Dukes of the Orient – “Dukes of the Orient”

25152210_1765209396886482_3372256351307783409_nDukes of the Orient began life as Asia. John Payne joined Asia back in 1991 for the “Aqua” album. Payne partnered with Asia leader Geoff Downes for 5 excellent albums before Downes reformed Asia’s original lineup leaving Payne without a band. Payne then formed the band GPS which included the remaining members of the last Asia lineup that Payne was in (Guthrie Govan and Jay Schellen). They released one very underrated album “Window to the Soul” with Spock’s Beard keyboardist Ryo Okumoto.

That band then evolved into Asia Featuring John Payne, with keyboardist Erik Norlander joining the group. After a few years, the band would release the digital single “Seasons Will Change” in 2012 and a cover album “Recollections: A Tribute to British Prog” in 2014. Still, no full length album to follow up the last Asia album with John Payne “Silent Nation.” With the passing of original Asia bassist/vocalist John Wetton, Payne and Norlander decided to rename the band out of respect to Wetton. Thus, Dukes of the Orient was born. Got it?

So Dukes of the Orient’s self titled debut has been in the works for the better part of 10 years. The orphaned single “Seasons Will Change” is now at home as part of this album. In addition to that song, the album is filled with amazing melodies and plenty of vintage prog sounds. If you liked any of the Asia albums with John Payne, it’s fair to say you will like this album too.

“Dukes of the Orient” definitely sounds like the proper successor to “Silent Nation.” Joining Payne and Norlander is drummer Schellan and even Govan makes an appearance on “Strange Days” with some incredible guitar work. What I love albout this album is the balance of pop/AOR hooks and old school prog rock. Songs like “Amor Vincit Omnia,” “Fourth of July” and the 10 minute plus closer “Give Another Reason” are very prog but never lose sight of being catchy. The remainder of the tracks are very catchy but never forget they are part of a prog band.

This is indeed the album I was hoping for from Payne and Norlander. I like that they took a new name so that the band has its own identity. Using the word “orient” gives a tip of the hat to the “Asia” name as well. Without a doubt, Dukes of the Orient have released one of my favorite albums of 2018. I just don’t want to wait another 10 years for a follow up!

Rating: 9.5/10

1. Brother In Arms
2. Strange Days
3. Amor Vincit Omnia
4. Time Waits For No One
5. A Sorrow’s Crown
6. Fourth Of July
7. Seasons Will Change
8. Give Another Reason

Website: www.dukesoftheorient.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Dukes.of.the.Orient

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Deathwhite – “For a Black Tomorrow”

023133Back in 2015, I reviewed the last EP by Deathwhite. In it, I remarked how I assumed they would be a band I should like but that the EP just wasn’t quite good enough. I closed by saying they were a band to “keep an eye on” and they might be a force someday. That day has arrived today. Deathwhite has released their first full length album “For a Black Tomorrow” and WOW, I was right! They have officially grown into a force to be reckoned with.

Deathwhite channel Katatonia’s vibe, the vocal prowess of The Chant and atmosphere of Anathema and still put their own spin on it all. The album starts off with an excellent 1-2 punch of “The Grace of the Dark” and “Contrition.” The riffs are crunchy, the vocals are powerful and the drumming is on point.

The music is varied enough. Plenty of melody and darkness in each song but each song is still very unique from the rest. As I always say, it’s about the song. These are some excellent, well written songs. From the acoustic/electric balance of “Poisoned” to the subtle power of “Eden” (that riff!) to the ethereal majesty of “Death and the Master” (think Primordial goes prog), you think that Deathwhite must run out of great songs but no, they just keep coming through out the album! The band are anonymous which is cool but whoever they are, the riffs and the notes hit by the vocalist are equally amazing!

“For a Black Tomorrow” is exactly what I wanted from that EP in 2015. Three years on, Deathwhite have emerged as an amazing band that everyone needs to check out. I was saddened when Katatonia went on hiatus and I’ve been disappointed with the last few Anathema albums. Deathwhite has stepped firmly into that void for me. “For a Black Tomorrow” is one of the best albums of 2017 so far, without question.

