Shineback – “Dial”

dialShineback is the solo project by the multi-talented Simon Godfrey. The first album by Shineback “Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed” was the very first album released by Bad Elephant Music. Yes I bought it after only hearing one track. While I am not one for programmed drums and other beeps and clangs, the songs on the album made all of that quite tolerable. Yes really.

Since then BEM has grown into a formidable prog rock label and Godfrey has formed the band Valdez (I reviewed that) and he released a charity EP by Shineback as well. The EP was perhaps a bit too electronic for me, though once again Godfrey can write a strong melody. So now comes the proper second full length Shineback album, “Dial.” All the guests from the first album are back once again in addition to lyricist Robert Ramsay.

I have to say that “Dial” is even better than the first album! For one, I find the overall sound of “Dial” to be more organic which tends to work for me. This is not to say that there’s no electronics because there are but I find them to be more muted. Regardless, the key to this album (as with anything Godfrey does) is the songwriting. He is a great writer. I suppose it just runs in the family! Yes he and Jem Godfrey are brothers.

“Dial” is a full album with extended pieces like the title track (a favorite of mine) and the 13 plus minute “Kill Devil Hills” that close out the album. The true test of any song or album that push those length is does it FEEL that long. There’s a joke in there. But the answer is I never find myself thinking that it’s any longer than the average album. That’s a testament to how good the music is. Also the album has a great one-two punch opening it with the brilliant “Lies and Consequences” and the touching “I Love You From Memory.”

“Dial” is an album that should appeal to those who love well written modern prog. Yes if you like Frost*, you should give Shineback a chance. After all, they  share the same DNA. And once you’ve embraced Shineback, go and check out Valdez as well (also on Bad Elephant Music). This is how the poppier side of prog SHOULD sound.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:

  1. Lies And Consequences
  2. I Love You From Memory
  3. Consider Her Ways
  4. Dial
  5. Here I Am
  6. The Gentleman
  7. Me vs. Me
  8. Without Words
  9. Let Her Sleep
  10. My New Reward
  11. Kill Devil Hills

Label: Bad Elephant Music
Bandcamp: shineback.badelephant.co.uk/album/dial

Shineback is Simon Godfrey
with Robert Ramsay – words, spoken word (5)

with
Ray Weston – vocals (9)
Henry Rogers – drums (1)
Dec Burke – guitars (3)
Matt Stevens – guitar (11)
Hywel Bennett – guitar (4)
Tom Slatter – guitar (5)
Karl Eisenhart – guitar (11)
Tom Hyatt – bass (2)
Joe Cardillo – keyboards (2)
Daniel Zambas – keyboards (11)

Producer/engineer – Simon Godfrey
Co-producer – Daniel Zambas
Executive producer – David Elliott
Audio mastering – Daniel Bowles
Artwork – Brian Mitchell
Recorded at Duckland Sound, Philadelphia, USA.

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

Roine Stolt’s The Flower King announces ‘Manifesto Of An Alchemist’

While this seems to essentially be The Flower Kings, the addition of other “guest” musicians does make this more of a solo project I guess. Either way, it should be quite good. Here is the press release from Inside Out Music:


 

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Roine Stolt, known as the guitarist, singer, writer and at times band leader of the groups The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Agents of Mercy, Kaipa DC, as well as from his work with prog icon Jon Anderson and the new super-group The Sea Within, is releasing a new album on November 23rd, 2018. Under the moniker ROINE STOLT’S THE FLOWER KING, ’Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ offers 10 songs and almost 70 minutes of playing time celebrating the style Roine is most revered for: progressive rock, richly orchestrated with all the trademark elements from four decades of the genre.

Roine comments: “Unlike many later albums, where recordings have continued over months, this new album has been a fairly quick and effective affair – we started tracking in Holland at the beginning of July and mix was done by mid-August! The songs are written in a very ‘unorthodox’ way – some melodic content and some riffs are ideas that have been circulating for years – some may even be from before the first TFK album – they just hadn’t found a home in any of the bands/albums I did in the last 15 years yet.”

