Category Archives: Progstravaganza XIX: Convergence

Orpheus Blade

Orpheus Blade

Progressive and heavy metal, film music and musicals, a concept fantasy that is really an allegory to real life endeavors – all of these are the cornerstones of Orpheus Blade, a project led by Adi Bitran, who also writes the lyrics and music.

Armed with an attitude of “all or nothing” that has made her bleed for her creation and never take the easy road, she chose only the best to accompany her in this journey to her first album – “Wolf’s Cry”.

After years of playing and learning piano and guitar, singing was the next step for Adi, who felt she wanted more of the stage in order to fully express herself.

Trying to achieve that strong, full-chest “metal voice” has led her to a decade of exploring, taking vocal lessons, experiencing with bands and leading tributes to classical metal and rock bands such as Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Rainbow and more. She was often compared to Bruce Dickinson and Russell Allen due to her unique voice, which is harsh and powerful but still melodic and soft when needed.

Then it was time to make something of her own, and so Orpheus Blade was born. Being first and foremost a woman of words, Adi has started to write “Wolf’s Cry” from the lyrics, then chose the melodies and harmonies, carefully composing it line after line, but always with a big emphasis on the emotional side.

For six years “Wolf’s Cry” has been waiting for the right hands to mold it into a piece that would be strong and unique. Players and producers came and go – until Erez Yohanan stepped in. Adi and Erez have spent some long months in the studio – rewriting, rearranging, producing and polishing the sketches into a mature album with a strong backbone. Each of the players contributed to the parts, and because “Wolf’s Cry” is mainly guitar-oriented, Gal Ben-Haim has joined the sessions in an early stage in order to give life to the guitar lines. When it was time to give it the big sound it deserved, Jacob Hansen with his famous fat, vicious sound was an easy choice.


Murky Red on Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation

Murky Red

Murky Red were a little surprised when they read the October Münsteraner Bote review: “We think that Murky Red has a great future ahead, so better book them quick because in a few years you can’t get them anymore in any case. These guys reinvented Rock. Fantastic sound, great rough vocals and wonderful melodic guitar solos.”

The Belgian band started in 2010 when singer/songwriter Stef Flaming and his wife Yolanda Flaming (backing vocals/keys) met the impressive bassist Tom Kockelmans of the band Nema, and after advertisements for musicians were placed on several websites, the band found their first line up. The first year was a learning process and a search for an own identity, and it became clear that not all members shared the same vision.

In August 2011, drummer Jef Vandervorst decided to leave the band and was replaced by Joery Masson, who spiced up the sound with his powerful playing. “He started breaking out all these loops and hit the drums harder than we were used before and we were like ‘cool’!”.
In May 2012 guitarist Georges Petrofski decided to leave the band too. He was replaced by Patrick Dujardin, who seemed to be the missing link; the combination worked, the Murky Red identity began to grow. Inspired by Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Rival sons, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, the songs became more complex and intense and it gave them the unique edge that defines the band’s sound.

One of the new songs, “Galadriel” became a turning point. People started to really notice them. They got signed with the record label ‘Melodic Revolution Records’, based in Orlando, Florida, USA. Nick Katona, CEO of the label, describes their genre as heavy melodic rock.
In September, Marie Van Camp joined the band to enforce the sound with backing vocals and small percussion. Excited as they were with the new sounds they were laying down, the band never anticipated the enthusiasm which critics and fans alike found for their music.

‘I can’t get over this band’, comments Andy Bradford, host of AiiRadio, ‘Their songs are fresh and familiar at the same time, with absolutely addictive melodies. After playing their tracks many times I’ve noticing that my favorite track keeps changing. They’re one of the five best rock bands of 2012!’. Chris, host of Progtology 101, agrees: “Of all the new entries in the charts I dig this band the most. Coming in on number 2 with Boots for hire’ they show the most promise, delivering a grungy, filthy sounding version of Pink Floyd/Black Sabbath. It’s bad ass music. Murky Red kill!’”

Following the November release of their debut album, ‘Time doesn’t matter’, the band have set their sights on the West European region. They are planning a number of gigs in Belgium and Germany and are aiming for the Netherlands and France. ‘We just want to get out there and play at this point,’ Stef says, ‘We’re ready to get back to what it’s all about: rockin’ the house!’”