Rating: 9.5/10


1. The Grace of the Dark
2. Contrition
3. Poisoned
4. Just Remember
5. Eden
6. Dreaming the Inverse
7. Death and the Master
8. Prison of Thought
9. For a Black Tomorrow

Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: 23 February 2018
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deathwhiteofficial/

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Mildlife – “Phase”

mildlife-phase hi res

Phase is the debut album from Melbourne-based band Mildlife. The lead single The Magnificent Moon is the first track on the album and it is a wonderful introduction to this band.

On first blush, this song reminded of another Aussie band, Cut Copy, with its rhythmic beat and lush keyboards. There is more going on here, however, as there are textures that invoke jazz and psychedelic sounds. Check the YouTube link below and hear it for yourself.

I also enjoyed the track Im Blau, which features a spacey synth, a nice guitar line and filtered vocals. A touch of Can is in the mix, but this is Mildlife’s song.

This collection of tunes fits together nicely as an album. Nothing is jarring, none of this music feels out of place. The set has a wonderful flow. And, as with all good listening experiences, something interesting can be discovered on each play.

The press release states that the members of the band are old friends. This group sounds like a tight unit and I’m sure the friendship between the musicians contributes to this.

This is a strong debut. It will be interesting to see how Mildlife progresses down the road

Rating: 8/10


  1. The Magnificent Moon
  2. Zwango Zop
  3. Im Blau
  4. Phase
  5. Two Horizons
  6. The Gloves Don’t Bite

Band members:
James Donald
Adam Halliwell
Kevin McDowell
Tom Shanahan

Label: Research Records
Website: mildlife.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Mildlife
Bandcamp: mildlife.bandcamp.com

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AMORPHIS reveal album title, cover & release date!

AMORPHIS have finally finished recording their upcoming new studio album, entitled ‘Queen Of Time’. The record is scheduled for a May 18th release, via Nuclear Blast. In comparison to its predecessor, ‘Under The Red Cloud’ (2015), the album will include the use of real strings, flutes, orchestral arrangements and even choirs! In addition, this will be the first time that people will be able to hear their lyricist Pekka Kainulainen on the album as he contributes a speech in Finnish.

Amorphis - Queen Of Time

Today, the band unveils some more details on the production, the album title, the album cover (see above) and on working with their new/old bassist Olli-Pekka Laine.


The album was once again produced by the famous Jens Bogren (OPETH, AMON AMARTH, KREATOR, and many others), who is well-known for challenging, and motivating, the artists during the recording process. He isn’t afraid to push them to their limits!


Esa comments: “I guess ‘Queen Of Time’ turned out as a massive surprise to all of us. During the rehearsing and pre-production we didn’t have any idea that Jens had this huge picture inside of his head about the landscape of the album. It’s a very natural continuation to ‘Under The Red Cloud’ but with steroids. The songs are more aggressive but there’s more dynamics, harmonies and orchestral arrangements present. The result is AMORPHIS as something you’ve never heard before! Essentially, working with Jens worked really well. As a person he is very similar to us – we share the same kind of weird humor and we all like to work hard.” 


The cover artwork, which was created once again by French artist Jean ”Valnoir” Simoulin from Metastazis, captures the feeling of the lyrics and the music. With Pekka Kainulainen‘s (lyricist) words, the lyrical theme is universal: “Cultures rise, flourish, and are destroyed. The story of man is the story of searching, finding, and forgetting. A single spark can set the world afire, a single idea can give birth to a new culture. The greatest can stagnate into insignificance, the smallest can hold the power for change. The lyrics on this album are distant echoes of ancient forest peoples, from a time when meaning was proportioned by the cosmic forces that govern birth and death. If the connection was lost, they sought for a strand of knowledge, found a new direction, and a new age began.”


‘Queen Of Time’ will be also the first album with their old/new bass player Olli-Pekka ‘Oppu’ Laine following the departure of Niclas Etelävuori in 2017. Oppu was one of the founding members in 1990 and recorded the first seven records with AMORPHIS (‘The Karelian Isthmus’ LP, 1992; ‘Privilege Of Evil’ EP, 1993; ‘Tales From The Thousand Lakes’ LP, 1994; ‘Black Winter Day’ EP, 1995; ‘Elegy’ LP, 1996; ‘My Kantele’ EP, 1997 and the ‘Tuonela’ LP, 1999) before he parted ways with the band in spring 2000.

