Dream Theater release first track from upcoming album (Warning: opinions!)

Untethered

Dream Theater release the first song from their upcoming album “Distance Over Time.” The song is called “Untethered Angel” and it’s the opening track on the album. It sounds like Dream Theater. But according to some fans of the band, it sounds too much like Dream Theater.

DT fans are easily the most fickle bunch of fans out there. They complain and whine about EVERYTHING! If the song sounds too much like an older song, they complain. If it sounds different, they complain about that. “The Astonishing” is a great example of that. Then there are the Portnoy sycophants who still haven’t let go for 8 years!

I like the new song. Is it my favorite DT song ever? Of course not. But I’d rather have this track over many others that the band did…with Portnoy. Should all DT fans like the song regardless? Of course not. But maybe those folks just aren’t into the band anymore. That’s fine too.

But what I don’t get are the people who bitch about it and then say “I haven’t liked anything by them since ______.” The only reason those people comment is for their own ego. Self important bullshit. Hell, this website is just an extension of my own ego to a degree. It just helps to be self aware.

“Untethered Angel” has great hooks, great solos and great production. It gets a lot done in 6 minutes and sounds like a band enjoying themselves. It works for me. It might work for you. So listen to it…or don’t.

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Rank ‘Em: Queen studio albums

With the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” doing so well and that I did a “Freddie fix” last month on the Facebook page, it seemed only natural to rank Queen’s 15 studio albums. This was at times very easy and other times not so much. I have a feeling it will surprise people!

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15. Flash Gordon
While I do like the Flash Gordon soundtrack a lot, I rarely listen to it. It’s good for what it is though.

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14. Made in Heaven
Along the same lines, this album was essentially thrown together with material the band pieced together when Freddie was on his death bed. It’s a nice gift from the grave but the songs aren’t always that strong. The version of “Too Much Love Will Kill You” is amazing, taking on a new meaning with Freddie singing it.

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13. A Kind of Magic
This album has some really great songs on it…but others that just do nothing for me. For some reason, I just never connected with this album. It can move up a couple of slots though as the 2 albums ranked higher can definitely slip.

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12. Hot Space
The much maligned “Hot Space” doesn’t deserve all of the shit that it gets. Yes there are songs that SUCK. But there are some awesome songs on it as well. “Under Pressure” is one of my favorites, also “Las Palabras de Amor,” “Put Out the Fire,” “Calling All Girls” and “Action This Day” are great songs too. This album can fall a couple of spots for me though.

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11. The Miracle
“The Miracle” is another tough album for me. “I Want it All” is one of my all time favorites which is really the main reason it is at #11. Without that song, the album would be at or near the bottom. It doesn’t rank any higher than this.

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10. Queen
I like their debut album but I’ve never loved it. It’s not GRAND enough and I never really connected with it. “Keep Yourself Alive” is still my favorite on this album however “Son and Daughter” is a very underrated track.

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9. The Game
Yes I am sick of “Another One Bites the Dust.” Who isn’t? But songs like “Save Me,” “Sail Away Sweet Sister,” “Play the Game” and “Need Your Loving Tonight” are all awesome songs. I think this one is a solid right at 9 for me.

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8. A Day at the Races
Now we are getting into my favorites. This album is definitely my 8th favorite. A very good album all the way through, very consistent but no great moments for me. “Someone to Love” is as close to that as it gets for me.

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7. Sheer Heart Attack
6. Jazz
These two are interchangeable. Each have a ton of great songs but each have a little bit of filler here and there. Each have some favorite songs on them. Not sure why Jazz is higher but whatever!

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5. The Works
I LOVE this album. It kills me to have it sitting at #5. I think it’s about one song short of being perfect. Still “Hammer to Fall” is fucking amazing and “Radio GAGA” deserves to be the classic that it is. “Is this the World We Created…?” is a personal favorite.

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4. A Night at the Opera
3. Queen II
I know people will just assume “A Night at the Opera” is #1. It can move up a slot but I do think “Queen II” is better. To me these are very similar albums. They both are very progressive and grand. The songs are all really great.

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2. Innuendo
Only one bad song on this album, otherwise it is the perfect album. I love cats but still. This is how you end a career. “The Show Must Go On” is such an incredible song. The title track is epic. So many many great songs!