“What it comes down to for us”, remarks Stef, “is that we really dig what we’re doing, and we’ve reached music lovers from all over the globe. We’ve met so many people who say “this is the kind of music I love, why is nobody else playing it?” that we wouldn’t want to do anything else”.


Motion on Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation


MOTION is born during winter 2012 around Aurelien Baptiste in Lyon, France. Since then they released “Awaken The Storm” their first demo the same year and most notably “Facing The Infinite” during fall 2013, both self-released. This last one, an EP, was mixed by Eyal Levi (The Contortionist, Reflections,…) and mastered by Alan Douches (Born Of Osiris, As They Burn,…). It also features collaborations of Vincent Peignart-Mancini (AqMe) and Chad Ruhlig (Legend). During this period, MOTION played around 20 shows across France and its borders with such acts as Bury Tomorrow, More Than A Thousand, Crossfaith or even Bleed From Within.

Winter 2014, after 2 years, MOTION isn’t facing the infinite, but their future this time. Many changes have occurred in the line-up, including new musical directions following the path of bands like Dream Theater, Gojira, and Karnivool, taking a fresh new progressive, alternative, and melodic direction. The band is currently working on 2 brand new EPs with the first effort due to fall 2014.

Montage on Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation


Montage are a relatively new progressive hard rock group that hails from Finland’s capital city, Helsinki. Their music is a mixture of traditional hard rock and the hazy sounds of folk, early prog rock and psychedelia. Montage will release their debut album via Secret Entertainment on May 16th 2014 (16/5/2014).

Montage’s music could be described as traditional hard rock with a prog twist, but one can also find jazzy and folkish elements in their songs. The band’s main influences are The Doors, Rush, Caravan, Marillion and Black Mountain. Almost all of the instrumental parts are written by guitarist Roni Seppänen and then arranged by the whole group. The lyrics, written by the whole band, mostly deal with hippie-like themes with a hint of dark humor.

The band started working on their debut album with producer Matias Melleri in 2012. The album consists of eight eclectic hard rock songs, featuring such titles as “Misty High”, “Strawberry Skies” and “Devil’s Whip”. The southern rock inspired feel good anthem “Misty High” was released as the first single from the album in late 2013.


Mile Marker Zero on Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation

Mile Marker Zero

For the five members of the Connecticut-based progressive rock group Mile Marker Zero, gaining individual satisfaction through a collaborative, team-driven effort is the essence of true art celebrated through self-expression and sonic chemistry.

From the moment they formed nearly a decade ago while attending Western Connecticut University school of music, the group, led by vocalist Dave Alley, John Tuohy (guitars), Mark Focarile (piano/keyboards), Tim Rykoski (bass) and Doug Alley (drums), has taken a slightly off-kilter, multi-tiered approach towards modern rock music spending the past decade honing their skill set both as musicians and songwriters.

Between 2005-2006, the band wrote and recorded their first release- The Haunted EP. However, it wasn’t until a couple of years later when the group received an invitation from Michael Birnbaum and Chris Bittner (Coheed and Cambria, Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes, Bad Brains) – owners of Applehead Recording studios located in Woodstock, New York, that the quintet would come across such an opportunity to refine the ‘Mile Marker Zero sound’ in such a professional and creative setting. “Working at Applehead where great albums from Coheed and Cambria, and Straylight Run were produced was a really big move for us,” Tuohy says.

It was from those Applehead sessions that the group would go on to release their first full-length album, a self-titled effort which received acclaim from industry insiders and press including a four out of five star review from progressive rock website for their “superlative musicianship, and lyrical ability.” From that release, the songs ”A Thousand Nights” and ”Reaping Tide” were both featured on the popular music video game Rockband for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 game consoles.

For Mile Marker Zero, taking the time to grow and evolve as people while celebrating marriages and births was just as important as the brotherhood they had forged over a decade ago. “The past couple years have been interesting for us as a band. We have all gone through so much in our personal lives and it’s present in our new material,” says vocalist Dave Alley. “It’s been exciting to take a step back and look at our sound and writing from an objective point of view.”

