TEAI

Interview with THE EARTH AND I

Prog Metal Newyorkers, The Earth and I, dropped their debut full-length effort “The Candleman” on 3rd of November, a release that displays talent of this young five-piece.

The group is ready to put out their sophomore album titled “The Curtain” in early 2018.

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

Life is great, thanks for asking. Between the 5 of us, we have a collective age of 476 years, but we’re feeling fresher than an Andes mint after a tubful of savory Olive Garden grub.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “The Candleman”?

That’s right. The Candleman is a bit of a smorgasbord. Progressive metal gluttons should find enough long epics and guitar noodles to satiate their hunger. But we hope that every listener can find a morsel or two that piques their fancy.

What was it like working on the album?

The Candleman was a lesson in patience and perseverance. This record features significantly higher production quality than can be found on any of our past project’s releases. In that sense, The Candleman is very much the first album any of us have put out that is able to properly communicate our artistic intent. In the four years and change that it took to make this music, we gained a ton of experience in songwriting, recording, and the production process. We truly cut our teeth on this record, and we hope listeners will appreciate the labor.

The Candleman

Are there any touring plans in support to “The Candleman”?

We can’t say just yet, though we always like to keep ourselves occupied with a consistent stream of local shows. For now, we have a ton of exciting video content planned, as well as an early 2018 release for The Candleman’s companion record, The Curtain, which we wrote and recorded at the same time.

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

Any country in Europe would be awesome, but we would particularly like to play the UK. A number of the revered titans of our genre—Tesseract, Sikth, and Monuments to name a few—hail from the UK, so we’d love to check out the scene for ourselves.

Also, definitely Japan. There seems to be a market for noodly guitar bands, but I’m not sure we’d make the cut. Right now, we’re just the instant cup ramen of prog. Gotta step up our noodle game. We’re aiming for udon, but we’ll settle for soba.

Who and what inspires you the most?

I think we continue to be inspired by music’s ability to affect us on a profoundly personal level. Though it becomes rarer as our music libraries expand, we still have those occasional ‘holy shit’ moments when we find something truly novel.

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

Jazz. Tigran Hamasyan’s music was a gateway for many of us. The world of jazz is a mile wide, and just as deep. There’s so much we can learn from its sense of modal harmony and unique chord voicings, as well as a wider dynamic range than you typically hear in metal. Also, we’ve noticed the chromaticism of video game music start to creep into new riffs. Expect LP3 to feature nothing but 8-bit jazz standards.

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?

Alright, I don’t have much time. It’s risky, but I gotta level with you. I’m not even in this band. They got me trapped in a cellar, answering their emails while they bring me mashed potatoes by the bucket. The one they call Meerkat always has this ravenous grin. I think they’re fattening me up. Man, they’re freaking cannibbbbbbbbbbbbbbnm,.;’

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Fabrizio La Piana

Review: Fabrizio La Piana – Almond and Coffee

In an era where shredding and playing-as-fast-as-you-possibly-can for no apparent reason have become a norm, it was a pleasure to listen to a guitar being nurtured as the beautiful classic musical instrument that it is.

Almond and Coffee is the first solo effort from guitarist Fabrizio La Piana. It features seven original songs, all of them composed by Piana, with bassist Bernhard Hollinger and drummer Niels Voskuil forming the core of this trio providing more than just a solid foundation.

The hauntingly clever and melodic piece entitled “Funky Song” kicks off La Piana’s stylish offering. Soft and intelligent guitar progressions lead in to the scintillating chops, courtesy of Voskuil. As is the case through the majority of Almond and Coffee, La Piana’s compositions and arrangements are precise and well designed.

From the delicate and sultry “Almond and Coffee” to the subdued yet jazzy “Pulice,” La Piana displays a fine and nuanced touch that I alluded to at the outset.

“50-50” rivals “Rokin” for being my favorite song in this set. Hollinger and Voskuil shine along with La Piana on this latter slow burn. This tune is a great example of staying nifty all up and down the line without rushing.

La Piana’s approach is cemented in patience and thoughtfulness. The pacing and tempo comfortably allows time to breathe and absorb the subtleties and distinctions that are well crafted in this stellar debut.

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Barry Weinberg

Interview with BARRY WEINBERG

South Florida’s Barry Weinberg is set to release his debut album “Samsarana” in January 2018, a “cinematic rock experience” that is also a semi-autobiographical release that’s been in making for many years.

