Between the Buried and Me Announce 2 Part Concept Album, “Automata”

Between the Buried and Me have announced that they are once again releasing a two part concept album. Parallax was split between an EP and an album. Their new album is called Automata. Part I already has a March 9 release date, and part II is scheduled for summer 2018. The only downside is that they have signed to Sumerian Records who host a ton of absolutely shitty metalcore bands. I’m hopeful that the Sumeriancore element does not rub off on this great band. Here’s the album cover and track list. The length of part I seems rather short, so I am not sure this isn’t really an EP.

BTBAM-COVER

Automata I Track Listing:

1. Condemned to the Gallows (6:35)
2. House Organ (3:41)
3. Yellow Eyes (8:45)
4. Millions (4:43)
5. Gold Distance (1:02)
6. Blot (10:27)

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STEVE HACKETT – launches live clip of ‘El Niño’, Live in Birmingham

Steve Hackett has released a clip from his upcoming live album/video “Wuthering Nights: Live in Birmingham.” Below is press release which has all the info on the release.

 

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 SH
On Friday, January 26th 2018, Inside Out Music will release ‘Wuthering Nights: Live in Birmingham’, the new live release from guitar legend Steve Hackett.
Wuthering Nights was filmed at the Birmingham Symphony Hall during Hackett’s recent, critically-acclaimed Genesis Revisited & Classic Hackett tour.
Available as Special Edition 2CD + 2DVD Digipak, Blu-Ray, Digital album this is a must-have for any prog fan. All video formats include 5.1 Surround Sound and various extras.
Today sees the launch of a second clip taken from the release. Watch the band perform instrumental ‘El Niño’ here: https://youtu.be/qYCfgBH8zz0
 
“In the run-up to the Wuthering Nights DVD release, I’m thrilled to put out El Niño, which takes off with fiery excitement from the word go… Enjoy!”  – Steve Hackett
This tour marked the 40th anniversary of Wind & Wuthering, Hackett’s last album with Genesis which reached number 7 in the UK album chart. To celebrate Steve and his band played 5 of the best-loved tracks from this iconic album:  Eleventh Earl Of Mar, One For The Vine, Blood On The Rooftops, …In That Quiet Earth and Afterglow.
Other fan favourites from Hackett’s Genesis days were ‘revisited’: Dance On A Volcano, Inside & Out, Firth Of Fifth, The Musical Box and the classic Los Endos.  This mesmerising show marks the first ever live performance by Hackett & his band of the tracks One for the Vine and Inside & Out, and also includes many of Hackett’s solo fan-favourites as well as material from his latest studio album The Night Siren.
Steve recalls the Birmingham performance… “I’m excited about imminent release of ‘Wuthering Nights’. It felt special to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Wind & Wuthering, the Genesis album I had the most songwriting involvement with and a favourite among many fans. Songs like One for the Vine, Eleventh Earl of Mar and Blood on the Rooftops come across powerfully on this release, which also features other Genesis and solo Hackett favourites along with songs from my latest album The Night Siren… Sit back and enjoy!”
The band are: Roger King (keyboards), Gary O’Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes), Nick Beggs (bass, stick & twelve string) and Nad Sylvan on vocals plus special guests John Hackett and Amanda Lehmann.
The live film will be premiered at an exclusive cinema screening in London tonight, where Steve will take part in a live Q&A. This will take place at Everyman King’s Cross, and tickets are available here: https://www.everymancinema.com/kings-cross/film-info/steve-hackett-wuthering-nights-qa
The DVD / Blu-Ray also includes fascinating behind the scenes footage, most of which was filmed on the day in Birmingham. There are also three videos for tracks from ‘The Night Siren’: Behind the Smoke, Fifty Miles from the North Pole and West to East. Pre-order now here: https://stevehackett.lnk.to/WutheringNights
 
Tracklisting
 
CD1:
Every Day
El Niño
The Steppes
In the Skeleton Gallery
Behind the Smoke
Serpentine Song
Rise Again
Shadow of the Hierophant
Eleventh Earl of Mar
CD2:
One For The Vine
Acoustic Improvisation
Blood on the Rooftops
In That Quiet Earth
Afterglow
Dance on a Volcano
Inside and Out
Firth of Fifth
The Musical Box
Los Endos
 
DVD1:
Concert Part 1
Bonus: Wuthering Nights, Live in Birmingham (Behind the Scenes)
 
DVD2:
Concert Part 2
Bonus: Promo videos for Behind the Smoke, Fifty Miles from the North Pole & West To East
Standalone Blu-Ray features all of the above content on disc.
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Perfect Beings – “Vier”

vierIt seems like it’s getting harder and harder for artists to be truly progressive. The genre has been around for so long that you would assume that it’s all been done by now. And then a band comes along that actually pushes things forward and challenges the listener. Perfect Beings are that band. Their third album “Vier” (which is German for “four,” strange right? Well hang on.) is ambitious and should put Perfect Beings firmly on everyone’s radar.

