kyros

Review: KYROS – Vox Humana

The very notion of a double album should be enough to make most people giggle a little bit. There are implications of ‘concept album’ and insinuations of ‘prog-rock’ involved in that notion. Neither of these things are not cool, but they encompass exactly what “Vox Humana” is, and exactly what Kyros do.

After the release of a stunning debut album under the name Synaesthesia in 2014, which was thought-provoking as it was sonically mesmerising, the London, UK quintet have slowly been recognised as a rising force within their field of modern progressive rock, and rightly so.

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The focus of the band’s attention has shifted somewhat, and although the debut was somewhat concept record, “Vox Humana” is a piece of work that is entirely based on the story that deals with meaning of being human.

Throughout of the album’s 15-track repertoire, you get epic arrangements brought to perfection which are refined through a pleasant pop filter. “Vox Humana” intersperses jangled guitars with angular complexities that might fly over some heads – repeat listens are deserved. The songs are organised so intricately that all the nuances and difficulties that might have gone into recording such an extraordinary album are totally lost in its beauty.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, sit songs which will shower the listener with jagged shards of heavy pounding; jagged shards that will bypass your vital organs and instead embed themselves within the deeper, darker echelons of your mind. Some of this album is simply unforgettable.

Kyros really do lead by example: with “Vox Humana” acting as a fantastic example of how to take inspiration from all the sub-standard facets of day-to-day goings on to create a stunning collection of songs, they’ve proved that not everything in modern life is rubbish.

“Vox Humana” is available for pre-order here. Follow Kyros on Facebook here.

Xeno

Review: Xeno – Atlas Construct

Xeno is a melodic death metal band from the Netherlands. The band came together in 2012, and they released their debut album this past summer titled “Atlas Construct.” A promising piece, with various different elements blended together. It could be easily said that “Atlas Construct” forces the limits of the melodic death metal genre. Different nuances all around give the record its uniqueness.

No matter of it being classified as melodic death metal, “Atlas Construct” collects lots of elements that are coming from other genres such as symphonic and progressive metal. Because of that, the record gives almost a theatrical vibe. All that is wrapped up with prog metal riffs and structure.

Xeno - Atlas Construct

“Atlas Construct” has eight songs in total. The first track is a symphonic intro which actually hints on what awaits ahead. Until the sixth track, each song comes as quite steady melodic death metal piece with many visits to the prog metal camp. With “Construct Part II: Columns Of Creation” the sound eases a little bit, branching out towards more down-to-the-ground vibes. Well-thought melodic lines on “Atlas” definitely single out this piece as one of the highlights.

Melodic, progressive, heavy and cinematic — that is how I would described this debut effort by Xeno. Highly recommended.

Links:

xenometal.com

Bandcamp

nomadic

Review: Nomadic – Horror

Nomadic is an American black/death metal accompanied with various other influences. The band has released their debut EP record Horror in April.

Horror features some impressive death metal riffs and brutal vocals, which manages to catch the listener’s attention from the beginning! Although the record is not the typical ‘raw’ death metal one, the vocals and the drums (from time to time) give us that raw atmosphere. The guitars, on the other hand, are quite brutal and show us the diverse and melodic side of the album. In this sense, the record is brutal but also melodic and catchy; I am sure that the listeners will want to hear the record again and again to hear a certain guitar riff, brutal vocals or the crushing drums.

nomadic-horror

A highlight in the atmospheric elements; this aspect made the record much more fascinating and even a bit diverse in my opinion. I even thought to myself that the band could have gone a bit further with the atmospheric approach by using more synths or orchestral elements.

Horror marks the great start for the band. I am looking forward to what Nomadic will come up with in the future. If you have a chance to see them live, don’t miss it!

Links:

Bandcamp

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Ryan Mark Elliott of Eden Shadow

Interview with EDEN SHADOW

Eden Shadow is a brainchild of composer and multi-isntrumentalist Ryan Mark Elliott, and “Melodies for Maladies” is the sophomore studio record which represent a massive chunk of material that explores progressive rock and beyond.

I had pleasure to talk with Ryan about this new material, but he also told me about the gear, his vision of the progressive rock scene today, inspiration and influences, and more.

Hey Ryan. How are you doing?

Very well thank you. It’s been a busy couple of years but I can now celebrate the recent Eden Shadow release.

You released “Melodies for Maladies” recently. How do you feel about the release?

