Tag Archives: Featured

Hybridism

EP Review: Hybridism – Hybridism

Debut releases are incredibly important for many reasons. It’s a risk for any label to release a debut album. It’s important for the band to nail their sound and deliver a product that will blow the minds of those whom listen to it. It’s also the first time people will be hearing the band for the first time and this is the sound they will remember. Fortunately, Hybridism’s self-titled debut EP is something that will benefit the band, more importantly the listener.

Hybridism-Hybridism

The four-piece from Belgium give us a technical, instrumental progressive metal sound that you will fall in love with. Incorporating an atmospheric sound within this fine tuned metal outing gives Hybridism a highly enjoyable and unique sound, making this a fun and over the top brutal listening experience.

Hybridism performs with ultra precise musicianship and technicality, these guys should be the front runners for your prog metal/djent needs in 2019. Guitars, bass and drum kicks are synchronized with triplets mixed in during the hectic technical riffing. Something is always going 200 mph on this record. The attention to detail and execution of the guitar playing is phenomenal. The guitar tone itself is incredibly heavy and audible. Bass tone is low and thick and it accentuates the guitar playing even more. Giving the overall theme and vibe of the EP a rich powerful sound. Song writing is exciting and powerful, giving off a long lasting appeal that will have me listening to it for a long long time.

Recommended songs of the EP are opening “Nova,” “Animal Has Led Us,” and “Anomalies.” The songs I didn’t mention are great as well but these few stand out with how effective and heavy the song writing is. Crunchy, deadly and psychotic. I love this release.

Grab the EP from Bandcamp. Follow Hybridism on Facebook and Instagram.

Scythian Fate

Review: Scythian Fate – Matrimony in Madness

I’ve been listening to Scythian Fate’s debut album “Matrimony in Madness” for close to two weeks now, and only now do I feel qualified to analyse and review it, such is the depth of the music on offer here. Even after countless listens, sometimes something new jumps out. At first it may seem like a very difficult listen, but if you persevere, you’ll come to realise it’s nothing short of spectacular. Big call when it’s the debut album from a relatively unknown band from a country that always has something on display.

What this album has that sets it apart from the majority of ‘brutal’ and ‘technical’ progressive metal these days is the atmosphere it conjures up. This is a bleak, vitriolic and ugly album, with a brilliantly dark atmosphere, something which is often missing from death metal these days. Scythian Fate may have the technique and musicianship, but it’s not the primary focus here. The brooding riffs, the hard-edged, suffocating production, acidic vocals, compelling guitar solos and crushing drum barrage combine to produce a sound that’s like no other band.

Speaking of the riffs, there is some amazing guitar work here. Tom Kotsonis and Nino Morano definitely give a performance they can be proud of. It’s not particularly flashy, but it will get stuck in your head. There are a lot of riffs on this album, the songs are very linear and don’t repeat passages very often. You won’t get bored in a hurry. The tend to mix up, harsh, dissonant patterns with passages of eerie dark melodies, the tranquil moments provide a good contrast to the fury that tends to be unleashed shortly after. The best example of this can already be heard in “Crimson Snow” and “Balkan Ghosts,” but there are other less obvious instances all the way through the album. Toby Heal’s vocal performance is nothing short of outstanding. His frenzied howls are the perfect compliment to the savagery of the drumming (which is programmed) and guitar work, and convey a real sense of hatred and anger. He does mix it up too with more typical growls and lower pitches, but in pair with cleans, his voice is a killer combo.

If you are tired of the amount of sterile, clinical technical metal bands and are looking for something with a killer dark atmosphere, full of real passion, how death metal should be, then give Scythian Fate a listen. It may take a while to appreciate, but I guarantee if you stick with it you will not be disappointed.

Scythian Fate - Matrimony in DarknessGet the album from Bandcamp.

Kalika

Review: Kalika – Data Religion

It could be said that Maastricht’s Kalika is one of the rare bands on today’s rock scene that bring such a fruitful mixture of progressive/experimental rock and dark, psychedelic rock. They don’t limit themselves to any confines in their music. While they are very technical people who can play with precision this doesn’t mean that the band goes and tosses around excessively long instrumental sections just to keep reminding the listener of their skill. Data Religion is the sophomore EP from the band, and it is a record that needs time in order to be fully comprehended. There are styles and musical circumstance that get explored on this release only.

Kalika - Data Religion

Backing somewhat dark themes and overtones is Prannay Sastry’s emotional and sorrowful voice which provides the ideal vehicle to deliver the words. When he sings about this mentally daunting matter, you believe the man. Another one of Kalika’s strengths is their ability to have complex songs that still manage to be under five minutes long. This allows choruses to become hooks, and don’t rely on uber skilled technique to impress. Like stated earlier, the experimental aspects of the music are well above par.