The first thing you notice is that the album is divided into four separate parts, now you get why the title is “Vier.” To be clear, these are not really 4 epic songs but rather four parts that the songs are a part of. This means that the ideas and themes are related. Like in “Guedra,” “Enter the Center” circles back to themes established in the opening track “A New Pyramid.” The themes are based on very distinct harmonies and melodies. They aren’t even ones I can easily compare to anyone else.

And that’s one of the key things about “Vier” as a whole. I often try to draw a comparison to other bands so that you all have a point of reference. With Perfect Beings, it’s not that simple. They aren’t prog metal, they ARE prog rock but not like Yes. They have the modern prog ethos of Steven Wilson but don’t fall back into obvious influences the way that he does. “Vier” is most definitely fresh in the truest sense of the word.

Epics? Well despite the numbers listed below, there are no massive epics. Mini-epics? Yes indeed. “The Persimmon Tree” is 8 minutes of pure prog bliss: Pianos, orchestration, and castanets (what’s more prog than castanets?). It goes from being calm and reassuring to very unsettling. Perfect Beings are very good at twists and turns because their transitions are superb. They follow that longer track with the 2 minute symphonic bluster of “Turn the World Off.”

I think the only point of references that I can think of would be Procol Harum (when it comes to their quieter moments) and classic King Crimson (for their louder moments). Even as I type that, it doesn’t seem like a good comparison. I could include Pink Floyd with the Gilmour-esque guitar on “America.”

But then you have something like “The System and Beyond” which is like Tangerine Dream meets 10cc. And then the simple beauty of “Mysteries, Not Answers.” The album doesn’t sit still!! The final section “Anunnaki” has just as many great moments too. “A Compromise” is about as straight forward as Perfect Beings get but even then, it’s doesn’t sound simple. Nothing really does on “Vier.”

“Vier” is an album that reveals more and more over time. I really don’t think you can fully appreciate it after a couple of listens. I knew I liked it but I actually wasn’t sure why. Even now, I just want to hear it again because I know I’ve missed a lot of things. “Vier” is a piece of art in addition to being an album. Perfect Beings now feature former Cynic drummer Sean Reinhart and while he is NOT on “Vier,” he will make a great addition to a band with a very bright future.

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:
Guedra – 18:23

  1. A New Pyramid
  2. The Blue Lake of Understanding
  3. Patience
  4. Enter the Center

The Golden Arc – 16:47

  1. The Persimmon Tree
  2. Turn the World Off
  3. America
  4. For a Pound of Flesh

Vibrational – 18:17

  1. The System and Beyond
  2. Mysteries, Not Answers
  3. Altars of the Gods
  4. Everywhere at Once
  5. Insomnia

Anunnaki – 18:42

  1. Lord Wind
  2. Patterns of Light
  3. A Compromise
  4. Hissing the Wave of the Dragon
  5. Everything’s Falling Apart

Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: 19 January, 2018
Website: www.perfectbeingsband.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/perfectbeingsband

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Kayak – “Seventeen”

kayak17When comes to actual progressive pop, two bands come to mind for me: Supertramp (one of my favorite bands) and Kayak. Each band embrace the melodies and hooks of good pop music while maintaining the high standard of progressive rock. Kayak have veered to the extremes of each side over the years. There were albums that were overly poppy like “Starlight Dancer” or “Phantom of the Night” or “Periscope Life.” And there were out and out overblown rock operas like “Merlin” or “Cleopatra – The Crown of Isis” or “Nostradamus – The Fate of Man.”

Personally, I prefer when Kayak combine the two into a more balanced and cohesive album, like on “Royal Bed Bouncer,” “The Last Encore” (my favorite Kayak album), “Close to the Fire” or “Coming Up for Air.” On their aptly titled 17th album called “Seventeen,” they are back to the balanced sound that I prefer. Granted the current lineup is brand new but still guided by original member, keyboardist and chief songwriter Ton Scherpenzeel. So yes, it still sounds like Kayak with him there.

