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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Break in need

To my fellow Progsters,

After Spring Break, I will be taking mid-March and the rest of April off to focus on College, but I will be back in either May or June to get back to reviewing. I know I don’t want to do it, but as my father would say, “Work first, play second.”

See you on the flip side,


Friday, February 22, 2013

Apolokia - Kathaarian Vortex

The evil has come into terrorize the town and it’s hard to imagine a raging beast that has released from his cage to reign terror, has come in full circles. And one of the bands to come out of the scenes of Black Metal scene is Italian/Norway duo, Apolokia. They will scare the living daylights out of you and they have been around for nineteen years and let’s just say that their sound will make you embark on a dangerous roller-coaster ride that you’ll never forget from start to finish.

Sneering and terrifying, the duo’s music had been released in two demos in the ‘90s, an EP in 2009, and now their first full-legnth debut album called Kathaarian Vortex, is a knock-out Metal album to the core. In the duo, the band considers Blackfrost and Verminaard and what they have done is make this extreme, vicious, and satanic at the same time and it almost feels like something crawling out of the tunnels and have unleashed one of the loudest albums I’ve listened to this year.

The guitar and the vocals in which it has the gut-wrenching monster-like growling vocals and the instrument itself along with the drums, makes it sound like a revving chainsaw that is ready for a full scale assault to attack. With a lot of energetic eruptive sounds between the nine tracks, and making it sound also like a rapid firing machine gun, they really know their Metal very, very well with punching fast-driven chords, and it is really fast that makes it a perfect combination and perfect sense on the album’s atmosphere.

The lyrics dealing with Nihilism, Satanism, and the Occult to name a few, even though its very disturbing and controversial at the same time, it make you feel that they could have been in a time machine in the 1980s opening for Sweden’s Mayhem and they would have got the crowd a rumbling response with their music and head bang like there’s no tomorrow. And the songs themselves can up to 5 and 6-minutes per length and understanding that this isn’t just a Metal band, but a band that can really push the envelope like no other.

I won’t kid you, Kathaarian Vortex, is not an easy album to listen to, but they along with Crest of Darkness are soon going to be one of my favorite groups of this year. And while I’m not crazy about Black Metal, Apolokia are one of the most explosive and eruptive bands ever to come out. This is a must listen to album for fans of the genre to sink their jaws into from the moment they hear the album from beginning, middle, and end.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Crest of Darkness - In The Presence of Death

Evil, Political, Haunting, and Terrifying are some of the exact words when it comes to Norway’s own Death/Extreme Metal band, Crest of Darkness. Although the band’s name sounds like something out of an 1980s slasher film, the trio have been around since 1995 and their seventh album released this year called, In The Presence of Death is easily one of the most eruptive and headbanging albums to come out in 2013.

And while I’m not a wild fan of the Extreme/Death Metal sound, this band is something and it’s almost like something coming out the dark and cavernous cave as the beast has unleashed its cage to reign terror in the small town set to the rumbling and thumping soundtrack that is like a jet flying over you really fast going 600 miles per hour. The band considers Ingar Amlien on vocals and bass, Rebo on lead/rhythm guitars and keyboards, and Kjetil Hektoen on drums.

Growling, Screech and Shrieking vocals done by Ignar, thunderous guitar riffs that Rebo brings to the table to come up something that is out of the blue and would take you by surprise while the Kjetil drumming sounds almost like a machine gun bringing rapid fire in the midst of the bloodiest war, are combined into one as if the battle becomes a full-on gorefest. I can hear inspirations from the Black and Death Metal sounds of; Venom, Mayhem, Meshuggah, and bits of King Diamond in there as the roaring vocals are coming right behind you.

And with ten tracks by making it sound like the volcano has eruptive for an enormous earthquake, there is not a single bad track on this album that is found through Crest of Darkness and the punches they bring in, and send shivers down your spine, are quite spot on. Centerpieces like the rapid bullet ranging sounds of Vampire Dreams, Redemption, and The Priest from Hell, pays homage to the Thrash Metal scene in the early ‘80s as if they had done the score for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1993 Dracula as From the Dead is a fast-driven Hardcore Extreme Metal-Punk attitude of the road into hell as Rebo goes into town with his guitar work between rhythm of the minor chords and some power chords as well to go along with it and Ingar helps him out to reach that perfect note.

