All posts by Alec Vanthournout

Oak

Review: Oak – Lighthouse

The music of Oak is mainly inspired by the early albums of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, and Sigur Rós. Although I hardly hear other influences or a small change in style on the band’s debut album, the small herd of fans of the band enjoy the sound of Oak over and over again. Maybe I suffer from the same disease because I cherish everything they have done on “Lighthouse.” Sigbjørn Reiakvam, Øystein Sootholtet, Simen Valldal Johannessen and Ole Michael Bjørndal present nothing new that could be considered to be innovative let alone shocking or groundbreaking.

Oak - Lighthouse

However, I guess musicians don’t have to be groundbreaking as long as an album contains beautiful music, even if one already knows what kind of music one can expect. Well, I’m not going to tell you what you can expect on Lighthouse. As I mentioned before there’s nothing new under the sun, so people who are familiar with Oak know what is to be expected; they can buy this album without listening to it first. They know that beautiful guitar passages and mellow keyboard parts are all over the place!

Lighthouse is highly recommended to everyone who looks for a melancholic music that bites and is infectious.

Visit Oak on Facebook for more info.

Vitruvius

Review: Vitruvius – Above The Silvered Sky

There are symphonic metal bands, power metal bands, progressive metal bands, classically influenced and trained metal musicians. Then there are bands that know how to take all those elements and disciplines and perfectly balance them into their own unique sound. This is what Mexico City’s own Vitruvius have done on their second full-length Above The Silvered Sky.  Founded in 2007, Vitruvius have gone through several line-up changes over the course of almost ten years, but the current and the most steady line-up features Dulce Robles on vocals, Oskar Villarreal on guitars and bass, and Ronnie Rodriguez on drums.

Above the Silvered Sky

It was sharing stages and hours of rehearsals that gave the band that unique quality to forge their own sound that would manifest itself into one of the strongest albums I have heard in 2016 so far. It was if they have taken a concerto orchestra and transcribed it on to heavy guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Not like an opera but like a supporting multi piece instrumental orchestra in the supporting act of a musical.

Although the tracks seem short in length at times, the listener still has a epic listening experience through various time signatures and change progressions. There is always a hook or unpredictable harmony or melody around the corner of every track on the album. The harmonies are executed with clarity and the instrumental melodies compliment those harmonies with grace and poise. The rhythm sections are insane and tight in some places. Vitruvius is definitely a band for fans of symphonic, melodic, progressive metal with influences of jazz fusion.

Vitruvius online:

Bandcamp

Facebook

MetaQuorum

Review: MetaQuorum – Migration

Hailing from England, MetaQuorum describe themselves as a progressive band which draws inspiration from many other stylistically different genres such funk, reggae, electronic and jazz. The project made up of Dmitry Ermakov on keyboards and Koos van der Velde on drums put out recently a new single “Migration.”

The track is entered around a spacey keyboard work by Ermakov which is threaded throughout the song. Drums, key bass and (spoken-word) vocals (latter performed by Dmitry and Carol Emrakova) play a supporting role. The band takes the classic song dynamic and flips it on its head, which is nice to hear.

Migration

MetaQuorum manage to show their influences proudly while also bringing something new and fresh to the table. Van der Velde hits the drums behind a simple repetitive vocal melody while the keyboards and effects create some lovely ambient sonic textures — a perfect example of the band’s originality.

MetaQuorum, and the “Migration” single in particular are the result of something that has a very defined and polished sound. This is a band worth keeping an eye on.

Links:

https://metaquorum.bandcamp.com

Tribal

Review: Tribal – Tribal EP

Tribal is a new band on the international metal scene which combines modern metal sound with traditional Brazilian music. Massive riffs accompanied with djent and influences of metalcore add to the variety.

Their debut self-titled EP was released this past February. It includes six songs and it is a little longer than 30 minutes. The EP starts with “The Age of Frustration.” The song has an epic intro, which directly parts the album from a “classic” djent work. Well thought piece that gives variety. What ultimately grabs listener’s attentions in all songs are guitar solos which often change direction towards more traditional heavy metal sound.