A mixture of elation and relief. This sophomore record was an exciting but tricky record. The band, engineers and team on board with this record were amazing, so I am proud to have created a record where so many talented individuals have had their input. I have been working on this record since 2011 so it seems surreal it’s out there now for people to listen to. It’s an intense album, and I am proud of it.

melodies-for-maladies

How much of a challenge was it to work on the album?

An enormous challenge. It’s an ambitious and tough record to play in the technical sense. Some of the guitar parts I had written before I could play them and Aled has told me that this is one of the most challenging records he has drummed on, and he’s drummed on a fair few records!

Besides that, I was super meticulous with the production process, making sure everything was sounding the way I wanted it too and making the focus all on the playing rather than big walls of sound, which meant much less synthesisers than our last record.

The most challenging part of all though was getting the overall vision and statement across on this album. For all the technical effort that has gone into this album, I’ve intended for it to serve the artistic vision. The reason that that was challenging is because I wrote music about dark themes, I mean really dark. The entire lyrical content, is about post-truth politics, subterfuge, manipulation, the media, war, depression, anxiety and loss. That sounds really miserable but the end of the album does shift the whole perspective of everything and focuses on hope. It took years of searching, arranging and reflecting on this album critically before it all came together in a way that was sophisticated and said what I wanted it to say.

That being said, it has been incredibly exciting to work on this record, there have been some immensely rewarding moments in making this record and the time spent in the studio I would regard as having some of the best moments of my life.

Ryan Mark Elliott

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from UK are you friends with?

I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of people in the genre and that is mainly through my record label, White Knight Records, and one of the main men behind the label is Rob Reed of Magenta.

I met Rob Reed when I was 17 and he has been a mentor for me ever since. He is a wonderful and very honest musician with a lot of integrity and I have learnt a lot from him. I also know Nick Barret of Pendragon. Myself, Rob and Nick have shared really interesting conversations about music and one of the biggest talking points is the changing ways in which people listen to music. I.e. access over ownership. Spotify hit 40 million subscribers not too long ago, and it is has been a huge topic for artists. I am in favour of streaming and know it is becoming huge, especially with Amazon now introducing their service. Not everyone will be in favour of it though with regards to the pay and loosing that tangibility: Rob and Nick are against it and I can totally empathise why, but at the same time, I am part of a generation that has a different interaction with music. It is fascinating to me. Ultimately, I use a streaming to discover artists so I would be a hypocrite to speak out against it and as a very young artist, my priority is getting heard over getting paid. I would be shooting myself in the foot if Eden Shadow did not feature on streaming sites.

Aside from that, I have met Pete Jones of Tiger Moth Tales, an amazing talent and a breath of fresh air in the prog scene. I’ve met the guys from Haken a few times when I was living in London, I remember finding their first couple of records jaw dropping. They came out when I was still a teenager.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Hackett when I was doing a research project too. He is an absolute gentleman!

What is your opinion about the current progressive rock scene?

It’s alive! Which is good. However, I don’t think it will ever be as prominent as it ever was in the 70’s, and it will always in some ways be on the peripheral with it’s cult following.

I do have my qualms about it and I think that comes down to two things. The first one is the overbearing nostalgia. There are some fascinating young or current acts coming out such as TesseracT, Karnivool and Mew but I feel like the main magazine outlets still won’t venture away from putting Dark Side of the Moon or Close to the Edge on their covers. Those are timeless records but they came out over 40 years ago! We need to embrace and support the new.
The other thing is how inauthentic prog has a tendency to be. Put it this way: music is a form of art, and art resonates best with people when it speaks truth. That would probably explain why ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ is one of the most successful albums of this genre in recent years. It is because it is a very honest album about alienation and isolation that many people could identify with. Prog tends to be more focused on the cerebral rather than sincerity, and I have probably done that myself when I was younger. I am starting to move away from that now. I don’t have a problem with the music being like that at all, it’s more that it just doesn’t interest me as much when I listen to or write music these days.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

The first bands that I ever listened to as a child were Queen and Rush. Brian May and Alex Lifeson were my two huge influences when I grew up as a guitarist. Further on from that, I started listening to frightening guitar stuff like Satriani, Vai, Eric Johnson and Dream Theater. That really shaped me in my teens and those were the players I wanted to play like. I ended up spending hours and hours with a metronome and learning crazy technical stuff. Later on, I then started discovering albums like Debut by Bjork, Hounds of Love by Kate Bush, OK Computer by Radiohead and In Absentia by Porcupine Tree. All of those albums were game changers for me. I look back at many of the artists I grew up with and it’s like having a tree of influences where listening to one artist has somehow spurred me onto listening to another!