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1. News of the World
“Innuendo” would be an easy top pick if it wasn’t for this album. This was the album that I wore out as a kid. Every song, every note. It has a special place in my heart so I suppose that is a bias. But that happens to us all. “Spread Your Wings” is my favorite Queen song too.

That’s my list! Tell me how wrong I am and give me your list!

Posted in art rock, hard rock, progressive rock | Tagged | 2 Comments

Editorial: Why does Derek Sherinian still have a grudge against Jordan Rudess?

67911_0_wide_ver1507733356.jpg@642Twenty years ago (I can’t believe it’s that LONG), Jordan Rudess was asked to join Dream Theater. The problem was the band had a keyboardist in Derek Sherinian. Sherinian was a really good player too. But both John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy felt more chemistry working with Rudess on the Liquid Tension Experiment album(s). Moreover, Rudess was actually the FIRST choice to replace Kevin Moore back in 1994.

Back in 1994, the band needed a keyboardist to play the Foundations Forum gig that they had scheduled. Moore had just left and they were in a bind. They had heard of Rudess and knew he was an incredible player. So he played the one show with them. They offered him the job and he declined citing family restrictions at the time. So the band looked at TWO other keyboardists. One of them was Sherinian. The band was split 2-2 on which to hire (as a sideman). The tie breaker was that Sherinian went to Berklee.

After “Falling into Infinity,” the band was struggling. Portnoy was threatening to quit. Following the LTE album, they realized they should play with musicians that they wanted to. So they asked Rudess to join for a second time. He said he would. So they had to fire Sherinian even though he had done nothing wrong. But clearly he wasn’t their first choice. Sherinian was recording his first solo album “Planet X” at the time and would go on to record more and more insanely proggy albums. Clearly he was out to prove that DT had made a mistake and underestimated him.

20 years later, he clearly isn’t over it. He formed Sons of Apollo with Portnoy, who had been one of the guys who fired him from DT. Apparently, that’s fine? Instead, Sherinian has made multiple comments in videos, on Facebook and in print disparaging Rudess. His passive aggressive insults reference “apps,” “music stands” and other things that Rudess has used. It’s rather sad really.

The fact that Sherinian was canned from DT because the band wanted Rudess from the start is NOT Rudess’ fault. Portnoy has apparently made Sherinian believe that Rudess is at fault and not Portnoy himself. Look, I think Sons of Apollo are a good band. They are not better than Dream Theater. Why? They have one fucking album. That album is better than the last few the band made with Portnoy and better than the Astonishing but so what? Sherinian wants a competition. Music is NOT a competition and DT has not said a bad word about him or Sons of Apollo.

GROW UP, DEREK! LET IT FUCKING GO! Show some class, man. If you wanna be mad at Petrucci, okay it’s been 20 years but go ahead. Oh, he has played on your solo albums? Ok then. Be mad at Portnoy then! Oh, you need him for the success of Sons of Apollo? Ok then. But to be pissed at Rudess for being the guy the band wanted to replace Kevin Moore from the start makes no sense to me. Sure you had every right to be mad about the situation. But why have a grudge against him now? Wasted energy. Move on, Derek.

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Marcela Bovio – Through Your Eyes

cover-smallHere we are just about two months after the last album she appeared on, Mayan’s Dhyana, and we are greeted with more of the illustrious voice that is Marcela Bovio with her latest solo effort, Through Your Eyes. Normally, this type of album wouldn’t be on the radar of a progressive music site. But it is a solo album by Marcela Bovio, who, if you aren’t aware, has some ties to the progressive world. As I already said, she is featured in the band Mayan as one of the primary singers and was on The Gentle Storm album from a few years ago as well as her band Stream of Passion. So given that connection, I am going to review this one. And I just think Marcela is awesome. So there.
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What we have here is an album that was born out of stories she gathered from the fundraising campaign for the album. 9 stories were chosen from the campaign contributors to use on this album. It is described as “melancholic chamber music” so there is nothing on here metal or rock at all. Just strings, piano, and her fantastic voice.
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The Edge of the World is a freaking gorgeous love song and a perfect showcase of Marcela’s powerful voice which builds, at one point to an amazing swell. Great lead track. Scientist is up next (you can see a lyric video below) with its inquisition of existence followed by a “you’re stronger than you know” kind of song in Roardin. And Marcela’s sister Diana joins her on Here to Stay and provides some great harmonies.
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I won’t spoil all the stories here, but do want to call out a couple of more peaks on this one in The Silence Before the Storm which is yet another showcase of the power of Marcela with some excellent piano and strings to boot. Love the melody here. And in Thorns and Roses she slips nicely between languages and, of course, handles it flawlessly. Very beautiful piece.
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I’m not one that usually goes for this kind of music but what you have here is REALLY good. She just carries it up to another level. So if you are looking for something very laid back (think sitting inside on a cold, rainy/snowy day with a hot beverage and just relaxing) then this just might be for you. There are multiple ways this can be pre-ordered from her website, so check it out. But definitely watch the videos released so far and see if it is for you. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.
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Rating: Really freaking good!
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Tracklisting:
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1- The Edge of the World
2- Scientist
3- Roardin
4- Icarus
5- Here to Stay
6- Magic Powers
7- Remember Me
8- Thorns and Roses
9- The Silence Before the Storm
10- Into Her Eyes
11- Desde Adentro
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Label: Independent Release
Release Date: December 7th, 2018
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Scientist
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Marcela Introducing her new album (cat surprise at 5:37)
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Posted in symphonic metal | Tagged | 1 Comment

