The Tangent – “Auto Reconnaissance”

The TangentAuto ReconnaissanceI’ve been into The Tangent right from the release of “The Music That Died Alone.” Since that amazing debut album, the band have been very “up and down” for me. Good album, average album, great album, bad album. So I am always a tad concerned about a new album, especially if I liked the last one. And I did like “Proxy.” One thing that boded well for the new album “Auto Reconnaissance” is that the lineup is the same as the last album and I am not sure that’s ever happened before! Other than bandleader Andy Tillison, the band has had more turnover than King Crimson or Yes or…well you get the idea!

With that stability, The Tangent definitely benefit musically. The songs are strong and the performance is top notch. Bassist Jonas Reinhold (The Flower Kings) shows off his abilities on the opener “Life on Hold.” Great song! The problem with “Jinxed in Jersey” is not the music, which is very jazzy and proggy. The problem is way way too much spoken word. Tillison is telling a story which is humorous to be sure (he’s good at that) but being someone that detests talking over music, it gets old really fast. Now I know Tillison is not the greatest singer in the world but it’s better than listening to a story that I won’t need to hear again. Oh well.

“Under Your Spell” showcases the melodic side of The Tangent, wait…they have one? This is somewhere between Philly soul and prog. I do enjoy it too. I hear a bit of Spandau Ballet too. The guitar solos by Luke Machin are so tasty and serve the song. The Tangent aren’t always concerned about serving the song so it’s nice to hear that they can focus more than usual. Theo Travis adds some sweet sax work to the track as well. Very nice. “The Tower of Babel” reminds me a little bit of Steely Dan musically. The song has that jazz groove that they are/were known for. It does have an odd melody but well that’s just how Andy is. It’s a wise choice for a first single/video.

The Tangent are known for their epics and “Auto Reconnaissance” has some. “Jinxed in Jersey” is 16 minutes but “Lie Back & Think of England” is over 28 minutes. Poignant then jazzy and of course over the top. Tillison reflects on his homeland which is relatable on a global level. The samples really work well on this one. Remember that whole spoken word problem I have? Well an over use of samples can fall into that bucket but fortunately these work well with the mood that’s being set. What seems like the chorus 5 minutes has a solid hook within the myriad of notes that are firing all around. The bottom line is that this epic is very good. It doesn’t rank with some of the early epics that Tillison penned but it is a great centerpiece for the album as a whole.

“The Midas Touch” is more “bit sized” at just under 6 minutes. And it’s actually funky! Reinhold gets a great groove going. I LOVE the synth used on it. Musically, it’s my favorite song…ok it’s my favorite song on the album period. “Proxima” is the 12 and 1/2 minute bonus track. Why anyone would buy an album without the bonus tracks baffles me! Unless the tracks are shitty demos or something. “Proxima” is part ambient, part jazz and all great! This instrumental shows the various sides of the band and is amazing stuff.

It’s great to hear The Tangent on a creative roll. “Auto Reconnaissance” breaks the trend that I have had with them and it’s as good as their last album “Proxy.” It ranks along side other releases like “A Spark in the Aether” and “A Place in the Queue.” If you’ve ever enjoyed Andy and the band, I think you’ll like this one too. The Tangent wear the prog badge proudly and mix the current prog sound with tons of classic musical references.

Rating: 8.5/10
Label: Inside Out Music
Release date: August 21, 2020

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Pain of Salvation – “Panther”

Panther. The new album. Pain of Salvation are known to take chances both with their style and production. I respect that but sadly this one loses a lot due to a poor mix and production. This is their St. Anger.

Production is messy. Just sounds overly distorted and muddy. “Panther” is a heavy album or should be but it’s killed by this terrible mix.

Accelerator sounds cluttered. There’s good melodies. There’s a good song in here somewhere.

Unfuture. Has a snare drum which has no power. It sounds like a box is being hit. The song itself is okay but nothing memorable.

Restless Boy. Just not a good song. Sound is weird and harsh. It’s harsh even when the music is quiet. Very odd. When the drums kick in, it’s really a St. Anger moment.

Wait. Well I have been. Piano is nice. Odd sound effects behind it are annoying. Daniel still has a great voice and I can hear it on this one. The song is very good. The chorus is great. Again, the drums sound terrible. It’s a shame too. The keys that come in around 4:40 are annoying.

Keen to a Fault. Well it’s yet another decent song with a poor arrangement and even worse production. The song has good parts are others which sound aimless.

