I have a very odd relationship with Andy Tillison and The Tangent. It seems that with the Tangent I either love the album or really dislike it. And to make it more confusing, it seems to change album to album. For example, I disliked “Le Sacre du Travail” but LOVED “A Spark in the Aether” but then disliked “The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery.” So now with the new album “Proxy,” I should love it and yes I do.
“Proxy” is what I would have hoped “The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery” would have been. It’s similar in its disdain for society but less specific which I prefer. Additionally the music is just flat out better! But the key difference is the additional of former Godsticks drummer Steve Roberts. Tillison played a sampled drumkit on the last album and that absolutely ruined it for me. Roberts drives this songs forward and the whole album rocks.
Like any album with long songs, the key is that these don’t FEEL long at all. Whether it’s the title track or “The Adulthood Lie,” the songs flow effortlessly which has been a bit of a sticking point for me in the past with The Tangent. And the album also features one of the best songs the band has laid down ever in “The Melting Andalusian Skies” which merges prog and jazz and rock perfectly. While I assume I will hate the next album, for now I am loving “Proxy.”
Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: November 16, 2018
“Heir to Despair” is the 11th studio album by Japanese avantgarde prog metallers Sigh. If you don’t know Sigh, well shame on you! I am kidding! Sigh are a truly progressive band that keeps tweaking their sound album to album but always have a very unique sound that is specific to them. That’s one reason that I love Sigh. They are one of the few bands that you KNOW it’s them when you hear them.
Why are they unique? They write insane music while blending in jazz, classical, death metal, and 70s prog. And the amounts of which vary album to album and even song to song. Their last album “Graveward” was a good album but I wouldn’t call it a classic Sigh album like “Imaginary Sonicscape” (my personal favorite) or “Scenes from Hell” which is the most accurately named album ever. However, “Heir to Despair” is an album that I would rank as a classic Sigh album.
Much like the album cover that features a happy young woman watering a dead plant with a house behind her in total disarray, “Heir to Despair” is one awesome pile of dichotomy. The album is rooted in heavy old school prog and has plenty of catchy hooks that are often dangled perilously over batshit crazy musical moments. What makes “Heir to Despair” different from other Sigh albums (to a degree) is the use of Eastern melodies and a whole lot of flute. Check out “Alethia” and “Hunters Not Horned” as great examples.
The whole album is full of twists and turns yet never loses you along the way. Sigh’s mastermind Mirai Kawashima is an overlooked genius in my opinion. He is without any boundaries or restrictions when he composes this music. There are very few bands that operate with as much autonomy as Sigh does. Granted this means that Sigh will never be as well known. But for those of us who favor uniqueness and have a sense of adventure, “Heir to Despair” is essential listening.
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: November 16, 2018
The Ocean are FINALLY back! “Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic” is the band’s first full album in five years! Yes I have been anxiously awaiting this. The band has been busy touring during this time and now we finally get new music. This is part one of two with the second album coming in 2020.
Band leader Robin Staps writes some of the best riffs ever and never seems to run out of them either! While “Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic” is heavy, it has a lot of different ways of being heavy. The old school synths are just as heavy as any guitar riff. So thick and yet razor sharp. And yes this is some very intelligent music from a lyrical stand point as well. I tend not to focus on lyrics in these reviews because I’d rather you figure things out yourself BUT the overarching theme is that of “eternal recurrence.” Everything happens over and over again in time.
Jens Bogren was brought in to mix the album and nails it. This is one of The Ocean’s best albums not only from the stand point of songs but also sonically. Everything has its place in the mix and there are quite a few things going on. And I can’t say enough good things about the vocals of Loïc Rossetti who turns in yet another incredibly diverse performance. Of course the music is so strong that it doesn’t even need the vocals. That’s how great The Ocean is and how incredible “”Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic” is.
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: November 2, 2018