In a new interview, Barry tells us about what it took to write this album, and more.

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

Thanx for asking… I’m doing incredible! A lot is happening in my life right now. This album is a life-long dream and it’s finally coming to fruition. Last week, on the same day, I received the final physical CD’s and that evening I took my 12 hour overnight Black Belt test which I had been working towards for 5 years. It was an amazing day of fruition of 2 things I had been working on for a long time. Nothing beats achieving long-term goals!

Speaking of new music, you have an album coming in January. What can people expect from “Samsarana”?

Like it says on the cover, A Cinematic Rock Experience. I arranged the album “Samsarana” as a Musical Novel, with each song a chapter in a story that extends from the Big Bang to the Enlightenment of Man. It’s the kind of album you want to put the headphones on and lose yourself on a musical journey.

I explored many genres of music on this album. The main theme of the album is the polarity/duality of life’s experiences, so in many of the songs I combined contrasting sounds and feels to express that duality. In some songs I combined classical acoustic guitar with heavy distorted heavy metal sounds and in one song I transition from a folky, Bob Dylan-esque sound into a 90’s grunge groove. It was a lot of fun finding ways to combine different, almost antagonistic musical styles in a way that worked.

“Samsarana” is a Sanskrit word that literally means, “the wandering,” and refers to the Hindu concept of the endless cycle of Birth, Life, Death, Rebirth, Life, Death…. ad infinitum. I refer to this in the album as “This Vicious Circle” and the last two songs on the album are a story “twist” that turns the end of the album into the beginning of the next replay!

What was it like working on the album?

The album is semi-autobiographical in nature having written the songs at different times in my life. Putting all the songs together into a cohesive story was a profound reflection on my life. It took me some time (almost 5 years!) to get the recordings just right as it was my first album and I recorded it in a home studio I put together. Having never recorded and mixed on my own, it was definitely a learning experience with lots of up and downs. Many times I’d be intensely frustrated and ready to give up, only to have something “click” and come together almost magically.  

My turning point was when I met Jorge Guzman. Jorge is a classically trained flutist and pianist and an amazing jazz musician. He’s been a music production engineer for over 20 years withhis production company, World Beat Group, LLC. He had an ad online that he was a producer who was looking for a mentor to teach what he knew about mixing and mastering. I gave him a call and we got together. The next 6 months was a rare experience… for what started off as “mixing lessons” turned into a collaborative effort that resulted in the finished album. Jorge taught me so much about the “science” and production of music and I will always be grateful to him for all he gave me.

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

Not at the moment, but we’ll see what the future holds!

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

I’d love to tour Europe. My wife is from Germany and we’ve spent a lot of time over there. It would be amazing to perform this album in its entirety in one of the giant Medieval castles they have over there!

Who and what inspires you the most?

What inspires me most are stories of individuals who are small and become Great. Stories like the film, “Rudy” about Rudy Ruetigger who played for Notre Dame… or Frodo in “Lord of the Rings.”   Also, People who start from nothing and accomplish great things in the world. You read stories of how Metallica or Pink Floyd started with nothing except a vision and passion and they became the biggest stars in the world. There’s a quote that always inspired me from motivational speaker, Les Brown, “You don’t have to be Great to get started, but you got to get started to be Great!”

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

The two genres I love to listen to and have influenced me the most are ’70s hard and progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, Boston, Kansas, Rush, Van Halen… and most of all ’80s thrash: Metallica, Exodus, Testament, Megadeth, Slayer. I also enjoy a lot of Classical music: Mozart, Berlioz, Vivaldi. I love music with passion.

Two other bands that have been a big influence on me are Dream Theater (of course!) and Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon. I love how they take you on a musical journey with their songs and albums.

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?

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my music with you. This has been a life-long dream of mine. I’ve been playing guitar since 14 and now I’m almost 50 and putting my first album out. I put a lot of myself into this album and it is my hope that my fans get as much meaning and inspiration out of the album as I put into it.

“Samsarana” is released in January 2018. For more information visit Weinberg’s website, and follow him on FacebookYouTube and Soundcloud.

