Radio Show Hiatus

As many folks might know, I have a weekly radio show that airs live on Sundays on Metal World Radio. It has been also rebroadcast Tuesdays on Delicious Agony Radio. I’ve decided to put the show on hiatus for now. There are a few reasons for it and since there’s going to be speculation, I decided to use this post to both alert people to the hiatus and clear up the reasons why.

As people know, I am winding down reviews and that has given me a bit of relief. Additionally I am in the process of changing jobs in the middle of a pandemic. High risk, high reward. On Friday Juneteenth, two close friends were killed in a tragic car accident. Both were very supportive of PMP and I met them thru the Facebook page. My last radio show was a tribute to them and it turned out to be the hardest show I’ve done. One of the hardest things to do emotionally.

I actually got up from the mic many times during the music because I was too much of a wreck. So that show was draining. Subsequently, I’ve had an issue with some friends that became somewhat of a final straw. I think if any of these things were spread out, I’d have handled all of this and the show differently. But I can’t do another show now.

I know I come off as this gruff blow hard but to be quite honest, I am over sensitive and use that exterior to block it out if I can. The last show was raw emotion and to try to pick up the pieces whilst having unfortunate disagreements with my inner circle…it’s just time for it.

So that’s the deal. I do love doing the radio show normally. It’s not like reviews that I never enjoyed. But right now, I would resent myself for doing another radio show and that’s not the proper frame of mind for music. I am sure I’ll be back on the air at some point. When? I don’t know. Thank you all for listening to it either live or otherwise.

Cheers,27857751_10156354240383938_3754386157897054753_n
Rob

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Rob’s Recommendation Roundup: Volume 21

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Long Distance Calling – “How Do We Want To Live?”
Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: June 26, 2020

One of the best instrumental bands out there is Germany’s Long Distance Calling. I should probably call them “mostly” instrumental since they always have had vocals on each album. Sometimes it would be one track with a guest vocalist like John Bush, Vincent Cavanagh or Jonas Renkse. A couple of albums featured a full time band member on vocals for about half the album.

The band have since gone to a full on instrumental approach for their last album “Boundless” and the current one “How Do We Want To Live?” but there are still voices to be found. Another thing the band have always done is use samples of various voices to make their point. “How Do We Want To Live?” veers a bit overboard with said samples. I don’t mind SOME but when the opening track is basically dialogue, I am inclined to skip it.

I know what you’re thinking. “I thought this was a recommendations column?” Well despite those reservations, LDC still deliver another quality album. Perhaps it’s not as stellar as their self titled album or “TRIPS” but this band know how to write a riff and use the space in between the notes as well as anyone out there. The main difference with “How Do We Want To Live?” is that it sounds more like a soundtrack to a non-existent movie than their previous works.

I think that they are a band like Mogwai for example that should be doing soundtracks. The songs paint pictures without needing vocals. Though as I’ve mentioned that they have used vocals and were just as potent with them as without. That sort of talent should not go unnoticed. Long Distance Calling are a dependably great band who are a band that if I am not sure who I want to listen to, I can put them on and always enjoy myself. “How Do We Want To Live?” is a fine addition to those “go-to” albums.

 

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Voivod – “The End Of Dormancy EP”
Label: Century Media
Friday, July 10, 2020

I love everything that Voivod does so this recommendation is a no brainer for me. What is this EP? “Collectible limited edition 3-track 12” Vinyl and Digital EP featuring a special “Metal Section” version of the title track “The End Of Dormancy” with added trumpets, saxophone and trombones” PLUS 2 live version of “The End of Dormancy” and “The Unknown Knows” recorded at Montreal Jazz Fest 2019!

This EP stems from that performance at the Montreal Jazz Fest when Voivod became the first metal band invited to play there. So they brought a horn section for some of the songs. Those songs are part of this EP along with a horned-up studio version of “The End Of Dormancy.” All of this shows just how otherworldly the music of Voivod is. NO ONE sounds like them. And as it turns out they can adapt to whatever situation they are put in.