Ryan Mark Elliott

What are you listening to these days?

There have been some amazing releases over the past couple of years. The latest releases that I am listening to are Laura Mvula’s The Dreaming Room, Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Eric Johnson’s new acoustic album, Have you in my Wilderness by Julia Holter, Keeping the Peace by Arthur Beatrice, Pale Green Ghosts by John Grant, Beach House latest two records, The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey, A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead, oh and Opacities by Sikth. All of these records I have listened to in the last couple of weeks. I recommend them all!

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Argh, I love so many records! This probably changes on occasion, but the first records to pop into my head are:

Vespertine – Bjork
Moving Pictures – Rush
Dirt – Alice in Chains
Once I was an Eagle – Laura Marling
Wish you were here – Pink Floyd

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Melodies for Maladies”?

I used a 93 Paul Reed Smith (It is a year younger than me!) which is a gorgeous guitar for all the overdriven guitars and most of the solos. I used a custom telecaster for the cleans and leslie effected guitars. I also had my Ibanez Paul Gilbert, 12 string acoustic and a Martin acoustic as well for a wide range of guitar tones. It is an eclectic album so I needed a wide range of guitars and effects. Additionally I used a Victory Countess and Mesa Boogie. The best of British amplifiers, mixed with the best of American!

I reduced the use of synthesisers on this album, but my Moog Subphatty features very prominently on this record. I love it…it sounds enormous! I also used EastWest on Introspect and Logos. Alex used a 89 Washburn and Fender P Bass and Aled uses a Pearl Masters kit.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

Yes. I am currently working with my other band, the Kinky Wizzards on the post-production of the second album. It is a very different side of my musical self, much more humorous and it’s all about the interplay between myself, Miff on Bass and Jiff on drums. A lot of people compare us to The Aristocrats and Frank Zappa. Our record should be out early next year.

I will be looking to play live with both Eden Shadow and Kinky Wizzards next summer.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Welcome to the world of Eden Shadow! Hope you enjoy the new album, and look forward to potentially seeing you on the road!

Links:

http://edenshadow.net/

https://www.facebook.com/edenshadow/

given-free-rein

Interview with GIVEN FREE REIN

Given Free Rein is a post-punk power trio from Athens in Greece who earlier this year released their debut album “In-Eart Trip.” I talked with the mainman behind the project Andrew Kouretas

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Cool in general terms! I am good and I feel really lucky that I live in a country where I am free to express myself the way I want and create the things I like. At the same time, I live in a country where the economy sucks and we all have big problems.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “In-Ear Trip“?

The “In-Ear Trip” is the journey of the mind through the dark city streets towards the light of the future. The inner voice that someone hears only when the music triggers his imagination and his soul,when the headphones are plugged into his ears and then into his brain and take him away. It is an album made with passion and devotion and the songs cover a big range of music style influences, from punk to electronic and post rock.

in-ear-trip

What was it like working on the album?

It was the coolest thing I have ever done, and the most rewarding process I ‘ve been into. It was quite a challenge for me to to work in such high technical and musical level with very talented musicians. It was the first time I was doing that so I was thrilled and filled with enthusiasm from the very beginning until the release of the album. I have to admit that all this process changed me as musician but also as a person and definitely I am not the same guy as when I started.

Are there any touring plans in support to “In-Ear Trip”?

At the moment, no.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

England for sure! But any country would be real fun.

Who and what inspires you the most?

The difficulties I have to face in everyday life is the biggest inspiration of all as they kind of put me in the process of writing music. For me inspiration has to do with a certain atmosphere I want to create in every song and this has to do with the sounds I use each time. I don’t know if the gear leads me to the idea or the idea leads me to the gear but maybe it’s both. I believe that the sound itself has a profound impact on the idea and I like grasping the vibe of the sound frequencies.

andrew-kouretas

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

It was always difficult for me to distinguish the musical genres. For me, music is not so a stylistic matter as it is an atmospheric field where various sounds combine with each other and form a work of art. Maybe I could say that electronic music has been a big influence for me along with rock, punk and metal music. Surely, I have been influenced by everything I ‘ve listened to. Lately, I listen to trap music among other things.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Support Given Free Rein band. It would be an honour for us to have our music spread worldwide and be able to continue our trip!