Jay Matharu

Interview with JAY MATHARU

Guitarist, composer and teacher Jay Matharu, based out of Uppsala in Sweden, has recently released his debut full-length album “These Clouds Are So Undisciplined!.” Featuring guest appearances from a few musicians, including guitarist Nili Brosh, the record is a must-hear for the fans of instrumental progressive / jazz rock.

We talked with Jay about the album.

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

Hi! Life is great, I can’t really complain. I just came back from a ten day holiday so I’m feeling pretty chilled and re-energized. I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to talk to you guys.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “These Clouds are So Undisciplined!”?

Yep, my debut album as a solo artist is out now! Listeners can expect to hear melodic progressive rock instrumental music with many twist and turns that includes elements from other styles such as jazz, pop and fusion.

What was it like working on the album?

It was a really interesting process. The album started out as a project to write and record an album within one hundred days. At the time I was working full time as well so there was many days I was only able to spend thirty minutes or a couple of hours here and there to record. It was a little stressful at times with the deadline but I had a lot of fun and got to experience a whole different way of writing and recording. Plus it gave me a big push into writing music again after a period of being inactive.

These Clouds Are So Undisciplined

Are there any touring plans in support to “These Clouds are So Undisciplined!”?

I never really thought about touring until a few weeks back. I thought instrumental music was a very difficult genre to book gigs with, but recently I’ve been seeing more and more instrumental acts touring. Nothing is booked yet but I’m definitely going to plan something next year.

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

If I could I’d love to tour everywhere (laughs). It would be especially fun to get out of Europe and tour Japan or Brazil.

Who and what inspires you the most?

I’ve never had one particular muse; anything can inspire me. It could be music, art, film, nature, people or even my pet rabbit Bellatrix. There are so many ways to experience and interpret different situations, which can really influence the creative process.

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

When it comes to listening to music I have a very eclectic taste. I listen to everything except for country music, well John 5 and Johnny Cash is about as country as I go. Progressive and Indian Classical music are the two styles of music that have had the biggest impact on my playing in recent years. I got into progressive music through listening to grunge back in the nineties; the use of odd time signatures had a big impact on my playing. Listening to Indian classical taught me to slow down and listen to how much expression can be applied to just one note as well as a hundred notes.

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?

I would like to thank you and your readers for taking the time to check out this interview and hopefully my music. I’d love to hear people’s feedback so if anyone wants to connect just send me a message on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.

The Earth And I

Review: The Earth and I – The Candleman

The Earth and I is a progressive metal band hailing from New York, and earlier this month the band put out their debut album titled “The Candleman.”

The album contains strong blasting riffs, which are otherwise inherently catchy and actually suit the vocalists incredibly well. They are bludgeoning when paired with vicious growls of Nick Petromilli (also on bass) and Daniel Siew (on guitar), and cleans by lead singer Kendyle Wolven. Wolven simply has such an intense level of passion and energy, like she pours his heart and soul into the music. The best example of this can be heard throughout the album, but as highlights I would mentioned “CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone),” “Little Frames” and “Sugar High.”

The Candleman The masterful use of the heavy verse/melodic chorus style of songwriting makes this album incredibly varied. “The Candleman” is all about balance of heaviness and melody. The instrumentation on the album is brought to perfection, and although the band’s technical skills are easy to notice, the band members work in favor of displaying a balance between masterful craftsmanship and performance.

“The Candleman” is one of those albums that is just as good the first time you listen to it as it is the fiftieth. It’s one of those rare cases where it never gets old, yet it doesn’t take any time to grow on you. Whether you’re a seasoned metal listener or someone who is just discovering heavy music, this album will appeal to you in some way or another. It’s incredibly technical and precise in its execution, yet it allows enough melody in to keep it from sounding like a typical instrumental wankfest.

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Impera

Interview: IMPERA

Impera are a groove metal five-piece from Lisbon, Portugal who put out their debut album “The Weightless” this year, and according to the quality displayed here, the group shows potential for making something greater in the coming years.

Read below what they tell us about the album and more.

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

Life’s good man. We’re really enjoying the moment we’re on now and trying to make the most of it, especially considering we have just released our first album.

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

“Weightless” is about a character’s journey, in which several emotions are expressed and explored. There are a lot of things going on throughout the album. We try to arrange music around big arrays of melodies combined with a very heavy sound, while keeping a general theme to maintain the concept and connection between the different songs. Our songs talk about how we’re all somewhat responsible for each others social environments, and we try to provide a perspective on that, so there are a lot of different kinds of emotions going on, that can change dynamically with the flow of the album.