Tribal EP

The thirrd song “Unconditional” also has a different atmosphere that makes the band’s sound separated from the other acts. Additionally there are clean vocals in this one; we could describe this piece as ‘slow’ and maybe we could keep with the word epic a little bit more. This song changes your mind completely about where Tribal are headed to. In the end, everybody loves new, different and well made things.

Tribal is a metal release that didn’t forget its heavy metal roots and with tons of different influences it makes for sure that this band has a lot of potential for something greater.

Soulhenge

Interview with SOULHENGE

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

It’s great, thanks! Enjoying it as much as we can.

Speaking of new music, you have an EP. What can people expect from “Anachronism”?

Right. Well you can expect a dense mixture of heavy but also beautiful elements, creating ambiences that we want to hit you right in the feels. The overall sound is heavy low and tight, yet pretty warm. You will hear proper screams and shouts but also clean vocals, our vocalist has a pretty impressive range. We put a lot of effort in those 4 songs, so I think you can look forward to structured and detailed music, which is interesting to analyse but on the other hand easy to listen to.

What was it like working on the EP?

The songs were actually written instrumentally in 2014 and 2015 already. A new vocalist joined about a year ago so we had to integrate him first into our workflow. So the EP did not pop out suddenly, but was formed over several months and took final shape in January this year. We had to deal with members studying in different countries, it may slowed down the process slightly, but it worked anyway and it was a lot of fun!

Anachronism EP

Are there any touring plans in support to “Anachronism”?

Unfortunately not. We will play local shows for now and use the opportunities that the internet provides us to spread our music across the borders.

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

As a first tour, the Benelux area or Germany pops into our heads! Maybe some day, we could tour across countries like Japan or so, that would be mindblowing.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Of course we got our favorite bands that influence us the most, Monuments, Tesseract, Erra, Veil Of Maya… you name them. But what is also very inspiring are concerts. Being backstage, having a great time on stage with a cool crowd and receiving kind feedback is something that keeps us going and inspires us a lot!

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

I am personally diving a lot into stuff like Plini, Snarky Puppy and similar stuff recently, and I think it has a fairly big impact on my writing. The other members also listen to a lot if different genres, be it 80s rock, electro or even classical. This keeps your mind fresh.

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?

Thank you very much for having us, it was a pleasure! Well, what can I say… enjoy whatever music you like, it should be able to colour your grey days!

ABRAHAM SARACHE Playing Songs from "The Gardener" in Amsterdam's Volta on June 24

ABRAHAM SARACHE Playing Songs from “The Gardener” in Amsterdam’s Volta on June 24

Multi-instrumentalist Abraham Sarache, who recently released a new album titled The Gardener, will play a special release show in support of the album at Volta in Amsterdam on June 24th. The show will be recorded for a future live release.

The Gardener is an alt/progressive rock concept album with the inclusion of folk instruments like ukulele and Venezuelan cuatro. To express the feelings involved, different kinds of voice registers are provided: from a soft, melodious or whispered voice to raspy voice. Various pads and synthesizers are used to give depth and warmth to the songs where an acoustic guitar with a low tuning predominates. A multicultural composition on the instrumental level and a progressive rhythmic base create an exquisite atmosphere of imbalance and peculiarity.

The philosophy behind the album is based on the fact that in any interpersonal relationship, whether it is a friendship or a romantic connection, there is a duality between the one that participates in an active way (The Gardener) and the one that does it in a passive way (The Flower).

All of us at some point of our lives have a role of a gardener and in other moments we are flowers,” Sarache commented.

We can all identify ourselves as the Gardener when we talk about a person we were looking after because we liked him or her, we wanted to know more about this person or we just wanted to spend more time with them, no matter what. We simply did everything possible to make things work.

