Sunday 29 July 2012

Nemo - Presages (2003)

The second album from this French eclectic art rock band.

Nemo is by no means an easy listening band. Their music and sound is both huge, eclectic and very complex. Sixty-four minutes with this album is a bit of a trial.

Presages is a very French album with the typical eccentric French approach to art and prog rock. In this respect, it is in the Ange mould. But it is so much more than that. This album is incorporating everything from jazz to metal and symphonic prog. Herein lays it's problems too. It is simply a too big mouthful and it's concept is lacking a concept. It feels a bit of a mess, to be frank.

When that is said, most of the music here is very good. A bit bewildering, but still very good. Hence my rating. I may get used to Nemo now. Presages is my first exposure to them. So far, so good. But not more than that.

3 points

Mind - Structures (2012)

I am not sure where this band comes from as I only got the digital album from a friend and not any information. But I have been told they are from USA.

The music is English neo prog with some art and pomp rock connotations. You get the normal guitars and keyboards runs together with some good vocals. Bass and drums are included too. The usual neo prog setup in other words.

The music is pretty OK with a couple of good and interesting melody lines thrown into the mix. The overriding impression is that the music is pretty standard without really surprising me. I got tonnes of albums like this in my collection and has grown a bit wary of them. Mind does everything right 'but creating good melodies. This for me is a decent album, but nothing more.

2 points

Saturday 28 July 2012

Backyards - 2Eden (2012)

The second album in as many years by this French combo, the solo project by Marc Devidal from Morrigan.

This album continues on from the first album. That means a mix of jazzy and ambient keyboards soundscapes. The only instrument here is Marc Devidal's keyboards. Again, the reference is the likes of Karfagen, Jean Michel Jarre and Little Tragedies.

I cannot hide I am not particular interested in keyboards albums. This is most definate in this mould. The tracks here, all instrumental off course, is OK. There is no real good tracks here and the album really boils down to being one big ego trip on keyboards. Which is fair enough and there is a good market for these kinds of albums. This is a decent album in my ears and nothing more than that.

2 points

Friday 27 July 2012

Court - And You'll Follow The Winds' Rush 'Till Their Breath Dwells (1993)

The debut album from this Italian art rock band.

Their second album Distances from 1997 was a good album with a baroque feel. Unfortunate, this is not the case here. The very long and messy album title very much sums up this album. The vocals sounds like Geoff Tate from Queensryche and some of the music on this album also sounds like Queensryche. That inbetween some art rock and some baroque sounding melody lines.

It feels like the band was throwing everything at this album. The result is fish & chips with strawberry jam and ice cream. A collision of various styles which does not sit well together. This is a decent album, but nothing more.

2 points

Capture The Sun - Capture The Sun (2012)

The debut album from this US (?) band and a Bandcamp release. This album has also been released in an 8-bits version (!!!!) too. I am tempted to download that version too. This is a review of the normal version, though.

Despite of some rather fanciful and funny song titles, all songs, make that tracks, are instrumental post-metal. We are also talking technical metal here with a big slant of jazz too thrown in. Not to mention shoegaze and post rock too. The tracks are performed with walls of guitars, bass and drums. The tracks has some good melodies too. This album does not really stand out from the big instrumental post rock crowd. But the band has potential and this is their debut album. It is a name your price album too so please download it yourself and make up your own mind. It is a decent album in my view and it should really get them gigs and attention in the post metal scene. A scene I as a grumpy middle age man is not entirely comfortable in.

2 points

The album 

Thursday 26 July 2012

Thalassa - Suffer And Misery (1982)

A Belgium band with one album before they disappeared without a trace.

The year is 1982 and the prog is dead. The new thing is slick, commercial music and sound. Just like this album. The reference is Saga and Magnum. Pomp rock, in other words. There is not much really prog rock here. Just some slick guitars and in particular; tangents. The thin male vocals is pretty bad. The music is not too bad though. A couple of good melodies brighten up this album.

This album does not impress me. It is a decent album, though.

2 points

Celtic Frost - Into The Pandemonium (1987)

Celtic Frost is without any doubts one of the most influential metal bands ever to have been spawned. Celtic Frost was formed on the ruins of Hellhammer, a band who greatly inspired the black metal scene (together with Venom and Bathory). Celtic Frost's debut album To Mega Therion was also highly influential in that scene. However, they turned around 180 degrees on their second album, Into The Pandemonium.

Into The Pandemonium starts with a pretty Wall Of Voodoo cover called Mexican Radio. The only really straight song on this album. The album takes a very sharp turn to the left from there on and in. I bought this album back in 1987 because I thought their name sounded a bit thrash metal. I got a big shock. But I really liked this album back then although I did not really understand it. These days and with a lot more experience, I can safely describe Into The Pandemonium as a mix of RIO (Rock In Opposition), zeuhl and avant-garde metal. In fact, Into The Pandemonium is founding album of the avant-garde scene and very much reverred in the scene as that.

Listening to this album now, it is one of the albums that has stood the test of time. I actually feel it is a lot better now than back in 1987. Some metal tracks intertvined with some Aranis chamber orchestra baroque melodies. This album never get boring. The sound is a bit muddy, but that suits this mostly atonal music. The songs are great too. This is one of the strangest albums ever to be released in the metal and avant-garde scene. Celtic Frost pulled it off though and delivered a jewel. My only gripe is the lack of one or two brilliant songs. This album goes into my top 50 list.

4 points

Anglagard - Epilog (1994)

The second album from this Swedish band.