What was it like working on the album?

It was very challenging, but it really paid off. Each one of us had a different input to provide and there was a lot of healthy conflict while structuring each song. We took some time to finish the album, and during that time we got to know each other better and grow individually as well. Bottomline, that allowed us to make the best possible music we could together, for now.

Impera - Weightless

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

We’re definitely trying to plan a tour around Portugal for starters and then go to other countries if possible. However, things are not as easy in Portugal as they may seem, and since we’re new to all of this, that process is taking more time than the ideal, but we’ll get it done.

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

That’s a very hard question, since there are so many countries we’d like to visit and tour. But we think, touring countries in Europe seems the most realistic for now, since we have all kinds of ease travelling. UK, Spain, France, Germany, The Netherlands pop to mind.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Musically there are many bands that inspire each one of us. We cover almost all genres in our personal playlists either be hip hop, classical, jazz, rock or metal. As a band probably bands like Lamb of God, Tool, Mastodon, Gojira influenced our song writing the most. As for the rest, we take inspiration from lots of things like nature, people or even our personal experiences from our day-to-day routine.

Impera band

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

Like we mentioned above, yes. There are a lot of different genres other than metal that we listen to. We couldn’t say exactly how those influenced our songs, but we definitely feel that each personal touch and ideas that were given to each song were a reflex of that variety of influences. Music always has an impact in people even if you’re not aware of it, so we can only assume that we’re no different and everything we hear makes an impact on our creativity.

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?

Listen to album, enjoy it and try to understand it. We’re really proud of our work and of what we achieved in the album and we would love that people could feel something with it, other than just be undifferentiated by it.

Barry Weinberg

Hear Barry Weinberg’s Single “Beyond the Astral Sky”; “Samsarana” Album out in January

South Florida based musician and songwriter Barry Weinberg is set to launch his Prog Rock influenced album Samsarana in January 2018, but the musician is today announcing the imminent release of the first single.

The single, “Beyond the Astral Sky,” is an anthem, gorgeous track with soaring vocals. The song is the first in the series of singles taken from Samsarana, a release that sees the musician exploring through a number of styles evolving around Prog Rock.

About “Beyond the Astral Sky” Weinberg says: “This song is very personal to me and actually one of the first songs I had ever written for the album.  For years, this was purely a classical guitar piece with lyrics that I would play on my acoustic, but as I started to record it, I started experimenting with electric leads over the acoustic phrases and vocals and it evolved into what it is today.

Lyrically “Beyond the Astral Sky” is about hope in the face of despair. As Weinberg explains:

It’s about that experience when you look around yourself, your life and the world you’re in, and get overwhelmed by the chaos, destruction, darkness, confusion, stress, hardship… and yet, in that moment of utter despair, you can look up at a star or into a child’s eyes, and although surrounded by darkness, you can begin envisioning a different world, a different life, a different future that’s inspiring, joyful, empowering. This is how we make change in our lives. This is how we make change in the world. Acknowledging and owning the darkest parts of ourselves and our lives that we hate and shifting our attention to a new intention, our ideal, our vision. It’s the light dot in the center of the dark part of the Taoist yin/yang symbol. This is where I was at when I wrote this song and this where the main ‘character’ is at in the story of ‘Samsarana.’

Stream “Beyond the Astral Sky” below. More information about the upcoming album Samsarana will be revealed in the coming weeks.

For more info visit Barry Weinberg’s official website.

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Fabrizio La Piana

Interview with FABRIZIO LA PIANA

Fabrizio La Piana is a guitarist and composer based out of Amsterdan, the Netherlands, and “Almond and Coffee” is his recently released album, where he, bassist Bernhard Hollinger and drummer Niels Voskuil deliver an extraordinary performances, creating a release that is both melodic and wild. There is certainly so much for everyone, as this album successfully combines Jazz with Prog Rock, making for a ride that’s exciting all the time.

Fabrizion talks for Progstravaganza about “Almond and Coffee.”

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

At the moment life is great, I am busy with promoting my album, composing music for a new project, and I am looking forward to have enough material for the new album!

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “Almond and Coffee”?

