Flying Colors Announce New Album ‘Third Degree’

Flying Colors are back! Their third album is getting released in October and here’s the full press release.


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Flying Colors will be releasing their brand new album ‘Third Degree’ on 4th October via Music Theories Recordings. You can pre-order it HERE

In chemistry, when certain galvanizing elements come together, they become quite explosive. In music, when certain galvanizing artists come together, they become Flying Colors. In fact, whenever the five gentlemen who encompass Flying Colors — guitarist Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs, ex-Kansas), drummer Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater, Transatlantic), keyboardist/vocalist Neal Morse (Transatlantic, ex-Spock’s Beard, and a prolific solo artist in his own right), bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, ex-Joe Satriani), and powerhouse vocalist and songwriter Casey McPherson (Alpha Rev, The Sea Within) — are able to conjoin their collective talents, the result is a sweet sonic bouillabaisse that reflects where their inherent mastery of melody intersects with top-shelf progressive musicianship.

And now, Flying Colors soar to even loftier heights with ‘Third Degree’, their third studio album in a decade. ‘Third Degree’ builds upon the genre-bending momentum of 2012’s self-titled Flying Colors and the aural-template ascension of 2014’s Second Nature. From the skittery psychedelic/classical turnaround of the lead single “More” to the Beach Boys-meet-Asia vibe of “Love Letter” to the deep emotionality of the album-ending, prog-leaning epic “Crawl,” the nine tracks that comprise Third Degree signify just how much Flying Colors are willing to explore new frontiers. “There’s a lot of ear candy sprinkled throughout every song,” observes Mike Portnoy, “and each one takes you on a little journey. As albums go, Third Degree is a complete piece that I don’t think ever overstays its welcome. I think it’s an enjoyable ride from start to finish.”

It continues to build upon the deep-rooted musical connection the members of Flying Colors established on their first two boundary-stretching albums. “There’s a real special chemistry between the five of us,” Portnoy confirms. “We keep getting better and better as we get more comfortable and more familiar with each other, and the music itself keeps getting more and more mature.” Adds Steve Morse, “This one, dare I say it, explores new ground for the band. One of my favorites, ‘Geronimo,’ has an upbeat, jazzy, heavy, melodic feel all at once. We just do what makes us smile and sounds good, instead of wondering how critics or program directors will like it. It makes for the best music!”
Casey McPherson concurs with his fellow bandmates by noting, “What Third Degree really proves to me is that we have our own sound. There are no egos in this band, and we all want the best parts to come out, which is such a joy for me to participate in. I think that really allows people’s uniqueness to show through.”

The first sessions for the record took place at Steve Morse’s studio in Florida in December 2016, wherein seven songs were written. From there, the band members had to scatter back to their other personal and professional obligations, eventually reconvening two full years later in December 2018, when three more tracks were added to the overall Third Degree mix. (The tenth track, “Waiting for the Sun,” will be made available in forthcoming special editions.)

As a songwriter, McPherson is never afraid to confront his feelings head-on, whether it’s the nostalgic bent of “Last Train Home” or the raw, relatable universality of “You Are Not Alone.”

Another progression has been the band’s use of technology to provide industry-leading sound. Third Degree was engineered with the award-winning Harmonic Phrase Analysis and Restoration (HPAR) technology. Developed by the band’s resident mad scientist, Bill Evans, he created HPAR based on the group’s performance styles — resulting in unprecedented fidelity. Flying Colors regular producer Rich Mouser (The Neal Morse Band, Transatlantic) then crafted a sumptuous mix in his inimitable style.

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Tracklist:
1. The Loss Inside
2. More
3. Cadence
4. Guardian
5. Last Train Home
6. Geronimo
7. You Are Not Alone
8. Love Letter
9. Crawl

Deluxe CD Bonus Disc:
1. Waiting For The Sun (Unreleased Bonus Studio Track)
2. Geronimo (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
3. You Are Not Alone (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
4. Love Letter (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
5. Last Train Home (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)
6. Crawl (Alternate Instrumental Arrangement & Mix)

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Magic Pie – “Fragments of the 5th Element”

magic pieOne of the most consistent bands in prog is Magic Pie. Sure the name is odd but they are prog, right? “Fragments of the 5th Element” continues their tradition of what I call edgy prog rock. Oft times, prog rock misses the “rock” part. Magic Pie walk the line between prog rock and even prog metal but never quite get too metallic.

