Showing posts with label Progressive Rock Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Progressive Rock Reviews. Show all posts


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.

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


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- 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)


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

Release Date: September 13, 2019
Label: Bernie Shaw / Dale Collins
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- 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


Progressive Rock Review: Mostly Autumn-White Rainbow

Release Date: March 1, 2019
Label:  Mostly Autumn Records
The artwork on Mostly Autumn's latest offering, White Rainbow, depicts a mirrored sunrise over a snowy mountain encompassed by a white rainbow.  The image is apt, as the album reflects genuinely on the loss of their former and longtime guitarist Liam Davison, while at the same time, pointing the way to new beginnings.  
After 12 studio albums, most bands find a groove that works and ride in comfort within it.  Mostly Autumn's 13th album finds the band breaking out of any supposed rut and venturing forth to produce a modern-day progressive folk-rock masterwork.
Each track on White Rainbow is a story unto itself.  Filled with atmosphere, conflict, and triumph, crescendos rise at the point of epiphany and fall upon the listener with beauty and grace.  At seventy-nine minutes, Mostly Autumn feels in a sense like a movie soundtrack supporting a majestic drama.  Celtic folk undertones place the listener in the mind of proud warriors riding through the countryside on a quest to rescue their captured Queen. Valhalla, be damned. 
The slow atmospheric intros are joined by soaring vocal harmony and accentuated by torrents of accomplished guitar work.  At the point when the listener feels the song has reached its peak, Mostly Autumn rises to another level. Therein lies the beauty of blending folk sensibilities with progressive stylings. The songs don't have to end where one thinks they might.  White Rainbow leads the listener into a false sense of calm and security and then hit you with a guitar-driven onslaught leaving you weakened, yet exhilarated. 
The energy behind this orchestration is Olivia Sparnenn's voice, which packs the one-two punch of power and vulnerability. Think of the dramatic soprano of Ann Wilson intermingled with the tenderness of (dare I say) Olivia Newton-John. Ms. Sparnenn's vocals layered upon such vibrant musicianship put this listener in the mind of Sandy Denny on Led Zeppelin's Battle of Evermore. 
All in all, Mostly Autumn’s White Rainbow is a polished work whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Listen to it straight through, and you'll realize the depth and breadth of its brilliance.  This is a progressive rock treasure you'll be thrilled you discovered and a musical dream from which you won't want to wake. 
Key Tracks Include: “Burn”, “Run for the Sun”, “Western Skies”, “Into the Stars”, “The Undertow”

Tom Endyke - Staff
November 14, 2019

Rate the Tracks

01.  Procession
02.  Viking Funeral
03.  Burn
04.  Run for the Sun
05.  Western Skies
06.  Into the Stars
07.  Up
08.  The Undertow
09.  Gone
10.  White Rainbow
11.  Young


Progressive Rock Review: RPWL-Live from Outer Space

Release Date:  November 15, 2019
Label:  Gentle Art of Music

German sci-fi prog rockers, RPWL is back with a collection of 14 live tracks that will lift you, launch you into hyperspace, and land you safely in your living room, inspired by the journey. The best live albums serve to showcase a band’s greatest hits stripped of any studio production varnish. This brings the music closer to reality and closer to the feeling that summoned the listener in the first place. Live from Outer Space is no exception. 

Since their modest beginnings as a Pink Floyd cover band in the late ’80s, RPWL’s sound has evolved into a sophisticated, accessible progressive sound. I wouldn’t say the influence is Pink Floyd as a whole, but more specifically, David Gilmour. Yogi Lang’s subtle yet menacing voice is similar to Gilmour’s as it seems to emerge with an enlightened authority, like a God summoning his followers from on high. Lang guides his passengers through the wonders of the universe, prophesizing on what might live beyond our understanding. Think of Pink Floyd’s post-Roger Waters years with a deep-space sci-fi undercurrent. 

Live from Outer Space marks their seventh live album compared to ten studio albums. RPWL is proud of their live work, offering reinvented versions only the unrestrained freedom of a live performance can bring forth. 

Live performances also bring forth the opportunity to craft setlists that flow together cohesively. RPWL weave in the narration, which intertwines the songs into a storyline of sorts. Admittedly, during “News from Outer Space,” I had to fight off the image from Spinal Tap of Nigel Tufnel waxing poetically about the little children of Stonehenge as a two-foot-high prop is lowered onto the stage. This is hardly RPWL’s fault as Spinal Tap ruined any attempt for legitimate bands of the future to attempt any dramatic narration on stage. 

