Bjørn Riis – “A Storm Is Coming”

riisAirbag guitarist Bjørn Riis is back with his third full length album, “A Storm Is Coming.” Riis has been really busy with his solo career the last few years, releasing the EP “Coming Home” last year. His solo work has been absolutely flawless so far. And that’s why the first few minutes of the opening track “When Rain Falls” are so odd. The album would be better off without them!

The song starts with a plodding repetitive heavy riff that is just flat out dull. It goes on and on for 4 minutes and never does anything. Then the song goes into this overly sparse jazzy part that sounds like the musicians are looking for notes. The song properly kicks in at the 5 minute mark and is quite good and moving after that. It has that Floydian vibe that Riis is good at.

I was almost ready to give up but thankfully I know how good Riis is so I stuck with that song. And after it comes “Icarus” which sounds a bit like “Drown With Me” by Porcupine Tree. It’s a great tune though! “You and Me” is bit too dreary for its own good, but song itself is good despite the dour arrangement. “Stormwatch” is my favorite track on the album, a standard Riis epic. It’s big, melodic and powerful. There’s one little heavy moment in it that almost seems out of place, yet it still works. The track would work as an Airbag song.

Next is the 8 minute plus “This House” which reminds me a little of Tim Bowness before it glides into a more Porcupine Tree vibe. “Epilogue” is exactly that, a nice closing number that isn’t meant to blow you away but rather get you safely back home. Overall, “A Storm Is Coming” doesn’t surpass Bjørn Riis’ last full length “Forever Comes to an End,” but it has moments that rival it. It adds to an impressive solo discography that is quickly outshining his own band’s catalog. And that is saying a lot!

Rating: 8.5/10

Tracklist:

  1. When Rain Falls
  2. Icarus
  3. You And Me
  4. Stormwatch
  5. This House
  6. Epilogue

Label: Karisma Records
Release Date: 3 May 2018

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Thank You Scientist announce new album ‘Terraformer’

Here’s the press release for the upcoming album by Thank You Scientist:


American Prog rock masters Thank You Scientist are pleased to announce their 4th studio album, Terraformer, out June 14th on Evil Ink Records.  Their second studio release on the label formed by Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez is the bands most ambitious to date. The album features more than an hour and 20 minutes on a 2-disc set. Pre-orders for Terraformer also begin today at www.thankyouscientist.merchnow.com.

You can watch the Terraformer Preorder Infomercial Here:
https://youtu.be/mwBiaEYjQuw


Terraformer was recorded at The Barber Shop in Hopatcong NJ and engineer Mike Ferretti’s studio in Ringwood, NJ. Main songwriter and guitarist Tom Monda oversaw production, along with contributions from the band.

The front cover was designed by Templar, who also designed the album art for the group’s previous record Stranger Heads Prevail.

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Tracklisting:
1 Wrinkle  2:32
2 FXMLDR  7:56
3 Swarm  6:25
4 Son of a Serpent  8:06
5 Birdwatching 3:41
6  Everyday Ghosts  10:03
7  Chromology 9:49
8 Geronimo  6:15
9  Life of Vermin   8:11
10 Shatner’s Lament  1:13
11 Anchor  9:56
12 New Moon  2:01
13 Terraformer 8:07

Terraformer will be available 2 CD Digipak, 2 LP Vinyl, Digital, and in a Terraformer Comprehensive Adult Bundle (For Adults)

This incredibly rare offering from Thank You Scientist and CREAM CO includes:
•Limited Edition 2LP Color Vinyl
•21 Page Full Color Lyric Book (illustrated by Shamfoo)
•Full Score Songbook signed by all members of Thank You Scientist (Limited to the first 500 pre-orders)
•Full set of Thank You Scientist Father and Son Trading Cards (Limited to the first 500 pre-orders)

“We’re really excited about this new album. We’ve put in so much work into this limited bundle to make sure it’s perfect, and we hope our fans agree and help us crush our release week. We’re a bunch of weirdos making music for weirdos that still care about weird music, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.” – Tom Monda

The album marks the first recordings of the Thank You Scientist’s new lineup, which includes Joe Fadem on drums, Sam Greenfield on Sax, and Joe Gullace on trumpet.