They have an element of Arena Rock that most prog bands seem to avoid. Imagine if there was a way to merge the radio friendly nature of 80s Journey with their early 70s roots. That really doesn’t cover Magic Pie entirely! I have always heard parts of Kansas, Spock’s Beard, Rush and Genesis in their music and “Fragments of the 5th Element” is no exception.

The main difference with this fifth album is that the edginess is a bit sharper than it has been in the past. Yes the big harmonies are still there. Yes the top notch musicianship is there. And yes the album closes with a massive epic in “The Hedonist.” But there’s a “fatness” to the overall sound. Maybe a bit more raw than we’ve heard from Magic Pie. It could be Rich Mouser’s mix (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic).

Magic Pie are what I call “listenable” in that there’s never a wrong time to put them on. A “go-to” band if you will. “Fragments of the 5th Element” starts with a powerhouse opener in “The Man Who Had It All.” The riff laden “P&C” is like Deep Purple jamming with Spock’s Beard.

“Table for Two” is another one of those radio ready songs that Magic Pie are known for. Then the album closes with the two epic songs. “Fragments of the 5th Element” has it all. If you don’t know Magic Pie, “Fragments of the 5th Element” is a great introduction to this fine band!

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:
1. The Man Who Had It All
2. P&C
3. Table For Two
4. Touched By An Angel
5. The Hedonist

Label: Karisma Records
Release Date: 30 August 2019
Website: http://www.magicpie.no
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MagicPieOfficial/

Posted in art rock, modern prog, pop rock, progressive rock | Tagged | 1 Comment

Rank ‘Em: Tool studio albums

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Since Tool is FINALLY releasing a new album “Fear Inoculum” on August 30th, I thought I would take this opportunity to rank the 4 Tool studio albums. It’s hard to believe that since 1993, that’s all that Tool has released. So this brief list does not include the EP Opiate or the compilation Salival.

So this is a short list but no easier to rank since all 4 albums are really great. Let’s get to it!

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4. 10,000 Days – Their last album was a mild disappointment for me. Songs like “Vicarious,” “The Pot, “Jambi” and “Right in Two” are among my favorites. But then there’s a bit of filler. “Lipan Conjuring,” “Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)” and “Intension” do very little for me. Also I think “Wings for Marie, Pt. 1” isn’t as strong as the second part. It’s still a good album for sure.

 

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3. Undertow – There are some flat out classics on this album. I still love “Sober,” “Prison Sex,” and the title track. Plus songs like “4°” and “Flood” are still fucking amazing. Not a lot of filler unless you count all of the shit at the end after “Disgustipated.”

 

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2. Ænima – I really can’t decide between Ænima and Lateralus. Ænima has the title track, my favorite Tool song “Forty Six & 2,” “Stinkfist” and the epic “Third Eye.” Hell, I even love “Intermission.” “Die Eier von Satan” is annoying as is “Message to Harry Manback,” though I do find the latter to be funny once in a while.

 

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1. Lateralus – This album wins because even though some of the intro tracks aren’t completely needed, they do work. I love “Schism,” the title track, “The Grudge,” “Parabola” and the trilogy of tracks near the end (“Disposition,” “Reflection” and “Triad). Only “Faaip de Oiad” gets skipped on this one.

I am curious if Tool will forego the need for filler tracks. Yes sometimes they work okay but other times they are just boring as fuck. So what do you think? Also are you excited for the new album?

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Heavy Montréal: Impressions, Expressions, and Things in Between (Day 2 of 2)

(CONTENT WARNING: Explicit language in a few spots)

As a neophyte both to the festival and most of the artists involved, I got lost in the music, which is high praise.
Each day is listed in the order that the bands performed.