Their debut album Hybris very much re-launched the Scandinavian prog metal scene again. Hybris is a masterpiece (given 5 points by me) and it was impossible for the band to better that one. Epilog was also the final Anglagard album for a long while until they resurfaced earlier this year with Viljans Oga and some gigs.

Over to the music...... Epilog follows up Hybris and in the same style. Though with far less good melodies and some RIO (Rock In Opposition) connotations throughout. I find a lot of Aranis in their music in addition to the normal Scandinavian melancholy and folk music. The music is still symphonic. Though with this added RIO element. I really like RIO so no problems there. My gripe with Epilog is though the lack of any great songs and melodies. Although the term "songs" are misleading. This album is an instrumental album, performed with moog, mellotron, guitars, flutes, bass and drums.

In short; this is a good album which only sporadic shows signs of the greatness from Hybris.

3.5 points

Amon Düül II - Carnival in Babylon (1972)


The fourth album from this German krautrock band takes the band into a new territory. Renate Knaup's vocals is pretty dominant here on the top of some more folk rock inspired krautrock. This is still Amon Duul II and krautrock. But not as I know it.

The sound is good and the krautrock feel is still here. The vocals is a bit over the top at times. The guitars still haunting. The bass and drums is still busy bees. The tempo has been turned down a couple of notches and most of the jazz feel has gone. Gone too has the great songs. This is still a good album. But it is not an Amon Duul II album I will play a lot, I am afraid. Anyway, this is a good album.

3 points

Venegoni & Co - Rumore Rosso Vivo (2002)

A live album with a 1978 gig, released 24 years later.

Venegoni & Co was a band with one foot in the Italian prog scene and the other one in the fusion/jazz scene. Arti E Mesteri is a very good reference as Gigi Venegoni was also involved in that band. Venegoni & Co never became as famous as that band though. But their two first albums Rumore Rosso and Sarabande is two great albums though.

The material on this album is taken from those two albums. The music is a mix of folk, rock and fusion. You get long jazzy guitar runs combined with some rather catchy, folk music inspired songs. All is very Italian though. The sound is not satisfying here and that is a great shame. The music itself is great. The sound pretty bad. Hence my points here. Get the two above mentioned studio albums instead.

3 points

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Orcus Chylde - Orcus Chylde (2012)

The debut album from this German band.

The band has labelled their music as stoner rock. Strange.... I was listening to both Amon Duul II and Can before turning my attention to this album. Stoner rock is probably 2010'ish speak for krautrock because this album comes across as a mix of Amon Duul II's Carnival In Babylon album, a bit Can, Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane and indie rock. I know the stoner rock genre pretty well too and I would put this album on the more melodic side of the scene.

The vocals are females. The music is based on guitars, Hammond organ, drums and bass. The songs are very good. None of the songs are really great. This is a very good debut album though and it is obvious this band knows what they are doing. This is one of the bands well worth keeping an eye on in the future.
I for once will keep my eyes on them.

3.5 points

Backyards - Horizon (2011)

A new French band with their debut album. Labelling it as a band is probably wrong. I suspect this is a solo project for Marc Devidal, ex tangent player in Merlin and Morrigan. He also plays all instruments on this album. Which is keyboards and sampled other instruments, I believe is a fair assumption.

This album has been listed as a neo-prog albums several places. But that is missing the boat by many miles in my view. The music here is pretty much in the Russian/Eastern European keyboards tradition. Little Tragedies and Karfagen springs to mind. Ambient like symphonic rock with some jazz influences, in other words. Sterile music in the case of this album, I would like to add too. This album is a keyboards-fest and little more than that.

Most of the music is decent enough. Nothing here really impresses me. The music is a bit too dynamic to pass as elevator/shopping mall music. That is all it's saving grace, really. This is a half decent album which may appeal to those into keyboards overkills.

1.5 points

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Lo Sono Nato Libero (1973)

The third album from this Italian band. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso was/is one of the pillars of the Italian progressive rock. A status built on partly this album.

This fifty-five minutes long album contains a mix of classical music inspired rock, folk rock, pop and baroque music. The vocals is operatic. The sound is dominated by this classical moog and mellotron sound. It is helped along by piano, guitars, bass and drums too. The music is both symphonic and pastoral. It is also riveting dynamic in places too. There is a lot of variations on this album in musical themes.

My only gripe is the lack of a killer track. But this is still a great album and one of those albums which defines this genre.

4 points

Gli Apostholi - Ho Smesso Di Vivere (1979)

An Italian band founded in 1964. This though is their debut album.

The vocals are in Italian and the music too is pretty much typical song orientated Italian folk rock pop. Angelo Branduardi is a good reference. All songs are vocals lead and built around the vocals. The vocals are supported by piano, guitars, drums, bass, harmonica and some keyboards. The music is on the pastoral, understated side.

The vocals are all good and same goes for the quality of the musicianship. The songs are all cosy and pleasant. Unfortunate, they are not particular good. This album is sadly missing in this respect. This album is a very decent album though.

2.5 points

Club Merano - High Road (2011)

Club Merano is a band set up by veterans in the Finnish rock scene and this is their debut album.

The music is art rock, bordering to AOR. Very melodic with plenty of tangents and guitars. The music has some good vocals too. This is middle of the road melodic art rock. Solid, good craft. Pleasant to the ear and elegant. The album also have some country and folk music influences too.

Although this is a good album, I am missing some great melodies. The music is pleasant and the band even have their own sound. But the lack of great melodies and the dot over the I is my biggest gripe with this album. Besides of that, this is an album which promises a lot. Club Merano should be followed with interest in the future. Their next album may be a masterpiece.