Fur. Banjo. Because we all need some banjo? It’s a 1:30 instrumental. It’s fine but if it wasn’t on the album I wouldn’t care.

Title track. A hip hop-ish verse. It reminds me a LITTLE of Scarsick. Too much reliance on tech to prop the song up. The song has no oomph. It tries to but the guitars are distorted and buried under the tech shit.

Species. This is one of the better songs on the album. It has more punch than the rest but still sounds bad. Too much fuzz.The song itself is classic PoS. Dramatic, powerful and has a good hook.

Icon. The 13 plus minute epic track. Beautiful introduction. And then something that sounds like a guitar pretending to be a gnat starts in my left ear. The music that starts under that part sounds good though. That annoying gnat sound is so annoying. I actually sigh in relief when it’s not there. Once again, this is a good song that has tremendous beauty…but each amazing moment gets trashed by that motherfucking gnat sound. Dude, what the fuck? The song kicks some ass FINALLY around the 7:30 mark. Where the hell has this been? The guitar solo is really good even if it’s muffled and run thru more shitty treatments. Overall, this is the best song on the album. Well at least most of the song is…

This “Panther” has no claws and no bite. I doubt I will listen to this one very much. It’s not a good listen. Horrible sounding album that needs a massive remix.

Rating: 4/10

Label: InsideOut Music

Release Date: August 28, 2020

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Rank ‘Em: Asia studio albums

I am planning on doing a tribute radio show this Sunday August 16th at 10am EDT, dedicated to Asia and all variations of the band. So that means: Wetton era, Payne era, GPS and also Dukes of the Orient. This had me thinking about how I would rank all of these albums. For this list, I am only including studio albums credited to the band Asia.

So it requires Geoff Downes for it to be included here. I love the GPS album and both Dukes albums but for this, I’m excluding them. I am also excluding “Now and Then” since it’s partially a greatest hits album. So that leaves 12 albums! Here’s my list!

12. Omega
11. Gravitas
10. XXX
These three “final” albums of the second Wetton era just never quite connected with me. There are some good songs on each but each have filler. Honestly the placement of them is really interchangeable. “XXX” probably has a few more stronger songs on it.

 

9. Aria
8. Aqua
The first two albums of the Payne era are both very good overall. I like them about the same and each do have a few throwaway songs. But the lead singles on each album are two of my favorite songs by any era. “Aqua” gets a slight nod for having a bit more connection to the classic Asia sound.

 

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7. Phoenix
The first album of the second Wetton era is easily the best of that bunch. I love quite a few songs on this one: “Never Again, “Sleeping Giant,” “Parallel Worlds,” and “An Extraordinary Life.” The problem for me is that the drums are buried in the mix! There’s no snap at all. This one would land much higher if not for that.

6. Silent Nation
5. Arena
I like these two Payne era albums about the same. I love both! “Silent Nation” has an awesome band lineup with Gutherie Govan and Chris Slade (each were on the “Aura” album too). There are some really good songs on each album. “Arena” has the title track plus “Heaven,” “Falling,” and “Never.” “Silent Nation” has one of my favorite Asia songs “Midnight” plus “Blue Moon Monday,” “Ghost in the Mirror” and “The Prophet.” Each could easily overtake “Alpha.”

 

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4. Alpha
At the time it came out, this album was a bit of a let down. Years later, I have a better appreciation for it. The hits are well known but my favorite songs are “Open Your Eyes,” “The Heat Goes On” and the bonus track “Daylight.” It doesn’t rank higher than 4 because my top 3 are solid.

 

3. Aura
2. Astra
These two albums are essentially equal, although they couldn’t be more different. “Aura” is by far my favorite Payne era album and is highly recommended if you love great songs with amazing hooks. The album is packed with some of my favorite Asia songs like “Awake,” “Ready to Go Home,” “Under the Gun,” “Wherever You Are,” “Hands of Time,” and so many more.

“Astra” is so underrated. The band had so much fire with the addition of Mandy Meyer on guitar. He gives this album serious TEETH! “Go” is my favorite Asia song and then you also have “Rock and Roll Dream,” “Hard on Me,” Voice of America” and the phenomenal “Too Late.” These two albums are essential in my opinion and probably overlooked. Love both!

 

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1. Asia
Well duh. The first album stands out as one of my favorite releases of all time by anyone. This was a game changer for me. Every note on this album is fucking perfect and that includes the b-side “Ride Easy.” This is an album that was impossible to top and I think that is one reason why the band fell apart. It’s an iconic album that merges prog with radio friendly rock. No one did that better.