Lineup changes are nothing new to Kayak (I’ll let you research it for yourselves since there are too many to list) but “Seventeen” is instantly recognizable as being Kayak with the lead 3 minute prog pop of “Somebody.” And then the second track “La Peregrina” showcases the epic side of the band while still having plenty of melody. It’s less Broadway than some of their rock operas (which works for me just fine). And this balance continues with two shorter tracks next, including the logical first single “Feathers and Tar.”

There’s no doubt that Kayak will not be for everyone. Many times over the years I’ve even wondered why I like them so much. They are full of pomp and circumstance even in their shorter tracks. But I love bands like the aforementioned Supertramp and Queen which is who Kayak remind me of on songs like “Falling.” But before you get to sucked in by the sugary sweetness of songs like that, Kayak throw a 10 minute track at you with “Walk Through Fire.”

Scherpenzeel has certainly influenced many of today’s prog artists, including Neal Morse. In fact, Scherpenzeel recruited former Morse cohorts Kristoffer Gildenlöw (bass) & Collin Leijenaar (drums), though the latter does not play on the album. Still, there’s a rich musicality to everything that Scherpenzeel writes, whether its beautiful instrumental “Ripples on the Water” (with Camel’s Andy Latimer!) or classic Kayak sounding epic “Cracks” which is probably my favorite track on the album! “Seventeen” is pure Kayak from start to finish.

A lot of people who know prog probably aren’t that familiar with Kayak. The band has been huge in their native Netherlands for many years but failed to really make a big impact elsewhere. Unless you’ve done some exploring on your own like I tend to do, this might be the first exposure to a band that’s been around (on and off) since the early 70s. The good news is that “Seventeen” is not only an excellent prog pop album but a great example of what Kayak is and have always been.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:

1. Somebody (3:04)
2. La Peregrina (11:42)
3. Falling (3:08)
4. Feathers and Tar (3:14)
5. Walk Through Fire (10:23)
6. Ripples on the Water (3:40)
7. All that I Want (3:47)
8. X Marks the Spot (1:58)
9. God on Our Side (3:30)
10. Love, Sail Away (3:12)
11. Cracks (8:50)
12. To an End (3:32)

Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: 12 January, 2018
Website: www.kayakonline.info
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kayakmusicband

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Umphrey’s McGee – “it’s not us”

um-inu-cover-copyUmphrey’s McGee has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time now. The main reason is that they can play literally any style and easily fit it into what they do. When I say they “can,” this is more than just ability. Part of this is that their fan base (myself included) gives them the latitude to do whatever strikes them. This came to a head on their last album “Zonkey” which was a mash up covers album that was a lot of fun for sure.

“it’s not us” is their first album of all new material since 2014’s “Similar Skin.” I really enjoyed that album and while it didn’t surpass “Mantis” or “Anchor Drops” as one of my favorite UM albums, it was excellent nontheless. So what about this new album? “it’s not us” is about as ironically of a title as an album could have. This IS Umphrey’s McGee through and through. Basically this cover’s every style that the band do and on top of it the songs are some of the best the band have written.

The album has songs that SHOULD be on rock radio like “Half Delayed” and “Forks,” two of my favorite songs by UM ever. It also has some killer grooves like the lead track and single “The Silent Type.” Did you want prog? Both “Maybe Someday” and “Remind Me” more than cover that. “Remind Me” is an absolute JAWDROPPER of a track. The band go off on a prog metal tangent midway through that literally had me saying “WOW!” the first time I heard it!

Lead guitarist Jake Cinninger absolutely CUTS loose on “Remind Me.” He also steps to the mic for songs like the 80s Crimson-esque “Looks” and the dark epic closer “Dark Brush.” The entire band showcase their legendary playing ability but rather than do their extended jamming, the songs are definitely served over the band’s chops. Singer Brendan Bayliss sounds great on the remaining tracks especially the acoustic folky “You & You Alone,” a song that shows UM does not need prog pyrotechnics to be effective.

I shouldn’t be surprised at just how amazing “it’s not us” is and yet it’s just so GOOD, I can’t help it. Umphrey’s McGee have indeed outdone themselves and that’s quite a task! “it’s not us” is not only a masterpiece that fans of Umphrey’s McGee will love but by design it makes an excellent introduction for those who haven’t had the chance to check out Chicago’s finest. We are barely into 2018 and I already have a candidate for album of the year.