If you are a fan of the band, you need this. If you don’t know Voivod, this is as good a way as any to be brave and join us.

 

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Morse/Portnoy/George – “Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3)”
Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: July 24, 2020

Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and Randy George have done a ton of albums together over the years. And since Portnoy loves doing covers, they have always recorded some as deluxe edition bonus tracks. Eventually, they released them as part of 2 installments: “Cover to Cover” and “Cover 2 Cover.” Now they have added a third round called appropriately “Cov3r to Cov3r.” And the label has packaged all three together (remastering the first two) as “Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3).”

The key to these releases are the songs. The band have very good taste in music and are willing to take chances when it comes to song selection every now and then. They do tend to stick to the original arrangements though. While that might be a safer option, if you can play a song like “One More Red Nightmare,” why on Earth would you fuck with the arrangement?

I always loved “Cover 2 Cover” a little more when it came to the first 2 releases because of some of the chances they took. “Lido Shuffle” is one of my all time favorite songs. And if you have the balls to do “Crazy Horses” by the Osmonds (which is a great song), you are cool as hell. Plus they nail King Crimson’s “Starless” and what can you say about that really?

The third album has some great choices. “Baker Street”has added balls to it and they do such a great job on TWO Squeeze songs: “Black Coffee in Bed” and “Tempted.” While I’ve never been keen on Lenny Kravitz’s “Let Love Rule” (he has a lot better songs), they still do a fine job on the song. Plus it’s a message we ALL need right now!

All three albums are a lot of fun and worth owning. It’s even cooler that they come as a 3 disc package for folks they may not have purchased them to this point. Neal Morse is still a musical jukebox and both Mike Portnoy and Randy George have a great chemistry together. Don’t expect these versions to be BETTER than the originals (although some are) but instead just put it on and forget about life for a while.

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An Update from Rob

I’ve decided to scale back even more on writing reviews with the goal of stopping them. I just don’t have the time and, quite frankly, the interest in writing them. There are so many sites and blogs out there that write reviews and do a much better job than I do. I’m not a journalist and don’t enjoy writing in general. I was an English major in college and had my fill of writing paper after paper. That killed any desire I might have had.

Writing reviews also effected how I listen to music in general. Instead of just listening to something, I am judging what I hear right from the first note. I do love music but this has really twisted things for me. I don’t like that. The mission of PMP was for me to just make suggestions to other people. “Hey, check this out!” And that was supposed to be it. But it became more than that.

So what does this mean? Well of course the Facebook page goes on as it always has. That is my “home.” Even if I do less there, I can handle it okay. The radio show goes on. I do enjoy doing it even if my audience is small. It’s dedicated audience and what more could you want?

But for this website, there will be less. I’m going to take it one release at a time and be more picky than ever. Eventually, I plan on stopping. I’ll just post some things here when it strikes me. It’s strange that indie bands still try to submit albums for review to me when I stopped that quite a while back. Now I will just stop.

There are 3 InsideOut releases coming that I will review after that…I guess we’ll see.

Cheers,
Rob27857751_10156354240383938_3754386157897054753_n

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Frost* – “Others” EP

othersFrost* are back! And the good news is that this is actually just the beginning. “Others” is an EP of songs left off their last album “Falling Satellites.” The songs weren’t completely finished, but now they are. This EP will be released digitally on June 5, 2020 and will be released as part of the limited “13 Winters” anthology-artbook physically later this year. Also, the band are currently finishing the 4th album right now and it should be released in September!

Mastermind Jem Godfrey has always tweaked the band’s sound just a bit album to album but this EP definitely feels like a part of “Falling Satellites.” It’s very up front and modern sounding. This is definitely not rooted in the classic 70s sound. Granted, Jem has never been too interested in being a nostalgia act. Frost* walk that line between heavier prog rock while stopping just short of being actual prog metal. It’s always interesting. This EP is no exception, though a mixed bag.