So there you have it! I should mention that I do love the new songs that were on “Now and Then” but there’s no good way to compare 4-5 songs to full albums. How did I do? Let me know what your Asia list looks like!

And tune into the radio show, Sunday 10am EDT on www.metalworldradio.com!

Asia-Teardrop

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But is it prog?

20799959_1711292952500182_2053678725596451360_nThe worst question that I have to deal with is whether something is “prog” or not. I’ve fallen victim to having to ask that question many times when it comes to reviews or posting content. It drives me crazy. While I have my own idea of what prog is (and most people know I stretch the term quite far), in order to have a site that people can enjoy music that they like…well, I need at least SOME boundaries.

Lately, I find myself not giving a shit what genre something falls into. I’d rather listen to good music whether it’s King Crimson, Miles Davis, Cheap Trick or whatever. But are they prog? Fuck that. Are they GOOD? Yeah! But even so, Miles Davis stretched jazz well into the prog zone and even Cheap Trick recorded very progressive songs like “Stop This Game,” “Need Your Love,” or “Gonna Raise Hell.”

The unique thing about prog is unlike other genres, it can easily meld into another genre and add value. I suppose that is what I love most about it. It demands you stretch your definitions. This is why really don’t understand people that claim only bands like Yes or ELP or early Genesis or Rush (70s only! ugh) or Crimson are prog. Some people actually claim Pink Floyd isn’t prog. Those people are the prog version of “Flat Earthers.”

Prog evolved since all of those bands started it. And even those bands changed through the years and (in my opinion) were still very progressive. But again those narrow minded progsters just won’t have it. Just because YOU didn’t progress doesn’t mean THEY didn’t. I’d rather Genesis try their hand at prog pop than sound stupid with more Supper’s Ready clones. How is doing the same thing for 50 years “progressive”? It really isn’t.

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On the metal side of things, those that deride Maiden being prog or early Priest or yes even Sabbath are insane. I think part of the problem there is the snobbery that goes against metal as a whole. Not all metal is three chord stupidity. Let’s remember that Lemmy was in Hawkwind, so maybe Ace of Spades isn’t overly clever but those early Hawkwind albums are incredible and quite prog. Maiden? I am not even going to justify that. No need. Priest? “Sin After Sin” and “Stained Class.” Sabbath? “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and “Sabotage” but there are many tracks on many other albums.

Prog was bound to find its way into metal like it had done with rock. Much of metal is very classical in nature (some like Voivod even have jazz elements) and bands like Yes were practically lifting classical passages. So again, open your mind to other possibilities. I think the question isn’t “but is it prog?” but rather “does it challenge you?” and most importantly “but do you like it?”

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Vulkan – “Technatura”

470201At this point, the only reviews that I am writing are the ones that I am motivated to write. In other words, it has to be an album that I want you to know about. Here we have one: Vulkan – “Technatura.” I have a thing for Swedish bands which was partially why I decided to check out Vulkan. By the mid point of the big opening track “This Visual Hex,” I realized that I was not skipping ahead to check the next song but I wanted to listen to the rest. Ok Vulkan, you have my attention.

Their sound has elements of Katatonia, newer Opeth and even Soen by way of Tool. None of those influences are overt. Part of why I was drawn in was that the overall sound was not completely derivative of anyone else. It’s heavy psych rock with polyrhythms and some excellent grooves. Think The Mars Volta if they ever reigned things in a bit (a lot).

They do some experimenting here and there, the second track “Hunter-Prey” is short and a bit odd but I wouldn’t necessarily call it filler. In some ways, it’s like the shorter tracks that Tool does on their albums. Both “Klagans Snara” and the title track fall into this bucket as well. They aren’t tracks that I would seek out but as part of the whole they are fine.

It’s really a bright sounding album and the songs often take flight. The next tracks “Redemption Simulations” and “Bewildering Conception Of Truth” fit that mold and you find yourself hooked. I love the funky groove on “Rekviem” and the sway of tracks like “Spökskepp.” Like any great album, each song has its own uniqueness. Vocals are important to me and vocalist Jimmy Bob Lindblad has a very strong voice that I feel like reminds me of someone but I can’t place it. That’s a plus as well.