3 points

Sunday 22 July 2012

Present - C.O.D. Performance (1993)

The Belgium band returns after a long break with their third album.

Present is a splinter group from Univers Zero. They have played on many Rock In Opposition festivals and I believe they are also featured in the new movie Romantic Warriors II – A Progressive Music Saga: About Rock in Opposition. Or maybe not. In any case, they belong in that musical category.

Normally, that is. C.O.D. Performance is a deviance from their first two albums. Albums which was pretty crass brutal in it's avant garde sound paintings. C.O.D. Performance though is very pedestrian with little left of what made me really enjoy their first two albums. The music on C.O.D. Performance is almost post rock and ambient. There are even some vocals here too and some normal rock melodies. Thankfully, the end of the album, Alone 2, has some good avant garde harsh guitars which for me is what Present is all about. The rest of the album is not particular good.

This is a big step in the wrong direction for the band and only a decent album from a band I really like.

2 points

Solterra - Soul » Earth » Sun (2012)

The debut album from this Fort Collins, Colorado, USA band. A trio, no less.

The music is instrumental music in the crossroad between experiemental metal and post rock. The music has a lot of jazz influences too. Not to mention gypsy music too with Django Reinhardt type of acoustic guitar picking. That and some Spanish folk music and more traditional rock too. This album is pretty lively throughout and not the typical post rock experiemental metal stuff. The music is pretty innovative and untraditional to my ears.

The music is dominated by both acoustic and electric guitars. That and the usual bass and drums. It also has some good sampled strings too.

The band is advertising for gigs on their Bandcamp page. A good choice from the band as this music is probably far better on stage than on this album. An album that is suffering from a focal point and focus. Instrumental albums like this is a difficult thing to listen too. But with a beer/red wine and in the live setting, this music should be a hit among both gigs promoters, bars and the audience. I would like to come myself and pay for it.

I am between decent (2) and good (3) here. But their originality and gutso brings it up to a good album status.

3 points

The album 

Saturday 21 July 2012

Renaissance - Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories (2011)

Hmm..... I am not sure if the album was released in 2011 or this year as I got the promo copy some days ago from their managment. Maybe it has been re-released this year. The full title is also Turn Of The Cards & Scheherazade And Other Stories - Live In Concert.

Both Turn Of The Cards and Scheherazade And Other Stories is two excellent albums and cornerstones in their history. Not to mention; female fronted prog/art rock. Renaissance has toured the world with a back to back rendition of these two albums during the last two years. I believe they did this set on this year's Nearfest too. But I am not sure.

Annie Haslam is still going strong at the grand age of 58. Most female vocals is not anywhere near her, with the only notable exception of Kate Bush. Annie Haslam is still the queen bee in the society of female vocalists. The other pillar in Renaissance, Michael Dunford, is also going strong and the rest of  the band also does a brilliant job too. I could almost bet my house on this album being recorded in 1975 or thereabout. But it is not.

The songs are in itself excellent and I am an unrepenting fan of this band. Renaissance is in my top five list of the best bands of all time. The material on this 100 minutes long album is superb. Is this live album a masterpiece ? No. But it is still 100 minutes of pure joy. It is also an album I will keep close to my heart and easy at hand forever.

4.5 points

Magma - Attahk (1978)

Magma's seventh album and the routine has set in.

Magma delivered some really great stuff on the previous albums and set a formula. A formula this album is following. With one notably addition, that is. Gospel is not what I expected to find on a zeuhl album. Maybe the difference between gospel and zeuhl is not that great, after all. Gospel has been incorporated on this album. Besides of that, you know what you get. The full Magma zeuhl treatment.

My gripe is the lack of cutting edge and teeth on this album. Listening to some previous albums made me both fulfilled and tired. They had both teeth and blood. The bass has been tuned down on this album and it also has some good melodies, replacing this all out attack an Magma album is. Besides of the follow up album, Merci, this album is the Magma album with least attack, so to speak. Ironic to name a pretty docile album for Attahk. But that is Christian Vander for you.

The material here is very good. It still leave me lusting for more teeth, more blood and more zeuhl. Attahk is a nice cat and nothing more.

3 points

Piezo - Scene I : Harlequin (2012)

Another good debut album and band from Quebec, keeping the prog/art rock scene alive. The Quebec scene has always been a great one and "Quebec" is a stamp of quality.

Piezo is in the neo-prog and art rock tradition. This is a concept album and the first song Hope - A Walk Under the Sun is very much in the The Tangent tradition. So much that I sent The Tangent c/o their manager a Facebook message, recommending them to take a listen to this album. Which they should be although only half of that song is very much like The Tangent (come to think of it; The Tangent's sound is a Quebec like). This English band is though a very good reference to this album as a whole. A concept album full of intelligent melodic art/prog rock with both a slight metal and jazz edge.

The line up is guitars, tangents, bass, drums and vocals with some nice helpings of sound samples too. The vocals is good. The sound is very good. That makes Scene I : Harlequin an enjoyable listen. My main gripe is the lack of some great songs. This being a debut album, it is a well done job and I hope we will hear a lot more from this band again. This album is both offered as a digital download and as a CD from their homepage. See link below.

3 points

The album 

Tardive Dyskinesia - Distorting Point of View (2006)

The debut album from this Greek experimental hardcore/metal band.