On the other hand, we have been also in situations when someone was interested in us in a special way, but the feeling was not mutual. We still wanted to maintain a relationship because we liked other aspects of that person’s character. To this behavior I refer to as the Flower,” he continues.

“The Crush: Eyes of Fire” which opens The Gardener was awarded as the Best Alternative Rock Song by The Akademia Music Awards in May 2015. Sarache released a video single for the song, and he commented: “This is a very special video for me. My first video as a solo artist showing parts of my everyday in Madrid and Margarita Island where concept album The Gardener was conceived and recorded.

For the upcoming show at Volta in Amsterdam on June 24th, Abraham Sarache will be joined by Dutch alternative/progressive rockers Amikdla. The Gardener is available now from iTunes and Spotify. Visit Abraham Sarache’s official website here.

Soulhenge

Review: Soulhenge – Anachronism

Luxembourg’s Soulhenge have crafted a well executed progressive metal release with Anachronism that is almost inhumanly spot on for genre style points. Like notes in a wine, the band cycle through atmospheric or djent-guitars, high vocal melodies that strive to fit into the progressive metalcore club rather than stray too close to clean mall emo vocals, etc. At their best they are a blend between some of Veil Of Maya’s edgier passages with potential (evident in the amount of hard work that clearly went into this) future Periphery-sized ambitions.

Anachronism EP

Much better than most djent by numbers and capable than many new wave of prog metal bands.

Over four varied tracks the band prove good work can be done in this sub genre of the family rock and metal tree. The future has yet to get out a verdict on that, but I’d be surprised if I am wrong.

The key track on this baby is “Anachronism”, in that the title summarizes that the band perhaps have too many at their disposal while also cramming in a ton of cool music within (almost) four-minutes skeleton that you’ll be amazed is as short as it was for all the places visited.

Looking forward to the music yet to come from this band, though this is a very capable early effort.

Andreas Sala

ANDREAS SALA Launches Guitar Playthrough for New Song “Hue”

From PR wire:

Andreas Šala, guitarist and composer who plays with bands SubscaleThe Ralphand If And When We Die, released a play-through video for the song “Hue” taken from his upcoming solo album Pleasure Dome. Watch the video on below.

Asked about the inspiration for the new song and the album overall, Šala who plays Wreck Guitars’ BlueMorpho 6 in the video, said: “Well I wanted to make a solo record for quite some time now but I just couldn’t decide in which direction I want to take it. But when I got my hands on the BlueMorpho melodies just started to pour out of me and I knew what I had to do. I felt like a kid again.

Pleasure Dome differs from the albums he releases with Subscale and The Ralph in that is more ambient and minimalistic. “I wanted to do something a bit different. For the past 5 years I was composing mostly metal for The Ralph so I wanted to take a step back. I’m a huge Joe Satriani fan (and 80′s/90′s instrumental music fan in general) and I always liked “bigger than life” melodies so it seemed  like a logical step to make a guitar driven instrumental album,” Andreas continues.

As mentioned, Andreas uses Wreck Guitars’ 6-string model BlueMorpho. “I was going for a blend of a old-school ’80s lead sound and modern rock/metal sound. I record everything digitally so I have more room to manipulate the sound later on in the mixing process. The guitar goes straight into my audio interface (an old-school E-MU 0404USB) with nothing in between. I use mostly Ignite Amps products — Emissary for the amp simulation and NadIR for loading the cab impulses. For the cab impulses I use mostly Catharsis‘ IRs. BlueMorpho is loaded with Dolezal pickups which are pretty hot and punchy which was great for tracking rhythm guitars.

Watch a playthrough video for the new song “Hue” below, and follow Andreas on YouTube. Make sure to check Andreas’ other band The Ralph on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Visit Wreck Guitars official website and Facebook page.

