Rob’s Recommendation Roundup: Volume 11

357609Allegaeon has somehow survived lack of finances and band turnover to release great album after great album. “Apoptosis” is their last and one of their greatest. The first big change was vocalist Riley McShane who stepped in on 2016’s “Proponent For Sentience” which was my favorite to date by them.

McShane has the death growl of his predecessor Ezra Haynes but he adds an awesome clean vocal which gives the band a dynamic they were lacking. Though his near pig oinking on “Extremophiles (B)” is a bit much. Additionally, I would make with “Apoptosis” is that the band does not take enough advantage of his clean vocals.

The album is technical as fuck, but is still very listenable. Too many tech prog death metal bands lose themselves in their own notes. Allegaeon isn’t one of those bands. New bassist Brandon Michael adds his own style to the album which is very melodic. I mean check his playing toward the tail end of “Interphase // Meiosis” or the chorus of “Extremophiles (B).” Wow.

I don’t think that “Apoptosis” is better than the last two Allegaeon albums. Those were just perfect BUT since the band cannot release anything but a great album, there’s still a lot to love about “Apoptosis.” It’s aggressive, technical as fuck and proves that they are one of the most dangerous bands on the planet. If you’ve liked them before, you will definitely enjoy “Apoptosis” as well.

Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 19 April 2019

Press_Cover_01John Mitchell returns with the third Lonely Robot album “Under Stars.” Last year saw him resurrect one of his other projects Kino (with Pete Trewavas of Marillion). Kino and Lonely Robot definitely have similarities in style and that works for me just fine. Mitchell is a formidable songwriter and no matter how often he releases music, he never seems to run out of song ideas.

Joining Mitchell once again is drummer Craig Blundell. And unlike previous Lonely Robot albums, there are no other contributors. Thus it feels more like a true solo album. And to be fair, Mitchell doesn’t need help. He has one of my favorite voices, he is a talented guitarist and has no problem with the rest of the instrumentation (sans drums).

The album starts with an intro track “Terminal Earth” and if you’ve read my reviews, you know I usually hate wasting time on instrumental intros BUT this track works. It’s not a throw away and sets up the whole album nicely. From there, the first single “Ancient Ascendant” kicks in and the chorus is typically memorable since that’s what Mitchell does extremely well. Then comes “Icarus” which is another winner. Other favorites are “Authorship of Our Lives” and “When Gravity Fails.”

“The Signal” might be the only song that for whatever reason doesn’t grab me. It’s fine though and doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the album. Once again, John Mitchell proves he is an extraordinary talent. “Under Stars” is yet another great album of songs from him and he never seems to run out of great music. If you enjoyed either of the first two Lonely Robot albums (or like modern prog the likes of Steven Wilson), you need to add “Under Stars” to your collection.

Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 26 April 2019

hail stanPeriphery is one of those bands that I kept waiting for them to unleash a great album. After their second album “Periphery II: Now It’s Personal,” I thought they were posed to write a masterpiece. I thought it would be the “Juggernaut” double album. But that one seemed scattered to me and a missed opportunity. “Periphery III: Select Difficulty” sounded like they were basically treading water. So now what?

I am glad that I stuck with them because “Periphery IV: Hail Stan” is definitely the band’s masterpiece. Honestly my top songs by Periphery are all on this album. The near 17 minute opening epic “Reptile” is their shining moment and then you have the INCREDIBLE closer “Satellites.” The album is worth buying for those 2 songs alone. But wait, there’s more!

“It’s Only Smiles” and “Crush” are two songs that can please anyone who likes great melody. Each prove that Periphery are definitely growing as musicians and songwriters. While both of those showcase their melodic side, “Chvrch Bvrner” and “Follow Your Ghost” are the Periphery that most people know: insane djent that tries to rip your head off. This makes “Hail Stan” a balanced album in addition to being well written.

To say that “Hail Stan” is my surprise of 2019 so far is to put it mildly. It proves that you shouldn’t give up on bands that you know are good at what they do. The other positive is that this album makes me want to revisit the previous albums with a chance to find something new. Hail Stan? Hail Periphery!

Label: 3DOT Recordings (Fuck Sumerian)
Release Date: 5 April 2019

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PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS announces debut album; current & former Spock’s Beard members join forces in new band

Here’s some cool news about a new band featuring current & former Spock’s Beard members Ted Leonard, Jimmy Keegan & Dave Meros as well as long-time contributing songwriter-producer John Boegehold.


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PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS is the brand new quartet featuring the talents of current & former Spock’s Beard members Ted Leonard, Jimmy Keegan & Dave Meros as well as long-time contributing songwriter-producer John Boegehold. The band has signed to InsideOutMusic for the release of their self-titled debut album on July 5th, 2019.