“To be honest, ‘Oppu’ was the only guy we could imagine being in AMORPHIS. It was funny – when we started to play our first shows together again last summer it all felt so familiar. He was involved with arranging songs and he also even brought some new songs to the table… really good ones, too!” says Esa. And Oppu adds: “Even though the last year with AMORPHIS has been exciting, nostalgic and fun, it’s also been truly comfortable to be with the guys again. As a clichéd expression, it’s been like returning home from a lengthy odyssey. After eighteen years, it feels like we are picking up where we left off from the good ol’ days! I’m really looking forward for the upcoming tour. The new album itself is a really strong package, the only hard thing will be picking which songs to play live! It’s safe to say we are set to pull off some killer shows over the next few years. After that, I’m predicting a long and fruitful career for the band in its current form…”


The band will soon kick off pre-orders for ‘Queen Of Time’ and release their first single, so stay tuned!

AMORPHIS festival shows 2018:
12 May Kopervik – Karmoygeddon Metal Festival (NO)
08 June Hyvinkää – Rockfest (FI)
09 June Tampere – South Park Festival (FI)
13 June Tokyo – Shibuya Club Quattro (JP)
14 June Osaka – Umeda Club Quattro (JP)
21-23 June St. Goarshausen – RockFels (DE)
24 June Clisson – Hellfest (FR)
05-07 July Ballenstedt – Rockharz Open Air (DE)
06 July Lohja – Rantajamit (FI)
12-14 July  Balingen – Bang Your Head!!! (DE)
12-15 July Vizovice – Masters of Rock (CZ)
14 July Joensuu – Ilosaarirock (FI)
20 July Laukaa – John Smith Rock Festival (FI)
27 July Kuopio – RockCock (FI)
28 July Oulu – Qstock (FI)
02-04 Aug. Wacken – Wacken Open Air (DE)
08-11 Aug. Villena – Leyendas del Rock (ES)
10 Aug. Kortrijk – Alcatraz Metal Festival (BE)

More live dates:

07 Sept. New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre (US)
08 Sept. Montréal, QC – Café Campus (CA)
09 Sept. Québec City, QC – Impérial de Québec (CA)
10 Sept. Toronto, ON – The Opera House (CA)
11 Sept. Ft. Wayne, IN – Piere’s Entertainment Center (US)
12 Sept. Detroit, MI – Harpos Concert Theatre (US)
13 Sept. Joliet, IL – The Forge (US)
14 Sept. Minneapolis, MN – The Cabooze (US)
15 Sept. Winnipeg, MB – The Park Theatre (CA)
17 Sept. Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room (CA)
18 Sept. Calgary, AB – Dickens (CA)
19 Sept. Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre (CA)
20 Sept. Seattle, WA – El Corazon (US)
22 Sept. Berkeley, CA – UC Theatre (US)
23 Sept. Anaheim, CA – City National Grove (US)
24 Sept.West Hollywood, CA – Whiskey a Go Go (US)
25 Sept. San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick (US)
26 Sept. Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre (US)
27 Sept.Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues (US)
28 Sept. Salt Lake City, UT – Liquid Joe’s (US)
29 Sept. Denver, CO – Herman‘s Hideaway (US)
01 Oct. Dallas, TX – Trees (US)
02 Oct. San Antonio, TX – The Rock Box (US)
03 Oct. Houston, TX – Scout Bar (US)
05 Oct. Tampa, FL – The Orpheum (US)
06 Oct. Lake Park, FL – Kelsey Theater (US)
07 Oct. Atlanta, GA – Masquerade (US)
09 Oct. Louisville, KY – Diamond Pub & Billiards (US)
10 Oct. Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall (US)
11 Oct. Baltimore, MD – Soundstage (US)
12 Oct. Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero Theatre (US)
14 Oct. Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall (US)



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Bjørn Riis – “Coming Home”

081917Airbag guitarist Bjørn Riis put out one of my favorite albums of 2017 with “Forever Comes to an End.” Needless to say (yet I am), I was very excited to find he was releasing a follow up mini-album/EP called “Coming Home.” Riis is not only a great guitar player but even though he is not the lead vocalist in Airbag, he very well could be because he is a great singer as well. Add in that he writes excellent songs and you have a formidable combination.