The pounding synth laden “Fathers” makes for an awesome start to the album. It is a relentless track with an outstanding hook and Jem’s synths really drive this one. The second track “Clouda” is very…modern sounding. For me, it does veer very close to sounding overly processed. The percussion is electronic which isn’t bad necessarily, but it is a tad harsh. The off-setting acoustic guitar parts are nice though.

“Exhibit A” is the first single from “Others” and has the trademark noisy synths. There’s a group chant vocal in the track that I really don’t like, otherwise I suppose the song is good. “Fathom” is a welcome respite from the clatter of the opening tracks. It’s a Frost* ballad, with strings and an excellent vocal from Jem. My favorite track for sure.

“Eat” is a bit annoying. It’s creative. But the use of voices as instruments drives me nuts. It’s too mainstream pop sounding and lacks any sort of depth. The EP ends with “Drown” which is another mellower song with a lot of atmosphere. It’s a pretty sounding song that reminds me a bit of ELO (who I love). My second favorite track.

“Others” works as a stop-gap which is what it is. I can see why some of these songs didn’t make the last album while others deserved to be heard. 4 out of 6 are decent songs with two clunkers. Decent odds I guess. It’s not a new album but I am curious how much this EP will impact the direction of the next album. We shall see.

Rating: 7/10

Tracklist:
1. Fathers
2. Clouda
3. Exhibit A
4. Fathom
5. Eat
6. Drown

Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: June 5, 2020

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Rob’s Recommendation Roundup: Volume 20

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Hail Spirit Noir – “Eden In Reverse”
Agonia Records
19 June 2020

I hadn’t heard of Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir prior to this so I had no expectations coming into this. From what I read about them, they were more rooted in psych rock with a bit of black metal and now they were experimenting with an 80s style. In listening to “Eden In Reverse,” I don’t really hear anything 80s sounding. Hmm ok so I went back and checked out their last album “Mayhem In Blue.” This was completely different.

They basically lost their black metal roots for their new album which were VERY present on “Mayhem In Blue.” “Eden In Reverse” is very 70s prog rock mixed with psych rock and is really amazing too! Honestly the band has made a major change between these albums and yet it doesn’t appear to be noted anywhere. This really is perplexing. I wouldn’t call them a metal band now and that’s fine really. It’s like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

The album starts off with the somewhat brief and very strange “Darwinian Beasts.” I love it! It’s all about the various keyboard sounds on this track, very cool and trippy. Things get louder with “Incense Swirls” which HINTS at the band’s metal past but this is more like Goblin with vocals. So it’s edgy but I wouldn’t call it metallic really. Another psychedelic freak out. “Alien Lip Reading” is along the same lines though I bit less relentless. One thing to note is the vocals are very…Nick Cave like. Not a black metal shriek to be found.

The first single from the album “The First Ape on New Earth” has plenty of organ, synths and pounding drums. It’s a great choice since it makes for a solid representation of the album as a whole. And it make sure it’s a prog album, it has the necessary 10+ minute closer in “Automata 1980.” If you love vintage keys mixed with solid melodies and a dark vibe, then you will love this song. Hell, you’ll love the whole album as I do. Hail Spirit Noir have ARRIVED and “Eden In Reverse” needs to he heard by prog fans around the world! So I guess they aren’t black metal anymore.

 

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Shaman Elephant – “Wide Awake but Still Asleep”
Karisma Records
29 May 2020

I could just say, “if you like Motorpsycho, then you’ll like Shaman Elephant.” But that doesn’t help folks who don’t know Motorpsycho. Yes you should know them. Norwegian prog rock seems to share the same overall DNA, which is probably why I love it.

