Category Archives: Reviews

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.

Eyesolate

Review: Eyesolate – Noumena

Now this one is definitely a slight out of my comfort zone. Eyesolate play a style of bleak, atmospheric Progressive Metal, with Post-Hardcore interspersed into their sound too. In a bid to continue with my ever continuing broadening of horizons I decided I’d give this a look over for review.

Eyesolate are the kind of band I wouldn’t have touched a few years ago, and those who listen to the more conventional styles of Metal can safely give this one a miss from the get go. However, those who are attracted to bizarre and abstract strands of Metal are going to want to read on.

Noumena

Eyesolate’s style is a suffocating mesh of jangling, sludgy guitars. Their pacing is a slow burning type, and their songs are not too long, yet ever growing. A spiralling, haunting trudge through dank mires, their riffs claw out the speakers like skeletal branches; constricting the listener and dragging them into pits of despair. The guitar tone isn’t too overbearing. The drum work is excellent, with tasteful use of cymbals and drum fills. The bass also has a good degree of room to breathe here on Noumena which is just great.

The band is at their best as the album flows. A tumultuous journey on “Farewell” that spans over six minutes, and drags the listener right to the heart of Eyesolate’s nightmare world. The album cover is absolutely perfect for the music contained, with rather simplistic drawing which when observed carefully explains more.

A bizarre, and sometimes horrifying release, Eyesolate create their atmosphere well. I’d say fans of the style, or previously established fans of the band are going to be in for a treat with Noumena.

Links:

http://www.eyesolate-band.com

https://eyesolate.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/Eyesolate/

HB

Review: Henriette B – Tales of Reality

Swiss progressive metalcore outfit Henriette B just released their second EP, Tales of Reality, on February 20. The band is a technically proficient, inventive unit that adeptly  mixes progressive metalcore, deathcore, djent and mainstream metal into a heavy, catchy and dynamic album.

Classical influence in modern metal always intrigues me, and “Utopia,” Tales of Reality’s opening number, captured my attention immediately with a haunting, heavy introduction featuring polyrhythmic chug patterns akin to Born of Osiris. Though such elements could be a foundation for an entire EP, part of the charm of Henriette B  is their willingness to diversify and adapt. Songs like “Face Or Flee” are not afraid to delve into mid-2000’s metalcore territory.

Tales Of Reality

Vocalist Ian Girod and guitarists Vincent Simonin and Thierry Grundbacher are diverse in their delivery, maintaining my interest throughout the album with diverse screams, growls, black metal shrieks and singing sections that do not conform to any one genre. Guitarists in particular bring versatile, technical and melodic guitar work to the album, and Fabio Duro makes dynamic use of his drums as a part of Henriette B’s sound. Though there are distinct bass sections throughout the album, I would love to hear more from Fabien Voumard.

Overall, Henriette B’s Tales of Reality is a release that holds its own with most of its competitors in the genre, shining in its diversity. In a scene where many albums often have songs that are nearly indistinguishable from each other, it is refreshing and impressive to hear a full-length where each song has a unique place in the album, incorporating different approaches from a number of genres and influences. Though, at times, Henriette B seemed close to spiraling out of control with their eclectic approach, they manage to reign in their ambitions for a focused, diverse release that I have continued to enjoy after several listens.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

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/

The Killing Hours

Review: The Killing Hours – I, Catharsis

Hailing from Miami, thrash/death metal band The Killing Hours released their debut album I, Catharsis in October 2015. If you like you some riffy, metalcorish guitars to back up your melodeath vocals, look no further.

The sounds lean heavily on the early 00′s sound, treading the line nicely between the worlds of Gothenburg and metalcore. There’s even some silighly proggier moments on the closing title track and “Reflections of.” Things will occasionally slow to a crawl, but just long enough to set a up a thrilling conclusion (“Between the Lines of Fire”).

I, Catharsis

But if you happen to be one of those who shivers at the mention of all thinge “core,” recognize that aside from the riffing structures, none of the other tropes are at play here. Vocals are mostly growls with a hint of clean singing. And as listed in the band’s tags, there is quite a bit of thrash influence o keep things more on the extreme side of things.

More importantly, The Killing Hours are just great at making killer metal songs. There are tons of righteous solos, and the drums here manage to rival some already hefty hooks. Expert pace changes, breaks, and fetching fill work keep things interesting. There are nods stylistically to everything from Unearth and All That Remains to Lamb of God to Dream Theater and Arch Enemy. And that other key element for a great album, consistency, is a big part of what keeps me coming back to I, Catharsis.

 Links:

https://thekillinghours.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/Thekillinghours

Pontus Gunve

Review: Pontus – IV

Only a handful of records each year perfectly embody the strengths and hallmarks of an entire subgenre. And New York’s Pontus (founded by guitarist Pontus Gunve) have curated one of those records in their new EP, IV. The complexity and dexterity shown on the album is unheard of, as Pontus spiders across the frets on “Ten,” complemented by the weeping sound of cellist Eric Allen.

Pontus - IV

While the individual talents of each member are on display (bassist Bryan Percivall and drummer Tripp Dudley shine on the closing “Felix”), the straight-up magic that happens when the elements come together must be heard to be believed.

Buy IV on Bandcamp, and follow Pontus’ work on Facebook.

For Millennia 1

Review: For Millennia – Where The Ocean Ends

Adelaide metallers For Millennia unleash their debut EP Where The Ocean Ends with a show of sheer ferocity and a knack for infectious melodic passages.