Day 2: July 28, 2019

Beast in Black
(Power metal, Finland)

Photo: Pat Beaudry

If the excesses of the 1980s were parodied in Steel Panther, they got refined into modern day sensibilities with Beast in Black. I enjoyed their enthusiasm and the intensity they brought to the stage. If anyone needs to storm Pohjola, Tuonela, Valhalla, or somewhere similar, this would be excellent pump-up music for that.
Setlist

Skálmöld
(Viking folk metal, Iceland)

Photo: Benoit Rousseau

This was clearly the Viking-est metal from the source itself. If Beast in Black was the prelude to storming somewhere, this band is the music to storm to.
I easily headbanged the most at this set.
Setlist

Metalachi
(Comedy metal, USA)

Photo: Pierre Bourgault

“The World’s First and Only Heavy Metal Mariachi Band” made Holy Diver into a cumbia song. People were smiling and even dancing. I was impressed from what I’d heard online in advance, but in-person this band brings the fun into funky, with violin virtuosity replacing guitar shredding.
Setlist

In This Moment
(Alternative metal, USA)

Photo: Tim Snow

As someone nearby put it, this band is “theatrical as fuck”. From an aggressively dark cover of the Steve Miller classic “Fly Like an Eagle” to the closer of their hit “Whore”, this band pulls out all the stops with costumes, stage backdrops, and a pair of backup performers silently flanking the vocalist. The music is solid on its own (though I also get how the vocalist’s roughness doesn’t gel with everyone), but the added series of tableaux onstage are quite compelling.
Setlist

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators
(Hard rock, USA)

Photo: Tim Snow

Slash was the focal point in promotion, and as someone who never quite got into Guns N’ Roses, I now have a renewed respect for the very solid guitar chops. I’ve enjoyed the songs I’ve heard with this backing band. The songs have a familiarity to them in the solid rock sound, which I consider a high compliment. The music fits like a well-worn denim jacket bought secondhand: It’s still new to me, but it also feels like it’s been there for a very long time.
Setlist

Slayer
(Thrash metal, USA)

Photo: Tim Snow

I didn’t quite get to follow along as much as I would have liked to. I nearly got crushed in the pit and temporarily lost my bag after being pulled out to safety. (THIS is why I don’t mosh.) What I did experience in the show was technical mastery on its final blaze of glory. And with the pyrotechnics and the trapped body heat, it was, in fact, blazing. If the entire province of Quebec wanted to send off Slayer’s final show there with a thrashing to remember, the audience was as intense as the music was.
Setlist

The conclusion of this night had some of the most hellmouth-opening roaring in the metro, including my own shrugged apologizing to some very confused and terrified passersby: “Metal show.”

I came. I saw. I survived.
I would gladly go back and do this again, with plans to get more sets in and get more notation done. Also learned not to rush for the rails for the more incredibly aggressive acts.
For an introduction to the metal festival circuit, it was a memorable affair.

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Heavy Montréal: Impressions, Expressions, and Things in Between (Day 1 of 2)

(CONTENT WARNING: Explicit language in a few spots)

As a neophyte both to the festival and most of the artists involved, I got lost in the music, which is high praise.
Each day is listed in the order that the bands performed.

Day 1: July 27, 2019

Devin Townsend
(Progressive metal, Canada)

Photo: Benoit Rousseau

Playing an acoustic set at a metal festival, he kicked off with a question: “Montreal, are you ready to fucking suck?”
There was no suckage, but repeated jokes at the expense of metalheads not being good with emotional management or relationships, and a handful of pissing jokes at the sprinklers being turned on the audience. Considering how much of Devin Townsend’s career involves confusing the hell out of people as a default, this show was accessible while maintaining his signature goofiness: “Yet another existential crisis put to music!”
Introducing Ziltoid-era material by describing the character as a personification of his id as a hand puppet, and the announced stage directions for those songs, including the costumes of imagined choruses and their desired effects on the audiences, had me seriously wondering if or when he’s gotten into audiobooks yet, as that would be a riot.
As a guitarist, Townsend is already hailed as excellent. As a vocalist, this set really let his range soar, from harsh to clean and the murkiness in between. I found his vocal technique and elocution a pleasure to the ears. Though if I had to pick one moment to sum up the essence of the set, getting a circle pit going to “Baby Shark” sums up the friendly weirdness that Townsend brings to metal.
Setlist

 

Nekrogoblikon
(Comedic, melodic death metal, USA)

Photo: Pierre Bourgault

Any band that announces songs titled “Bears” and “We Need A Gimmick” is one that knows their limits between the extremes of taking themselves too seriously and being completely irreverrent. I was recommended this band at a friend’s enthusiasm on seeing them in the lineup, and I’m glad I followed that along!
Setlist

 

Rivers of Nihil
(Progressive metal, USA)

Photo: Pierre Bourgault

After hearing “Where Owls Know My Name”, I was curious to see how that music translated to the stage. They’re straightforward in how much they get into the music. Headbanging and thrashing about, the audience can’t help getting into the music with them. I nearly went into the pit for this one.
Setlist

