Tag Archives: prog metal

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

Mute Prophet

Interview with MUTE PROPHET

Mute Prophet is a symphonic prog metal band from St. Louis who in December 2016 released their debut album “The Unheard Warning,” and already in March this year they re-released it with the remixed version of the album, simply because they were not satisfied with how the original mix turned out. Kevin Goetz, Chris Tompkins and Adrienne Odenthal spoke for Progstravaganza.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

All: We’re good!

Your debut album “The Unheard Warning” was put out in December. How do you feel about the release?

Kevin Goetz: I’m happy with it, especially after the remix we did in March. I did the mixing and mastering myself – we recorded everything at our home studio – so I had some personal grievances with the production on the December release that I later corrected, but as for the songwriting and the recorded performances, I’ve always been incredibly satisfied.

Chris Tompkins: It’s unreal. It’s one of those things where we’ve been trying to do this for so many years, it kind of hasn’t clicked yet that we finally have an album out.

Adrienne Odenthal: To me it’s like being past the first hurdle. Kind of the celebratory moment where now we can start on all our other plans without saying, “Well, we should probably save that for after the album’s done.” It’s not planning anymore, it’s action.

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

Kevin Goetz: It was incredibly challenging. We’ve been trying to put this thing together for going on six years now with a bunch of line-up changes and style changes and stuff like that, and finally in December of 2015 we decided to scrap everything, build a top-of-the-line PC, drop all other musical obligations and spend the entire year just working on this.

Chris Tompkins: And up until 2014, it was only me and Kevin working on this. Our previous members didn’t contribute much of anything, so the creation of this album was really just us for a long time until Adrienne joined.

Adrienne Odenthal: It was extremely challenging for a lot of unexpected reasons. We had countless technical difficulties, including having multiple hard drives fail and take a lot of the recordings with them that we’d have to redo. There were a lot of small details that none of us anticipated, that we had to improvise solutions to before we could progress. I also went and learned marketing, graphic design, merch creation, and a lot of other side jobs that we still had to do ourselves, while Kevin worked on the mixing and production side of things.

The Unheard Warning

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from St. Louis are you friends with?

Kevin Goetz: We actually haven’t met any other bands in our genre, believe it or not! We’re kind of the musical equivalent of that reclusive kid who stays home from all the parties, though hopefully once we start touring we’ll have more chances to network with other bands.

Chris Tompkins: Yeah, I really think it’s just that we haven’t gotten out there much yet. There are plenty of bands we’d like to meet, at least. We saw a local band, Final Drive, open for Children of Bodom at one point, and that was really cool.

What is your opinion about the current progressive metal scene?

Kevin Goetz: Personally, I love it! I think that because anyone can now release an album out of their bedroom, without having record labels as gatekeepers, anyone now has more of a shot at success than has ever really been possible. I actually teach music on Youtube and Skype, and I get a lot of students talking about how they’ve experienced this themselves. Basically, if you’re good at what you do, you can make it. Success is entirely on your own merits now, and that’s incredibly encouraging to me.

Chris Tompkins: I’m really happy with it. There are so many people out there now making really good music. It’s kind of intimidating, but it’s also cool because there’s always someone to learn from. It felt like, about ten years ago or so, metal was kind of stagnating a little bit. The progressive scene wasn’t quite there yet. But now, it seems like prog is moving more and more into the major overall metal scene.

Adrienne Odenthal: I feel like it’s going in a really interesting direction. Everyone’s experimenting in different ways to find something that hasn’t been done before.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

Kevin Goetz: In terms of songwriting, I get a lot of influence from symphonic metal bands like Nightwish and Epica, mixed with the guitar work from bands like Periphery or Animals As Leaders. In terms of my actual guitar playing, I think my biggest influences are Alexi Laiho, Rusty Cooley and Herman Li.

Chris Tompkins: Paul Gilbert, Michael Romeo, and Kiko Loureiro are probably the big ones for me.

Adrienne Odenthal: I’ve spent a lot of time studying the vocal styles of Floor Jansen and Simone Simons, and my main influence on growling is Angela Gossow.

What are you listening to these days?