“Wide Awake but Still Asleep” is the band’s second album and starts off with the title track. The song, like the album, builds up and features a classic 70s vibe and I started to think, “wow, a cool instrumental!” And then 5 minutes in, VOCALS! The song gets a little jazzy which is where the Motorpsycho vibe comes it.

To be clear, Shaman Elephant know how to ROCK as well. I am sick of prog rock bands that forget the rock part of the genre. “H.M.S. Death, Rattle and Roll” kicks some major ass and damn they can jam out. You want cool riffs? The oddly titled “Steely Dan” has a cool guitar riff, along with great keys. VERY Motorpsycho sounding vocally. And I love that they remind me of them since I love that band as well.

But Shaman Elephant are not a clone. Tracks like “Magnets” are very much their spin on prog, mixing old and new sounds. Plus, these are great songs! It’s fine that the band can play (and they can!) but you’re nothing without good songs and “Wide Awake but Still Asleep” is full of them! And yes there’s an epic of course. “Traveller” is the big track and it’s a complete showcase for this amazing band!

I have no idea how so many bands are on Karisma Records but it’s a credit to the label but more to the great country of Norway. The country gets overshadowed by Sweden and many other countries but for me, bands like Shaman Elephant make Norwegian prog as good as any prog out there.

 

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Airbag – “A Day at the Beach”
Karisma Records
19 June 2020

Airbag can do no wrong as far as I am concerned. It’s been a while since the last album but the good news is that they still sound like Airbag, a mix of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree…but perhaps wearing those influences less prominently. Airbag have honed those influences into their own brand of modern prog. It’s melodic and powerful for sure.

“A Day at the Beach” is the fifth release by Airbag and yes, they have done it once again. The throbbing synths slowly bring the opening song “Machines And Men” to life. Even though it’s definitely Airbag, the band show they can do different things. The song (like the album as a whole) is more electronic than anything they’ve tried in the past but it doesn’t stay that way. Rather, it’s a way to set the mood for the song itself.

Another favorite is “Into The Unknown.” Again, the song builds slowly. Airbag know how to arrange a song and let it breathe. And if you’re wondering, what about the guitar solos? Bjorn Riis has an amazing solo on this track. “Sunsets” has a bit of an 80s vibe to it. The keys are more abrasive here. That tends to be the overall sound of “A Day at the Beach.” The key is that Airbag still balances it with their classic sound. Like on “Sunsets,” it’s the chorus that brings back that old Airbag sound.

Where does “A Day at the Beach” rank with the rest of the band’s catalog? It’s hard to say at the moment. Each time I hear it, I hear more things that I don’t recall from the last time. It’s layered, yet not overly so. Subtle but infectious. Sounds like Airbag! They have indeed done it again! BUY IT!

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Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant

CH-RRCaligula’s Horse returns from Down Under with album number 5. Rise Radiant is another logical step in the band’s evolution. I recently went back and walked my way through their discography, while the core of what make them them is still present, you can hear along the way that they seem to ever inch their way heavier and heavier and this album is no exception. There are some fantastically heavier moments on this one but still some of their signature softer ones.

The band is almost the same this time around, with the exception of the change in bass with Dale Prinsse. All the others are here: Jim Grey on vocals, Sam Vallen on lead guitar, Adrian Goleby on guitar as well, and Josh Griffin on drums. And I must say that the band are as tight as ever. Let’s dive right into this beast.
The Tempest comes raging in with some quick drum work and some nice djenty guitars and settles into what they are known for: Time changes and melodies. Great lead in track.

Slow Violence was one of the initial singles, see video below, and is a nice djenty rocker. Jim has an abrupt, brooding style to the vocals in the verses that I dig but still those ever present and flawless vocal harmonies on the chorus.

Seeing us back in a more lighter fare, Salt reminds me more of Caligula of old. Great drum work here too. This song shifts moods and styles to boot: Alternating calm and rocking. Nicely balanced. I’ve heard some say you can hear similarities to Haken on this album and, granted, there have been some similarities all along between their styles. But there does seem to be a mergence going on with both band’s sounds. But it works. And this is clearly Caligula’s Horse. But you could play a section of this song for someone and they might go “Is this Haken?”