“The new members were all guys that myself, Ben, and Cody play with in Cody’s band ‘We Used to Cut The Grass.’  They were all a big part of the writing and arranging process for this album and I feel very lucky to be in a band with them.” – Monda

Thank You Scientist will be on a US tour this summer with Reign of Kindo and In the Presence of Wolves from April 12th in New Jersey, ending May 19th in NY.

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Jordan Rudess – “Wired For Madness”

wired“Wired For Madness” is the latest solo opus from Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess. DT has just released an album so it’s interesting that Rudess is releasing this at the same time. If you know his solo discography, you know that Rudess isn’t one for subtlety. And it’s very clear from the start that this album is no different in that regard.

The album starts with 2 massive epics,”Wired For Madness, Part 1″ and “Wired For Madness, Part 2.” And this album is worth buying for these 2 tracks alone. Yes it showcases his playing ability but it’s not just solo after solo. Rather each track has sections and movements. Also (as with the whole album) they have vocals from the man himself.

Rudess has a really good voice and is a good lyricist. It makes me wonder why he doesn’t contribute each skill to his main gig in DT. The tracks have heavy moments, melodic moments and technical moments. Honestly he could have just released the 2 songs and I’d be satisfied. Ah but there’s more! “Off the Ground” is a true song in length and structure, and yes has another quality vocal by Rudess.

The strangest track is actually “Just Can’t Win.” No it’s not some crazy prog shredfest. Rather it’s a blues number. Yes really. Apparently Rudess loves blues and he sings the style well. The song features the great Joe Bonamassa on guitar. And there are plenty of other great guests on the album. Other guest guitarists include Vinnie Moore, Guthrie Govan, and John Petrucci. Drums are handled by Marco Minnemann, Rod Morgenstein and Elijah Wood. DT vocalist James LaBrie is on the closing section of “Wired for Madness, Part 2.”

But this is definitely Rudess’ show here. His playing is some of the best he has done. Yes there’s modern sounds but he does mix in some old school sounds here and there. There are clear moments that remind me of the late Keith Emerson. I think that “Wired For Madness” could very well be Rudess’ best solo album to date. This is a no brainer for any fan of his or Dream Theater. “Wired For Madness” is filled with adventure and dynamics, a truly rewarding listen.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:
1. Wired For Madness, Part 1
2. Wired For Madness, Part 2
3. Off The Ground
4. Drop Twist
5. Perpetual Shine
6. Just Can’t Win
7. Just For Today
8. Why I Dream

Label: Music Theories Recordings
Release Date: 19 April 2019

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The Mute Gods – “Atheists and Believers”

Press_Cover_01

Busy would be a good adjective to describe many of the musicians I have discovered in recent years.

One of these musicians is Nick Beggs, whose work I have come to know through his performances with Steven Wilson, and he is the songwriter and the voice of this band.

There are political songs in this collection. There are sentimental and tender songs in this collection. These songs try to sum up the human condition at this moment in time: there are events we can control, events we can try to control and events we cannot control at all.

Some of the highlights of the album for me:

The track One Day is a catchy earworm and a song of self-preservation perhaps, a song of hope for the human race.

The instrumental tune Sonic Boom brings along a different drumming style – oh, it’s Craig Blundell, and this song was written for him by Mr. Beggs. These two are the bass and drum bedrock of the Steven Wilson band and this track proves they work well together.

After some very powerful tracks, there arrives the gentle reflections and memories in the songs Old Man and The House Where Love Once Lived.

Iridium Heart comes along with some space voice vocals and one has to wonder who has a heart less human than the world’s second densest metal.

The instrumental closing track I Think of You is a gentle and contemplative song, moved along by a keyboard melody.

Humanity expresses a range of emotions, and so does this release. There is no sameness to the music in question.