Kevin Goetz: I’ve been trying to get more into modern metal, since I realized I’ve been kind of stuck in 2006 with my musical tastes. So I’ve been looking into bands like Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya and the like, but I still spend most of my time listening to my “classics,” stuff like Epica, Children of Bodom, Dragonforce, Shade Empire or Nightwish. A lot of Finnish stuff.

Chris Tompkins: Periphery, Animals As Leaders, Jared Dines’ solo album…I haven’t had a whole lot of time lately to listen to much music.

Adrienne Odenthal: Children of Bodom, Nightwish, In Flames, Epica, Shade Empire, Periphery, Delain and Revamp.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Kevin Goetz: Sinthetic by Shade Empire, Once by Nightwish, Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, Inhuman Rampage by Dragonforce, and The Divine Conspiracy by Epica.

Chris Tompkins: Iconoclast by Symphony X, Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, Rebirth by Angra, Technical Difficulties by Racer X, Inhuman Rampage by Dragonforce.

Adrienne Odenthal: Follow the Reaper by Children of Bodom, The Jester Race by In Flames, Oceanborn by Nightwish, Sinthetic by Shade Empire, Holographic Universe by Scar Symmetry.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “The Unheard Warning”?

Kevin Goetz: We used Reaper for all recording and mixing, with everything coming through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Drums are Toontrack’s EZDrummer, guitars are LePou’s free guitar plugin Legion, orchestra/keyboard are a collection of free soundfonts I’ve assembled over the years, and the vocals were recorded through a Sterling ST51.

Chris Tompkins: Kevin plays a Schecter C7-Hellraiser, and I actually use a custom-built 8-string that we’ve had ambitions of prototyping into our own guitar brand. Strings were I think Ernie Ball Power Slinkies. I think we mostly used 2mm Dunlop picks, but I think I used a 1.5mm on a couple of my solos.

Adrienne Odenthal: My vocal cords, and Monster coffee…which I probably shouldn’t be drinking as often as I am.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

Kevin Goetz: Actually, we’re already working on our second album, and we’ve also started planning covers of similar bands, to try to get our music in front of a larger audience. I’ve also been using my music lesson channel on Youtube to try and do some additional promotion.

Chris Tompkins: We’ve also been sitting on a documentary that details the creation of the album, which is something we’ve had fans express interest in.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Kevin Goetz: If you haven’t heard us before, and you’re interested in symphonic metal with a modern progressive twist, check us out on Spotify or Bandcamp.

Chris Tompkins: Or Youtube. And thanks for reading!

Xeno

Interview: XENO

There is another cool band coming from the land of windmills. And weed. They are called XENO, they serve uncompromising prog death metal with tech tendencies, and they came up with their debut album “Atlas Construct” this year.

I talked with the band, and here is what they tell about their work.

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

Life’s good. There are a lot of cool bands out there right now, so life’s good. We hope you can say the same! Thanks for asking.

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

Well, yeah! We just got our album out recently. On it you’ll find a handful of songs with styles ranging from death to groove, melodic, black, whatever. Expect an album without boundaries set genre-wise. We wanted our album to represent ourselves, and we think we pulled it off.

Xeno - Atlas Construct

What was it like working on the album?

It was fun, but hard work. This is our first recording attempt, and with it came challenges never faced before. Luckily for us it worked out in the end so here it is. The band has it’s base in the south of the Netherlands, but not every member lives there. Due to that, recording fulltime proved to be difficult, so we had to improvise sometimes. All lessons learned made us wiser in the end. We know what to do and what not to do now.

Are there any touring plans in support to “Atlast Construct”?

At the moment we are playing some clubs and a festival here and there. No tour booked or planned. We are going to try to organise a tour next summer, hopefully in one of our neighbouring countries.

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

An ultimate dream would be Japan, we love the culture there. America would be great as well, since not everyone in the band has been there yet. The vastness really appeals to us. Sightseeing aside, we would play in any country if the people there share our energy.

xeno_band

Who and what inspires you the most?

We try to be selfproviding with inspiration. Of course this is difficult to maintain since there are a million things going on around you. Most of our ‘outside’ inspiration comes from other bands we listen to. I’m referring to bands like Lamb of God, Xerath, Meshuggah, Gojira, that kind of stuff.

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

We listen to a lot, haha! Ranging from black metal to jazz, or even blackjazz (Shining, anyone?) we find ourselves drowning in a forever refilling pool of awesomeness.