The shortest track on the album is Resonate, and I kind of feel that is a crime. This track sees them channeling Seal quite nicely, a la, the Kiss from a Rose era. Would love to have heard this expanded upon. But it’s calmness helps us transition nicely into…

Oceanrise with its misleading calm and quick intro before the drums kick in. Another slice of Classic CH. “Be the flood. Be the ocean.” Jim, soft and gruff, delivers the verses but then lets loose on the chorus. Why is their music so singable?

Up next we get another heavy rocker in Valkyrie that shows these guys are at the top of their progressive game. Love the heaviness to this. And as much as I love their softer side, would like to hear more of this side too.

Speaking of their softer side, Autumn slams on the brakes with a slow and soft start with Jim over acoustic guitars. But it doesn’t stay that way. It’s funny the last track is called The Ascent, but it is this one that slowly builds to a huge sounding close. I love songs that pay off this way. You can tell there is an underlying tension waiting to unleash and when it does… glorious. This could totally have been an album closer.

And, just like that, we abruptly hit The Ascent. Another classic slice of CH, with all their hallmarks. Jim’s soothing vocals along with the driving drums, melodic guitar, and pounding bass. What’s not to love here. That instrumental section is pretty lit too with a nice little guitar solo from Sam Vallen. I think they shine most in their softer pauses between the rock… that calm between the storms. And you get that nicely here just before it opens up and carries us to the end with some great layered vocal melodies. Though, personally, I think Autumn may have worked better as the closer. But that is just me.

Sadly, once again, the bonus tracks/covers were not part of the review copy. But I am glad to see that they are on the physical disc being sold! I was thoroughly disappointed last time when I found that Atlas Revisited wasn’t on the CD but was on the streaming platforms. That was a head scratcher.

And that’s it… over too soon. Another classic from Caligula’s Horse. Though, I will admit, it didn’t grab me as immediately at first as In Contact did, but with repeated listens, it really shines. So, check it out! And don’t be so quick to brush it off if it doesn’t grab you at first!

 

Rating: 9/10

 

Tracklist:
1. The Tempest
2. Slow Violence
3. Salt
4. Resonate
5. Oceanrise
6. Valkyrie
7. Autumn
8. The Ascent
9. Don’t Give Up (Bonus Track) – Peter Gabriel Cover
10. Message to My Girl (Bonus track) – Split Enz Cover
Label:
Release Date: 22/05/2020
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Haken – “Virus”

virusLet’s get this out of the way, the album title for the new Haken album is “Virus” and the timing for that name is…unfortunate. I suppose the upside is that it’s not called “COVID-19.” The title is a direct tie into the last album “Vector” which this album is the sequel of. I didn’t really care much for “Vector” so when it came time to listen to “Virus,” I was quite worried.

Haken have been so good for so long that releasing something like “Vector” was bound to happen. The songs didn’t really hit me and overall it sounded like they were trying to copy the 80s vibe from “Affinity” but it came off really weird. The album also ended oddly but that makes more sense given that “Virus” is intended to pick up where “Vector” left off.

“Virus” is a great album though. While I think “Vector” needs “Virus” to lean on, “Virus” can stand on its own. This is the album that I wanted Haken to make after the amazing “Affinity.” It kicks off with the KILLER opener “Prosthetic” which has a great riff (though it sounds familiar) and this song alone sounds better than anything on the last album. But it doesn’t stop there!

“Invasion” has a throbbing synth and an off kilter vocal line that sounds more like something Leprous would try but when it kicks in…WOW! It’s definitely Haken! And the hooks on both of the first tracks are as good as they have done. “Carousel” is the 10 minute epic that the band are so good at. A long song that doesn’t feel long at all. The song has plenty of good riffs that sound more like Haken has in the past. Less djenty and more straight up prog metal. And the solo section toward the end is amazing.