Of the musical direction, Boegehold comments: “My goal was to produce music that’s progressive and intricate while keeping things immediate and melodic.  Whether a song is four minutes or ten minutes long, I didn’t want more than a few bars go by without some kind of instrumental or vocal hook.”

Originally a vehicle for a few tracks John had been working on in early 2018, he quickly came up with enough music to work towards producing an album. With that in mind, he enlisted the talents of Jimmy Keegan (drums & vocals), Ted Leonard (vocals & guitar) & Dave Meros (bass), with Boegehold handling all the synths. He adds: “Besides live strings on a few songs and a female backing vocalist on another, it was all done between the four of us with Dave and Ted ending up as co-writers on some of the material.”

With the band obviously being closely associated with Spock’s Beard, John was conscious of exploring different avenues with Pattern-Seeking Animals, whether it was song structures, vocal arrangements, synth sounds or emotional textures. “Pattern-Seeking Animals was a clean slate so I found myself drawing on a few different musical influences and using some contemporary production ideas and sounds that I probably wouldn’t use with SB for various reasons.”

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The album will be released on limited CD digipak, gatefold 2LP + CD & as digital album.

As John notes, as the project came together it quickly became apparent that they would want to take this material out live: “Originally it was intended to be a recording project but as it was coming together we started talking seriously about doing it as a live band. Because of the complexity of a lot of the material, it’ll require an additional musician or two to pull it off live. The plan is to tour as much as possible and to come out with a new album at least once a year. In fact, work on the second album is already well under way.”

Stay tuned for a first taste of music from Pattern-Seeking Animals in the coming weeks!

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The Aristocrats Announce North America Tour + Reveal New Album Title

Here’s the press release for the new Aristrocrats album and tour!


 

THE ARISTOCRATS ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICA TOUR FOR SUMMER 2019 AND REVEAL THE TITLE OF THEIR FOURTH STUDIO ALBUM: “YOU KNOW WHAT…?”

thearistocrats-ykw-dates-online

 

“virtuosic, melodic, spontaneous, outrageous and fun” [Guitar World]

The Aristocrats, (comprising guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann) have announced what will be their most extensive North American tour since their inception in 2011. The tour will begin with The Aristocamp on June 18th and continue right through to the end of August 2019, bringing the band’s unique and unrivalled brand of instrumental rock/fusion to fans across the USA and Canada. These dates will kick off a world tour in support of The Aristocrats’ highly anticipated fourth studio release, their most ambitious and exploratory album yet, which will be titled You Know What…? and will be available from June 28th 2019.

 

Over the past eight years The Aristocrats have released critically acclaimed albums, toured the world, and established themselves as one of the most musically original, refreshingly irreverent, and astoundingly entertaining instrumental rock-fusion acts on the planet.Anyone who’s witnessed their live musical high-wire act – employing random amounts of rock, jazz, pop, metal, and even traditional country – can attest that it is informed by the spirit of a true band, one whose improvisational soul allows for anything to happen onstage at any moment…including the occasional wink and nod at the audience.

 

Fans can expect to hear many new tracks from You Know What…? and some old favorites from their back catalogue, along with tales of the inspiration behind the tracks, for which The Aristocrats have become known. The Aristocratswill be ably supported by fellow rock-fusioners, Travis Larson Band.

 

The North American tour comprises two phases. Phase 1 dates are listed below, while phase 2 will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets for phase 1 are on sale now.

 

The Aristocrats You Know What…? North American Tour

Phase 1, Summer 2019

*Some select additional dates for phase 1 will be added soon*

DATE VENUE CITY, STATE
June 18-21, 2019 The Aristocamp Big Indian, NY
June 28, 2019

June 29, 2019

Alvas Showroom (SOLD OUT)

Alvas Showroom

San Pedro, CA

San Pedro, CA

July 1, 2019 Harlow’s Sacramento, CA
July 2, 2019 Slim’s San Francisco, CA
July 3, 2019 The Dip Redding, CA
July 5, 2019 Star Theater Portland, OR
July 6, 2019 The Crocodile Seattle, WA
July 7, 2019 Rickshaw Theatre Vancouver, BC
July 9, 2019 The Reef Boise, ID
July 15, 2019 RecordBar Kansas City, MO
July 16, 2019 Slowdown Omaha, NE
July 18, 2019 Amsterdam Bar and Hall St Paul, MN
July 19, 2019 Miramar Theatre Milwaukee, WI
July 20, 2019 Reggie’s Live Chicago, IL
July 21, 2019 HiFi Indy Indianapolis, IN
July 22, 2019 Token Lounge Detroit, MI
July 24, 2019 Rumba Café Columbus, OH
July 25, 2019 Beachland Ballroom Cleveland, OH
July 26, 2019 The Tralf Buffalo, NY
July 27, 2019 Lee’s Palace Toronto, ON
July 28, 2019 Brass Monkey Ottawa, ON
July 29, 2019 Café Campus Montreal, QC
July 31, 2019 L’Anti Quebec City, QC
August 2, 2019 Middle East Cambridge, MA
August 3, 2019 Gramercy Theatre New York City, NY
August 4, 2019 Daryl’s House Pawling, NY
August 5, 2019 Voltage Lounge Philadelphia, PA
August 6, 2019 Union Stage Washington DC
August 7, 2019 The Pour House Raleigh, NC