‘Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ is a celebration of all the styles that have been part of the colourful, daring and dynamic songwriting and arrangements that Roine masters like no other, yet also offers a more immediate, more hands on approach. “Like that first TFK album, I’m the main lead vocalist here again – it works as these lyrics are important to me and resonate with my view of the world. A lot of the guitar work is actually my spontaneous ‘demo’ guitars” and that goes for much of the synth work, too. I didn’t want to ‘process’ ideas too much as there is much power in the initial creation – I wanted to keep it that way.”

The album features a host of other musicians, including long-time collaborators Jones Reingold, Hans Froberg & Michael Stolt, as well as fellow The Sea Within member Marco Minnemann, Max Lorentz, Zach Kamins, Rob Townsend & Nad Sylvan.

‘Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ features stunning artwork from Shaun Beyond (https://www.instagram.com/shaunbeyond/), and will arrive as a limited edition CD digipak, Gatefold 180g 2LP + CD & as digital download.

Tracklist:
1.Rainsong
2.Lost America
3.Ze Pawns
4.High Road
5.Rio Grande
6.Next To A Hurricane
7.The Alchemist
8.Baby Angels
9.Six Thirty Wake-Up
10.The Spell Of Money

As previously announced, Roine will take The Flower Kings catalogue on tour later this year, as well as playing tracks from this new album. He comments: “I am excited that the album will be released in November this year and at the same time will be in South America playing The Flower Kings music with a band that also includes Hasse Froberg & Jonas Reingold and also introduces two younger friends; Zach Kamins on keyboards and Mirko DiMaio on drums – both fabulous musicians. We will also bring this to Europe where we join forces with legends Spock’s Beard.”

South America 2018
16th November – Carioca Club, Sao Paolo, Brazil
18th November – El Teatrito, Buenos Aires, Argentina
19th November – Teatro Nescafe, Santiago, Chile
21st November – Teatro Del Patronato Peruano Chino, Lima, Peru
23rd November – C3 Stage, Guadalajara, Mexico
24th November – Auditoria Blackberry, Mexico City, Mexico

InsideOutMusic 25th Anniversary European Tour feat. Spock’s Beard & Roine Stolt’s The Flower King
30th November – Cosmopolite, Oslo, Norway
1st December – Kulturhuset Studion, Stockholm, Sweden
2nd December – KB, Malmo, Sweden
4th December – Zeche, Bochum, Germany
5th December – Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland
6th December – La Machine, Paris, France
7th December – De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
8th December – Hedon, Zwolle, Netherlands
9th December – Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
10th December – Academy Club, Manchester, UK

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Kingcrow – “The Persistence”

coversmallI’ve been a fan of Kingcrow since the year after Eidos came out, the year I discovered this great band. That album floored me at the time and I still spin it often to this day. I started going back and picking up their back catalog as I could as well.

And then last year, they were announced to be one of the bands performing at ProgPowerUSA 2018 and I got excited. Wasn’t sure I would ever get to see them live and that was going to change! Then, within the last few months, I found out they had to cancel and was supremely disappointed. Even though the replacement band is fantastic too, I am back to wondering if I will ever get to see them live. Maybe one day…

So all that to say, when I heard a new Kingcrow was on the way, I was excited once again! Fast forward a bit and THEN I found out I had the opportunity to review it, so naturally, I jumped on it.

That’s a lot of jabbering without talking about the album, so how does it fair? Very well! No new ground is broken here and it could have honestly been called Eidos 2. Which makes the name of the album all the more meaningful. They are being persistent. And there is nothing wrong with that, really. I mean, it didn’t blow me away like Eidos did at the time, coming in fresh to them like I did. But I imagine if THIS was my first listen, I WOULD have been blown away the same.

