Tag Archives: Featured

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.

Links:

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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.

Links:

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Söthis

Review: Söthis – Trails of Blood

Oakland’s Söthis proposes four excellent classic Death Metal songs with their re-released debut EP Trails of Blood. Yes, this EP was originally released in 2016, but was remixed and remaster and re-released in September this year with the band aiming for a fuller sound.

This is violent with extreme riffs and fast tempos but we also encounter great dark melodies. Trails of Blood is a pure album of old school Death Metal but with great melodies and naughty and disturbing ambiances. I like that fact; Söthis is maybe violent but the music of the combo is always melodic without being commercial.

Trails of Blood

This EP is perfectly produced, the performance of the guys is simply amazing and the artwork fits perfectly to the general ambiance of the release. There is nothing wrong to say about this EP actually, if you’re into Death Metal, you just cannot miss this release. The songs are four Death Metal anthems and we don’t have any kind of mistake in the album, this is just classy Death.

The only thing that I will add to this review is that I’m waiting for the upcoming full length album which should be released some time during 2018. Let’s hope that the band will follow this way; Trails of Blood offers a taste of things to come.

Links:

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Soul Enema

Interview with SOUL ENEMA

Israeli prog quintet Soul Enema have recently returned with the release of their second studio album “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” (reviewed here), which has been in the making for a number of years. The band collaborated with a few guest musicians, with the most prominent names being Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen and ex-Orphaned Land guitarist and composer Yossi Sassi.

Soul Enema’s keyboard player and composer Constantin Glantz spoke for Progstravaganza about the band’s origins, the meaning behind the band’s name, writing, inspiration, and more.

What made you go for the name Soul Enema?

No offense to the sensitive souls, but this damn thing serves the people. It comes to you in your sleep; it has wings of an angles and eyes of the world. Then you wake up and feel like a new man. That was a little secret, maybe I already told too much. The simplest answer is the obvious one – the name reflects what we do. It’s mainly about cleansing out the negative emotional stuff, which is a major catalyst for music and lyrics writing sometimes, and putting some soul into it – that’s how the creative process goes, roughly speaking. However, I can’t say we end up exclusively with the doom and gloom package – there is a whole palette of ways to channel different emotions, so there is a place for every kind of animal. Since we also have something that I would call “a punk element” and a (self)-ironic touch, there’s no real problem with using any kind of words and metaphors if needed. Maybe it’s a greeting from the era, when Rock, and Progressive Rock in particular, was influenced by an experimental forms of counterculture and had full inner freedom to push the boundaries in any direction, for better or worse.

How do you usually describe your music?

Well, it’s an eclectic ensemble for the post-post-hipster world of the late period civilization, so usually we face some problem with describing it. I could present it as anything from Abba to Zappa, from King Crimson to King Diamond – which isn’t miles away from the truth, actually. It has many contrasting moods, from melancholic to cheerful, pastoral, manic, satirical, absurdist, etc. It has many different ethnic influences; Europe, Asia, Africa, etc. Space or Psych Rock elements as well – I’m not sure which planet they come from. There is some Metal in it, though nothing too brutal to make your grandma really scared. Some “avant-garde” elements as well, but it’s still melodic and memorable enough for my four year old kid to sing along to most of those melodic lines and tunes.

Soul Enema

What is your writing process like?

Usually I create full demos in midi, and then revisit them to add or edit something in the composition. That’s the musical part. The lyrics mainly come afterwards, and generally they have a theme behind them; it’s not a “stream of consciousness”. The lyrics definitely have to sound good with the music, but sonic and rhythmic compatibility alone is not enough. The arrangements might be revisited during the recording process due to particular features of musicians involved. In example, we added more voice-like-instrument parts, and some sitar arrangements, when Noa and Michael became involved.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

There’s no single major inspiration, but I will provide a list of relevant connections, to make things more substantial: Devin Townsend, Ayreon, Orphaned Land, Faith No More, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Voivod, ABBA, King Crimson, Cardiacs, Eloy, Sparks, Black Sabbath, Secret Chiefs 3, Pelevin, Spengler, Machiavelli, Orwell, von Trier, Vasya Lozhkin, Ethiopian music, John Zorn, Guinea pigs, baboons, little kids, dear bollocks, Aral Sea, death, decay, techno death, death-grind with elements of hummus and paprika, life after death, and strangely enough – life before death. That’s just the beginning of the list, but I will have mercy on you!