The album takes of as a gunshot in the direction of hardcore land. A hellish racket in other words. Tardive Dyskinesia has been compared to Meshuggah and that sort of technical metal band. The first two thirds of this album is in that direction. That and a lot of sound samples. Chugging guitars, bass and drums with hardcore vocals. The antithesis of melodic. The last one third of this album is far more melodic than the rest of this album.

The melodic parts of this album is not particular interesting and neither is the rest. This is a debut album and it will appeal to the fans of this music. I am not. I don't like these new metal genres at all so I have to declare myself out and non-interested.

1 point

Friday 20 July 2012

Electric Swan - Swirl In Gravity (2012)

Electric Swan is a side project of the Italian band Wicked Minds and this is their debut album.

It is fair to label both Electric Swan and the album Swirl In Gravity a tribute to the old hard rock scene. Bands like Deep Purple, for example. Include Jimi Hendrix's backing band too. The 1970'ish Hammond organ sound is pretty much everywhere on Swirl In Gravity (Jon Lord, R.I.P). There is also plenty of bluesy guitars too here. Both electric and half-acoustic guitars. Monica Sardella's very powerful vocals also adds guts and power to the album. Her vocals is very good.

The music is too bluesy for my liking and the songs are really not that good. But I like the sound of the album and I admit it may have some potential in my living room. More there than in my office. Maybe as a party album. The band should really take this album on the road as it is perfect live music. I give it a weak three pointer and with the hope we will get more albums from this band.

3 points

Thursday 19 July 2012

Tritonus - Between The Universes (1976)

The second and final album from this German band. A band lead by the art-student Peter K. Seiler. Both their albums can be found on a budget 2 albums on 1 CD.

Tritonus first album was a mix of ELP and krautrock. The second album continues in the same direction. It opens with some ELP like and symphonic pop melodies and continues more into krautrock after that. The music is pretty spacy at times with long journeys into outer space.

The quality is good throughout and I am keeping this album in my living room. Peter K. Seiler continued his musical journey in Sirius and their two albums.  He made a good impression with Tritonus and if you can find that two albums on one CD, you should really pick it up. This music is good.

3 points

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Infamy - The Blood Shall Flow (1998)

One of the better death metal albums from Repulse Records and out of print, I believe.
Infamy has finally made it on CD after the death of their main-man Joshua Heatley. This album is a fitting tribute to him.

Infamy does mid tempo and not overly technical Death Metal. The vocals are pretty death grunts. The sound a bit muddy. The bass is in the fore of the mix and the guitars are very muddy and down in the mix. The same goes for the drums. The bass is the king here.

I really liked this album back in 1998. Today though, this album is more like putting me to sleep for some hours than really intellectually stimulating. I have to admit mid quality death metal albums like this is no longer my cup of tea. This is by far not the worst suffering I have had to put up with from the death metal scene this year. But as I said; it is putting me to sleep. If you can get hold of this out of print album, give it a try.

2 points

Dogwatch - Penfriend (1979)

A live album from this British band I know absolute nothing about. This album was sold to me as a Genesis copycat, the Peter Gabriel era. I was fooled.

Dogwatch was a band with theatrical, dramatic music. I get some Ange associations here. The band was in the punk and pub rock tradition though. Ian Drury springs to mind as a good reference. The instruments were violins, organs, guitars, bass and drums.

The music is pretty decent and their songs were not too bad. The sound quality, mediocre bootleg quality, spoils the fun though. I have heard it cost next to nothing to record this album and it shows. Avoid this album.

1 point

Macroscream - Sisyphus (2012)

The debut album from this new Italian band.

Stylewise, we are talking Italian prog rock. The title track is clocking in at twenty-three minutes. The music is folk music based symphonic rock. The difference is the absence of mellotron and moog. It has been replaced with violins. That and the English vocals is the only difference between this band and the likes of Le Orme and the Italian greats from the 1970s. Those bands and albums I love.

To my horror, I do not love this album. The English vocals is too nasal for my liking. The songs are not great. I am missing the old Rock Progressivo Italiano sound based on mellotron and moog. Macroscream has moved the Italian sound on and I have been left behind. This is a good album though and well worth checking out. I will though come back to this album later on and see if I feel the same again. Two weeks and numerous listening sessions is not enough with this album, I suspect.

3 points

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Renaissance - Illusion (1970)

Their second album and the final album from this version of Renaissance which later formed the band Illusion who released four albums. Two albums in the 1970s and two albums at the turn of the millenium.

Renaissance was Yardbirds minus the guitarist + Jane Relf and John Hawken. Broadly speaking, that is. I am not a historian on this band. For me, and I repeat myself from the review of their debut album... Renaissance is the Annie Haslam version, the Renaissance mk # 2 setup.
The reason I mentioned Yardbirds here is that they went more back to edgy blues on this album after a pretty bland flower power debut album. The classical music influences which in particular became the trademark of Mk # 2 of Renaissance is still here. There is plenty of flower power here. What is missing is any good songs and melody lines. There are some decent melody lines scattered throughout. I do get the feeling that the band had run empty. The following Illusion albums with the same line up is better than this album. This album is decent and nothing more.

2 points

Kansas - Song For America (1975)

The second album from Kansas and probably their breakthrough album too.

Kansas more or less founded this unique American symph prog style. A blend of Yes, Genesis, country, bluegrass and commercial AOR. A style taken up by a lot of other bands. Even new bands like Pinnacle. That is basically the style of music on this album. Tracks like the title track, Lamplight Symphony and Incomudro is very much leaning towards the complexity of Yes though. Both Lamplight Symphony and the title track is superb tracks which really makes this a great album. This album is much more symphonic orientated than melody orientated. This is Kansas going symphonic prog.