The album has many high points as I’ve mentioned and not the least of which is the 10 minute plus “The Royal Fallacy.” Like any really great longer song, it doesn’t feel as long as it is. The sections flow effortlessly and the song is just another jewel on this album. “Technatura” is a crowing achievement for Vulkan. Get it? Jewel. Crown. Anyway, this is one of those bands that people need to check out because they are not on a big label or a small one for that matter! Highly recommended!

Rating: 9/10

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebandvulkan
Bandcamp: vulkanband.bandcamp.com/album/technatura

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Aleah – “Aleah”

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The discovery of PMP introduced me to many artists. When Rob asked me to become a reviewer for the site, my net of musical discovery was cast even wider.

This latest album I have for review is from a vocalist whose life was cut short by cancer. Aleah Stanbridge was the singer for the band Trees of Eternity. She also featured on albums by Swallow The Sun and Amorphis.

This posthumous solo album is a collection of remastered tracks and unreleased songs It was completed and compiled by Aleah’s partner in music and in life, Juha Raivio.

While I recognize the names of two of the acts she has sung with, I never checked out their work and her participation. I rectified that!

I would say that if you have enjoyed her previous work, this album is a must listen for you.

The music may not be as intense. Aleah’s vocals are the focal point here.

A selection of the songs on this release are acoustic tracks that are then complemented by fuller versions.

One of these tracks is a favorite of mine, Vapour. The fuller version has a tension and a dark tone that reminds me of the work of Chelsea Wolfe. It is a song that hints at the dangers of desire after a lover has left you behind.

Another song I enjoyed on this release is Breathe. Again, I prefer the electric version with the atmospheric instrumentation and Aleah’s voice gliding within. It’s a song of love and hope to close out the album.

A beautiful voice is gone from this universe, yet it still brings us joy.

Rating: 9/10

Digital available now
CD and vinyl July 24th, 2020

Tracklist:

1. Vapour – Acoustic Version
2. Sacrifice – Acoustic Version
3. Open Sky – Acoustic Version
4. My Will – Acoustic Version
5. Breathe – Acoustic Version
6. Closing Under Pressure – Acoustic Version
7. Water and Wine – Acoustic Version
8. Terrestrial Torrents – Acoustic Version
9. Touch My Face – Acoustic Version
10. My Will
11. Sacrifice (feat. Anilah)
12. Inverted Enlightenment
13. Vapour
14. The Tower
15. Breathe

Label: Svart Records
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aleahstarbridgeofficial
Bandcamp: aleah-starbridge.bandcamp.com/album/aleah

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Rob’s Top Ten of the first half of 2020

27857751_10156354240383938_3754386157897054753_nI noticed that The Prog Mind had posted a best of 2020 list and also that only one of the releases was one that I thought would make my list. So then I thought, do I even have 10 albums from the first half of 2020 that are worth making a list for? This year has been terrible so I wondered if that translated to the music.

I haven’t been listening to much music of late. And when I do, it tends to be older stuff that I already know. I’m just not in that head space. This is fallout from various personal things. Music was always something that held me together and now even that isn’t working. So okay I was able to find 12 albums which I then cut down to 10.

I don’t have an order to these so they are listed in alphabetical order. And I did not include anything that hasn’t been released yet. So while I would include Haken, the album got delayed. I wonder if these will survive til the end of the year…hell I wonder if the human race will survive til the end of the year. Here are ten releases to consider spending your money on.

Dool – “Summerland”
Elder – “Omens”
Hail Spirit Noir – “Eden in Reverse”
moe. – “This Is Not, We Are”
The Night Flight Orchestra – “Aeromantic”
Pattern-Seeking Animals – “Prehensile Tales”
Phish – “Sigma Oasis”
Psychotic Waltz – “The God-Shaped Void”
Pure Reason Revolution – “Eupnea”
Tame Impala – “The Slow Rush”

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Outside In – “Karmatrain”

outsideI assume what happened to me happens to many of you: weeks go by with what seems like no great new music and then the dam overflows.  I was still recovering from Intronaut’s new one Fluid Existential Inversions (featuring a career-defining performance by drummer Alex Rudinger) along with Rise Radiant by Caligula’s Horse when on one of those whims I decided to check out a band I’ve seen floating around Instagram recently, Auckland, New Zealand’s Outside In.