What is your favourite piece on the upcoming album “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns”?

No way to tell, really. They all are different and essential elements of a puzzle. I can say that “In Bed With an Enemy” is a characteristic example of our serious side, and tracks like “Cannibalissimo Ltd.” represent our ultra serious side – the one you can’t even talk about, without including a serious amount of idiocy.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

What makes “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” different than other similar albums/artists in your opinion?

Look, it’s a problem to find albums that are really similar. Maybe if that was easier, I wouldn’t even bother to write music and lyrics this way. It’s done because this particular combination is what I miss as a listener, so it’s a pure case of “if you want to have it your way, do it yourself”. So, yep, it has different non obvious instruments, arrangements, this and that, but the more important thing here, is that it’s placed in a way that cuts through different dimensions. That’s how I see it, at least.

What should music lovers expect from “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns”?

The things that struck me the hardest, as a listener, were those where I didn’t expect anything at all. I just happened to be there at the moment when that music was playing, asking myself: “Wow, what the hell is that?! I’ve got to figure out the name of this band!” So, expectations are not really essential – you may just come with a clean sheet, no prejudice, hit the play button and let it flow. Hopefully we have already done the rest of the necessary work.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

“Damn, I would marry this record!” Seriously, any kind of emotions are welcomed. The only unwelcomed scenario is no emotions at all. We have many colors and moods there, so in fact, it’s perfectly understandable to experience all kinds of different things on your way through.

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

Life in the studio, of course – it’s far better suited to deal with an actual creative process, which is the main reason to engage in such a consuming activity as this kind of music-making.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

That’s a tough limit. Well, three albums for today only. Yesterday or tomorrow they may be different:

Cardiacs – “A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window” – this will do instead of a morning coffee. In fact, it might twist you the way no coffee would be able.

The Cure – “Pornography” – this will do for moments of sadness and desperation; after all it’s a desert island, not a five-star resort, so you are there to try and survive.

Pixies – “Bossanova” – this will do when I need some good-spirited easy going music. I thought of taking a Dillinger Escape Plan album to scare off the wild carnivore animals around, but… well, maybe tomorrow.

“Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” is out now and can be ordered here.

Soul Enema

Review: Soul Enema – Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

I’ve been struggling to find an album from this year’s crop of new releases that’s been able to hold my interest through repeated listens, but with “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns,” the latest after a very long wait from Israel’s Soul Enema, I think I’ve finally hit on something. The band’s first official release back in 2010, “Thin Ice Crawling,” was introduced as an album which takes risks, but with the new record which has been in the making for quite a long time, Soul Enema continued to work on diversifying and honing their sound.

Opener “Omon Ra” pretty much sets the tone for everything that’s to follow. “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” walks a line between progressive and power, with plenty of ‘70s style synths and a very strong Eastern influence. The band members work brilliantly together. The harsh vocals add a nice sense of gravitas to the album’s heavier sections, while cliché clean/harsh pitfalls are deftly avoided.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

“Cannibalissimo Ltd.” shifts gears a bit and has more of a prog rock feel, with a main riff that will definitely work its way into your head and some killer lead work.

“Breaking the Waves” is a largely subdued progressive affair with a driving chorus that’s addictive as hell. “Eternal Child” is a successful ballad with a symphonic line serving as a backbone and wonderful vocal performance by lead singer Noa Gruman. This tune also features Ayreon’s mastermind Arjen Lucassen.

When an album is mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren we expect good things, and “ does not disappoint. The various instruments, vocals, and percussion are all distinct and well defined in the mix, with nothing overpowered or underserved.

In the end, everyone else who’s a fan of more lighthearted progressive fare should also give this album a spin, there’s a lot to like.

Listen to the album here.

ART AGAINST AGONY Announce "Russian Tales" EP

ART AGAINST AGONY Announce “Russian Tales” EP

Germany-based collective Art Against Agony announce today their new EP titled Russian Talesscheduled for the release on July 22nd. The ensemble of musicians and artists combine different elements; their instrumental music evolves around progressive metal, experimental rock, jazz fusion and avant-garde.

Speaking about the forthcoming EP, the band commented: “The ‘Russian Tales’ EP gathers all of our experiences from our tour through Russia during the Siberian winter of 2016: Driving 12000km and playing 20 shows in 3 weeks was heaven and hell, with wonderful hospitality & delicious food, marvellous nature & wild animals, but also including insomnia, anxiety & social break ups.