The next couple of years found the group working intently with veteran music industry executive Michael Caplan who discovered the band performing at a venue on Manhattan’s lower east side.
As great as Mile Marker Zero sounds on album, they shine brightest in concert. The band are equally powerful and captivating whether playing in small clubs or a large stage, and have won over crowds at outdoor festivals and support shows with artists including Periphery, Porcupine Tree, Spock’s Beard, Scale The Summit, Fair To Midland, Queensryche’s Geoff Tate, and many more.

Caplan, who is responsible for discovering acts such as Matisyahu, The Allman Brothers Band, and Keb’ Mo’, would quickly introduce the band to engineer Vic Steffens (Lita Ford, XYZ, Doug Wimbish of Living Colour) who then lent his expertise to help record what would become the group’s long-awaited follow up EP – Young Rust.

On Young Rust, the band has augmented their collective strengths as songwriters to create some incredible music, while again utilizing the mixing prowess of Applehead’s Birnbaum and Bittner. Alley adds, “I feel we are finally coming into our own as songwriters, and our forthcoming material showcases the juxtaposition of our heavier instrumentation and our more classic sound in the keyboards and vocals.”

With a big kick/snare and open high-hat drum pattern, Young Rust opens with the anthem rock fueled track “The Great Unknown”, an uplifting, easily relatable tune that emits a message of self preservation and endurance. “Where I Want You” follows suit spotlighting Tuohy’s masterful lead work, all the while ushering the listener on a sonic joy ride where the clarity of each player and their respective instrument can be examined and appreciated.

On “Bound”, the EPs third track, the band explore the electronic side of their sound a bit further and melodically delve into what some may even describe as pop-like undertones. “We have always worked hard to write a great song that has individuality amongst the crowd,” says Alley. “This time around it has only become more obvious that we are a band that take pride in writing tunes that are not only fun for us to play, but are really memorable and impactful to our audience.”

Epic and ambitious tracks such as “Trick Of The Tongue”, “Toughest Love”, and “Between The Lines” round out the six-song opus and are filled with unconventional arrangements and challenging rhythms yet they also flow with powerful melodies and memorable choruses.

Young Rust will be released independently on April 29, 2014.


Kindler on Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation


As their name would suggest, Kindler is a band concerned with creation. In a world as transient as music, they focus on the creation of lasting moments. Their efforts have produced songs that are timeless pieces both intellectual and emotional, accessible and complex, grandiose and personal. Brothers Nick and Stephen Wiley (formerly of Wake of Redemption), along with Cameron Fitzpatrick (of TITAN, We Are Masked) and David Hill (TITAN) came together with a desire to create something powerful, and were not disappointed with the results. The band has a sound entirely of their own, but pay homage to the symphonic ambition in YES, emotional release of ISIS, raw power of Mastodon, rhythmic complexity of TOOL, melodicism of Fair To Midland and Karnivool, and the intensity and tonal experimentation of Opeth.

Kindler are believers in the power of performance to create moments that larger than life, and pour all of themselves into their shows in pursuit of that power. Every performance is treated like the most important moment of their careers, as the audience deserves nothing less. The same can be said of their songwriting. Every note has meaning, every lyric painstakingly chosen. They feel this attention to detail and craft will only add to the impact their music gives. When recorded, this gives each song a feeling of total completion, that nothing has been left out, and nothing could have been different. With the release of their EP “Afterglow”, the band plans to show the world exactly how powerful their music is, and what they want to create.

The band tracked, mixed, and produced the EP themselves, at Fidelitorium Recordings in Kernversville, NC (home studio of Mitch Easter, known for REM, Pavement) and mixed at Trailblazer Studios in Raleigh, NC.


Mahogany Head Grenade

Mahogany Head Grenade is a Progressive Metal Instrumental Trio formed in June of 2011.

Mahogany Head Grenade’s live set combines highly technical instrumentation, historical audio samples and a 20th century classical approach to melodies, themes, and song structure. All the while, staying true to their Texas Metal roots.