ProgPowerUSA 2018 – Day Four

 

The days were posted in the order that the bands performed. And if you missed Day Three, you can find it here and work your way back through the other days if you like. Or start with the beginning here and work your way forward.   Day 4 is way late and I was afraid this would happen. My memory is faltering. Oh well. Here we go. I’ll try to let the photos I took do most of the talking.  

 

Triosphere

(Power/Prog Metal from Norway)

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Going into this I was familiar with them and really like their music I would repeatedly keep mixing them up with Temperance, another female fronted band whose band name looks a lot like this one. But they are different bands! 🙂 Triosphere, who was here this day, not Temperance, really brought their A game. Turning in a blistering 12 song set. I look forward to seeing them again. There was one interesting thing that happened during this set, though I have heard since that it was possibly faked (not by the band but by the people involved): the band mentioned someone in the audience and there turned out to be a planned proposal during this set. It was nice to see something like that happen and I do hope it was actually real. 

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https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/triosphere/2018/center-stage-atlanta-ga-63e84abf.html

Eclipse

(Hard Rock from Sweden)

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  Talk about a band full of energy. One of the many bands I was looking forward to at this festival and they did NOT disappoint. It was a pretty damn not stop, full on rock/metal set! Packed house too! And everyone ate it up. Sadly they started a little late and had their set cut short.  

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https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/eclipse/2018/center-stage-atlanta-ga-73e84ab9.html

Soen

(Prog Metal from Sweden)

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  Things got a little more laid back for a while when Soen took the stage. Though they cut loose a few times too. Things were a bit dark on stage so getting photos was a bit of a challenge. But I got a few. As with most of the sets, I was able to be right in front of the stage for the first two songs and had to go out into the rest of the crowd after that, which I gladly did as the vocals just couldn’t be heard that close for this set. That was kind of hit or miss from set to set. And looking back at the setlists now, I see they just keep getting shorter this day. But in this case, it is to be expected as the shortest song played is over 5 minutes. But they chose the setlist well. Sampling from previous works with a heavy reliance on the latest.  

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https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/soen/2018/center-stage-atlanta-ga-7be84ac4.html

VUUR

(Prog Metal from the Netherlands)

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  I know a LOT of people that were looking forward to this set and I was too as I just love Anneke’s voice. As I have said before, there are a couple of songs on their debut that just didn’t grab me but was hoping they would translate better live and that they did! But they made up less than half the setlist. You got a few The Gathering songs, an Audioslave cover (Like a Stone), and Ayreon cover (Valley of the Queens), and one from Devin (Fallout). And the Audioslave and Ayreon songs were part of an acoustic portion of the set, which also included Saturnine from The Gathering, that was just fantastic. Absolutely loved this set!  

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https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/vuur/2018/center-stage-atlanta-ga-63e84ac7.html

Alestorm

(Pirate Metal from Scotland)

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  I went into this show with only a cursory knowledge of this band. I knew they were a party band and I listened to part of their last album, and cracked up at the dog version of that album too. But that was about it with my history with them. I listened but also made the rounds of the venue to see who I might be able to meet, band wise. I grabbed a drink and started watching from the side of the stage for a bit and found they are a really fun band live. I made my way to the floor, which was packed, and squeezed in at the back near the soundboard. The crowd was starting to back up onto the stairs too, which security did a good job of keeping clear. Thankfully, I didn’t have to move so I could be present for the duck incident.  