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

gfr

Review: Given Free Rein – In-Ear Trip

For many new bands, the desire to sound like another more successful band is strong enough to keep them from walking their own path and creating something truly unique. However for Greece-based rockers Given Free Rein, walking their own path is the only obvious road they know. Releasing their inspired, progressive and anthem filled debut full-length titled In-Ear Trip, Given Free Rein is wasting no time with a powerful delivery.

Since every song on this album is worth listening to, I will highlight a few of the very notables that you must listen to as soon as you can; starting with the opening “Magnetic Fields.” This song has an intro for the books. The vocals and lyrics are emotionally charged with both honesty and vulnerability, and for many, this is going to become their instant favorite track from the album.

in-ear-trip

Another powerful track is the anthem-like title track. This song is less punk, but there are some heavier vocals woven within that help add an edge to an otherwise soft ballad of a song. Everyone on this song plays from the heart, from the vocals to the guitars to the drums, every instrument is played loud and aggressively, and the vocals are made more haunting because of this. A great track through and through.

“Day In The Dark” is a bit ambient, a bit psychedelia; it doesn’t take long to sink its awesome teeth in to the listener. The breaks in the tempo and layering of the tracks are exciting, and by the end of the song you simply hit repeat and turn it up.

Every song on In-Ear Trip is well thought out, well played, and well mixed. Every song stands alone on its own, and the vocals are never the same as before. The diversity and inspiration placed within this album should show many new artists how it is supposed to be done if you want to turn some heads. I wouldn’t waste any time picking up this album if you want something new and worthwhile to listen to.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

azmaroth-shooot

Review: Azmaroth – Death Crowned King

Looking at the album art of a debut album from Norwegian metal outfit Azmaroth you would think that it has something to do with European Power Metal. But, that’s not the case. With “Death Crowned King,” this Oslo-based quintet serves a melodeath release that is both crushing and catchy.

Azmaroth play hook-oriented melodic death metal in the vein of commercial era In Flames with nods to Dark Tranquility and Soilwork. They also veer into a groove territory now and again. Big guitar-based hooks pop up like, and vocals that alternate between screams and growls is the biggest highlights of this record.

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While individual songs fare generally well, the album as a whole shows that Azmaroth know exactly what direction they’d like to head in. That said, there’s good material throughout Death Crowned King and Azmaroth definitely know their way around some sharp hooks. The production of the album definitely deserves to be paised.

Death Crowned King is entertaining but more importantly a focused release, making for an overall interesting ride through melo-death’s Swedish district.

Links:

Bandcamp

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glory-of-the-supervenient

Album Review: Glory of the Supervenient – S/T

There are times in every music lover’s life where a record’s concept, ambition, and execution is understood and loved immediately. Not just by the heart and how it makes you feel but on an intellectual level as well. These moments are when one truly appreciates an artist’s creation. Glory of the Supervenient has all the essential ingredients to conjure up this feeling in anyone who listens to it with no fluff added.

More focused than the meandering nature of Trioscapes and more immediate than the sometimes glacial pace of TesseracT, Glory of the Supervenient has the project, led by composer and drummer Andrea Bruzzone, striking a balance seldom can attain, much less in the realm of progressive jazz/fusion. The sheer number of ideas as to where to go and what to do with the medium has resulted in many albums either going too far with the wall of noise or holding back too much in fear of doing so. Glory of the Supervenient doesn’t experiment with the plethora of soundscapes and instruments available to those subscribing to the jazz/fusion moniker but instead chooses to hone its more contemporary musicianship to a razor sheen. Every instrument is clearly differentiated and contributes to the different cascades of mood every song portrays. The guitars in particular showcase a perfect mix of distorted riffage and technical fret play which play through and off each other artfully. The noodling all has a clear focus in each song, and never seems to just fill space. In fact, the entirety of the record gives a definite sense of progression, carrying the listener from one section to the next seamlessly and gives off a welcome cohesiveness.

gots

At the heart of Glory of the Supervenient is its concept, which is that of stripping away the superfluous qualities of emotion, situation, and inspiration and leaving behind only its essence. This is the “concept” in terms of following certain vibe and structures, and perfectly describes the band’s direction with the absence of a variety of instruments and the sharp focus of the songs. That is not to say Glory of the Supervenient drags on at any point, in fact the pacing is beautifully crafted. Musically, the record achieves everything it was made to do.

