at Trading Boundaries in East Sussex on September 28, 2018. The stage was normal and no-frills, just straight-ahead great music which suits me just fine thank you very much.

Christopher has an amazing voice, there is no other way to explain it. For me, it was goosebump time when the lead-off track “Prelude/Skyscraper Souls” kicked in. He has a smooth voice that can hit those high notes and perfectly enunciated for every part of each song. I did notice that when he sings in the lower register it reminded me somewhat of David Gilmour. When he goes high forget it, there are not too many vocalists that can pull off a performance as Christopher did on so many songs in one performance. I particularly appreciated that I could understand all the lyrics thanks to Christopher’s pinpoint vocal style. So enough about the vox humana.

Where would all of those beautiful vocals be without an amazing soundtrack to sing along to? That is exactly what Downes and company provide from start to finish on this performance. Downes is and was the musical centerpiece of the presentation and he even gets the stage all to himself to perform some familiar music instrumentally for the audience.

This is not just progressive rock its prog! And with some of the best-seasoned talent on the planet to present it all, fans of this kind of music will find a lot to enjoy on this set. The music covers their studio releases with precision and energy that will greatly be appreciated even with the
most particular listeners.

If you don’t have the three studio albums, after hearing Live In England you will likely seek out all of those releases, I know I will.

Watch for the vinyl version of Live In England to be released on February 14th!


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 26, 2020

Founder of:

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

Tracks

DISC ONE:

 1. SKYSCRAPER SOULS
2. MACHINERY OF FATE
3. LIVE TWICE
4. VANITY
5. SUBURBAN GHOSTS
6. BOLERO / VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR
7. GLACIER GIRL
8. ANGEL ON YOUR SHOULDER


DISC TWO:
 

1. TOMORROW
2. LIGHTHOUSE
3. SKIN DEEP
4. DARKER TIMES
5. FINALE
6. HEAT OF THE MOMENT
7. THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES
8. DREAMING OF ENGLAND


DISC THREE – DVD (NTSC REGION 0)

1. SKYSCRAPER SOULS
2. MACHINERY OF FATE
3. LIVE TWICE
4. VANITY
5. SUBURBAN GHOSTS
6. BOLERO / VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR
7. GLACIER GIRL
8. ANGEL ON YOUR SHOULDER
9. TOMORROW
10. LIGHTHOUSE
11. SKIN DEEP
12. DARKER TIMES
13. FINALE
14. HEAT OF THE MOMENT
15. THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES
16. DREAMING OF ENGLAND
 

1/25/2020

Prog Rock Review: Nektar-The Other Side

Release Date: January 24, 2020
Label:  Independent
Website



Early influencers of the ’70s prog-rock movement, Nektar has returned with a satisfying new release. The Other Side reaches into the past and skillfully carries the band’s groundbreaking sound into the modern age. Like many prog-rock pioneers, Nektar took chances. Their debut album, for example, contained a single 40-minute song. As with any early 70s band that is fortunate enough to remain together, Nektar has gone through changes. Today, Nektar consists of three original members (Mo Moore, Ron Howden & Randy Dembo), a returning stint player (Ryche Chlanda), and a new keyboardist (Kendall Scott).

These are experimental rock songs with driving, complex rhythms supporting flights of fancy on keyboard and guitar. Think of Jones & Bonham of Led Zeppelin meeting Rick Wakeman of YES meeting Steve Hacket of Genesis. The most enjoyable moments on this album come when the band flies away from the derivative and predictable choruses and allows Chlanda and Scott to take the listener to new heights.

Case in point is the opening track, “I’m on Fire.” The lyrics Mo Moore wrote in 1978 for his fiancĂ© fall flat against the imaginative underlying sonic texture. “SkyWriter” is a more accessible and reminiscent of an Asia track bridging prog with pop. On the other side of the coin, “Love Is/The Other Side” is a masterful progression of melodies and tempos taking off mid-way and not relenting until the end. “The Light Beyond” and “Look Through Me” are slower, more orchestral, and introspective songs heavy on keyboard with strains of Alan Parsons.

At times it feels as if The Other Side is attempting to combine the experimental and ethereal nature of progressive rock with down-to-earth hard rock sensibilities. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. As a listener, I found myself tuning out for the chorus and turning in for the jams. Overall, the offering is strong, and the experience is worthwhile. The better news is that Nektar is still producing quality albums and is still touring. Legend has it that they do not let their live audiences down, so check out their tour list and go see this iconic band while you have the chance.

Tom Endyke - MuzikMan.net Staff
January 23, 2019

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Tracks:
1. I’m On Fire
2. SkyWriter
3. Love is/The Other Side
4. Drifting
5. Devil’s Door
6. The Light Beyond
7. Look Through Me
8. Y Can’t I B More Like U

1/18/2020

Hard Rock/Prog Review: Magnum-The Serpent Rings

Release Date: January 17, 2020
Label:  Steamhammer

UK-based rock veterans, Magnum, are back with their 20th studio album, The Serpent Rings. Founders and driving forces, Tony Clarkin (guitars) and Bob Catley (vocals), have forged a unique melodic hard rock sound and have worked hard to evolve that sound. They’ve released studio albums every two to three years since 1979, each album borrowing from and building on the prior. Keyboardist Rick Benton joined the band in 2017, and together with a new bass player, Dennis Ward joining Lee Morris on drums, the rhythm section and the group as a whole seems invigorated. 

The sound is rich and textured with hard rock, art-rock, and prog-rock undertones. Think of Traffic meeting Queen, meeting Metallica. Magnum steers the listener in and out of these atmospheres flawlessly, creating a dramatic and cinematic sonic experience. While the landscape is rich, the driving force is the guitar work of Tony Clarkin. Fear no more the demise of the almighty guitar solo. You’ll find one on almost every track. Clarkin appears to pause to take a breath before launching into his solos. This provides a dramatic calm before the storm, and once it hits, it sounds like an army crashing through the forest on their way to storming the castle. 

Of equal importance is the attention to lyrical depth. If you listen as much to the lyrics as you do to the music, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wisdom conveyed in these songs. The galloping opening track “Where Are You Eden?” is no exception. “A picture hangs. It’s always been there to celebrate the news. Though people talk, they don’t understand. It only serves to confuse.” 

“Not Forgiven,” chosen as the first single and lyric video, is a powerful and captivating rock song. It is somewhat formulaic, however, and there are better, more envelope-pushing tracks on the album.  
“Madman or Messiah” breaks that envelope open with inspired guitar flourishes and haunting atmospheric keyboards. Other standouts include “You Can’t Run Faster Than Bullets,” and “The Serpent Rings.” 

These are carefully crafted songs that don’t merely shout a mantra but tell stories, leaving the listener to use their imagination and relate those stories to their own lives. On The Serpent Rings, Magnum continues its consistent and impressive run of high-quality, distinctive hard rock. 

Tom Endyke - MuzikMan.net Staff
January 16, 2019

REVIEWS PROVIDED BY:
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Tracks:
01. Where Are You Eden
02. You Can’t Run Faster Than Bullets
03. Madman Or Messiah
04. The Archway Of Tears
05. Not Forgiven
06. The Serpent Rings
07. House of Kings
08. The Great Unknown
09. Man
10. The Last One On Earth
11. Crimson On The White Sand

 

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