Straight from the get-go, For Millennia go for the jugular with the title track from the EP, which kicks things off with a brilliantly acoustic passage that complement singer Henk Plaggemars clean vocals perfectly. The ease that Plaggemars can go from low-to-high register is impressive and this is evident throughout the EP as is the guitar work from the crushing riffs to the epic solos courtesy of Oliver Green. This is the perfect opening to introduce you to the For Millennia brand of metal with a sound that comes on like a cross between TesseracT and Porcupine Tree.

Where The Ocean Ends

The anthemic Together follows and starts off more melodically inclined before a pummeling rhythm courtesy of bassist Dominic Ventra and keyboardist Lachlan Odell elevates the track to a much heavier level. Plaggemars’ vocals are once again impressively switched between the two differing styles with his singing voice given more freedom on the songs chorus and the harsher vocals let loose to devastating effect while the rhythm section and guitars end the track on a high with a ferocious crescendo.

The EP concludes with the pounding metal of Solace In Silence complete with snaking prog metal style riffs, featuring a brutal groove, some epic solos and a mesmerising vocal performance.

The EP also showcases the production courtesy, which is slick and adds dimension to the bands sound allowing them to display their brand of modern heaviness to its full effect.

For Millennia have made an impressive start with this EP,  with the band demonstrating their skill at executing great metal songs and on this evidence, their debut album will definitely be one to look forward to.

Bandcamp

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Kardashev

Review: Kardashev – Peripety

A somewhat lukewarm discovery on my part, Kardashev is one of those bands that is obviously filled to the brim with playing talent, but never lacking enough confidence to find their own ground. My first experience with this American progressive death metal band, “Peripety” is certainly the work of talented instrumentalists, and while there are some incredible moments to delve into here for a progressive metal fan, what makes the album stand out is creative cohesion of the three-piece and consistency. “Peripety” is rife with promise in parts, and the guys answer the challenge flawlessly.

With an opening segment that instantly recalls the introductory ambience of extreme metal, Kardashev solidify their place as one of the new prog metal bands attempting to relive the glory of the old giants. While this may give only the more negative connotations imaginable, it should be noted that for what they do, Kardashev do it extremely well. Dark and heavy guitar riffs are coupled with the atmospherics of guitar work and some very good drum. This may sound endearing for a fan of progressive metal, and the way it is all put together is a work of art.

Tenebris” is a fine example of the sort of interesting things Kardashev manage to hide in the album, a short but effective interlude that segues seamlessly into “Sopor.” Most of the time however, the great parts of the music are hidden within songs, be it a promising voicing, post-rock section or exciting prog riff.

Kardashev shows themselves off as being full of potential here, but it will be really interesting to hear what they come up with next, and what they will do to reach above “Peripety.”

Read my interview with Kardashev here.

Ste van Holm

Review: Ste Van Holm – Tesla

Being open-minded when it comes to art always brings new and cool things. Danish musician Ste Van Holm is a great example for that. The experienced artist released six albums so far, and this past November he came up with the release of a progressive rock record. Each of Van Holm’s albums has a different concept, different style (ranging from pop to rock), and different personalities. That is what makes Ste Van Holm and his art special. He doesn’t follow any paths except his feelings.

Tesla” is the latest release from Van Holm, and as mentioned above it is a progressive rock album crowned with jazzy melodies and partly some electronic/ambient touches. The album is all around Serbian-Croatian scientist Nikola Tesla, his life and work. Conceptually and lyrically you feel the dedication of his works. From the first track until the closing piece, the concept of “Tesla” is very well thought.

Ste van Holm - Tesla

The thunderstorm in the intro “St. Elmo’s Fire” announces the story in a right way. “Electrical Storm” and “Macak the Cat” attract attention with its jazzy vocals built on a progressive rock structure. “Transatlantic” turns a bit to electronic while keeping the same prog rock structure, especially in the rhythmic segment.

The album keeps on with a 20-minute epic “Oscillations,” which for the better part shows amazing craftsmanship and performance by the band. It is a piece that musically summarise what “Tesla” represents. The album triumphantly comes to an end with an 11-odd minutes “A Piece of Empty Sky,” which closes this brilliant biopic about the man who changed the world for better.

Ste Van Holm has crafted the most demanding record in his musical opus with “Tesla”, and having chosen progressive rock as a foundation contributed further in how well the story of the album is submitted to a listener.

Get “Tesla” by Ste Van Holm from Bandcamp.

Fake Heroes

Review: Fake Heroes – Clouds

Fake Heroes is a progressive metal band from Pescara, Italy that released its new record entitled Clouds in September 2015. Fake Heroes have plenty of musical elements to offer.

A wide spectre of influences ranging from the likes such Steven Wilson, TesseracT, Karnivool, Dream Theater puts this guys right in the top of the new forces of the genre. Fake Heroes’ music is catchy and supported by a lot of choruses that appear in almost every song.

The band is able to groove and brings in a good diversity in their songs, while being focused on one big concept that is clearly visible. Due to the fact that Fake Heroes works with stylistic elements that appear on several songs, the whole record seems to be composed with a huge pot of ideas in the background. The band probably made a big effort to emphasis the album’s concept, and slowly painted the structure of their newest record.

Clouds

Clouds is exactly what fans of progressive metal would like to listen to. Some parts remind of TesseracT, with their progressive drumming and groovy djent guitars, while the vocals are catchy, striking a variety of well composed vocal lines. The whole record feels enormously round and self-contained. Some parts of the record are heavier and even sometimes it sounds more like rock than a metal album. All in all, it is to mention that the diversity on this record is pretty good. The balance between a heavy metal record and a melodic rock record is very decent on Clouds, while it will intrigue both sides and so provides a big mass-appeal to the audience.