Apparently, they do this duck thing at every show. There is a giant, inflatable duck that just sits on the stage through most of the set. Then toward the end, they toss it out into the audience where it bounces around for the duration of the song “Drink”. And at the end, they get the audience to kill the duck. It was freaking mesmerizing watching the whole thing. Fun show if you ever get the chance to go see it.  

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https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/alestorm/2018/center-stage-atlanta-ga-63e84acf.html

Tarja

(Symphonic/Gothic Metal from Finland)

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  Being a huge Nightwish fan, I was really looking forward to this set and it did not disappoint, for me. I spent most of the set up at the front in the photo pit, since, thankfully, the sound was great for this one. Tarja was fantastic as expected and her band was incredible. Though, I must say, the cellist with his spider moves kind of freaked me out a bit. 😛 Tarja went through a couple of costume changes through the set but never diverged for the rock goddess image which she exudes nearly at all times.  

About 2/3 through the set I went to the back of the floor to get some wider shots and found that half the floor was empty and half the seats too. This was extremely disappointing. I feel that Alestorm was just a bit too much energy for their slot. And I’m sure there was a LOT of drinking during it too. So people just went to party it up at that point. Which is sad, as Tarja and band were just fantastic.  

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https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/tarja/2018/center-stage-atlanta-ga-63e84ad3.html  

 

Well, that’s it for ProgPower 19. It was an incredible 4 days of awesomeness that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Looking forward to next year, where my dream sponsorship is coming true with Threshold! I still don’t feel that is real. Thanks to Glenn, Ralf, and all who work hard to put on this amazing festival. Every year is absolutely incredible.    

 

 

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Rob’s Recommendation Roundup: Volume 6

Roine StoltI cannot understand if “Manifesto of an Alchemist” is a Roine Stolt solo album or just a strange variation of The Flower Kings. It is credited to Roine Stolt’s The Flower King. I know this shouldn’t drive me nuts but it does. Regardless, this sounds like the Flower Kings, which works just fine for me. What makes it different is the use of musicians not from any TFK lineups: Marco Minnemann, Max Lorentz, Zach Kamins, Rob Townsend & Nad Sylvan. But it also includes TFK members (past and present): Jones Reingold, Hans Froberg & Michael Stolt.

Musically it does sound like Stolt but he also incorporates some other styles that maybe TFK wouldn’t explore. The straight up rock riff in the middle of “Lost America” is a good example. Stolt also is the main vocalist on “Manifesto of an Alchemist” which makes it seem more like a solo album.

But for me, it’s the instrumentals that make this album worth buying. He always surrounds himself with great players so it’s nice to hear them having room to stretch out on tracks like “Rio Grande” (my favorite track), “Six Thirty Wake Up” and the mostly instrumental “The Alchemist.” Nothing against the vocals but it’s really awesome to hear all of these musicians weaving their magic together.

Is this vastly different from The Flower Kings, no but it is different enough. It has music that dates back before the first TFK album too! All in all, I found this album on par with The Sea Within (Roine’s side project from earlier in 2018) and honestly better than the last few TFK albums! It’s a top notch effort by a super talented man and his friends.

Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 23 November 2018

sydney-rococoThe Church was one of those bands I had meant to check out for a lot of years and didn’t actually do it until their album “Untitled #23.” I liked it and yet forgot to persue them more. Luckily I made time to dive into their vast back catalog and found out that I do really like them. So now it turns out frontman Steve Kilbey has a solo career that I haven’t explored. It starts now with his latest album, “Sydney Rococo.”

So one down and 20 more to go? Well lets look at this album. With a voice as distinct as Kilbey, it’s very hard not to hear this album as one by The Church. The main difference is that it’s less experimental and more about beautifully orchestrated tracks. It start off with the lovely title track which for me wouldn’t sound out of place on a classic Church album. But it has a more timeless sound to it. Acoustic guitars sitting along side powerful strings and Kilbey’s unique voice.

The album is what I call very listenable. Many of the albums that I listen to, I have to be in a specific mood for them. “Sydney Rococo” is one of those “go-to” albums where when you don’t know what to listen to, it’s one you can easily pick and enjoy. Atmospheric tracks like “Distant Voices,” the straight ahead rocker “When I Love Her She Sings,” or the ballad “The Wrong One” give the listener so much variety. That’s what makes an album great and “Sydney Rococo” is indeed a great album by the legendary Steve Kilbey.