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?

This is not the time for life advice I guess. If it is, don’t stare directly into the sun, you’ll go blind.

Don’t give up on metal.

Period.

Links:

xenometal.com

Bandcamp

Facebook

Xeno

Review: Xeno – Atlas Construct

Xeno is a melodic death metal band from the Netherlands. The band came together in 2012, and they released their debut album this past summer titled “Atlas Construct.” A promising piece, with various different elements blended together. It could be easily said that “Atlas Construct” forces the limits of the melodic death metal genre. Different nuances all around give the record its uniqueness.

No matter of it being classified as melodic death metal, “Atlas Construct” collects lots of elements that are coming from other genres such as symphonic and progressive metal. Because of that, the record gives almost a theatrical vibe. All that is wrapped up with prog metal riffs and structure.

Xeno - Atlas Construct

“Atlas Construct” has eight songs in total. The first track is a symphonic intro which actually hints on what awaits ahead. Until the sixth track, each song comes as quite steady melodic death metal piece with many visits to the prog metal camp. With “Construct Part II: Columns Of Creation” the sound eases a little bit, branching out towards more down-to-the-ground vibes. Well-thought melodic lines on “Atlas” definitely single out this piece as one of the highlights.

Melodic, progressive, heavy and cinematic — that is how I would described this debut effort by Xeno. Highly recommended.

Links:

xenometal.com

Bandcamp

Perception

Interview with PERCEPTION

Over the last couple of years, since I’ve been writing about albums, I’ve had quite a few opportunities to listen some really great records. One such record, precisely an EP titled “Collapse” by UK metallers Perception was recently given to me, and I’ve been listening it from front to back quite a lot.

In the interview below, the band members tell us about this stunning piece of music, so make sure to press the play button below and indulge yourself.

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

Life’s pretty good right now, Collapse has had a great reaction and we’re super appreciative for that. We’re currently having some beers and talking over plans for the next 6 months.

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

Some songs are more melodic, whilst some songs are straight up heavy, the EP really varies across the board and it shows our writing process evolving over a space of 2 years.

Perception - Collapse

What was it like working on the EP?

It was quite a long process. We finished writing the EP about December 2014 but we had to postpone its recording & release because of line-up changes. But in hindsight I think it worked out for the better.

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

Yes. I hate to be boring but we can’t reveal anything just yet but we’re in talks with some really cool up and coming UK bands.

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

Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan and maybe the USA, so long as Trump doesn’t become president.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Tom Searle. RIP.

Perception

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

Al – Aside from metal, I’m a massive hip-hop fan, artists like Kendrick Lamar, J-Cole and Dr Dre are some of my go to artists in the genre. Some of my favourite releases metal wise over the last year includes bands like Silent Planet, they’re killing it currently. My everyday listening can vary massively though, from Kendrick all the way to Justin Bieber (sorry not sorry).

As far as influence on my playing, allot of funk bassist push me to make my playing as groovy as possible. But still keep it appropriate for the music we play. Also Dirty Loops bass player is fucking sick. If you don’t know who they are, go check them out right now.
My musical taste is a bit of mess if I’m honest.

Will – enjoying a bit of Mars Volta and Porcupine Tree at the moment. Also loving a bit of Creeper too and Normandie (check both of them out). In the past I’ve been a big fan of alt-rock and indie i.e. Arctic Monkeys, Foals and Foo Fighters.

Paddy – Massive Ellie Goulding fan (Pre-Delirium, wasn’t a fan), so a lot of her. There’s also this weird indie (ish) band called Agent Fresco who Simon (UK-Tech Fest organiser) showed me and I’m still rocking their latest album ‘Destrier’. Pink Floyd’s Animals and Oh Wonder’s self-titled. All these things definitely effect my playing, perhaps not in the way you might expect, but it does.

Ben – My music music taste varies massively. Im currently well into The King Blues after seeing them at Reading, big on those chilled vibes. As a vocalist I appreciate good singer/songwriters but it varies from Michael Buble to Genesis, to soundtrack music, to nails! Listening to all these different styles has a massive effect on my writing and performance as it opens my mind up so much!

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?