That said, In The Presence of Death, as I’ve mentioned before is an eruptive volcanic roaring realm where evil and terror comes to life, the guitar, vocals, and drum work are in your face and almost a big kick in the gut to give you a big leap out of your listener’s chair. Not to rip off any of the Metal influences they have up their sleeves, Crest of Darkness have assumed complete control over the sound and vision and it’s a wonderful combination of combining Satanism, Vampires, and Horror, and let’s just say they know their love of the three genres.

In The Presence of Death, is not an easy album to listen to from start to finish, but its soon going to have the headbanging scene in Norway a big jump for the Spring. Still, they are one hell of a band to come out of the Extreme Metal genre in their hometown and they are mind-blowing. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Nude - Plastic Planet

This Italian quintet has been around since 2001 and this is their second album. The group has this combination between Indie Rock and Gothic Music as if they were formed in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s to create some wonderful new wave sounds to make it a perfect tribute to the genre and a nice dosage of Talk Talk, Devo, and Joy Division. And this group is really amazing their album, Plastic Planet, feels almost like a score they could have done for John Hughes 1985 Brat Pack classic, The Breakfast Club and would have gotten them a stamp of approval from the late director.

The band considers Tommy Box on vocals, Nicolas Calluori on drums, Fabio Calluori on guitar, Antonio Pucciarelli on Bass and Marco Cozza on keyboards.  The thumping bass and soaring keyboard lines including heavy guitar chords on Down in the Garden, really captures the time period as Tommy captures the essence of Mark Hollis while Fabio goes into this thunderous guitar solo as Nicolas watches his brother by knowing he’s got his back.

Neon Smile has this thunderous moog synth hard rock beat that would hit the dance floors in a manner of seconds and would the place pumpin’ as Shanghai Basement goes into this style of the Synth workout of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) as if Devo had teamed up Judas Priest by doing a sequel to Breaking the Law. Then it’s about isolation and finding true love with the uplifting touches and grooves on Old Fashion Doors as the rumbling turned into an homage of Simple Minds Don’t You Forget About Me on Once Upon a Time, has an emotional and touching sensibility of makes you think how we were young and naïve back in the heyday of the ‘80s.

The haunting turned thumping-like chords on the title track, is a spiritual and spacey adventure on finding out who you really are. There is some wonderful moogy touches, heavy guitar lines, classical piano work, and soaring vocals, it makes it an amazing adventure that would take you beyond the atmosphere and into the milky way like you’ve never seen it before in our solar system. The closing track, Much Better, goes back into the Electronic Indie feel.

There are some of the moog-electric guitar sounds and the structures are well amazed as the song deals with on who the woman is better than his former self and finding out to get rid of your former self and becoming a better person and the music is dramatic and haunting to go out with a bang. Nude are a very interesting band and they know they are doing and Plastic Planet is the bands finest achievement and have got something up their sleeves.

Dperd - Kore

At a time when you have a band creating these mysterious, romantic, and calm-like atmospheres, you might expect something to make it an alternate soundtrack to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic, Blade Runner. But with Italian duo, Dperd, who have been around for ten years, have done something like that and they have made something special with their fifth album. The duo considers Valeria Buono on lead vocals and keyboards and Carlo Disimone on keyboards, guitars, bass, percussions, and cello.

Their music at times is very electronic, gothic, and bits of Alternative here and there and I can hear inspirations from the realms of Bjork, The Cure, This Mortal Coil, and Hail to the Thief-era of Radiohead and with their fifth album, Kore, which is named after of the greek goddess, Persephone, it really has this sound of the dystopian universe gone wrong and the music is almost the aftermath of the war what happened and how we can prevent it from happening.

Valeria Buono’s voice is very gentle and soft. Her vocals will make you feel calm and relaxed as if she is right behind you and let the listener know that everything’s okay and the same with Carlo Disimone’s virtuoso work with the five instruments to make it at times haunting, beautiful, surreal, and touching, makes it feel that the beauty has soared into the blue sky and flying into different lands that you’ve never seen before from beginning, middle, and end.

Songs like; Fa Male and You’ll Be Watching Me, have this surrounding of a middle-eastern dance music atmosphere that makes it feel they had written a ballet between the two pieces while Catena Cieca pays homage to the sinister dark approaches of Devil Doll and Talk Talk rolled up into one with a pipe organ and sinister guitar lines that would send shivers down your spine. Then there’s the soft and gentle ‘80s background hard guitar lines, drum patterns, and Val’s voice going into different movements on the ballad, Io Sono Un Errore.