The key to this album is that the songs have their own identities and stand out from each other. “The Strain” could be a single while “Canary Yellow” has been released as a single. The latter has a more mellow vibe to it which makes for a nice break before the massive 5 part “Messiah Complex” hits you in the face. One thing that “Vector” lacked was a track like this one. MASSIVE!

Even as daunting as this epic is, Haken never lose the listener. Each part can stand on its own, much like I said of the rest of the album itself. Parts to note: “Messiah Complex II: A Glutton for Punishment” is ridiculous. “Messiah Complex IV: The Sect” is shorter and still packs a punch! But it has these mellow sections that make the heavier parts even heavier. There is a video game like part which should bug me but for whatever reason doesn’t.

“Only Stars” is a short, mellow closer that still sounds odd enough to be interesting and not a throw away. What about the theme? How about you figure that out for yourself? The bottom line is that Haken have bounced back with one of their best releases. “Virus” is as good as anything they have done. We might be fighting a real virus in the world but this album is a good respite from all of that.

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:

1. Prosthetic
2. Invasion
3. Carousel
4. The Strain
5. Canary Yellow
6. Messiah Complex I: Ivory Tower
7. Messiah Complex II: A Glutton for Punishment
8. Messiah Complex III: Marigold
9. Messiah Complex IV: The Sect
10. Messiah Complex V: Ectobius Rex
11. Only Stars

Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: 5 June 2020
Website: hakenmusic.com

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Subsignal – A Song For The Homeless (Live in Rüsselsheim 2019)

GAOM065_Subsignal_2400_RGB smallerSubsignal return with their first live release in 8 years. Coming off the support tour for their latest release, La Muerta, the band are in top form and blaze through a career spanning set and show just what they are about.

I had the privilege to see them at ProgPower USA this past year and was blown away. I’ve always loved their music and sound, but their live presence just kicked everything up a notch. And the set we have here is pretty much the same one we got at ProgPower, with a few changes and a bit longer. So… MORE!

And seeing as how live albums are always a little iffy to review for me, I will make this easy for ya’ll. If you know who Subsignal are and what they sound like, just know this is a great sounding live album with the band sounding fantastic. If you aren’t familiar with them, then read on…

We are eased into the show with the opening notes of Touchstones, all calm and soothing and then kicking in with the guitars and continuing in an almost album perfect rendition.

One of my favorite songs of theirs, Ashes of Summer, is next and it is just as lively, melodic, and driving as its album counterpart. The airy nature to this live version is a perfect fit. If there was ever a song that should have been a rock radio hit of theirs, it was this one. This album just screams to be listened to outside. Another summer evening album!

The first new song (off the latest album) of the set, The Bells of Lyonesse, and it sounds great in the live setting. Perfect show case for their gift of melody. The chorus just soars. And as I mentioned before about the perfect song for rock radio, this latest album is full of them. It is seriously a crime they are not bigger than they are now.

The Sea comes in next and highlights how great the drums sound here. Love the ocean waves breaking, too. This also shows how in sync these guys are. The vocals are spot on with the harmonies and Arno really shines here. And the Rush-ness in their sound, especially with that guitar tone, really comes out here too.

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Walking with Ghosts is a more brooding track with a nice crunchy guitar in just the right places to add to the ambiance. And dare I say it again… melody!

Once again, the Rush vibe is shining through on Even though the Stars Don’t Shine. This is such an upbeat and mood-lifting song and I love it in all its incarnations. You can’t NOT sing along with this one.

The Passage is up next and is as bombastic as ever. Subsignal have a great knack for recreating the album versions of their songs live. This is exactly what I, personally, look for in a live show. The press release mentions that the band wasn’t trying to do this at all or try to be perfect with it. But, I swear, all the little flourishes that are present on the album are present here and sync my memories up with what I’m hearing.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate when artists change things up for themselves, but when my expectations are met with a presentation… I don’t know… endorphins? We are also treated to a great drum solo in this song. The keys sound fantastic here too! The band really are on fire.