 

Full details of each confirmed show can be found on the Aristocrats website at: http://the-aristocrats-band.com/shows/

 

All studio and live releases by The Aristocratscan be purchased at: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/the-aristocrats

 

For more information on The Aristocrats, please visit: 

For more information on Travis Larson Band, please visit: 

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Bjørn Riis – “A Storm Is Coming”

riisAirbag guitarist Bjørn Riis is back with his third full length album, “A Storm Is Coming.” Riis has been really busy with his solo career the last few years, releasing the EP “Coming Home” last year. His solo work has been absolutely flawless so far. And that’s why the first few minutes of the opening track “When Rain Falls” are so odd. The album would be better off without them!

The song starts with a plodding repetitive heavy riff that is just flat out dull. It goes on and on for 4 minutes and never does anything. Then the song goes into this overly sparse jazzy part that sounds like the musicians are looking for notes. The song properly kicks in at the 5 minute mark and is quite good and moving after that. It has that Floydian vibe that Riis is good at.

I was almost ready to give up but thankfully I know how good Riis is so I stuck with that song. And after it comes “Icarus” which sounds a bit like “Drown With Me” by Porcupine Tree. It’s a great tune though! “You and Me” is bit too dreary for its own good, but song itself is good despite the dour arrangement. “Stormwatch” is my favorite track on the album, a standard Riis epic. It’s big, melodic and powerful. There’s one little heavy moment in it that almost seems out of place, yet it still works. The track would work as an Airbag song.

Next is the 8 minute plus “This House” which reminds me a little of Tim Bowness before it glides into a more Porcupine Tree vibe. “Epilogue” is exactly that, a nice closing number that isn’t meant to blow you away but rather get you safely back home. Overall, “A Storm Is Coming” doesn’t surpass Bjørn Riis’ last full length “Forever Comes to an End,” but it has moments that rival it. It adds to an impressive solo discography that is quickly outshining his own band’s catalog. And that is saying a lot!

Rating: 8.5/10

Tracklist:

  1. When Rain Falls
  2. Icarus
  3. You And Me
  4. Stormwatch
  5. This House
  6. Epilogue

Label: Karisma Records
Release Date: 3 May 2018

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Thank You Scientist announce new album ‘Terraformer’

Here’s the press release for the upcoming album by Thank You Scientist:


American Prog rock masters Thank You Scientist are pleased to announce their 4th studio album, Terraformer, out June 14th on Evil Ink Records.  Their second studio release on the label formed by Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez is the bands most ambitious to date. The album features more than an hour and 20 minutes on a 2-disc set. Pre-orders for Terraformer also begin today at www.thankyouscientist.merchnow.com.

You can watch the Terraformer Preorder Infomercial Here:
https://youtu.be/mwBiaEYjQuw


Terraformer was recorded at The Barber Shop in Hopatcong NJ and engineer Mike Ferretti’s studio in Ringwood, NJ. Main songwriter and guitarist Tom Monda oversaw production, along with contributions from the band.

The front cover was designed by Templar, who also designed the album art for the group’s previous record Stranger Heads Prevail.

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Tracklisting:
1 Wrinkle  2:32
2 FXMLDR  7:56
3 Swarm  6:25
4 Son of a Serpent  8:06
5 Birdwatching 3:41
6  Everyday Ghosts  10:03
7  Chromology 9:49
8 Geronimo  6:15
9  Life of Vermin   8:11
10 Shatner’s Lament  1:13
11 Anchor  9:56
12 New Moon  2:01
13 Terraformer 8:07

Terraformer will be available 2 CD Digipak, 2 LP Vinyl, Digital, and in a Terraformer Comprehensive Adult Bundle (For Adults)

This incredibly rare offering from Thank You Scientist and CREAM CO includes:
•Limited Edition 2LP Color Vinyl
•21 Page Full Color Lyric Book (illustrated by Shamfoo)
•Full Score Songbook signed by all members of Thank You Scientist (Limited to the first 500 pre-orders)
•Full set of Thank You Scientist Father and Son Trading Cards (Limited to the first 500 pre-orders)

“We’re really excited about this new album. We’ve put in so much work into this limited bundle to make sure it’s perfect, and we hope our fans agree and help us crush our release week. We’re a bunch of weirdos making music for weirdos that still care about weird music, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.” – Tom Monda

The album marks the first recordings of the Thank You Scientist’s new lineup, which includes Joe Fadem on drums, Sam Greenfield on Sax, and Joe Gullace on trumpet.