James Norbert Ivanyi

Interview with JAMES NORBERT IVANYI

James Norbert Ivanyi just dropped a new EP, and it bloody rocks! The guitarist extraordinaire from Sydney in Australia with “The Usurper” offers three new songs which creatively overcome everything he has done so far. Ivanyi already works on some new material, so if you are already a fan of his work fill the gap with “The Usurper” while waiting for more greatness. If you are new to this world, make no excuses and introduce yourself to the work of real artistry.  Oh, and also read the interview below.

Hey James. How are you doing?

Doing great! Thanks for asking.

You are about to release a new EP “The Usurper.” How do you feel about the release?

I feel really good about it. Especially after getting such a great response from the single ‘A Fatal Eminence’ that I put out about 2 weeks ago. I’m looking forward to hearing what people think of the rest of the EP.

How much of a challenge was to work on “The Usurper”?

Thankfully it was quite easy. There was a wonderful flow throughout the creation of the EP, and obviously being able to make records from home is very comfortable and removes a lot of the stress. The only real challenges were getting some of the vintage tones right that I wanted to feature on the record. Luckily I was able to achieve everything I set out to, thanks to the assistance of the talented people I work with, and exercising a little patience.

The Usurper

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

I feel like it’s better than ever! Perhaps not in the sense of the classic 70’s & 80’s progressive model, but in terms of how much forward thinking and challenging music there is out there today, it’s definitely strong and extremely inspiring. I’ve especially noticed it over the last couple of years in the bandcamp and independent scene. It’s great.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

I consider myself a rock player who loves modern, technical heavy music. I’ve really tried to embrace that in my solo music to bring what I love from classic rock into a more modern context and explore it in the instrumental sense. Growing up in an artistic and musical family, we always had bands like Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rush, Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer, AC/DC, Ella Fitzgerald and more playing in our house. I suppose I was fortunate to be exposed to such a diverse amount of music when I was so young. Some of my more modern metal influences would be bands like Necrophagist, Opeth, Dream Theater, Nevermore, The Faceless, Pantera, Mastodon and bands like that.

What are you listening to these days?

I’ve been listening to the new Sean Ashe record a fair bit. He’s a really cool guy and a great song writer. I dig his use of tone and melody. The record is called ‘Flux’. It’s great!

JNI

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Opeth: Ghost Reveries.
The Doors: The Doors.
Led Zeppelin: Presence.
Dream Theater: Scenes From A Memory.
Nevermore: This Godless Endeavor.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you used to record “The Usurper”?

I used a Gibson SG for the majority of the rhythm parts, and all of my Suhr guitars for different solo’s, melodies and texture parts. I used my Friedman BE-100 amplifier for all the parts and a Suhr Re-Active load to feed the signal into my computer to use cabinet simulation. Most of it was recorded at my home except for the drums, saxophone, Theremin and some keys parts that were tracked in external studio spaces.

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

I definitely want to get out there and do a US tour as my next focus. I’ve played there a bunch of times but have never done a tour as a solo artist. I’ve got the fire lit after doing a really enjoyable and successful mini tour here in Australia, so it’s likely that after the EP is out, that will become my focus. I’ve already got the wheels in motion there.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Thanks kindly for checking out my music. I hope you enjoy it!

Palindromia

Review: Fatal Destiny – Palindromia

There’s a maturity and depth to these progressive metallers from Verona, Italy that makes them instantly endearing.

Beyond Dreams sinks its teeth in with a host of hooks and galloping passages, before the slow-paced riffs of Leave Me Here give way to rich melodies.

However, it’s the moody refrains of The Gate of Time where Fatal Destiny come into their own, evoking the emotional majesty of early Fates Warning, with vocalist Andrea Zamboni doing his best John Arch impression on towering ballad Dear Amy.

At times the transitions from heavy to heartfelt passages seem forced, as the band attempt to cram in as many nods to their heroes and peers as possible, but these Italians clearly have musical chops and an ear for an enviably catchy hook that should see them conquer beyond their homeland.

Links:

http://www.fataldestiny.it

https://www.facebook.com/fataldestinyofficial/