Where others zig and zag, RPWL swerves and glides through the infinite vastness of space and time. A smoother ride than some of prog rock’s jagged journeys, RPWL delivers to their fans new takes on old favorites and provides new listeners an accessible entry point into prog rock. So, set your controls for the heart of the sun, RPWL will take you on a satisfying ride you’ll want to take again and again.  

Key Tracks Include: Not Our Place to Be”, “Roses”, “Hole in the Sky”, “Sleep”

Tom Endyke - Staff
October 25, 2019

Rate the Tracks

1.  A New World
2.  Welcome to the Freak Show
3.  Light of the World
4.  Not Our Place to Be
5.  What I Really Need
6.  Give Birth to the Sun
7.  Far Away from Home

1.  Hole in the Sky
2.  Sleep
3.  Masters of War
4.  Trying to Kiss the Sun
5.  Roses
6.  Unchain the Earth



Progressive Rock Review: The Inner Road-The Majestic Garden

Release Date: March 1, 2019
Label: Independent

The Inner Road is the creation of Steve Gresswell and Phil Braithwaite, two former members of the band Coalition who joined forces to fulfill their own musical needs. On March 1, 2019, they released their fourth album The Majestic Garden. The album, along with other works of theirs, falls into the genre of progressive rock: originally a movement in the 70's to bring new elements of sophistication to rock music. The genre gains inspiration from psychedelic music from the ’60s, often containing uncommon song structures, interludes, and heightened dynamics. The Majestic Garden is a wonderful example of prog that portrays its unique characteristics while also contributing to the genre with the addition of a fantastical layer to their music. 

A key characteristic of The Majestic Garden that sets it apart from other prog music is the usage of musical elements to suggest a fantastical setting in each song. While other prog bands like Pink Floyd and Genesis sway their audience with compelling melodies and lyrics, The Inner Road sways theirs with the atmosphere they create. The Majestic Garden transports you to a magical forest populated with giants, trolls, and faeries, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a high fantasy story. This is likely due to the repetition of minor scales ascending to the fifth interval and then descending, mostly seen during “Call of the Spirit” and “Water Well.” Minor scales are infamous for providing a spooky and ominous atmosphere. When they’re used as the melody of multiple songs, it causes the album to feel nothing short of supernatural. The repetition of the scale going up and down also generates a mood of suspense; the listeners hear this melody and expect it to change like usual, but it remains constant for a long portion of the song. The anticipation of a melody change sparks suspense into their listeners, a characteristic also extremely prominent in high fantasy. 
To add, a large contributing factor to the atmosphere of this album is the irregular rhythm in each song. For example, the rhythm section of the title track “The Majestic Garden” begins by playing four monotonous quarter notes, assisting in the creation of an upbeat melody and an inspirational ambiance. However, in the second track “Call of the Spirit,” the melody is much darker and ominous. This is reinforced by the rhythm section, whose dynamics are heightened at the beginning of the song when they play two strong quarter notes at the end of each measure. The rhythm of each song differs, either becoming more complex like in “Lost Land” or becoming more simplistic such as in “Mother Earth.” The continuous transformation from the rhythm section assists in the feeling of multiple events with different levels of significance occurring one after the other as if the album were telling a story. 

If you want to be immersed in a world similar to that of Lord of the Rings or Dungeons and Dragons, The Majestic Garden by The Inner Road is the album for you. With the assistance of musical elements such as the use of minor scales and the irregularity of the rhythm in each song, The Majestic Garden contributes to prog by adding a layer of fantasy that had been rarely seen before in the genre. 

Key tracks Include: "Call of The Spirit" "The Majestic Garden" "Mother Earth" “Fire of Life”

Ana McLaughlin-Contributor
October 3, 2019

1. The Majestic Garden
2. Call of the Spirit
3. Wind from the Reeds
4. Fire of Life
5. Lost Land
6. Changing Sea
7. Water Well
8. Mother Earth
9. Circle of Shadows


Progressive Rock-Jazz -Fusion Review: Yuval Ron-Somewhere in the Universe Somebody Hits a Drum

Release Date:  October 3, 2019
Label:  Wrong Notes Music

6-years in the making, progressive and jazz fusion guitarist, Yuval Ron has released six other-worldly arrangements sure to please staunch prog-rock enthusiasts and jazz aficionados alike. 

One look at the album art and a minute into the opening title track, you'll realize you're about to explore a new musical world and boldly go where no listener has gone before. You'll hear yodeling, synth landscapes, xylophone interludes, and virtuosic guitar riffs riding on the rhythm of thick, syncopating drumbeats. Along the journey, you'll experience moments of weightlessness followed by playful interludes followed by turbo thrusts where the universe flies past you in a blur. 