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And it IS a really good album, though. Present are the fantastic harmonies and melodies, the rocking prog moments, and the dark brooding atmosphere.

Highlights on this one for me include:

  • Drenched with its catchy 80’s style chorus that could have been a hit back then.
  • Devils Got A Picture with that soaring chorus.
  • Father has me trying to sing along with it even when I am not feeling like singing at all. Every song is catchy, though.
  • Perfectly Imperfect with all its emotion and passion.

So, in short, if you loved Eidos, you’ll love this one. And chances are, if you did, you have already pre-ordered this. So… enjoy!

Note: I will say it is kind of irking me that they are only including the ProgPower tracks on the Vinyl. Maybe they’ll be available for download to purchase at some point…

Rating: 8.5/10

Tracklist:

1. Drenched
2. Closer
3. Everything Goes
4. Folding Paper Dreams
5. The Persistence
6. Every Broken Piece Of Me
7. Devil’s Got A Picture
8. Night’s Descending
9. Father
10. Perfectly Imperfect

Label: Sensory Records
Release Date: September 7th, 2018
Website: http://www.kingcrow.it
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kingcrowband
Bandcamp: https://lasersedge.bandcamp.com/album/the-persistence



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Riverside – “Wasteland”

wastelandOne of the most anticipated albums of 2018 is “Wasteland” by Riverside. This being their first album since the shocking death of guitarist Piotr Grudziński. While the band did debate whether they should continue at all, they ultimately decided to continue as a trio. Well not exactly a trio.

While the almost all of “Wasteland” is performed by the remaining members, new touring guitarist Maciej Meller does perform the solos on the album with bassist Mariusz Duda performing the rhythm guitar parts. So yes they have indeed replaced Grudziński and sadly, I think it’s lacking. Part of the problem is that the songs are just nowhere near as strong as their previous album “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” or really any previous one.

Additionally, it’s clear just how VITAL Grudziński was to the overall sound of the band. Duda is a decent guitarist but the riffs like on “Acid Rain” are often too repetitive and sound more like a bass than a guitar. It’s odd because he has always performed acoustic guitar on their albums (and still does here). Meller is not a favorite of mine when it comes to soloing. His work on with Duda on their side project Meller Gołyźniak Duda was a big reason that I didn’t enjoy the album.

While Meller sounds okay on songs like “River Down Below,” which is easily my favorite track on the album. There are many other times his tone and style just underscores the fact that Grudziński was the sound of Riverside. Also the trio tend to sound a little unsure of themselves and a bit tentative. Drummer Piotr Kozieradzki sounds almost tired during the first part of the title track and in other places as well.

Some of the best moments are courtesy of keyboardist Michał Łapaj who does a better job soloing than Meller and his piano on the closing track “The Night Before” is beautiful. And while Riverside couldn’t make a poor album if they wanted to, “Wasteland” is the sound of a band clearly in transition mode. The album has some great moments and other forgettable ones. “The Struggle for Survival” is a good example of BOTH, along with being very aptly named!

Think of a car that lost a wheel and had it replaced with a donut spare tire. Yes the car still runs but the ride isn’t very good. But it’s better than not having the car at all. I have no doubt if you look around, you will see many glowing reviews. But I prefer to be honest with you, rather than just tell you what you want to hear. This is really 3/4 Riverside so that for me is a valid score for “Wasteland.”

Rating: 7.5/10

Tracklist:

1. The Day After
2. Acid Rain
3. Vale Of Tears
4. Guardian Angel
5. Lament
6. The Struggle For Survival
7. River Down Below
8. Wasteland
9. The Night Before

Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: September 28, 2018
Website: riversideband.pl
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Riversidepl

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Circles – “The Last One”

074817After a five years, Circles is back with their sophomore recording “The Last One,” released August 31 on Seasons of Mist records. My exposure to Circles began with a promising EP, “The Compass,” which showcased modern metal in the djent style. The debut “Infinitas” continued the style and was very solid. Since then, lead vocals have been passed from Perry Kakridas to guitarist Ben Rechter and the result doesn’t detract from the high-quality music provided on “The Last One.”