“The new members were all guys that myself, Ben, and Cody play with in Cody’s band ‘We Used to Cut The Grass.’  They were all a big part of the writing and arranging process for this album and I feel very lucky to be in a band with them.” – Monda

Thank You Scientist will be on a US tour this summer with Reign of Kindo and In the Presence of Wolves from April 12th in New Jersey, ending May 19th in NY.

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Jordan Rudess – “Wired For Madness”

wired“Wired For Madness” is the latest solo opus from Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess. DT has just released an album so it’s interesting that Rudess is releasing this at the same time. If you know his solo discography, you know that Rudess isn’t one for subtlety. And it’s very clear from the start that this album is no different in that regard.

The album starts with 2 massive epics,”Wired For Madness, Part 1″ and “Wired For Madness, Part 2.” And this album is worth buying for these 2 tracks alone. Yes it showcases his playing ability but it’s not just solo after solo. Rather each track has sections and movements. Also (as with the whole album) they have vocals from the man himself.

Rudess has a really good voice and is a good lyricist. It makes me wonder why he doesn’t contribute each skill to his main gig in DT. The tracks have heavy moments, melodic moments and technical moments. Honestly he could have just released the 2 songs and I’d be satisfied. Ah but there’s more! “Off the Ground” is a true song in length and structure, and yes has another quality vocal by Rudess.

The strangest track is actually “Just Can’t Win.” No it’s not some crazy prog shredfest. Rather it’s a blues number. Yes really. Apparently Rudess loves blues and he sings the style well. The song features the great Joe Bonamassa on guitar. And there are plenty of other great guests on the album. Other guest guitarists include Vinnie Moore, Guthrie Govan, and John Petrucci. Drums are handled by Marco Minnemann, Rod Morgenstein and Elijah Wood. DT vocalist James LaBrie is on the closing section of “Wired for Madness, Part 2.”

But this is definitely Rudess’ show here. His playing is some of the best he has done. Yes there’s modern sounds but he does mix in some old school sounds here and there. There are clear moments that remind me of the late Keith Emerson. I think that “Wired For Madness” could very well be Rudess’ best solo album to date. This is a no brainer for any fan of his or Dream Theater. “Wired For Madness” is filled with adventure and dynamics, a truly rewarding listen.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:
1. Wired For Madness, Part 1
2. Wired For Madness, Part 2
3. Off The Ground
4. Drop Twist
5. Perpetual Shine
6. Just Can’t Win
7. Just For Today
8. Why I Dream

Label: Music Theories Recordings
Release Date: 19 April 2019

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The Mute Gods – “Atheists and Believers”

Press_Cover_01

Busy would be a good adjective to describe many of the musicians I have discovered in recent years.

One of these musicians is Nick Beggs, whose work I have come to know through his performances with Steven Wilson, and he is the songwriter and the voice of this band.

There are political songs in this collection. There are sentimental and tender songs in this collection. These songs try to sum up the human condition at this moment in time: there are events we can control, events we can try to control and events we cannot control at all.

Some of the highlights of the album for me:

The track One Day is a catchy earworm and a song of self-preservation perhaps, a song of hope for the human race.

The instrumental tune Sonic Boom brings along a different drumming style – oh, it’s Craig Blundell, and this song was written for him by Mr. Beggs. These two are the bass and drum bedrock of the Steven Wilson band and this track proves they work well together.

After some very powerful tracks, there arrives the gentle reflections and memories in the songs Old Man and The House Where Love Once Lived.

Iridium Heart comes along with some space voice vocals and one has to wonder who has a heart less human than the world’s second densest metal.

The instrumental closing track I Think of You is a gentle and contemplative song, moved along by a keyboard melody.

Humanity expresses a range of emotions, and so does this release. There is no sameness to the music in question.

If you are ready to receive some Beggsian Knowledge with accompaniment from some very skilled musicians, I suggest you check out Atheists and Believers

Rating: 9/10

Available now

Line-Up:
Nick Beggs: Basses, guitars, Chapman Stick, programming, keyboards and vocals
Roger King: keyboards, programming, guitars, backing vocals, production and mastering
Marco Minnemann: drums, additional guitars

Guests on the album:
Alex Lifeson – assorted stringed instruments
Craig Blundell – drums
Rob Townsend – flute, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Lula Beggs – backing vocals

Tracks:
1. Atheists and Believers
2. One Day
3. Knucklehed
4. Envy the Dead
5. Sonic Boom
6. Old Men
7. The House Where Love Once Lived
8. Iridium Heart
9. Twisted World Godless Universe
10. I Think of You

Label: InsideOut Music
Website: themutegods.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/themutegods
Twitter: twitter.com/themutegods

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