If you are ready to receive some Beggsian Knowledge with accompaniment from some very skilled musicians, I suggest you check out Atheists and Believers

Rating: 9/10

Available now

Line-Up:
Nick Beggs: Basses, guitars, Chapman Stick, programming, keyboards and vocals
Roger King: keyboards, programming, guitars, backing vocals, production and mastering
Marco Minnemann: drums, additional guitars

Guests on the album:
Alex Lifeson – assorted stringed instruments
Craig Blundell – drums
Rob Townsend – flute, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Lula Beggs – backing vocals

Tracks:
1. Atheists and Believers
2. One Day
3. Knucklehed
4. Envy the Dead
5. Sonic Boom
6. Old Men
7. The House Where Love Once Lived
8. Iridium Heart
9. Twisted World Godless Universe
10. I Think of You

Label: InsideOut Music
Website: themutegods.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/themutegods
Twitter: twitter.com/themutegods

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A.C.T – “Rebirth”

Act Cover - smallOne of the first “new” progressive rock acts I got into back in the day. Feels weird to say that. But at a time when I only really knew of Yes, Dream Theater, and Rush, a good friend of mine introduced me to a few bands that helped enlarge my world of music appreciation. A.C.T was one of those bands and I will forever be grateful for his help in expanding my horizons (ya hear that, Frank!?).

The album that he introduced me to at the time was The Last Epic, and it did nothing short of blow my mind. Encapsulating the best parts of ELO, Styx, Elton John, and even a little Yes, along with a masterful hand at story telling; they were EXACTLY what I had been looking for in a band. Digging further, they lost me a little on their other albums (the earlier ones and Silence). While good albums, they didn’t resonate with me like The Last Epic. But then Circus Pandemonium came along and I was all “A.C.T are back!!!” And now with this EP, they are still here!

Waking up to the first track, The Ruler of the World, the sounds of an early morning greet us and that of a crowd at a cocktail party? But we quickly kick into pure A.C.T Everything you would expect from one of their songs. Feels a bit of a throwback during the verses where I can hear parts of past songs throughout and even a nicely soaring chorus to boot and some samples along the way. Check out their video for it below! This track and the next one, Running Out of Luck, sound very much like they could have been on the Last Epic. Which works for me!

A Digital Affair takes a turn down a path I haven’t heard them go before. A very sort of electronica style… a digital affair, off you will. ;-P  The verses are from the perspective of a humanoid in love and the chorus the human’s response. Once again, everything you expect from A.C.T with a nice unexpected twist in style. Love it!

And then Meet the Past is back to the Act we know and love, while A Broken Trust, the last track, hits another style that feels a bit different for them, and even gets heavy in one part. Really loving this track.

And… that’s it. It is an EP after all. But a 22 minute one. And to paraphrase one of my favorite lines from “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”:

“One third of a(n A.C.T album) would only arouse my appetite without bedding it down.”

But this is definitely worth your time! And it HAS been 5 years, so I’m sure ya’ll are ready for more. Looking at the release dates, they seem to be getting farther and farther between releases. I really hope we don’t have to wait another 5 years. But the music industry has changed. Maybe having more EPs more often will work better? Time will tell. At least we have this now. And it seems they are releasing this one physically first, almost a whole month before the digital release.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklisting:

1. The Ruler of the World

2. Running Out of Luck
3. Digital Affair
4. Meet the Past

5. A Broken Trust

Label: Self Released

Release Date: Physical release: 29 March 2019; Digital: 24 April 2019
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Devin Townsend – “Empath”

empathI’ve been busy with personal things lately but I thought I could crank out a quick review.

Yesterday saw the release of the new Devin Townsend album, “Empath.” I never received it from the label but I had preordered it way back when it was announced. This is the first one without the “Project” in quite a few years. And of course it still sounds very much like Devy.

It’s quite an album and it’s hard to fully understand it after a few listens which is awesome. It’s all over the place musically which is nice too. Previous albums with DTP have been more focused on one direction. The album reminds me of “Terria” at the moment. That’s one of my favorites by Devin. “Empath” has the insanity of “Genesis,” the pop metal of “Spirits Will Collide” (love that one), and the metal Disney of “Why?”.