The title track from their latest studio album, La Muerta rips along in all its singable glory and, yes, that Rush guitar tone. Another highlight!

And My Sanctuary carries us on in some more 80’s Rush influenced feels with some big choruses. Love that airy guitar in this one with the crowd clapping along. I can close my eyes and it feels like I’m there.

Time and Again segues us into Paraiso which keeps the sing along nature of this show going.

And, closing the album, Paradigm follows and just oozes their great penchant for melody. My only complaint here is the guitar seems to have a lack of bite when it should sound heavier but it does sound great with the solos.

So, there you go. This album serves as a great selection of the band where they are now in their career. If you are a fan, this will go great in your collection as a nice slice of a live experience for a band that it isn’t so easy to see live, at least in the US. And if you aren’t familiar with them, this would be a good place to start. Or if you don’t care for live albums, there is always the collection of songs released recently, A Canopy of Stars, that will be a good intro, though without any of the new stuff.

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Rating 8/10

Tracklist:

1. Touchstones
2. Ashes of Summer
3. The Bells of Lyonesse
4. The Sea
5. Walking with Ghosts
6. Even though the Stars don’t shine
7. The passage (incl. drum solo)
8. La Muerta
9. My Sanctuary
10. Time and Again
11. Paraiso

12. Paradigm

Label: Gentle Art of Music
Release Date: 22/05/2020

 

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Rob’s Recommendation Roundup: Volume 19

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Secrets of the Moon – “Black House”
Label: Prophecy Productions
Release Date: 8 May 2020

Secrets of the Moon aren’t a prog band in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, I am quite sure that most people would scoff at the notion. But I am not most people. The fact is that they have and do progress from album to album. The biggest change for them was on their last album “Sun,” which saw them move away from their doom laden black metal roots and embrace a more approachable dark rock style.

It’s safe to say that if you are a long time fan of bands like Katatonia and Paradise Lost (see next entry), then you will enjoy the direction that Secrets of the Moon have taken. They have gone a bit further in that direction on their new album “Black House” which also features one of the best album covers I have ever seen. The album is still quite dark…I mean it is a BLACK house. And it is still very much in line with the essence of the band.

Frontman SG has a distinctive clean voice that has gotten stronger and more confident over the years. The opener “Sanctum” is a pounding gothic anthem and a great start to the album. The next two songs are the first releases from the album. “Don’t Look Now” sounds incredibly bleak yet has synths that provide a ray of light. “Veronica’s Room” is a catchy tune and a logical selection as a first single.

“Cotard” shows that Secrets of the Moon are quite capable of doing something beautiful. The title track is as ominous as one would assume with a title like it has. But still the chorus provides a bit of reprieve musically. The closing track “Earth Hour” is another favorite that would work as a song by The Mission. While Secrets of the Moon are unpredictable musically, they are quite reliable when it comes to making great albums and “Black House” is yet another one.

 

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Paradise Lost – “Obsidian”
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 15 May 2020

I’ve loved Paradise Lost for a very long time. Draconian Times was the album that sucked me in. I stuck with the band thru all of the experiments too. Personally I think “Host” is a brave and brilliant album. I am probably in the minority. One thing that I love about Paradise Lost is that fearlessness. They do whatever the fuck they want.

The last 2 albums the band have revisited their earlier death metal sound and mixed it with some doom. For me though, both “The Plague Within” and “Medusa” sound very safe with “Medusa” being rather boring. I miss that sound they had on their self titled album or even on “Tragic Idol,” which was for me one of the best albums they have ever done.