Mahogany Head Grenade released their debut CD “Return to the Point of Departure” in June of 2013. Tracked live, “Return to the Point of Departure” was recorded & engineered by Sterling Winfield (Pantera, Damageplan, Hellyeah) at Valve Studios in Dallas. Mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Cynic, Angra, Sepultura).

Mahogany Head Grenade is:

Dan Hyer (Guitar)
Mike Pritchett (Drums)
James Falcon (Bass)


Jedediah Smith on Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation

Jedediah Smith

Jedediah Smith was originally formed as a one man band, by guitarist and Colorado native, Dakota Diemand – under the name I Hope You Freeze to Death. Things changed forever when Dakota journeyed to Musician’s Institute’s Summer Shot 2010, where he met bass player extraordinaire, Connor Coram. After completing the summer program, they kept in touch via Facebook. Eventually, the two reconnected as full-time Musician’s Institute students, forming the progressive metal project, Jedediah Smith, in honor of the legendary mountain man and explorer. With the help of former Allegaeon drummer, Jordon Belfast (named a Sick Drummer in 2007, by Sick Drummer Magazine), Jedediah Smith wrote, produced, mixed, and mastered its debut album, HeSapa, out of Dakota’s Hollywood home studio. The album was released independently, on October 31st, 2012.

After the release of the first album, the guys focused their attention on their studies, to learn as much as they could about music. Learning from famed instructors, such as Greg Harrison of the band PDP, who also taught both guitarists in Scale the Summit. Connor and Dakota’s other instructors have included: Sid Jacobs, Stu Hamm, Menno Verbaten, Ken Steiger, Dave Hill, Ken Rosser, David Kief, and many others. In 2013, Connor completed his associate degree in bass performance, graduating as the Most Outstanding Player, and is now in the bachelor program. Dakota is nearing completion of his associate degree in guitar performance and sound engineering.

Taking aim at a diverse array of metal styles, thrown in with stylistic variations and unexpected genre changes, the band spent the first half of 2013 writing their new concept album, “Tall Tales.” After months of writing, transcribing and practicing, the band started laying down tracks for this behemoth. Similar to the first record, the album was recorded in Dakota’s home studio. Diemand took up drum duties, in addition to playing guitar. Tracking wrapped up, in February 2014, and the album is now slated to be mixed and mastered by studio pro, Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me, Scale the Summit, and Perceptionist).

Unique, for an instrumental album, a fictional e-book will accompany “Tall Tales.” Inspired by Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, The Twilight Zone, Groundhog Day, To Build a Fire, and the Back to the Future series, the story tells of a man who awakes on a frozen tundra, with no memory of his past. He has to fight through time and space to save his family. The e-book is meant as a companion guide for the musical journey that is “Tall Tales.”

The band continues to rehearse and is close to solidifying a full line-up of musicians. They plan to be playing shows and melting faces before the end of the year. Until then, they will be keeping themselves busy with the promotion of the new album, rehearsing with new band members and adding to their large collection of online cover videos.

Stylistically, the band takes their cue from progressive metal frontrunners, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Haken, and Scale the Summit, as well as 70’s prog rock bands such as Yes, Kansas, Rush and Pink Floyd, among other influences. Dismayed with the overall mediocrity of modern popular music, Jedediah Smith hopes to help expand people’s musical horizons and open listeners’ ears to the musical possibilities of the future.


False Coda on Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation

False Coda

False Coda were formed back in 2009 by the brothers Vasilis Milios (guitar) and Andrew Milios (drums). After several lineup changes, in 2011 Nikos Pogkas (ex- Shiverspine) and Lefteris Kapetanios (keyboards) joined in. A few months later Manos Xanthakis (ex-Agnosia, ex-Jericho, ex-Blazon (UK), ex-Celestial Ode) became the bands lead singer. Since then False Coda have been active performing live gigs all around athens and in November 2013 finished the recording of their debut album “Closer to the Edge”.Nowadays they signed with ” Steel Gallery Records” and prepare for their first official work to be released. They can be labeled as a progressive metal band with many influences from different genres such as heavy metal, prog rock, fusion, classical music etc)


Manos Xanthakis : Vocals

Vasilis Milios : Guitars

Andreas Milios : Drums

Lefteris Kapetanios : Keyboards

Nikos Pogkas : Bass