Rating: 10/10

Tracklist:

1. The Silent Type
2. Looks
3. Whistle Kids
4. Half Delayed
5. Maybe Someday
6. Remind Me
7. You & You Alone
8. Forks
9. Speak Up
10. Piranhas
11. Dark Brush

Label: Nothing Too Fancy Music
Release Date: 12 January, 2018
Website: www.umphreys.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/umphreysmcgee

photo-18band-color

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Orphaned Land – “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs”

Orphaned_Land_-_Unsung_Prophets_&_Dead_MessiahsOrphaned Land are one of those bands that I keep trying with mixed success. The Israeli band are immensely talented so that’s never the problem for me. They mix their trademark “Oriental Metal” with progressive metal, symphonic metal and even a bit of death metal. They’re back with “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs” which comes almost 5 years after their last album “All is One.”

The last album really was a disappointment for me. I suppose that expectations were high after the Steven Wilson produced “The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR” which was the album that caught my attention (along with many others). “All is One” sounded forced and the concept behind it just left me a bit cold. “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs” has a concept which definitely works for me. Through out history, mankind has always assassinated the person who embodies peace. It’s a pattern that has yet to be broken and it makes for a good focal point for this album.

Another issue with the last album for me was that I didn’t find the songs to be quite as good as the album prior. The band had lost founding guitarist Matti Svatitzki , so I thought perhaps that was part of the reason.  And now the band has also lost the other founding guitarist. All this change can effect a band’s chemistry for sure but on “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs,” the band seems to have gelled. The music is stronger than the last album and they as epic sounding as ever.

The album has a couple of epic tracks: the 8 minute plus opener “The Cave” and “Chains Fall to Gravity.” “The Cave” sounds epic musically, very symphonic. However, I am not keen on the overdone backing vocals. Choirs are fine for some but I think it sounds cheesy here. Vocalist Kobi Farhi proves he is still one of the best vocalists in the business. I like the atmosphere on “Chains Fall to Gravity” a lot. It’s both grand and yet beautiful at the same time.

Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kursch guests on “Like Orpheus” which is awesome. I love Blind Guardian and Hansi adds a nice dynamic when combined with Farhi. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album. As I have said many times, I am not a fan of spoken word and over use of samples. That said, the sample at the start of “Take My Hand” works well to start the song which has a soldier like march to it.

“Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs” has not made me a big fan of the band but I do think it’s a step in the right direction. Is it as amazing as “The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR”? No. Is it better than “All is One”? Definitely. I do enjoy what Orphaned Land brings musically to the table even if I find some of the lyrics to be a bit off. “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs” is not a masterpiece but a solid album by talented band.

Rating: 7/10

Tracklist:

1. The Cave
2. We Do Not Resist
3. In Propaganda
4. All Knowing Eye
5. Yedidi
6. Chains Fall To Gravity
7. Like Orpheus
8. Poets Of Prophetic Messianism
9. Left Behind
10. My Brother’s Keeper
11. Take My Hand
12. Only The Dead Have Seen The End Of War
13. The Manifest – Epilogue

Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 26 January 2018
Website: www.orphaned-land.com

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Sendelica – “The Cromlech Chronicles II”

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Sendelica are a progressive/psychedelic rock band from Wales, and they have been making music as a unit since 2006.

They are yet another band that I had never heard of until the ProgBoss offered me a release of theirs to review. Perhaps because, like the others, they are there and I am here.

The album I was given to review is called The Cromlech Chronicles II. (A cromlech, by definition, is a tomb.)

Spooky. This release is comprised of two epic tracks, Ripples of the Megaliths and Even Though My Mouth is Silent. Those are two tomb – worthy titles.

The music is dark, quiet and moody. At times the spirits of Steven Wilson and King Crimson are invoked. The tracks are mostly instrumental with an occasional female vocal that adds to the mysterious atmosphere brought forth.

And though both songs are lengthy, they did not seem overly so. I found the music nice to chill to, with enough sonic textures to keep me listening. Sendelica have an extensive collection of albums on Bandcamp, and this album makes me want to investigate some more of their work.

Rating 8/10

Available now.

Label: Fruits de Mer
Bandcamp: sendelica.bandcamp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Sendelica-191174294239796

The band:
Pete Bingham: Guitar, Electronics.
Glenda Pescado: Bass
Lee Relfe: Saxophones
Joe Caswell & Jack Jackson: Drums
Colin Consterdine: Programming, Electronics

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