Shove our EP in your ears ‘cause it’s so bad it’s good.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

YouTube

Twitter

Vitruvius

Review: Vitruvius – Above The Silvered Sky

There are symphonic metal bands, power metal bands, progressive metal bands, classically influenced and trained metal musicians. Then there are bands that know how to take all those elements and disciplines and perfectly balance them into their own unique sound. This is what Mexico City’s own Vitruvius have done on their second full-length Above The Silvered Sky.  Founded in 2007, Vitruvius have gone through several line-up changes over the course of almost ten years, but the current and the most steady line-up features Dulce Robles on vocals, Oskar Villarreal on guitars and bass, and Ronnie Rodriguez on drums.

Above the Silvered Sky

It was sharing stages and hours of rehearsals that gave the band that unique quality to forge their own sound that would manifest itself into one of the strongest albums I have heard in 2016 so far. It was if they have taken a concerto orchestra and transcribed it on to heavy guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Not like an opera but like a supporting multi piece instrumental orchestra in the supporting act of a musical.

Although the tracks seem short in length at times, the listener still has a epic listening experience through various time signatures and change progressions. There is always a hook or unpredictable harmony or melody around the corner of every track on the album. The harmonies are executed with clarity and the instrumental melodies compliment those harmonies with grace and poise. The rhythm sections are insane and tight in some places. Vitruvius is definitely a band for fans of symphonic, melodic, progressive metal with influences of jazz fusion.

Vitruvius online:

Bandcamp

Facebook

Tribal

Review: Tribal – Tribal EP

Tribal is a new band on the international metal scene which combines modern metal sound with traditional Brazilian music. Massive riffs accompanied with djent and influences of metalcore add to the variety.

Their debut self-titled EP was released this past February. It includes six songs and it is a little longer than 30 minutes. The EP starts with “The Age of Frustration.” The song has an epic intro, which directly parts the album from a “classic” djent work. Well thought piece that gives variety. What ultimately grabs listener’s attentions in all songs are guitar solos which often change direction towards more traditional heavy metal sound.

Tribal EP

The thirrd song “Unconditional” also has a different atmosphere that makes the band’s sound separated from the other acts. Additionally there are clean vocals in this one; we could describe this piece as ‘slow’ and maybe we could keep with the word epic a little bit more. This song changes your mind completely about where Tribal are headed to. In the end, everybody loves new, different and well made things.

Tribal is a metal release that didn’t forget its heavy metal roots and with tons of different influences it makes for sure that this band has a lot of potential for something greater.

Soulhenge

Interview with SOULHENGE

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

It’s great, thanks! Enjoying it as much as we can.

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

Right. Well you can expect a dense mixture of heavy but also beautiful elements, creating ambiences that we want to hit you right in the feels. The overall sound is heavy low and tight, yet pretty warm. You will hear proper screams and shouts but also clean vocals, our vocalist has a pretty impressive range. We put a lot of effort in those 4 songs, so I think you can look forward to structured and detailed music, which is interesting to analyse but on the other hand easy to listen to.

What was it like working on the EP?

The songs were actually written instrumentally in 2014 and 2015 already. A new vocalist joined about a year ago so we had to integrate him first into our workflow. So the EP did not pop out suddenly, but was formed over several months and took final shape in January this year. We had to deal with members studying in different countries, it may slowed down the process slightly, but it worked anyway and it was a lot of fun!

Anachronism EP

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

Unfortunately not. We will play local shows for now and use the opportunities that the internet provides us to spread our music across the borders.

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

As a first tour, the Benelux area or Germany pops into our heads! Maybe some day, we could tour across countries like Japan or so, that would be mindblowing.

Who and what inspires you the most?

Of course we got our favorite bands that influence us the most, Monuments, Tesseract, Erra, Veil Of Maya… you name them. But what is also very inspiring are concerts. Being backstage, having a great time on stage with a cool crowd and receiving kind feedback is something that keeps us going and inspires us a lot!

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 am personally diving a lot into stuff like Plini, Snarky Puppy and similar stuff recently, and I think it has a fairly big impact on my writing. The other members also listen to a lot if different genres, be it 80s rock, electro or even classical. This keeps your mind fresh.

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 very much for having us, it was a pleasure! Well, what can I say… enjoy whatever music you like, it should be able to colour your grey days!