Glory of the Supervenient may be a new kid in the block, but they bestow upon the masses a genre-defining album, displaying a marvellous blend of experimentation, songwriting expertise (not using that word lightly), and the feeling of plain rocking. The strange juxtaposition of using a concept of stripped-down instrumentation, conveying feeling and moods at their most basic level using a framework as frequently ostentatious and gaudy as progressive jazz-fusion is not lost on this reviewer and the fact that it’s pulled off so well by one man only releasing a debut album is quite a feat. Those who want thrills without frills in their music cannot go wrong by giving this a listen.

Links:

http://www.gloryofthesupervenient.com

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Make Way For Man

Interview with MAKE WAY FOR MAN

Looking at the name of the Perth progressive metalcore six-piece, Make Way For Man, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when their debut EP “Evolve & Repair” was sent to me through the PR wire. But two listens later, these guys made way for themselves and I’ve been listening to the EP a lot recently.

Singer John Kelly answered my questions about the EP, and then some more.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

Good thanks!

You released “Evolve & Repair” recently. How do you feel about the release?

We are really excited with the reception so far, the feedback has been amazing. This band was just a concept for so long that it’s been so good to get out and play shows and have the crowd sing the words back at us! It’s really been a great ride that we hope we can keep pushing for a long time to come.

How much of a challenge was to work on the EP?

10/10 Bullsh*t hard haha! Considering we are 6 guys with full time jobs, not to mention a few of us have other musical endeavors that take our time up, it was definitely a struggle to even get the 6 of us in the same room some times! But nothing worth doing is ever easy is it? So I think that makes it so much more rewarding.

Make Way For Man - Evolve & Repair

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Perth are you friends with?

Our friends in Iconoclast, At Depths, Shangrila and Havoc are doing some really great things for the Perth scene and people should definitely check them all out.

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal(core) scene?

The scene is great and only getting better! I know that personally growing up that the choice for progressive heavy music was a lot more sparce than it is today. We only really had the virtuoso musicians that were really doing complex timings and outside the box genre blends so it’s really good to see how much new prog can be found nowadays. Not to mention non prog bands incorporating prog elements. It’s a brave and exciting new world folks haha! This isn’t your dad’s scene!

Can you tell me something about your influences?

What makes us unique as a collection of musicians is that we are really diverse in our influences whilst still having an overlap of the same sort of stuff. For example we all love bands like Meshuggah, Periphery and Sikth but then I personally am influenced greatly by artists like Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake and bands such as Issues, Beartooth, Incubus and Pierce the Veil!

john-kelly

What are you listening to these days?

My current playlist includes Periphery III – Select Difficulty, Beartooth – Aggressive, Issues – Headspace and BMTH – That’s The Spirit.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?
Wow okay that is really tough and I’m sure mine would differ greatly from the rest of the band but here goes nothing and in no particular order;

ISSUES – Issues
MICHAEL JACKSON – Dangerous
INCUBUS – S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
PERIPHERY – II (This Time It’s Personal)
PIERCE THE VEIL – Collide The Sky
(I feel like I left way too many out but that will have to do!)

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Evolve & Repair”?

Sure! Jordan our drummer uses Mapex drums, Soultone cymbals and Evans drumheads and he tracked the drums at one of Perths premiere studios, Crank. All of the guitars were tracked in Drews home studio using Pro Tools and Axe FX. Drew used a Schecter 8 string and Josh used his custom Equilibrium giutar. Adam used his Dingwall 6 string to track bass and all of mine and Sean’s vocals were tracked at Sumo Sound Studios in Perth. The mix was then sent to Nashville to be mixed and mastered by audio guru Brian Hood.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

We would love to tour Europe and the U.S.A. as soon as we can and get our music to as many people as possible! We love playing shows and being able to travel the world with some of our best friends whilst playing to and meeting amazing people sounds like some of the best plans you could get.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Welcome and thank you! You are the reason we do this and we hope that you can find something you can relate to in our music and our words.

FFO Periphery, Meshuggah, Killswitch Engage, Sikth.