The result is a great album with great, complex songs. An album with a great sound too. In short; check it out.

4 points

Ars De Er - Deux (2012)

The debut album from this band from Belorussia. The band has been active since 2003 with various gigs in their local area before they now has unleashed their music on the rest of us.

The music is RIO (Rock In Opposition) with obvious referenses to Aranis and Univers Zero. The music is performed as a chamber orchestra with mainly acoustic instruments. The music is mostly dark and sinister. It reminds me a lot about Present at times. The piano and bass drags the music into a very dark, nightmare like territory. There are also a lot of lighter moments in the music, performed with woodwinds and harp.

The quality is very good throughout. It can be argued the music may be too similar to the big RIO masters and that Ars De Er is struggling to find their own identity. In a narrow music genre, it is not easy to stake out new ground. Ars De Er makes me want to listen to the Aranis and the Univers Zero albums again. That and the other RIO albums I have got, hidden away in a corner of my office. Deux is a very good intro to the RIO genre and this band. I hope we will hear a lot more from them in the future.

3.5 points

Sunday 15 July 2012

Noco Music - Noco Music (1987)

A French band with 3 - 4 albums on their conscience. I believe this is their debut album.

Noco Music was playing a blend of soft jazz and symph prog with a South American flavour. Mostly soft jazz, though. They can be compared with Passport. The leading instrument is the saxophone. It is supported by some tangents, percussions and bass. The music is a bit too shopping mall for my liking. But this album also has some rather more intelligent melody lines too. Some of the melodies are also pretty good too with some good pastoral soft solos.

Despite of some good melodies scattered around, this album never really captures my interest throughout. It is a bit too dull for my liking. Check it out if you like melodic jazz with plenty of saxophones. The rest of us can safely bypass it.

2 points

Coralspin - Honey and Lava (2012)

A new'ish band from the midlands area of England. I guess that means Birmingham or there about.

Both the band and other reviews lists Led Zeppelin, Queen, Muse, Gentle Giant and Genesis as the main influence on the band. I am not so sure about Led Zeppelin, but Coralspin is broadly speaking a mix of the other bands. Ellie Blyth's high pitch vocals takes some time to get used to. So does the two keyboards attack with support by guitars, bass and drums. The keyboards are pretty dominant here. Those and Ellie Blyth's vocals. That makes Coralspin stand out from the numerous other female fronted English prog/art rock bands these days. Standing out from the crowd is indeed a good idea these days.

The songs on this, their debut album, is both lush and warm. The melodies is pretty interesting and the band knows how to spice up their songs with a lot of Gentle Giant'ish twists and turns. A couple of great tracks is sorely missing though. This band does have a lot of talent though and may become a great band in the future. This album is most definate worth investigating and it is both streamed and offered for sale on the link below.

3 points

The album

Saturday 14 July 2012

Altona - Chicken Farm (1975)

The second and final album from this German band. I was not a fan of their debut album. I was not particular impressed by this album during the first couple of listening sessions too.

The first half of this album continues on from their debut album. A mix of blues and jazz in other words. The instruments are plenty of woodwinds, bass, drums, vocals, hammond organs and guitars. The album changes a lot on side b of the LP though. A good Soft Machine like part starts of the proceedings and we enters a more darkened landscape with some good vocals and melody lines. The final three tracks on this album, Back Again, Feigenblatt and the title track is very good and elevates this album to another level again. It is a pity it took Altona this long to really get going. The title track is a dark, foreboding song which reminds me a lot about Van Der Graaf Generator. A mix of them and blues. A great track, indeed.

This is a good album and just that. Altona split up and was largely forgotten. And they will remain so, I am afraid.

3 points

Glass Kites - Glass Kites (2012)

Glass Kites is a five piece band from Vancouver, Canada. This is their debut album and it has been released through Bandcamp as a "name your price" album.

The music is a blend of melancholic rock and post rock.  The instrumentation is guitars as in post rock guitars with ebbs and flows, some very good vocals, bass, drums, piano and synths. The music ebbs and flows a lot. It is mostly on the epic flows side with tonnes of half acoustic guitars in the sound. There are also some electronica and some very clever Chick Corea like jazzy pianos here.

Comparissions with other bands..... Gazpacho is a very good reference. All fans of that band will probably find Glass Kites a highly enjoyable experience. There is a lot more post rock to Glass Kites though and fans of both post rock and indie pop will also really find themselves at home in this album.

The songs are all good to very good. The main problem with this album is the lack of any truly great songs. This is a debut album though and a very good one from a band I hope we will hear a lot more about in the future.

3.5 points

The album

Friday 13 July 2012

District 97 - Trouble With Machines (2012)

District 97 is an American band and Trouble With Machines is their second studio album. Their debut album Hybrid Child was released in 2010 to critical acclaim. They have also released two live albums (!).
This band is regarded as the new big thing in the rock/prog scene and has got good support from Laser's Edge.

District 97 is female fronted and Ms. Leslie Hunt does a great job at the microphone. She is helped by John Wetton on one track. The music is a mix of neo prog, prog metal, a lot of pomp rock and a lot of symphonic prog. It falls well within the Art Rock label. The songs are both long, epic and intricate. At times, the music is very majestic and epic. But most of all; District 97 reminds me about the many female fronted English bands now. Touchstone, Panic Room etc etc. District 97 is a US band though and that shines through. Less neo prog, more pomp rock in other words.

