Breidablik – “Nhoohr”

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Breidablik is the project of Norwegian musican Morten Birkeland Nielsen. While his music chiefly utilizes analog synthesizers, there are other instruments that appear in the mix, along with natural sounds, such as bird calls and rain.

Nhoohr is an instrumental album, and upon my first listen, I was reminded of Tangerine Dream. Further listens introduced to me an atmospheric soundscape that made me imagine the music as a guide to a journey in an new land.

Some of the listening highlights for me:

Lead track Arrival opens with an ominous drone that leads up to an expansive sound. The sounds of the natural world are here, of the wind and the caw of a raven or crow.

At The Windswept Planes [sic] Of Nhoohr sets a rhythm that moves the journey forward, along with what I feel is an introduction to this land. The sound of a cosmic brook flowing can found here.

A guitar sound reminiscent of Mike Oldfield appears on the track Clouddancing. There are chimes sounding as well.

The Old Forest does indeed bring the listener to a forest, with the sound of birds and frogs, along with rainfall. A guitar is featured on this track.

And, wait, was there a detour to space with the track Strange Lands?. It’s a cosmic sounding track.

Nhoohr is an ambient album, yes, but isn’t background music. I found it to be an immersive listen.

If you are a fan of progressive electronic music, I highly suggest you give this album a listen.

Rating: 9/10

Available now

Tracklisting:

1. Arrival
2. At The Windswept Planes [sic] Of Nhoohr
3. Clouddancing
4. The Old Forest
5. Strange Lands
6. Perihelion
7. Shadows (Bandcamp bonus track)

Bandcamp: breidablik.bandcamp.com/album/nhoohr

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Rhapsody of Fire – “The Eighth Mountain”

393513It’s been a while since I listened to Rhapsody of Fire, to be perfectly honest. When I first heard them in the mid-2000s in high school, they were the music I put on while delving into the Dragonlance books. I hadn’t even known that Fabio Lione left the band until recently, that’s how far I fell out of the circle. So when I was offered a chance to review their latest release, “The Eighth Mountain”, I thought it a good chance to see what these guys have been up to since the early 2010s.

Some things never change, of course. Rhapsody of Fire’s sweeping symphonics and wonderful guitar work were like the arms of an old friend you haven’t seen in so long. The new vocalist Giacomo Voli fits nicely into the sound of the album. Having gone back and listened to a few albums I missed over the years, “The Eighth Mountain” is an album of transition. Finding their footing again with a new voice leading the charge. It is the sort of album that sweeps one into a fantasy world full of magic, dragons, and heroes. Even with the softer, slower track “Warrior Heart” in the middle of the album, and “The Wind, the Rain and the Moon” later on, are a lovely break from the intensity brought on by the drums and guitars throughout the rest of the album. It all ends on a high note with the epic “Tales of a Hero’s Fate”. With sweeping symphonics and a choir ringing in the track, and nothing but greatness following.

This album was quite a reintroduction to Rhapsody of Fire after all these years. If you have reservations about the album since the vocalist change, I encourage you to give it a try.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go revisit a certain series of fantasy books.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklist:

1. Abyss of Pain
2. Seven Heroic Deeds
3. Master of Peace
4. Rain of Fury
5. White Wizard
6. Warrior Heart
7. The Courage to Forgive
8. March Against the Tyrant
9. Clash of Times
10. The Legend Goes On
11. The Wind, the Rain and the Moon
12. Tales of a Hero’s Fate

Label: AFM Records
Release Date: 22 February 2019
Website: rhapsodyoffire.com

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Katatonia celebrate 10th anniversary of “Night Is The New Day” with exclusive live EU shows, deluxe edition of album

Katatonia are back! At least for a limited time doing a short EU tour to honor the 10th Anniversary of their classic album “Night is the New Day.” Here is the press release:

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“The umbral machinery known as Katatonia is starting to make its first moves after an idle year of stillness. We will begin our return with a celebration of our album” Night is the New Day” which turns 10 years now in 2019.”

Anders Nystrom – 20th February 2019

2019 marks ten years since the release of Katatonia’s seminal Peaceville album Night Is The New Day. Now, for the album’s 10th anniversary the band & Peaceville Records are set to release a deluxe edition of this classic album on 17th May 2019; and to further commemorate this dark gem, they will return to the live arena to play Night Is The New Day in its entirety at six select club shows in Europe in May.

Mon 20th – LUX – Luxembourg -Rockhal

Tue 21st – DE – Cologne – Live Music Hall

Wed 22nd – DE – Berlin- Columbiatheater

Thu 23rd – DE -Hamburg – Gruenspan

Fri 24th – BE – Vosselaar – Biebob

Sat 25th – UK – London – Islington Assembly Hall

Tickets on sale Friday 22nd February – https://www.facebook.com/katatonia

The band’s eighth album Night Is The New Day saw a continuation of the heaviness, depth & atmosphere of their previous album, The Great Cold Distance, with the band creating a more multi-dimensional sound. Asked how he now views the importance of Night Is The New Day within Katatonia’s career, guitarist, Anders Nystrom, muses “we, and many others, look upon this album as one of the most well produced, dark and atmospheric albums within our discography. It spawned new classics with ’Forsaker’ & ’Day And Then The Shade’ that have rarely left our live repertoire. As a band, we dug deep into ourselves to deliver the epic ballad ’Departer’ as well as the folk song undertones of ’Idle Blood’, ’Inheritance’, The Promise of Deceit’ and ’Onward Into Battle’; then there is the rich contrast of dynamics in songs like ’The Longest year’, ’Liberation’, ’New Night’ and ’Ashen’ but we also slowed things down further to impending doom with the song ’Nephilim’. All of these songs glued this album together like pillars carrying the weight of both our night and day.”