“Coming Home” is definitely an extension of “”Forever Comes to an End” but it definitely does NOT sound like left overs or outtakes. They might very well be but Riis is so talented that his cast offs would be as good as any of his music. “Coming Home” does get off to a bit of a rocky start for me with the new age instrumental “Daybreak.” It’s nice and all but never really goes anywhere.

Things are back on track with the title song “Coming Home” which builds from an acoustic piece with a great vocal to a full band number that has that Floydian vibe Riis (and Airbag) are so good at doing. “Drowning” is a duet with Norwegian singer Sichelle, who I was not familiar with prior to this. Her voice fits in well with both the music and Riis’ voice. The song’s lyrics are so moving and emotional. Plus, there’s some excellent guitar work on it as well. Next is “Tonight’s the Night” is piano heavy track with TONS of atmosphere.

The album closes with an alternate semi-acoustic take of the title track from his first solo album “Lullabies in a Car Crash.” It definitely fits the overall vibe of the EP but in including it, it also makes the EP into a nice sampler for those not familiar with Bjørn Riis. “Coming Home” is both a welcome addition for fans who know Bjørn Riis and a nice introduction to those who will be fans of him as well.

Rating: 9/10


1. Daybreak 4:00
2. Coming Home 6:44
3. Drowning 6:14
4. Tonight’s the Night 3:16
5. Lullabies in a Car Crash (alternate version) 6:29

Label: Karisma Records
Release: 23 February 2018
Website: www.bjornriis.com

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ATHEIST sign worldwide record deal with Agonia Records and announce plans for new upcoming release slated for 2018

American, legendary, technical, metal pioneers ATHEIST have signed a worldwide record deal with the European based label, Agonia Records. The band is expected to release a new studio album, the follow-up to 2010’s critically acclaimed “Jupiter” in mid to late 2018.

Band co-founder & vocalist/songwriter Kelly Shaefer commented: “2018 will mark our 30th year of making records. Atheist will embark on a very important album with an important new label along with a great team behind us, including Extreme Management Group. I feel confident that together, and with their anticipated dedication to bringing Atheist to a new level, the band will be poised for a crushing, new record! We cannot wait to begin this new chapter”.

Agonia Records commented: “We’re beyond excited to welcome Atheist to our roster. This is a band of extreme talent and bold creativity, a band lauded for their invaluable contribution to the death metal genre. They’ve been there in the early years and paved the way for countless acts playing progressive/technical death metal nowadays. We feel honoured to help them pave the way for next generations to come”.

ATHEIST are widely considered the true architects of the technical death metal genre. The group was co-founded in 1988 by drummer Steve Flynn and singer / guitarist Kelly Shaefer.

Followed by bands such as DEATH and CYNIC, they would together, define a sound that is a pillar of complex, progressive, jazz infused death metal intensity, with supreme musical prowess – the genre celebrated and known today as “Progressive Technical Death Metal”. They attained that status thanks to their debut, “Piece Of Time” (1989) and “Unquestionable Presence” (1991), both regarded as important benchmarks of the genre, and both were recorded at the now infamous, Morrisound Studios with producer extraordinaire Scott Burns. The studio itself will be forever etched in the history of extreme metal – along with the first 2 ATHIEST records, Morrisound Studios produced the albums from many known extreme metal bands of the 90’s, from Sepultura, Obituary and Death, Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Cannibal Corpse.

Recognized for its blistering intensity, and heightened level of musicianship, ATHEIST created something very unique, and set themselves worlds apart from the newly developing, death metal scene. Unfortunately, at a time when the band’s profile, and international recognition was growing, tragedy would strike as the band was out on tour. The band had just finished a North American tour with Swedish metal band Candlemass and crashed their vehicle on a highway outside New Orleans.

The accident took the life of bassist Roger Patterson. He would later be replaced by another incredibly, talented bass guitarist, Tony Choy (previously a member of Cynic). While ATHEIST continued to push boundaries, in 1993, with their third studio album, “Elements”, a groundbreaking barrage of never before heard combinations of Latin Jazz/Death metal with complex, conceptual lyrics, written and recorded in just 40 days with longtime Frank Zappa engineer Mark Pinske, it would be the last album the band would make for 17 years.