“Obsidian” had a teaser that suggested a step back to that sound and musically it does have a lot more variety than either of the last two albums. “Darker Thoughts” is a great song though the problem is that Nick Holmes is still clinging to his dust choked harsh vocal and using it where it isn’t really needed. It doesn’t ruin the song (or others) but it’s the one thing that sounds a bit forced at times.

There are a lot of really good songs on “Obsidian” like “Ghosts”or “Forsaken” or the massive “Ravenghast.” The last one makes good use of his death vocals though. There’s a time and place for everything. The good news is that “Obsidian” merges the things that Paradise Lost have been doing lately with some of the sounds they have developed over the years. The bottom line is that this is just a great batch of songs and that’s always been the key for this legendary band.

leaves

Green Carnation – “Leaves of Yesteryear”
Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: 8 May 2020

If you don’t know Green Carnation, stop reading this and go listen to “Light of Day, Day of Darkness.” That album redefined what was possible in progressive metal. One song, one hour. From there the band, stripped their sound down a bit and focused more on songs than being epic. It still worked though. Their last album was “Acoustic Verses” which showed they didn’t need amplification to sound amazing.

Ah but that was 2006. So if Tool can re-emerge after the same hiatus, so can Green Carnation. “Leaves of Yesteryear” harkens back to their earlier sound especially since they revisit an early song, “My Dark Reflections of Life and Death” which was on their debut album “Journey to the End of the Night.” It proves that Green Carnation were way ahead of their time as this song sounds as current as ever.

The title track opens the album and was the first song released. It’s dark and has a great hook. Kjetil Nordhus still has one of my favorite voices in music. The guy can just sing. “Sentinels” is another great, somewhat radio friendly track. Well, assuming radio played great music which it doesn’t. OK my radio show does and I will be playing this one for sure. The album closes with a somewhat obligatory cover of the Black Sabbath song “Solitude.” It’s on brand with their song and it’s a good rendition.

If you love Green Carnation, you will love “Leaves of Yesteryear.” It’s a nice reintroduction to the band. It also makes for a nice overview of the band for those who don’t know this Norwegian powerhouse. I am hoping this means that they have returned for a while. Tchort seems to be motivated and “Leaves of Yesteryear” sounds like Green Carnation have something to prove.

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Molitoth is set to release “The Tribunal” on June 26, premieres new track!

I was a big fan of the band A Light Within and their frontman Kyle Brandt has a new solo project called Molitoth. Kyle is a super talented person and I thought I’d help out by premiering a new track from the album “The Tribunal” which is released on June 26th. Check out the song “Confessional Lock.” Here’s the press release:


On June 26th, 2020 artist Kyle Brandt will release the first LP from his new project “Molitoth” entitled “The Tribunal”.

Brandt had this to say: “Be prepared to embark in an emotional chronological timeline of regrettable actions and consequence, resulting in different stages of grief. “The Tribunal” explores condensed meditation techniques to help balance the anxieties that stem from feelings of accusation, entrapment, and confinement.”

Brandt (Molitoth) is a Vocalist/Producer/Composer from Kansas City, Missouri (USA) that has released a 3-part diary series; (Preface/Body Matter/Epilogue) with the band “A Light Within” and has collaborated with Post-Metal act “Sisters of…”, with critical acclaim, among others.

As a student of Daniel Tompkins Vocal Coaching; Brandt brings a focus in atmosphere, range, and vocal dynamics to provide a distinct presence with undeniable charisma, all while wrapped in thoroughly written lyrics that are metaphorically relative, without becoming too abstract.

Molitoth is set to release “The Tribunal”, which is the first full length conceptual installment of the project. Be prepared to embark in an emotional chronological timeline of regrettable actions and consequence, resulting in five stages of grief. It was recorded and mixed in Kansas City by Kyle Brandt and mastered by Acle Kahney (TesseracT) at 4D Sounds. The LP will be released in both digital and limited release physical formats.

 Bandcamp: molitoth.bandcamp.com/album/the-tribunal

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