“Almond and Coffee” is an instrumental trio album with Bernhard Hollinger on bass, Niels Voskuil on drums and me on guitar. The songs are originals with improvised jazz solos and some rock riffs. The style of this album is a mixture of jazz, rock, and prog, I would say.

Almond and Coffee

What was it like working on the album?

I wrote these songs with Bernhard and Niels together; we shaped and refined them. It has been a really nice thing to do. I’ve enjoyed a lot to arrange my songs with them, perform them live, and then finally record them in the studio.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Almond and Coffee”?

I really hope so! For now I am working on a couple of promotional gigs here in Amsterdam and then will see.

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

I would like to tour the Netherlands and Italy first, as I think it would be the easiest to organise some shows in these countries.

Who and what inspires you the most?

I would say a beautiful tone and any musician with a beautiful tone inspires me.

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 started studying classical guitar, then I got into rock/prog/metal, and then into jazz and blues. I am pretty open to any style of music. I just have to like the songs; it could be blues, jazz or metal… They all had an impact on my playing/musical taste.

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?

Just wanted to thank you for asking these questions and many thanks to anyone checking out my music!

Visit Frabrizio La Piana’s website here.

Perihelion Ship

Review: Perihelion Ship – To Paint a Bird of Fire

A work of breathtaking creative breadth, “To Paint a Bird of Fire” keeps with Perihelion Ship’s tradition by transcending the limits of death/black metal and repeatedly shattering the foundations of conventional songwriting, to boot. Rarely does a band manage to break new ground without losing touch with its roots, but these Finns do exactly that with their sophomore release.

But the biggest difference between “To Paint a Bird of Fire” and the group’s debut “A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring” (2016) lies in the remarkably high songwriting standards achieved by main man Andreas Hammer.

To Paint a Bird of Fire

“To Paint a Bird of Fire” is divided not so much into songs as “movements.” Tracks start and finish in seemingly arbitrary fashion, usually traversing ample musical terrain, including acoustic guitar and solo piano passages, ambient soundscapes, stoner rock grooves, and Hammond-filled melodies — any of which are subject to savage punctuations of death metal fury at any given moment. Likewise, Hammer’s vocals run the gamut from bowel-churning grunts to melodies of chilling beauty — depending on each movement section’s mood. With all this in mind, singling out specific highlights is pretty much a futile exercise; but for the benefit of first-time listeners, why not start out with the colossal opener “New Sun,” the Mellotron-driven “The Sad Mountain,” the surprisingly gentle acoustic instrumental of “River’s Three,” and, finally, the all-encompassing closing “New Sun?”

Then, with patience (Perihelion Ship’s music is everything but immediate), the rest of the album’s grand scheme will be revealed. “To Paint a Bird of Fire” is surely the band’s coming-of-age album, and therefore, an ideal introduction to their work. This is a band to keep under your radar.

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Impera

Review: Impera – Weightless

Right from the opening track, Lisbon’s groove metal unit Impera showcase a level of tightness and technicality. Gustavo Reis’ vocals sound fierce as he switches between his somewhat decipherable lows and screeching highs. The guitar work is of a very good standard — riffs are well written, heavy and catchy. In terms of the drumming, Daniel Chen is very adept. Double bass patterns are superb and his choice of fills can be remarkable at times. The bass, courtesy of Miguel Santos, is audible.

Impera - Weightless

Album highlights include the brilliant “Five to Nine,” which features some superbly well written riffs. Weightless album continues with a melting pot of complex rhythms (both on the drums and the guitars) and ferocious vocals. Another album highlight comes in the form of “Lebensraum: Scorch.” This track is slightly slower in pace (focusing more on groove). But Impera keep the best for the end — the album finale “Grasp” is over 10-minute monstrous jam packed with melody, ambiance, crushing riffs, growls and screams. It’s the band at its best.

All in all, every track on Weightless is good. It isn’t a particularly long album but it has good replay value. Every song showcases interesting guitar riffs and solid (for the most part very impressive) drumming. Vocally, Reis is strong and creative with his delivery and lyrical ability. Whilst the guitars are impressive, it can be said that they tend to utilize a lot of gallop rhythms. Whilst this isn’t necessarily problematic, some could say that they could vary the rhythms a little bit more.

There are a lot of positive elements on Weightless. The production is great, the instrumentation is varied and the vocals are perfectly controlled. In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this album to any metal fan.

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