To coincide with the release of the Russian Tales EP, Art Against Agony will embark on a tour across Russia in late July, followed by dates in Brazil in August. For the full list of dates see below.

Russian Tales is available for pre-order from Bandcamp (downloads) and Bigcartel (CDs). A video trailer for the EP can be seen below, and “Coffee for the Queen” single can be heard on Bandcamp here.

Russian Tales EP Track Listing:

1. Königsberg Präludium
2. Nothing to declare?
3. Tea for the Dragon
4. Coffee for the Queen
5. Saratov Incident

Art Against Agony – “Against All Odds Tour 2017” live dates:

29.07. Back Luny Festival, Russia
30.07. Kaluga, Russia
01.08. Yelets, Russia
02.08. Voronezh, Russia
03.08. Tula, Russia
04.08. Zelenograd, Russia
05.08. Saint Petersburg, Russia
08.08. Sao Paulo, Brazil
09.08. Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
10.08. Rio de Janeiro – Botafogo, Brazil
11.08. Petropolis, Brazil
12.08. Rio de Janeiro – Barra, Brazil
13.08. Sao Joao de Meriti, Brazil

Soul Enema

SOUL ENEMA’s “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” Out on June 23

Israel-based Progressive Metal band Soul Enema is announcing a release date of the upcoming album  titled Of Clans and Clones and Clowns. Out on June 23, the album is now available for pre-order from Bandcamp and iTunes.

The promising band’s second album represents an interesting and varied combination of influences, including 14 tracks mixed an mastered by legendary Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend, Paradise Lost, Symphony X).

Soul Enema has issued a statement on the forthcoming album saying:

Looking back it took a lot of time and effort to create ‘Of Clans and Clones and Clowns,’ and the final result brings the feeling of a real accomplishment. It was a long, complicated process, constantly laden with a myriad of good reasons to give up or compromise. It probably couldn’t be any different, as our goal was a mature, well-produced statement, consistent in quality throughout, and at the same time versatile enough in its various moods, styles and approaches.

A creative and diverse Rock/Metal album, exploring vast melodic and rhythmic territories — from ABBA to Zappa, from King Crimson to King Diamond, between East and West and way beyond — in true progressive fashion. Like any reflection of the world we live in, it takes a wild ride over a wide emotional spectrum: sad, funny, perfectly sane, totally insane, very direct, quite obscure, and everything in between.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns also features guest contributions from Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen, Yossi Sassi (ex-Orphaned Land, Yossi Sassi Band), Sergey Kalugin and Yuri Ruslanov (from leading Russian proggers Orgia Pravednikov).

The band commented: “We had a great honor of featuring the instrumental talents of these,  as well as other wonderful musicians. Our next aim was to ensure that all of these components  work in the final picture, and that’s the reason why we welcomed one of the best guys on the list to mix and master this work — Jens Bogren. It deserved the best possible treatment, just as you as a listener deserve the best possible quality. The mixing process was far from trivial, and it took some effort to shape everything our way – clear and powerful enough, yet not overproduced. So, if you like what you hear, please order yourself a CD, or the highest quality digital download, to have it the way we really meant it to sound – full-scale and uncompromising. We hope you will have your own exciting experience with the album!

Soul Enema released a few singles from Of Clans and Clones and Clowns,  as well as a brand new teaser announcing the album. See the teaser below.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns is out on June 23th, and it can be pre-ordered from Bandcamp or iTunes. Visit Soul Enema’s official website for more information, and follow them on Facebook.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns Track Listing:

1. Omon Ra

2. Cannibalissimo Ltd.

3. Spymania

4. Breaking the Waves

5. The Age of Cosmic Baboon

6. In Bed With an Enemy (ft. Y. Ruslanov, S. Kalugin)

7. Last Days of Rome

8. Dear Bollock (Was a Sensitive Man)

9. Aral Sea I – Feeding Hand

10. Aral Sea II – Dustbin of History (ft. Yossi Sassi)

11. Aral Sea III – Epilogue(ft. Sergey Kalugin)

12. Octopus Song

13. Eternal Child (ft. Arjen Lucassen)

14. Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

Soul Enema line-up:

Noa Gruman – vocals

Yoel Genin – guitars

Michael Rosenfeld – bass, sitar, violin

Dor Levin – drums

Constantin Glantz – keyboards, programming, songwriting, production