Bandcamp suggests song 5 “Morning Warning” as the go-to so I decided to give it a spin.  Isn’t it so weird how the mind quickly tries to attach a new sound to something familiar?  The vocal melody of the verse brought Tool to mind but that’s just a function of the musical scale used.  Just as I was appreciating the fuzzy bass tone, in-kicks the chorus.  Whatever chord changes my brain planned on receiving were not heard.  This is a good thing! The second verse features some higher-energy vocals from Mikey Brown, the chorus floats by, a very hooky B section rolls in and the song is punctuated by a grungy, anthemic declaration.  Boom. Whew.  I listened to the whole album, emailed the band, and I asked if I could write a review.  Not the usual order of business.  Is it the phase of the moon, the certain human vibration we’re all experiencing at this specific point in time, or is Karmatrain, released May 29, 2020’s progressive rock unicorn?

There is a certain neo-prog feel to the production, everything is well balanced, no issues there.  Song lengths are modest; the “epic” is track 12 at just over 8 minutes.  The bands that often pop into my mind include Enchant and Marillion.  Nice variety of feels and tempos but the chorus & hooks bring the composition into focus.  Everything you hear serves the songs.  I have a hard time finding anything to consider an unnecessary moment.  Just a few tasteful guitar solos to be found.  Songs blossom, fully realized at the end, compact but bright.  The flow from track to track and overall arc of the album is excellent.  Drummer Adam Tobeck is tasteful and syncopated, never overplaying yet always supporting the forward motion.  Elliot Park’s bass is solid and very tasteful, jazzy; Bridges is a great example of being both melodic and supportive.

Pieces of melodies float into my consciousness throughout the day, lyrical phrases will come and go.  The lyrics seem to entail a journey, literal and metaphorical, of an individual and of a society.  “The world looks broken when you focus on the pieces; if this isn’t what we wanted, then why are we letting it happen again?” from “The Garden of Light.”

After a dozen spins I’m still identifying the dual guitar parts. Guitarist/songwriter Jonnie Barnard and guitarist Joe Park are very complimentary.  I’ll bet these songs are not based on riffs but are crafted around a foundation.  The real rocking moments are used sporadically so when they hit it feels like a big deal; the “it’s not easy” part of The Ferryman is emotionally and rhythmically heavy.

Another entry into the best last track contest (includes The Contortionist’s “The Parable” & Caligula’s Horse “The Ascent”) is I Am Not The One.  A thrilling, emotionally-charged song, the way the song climaxes is the real deal: vocal harmonies, guitar chords, and the lyrics have a Yes-ness to them and to lay it over a 5/4 time signature it’s a goosebump generator.  And the lamest cliché of them all is 100% accurate – I’m left wanting to come back for another listen.

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:

  1. Let Me Go
  2. Blue Dragon
  3. Echoes and Stepping Stones
  4. Bridges
  5. Morning Warning
  6. The Lake
  7. The Garden of Light
  8. Mushrooms
  9. The Ferryman
  10. Pass On The Flag
  11. Om
  12. I Am Not The One

Bandcamp: https://outsideinnz.bandcamp.com/album/karmatrain

BANDCAMP IS WAIVING THEIR PROFIT JULY 3rd SO IT’S A GREAT DAY TO PURCHASE THIS AND RAISE MONEY FOR IMPORTANT CAUSES!

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Radio Show Hiatus

As many folks might know, I have a weekly radio show that airs live on Sundays on Metal World Radio. It has been also rebroadcast Tuesdays on Delicious Agony Radio. I’ve decided to put the show on hiatus for now. There are a few reasons for it and since there’s going to be speculation, I decided to use this post to both alert people to the hiatus and clear up the reasons why.

As people know, I am winding down reviews and that has given me a bit of relief. Additionally I am in the process of changing jobs in the middle of a pandemic. High risk, high reward. On Friday Juneteenth, two close friends were killed in a tragic car accident. Both were very supportive of PMP and I met them thru the Facebook page. My last radio show was a tribute to them and it turned out to be the hardest show I’ve done. One of the hardest things to do emotionally.

I actually got up from the mic many times during the music because I was too much of a wreck. So that show was draining. Subsequently, I’ve had an issue with some friends that became somewhat of a final straw. I think if any of these things were spread out, I’d have handled all of this and the show differently. But I can’t do another show now.

I know I come off as this gruff blow hard but to be quite honest, I am over sensitive and use that exterior to block it out if I can. The last show was raw emotion and to try to pick up the pieces whilst having unfortunate disagreements with my inner circle…it’s just time for it.