“Data Religion” is a great early release from a band that is still to say a lot.

Follow Kalika on Facebook.

Tales of the Bugaboo

Review: Tales of the Bugaboo – Eating Children Disorder

I’ve been listening to this album for close to two weeks now, and only now do I feel qualified to analyse and review it, such is the depth of the music on offer here. Even after countless listens, sometimes something new jumps out. At first it may seem like a very difficult listen, but if you persevere, you’ll come to realize it’s nothing short of spectacular. Big call when it’s the debut album from a relatively unknown band from a country that always has something on display.

Eating Children Disorder

What this album has that sets it apart from the majority of ‘melodic’ and ‘technical’ death metal these days is the atmosphere it conjures up. “Eating Children Disorder” is a bleak, vitriolic and ugly album, with a brilliantly dark atmosphere, something which is often missing from death metal these days. Tales of the Bugaboo may have the technique and musicianship, but it’s not the primary focus here. The brooding riffs, the hard-edged, suffocating production, acidic vocals, compelling guitar solos and crushing drum barrage combine to produce a sound that’s like no other band.

Speaking of the riffs, there is some amazing guitar work here. It’s not particularly flashy, but it will get stuck in your head. There are a lot of riffs on this album, the songs are very linear and don’t repeat passages very often. You won’t get bored in a hurry. The tend to mix up, harsh, dissonant patterns with passages of eerie dark melodies, the tranquil moments provide a good contrast to the fury that tends to be unleashed shortly after. Backing up the guitar work is a stellar drum performance. Riki’s drumming is technical, interesting, not to mention fast as fuck! He doesn’t blast a whole lot, but tends to use furious double kick and awesome cymbal work to create immense walls of sound. His cymbal work tends to complement the riffs a lot, following the same patterns, it’s a technique I’ve not heard all that often and one I’ve grown to enjoy. Naza’s vocal performance is nothing short of outstanding. His frenzied howls are the perfect compliment to the savagery of the drumming and guitar work, and convey a real sense of hatred and anger, something that ridiculous gutturals and pig squeals can never do. He does mix it up too with more typical growls and lower pitches, but in pair with cleans, his voice is a killer combo. Freaky Fred’s bass playing is lively and precise, he is audible and easy-to-notice.

If you are tired of the amount of sterile, clinical technical metal bands and are looking for something with a killer dark atmosphere, full of real passion, how prog death metal should be, then give Tales of the Bugaboo a listen. It may take a while to appreciate, but I guarantee if you stick with it you will not be disappointed.

Emanuele Bodo (band)

Album Review: Emanuele Bodo – Unsafe Places

The Italian guitarist and composer Emanıuele Bodo delivers a stunning guitar performance on his instrumental debut album “Unsafe Places”—an effort that sees the musician going as the album suggest to unsafe places, exploring fay beyond the progressive fusion genre. Although Bodo is most prominent on the record, the musician has gathered a full line-up featuring Carlo Ferri on bass, Davide Cristofoli on keyboards, and Mattia Garimanno on drums, who shine nothing less than the guitarist throughout the seven track release.

Emanuele Bodo - Unsafe Places

Even when Bodo is in the lead through various guitar solos, the rest of the band definitely are not shadow lurkers, but rather a constitutional part of “Unsafe Places.” I do like the fact that Bodo is keeping the album finely balanced between all instruments.

The jazz fusion / progressive metal combo is appealing and gets the juices flowing, especially when done as effectively as this. “Unsafe Places” is a surprisingly good debut by Emanuele Bodo, who obviously has what it takes in terms of chops and creativity. Let’s hope he keeps doing what he’s been doing.

Grab a copy of “Unsafe Places” from Bandcamp here, and follow Bodo on Facebook.

Whiteside's Daughter

Album Review: Whiteside’s Daughter – The Life You Save

Whiteside’s Daughter is a new name on the worldwide progressive rock scene. The trio based in Jackson, Mississippi have just released their debut, concept album The Life You Save about “James, the gay son of an Alabama Pentecostal preacher, who in high school rebels and falls in with John, his ex-Baptist atheist classmate and guitarist for a high school death metal band called Village Witch.”

The core trio featuring Stephen Poff on vocals, Brian Hughley on drums, and Steve Deaton on guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals, collaborated with a number of guest musicians to create blends elements of melancholy, the spirit of Scandinavian metal, Southern Rock and British progressive rock. All of this is true; throughout this record there is surely an omnipresent feeling of melancholy, which is mostly carried by the vocal harmonies and a variety of keyboards-related stuff.