These Australian lads have a pristine-sounding, mature, and exciting group of songs for us. For those who are just being exposed to Circles, this CD will create new fans. The songs are tight and void of fat or pretentious wankery. I’ve spun the CD more than a dozen times and the melodies are growing with each listen.

The CD opens with a great taste for what is to come. Note the thick-ass bass tone, you guys! Vocal harmonies, lots of forward momentum leading to a head-bobbing tempo change and more sugary harmonies. Dynamics change quickly but not so much that we get whiplash. The changes invite us to continue paying attention. There is enough staccato to know this band can djent but it’s more of a flavor than it is a style; read: not a crutch.

Track 4, “Arrival,” has made quite an impact on me because of the high quality of the chorus which is encased in a slow melodic metal wrapper. This song emits an epic quality and I crank it up every time it comes on. Sometimes I repeat it right away.

Track 7, “Dream Sequence,” starts with high-intensity, then reigns it in and takes us on a journey, ramps it up again, stirs up the pot, brings us back down again and takes a left turn into dreamy clean guitar solo territory, takes us back up the hill to syncopation town and fin. Great composition.

I also must mention track 9, “Blueprints For A Great Escape.” It’s the most challenging song on the CD as the sections seem to be building blocks pieced together but again the chorus makes the journey worth the effort.

The rhythm section of bassist Drew Patton and drummer Dave Hunter are thoroughly locked in; just notice the bass drum and the pulse of the low end of the bass. Rechter has written hooks and harmonies that sound better with every spin. Props to guitarist Tetsuya Furuhashi and the quality guitar tones throughout this CD. Dirty guitars have thickness and warmth, clean tones remind me of Lersxt, and the effects of delay, reverb, or octaves are sparse yet spot-on. Tracks aren’t basic in their construction but aren’t convoluted or intentionally complex; a balance has been reached so people who don’t normally jam the prog metal will be interested and people who expect more prog can dig into the rhythm, enjoy the textures, and relax.

This review wouldn’t be complete without including band names like Dead Letter Circus, Karnivool, Chaos Divine and Caligula’s Horse; Circles can add their name to the list of other top-shelf Australian bands; it’s true there is a certain something in this music shared between all the aforementioned bands – sincerity, gravity, melody. This is an onion that should be peeled by fans of melodic metal.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:

1. Winter
2. Breaker
3. The Messenger
4. Arrival
5. Tether
6. Resolution
7. Dream Sequence
8. Renegade
9. Blueprints for a Great Escape
10. Alone With Ghosts

Label: Season of Mist
Facebook: www.facebook.com/listentocircles

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Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly announce new album ‘Friendship’

Here is the press release for the upcoming album by Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly:

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Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly are pleased to announce ‘Friendship’, their brand new studio album, due out on November 9th, 2018. Following the release of 2017’s ‘On Her Journey To The Sun’, as well as 2018’s retrospective 5CD collection ‘Rumbling Box’, the band masterminded by former Beardfish frontman & current Big Big Train member Rikard Sjöblom, are happy to reveal their fourth full-length release.

