Apotheon – “Mechanically Consumed”

1 - Front CoverApotheon are a tech death metal band that actually would do themselves a huge favor by embracing their prog metal side a lot more. There are times on their EP “Mechanically Consumed” that they remind me of fellow Coloradans Allegeaon and other times they sound a fair amount like Between the Buried and Me. The problem is they seem to REALLY prefer the former to the latter but they might be better at the latter. Follow me? Maybe not.

The EP starts off with the short instrumental “Premonition” which really should be a LOT longer. I really wish the band had developed this piece into a full track rather than relegating it to an introduction to the EP. It’s powerful, heavy and has melody. The other three tracks don’t really stand apart from each other which is the issue I have. To be clear, Apotheon can fucking PLAY. But how many arpeggios do you need to be attacked with really?

The band take a left turn here and there, once on each track and those are the highlights for me. They don’t mimic BTBAM but it reminds me of that band. That takes talent but they don’t quite embrace it fully on the EP. The other issue is that vocalist Reece Deeter sounds limited with his death vocals. Plus he has no real clean vocal so when the band go on a detour, he is either left out or sounds really out of place. At times, his death wheeze is more deathcore than death metal.

I don’t wanna piss on Deeter’s head too much. Let’s all remember how shitty Tommy Rogers used to sound! But it’s not his fault either. The band really white knuckle the tech death label so hard they seem determined to fit their vocalist’s style. Admirable but let’s hope the whole band grows together. As it stands, “Mechanically Consumed” is a nice beginning for a band capable of a lot more.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tracklist:
1. Premonition
2. Tyken’s Rift
3. Mechanically Consumed
4. The Flesh Machine

Bandcamp: apotheon.bandcamp.com

Posted in death metal, progressive metal, tech death metal | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bjørn Riis – “Forever Comes To An End”

Kar126 Bjørn Riis - Front 3000Bjørn Riis is the guitarist for one of my favorite modern prog bands, Airbag. I’ve always called Airbag “Porcupine Tree meets Pink Floyd” or at the very least PT with David Gilmour on guitar. Riis is an INCREDIBLE guitarist. His leads always suit the song and while Gilmour is certainly a point of reference, he also reminds me of Steve Rothery and of course Steve Hackett. All of these guys are favorites of mine.

So my main question going into Riis’ solo album “Forever Comes To An End” was how much would it sound like Airbag versus something completely different? There is no doubt that this album has MANY tracks that could have been Airbag songs. It’s not just Riis’ playing but his song writing and even his voice! He sounds quite a bit like Airbag vocalist Asle Tostrup, who is on the album but not as a vocalist. Rather he contributes programming.

Also, Airbag drummer Henrik Fossum is also on the album so yes “Forever Comes To An End” sounds very much like another Airbag album at times. The main difference comes on instrumental tracks like “Absence” which has more of a soundtrack feel to it and “Getaway” which gives Riis plenty of room to spread out. That one is probably my favorite track on the album!

Honestly, there’s not really a bad track to be found. The title track, “The Waves” and the epic “Winter” could be Airbag tracks, though Riis does showcases some heavier riffs to go alongside more soaring moments. I LOVE those big, meaty riffs of course. If I am being honest, I actually prefer this album to all of the Airbag albums. And I love ALL of their albums!

It’s quite clear that Bjørn Riis is a massive talent and in someways he reminds me of Steven Wilson. He could definitely have a solo career and probably not miss Airbag. With all due respect, I am not sure that the band could survive without him. Luckily, we can have BOTH. “Forever Comes To An End” is so good I wish it didn’t end. It’s an absolute masterpiece.

Rating: 10/10

Tracklist:
1. Forever Comes to an End
2. Absence
3. The Waves
4. Getaway
5. Calm
6. Winter
7. Where are You Now

Posted in art rock, progressive metal, progressive rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

newspaperflyhunting – “Wastelands”

a0381515272_16newspaperflyhunting are aptly named. And no I don’t mean they are terrible like their name. Basically if you take each word, it makes sense on its own. Put it all together and it’s confusing. That’s the situation with newspaperflyhunting and their album “Wastelands.”

The basics of their sound is shoegaze and post rock. The problem is that the band don’t do a good job of blending the two. There will be a riff that is clear post rock, the title track for example but it never really kicks in. The band sound REALLY tentative when it comes to their own riffs. Elsewhere, the vocals are almost childlike which can be okay for shoegaze but on tracks like “A Question,” it just gets on my nerves a bit.