 

Steel Panther
(Comedic glam metal, USA)

Photo: Pat Beaudry

Serious technicality and musicality embodying the worst excesses of 1980s metal, played so firmly tongue in cheek that lockjaw seems imminent. Their newest single “All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)” captures self-love at its most…extreme, but also manages to be a tamer side of the band. Paradoxical.
Setlist

 

Godsmack
(Hard rock, USA)

Photo: Tim Snow

A more radio-friendly sound where hard rock meets power metal. They’re fast, loud, and appealing.
Setlist

 

Evanescence
(Gothic rock, USA)

Photo: Pat Beaudry

I didn’t recognize much beyond “Going Under” and the many-memed song “Bring Me to Life”, but I am glad to say that they have won me over. Amy Lee is a compelling vocalist, and the instrumentals do well to support and counterpoint her voice rather than overpower it.
Setlist

 

Ghost
(Hard progressive rock, Sweden)

Photo: Tim Snow

This was easily the band I was most familiar with, and they did not disappoint. Tobias Forge has created several characters in the band’s time, and Cardinal Copia has clearly become the role of dad jokes, which, when blended with the Satanic cult gimmick, adds to the humour. Striding powerfully across the stage amidst the Nameless Ghouls’ instrumental wizardry, he led thousands in a black mass of music. Apparently a fireworks show was playing across the river, and the timing synchronized unexpectedly well with the concert. (I was so focused on the stage antics and singing along to the songs that I didn’t notice the skies ablaze.)
Setlist

 

So concluded Day 1, with spontaneous singing of “Square Hammer” raucously ringing through the Parc Jean-Drapeau metro station as the festival-goers were ushered out. (Due to a loudness curfew from neighboring residential areas, the sets end by 11PM and the audiences are encouraged to get out ASAP.)


Day 2 was yet to come.

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I have a radio show

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Many people know that I have a weekly radio show but I know that many more than that do not. I know everyone has a radio show or podcast nowadays so this is not some great life changing moment for you. Still, I have fun doing the show and it is LIVE on Metal World Radio on Sunday at 10am Eastern Time, 3pm UK. It gets rebroadcast on Tuesday at 8pm Eastern Time on Delicious Agony Progressive Rock Radio.

It’s strange that one station would want me on the airwaves, let alone two of them. I assume the station owners have listened to the show. Maybe not. I do post my archived shows on Mixcloud. There are even more ancient transmissions over at Archive.org so if you are bored, have a look.

Metal World Radio recently moved to Live365 which is great as there are multiple ways to listen to the show including an app. Additionally, the site has a chat client where I talk with the Prog Panel during the show. The speaker on the chat client even has the show running on it too. That’s in case your country is blocked from Live365.

This week’s show is brought to you by the letter F. Bands/artists that start with the letter F. No, not Frank Zappa. That’s Z. So tune in if you have nothing going on and you’ll get 2 hours of F’ing music!

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

Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband – “Tor & Vale”

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Simplicity in instrumentation does not equate to simplicity in sound.

Tor & Vale is an album by Mark Wingfield and Gary Husband. It features Mr. Wingfield on guitar and Mr. Husband on piano. This duo can make an immense sound.

The album includes 3 tracks that were captured as improvisations. A listen to these tracks should let one know that these two musicians work well together.

The title track is a 16 minute plus improvised piece, and it is my favorite. This selection features guitar tones that transform into other sounds, with interjections from the piano. Here the ease of interplay between the two musicians is on display.

This release showcases the skills of the players. The music flows forth, and it is a joy to listen to. Certainly it was a joy for the musicians to perform!

If you are a fan of guitar music, piano music, jazz or progressive rock (these genres are related in my book), give Tor & Vale a listen.

Rating: 9/10

Mark Wingfield – guitar and soundscapes
Gary Husband – piano

Tracklisting:
1. Kittiwake
2. The Golden Thread
3. Night Song
4. Tor & Vale
5. Shape Of Light
6. Tryfan
7. Silver Sky
8. Vaquita

All compositions by Mark Wingfield except 04, 05, 07
which were improvised by Mark Wingfield and Gary Husband

Available July 31, 2019

Bandcamp: markwingfield-moonjune.bandcamp.com/album/tor-vale-hd

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