The real “meat” of the album are the two epics. The multi-part 23 minute Singularity answers the question “can Devin write a massive prog epic” and the even more intriguing 11 minute “Borderlands.” A rooster? That one might be my favorite track since it kept surprising me as it played and still made sense when I was done. Granted, it also made me want to go back and see if it made more sense. Downsides? Well, “Sprite” is just okay for me and “Requiem” is just what you’d expect from the title.

I haven’t had a chance to check the bonus disc of demos “Tests of Manhood” but I’ve always enjoyed the bonus discs with each release. There will be time for that. For now, this is all about the main disc “Empath.” What I love about Devin is that he can and will try anything. Even when he does, it’s instantly recognizable as HIM. I don’t use the phrase “musical genius” often. I don’t think there are many of them. Devin Townsend is a musical genius and “Empath” is the latest masterpiece, albeit schizophrenic and overblown as fuck. But that’s why I love it.

Tracklist:

1.Castaway
2.Genesis
3.Spirits Will Collide
4.Evermore
5.Sprite
6.Hear Me
7.Why
8.Borderlands
9.Requiem
10.Singularity Part 1 – Adrift
11.Singularity Part 2 – I Am I
12.Singularity Part 3 – There Be Monsters
13.Singularity Part 4 – Curious Gods
14.Singularity Part 5 – Silicon Scientists
15.Singularity Part 6 – Here Comes The Sun

Website: www.hevydevy.com
Release Date: 29 March 2019

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Eveline’s Dust – k.

K-CD-FRONTsmallThis is my first exposure to Eveline’s Dust so I had no idea what I was heading into when I gave it a spin. What i immediately noticed is that this is an album drenched in Porcupine Treeness, with a nice helping of Spock’s Beard in places. This, to me, is a good thing. After i finished this one, I went back and listened to their first album, The Painkeeper (2016), and found it to be a bit more laid back (Well… they had an EP, called Time Changes (2012) before that). This one has a harder edge to it, so naturally I dig it a lot more.

The band is: Nicola Pedreschi on keyboards & vocals, Lorenzo Gherarducci on guitar & backing vocals, Marco Carloni on bass and Angelo Carmignani on drums. In addition to the guests listed below on the song Faintly Falling, they also have Federico Avella supplying soprano sax & transverse flute.

Starting things off is A New Beginning, with a little quirky guitar riff and keys before throwing in some chunky guitar and then tearing into some Spock’s style instrumentalism while the next track, Fearce Fear Family, goes into a Rush kind of vibe, kinda feeling Camera Eye here a little in places.

Hope starts down Porcupine Tree lane for a while and then heads off on jazzy road, evoking some thoughts of early YES along the way. The second longest track on the album, you definitely go through various moods here.

K, the title track as well as the shortest song on the album, sounds like a mash up of Porcupine Tree and Alice In Chains. It is weird and it works. This is followed up with the slow burner, Lost in a Lullaby. It turns in a nifty little riff and beat toward the end before unleashing the rock.

Then things slow down again with Faintly Falling. A piano driven ballad with strings, a female lead (Lorenza Catricalà), who has an amazing voice, btw. One that makes me think a bit of Nanet. As I said, the PT/SW feeling is very strong on this album. The cello on this track is provided by Nicolò Zappavigna and it sounds excellent as well.

Rain over Gentle Travellers is the longest track on the album and closes things out. Beginning with a slow, Sinatra/Buble sound accompanied with just a piano and then goes into a more eclectic vibe, with, yet again, a strong PT feel. This track is growing on me, though it hasn’t quite clicked with me yet. Still a good song, though.

So… if you like the other bands mentioned here, you will most likely dig this one as well. But don’t get me wrong… they are their own band with their own style. But you can hear their influences nicely.

Rating: 9/10
Tracklist:
1 A New Beginning                       6:02
2 Fierce Fear Family                    4:32
3 Hope                                             9:03
4 K                                                    3:38
5 Lost In a Lullaby                        5:38
6 Faintly Falling                            4:41

7 Rain Over Gentle Travellers    9:37

Label: Giant Electric Pea Ltd
Release Date: 8 April 2019
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