But its Risalgo il Buio, that is the real deal. What Carlo does is that he imagines it’s the 1960s in the smoky night jazz clubs in London as he and Val imagine they were there teaming up with Miles Davis creating some magic on the Jazzy Rock surroundings to make it a groovy psych beat to the place as the closing 6-minute Train Song goes into some electronic drum and classical piano work.

Then, Carlo does some virtuosity work on his guitar as Val helps her out with her vocalization as if the Train goes to different areas of the city as if you feel you are safe and sound, but around the outside world, it isn’t, and what they brought on this composition is mind-blowing. Kore is an interesting album and the same with the band. It took me a while to listen to and so far, it’s an okay album. Is it a great album? No, but they have brought to the table something twisted and amazing here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Doubt - Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Exploration and Out of this World are two good statements to describe Doubt’s second album and shows how much they have admired the Canterbury and Jazz Rock sounds of the 1970s and it feels like it was recorded in 1973 that would have given Soft Machine a big jaw-dropping surprise like no other and they really have a deep love of the two genres. Doubt’s Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love, is a thunderous exhilarating album that moves into some crazy passages, psychedelic vibes, and heavy orientations to really get you going.

The band features two members from Machine Mass Trio (Michel Delville and Tony Bianco) and Alex Maguire who worked with Elton Dean and Hatfield and the North on keyboards. The three of them create some wonderful experiments and magic when they create some beautiful music and have done a lot of research to stay true to the Progressive Canterbury and the Avant-Rock scene very well. Not to mention a wonderful tribute to Jimi Hendrix as well on the funk-metallic vibe on Purple Haze to stay true to the piece featuring some fuzzy Rhodes going off the wall and Michel’s guitar just nailing his style and the way it is presented.

Compositions like the metallic No More Quarrel with the Devil, is featuring Michel’s raunchy guitar work and Alex’s moment to go into an ‘70s organ yet spacey stylization by paying homage to Dave Stewart, Gary Brooker, Mike Ratledge, and Dave Sinclair while Mercury has this weird combination of classical and Monk-inspired Rhodes piano work makes it an eerie touch. Then there’s Rising Upon Clouds, which has this musique concrete between backward tapes, sinister piano and drum improvisations, and haunting horn sounds by coming out of nowhere, by making it this RIO-inspirational composition along with the 12-minute title track as well.

Beginning with a mourning string section, electronic sequences, concerto piano work, a startling fuzzy electric keyboard improv, and Bianco’s crazy drum work, you could basically hear some touches of the Avant-Garde Rock scene of the ‘70s as if they teamed up with Zappa, Edgard Varese and Univers Zero by creating this dynamic, tension, and wildly experimental composition to give you some real terror. Then it’s the Funk-Rock attitude coming back into full swing with Tears Before Bedtime, featuring Alex doing some of the Metallic Keyboard by making it sound like a Power Chord while Michel does his Jimmy Page and McLaughlin-inspired sounds to really flow and soar at the same time before ending with a an atmospheric Mellotron/Guitar climax.

The closer, Goodbye My Fellow Soldier, has this surreal ambient avant surroundings as they take a nice and emotional funeral setting for all the soldiers who died in the past, present, and today for the bravery and sacrifice to fight for peace and freedom. There are some elements of Pink Floyd’s Sysphus from the Ummagumma sessions as more of the improvisations creating the dynamics of twisted strings on the keyboard, free jazz drum work, and swirling guitar settings, make it a nightmarish hell that is a mind-boggling experience.

I have listened to Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love about five times and the band has released something strange, but very complex, difficult, and wonderful at the same time. It’s not an easy album to listen to, but the people at Moonjune have scored a hit for me and it’s a startling album from start to finish. An album that is almost the soundtrack to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1970 western cult classic, El Topo.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Marbin - Last Chapter of Dreaming

On hearing this new band from start to finish with their third album released by the good people at Moonjune Records, it’s quite obvious that this band from Chicago, are like an eruptive volcano that is waiting to explode lava all over the mountain. And let’s just say I’m completely blown away from this group and the album, Last Chapter of Dreaming is the trip going through different genres including Jazz, Swing, Spaghetti Western, and Prog at the same time. And while this is my introduction to the band’s music, I have to say this is one of favorite groups and their third album is soon going to be one of my favorite albums for 2013.

The band is name after the saxophone and guitarist last names Danny Markovitch and Dani Rabin (Marbin) and they brought along some friends to help them out on their third album featuring bassist Joe Gentile, drummers Justyn Lawrence and Paul Wertico, and percussionists Zohar Fresco and Jamey Haddad. Marbin’s music as you open the door, it feels like a Magic Carpet Ride as you explore different worlds that you haven’t seen before as you fly across different parts in a different era in the ‘40s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and early ‘80s and it’s a perfect combination to go in there. And its not just the album that is the ultimate trip, but to give you a wonderful touch on six centerpieces.