The album actually starts REALLY well with “We Used to Wander.” Sadly the song is too short. It could use a simple guitar solo and another round of the chorus. It really ends too soon. That might be the highlight of the album for me. The band seem determined not to keep on a steady path which is admirable but just confusing to the listener.

They even attempt a proggy, jazzy maneuver during the song “Sleep” but it sounds more like the band have no idea what they are doing. Why do bands think jazz can be sloppy? The big draw to the album is the massive closing track “Solaris” but the problem is that it sounds a bit too much like Porcupine Tree. I mean it sounds EXACTLY like “Anesthetize” to me.

And yes, newspaperflyhunting is another terrible band name. But there are some good moments on this album. It just seems like a band that really isn’t sure which direction to go in so they just go in EVERY direction. Maybe, newspaperflyhunting should settle on being a PT cover band.

Rating: 4/10

Tracklist:
1. We Used to Wander
2. Wasteland
3. A Question
4. Down the Steps
5. Sleep
6. Equal to None
7. Hours Pass
8. Solaris

Bandcamp: newspaperflyhunting.bandcamp.com/album/wastelands

Posted in art rock, post rock, progressive rock, shoegaze | Leave a comment

Ghost Toast – “Out of This World”

ghost-toastI can’t recall the last time that I ran across an album so wildly inconsistent as “Out of This World” by Ghost Toast. Before getting into that, I need to point out how terrible the band’s name is. Are we actually out of good names? I mean Ghost Toast is really bad.

Ok back to the album. “Out of This World” starts off SOOOOO great with the first two tracks, “Ka Mai” and “Gordius.” Both songs have KILLER riffs, time changes here and there and just sound great overall. Each time I have listened to the album, I think “wow, this is going to get a great review!” Yes I think that even though I’ve heard the whole thing a few times. That’s how great these two songs are.

Sadly, the euphoria ends after those two tracks. That’s not to say there are some good moments after that. Basically, “Out of This World” is like having multiple bands on one album. I don’t mind bands that switch it up a little, track to track, but things get real confusing real fast!

“Alia” is a soft, ambient song with REALLY loud whispers that are so loud, I have to turn down the volume so that I can’t hear the music that well. Add in that the music never goes anywhere, the track is nearly unlistenable for me. “The Dragon’s Tail” is a heavily orchestrated, soundtrack-like song complete with some dude yelling like he is Spartacus. I have no clue why the song is on the album either.

OK so by this point, I am wondering if I have tracks from different bands by mistake. “Minotaur” actually attempts to merge the ambient side with the sound on the first two tracks. The problem is that the song doesn’t kick in until the mid point and the ambient intro goes on too long for me.

“Kaia” and “Ishvara” are similar tracks, also different from the rest of the album. Each have a Middle Eastern/Far Eastern vibe with female vocals. Did I mention that Ghost Toast is an instrumental band from Hungary? They are. I’d expect songs like this from My Sleeping Karma on a bad day. “Last Man” sounds like OSI but only if the samples are too loud and too often. That tends to be an issue. The mix pushes any vocal (sample or human) too far up in the mix.

“Pawn of Fate” is more like the first two tracks, though shorter. It does wind down nicely and would have made a great closing track if the entire middle of the album hadn’t gone in so many directions. It’s a shame that the band seem to have to do so many things on one album. Maybe listeners will be into the “experimental” nature of this. For me, it’s more akin to general confusion than actual experimentation.

Rating: 6.5/10 (first two songs get a perfect score)

1. Ka Mai
2. Gordius
3. Alia
4. The Dragon’s Tail
5. Minotaur
6. Kaia
7. Last Man
8. Ishvara
9. Pawn of Fate

Label: Inverse Records

Website: http://www.ghosttoast.hu
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ghosttoastband
Bandcamp: http://ghosttoastband.bandcamp.com

Posted in experimental rock, progressive metal | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Enid – “Resurgency”

enidThe Enid have been around a very long time. Despite that, I actually have never really gotten around to listen to them. So going into this review, I had a bit of a quandary. Do I go back and familiarize myself? Since this new album isn’t exactly “new” and more importantly, since this lineup is made up of members who only date back to 2007, this is really a new band. It reminds me a bit of where the band Gong is at. Since I loved the new Gong album and treated it as a separate entity, I thought I would do that with “Resurgency.”

“Resurgency” is made up of re-worked versions of songs from the last 3 albums by the Enid. Musically I did enjoy most of the tracks, some more than others. The main problem through out the album is that the vocals are VERY weak. So much so that the band chose to use a vocoder a LOT which may have been an effort to mask said weak vocals. Sadly it just made it harder to listen to.