Get a copy of “Evolve & Repair” on Bandcamp.

alejandro-licano

Interview with CROSSING THE RUBICON

Crossing The Rubicon returned recently with the new EP titled “Bloom” which includes three tracks. The self-title song from the release is an epic which sees the project founder, Alejandro Licano, collaborating with other guitarists. This track in short is a masterpiece.

I recently had an opportunity to ask Alejandro some questions about the new material, but we also talked about the inspiration, influences, his guitar setup, and more. Alejandro was very talkative and it was a pleasure talking with him.

Hey Alejandro. How are you doing?

The music life could not be better, thanks! Thank you for having me in on this interview, how are you?

I’m pretty good, thanks for asking. You released some new music recently. How do you feel about the “Bloom” release?

The Bloom release has been undeniably successful. There is an obvious growth in the community and I’m still getting a very positive response to the new music and finally some response all around such that I’m even making some back catalogue sales and getting more followers on social media.

crossing-the-rubicon-bloom

How much of a challenge was it to work on the EP, especially on the song “Bloom”? I am asking this questions from the obvious reasons, and these are that the song is a collaborative work. Tell me more about it.

The work on the E.P. was ellaborate. The E.P. includes three tracks, two of which were rerecordings from the previous discography and some past work and of course the new self-titled track “Bloom”. Working on the older tracks was very quick, even some what minimalist.

For instance, “And He Built A Crooked House…” was simply a matter or re-recording the guitars, and getting some of the mix to stand out more, remastering the track and allowing for Tomas Racklavsky’s solo to fit the mix better.

Bloom was the real opus of this composition as I actually spent a lot of time with music production, song writing, alligning the guest guitarists spots, finding a bass player and drafting demo after demo after demo.

The idea I originally has was to feature a few amazing guitar players and it slowly morphed into a larger volume of performances and collaborations.

You are from Quito in Ecuador, but you live in Ohio. What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Ohio are you friends with? Also, are there any Ecuadorian bands that we should know of?

Ohio’s scene is very special to me. The music in this state is so alive and versatile. You can’t go to a local show without seeing some form of extreme talent. You can say I have a lot of connections to many musicians coming out or who have already built a career for themselves from Ohio. Miss May I and Hawthorne Heights were some of the original bands that had some impact of whom I knew some original band members. You know? You grow up jamming with some of those guys in used-guitar-stores and one day you look and say “Hey those guys finally made it.” Right now some of the more active bands I’ve seen come out of my area are Denihilist (formerly “Hail to the King”), Eternal Void, Grim State, The Paramedic, Under the Combine, Denounce Your Martyr, Zuel, From Another Planet, A Sense of Purpose, Sentients, Novallo I mean the list goes on. Some of these bands are class acts that are going on to do big things, are in talks with labels, have tours scheduled. A lot of the groups are progressive in some way, or instrumental metal, or extremely dynamic and we’re all a family in one way or another. There’s a lot of support and big-heartedness in this greater Ohio metal community. It’s a Midwest thing. This is a tradition that goes back to the early 2000′s, something that undeniably had an impact on the formation of bands such as Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, After the Burial and more. We are a connection of bands that are lifting each other.

As far as Ecuadorian bands coming up, it’s funny you would ask. I think Ecuadorian metal has been growing steadily for years. A lot of the community there is greatly inspired by the late 90′s waves of power and speed metal that brought about bands like Angra, Helloween and Mago de Oz. Naturally the emulation is there. You can hear a lot of trash and powermetal in the likes of the top metal bands from Ecuador. The biggest name drop would have to be Basca, followed by Falc who all share in the same vein of metal. Of course studying the music you will find elements that you can’t find anywhere else in the world and that is in the folkloric and Andean elements that Ecuadorian metal brings to the table. If you look at the way that In Flames, Katatonia, Soilwork and Opeth brought their own flavors of Scandinavian metal and Goteborg style folklore music to the branch of metal they adhered themselves to you can make a correlation. Ecuadorian’s are proud of their heritage and of course these metal bands are no exception. I suggest Basca, there is nothing as ear piercing and fierce from that region. In the vein of guitar gods search for Hittar Cuesta. This guitar legend from Ecuador found himself extremely inspired by the works of Joe Satriani and you can hear it clearly in the work he’s done over the years.