The Life You Save is divided into two long suites (or Acts as the band refers to them). Each of these two acts includes interludes and full-fledged pieces of music that tell the story.

The main instrument on this record is the guitar, played masterfully by Deaton. The sound of guitar is well-rounded, the riffs are melodic and heavy, guitar solos are executed flawlessly. The interplay between guitars and vocals is another highlight. The term “virtuosity” has been a synonym for progressive rock for a while, but this release is focused on melody over the technicality.

With The Life You Save Whiteside’s Daughter hint that they have the knowledge and potential to make something good. At least, this record is far from being categorized as a “hobby album,” it surely needs to be listened and is not one of those “skip-over” releases. Give this album a chance and let the music speak to your heart, rather than your brain!

Endworld Halos album art

Review: Endworld Halos – S/T

One of the most gratifying aspects of exploring music is to be able to see how different bands, styles, and scenes interact with each other. Like a massive, breathing network, no band is an island, and every city is its own musical melting pot. Today, my gaze shifts to the city of Kuopio in Finland, home of a progressive rock trio Endworld Halos who have recently released their self-titled debut album.

It feels that Endworld Halos took time to produce an album that is well planned, well thought and well executed. “Endworld Halos” is an epic journey that is comprised of ten songs. Hearing the band place an emphasis on this kind of tried-and-tested longform composition is impressive. The band’s natural talents with writing, matched with the encyclopaedic interest in the genre make the least involving moments on the album a joy to behold.

While they never fully swing into prog territory, keeping their sights mixed on relatively conventional songwriting, the music is significantly flashier than the sort you’d usually expect in a purely melodic act. Endworld Halos boost their hooks with exotic instrumentation and plenty of dynamic changes. Even if the album aims to hit a lot of the same marks as conventional melodic rock, I seldom feel like I have their approach “figured out.” They take a conventional palette and harness it in a way that sounds unpredictable.

Endworld Halos offer some great songwriting—by the end of the first listen, I was impressed to realize several of the tracks already stood out in my memory. The opening, “Adjusting to Life” features great riffs. “Desperado Sundown,” one of the most crucial numbers on the album features such an amazing instrumentation that will definitely have the old school proggers give the band thumbs up; the band’s performance is impressive across the board. The music is intelligently arranged, giving some extra meat to the bones of the already-good songwriting.

“Endworld Halos” is a record that challenges and provokes. If anything, it’s that quality that makes the album among the best this band has ever done, and definitely one of the best efforts to be released in 2018.

Links:

Bandcamp

fayne-02

Review: Fayne – Journals

Hailing from Montreal, Fayne have been around since 2004. In the period from 204 until 2008 the band put out two EP releases, “You Took It All Away” (2004) and “Delivering the Final Blow” (2016), before they went on a hiatus in 2008. Five years later Fayne regrouped and in 2014 they launched their third EP “The Queen of Kings.” Last year Fayne returned with their debut full-length album entitled “Journals.”

Fayne play a brand of djent/progressive metal, combining ambient elements and delicately played clean layers over top of the stuttering and stabbing rhythms set in place by Meshuggah and SikTh. The difference is, the music feels much more lush and organic, setting themselves apart from the very mechanical sounding contemporaries who follow a similar formula. While the melodic djent thing isn’t new, Fayne manage to sound unique and fresh, thanks to the atmospheres and singing.

The vocal work, courtesy of Justin Furtado, on “Journals” is superb. The soaring vocal melodies and lyrics will definitely embed themselves in your memory. The screaming vocals are few and far between, but when they show up, they are in the right place.

Fayne - Journals

The guitar work is split between the dry and low polyrhythmic chugs and clean and melodic layering for ambiance. These two styles fit together in perfect harmony and create some wonderful soundscapes and textures. The bass is also very present in the mix, which is an added touch of brilliance. You can hear it slapping and popping along throughout the album, even taking a few moments here and there to be the focal point of the music from time to time. Listen to numbers like the opener “Grimspeak” or “Prototype”, and you’ll catch it. Oh, and the drumming is actually real, which is a nice change of pace for a genre that likes to program everything or play it through an electronic kit. This is one of the contributing factors for the EP not sounding like an overproduced machine.

As for the musical composition, “Journals” does feel like one song and flows through tracks logically when things take a change in pace or theme. Fayne can definitely demand the attention of the listener without having to drop a solo every few minutes. These guys know what they’re doing.

With the release of “Journals”, Fayne have moved out of the periphery (no pun intended) and into focus.