The swirling Swinging Jazz Rocking sounds opener Blue Fingers takes the listener back into the nightclubs where you can feel the smoke, the sweat, and the jazz dances that they were doing and Rabin just nails his funk-like grooves on his guitar to create a lush-like flame to set the beats and tempo while the dramatic and thunderous thump on Inner Monologue, pays homage to Ottmar Liebert, King Crimson, and Miles Davis rolled up into one with a Flamenco hard rock attitude as Danny just goes into town with his sax filling the tension going through these beautiful and difficult changes in the beat.

And then there’s Breaking the Cycle. As I’ve mentioned before, there are some touches of the Spaghetti Western score as if they were scoring Sergio Leone’s The Man with No Name Trilogy and would have given Quentin Tarantino a big stamp of approval. Danny does this Morricone-like sound on his Sax as if Clint Eastwood is getting ready for his showdown between him and Lee Van Cleef in the climatic finale of the movie, The Good The Bad and the Ugly and Marbin have shown their love of the Italian Westerns very much.

But the soothing beauty on Café Du Nuit, makes you feel that you are in the city of Paris with a classical guitar, accordion and sax walk across the Eiffel Tower along with wonderful vocalizations done by Leslie Beukelman setting the atmosphere as And the Night Gave Nothing is a mourning sax work for a loss one as Dani’s guitar lines, feels like its in tears as he goes through the rhythm and solo as he and Danny play different parts between each other. You can tell they are a team and it shows they have confidence in them.

But it’s back to Redline, which its back to the ‘40s by paying homage to the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Diablo String Orchestra with another of the Jazz dances including the Lindy Hop and the Jitterbug and the Skip/Modern Jives to get you into a soulful movement like no other. I have listened to Last Chapter of Dreaming about ten times already, and this is clearly and mind-blowing experience and it shows that this is a band I will explore later on this year and Last Chapter of Dreaming is a must have album to listen to and its powerful tour de force.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Moraine - Metamorphic Rock

What happens when you combine a dosage of Atoll, Frank Zappa, Rock In Opposition, Mahavishnu Orchestra and some of the Canterbury bands of the golden era of the 1970s? Well it is a perfect match made in heaven from a Seattle Quintet that understands about the genres and know the score by a group called, Moraine. The band considers Dennis Rea on Guitar, Alicia DeJoie on Violin, James DeJoie on Sax, Kevin Millard on Bass, and Stephen Cavit on drums and their performance at Nearfest recorded in 2010 is one the most thunderous performances I’ve listened to.

Listening to Metamorphic Rock from beginning to end, you can tell the band was on fire that night and the audiences were in awe and jaw-dropped the moment the band got down to business. At times it’s dark, fun, joyous, sinister, and volcanic that feels like they did a score for Salvador Dali and I can’t put into words how much I enjoyed this album.  Alicia DeJoie’s violin work resembles Eddie Jobson, Darryl Way, and Jean-Luc Ponty as she creates these mythic and mysterious boundaries on her solo to create this nightmarish sound as her husband James pays homage to David Jackson of VDGG with some blistering sax moments that is out of this world which is evidential on Blues For a Bruised Planet, Save the Yuppie Breeding Grounds and the energetic Disillusioned Avatar suite.

One of the things that Dennis Rea does with his guitar work is that he goes through some heavy psych-jazz routines and at times with some harder edges to his instrument with the late ‘60s inspirational sounds on Kan Hai De Re Zi, the whirlpool of terror on Uncle Tang’s Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (an homage to the 1920 silent film), and the middle-eastern touches of Manifest Destiny. There is no tension and no competition on which is the best band member in Moraine, they were on tight and completely work like a team and just really let the electricity flow out with the power and the magic they have in the sound and creativity they have in them.

I’m now completely hooked on my introduction to Moraine’s music and having listened to Metamorphic Rock about six times already, I hope they will have something up their sleeves for this year in 2013 for upcoming Jazz and Prog festivals and see what they will have up their sleeves for years to come. Leonardo Pavkovic and MoonJune Records have finally unleashed something that is out of this world and that the beast has come to rein terror and Moraine is one of them. For anyone who admires the bands and the genre of the RIO (Rock in Opposition) scene of the ‘70s, this is a must listen to band and live album.