Like many of his influences, Yuval Ron has collaborated with several musicians in several bands, including the influential Residents of The Future. His talents cannot be constrained to the fixed structure of a single band. Yuval Ron assembles musicians for a project based on the vision in his head.

For Somewhere in the Universe Somebody Hits a Drum, he recruited renowned prog-rock drummer Marco Minnemann who has worked with Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats, and others. Mr. Minnemann's influence is hard to ignore, providing the grounding for complex synth and guitar solos as well as flashes of brilliance such as "Wifi in Emerald City" when his drumming emerges into the forefront but does not overtake the composition. 

Not one of these six tracks sounds indulgent or derivative. Yuval Ron democratizes the talent he's assembled. He shares the spotlight, letting the solos fly and then return to form a colorful assembly of textured sound. You'll feel as if you're on a journey of discovery. You won't know where you are, you won't know where you're going, but you'll be thrilled to be on the ride.  

Key Tracks Include: “Gravitational Lensing”, “Wifi in Emerald City”, “I Believe in Astronauts”

Tom Endyke – Staff
October 3, 2019

Reviews Provided By:
Rate The Tracks

1. Somewhere in This Universe Somebody Hits a Drum
2. Gravitational Lensing
3. Kuiper Belt
4. WiFi in Emerald City
5. The Discovery of Phoebe
6. I Believe in Astronauts


Progressive Rock Review: 3.2-The Rules Have Changed

Release Date: August 10, 2018

If you remember the album The Power of 3 (1988) then you will find familiarity with The Rules Have Changed. I remember the album but what really left an impression on me was Robert Berry. I interviewed Robert in March of 1999 in conjunction with the ELP Tribute Encores, Legends and Paradox. I still treasure all of those prog tribute CDs Magna Carta released. It was an exciting time with fond memories.

Robert and Keith Emerson were discussing reforming 3 and ideas were formulating. The unfortunate passing of Emerson put everything into a different perspective for Robert, as one would suspect. Indeed, The Rules Have Changed. After Emerson’s death in 2016, he was left with the keyboard legends final musical ideas for the project. Everything from old cassette tapes, keyboard parts written over the phone and long discussions between the two friends about style, the framework of the album were set and ready to be produced. 

I thought providing some of the back stories would be interesting. I also listened to an interview with Robert discussing everything and what I found was more than a multi-talented musician, but an honest and caring man that lost a dear friend. He was speechless when he visited Emerson’s grave. I can understand why.
So, Robert decided to move forward with the project in dedication to Emerson and in the true spirit of the music decided to create the 3.2 version of the band. The end result is a fantastic eight-track album. Robert said he could feel Keith while he was playing. I do not doubt that for a second. As I was listening, I was asking myself “Which part is Keith playing” not realizing the entire story and that Robert actually played all the parts!
The Rules Have Changed is an excellent recording from beginning to end in my humble opinion. It was not hard for me to appreciate it being a big ELP fan and admirer of Keith’s solo works and Robert’s as well. I saw this listening opportunity as a can’t miss experience. And it most certainly proved to be so.

“Powerful Man” is about Keith being a father from a distance with his son. And on the flip side, his son watching his father on stage and becoming inspired by the power of the music he was creating. I thought it was a great choice for a title and the words are inspirational and uplifting and the music is as well. I watched the video (included here) and got chills.

Two of the more interesting and entertaining tracks are “The Letter,” which starts with an acoustic guitar and Robert singing in uncharacteristic gruff tone (think whiskey-soaked blues like) and then the song continues to build and change into what you would come to expect in a Berry song.

“Your Mark on The World” is a track that I am sure Keith would have loved. It is a crazy prog rock track with a circus-like atmosphere. It made me think of one thing. Who can forget (if you were alive at the time) Keith spinning around in the air at ELP’s performance at the first California Jam? Man, that was unbelievable, but then again so was ELP and Mr. Emerson.

After hearing The Rules Have Changed, I felt inspired to write about it as soon as I could. I felt joy, elation, and some sadness while listening. But after all isn’t that what music is all about, people, the human condition. 

Thank you, Robert Berry, for a wonderful tribute to one of the greatest ivory ticklers the world has had the pleasure to enjoy. The beauty of the memories will carry on forever thanks to what he left behind.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 22, 2019

Founder of:

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

1. One by One
2. Powerful Man
3. The Rules Have Changed
4. Our Bond
5. What You’re Dreaming Now
6. Somebody’s Watching
7. This Letter
8. Your Mark on The World

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