The album was originally recorded at Studio Mega & Ghost Ward Studios in July 2009; co-produced, engineered and mixed by David Castillo (Opeth), with mastering by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth, Paradise Lost). Night Is The New Day garnered praise not only from the worldwide media but also from their peers, with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt stating “Night Is The New Day is ‘possibly the greatest ‘heavy’ record I have heard in the last 10 years… it truly is a masterpiece!”

The 10th Anniversary edition of Night Is the New Day will feature new cover artwork from long-time Katatonia collaborator Travis Smith, be available for the first time in glorious hi-res 5.1, created by Bruce Soord, with sleevenotes and new interviews with Anders Nystrom & Jonas Renske by renowned journalist Dom Lawson.

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Dream Theater – “Distance Over Time”

xpr5xqsCNk_exfEUYPVwsolyQtX4qFkpVIhvc0yNjRcAfter the controversial album “The Astonishing,” it makes perfect sense for Dream Theater to get back to the basics. “The Astonishing” was initially an album that sounded good to me overall but with a poor story line and too much filler, the album is not aging well for me (I’d give it a 5/10 at this point). I am one of the people that actually gave the album a fair chance. And that’s the problem with DT fans, they are an unforgiving bunch (not all of course).

So regardless of whatever I say here, there are people who will say “they haven’t been good since _____” or “as long as it’s not ‘The Astonishing’ I’ll check it out” or worse “I stopped listening to them back in ____.” Not many bands keep so many ex-fans around! Ok enough fucking rambling.” What about the new album? “Distance Over Time” is heavier, tighter and one of the best SOUNDING Dream Theater albums they have ever done. People have heard the first three tracks on the album by now and they are a fair representation.

But there’s more. “Barstool Warrior” is a killer song with an awesome hook and ranks as a classic DT song. “Room 137” features lyrics from Mike Mangini and has an infectious riff and vibe that DT really has never done. Similarly, “S2N” has an odd structure and a shitload of riffs. Plus it marks the second lyric from John Myung, with the great “Fall Into the Light” being the other. Even the ballad “Out of Reach” is different than DT usually does.

Speaking of lyrics, after the last album, it’s nice to have 4 different lyricist on this one. None of the lyrics sound cheesy and some are quite good! “Room 137” and “Pale Blue Dot” are both excellent examples. Musically though, the band sound VERY energized and are in full attack mode. The mix by Ben Grosse is one of the best the band have had. Anyone who complains about Mangini’s drum sound now is just Portnoy in disguise.

Even the bonus track “Viper King” is a good tune. It’s shorter (as are most tracks) and reminds me a little of Deep Purple, albeit on steroids. It’s a solid end to a solid effort. While “The Astonishing” wore out its welcome with me, “Distance Over Time” is one of those Dream Theater albums that’s easy to listen to. Each track has a clear identity and each one stands on its own. That all said, I am sure people will complain but hopefully not after actually listening to “Distance Over Time”…all the way through…more than once.

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:

    1. Untethered Angel
    2. Paralyzed
    3. Fall into the Light
    4. Barstool Warrior
    5. Room 137
    6. S2N
    7. At Wit’s End
    8. Out of Reach
    9. Pale Blue Dot
    10. Viper King (Bonus Track)

Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 22 February 2019
Website: www.dreamtheater.net

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O.R.k – “Ramagehead”

018933Is it possible for me, as a huge fan of P@ Mastelotto, to give an objective review? Probably not but I’m going to do it anyway.

Consisting of band members Lef: vocals, keys (Obake, Berserk!), Carmelo Pipitone: guitars (Marta Sui Tubi), Colin Edwin: bass (Porcupine Tree) and Pat Mastelotto: drums (King Crimson), the band has released it’s third album “Ramagehead”. In my head, the two previous efforts “Inflamed Rides” and “Soul of An Octopus” were fantastic. I found myself wondering if they could do a decent follow up. You know, the infamous 3rd album that draws the most criticism, that can make or break a band? So now I’m listening and song one is playing… Not overly impressive. “Kneel To Nothing” seems a bit “Seattle-Grungy” to me but still decent. A nod to Soundgarden perhaps? Let’s continue…

“Signals Erased” has a great proggy intro. This one has me engaged. The guitar work is Frippy in a Discipline meets Thrak sort of way and then creeps into a heavy rhythm. I think we’ve got something here. Actually I would expect nothing but brilliance from these stellar musicians and here we have it. “Beyond Sight” is a beautiful tune reminiscent of a very cool David Sylvian song. “Black Blooms” is a highlight for me on this album. Haunting piano mixed with Serj Tankian’s (System Of A Down) fantastic vocals are enough to make me want to buy this album. The build up on this song is monstrous!

“Time Corroded” and “Down the Road” are simply angelic. The acoustic guitar work on this album is amazing. Despite a questionable intro song, this is exactly what I would expect from O.R.k. I’m heavily into moody and slightly dark music and O.R.k ‘ORkhestrates’ this very well. So now we have a two part song “Some Other Rainbow” with the jazzy/fusion rock “Strangled Words’ sandwiched in between them. The ending stretch reverberates another Sylvian-esque vibe.

I had to give the opening track “Kneel to Nothing” another listen. In the context of the album as a whole I can see where this tune would fit on the record although I wouldn’t open with it. I feel like they should have first established the feel of the album before venturing off into Chris Cornell land. Maybe it’s just me.

All in all, the album is well worth a purchase. Progressive energy with acoustic psychedelia and some intense ambient electronica makes me give this album a 9/10. But of course, P@ can do no wrong in my book.

Label: Kscope
Release Date: 22 February 2019

Website: www.orkband.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/O.R.k.band

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