Modern tech death metal acts such as Necrophagist, Obscura, Gorod, Fallujah and Rivers of Nihil, are all the products of the sound that ATHEIST created. As such, the band’s impact on the genre is not only pioneering but path defining. The band is bigger today than ever since returning in 2006. ATHEIST enjoyed rave reviews for performances at the WACKEN OPEN AIR festival in Germany as well as HELLFEST in France, and was urged to do a new record. Reluctant at first, Shaefer and Flynn got in a room and knew right away the formula was alive and well.

ATHEIST released its first album in 17 years in 2010, returning with “Jupiter”. The album displayed all the elements that the band was recognized for, and demonstrated that ATHEIST stand alone in a style all their own. The band is ready to continue the journey they began from its inception in the late 80’s all the way into its 30th Anniversary, while adding a new bassist who’s quite known in the genre and has great technical abilities, which will allow the band to push the boundaries of the genre and develop a sound that is all ATHEIST. Featuring original founding members Kelly Shaefer and Steve Flynn, ATHEIST are poised to take the next step forward in redefining a genre, that the band were truly architects in creating. ATHEIST will be supporting this next release by touring worldwide!

Kelly Shaefer (Vocals)
Steve Flynn (Drums)
Chris Martin (Guitar)
Jason Holloway (Guitar)

ATHEIST on-line:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AtheistBand/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/atheistband

Agonia Records:
Website: http://agoniarecords.com
Webshop: http://tinyurl.com/agoniashop
Facebook: https://facebook.com/agoniarecords
Twitter: https://twitter.com/agoniarecords
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/agoniarecords
Bandcamp: https://agoniarecords.bandcamp.com
Instagram: https://instagram.com/agoniarecordsofficial
YouTube: http://youtube.com/AgoniaRec

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Jakub Zytecki – “Feather Bed/Ladder Head”

Today I’m listening to and reviewing Jakub Zytecki’s solo music. He may be known as the guitarist in prodigal Polish progressive metal act Disperse. February 23, 2018 will see the release of Jakub’s “Feather Bed / Ladder Head,” a physical release of two previously-digitally-released EPs (7/18/2017 & 12/15/2017 respectively).

Don’t fret, there is plenty of slithering guitar happening here. If you are looking for djenty-metalisms or balls-n-chunk syncopation you will want to look elsewhere. In my option, these recordings are all about melodies, atmospheres & emotions; plus the production values used to evoke such concepts.

I remember checking out Steve Vai and Eric Johnson at the same time (almost thirty years ago!) and being intrigued by their styles. Jakub incorporates attributes of both guitarist while also having his own identifiable style. The guitar tones here are clear and hide nothing; you can hear the slides, the sweeps, the taps, and the harmonics.

These songs are all about the songs, not that one solo or that one riff. There is a thickness to the compositions, but not in a sickly-sweet way. That’s not to say there aren’t some incredible solos here. There are programmed drums when necessary, massive reverb when it suits the song, double tracked guitars on occasion, only a few (wonderful) vocals, features of electronic music/sampling used for shading and enrichment of the atmosphere. Can something be thick and weightless? That’s what this is. I’m reminded of how I feel about Vai’s Flexible: I love it but I also know what comes next (Passion and Warfare, of course).

These tracks don’t scream “I’m a guitar player in a prog-metal band!” These tracks politely ask “why don’t you put on your headphones and check this out?’ There are funk and electronica rhythms, some lo-fi alternative rock, and multi-tracked collages of sound. These songs are many things, not only one tired genre.

And the end of Feather Bed/Ladder Head, I want two things: 1) to hit repeat and 2) to listen to Disperse. That’s a pretty awesome result from a couple EPs.

Rating: 8/10

Side One – Feather Bed

  1. Mandala
  2. Opened
  3. Letters
  4. The Drum
  5. Feather Bed
  6. Per Fley

Side Two – Ladder Head

  1. Ladder Head
  2. Yesterdead
  3. Lovetape
  4. As You Are
  5. NightDiving

Release Date: February 23, 2018
Bandcamp: jakubzytecki.bandcamp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Jakub-Zytecki-151354041572056

Posted in atmospheric metal, djent, experimental rock, modern prog, progressive metal | Tagged | Leave a comment