alejandro-licano

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

What is there not to love about the progressive metal scene? Plainly put; it’s colorful and versatile at this point and there’s too much, in fact, to take from it. Take a look back 20 years ago to 1996. The progressive metal world was blooming in the underground. Just look at the label mates for bands like OSI, and Cynic. There is a plethora of music that has grown and acoompanied some of these bands that grew out of the early 1990s. Dream Theater, to me, has always been the spear head of the industry standard for progmetal and more than likely always will be. In fact even after making my discoveries of King Crimson and the work that Frank Zappa potentially offered Prog-Metal, there is nothing like Dream Theater. You have to think; you have the likes of Tool, Opeth, Meshuggah and Devin Townsend who all have had their respective influence and touch on a plethora of bands in the scene and how they have shaped the colors for what all consider to be Progressive Metal. At the moment what artists like David Maxim Micic, Animals As Leaders, Periphery, The Contortionist, Between The Buried and Me and the likes are doing is a demonstration of both talents and influence but also the opening of doorways to the future of metal. It’s not about gimmics in Prog-metal, it’s about the truth and the texture of sound.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

I’m influenced by bands that appeal to me for a variety of reasons and recently I’ve discovered that this is based more and more off their ability to create texture with a visual palette and present that as a package. I think I based a lot of my influence on the ability to be engage within my imagination. I love the groove oriented patterns of AAL, and the surreal ambiance of The Contortionist but it is also in some of the textural depth in works such as Ocean Machine: Biomech, or Bilo 3.0. These works elaborately demonstrate comprehension of sound as it relates to the human senses. I mean who doesn’t relate to some basic emotions though. I have found myself influenced recently by some Steely Dan, Four Play, Michael Jackson, SRV and even just classical music. I’m all over the place. My influences are vast. I think that as early as 4 years of age I was playing cassettes with The Beatles, Tchaikovsky, all the way to Bobby McFerrin and a mix tape of Metallica so: No wonder I’m kind of messed up. I think my first Progressive Metal experience was listening to New Millennium Cyanide Christ by Meshuggah for the first at age 10 and around the same time I also heard In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson and both scared me to death.

What are you listening to these days?

I have Fourplay, Periphery’s new album “Periphery III”, ALLSEITS, Ludivico Technique, the most recent works by Plini, Joe Satriani and Dream Theater all in my playlists. Sometimes random music hits me too though. I enjoy Arabic and Chinese traditional folk music.

alejandro-licano-bloom-photo-session

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

“el cielo” by dredg

“Viva Emptiness” by Katatonia

“Blackwater Park” by Opeth

“Bilo 3.0″ by David Maxim Micic

Tie between “Momentary Lapse of Reason” (The Pink Floyd Sound), and “Master of Puppets” (Metallica)

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Bloom”?

The gear I performed on was:

Ibanez S8, 8-string guitar. I have modded it with (2) 500k volume and tone pots, along with a Bareknuckle Aftermath (bridge) pick up and a Seymour Duncan Sentient (neck) pick up.

The other eight string is my Schecter Elite 8, bolstered with two D Activator, DiMarzio pickups. I added a Kahler floating trem and some 250k volume and tone pots.

The sound on both of these guitars is phenomenal but I honestly prefer the range and feel of the S8.

For guitar processors and signal I’m using a Line 6 HD PRO, through my Flextone III with a D.I. box for in-studio sound, I rarely but sometimes used a BBE Sonic Maximizer mostly for clean and effects boost from wet/dry output signals.

In-studio my tools were all solidly Reaper Audio DAW, with Omnisphere Midi/Synth control, Superior Drummer 2.0 and Steven Slate Drum along with iZotope and Waves. The mix and master however were done at Compass Audio by the very talented producer Steve Perrino who has a massive and very elaborate VST and Plug-in collection. He is a wizard of sound. I also should mention I proudly use Sting-joy strings and Dunlop Primetone jazz IIIs

Besides the release of the EP, are there any other plans for the future?

Right now the biggest and most ambitious effort is to take Crossing the Rubicon to the road and make it a live band. And it’s happening now!

Any words for the potential new fans?

The music is for fans of The Contortionist, Steve Vai, T.R.A.M. and is a wonderfully crafted array of styles from all around the sphere of Prog-Metal influence. Currently, I’m in the process of filming the playthrough for the single “Bloom” and really wish everyone enjoys that. And yes, I hope you truly enjoy the new E.P. and come stick with this band and follow our growth as it truly seems to be shaping up to something promising in the next year or so. Hope to see you on the road!

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