The songs are all very good. My only gripe with this album is the lack of any true great songs and/or melody lines. The one missing ingredient which sets them apart from the rest of the female fronted bands. I have no problems understanding why this band is so highly regarded though. This album may not break them, though.

3.5 points 

Thursday 12 July 2012

Altair - La Eseencia Del Tiempo (2011)

A best of with this rather short lived Spanish band. They released two albums in the 1990s called Altair (1990) and Fantasías Y Danzas (1999) + a live album. And now, this best of album which also includes two live tracks.

This band has been described as ELP copycats, movie soundtrack makers and an eclectic prog band. They are all three in my opinion. This best off album proves that.  All songs...sorry, make that tracks.... are instrumental and drenched with keyboards. The keyboards are supported by a real drummer and a real bassist too. Which adds vital organic life, quality and dynamics to the tracks.

It opens with this great movie soundtrack sounding Estrella En El Camino which by far is their best ever track. The rest of the album is a bit more eclectic and avant garde introvert. With the notable exception of the above mentioned track, there are no real great tracks here. But the music never really become boring or dull. Altair was a good band in their too brief career and this best off compilation is well worth the purchase. It is a good compilation.

3 points

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd (1973)

I never thought I would get into southern rock after buying a Molly Hatchet cassette 25 years ago and thoroughly hating it. Allman Brothers has also left me cold. This album, Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album, also left me lukewarm after the first couple of listening sessions. Then it really started to grow on me.... Now, I find myself writing this review.

Southern rock has been described as a mix of country, gospel, hard rock and blues. It has now been lumped in with country'n'western into this Americana genre. Americana has been described as original American music and southern rock most definate belongs in this umbrella genre.

Lynyrd Skynyrd and this album is most definate U S A written with big letters and proclaimed from all hilltops. They are as honest American you can be. This album is a mix of blues, gospel, country, bluegrass and long haired rebels living in the south states. What strikes me most about this album is it's honesty. It is so down to the roots honest. Ronnie Van Zant's vocals is so sore honest & brilliant and I arrest myself in mourning his passing, 35 years ago. What a loss ! What a loss !

The quality of the album is great throughout. That is...... The songs itself is not that great and is really not my style. Their honesty and their vibes still makes this a great album. Then we have Freebird. One of the greatest anthems ever to come out of USA. The Star Spangled Banner of it's time. It is a truly brilliant song and with lyrics I (unfortunate) can identify with. I love that song. A song I had heard about, but never heard until this year. A short and passionate love affair, in other words.

Despite of it's shortcomings, Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd is a true great American album and one album well worth investing your hard earned money in.

I am genuine interested in this band now and will get the four other pre-plane crash albums.

4 points

Uriah Heep - Very 'eavy...Very 'umble (1970)

I have to admit I have never really been interested in this band. This despite of never hearing a tone from this band. When a big collection was offered to me from a friend, I reluctantly accepted the offer. The song Salisbury turned me into very interested, though. But that is another review, another day.

Very 'eavy...Very 'umble is their debut album and it starts with one of their biggest hits Gypsy. A much loved song, I have been told. It is a good, majestic song too. The rest of the album is a mix of heavy rock and slower, more Hammond organ based rock. Vintage rock from this period, that is. This is by no means an all out heavy rock album. It has it's more pastoral melody lines too.

This is a debut album which sets out their stall. It is a decent album, but nothing more. It has not turned me away from this band though and more reviews will follow in dribs and drabs later on.

2 points

Pinnacle - A Blueprint For Chaos (2012)

The third album from these US progsters.

A bird has been twittering into my ears that their two previous albums A Man's Reach (2003) and Meld (2006) was not particular good albums. They are both streamed at their Bandcamp page and I may check them out later. If my source is correct, Pinnacle has taken one giant leap in the right direction on A Blueprint For Chaos.

The album starts out with some strong Saga references on the opening track Some Just Sleep and then moves onto the likes of fellow Toronto residents Rush before jumping across the border to Kansas. The band Kansas, that is. Add a lot of Yes and some Jethro Tull too and you get this album. There is no direct copycat involved, except from some cheeky bars from a Deep Purple song halfway through a song. Pinnacle have their own style and that style is a revival of the good old American prog rock sound.

The guitars, keyboards, drums and bass are all great. The same goes for the vocals. The music is full of intricate details and songs. This is exactly what my prog-doctor ordered. The best song here by many miles are Music Man. I would almost say they got a hit single on their hand here. Check out the stream yourself and agree/disagree with me.

A Blueprint For Chaos is indeed a great album. Those into the good old American prog sound would even label it as a brilliant album. A couple of more superb songs in addition to the Music Man would had elevated this album to classic and legend status. Check it out.

4 points

The Bandcamp album 

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Them - The Angry Young Them (1965)

When I lived in Belfast, I sometimes enjoyed an early morning breakfast in a cafe in the more bohemian part of Belfast. I lived in that area. Van Morrison was always sitting at the corner table, reading a newspaper and eating his breakfast. He was left undisturbed and nobody pestered him. Which is why Belfast is so popular among the artists and celebs. In Belfast, you are just a normal person in one of the strangest and finest towns on this planet. I have seen Bono, Edge and other musicians in Belfast being treated as normal persons. Belfast itself is the biggest star in Belfast and nobody can compete with it. I love Belfast.

During my final two breakfasts in that cafe, Van Morrison made a point of saying hello to me. That was a massive compliment from a very private man. I said hello back and that was it. I am not a fan, but I respect him.