Label: Golden Robot Records
Release Date: 23 November 2018

NAOScotland’s North Atlantic Oscillation’s fourth album is called “Grind Show” and while I wouldn’t call it their best album, it is definitely a really good outing. I am partial to “Fog Electric.” I think most of that comes down to that it was the first thing I heard from the band. Style wise I have always compared them to Kevin Moore’s Chroma Key jamming with Brian Wilson and Mogwai.

NAO is now up to their fourth full length album and “Grind Show” has all the hallmarks of past albums. Pulsing synths, Sam Healy’s Moore-like vocals and sweet hook laden choruses. What always makes me love albums by NAO is the atomsphere. There’s a weird dichotomy between claustrophobic verses and frequently vast, open choruses. It’s not just the music. The vocals open up the same way. I love dynamics.

Favorite tracks include the opener “Low Earth Orbit” which really sums up what NAO are all about, while “Fruitful Little Moons” has a very quirky vibe to it that I like eventhough I have no idea why. “Spinning Top” is another one of those typical NAO songs that defies explanation. It goes from a dance funeral dirge to weird ass samples. I love it. Then there’s “Sirens” which is as rocking as NAO gets…assuming you like weird samples in your rock. I like it, but it’s a complete headfuck.

What makes North Atlantic Oscillation a favorite of mine is that are able to take elements of modern prog, post rock and a genre I don’t like in electronica and mash them into this…THING that I love. It’s rare and unique. That’s all I can ask of an album like “Grind Show.” More people need North Atlantic Oscillation in their lives.

Label: Vineland Music
Release Date: 16 November 2018

Posted in modern prog, post rock, progressive rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

Leah – “The Quest”

704981smallIt’s been a while since I have listened to a Leah album. Loved her earlier work and got pretty excited when King’s and Queens came out. Especially after I saw how long it was (I like longer songs). And while there was some great stuff on it, overall it didn’t grab me as much as I expected. It felt overly long and an album should never overstay its welcome. I need to revisit it to see if I still feel the same way.

That said, I wasn’t overly optimistic about this one going into it given how I felt about the last one, but I quickly found my wariness unnecessary. This one is incredible. It’s heavy, symphonic, has those Enya elements at times, with lots of harmony and melody. In short, it kicks ass.

And the album this time around is a bit shorter, closer to 50 minutes than 70. So nothing ever overstays it’s welcome. To seemingly contradict this, the first track, The Quest starts things off with an epicish 10 minute length. There is a bit of repetition here with the chorus over that run time but it is so good, I don’t care.

Every freaking song here is excellent. A big airy, yet weighty, chorus on Edge of Your Sword coupled with an upbeat verse section that is just catchy as hell. We get a bit of a power ballad type track in Lion Arises.  And you get the almost poppy Ghost Upon a Throne. And every song here works. They all work.

The album closes with an Amazing Grace type song, The Water is Wide. Basically Amazing Grace in all aspects but lyrics. It is but it isn’t. Very beautiful and now the only version I can listen to as the other is way overplayed.

The band on this one is made up of: Troy Donockley (Nightwish) on pipes and flutes, Timo Somers (Delain) on guitars, Chen Balbus (Orphaned Land) on Saz and Oud,
Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian) on bass, and Sander Zoer (ex. Delain) on drums and percussion. Pretty stellar line-up if you ask me.

I do want to note we have another loud album here. It isn’t so bad that I have to take a break part way through. But I am noting it and a point or so is being deducted for it. Otherwise, this album is stellar. I highly recommend it if you are a fan of hers (you know you already have it), love Celtic sounding metal, or just love songs with lots of melody and harmonies and gorgeous vocals.

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Rating: 8.5/10737748small

Tracklist:

01. The Quest
02. Edge of Your Sword
03. Lion Arises
04. Heir
05. Ruins of Illusion
06. Labyrinth
07. Abyss
08. Oblivion (Between Two Worlds)
09. Ghost Upon a Throne
10. The Water Is Wide

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Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Release Date: Out now
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LEAHthemusic

Edge of Your Sword

 

Making of The Quest Documentary

Posted in cinematic metal, melodic rock, power metal, progressive metal, symphonic metal | Tagged | Leave a comment