I don’t actually mind the use of a vocoder if used sparingly. Back when Cynic used it on the album “Focus,” I thought it was over used and that classic album did suffer to me because of it. The arrangements are slightly heavy on “Resurgency” but since The Enid are not a heavy band, it seems really odd to me. I do respect that the three current members (Jason Ducker, Dominic Tofield and Zach Bullock) want to point the direction for the future, I’m just not convinced that it’s a good direction.

As someone as I said who never followed The Enid, I guess I don’t have a big stake in the success of this album. But as someone who might have used this album to explore the band’s vast back catalog, this really doesn’t convince me that I should bother. In reading the band’s bio, perhaps they might have either convinced vocalist Joe Payne to stay or replaced him with a formal frontman. But that didn’t happen.

I assume the trio have the support of past members of The Enid so I do wish them the best of luck in keeping the band’s legacy alive. I think they didn’t exactly do the band any favors by reworking old songs with weak vocals and questionable arrangements. Perhaps recording fresh, new music with a new singer would have been more interesting.

Rating: 4/10

Tracklist:

1. Reborn in the Fire
2. Space Surfing
3. Malacandra
4. Leviticus
5. Terra Firma
6. Who Created Me
7. Witch Hunt
8. Someone Shall Rise for you
9. Shiva

Website: www.theenid.co.uk

Posted in art rock, progressive rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

Fervent Send – “(C:)rePROGram”

rePROGramJon DuBose is the mastermind behind the prog collective known as Fervent Send. Jon is also a very good friend of mine. Now before you say, “no way can Rob be honest when reviewing his friends’ music,” let me point out a few examples. I didn’t exactly give a glowing review to Imminent Sonic Destruction’s last album. Tony is a good friend but I was very honest. I am guessing their keyboardist won’t be sending me a birthday card.

While I loved “Mantiis” by Obsidian Kingdom (who I am friends with), I really disliked their last album “A Year With No Summer.” In fact, I haven’t really heard from the band since then. So while it might be easier for me to just shit out a fake positive review, it’s just not how I am wired. So when Jon asked me to check out “(C:)rePROGram,” I was hoping for the best.

The first thing you need to know is that Jon is fearless when it comes to his music. There isn’t anything he won’t consider or attempt. Also, he really makes sure he has the right people to carry out whatever insane mission he is looking to embark on. Those factors alone make his music worth listening to. The upside is that most times these experiments work out. I said “most.”

The album opens with the rumbling “Think Minds Alike” which, like other tracks on “(C:)rePROGram,” owes a bit to krautrock. It’s a very cool song and the arrangement and instrument selection fit it well. Also, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The strange flutes at the end make sure you know it’s Fervent Send. “Ancient Ghost Tribe” is a pulsating number with Jon riding the bass line along side percussionist Lobsang Kedrub, who seems to be a Jamie Muir fan. Nothing wrong with that. It’s another prime example of modern krautrock.”

“Gargoyle in the Grotto” gives guitarist Kevin Webb a chance to showcase some dissonant chords and shape shifting notes. It’s about as direct as Fervent Send can get. “Yaaht Hitar” has some shouted vocals from Jon and my advice to him is to never do that again. It’s as if he knew I’d hear this album and wanted to make sure I was paying attention. He knows damn well I’d hate that. Luckily, it’s the shortest song and I won’t take off too much for it.

The album closer is the 12 plus minute “Whale Bone Eyes” which features another friend of mine Jason Rubenstein on mellotron. Claudio Simone’s flute is very much a key to the success of this track and it’s as close to “traditional” prog as Fervent Send get. It feels like 70s Crimson running into 2000s Crimson in a bar and jamming it out. This one is definitely my favorite track of the album.

The think that always gets me is the vision that it takes to create something like “(C:)rePROGram” because this more akin to art than your average piece of music. So overall yes I do really like this one with a minor exception. Who the hell knows what’s next from Jon or Fervent Send? My guess is that he has no idea. If you like a good and fun challenge, check out this album and don’t pay a dime on Bandcamp. That’s the way Jon wants it.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:
1. Think Minds Alike
2. Ancient Ghost Tribe
3. Gargoyle in the Grotto
4. Yaaht Hitar
5. Whale Bone Eyes

Bandcamp: ferventsend.bandcamp.com/album/c-reprogram

Posted in art rock, atmospheric metal, avant garde, progressive metal | Tagged | Leave a comment