Belfast born Van Morrison is one of the greatest artists of today. Them was his band and I believe this is the first album he ever did in a very long career. He stayed with this band, a Belfast band, for two albums before he went solo. Them had a short career. They were highly influential though and their innovative take in rock'n'roll, soul and blues can be found everywhere in today's scene. Style wise, they were not too far away from The Rolling Stones. Add some soul (Read: Van Morrison's vocals) and flower power beat to the mix and you get Them.

The biggest hit here is Gloria. This is a song still covered by numerous other bands on albums and on stage. A good song. The rest of the album feels outdated. This is still a decent album anno 2012. It is very much worth checking out though and may give you a very good time.

2 points

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Ga'an - Ga'an (2009)

Ga'an is something as rare as a new zeuhl band and they are from USA too. Chicago, to be more precise. I find it strange that the zeuhl genre has any more recruitment than it has. The post rock genre is over populated and so is the other genres too. Dipping into the zeuhl genre should be ideal for new bands. It is probably the smallest music genre there is. Even smaller than Mongolian sheep & goat chanting, I believe.

Ga'an is combining electronica and zeuhl on this, their debut album. Female vocals with no spoken words are on the top. These vocals is very zeuhl and Magma like. The instrumentation is a mix of electronica and zeuhl performed with mostly synths, a rampant bass and dynamic drums. The music is mostly zeuhl, it has to be said.

The result is an enchanting album with a lot of good vibes. Unfortunate, it is a bit too one-dimentional and toothless for my liking. A bit more bite would had been great. But this is still a very good album and a great addition to the zeuhl genre. I am really looking forward to listen to their second album too.

3.5 points

Karcius - The First Day (2012)

Karcius is a band from Montreal, Canada If I am not much wrong, this is their fourth album. Their first album was released back in 2004 and they have been releasing albums on a regular basis since then.

I have been reading reviews of their previous albums where they have been described as an instrumental fusion band. Something very radical must have happened since the release of their previous album Episodes in 2008. Gone is fusion and it has been replaced with a middle of the road art rock sound and melodies. Yes, I have checked. This Karcius is the same as the Karcius who released the three fusion albums. See their homepage. Karcius has even got a vocalist. A Sting sounding vocalist. His vocals colours a lot of the music too as this album sometimes sounds like a Sting album. The music is both a bit heavy, symphonic and jazzy. The fusion has not been totally abandoned. But they have moved into a safe, commercial art rock territory which may win them new fans, possibly replacing their old fans who may feel abandoned by this album.

The overall quality is good throughout. I am not particular enthused by this album though. It sorely lacks both an identity and some great songs. I have though heard far worse art rock albums than this. The songs here may be better on stage than in an office environment (where I am now). Check out this album if art rock with Sting vocals is your cup of tea.

3 points

Monday 9 July 2012

Dissonati - Reductio Ad Absurdum (2012)

A new band from Seattle, USA with this, their debut album.

The band photo reveals that the members of this band has lived a long life and has seen it all. Not at least, heard it all. The listening sessions also make me believe this band has heard it all too. The music on Reductio Ad Absurdum is a crossover between King Crimson, Italian symphonic prog, rock, jazz, eclectic prog, Van Der Graaf Generator, Kansas, Rio (Rock In Opposition), Canterbury scene and actually some subtle zeuhl too. The instrumentation is drums, bass, tangents, guitars and saxophone. That and some good vocals too.

Those who knows that other weird Seattle band, Moraine, will find a lot of joy in this album. To my knowledge, these two bands are on a friendly footing too. I would almost label Dissonati and Moraine as twins. But not quite... There are some differences though. Reductio Ad Absurdum is a lot more melodic and rock songs orientated album than Moraine's album. When that is said, Dissonati also has their avant-garde moments. In short, this is a truly eclectic prog rock album. Or maybe it is a Canterbury scene album. I cannot decide. Anyway.....

Not everything on this album is great. This album is a debut album and it straddles a lot of genres during it's fifty minutes. Most of the songs are also surprisingly catchy. You may want to dance too when listening to this album. Though catchy, there is always an avant-garde eclectic twist in the songs.
The best song on this album, the closing VDGG sounding The Sleeper, is in many respect tying up all the loose ends on this album and joining them up into a truly majestic piece of music. A superb song which elevates this album to a new level again.

This is a great album in my view and well worth checking out. The cover art work is also great too. Link to the (free to try) album has been enclosed.

4 points

The Reductio Ad Absurdum album 

Doracor - Antiche Impressioni (1999)

The third album from this Italian band.

I did not like the previous two albums. Too much synths and soulless ELP adoration without any good melodies. Antiche Impressioni is more of the same, but with a twist.

Doracor is still synth based and without much else than synths. The first thing I notice though when giving Antiche Impressioni some spins is the Italian vocals and some Italian symphonic prog song structures. There is not much of them, but they offers some good variations and quality too. Good songs, they are. The melodies on the first half of this album is good. Doracor's old sins with soulless bombastic synths runs comes to the fore at the final half of this album.

Doracor is still an acquired taste and too much in the soulless synth land for my liking. But this album is a pretty big improvement on the two previous albums. Under serious doubts, I give it two and a half points.

2.5 points

Sunday 8 July 2012

Baba Yaga - Collage (1974)

The first of altogether two albums from this German band. A band who rests well within the Krautrock genre.