Links:

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Endworld Halos

Interview: Endworld Halos

Endworld Halos is a Finnish progressive rock trio who launched their self-titled album in October last year. Kimmo Utriainen answered our questions.

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

Life is great in the cold Finnish periphery, although slightly on the busy side as we speak. I’m active with around 5 bands or projects, recording music with three of them currently, so time is a bit scarce. Other than that, waiting for spring and the annual semi-hibernation to end. Finnish problems.

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

People can expect a highly versatile album that can be easiest described as dark prog. However, the music holds many kinds of tones from dark to luminous, natural / organic to metropolitan / futuristic, all the way to (post-)apocalyptic aural landscapes. A multi-faced creature struggling between optimism and pessimism, our music comes with beauty, roughness and surprise, taking the listener through a vast spectrum of emotions. Thematically speaking, the album can be thought of as a rather bleak one, but then again, I’d let the listener to find out if that really is the case. Although its backbone is in overdriven rock, our music has got its soft spots and certain sensitivity. So there’s a lot of elements hidden in our material for the listener to discover.

Endworld Halos album art

What was it like working on the album?

Personally, this album was really the first I have co-written with someone else (the musical dictator I’ve grown been). Hence, I could say this album was much about personal growth and learning how to merge my musicality with someone else’s. We didn’t set many limitations to what this band would end up being about, so the childlike feeling of everything being possible was the topmost sensation. It’s hard to describe, but that feeling can be very inspiring and liberating. With this mindset as the basis, me and Toni kept bouncing our ideas to each other during those, what, three or four years of writing, until we had an array of songs we were satisfied with. There was a surprisingly little amount of compromise we had to make between the two of us, the final arrangement part being a different case, heh.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Endworld Halos”?

Unfortunately no, as we have decided to focus on being a studio band. We haven’t played one single show, which of course sets its difficulties to making our name heard, but that’s something we have to live with.

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

If we toured, I guess there aren’t too many places I wouldn’t play, except maybe some specific backwater locations in our home country, heh. Just to avoid getting stabbed.

Who and what inspires you the most?

The inmost crevasses of my mind, soul and ego that I can access with music only form my primary inspiration. When I grab an instrument and start unfolding a song, it’s not usually a particular emotion or thought I wish to channel, but most often an abstract entity of its own that comes from these inner regions. Musically speaking, I’m fond of older proggy / less generic music and the fact that some people can or have been able to make music like this full time. I just find that thought very inspiring, and it has carried me through projects like “Endworld Halos”, even though I’m not dependent on reaching that status myself. It would be very enjoyable of course. Also, people who do what they please musically and artistically are an inspiration. People like that have always got it right, regardless of the genre.

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

Metal has been my comfort zone, so influences are bound to come from that direction. On the other hand, I originally learnt to play guitar to the music of the Beatles, the Shadows, the Animals, David Bowie and so forth, so my background is not in metal in the first place. The playing of Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Howe, Ed Wynne, Petri Walli and Denner / Shermann have definitely opened up most new aspects for me. Right now I’m shuffling weekly recommendations, Neil Young to be more particular. So almost everything goes, except for generic mainstream music. Of late, my ears have gotten a bit tired of noisy music, so I’ve been enjoying more subtle sounding stuff, although I have not turned my back to high gain music either.

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?

Thank you for the interview! Our self-titled album is available on Spotify, Bandcamp etc. as well as on CD that comes with a beautiful 12-page booklet with colorful photography and lyrics. You can get it from Record Shop X / Levykauppa Äx, so support DIY music and indulge yourself with some quality handcrafted Finnish prog while doing so!

“Endworld Halos” by Endworld Halos is available to order from Bandcamp.

CHINE_PROMO_2018_FINAL

Review: Chine – Like Vultures

Chine is a Swedish progressive death metal band with elements borrowed from Swedish death metal and progressive metal. They are about to launch their new EP entitled “Like Vultures” on March 2nd. Both musically, and lyrically “Like Vultures” has its dark side but never forgets to be melodic from the beginning to the end.

CHINE - Like Vultures

Singer Tintin Andersen has a great voice especially when it comes to clean vocals. A thick voice, ready to sing any kind of high pitched parts in a song. Which brings the release its power. Passages between growl and clean vocals are very well designed and executed. And more importantly they sound very tasty.

There are four tracks on the EP. Another highlight here are great and imaginative guitar solos. They are carrying the songs on a closer level to progressive metal and display the band’s influences, which range from old Opeth, Between The Buried And Me and Dark Tranquility.

It is hard to say that Chine bring something new to the scene, but without hesitation it can be said they brought a tasteful release, very well composed and executed. It highly satisfies the expectations from a listener.

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