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.
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”).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Atmosphere was formed in 2012 by guitarist and composer Stef Exelmans, and for such a short time the band has come far. There is a band here with perfect clean vocals, djenty guitars and atmospheric (see what I did here?) melodies—all of that wrapped up with instant time changes. Anything that your ears are ready to accept can be found here. If you find most of today’s prog metal boring, Atmospheres do something that is new and interesting by fusing what we already know with something unconventional.
Comparing with the previous album, “The Departure” builds up on the self-titled album by focusing more on explorations of the ambient side of the music spectre. It’s clearly visible that the band gained a lot of experience over the course of time, and that improvement is also shown through the accessibility of the material on “The Departure.”
Lyrically, the new recording brings a lot more; it has an attitude. The album art is simple, minimalistic, and it tells you “just listen to me, I am not here to make a show, I am who I am.”
Atmospheres are as good as your favourite Belgian chocolate.
Buy this great album from Bandcamp.
Czech Republic is like a treasure house for progressive metal lovers. They have a lot of great bands already. And almost constantly new great band comes to the scene. Deep Stare is one of these progressive metal bands shaped that is just starting their, hopefully, long-lasting career. This trio makes instrumental music, although one of the tracks from their recently released EP “Triplet” includes spoken-word parts.
The band was formed in 2013, and the members have been working together in other projects and bands (most notably ClayFeeders), what makes Deep Stare more experienced in the music business when you compare with other young bands. Last two years Deep Stare had a very hectic schedule. 2014 brought them lots of gigs in Germany and Czech Republic, they have gained more experience by supporting big bands and by playing plenty of concerts. In the meantime the band completed work on the debut EP, which was released in May 2015.
“Triplet” has three songs in total. First and the last pieces are completely instrumental. And they summarise what instrumental prog metal should sound like. The band rarely relies on what other influential groups have been doing for years, and they focused on creating material that stands on its own.
The first song is called “Eternal Sense,” and guitar riffs, drumming and the overall melody fit well together, although I might say that adding vocals over these instrumental parts would make it far more interesting. “Words of Wisdom’” starts with a great Gimouresque solo guitar— tasty, slow, calm, and familiar to your ears. The song keeps on in the direction of the EP itself in a proggy way after the mentioned solo.
If you are constantly looking for new bands, check out Deep Stare from Prague. They have created a release that hints that they can deliver something good in the future.
Corrosion is the debut album from German post-progressive metal band Below A Silent Sky.
This is Cult of Luna/Isis-inspired post-metal that has been combined with a bit of prog metal to create individualistic songs that are sharp, nasty and boiling with heated darkness.
Caustic, bold riffs provide a brutally simple focal point to the apocalyptic music. The band are here to sow darkness darkness. Their music is a dense, somewhat claustrophobic affair, ripe with urban decay and full of disturbed interest for the observer to become upset by.
Varied and nuanced, there are a lot of good ideas on display throughout these six songs, and Below A Silent Sky make the most of the playing time by filling the album with bleak sounds that captivate and enthral.
Corrosion is enjoyable and recommended. You can get it here.