I have learned from the box of krautrock albums I have resently purchased that this genre has a lot of variety in it's expression. From the all out jazz assault to some pretty ambient stuff. This album is on the ambient side of the genre. It is so ambient there is barely any pulse in this album at all. Yes, I also like ambient krautrock albums as long as there is a concept and some purpose behind the music. There is no particular purpose in this album, though. Some piano, synths, electronica, drums and an Indian subcontinent feel in the beginning, replaced with nothing at the end. There are some subtle Soft Machine references here. But only faint. The sound quality is not bad. The quality of the material is bad, though.

Krautrock is a great genre. This album though is best both bypassed and ignored though.

1 point

Saturday 7 July 2012

Prisma - Prisma (1980)

A Dutch band with their only output, a private pressing in 1000 x released through their own label Prisma Records.

The music is a mix of Camel like symphonic prog, fusion, AOR and some funk. The vocals are in English. The instrumentations is electric guitars, tangents, congas, bass and drums.

The vocals are not bad. The band sounds good too. The sound is very slick and does not bite much. They sounds like a jazzed up Camel. Slick and very much like the 1980s. The synths sounds very dated. The songs are not particular good either. My guess is that they were turned down by the record labels before they released this album on their own. I understand the rejections. This is a decent album, but nothing more I am afraid. This is simply not a quality album. As simple as that.

2 points

Lazy Doll - Let The Profit Roll (2012)

The debut album from this French band, released through Musea. The cover art work is rather bizzarre and so is the band name. Not to mention; off putting and perhaps an own goal.

I am an avid fan of the French approach to music. In particular their rather weird take on the British progressive rock scene. Lazy Doll is unfortunate not among these bands. Lazy Doll is four friends who has a lot of fun incorporating the best elements of Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Genesis and Pink Floyd into their own music. The music on Let The Profit Roll is not particular original as it is a brew with those four bands. No riffs or melodies has been copied. The music is so heavy coloured by these four bands though that the listener is not left in the dark about the main influences behind this album. The English vocals are rather weird in the French tradition. The melodies a mix of decent to great. The great parts is when the Genesis influences shines through. There are a lot of these influences here and I really enjoys that.

This is a good album and I sincere hope it has been released as a showcase for this band as a live act well worth booking. This is the type of music which will bring the houses/pubs/concert halls down and win Lazy Doll a big following. I hope they follows this advice and that the booking agents sees the huge potential here. An advice I am sure I am not alone giving them.

3 points

Brutality - In Mourning (1996)

The third album from this death metal band from Florida.

The Florida death metal scene in and around the Morrisound Studio with Scott Burns as the producer has been much derided in the aftermath of the black metal onslaught. There was some really dubious albums released by bands who was jumping on the "Scott Burns produced albums" band wagon. The result was the implosion of the scene. In public, that is. Black metal became the fashion and the death metal scene retreated to the underground again where it has been pretty healthy throughout.

In Mourning was released in the aftermath of the implosion of the mainstream death metal scene and neither this album or Brutality really got the attention they deserved. Which is a pity because Brutality was a really good band.

In Mourning is a good death metal band in the mid paced tradition. Not overly technical, but on the brutal end of the scene. There is no death growls here either. The vocals is more in the hard core tradition. The music is death metal through and through.

There are no really great or even good songs here. But this album is an enjoyable listen and well worth checking out if you are a die hard death metal fan. Which I am no longer, I am afraid. I like the music here in small dosages though. This is a decent to good album in the overall picture and one of the better death metal albums I have reviewed for this review blog.

2.5 points

Anekdoten - Vemod (1993)

The debut album from this Swedish band.

Anekdoten and Anglagard formed a wave of new Scandinavian prog rock which inspired the prog rock scene again. And with good reason. Anekdoten too is rooted in the 1970s sound. They uses a lot of mellotron, moog, edgy bass aka Rush, drums and guitars. Their music is a mix of melancholic prog aka Anglagard, ambient folk rock and dynmic heavy prog aka Rush.

The opening track Karelia is a great track. The only great track on this album, I am afraid. The standard drops a lot after that. This album is still a good album with a lot of interesting details and this Swedish melancholy hanging over the music like a gentle fog. I like their sound and I am eager to explore this band further.

3 points

Friday 6 July 2012

Cynosura - 431 (2012)

The debut album from this Swiss band and likely their only album ever due to the circumstances behind it. They lost their mainman and founder Craig McConnell last year after his long fight with a terminal illness. This album has beeen released in his memory.

The music here is AOR with some power metal and prog rock influences. There are plenty of guitars and keyboards here. The vocals are very good. Ditto for the bass and guitars. There are a lot of piano here too. Some flutes adds texture to the big sound picture. The songs are a bit of tender loving ballads and some more powerful fast songs.

I get the feeling this is a concept album. It has this overblown feeling and that is the major problem with it. Seventy five minutes long and most of it is an overkill. Most of the stuff here is as new to me as the invention of the automobile. Even the long guitar solos, a sure way to please me, sounds a bit overblown too.

This album is a heck of a lot sweet chocolate to swallow and too much for me. A couple of the ballads are really good. But my overall impression is a decent to good album which really does not interest me.

2 points

Castigate - Bring Me the Head of Jesus Christ (1999)

A one hit/album death metal act from Germany.

Castigate does pounding hard mid tempo death metal in the vein of Malevolent Creation and Dying Fetus. They are not setting any speed records and they are not particular technical either. The vocals are not particular extreme in the growls department and they are supported by the occasional black metal vocals too.

The only really good song here is the title track. The rest of this album is pretty decent without really impressing me. This album is really a dull album and dull death metal does not interest me. This an album you can safely bypass in the hunt for some hidden death metal gems out there.

1.5 points