So that’s the deal. I do love doing the radio show normally. It’s not like reviews that I never enjoyed. But right now, I would resent myself for doing another radio show and that’s not the proper frame of mind for music. I am sure I’ll be back on the air at some point. When? I don’t know. Thank you all for listening to it either live or otherwise.

Cheers,27857751_10156354240383938_3754386157897054753_n
Rob

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Rob’s Recommendation Roundup: Volume 21

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Long Distance Calling – “How Do We Want To Live?”
Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: June 26, 2020

One of the best instrumental bands out there is Germany’s Long Distance Calling. I should probably call them “mostly” instrumental since they always have had vocals on each album. Sometimes it would be one track with a guest vocalist like John Bush, Vincent Cavanagh or Jonas Renkse. A couple of albums featured a full time band member on vocals for about half the album.

The band have since gone to a full on instrumental approach for their last album “Boundless” and the current one “How Do We Want To Live?” but there are still voices to be found. Another thing the band have always done is use samples of various voices to make their point. “How Do We Want To Live?” veers a bit overboard with said samples. I don’t mind SOME but when the opening track is basically dialogue, I am inclined to skip it.

I know what you’re thinking. “I thought this was a recommendations column?” Well despite those reservations, LDC still deliver another quality album. Perhaps it’s not as stellar as their self titled album or “TRIPS” but this band know how to write a riff and use the space in between the notes as well as anyone out there. The main difference with “How Do We Want To Live?” is that it sounds more like a soundtrack to a non-existent movie than their previous works.

I think that they are a band like Mogwai for example that should be doing soundtracks. The songs paint pictures without needing vocals. Though as I’ve mentioned that they have used vocals and were just as potent with them as without. That sort of talent should not go unnoticed. Long Distance Calling are a dependably great band who are a band that if I am not sure who I want to listen to, I can put them on and always enjoy myself. “How Do We Want To Live?” is a fine addition to those “go-to” albums.

 

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Voivod – “The End Of Dormancy EP”
Label: Century Media
Friday, July 10, 2020

I love everything that Voivod does so this recommendation is a no brainer for me. What is this EP? “Collectible limited edition 3-track 12” Vinyl and Digital EP featuring a special “Metal Section” version of the title track “The End Of Dormancy” with added trumpets, saxophone and trombones” PLUS 2 live version of “The End of Dormancy” and “The Unknown Knows” recorded at Montreal Jazz Fest 2019!

This EP stems from that performance at the Montreal Jazz Fest when Voivod became the first metal band invited to play there. So they brought a horn section for some of the songs. Those songs are part of this EP along with a horned-up studio version of “The End Of Dormancy.” All of this shows just how otherworldly the music of Voivod is. NO ONE sounds like them. And as it turns out they can adapt to whatever situation they are put in.

If you are a fan of the band, you need this. If you don’t know Voivod, this is as good a way as any to be brave and join us.

 

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Morse/Portnoy/George – “Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3)”
Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: July 24, 2020

Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and Randy George have done a ton of albums together over the years. And since Portnoy loves doing covers, they have always recorded some as deluxe edition bonus tracks. Eventually, they released them as part of 2 installments: “Cover to Cover” and “Cover 2 Cover.” Now they have added a third round called appropriately “Cov3r to Cov3r.” And the label has packaged all three together (remastering the first two) as “Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3).”

The key to these releases are the songs. The band have very good taste in music and are willing to take chances when it comes to song selection every now and then. They do tend to stick to the original arrangements though. While that might be a safer option, if you can play a song like “One More Red Nightmare,” why on Earth would you fuck with the arrangement?

I always loved “Cover 2 Cover” a little more when it came to the first 2 releases because of some of the chances they took. “Lido Shuffle” is one of my all time favorite songs. And if you have the balls to do “Crazy Horses” by the Osmonds (which is a great song), you are cool as hell. Plus they nail King Crimson’s “Starless” and what can you say about that really?

The third album has some great choices. “Baker Street”has added balls to it and they do such a great job on TWO Squeeze songs: “Black Coffee in Bed” and “Tempted.” While I’ve never been keen on Lenny Kravitz’s “Let Love Rule” (he has a lot better songs), they still do a fine job on the song. Plus it’s a message we ALL need right now!

All three albums are a lot of fun and worth owning. It’s even cooler that they come as a 3 disc package for folks they may not have purchased them to this point. Neal Morse is still a musical jukebox and both Mike Portnoy and Randy George have a great chemistry together. Don’t expect these versions to be BETTER than the originals (although some are) but instead just put it on and forget about life for a while.

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