All posts by Alec Vanthournout

The Benzene Ring

Interview with The Benzene Ring

“Crossing the Divide” is the second album by New York based experimental trio The Benzene Ring, released in November last year. It’s a demanding experience which once fully revealed presents a band that offers a lot.

I talked with singer, drummer and guitarist Jeff Aldrich.

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

Life is good! It’s winter here in Brooklyn, which is beautiful and also freezing cold. We just finished a new photo shoot for the album after an enormous snowstorm that hit the east coast of the U.S.

Speaking of new music, you have an album called “Crossing the Divide”. What can people expect from it?

A dense, artistic, thoughtful, emotional journey.

What was it like working on the album?

We used sort of a strange, formal process for composing Crossing the Divide, beginning with a narrative story, which was dreamed up by all members. Then for each “chapter” of this narrative, one single band member would write a structural blueprint/map to inform the musical composition. Next, two other members would compose a musical skeleton around this map and musical themes posing as “characters” from the story. Finally the entire band would then flesh out that musical skeleton, bringing back musical themes from other chapters when narratively relevant.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Crossing the Divide”?

No immediate touring plans. We’ve been locked in our home studios for the last few years laboring over this thing, but we’re getting back into the rehearsal studio and looking to start performing again in 2016.

Crossing the Divide

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

Everywhere! We’d love to play in Japan and Eastern Europe.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Too much to list! We definitely all grew up on a steady diet of 90s alt rock: Radiohead, Tool, Sunny Day Real Estate, Soundgarden, Hum, Nine Inch Nails. Also 20th century classical: Stravinsky, Bartok, Ligetti. And of course lots of prog and experimental rock heroes: early 70s Yes, Rush, Kayo Dot, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Scott Walker, Mars Volta, Mr Bungle.

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

Lots! Aphex Twin. P-funk. Kendrick Lamar. Phish. 50s and 60s jazz. The films of David Lynch. We draw influences from all over the map.

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?

Check out the album, it’ll rip your brain apart!

Follow The Benzene Ring on Facebook and Bandcamp.


Interview with The Killing Hours

The Killing Hours formed on March 3, 2011 in Miami, FL by Steven Izquierdo and Yusell Garcia on guitars, Paul McBride (Before The Mourning) on bass and Micheal Collantes on drums. The band says that they are “in the pursuit of combining each of our unique styles to bring the best material we can to share with the world.

They are currently promoting their debut album “I, Catharsis” and I talked with the band about it.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

We are dling great, hope you are as well.

You released “I, Catharsis” in October, 2015. How do you feel about the release?

We are very happy with the outcome. We achieved everything that we wanted at the time with this recording and the songs are really fun to perform.

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

It was hard work but fun. We had a lot of time to prepare so everything went very smoothly.

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

We are pretty unique in our area, but we are good friends with fellow miamians Silenmara, Abiotic, Suffering Tool,Deadmans Gambit and Falseta to name a few.

I, Catharsis

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

It’s definitely growing and becoming more popular which is awesome. Its at point where there are alot of paths that you can take musically.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Megadeth (rust in peace), Gojira (terra incognita), Yes (close to the edge), Metallica (ride the lighting), and Wu-tang (36 chambers)

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

As far as amps we used Laney, Bugera, EVH, orange, and tech 21 sansamp. For guitar we played Fender, ESP ltd, Jackson, Spector bass, DW drums and savian cymbals.

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

We plan on touring in late march and plan a few more in summer 2016.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Go to school, eat your vegetables, and keep an open mind.

Follow The Killing Hours at:



Methexis - The Fall of Bliss

Methexis – The Fall of Bliss

Methexis - The Fall of Bliss

I am always tremendously impressed by albums which are by and large the work of a single person. It is often unfathomable to me that one person can be talented enough to not only write a complete progressive rock album but also perform the entire thing.

Well, add Nikitas Kissonas the list of those who have pulled it off, and maybe make a new list for those who have pulled it off with such flying colors. The Fall of Bliss is an absolute stunner of an album, finding common ground with many other progressive rock bands while simultaneously finding its own niche and excelling there.

I think that, in an alternate universe, Storm Corrosion could have come out sounding a lot like this album, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. From the very first twanging notes of “Eradicated Will,” I can hear a lot of both Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt’s softer moments in this music, and, quite frankly, you can’t do much better than to be compared to those two.

I certainly don’t mean to suggest that this is anything other than extremely fresh, original music, though. The Fall of Bliss is one of those albums that seems at the same time familiar and completely unique, and it’s never content to sit for too long in the same place. Even within the first track the music goes from lilting, off-kilter vocal harmonies to epic guitar solos to climactically heavy motifs and back again, and never once does it feel forced or disjointed.

With such a satisfying opener there might be some worry that the album is bound to go downhill, but fortunately it doesn’t. “Poetic Mirrors Wound Heroes” makes perfect use of gorgeous vocal harmonies to create music that is simultaneously epic and extremely relaxing. “Those Howling Wolves” drops into a darker, more sinister vein, and yet, like magic, it still manages to keep the album’s chilled-out, atmospheric, almost breezy feel going. It’s simply stunning.

“Lines on a Bust” comes next, and I think it would have fit very well on Pain of Salvation’s Be. Gorgeous piano and high vocals create an incredibly emotional atmosphere that bring the listener into a very relaxed place before metaphorically smacking them over the head with the relative heaviness of “Track the Saviours.” “The Aftermath” reminds me very strongly of Opeth’s quieter moments circa Watershed, with beautifully, slightly atonal guitars and a very effective symphonic interlude, complete with simulated vinyl cracks and pops.

And then, of course, we have the wonderful four-part title track to close out the album. From the delicately beautiful intro, replete with sampled birdsong to the noisy, crashing conclusion, the track(s) is (are?) a trip for the duration of their combined run time of more than 20 minutes. A multitude of atmospheric sonic textures and wonderful instrumental interplay take the track from the relaxing motifs that have dominated the album to more intense and climactic themes, the latter figuring especially prominently in Part 2. The Interlude, too, I feel deserves special praise, featuring some of the most beautiful music on the album and of course transitioning very well between the more relaxed Part 1 and the more intense Part 2.

Overall, The Fall of Bliss is one of the most impressive albums I’ve heard this year, especially considering that it essentially a solo project. Fans of Storm Corrosion should find a whole lot to like hear, as will anyone who’s ever listened to a progressive metal album and thought that the softer, more atmospheric bits were the best parts. A killer album overall and one that has one of the most impressive ambiences I’ve heard in a long while.


1. Eradicated Will (8:57)
2. Poetic Mirrors Wound Heroes (4:52)
3. Those Howling Wolves (8:07)
4. Lines on a Bust (3:42)
5. Track the Saviours (4:14)
6. The Aftermath (4:13)
7. The Fall Of Bliss (Intro) (1:41)
8. The Fall Of Bliss (Part I) (8:20)
9. The Fall Of Bliss (Interlude) (4:22)
10. The Fall Of Bliss (Part II) (6:38)


* Nikitas Kissonas – vocals, guitars, bass, mandolin, keys, programming
* Nikos Miras – drums
* Jargon – piano (4)