Rikard comments: “The idea for ‘Friendship’ came to me because of an old photo of me as a child. I found this old photo at my parents’ house, depicting me standing on top of this really tall treehouse in a glade near our house. Although I of course remembered it as being really high up in the tree tops as a child, this picture proved that it really was! As I reminisced about the treehouse I started thinking about my childhood friends with whom I built it. We were the best of friends and we spent so much time together in this little village where I used to live. This of course made me think about all the friends I used to have, these relationships where you hung out all the time, went through childhood together, grew up and knew everything about each other and then all of a sudden, for some reason, disappeared from each other’s lives. This phenomenon of falling out with someone is still a mystery to me, but I’ve learned to accept it, much like the separation of death it’s just a part of life and the nature of our course of life, I guess. So this is a collection of songs about and for all of my friends, dead or alive, past and present. I chose to base the stories around the treehouse in the glade, not because all of my memories are from there, but rather that it’s the place that made me think back on all of this.”
The album will be available as a limited CD Digipak & gatefold 2LP + CD (both including 3 bonus tracks) as well as digital download. Pre-order now here: https://Gungfly.lnk.to/Friendship

The full track-listing is as follows:
1.Ghost of Vanity
2.Friendship
3.They Fade
4.A Treehouse in a Glade
5.Stone Cold
6.If You Fall, Pt. 2
7.Crown of Leaves
8.Slow Dancer (Bonus Track)
9.Past Generation (Bonus Track)
10.Friendship (Utopian Radio Edit) (Bonus Track)

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Susan’s Favorite Albums: King Crimson – Discipline (1981)

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If you were living in the Midwest of the United States in the early 1980s, chances are the way you were introduced to new music was via the radio. Cable TV wasn’t widespread yet, and the internet was nothing like what we know it to be now. Magazines didn’t usually give you a way to hear the music they were writing about. If you were at college, perhaps friends from other parts of the world introduced you to different musical things.

In this era of time, what I knew of King Crimson was the track “In The Court of The Crimson King”. The local album rock radio station played it from time to time. To me, it was a “rock” song, I knew nothing about the genre of “progressive rock”. It was just “rock”. If they played any other Crimson songs, they did not stand out to my ears.

So what drew me to Discipline? I don’t remember if it was anything special. The knot on the cover? That bright red? I certainly at this point in time had no knowledge of band other than Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer sang on that track of theirs I was most familiar with. I knew nothing about Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Adrian Belew or Bill Bruford, or any of the complexities of the group and the lineup changes.

My first listen – whoa – Elephant Talk – the lyrics with those sections – all the As, then the Bs, then the Cs, closing with the Es. (Listen to see what I am talking about!) Was that meant to be a subtle thing for the listener to catch?

Matte Kudasai (translated from the Japanese, it means Please Wait for Me) is probably my favorite song on the album. A woman waits for her partner to return from somewhere, perhaps he is a musician on tour?

Mr. Belew’s cleverness along with Mr. Fripp’s guitar tones are what make the album for me. Yes, Mr. Levin and Mr. Bruford are in the mix and certainly contribute to the proceedings!

Thela Hun Ginjeet was a confusing song for me, so I did a little research – it’s an anagram of “heat in the jungle”. So it makes sense, then, this piece of performance art, it’s Adrian in the city talking about cops and guns.

Is it “classic Crimson”? From what I’ve seen in my online circle, 80s period King Crimson isn’t loved by some. I love it, and it was my major entry point into the Frippian World.

This was also my leap into the genre of progressive rock beyond the standard American radio fare. It wasn’t till a raven didn’t want to sing that I grasped the scope of the genre more passionately. (More about that later!)

This is an album I will always have in my rotation.

Rating 10/10

Accessed for this article: The original 1981 LP and the 2011 40th Anniversary CD/DVD.

Tracklist:

    1. Elephant Talk
    2. Frame by Frame
    3. Matte Kudasai (待ってください, Please Wait for Me)
    4. Indiscipline
    5. Thela Hun Ginjeet
    6. The Sheltering Sky (Instrumental)
    7. Discipline (instrumental)

Musicians:

Adrian Belew – electric guitar, guitar synthesizer, lead vocals, voice loops
Robert Fripp – electric guitar, guitar synthesizer, devices (Frippertronics)
Tony Levin – Chapman Stick, backing vocals, bass
Bill Bruford – drums, slit drum

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Posted in experimental rock, progressive rock | Tagged | 2 Comments