Tag Archives: progressive metal

The Vision Ablaze

Interview with The Vision Ablaze

Progressive metallers from Copenhagen, The Vision Ablaze will remember 2015 for the release of their debut full-length “Youtopia” via Mighty Music. About the band’s beginnings, the album, and future plans, I talked with the band.

Where and how did The Vision Ablaze take its form?

The Vision Ablaze sprang from a black metal project – believe it or not! We had begun to write more melodic and progressive elements into the black metal, and simply ended up not fiting in with that scene. We wanted to do more of that – good melodies, clean singing, solos and progressive elements. So we changed it up and began building what became The Vision Ablaze a few years later. This was in Copenhagen somewhere around 2010 or 2011.

Let’s talk a little about your album Youtopia. How would you describe your music?

There are 10 songs on our debut album. They range from slow, clean and very melodic to gritty death-metal. Our music is not necessarily true to any particular genre, but contains several subgenres – what identifies our music is great melodies. You can expect a strong chorus and emotions ranging from anger to extreme melancholy. In more standard terms we’re most akin to melodic metal (or melo-death) with metalcore and progressive elements.

Youtopia

When you compare Youtopia with your previous works, could we say there are certain changes or progress in your sound? In which measure this album satisfies your standards currently?

Youtopia is our debut album – but we recorded two EP’s before that. The development is towards a heavier sound and feel. The time span is obvious from the technical aspect – we use more intricate structures and leads and the vocals are stronger and contains greater depth. In comparison to our previous works – Youtopia stands out as a great end result of years of work; it defines a sound and a way of writing music that we’re very satisfied with. There are many details on the album, that will keep a keen listener exploring the music on Youtopia – and we like to have both a very straight-forward soundscape, with an underlying finesse that adds richness to the songs.

And are you satisfied with where Youtopia landed?


We’re very pleased with the album. Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Aborted, Pretty Maids etc) has made it sound both extremely heavy and fragile too – a perfect balance of clean passages that conveys deep emotion and a wall of metal guitars and drums that sounds brutal as fuck… We wrote 15 songs for the album and picked the best ones to record. We recorded them at home before entering the studio so we could go through all the songs and change what we felt was necessary to make the songs great. We definitely feel we succeeded. It’s been receiving great reviews, so it appears our fans and the critics are really stoked about it too.

What are the themes you explore in your lyrics?

The main theme on Youtopia is a critique of power and authority. But also about a population that takes so much at face value, ensuring they’ll stay trampled beneath suffocating religion, politics and power structures. It’s about allowing illusions to remain truth and about trying to dismantle the fears that keep us from reaching a better state of being. The cover is a symbol of that – that we’re taught to choose blindly with dire consequences.

Marcus Gronbech
The Vision Ablaze released lyric videos. Do The Vision Ablaze lyrics reflect any of you guys’ personalities? Or do they hide stories behind?

We’ve got two lyrics videos out, and motion video too. The lyric videos vary greatly in their design, but tie in very well with our themes. Subversion shows clips from human history – both horrendous and sweet. The video actually features the first ever recorded kiss on footage – simply to contrast the evil of dictatorship and manipulating authorities. Peter made the lyric video and it reflects well on his view on the world.

Fear is a live action lyric video – we recorded it in one take with a cell phone camera in some buildings that were marked for demolition. It’s an homage to old horror movies and this gripping fear that cripples us. It actually features Christian sitting at a poker-table facing a dead man’s hand and Lars is hidden beneath the plastic wraps about 1/3 into the video. It also features Peters girlfriend, so we packed it with small Easter eggs which we’re obviously now spoiling…

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

There are several cool bands we can relate too – but our inspiration is more in broader terms: the world and our own emotions. We think a lot of metal is really about refusing to accept everything at face value and about conveying an abundance of emotion. It’s like poetry that isn’t afraid to be hard and abrasive.

Is there any band that has a real huge impact on The Vision Ablaze’s music?

There are several bands that mean a lot to us in The Vision Ablaze – but if we were to point out one band that has had a huge impact – it would be Killswitch Engage. Great songs with strong melodies and they’ve never been afraid to just be happy about playing metal – in a live setting KsE are all smiles and, it seems, gratitude. We care a lot about musicians that love what they do – that pour their heart and soul into their songs and relish being on stage. And KsE is a great example of a band who writes music that is both inviting, very heavy, intricate and simple at the same time – and a great mix of clean singing and screaming.

Where do you see yourselves in the future?

On the road! That’s the short answer. We’re working hard to promote this album – and we want to meet new people and play shows. We’re based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a small country and we want to be part of the world. We’re working on a small tour of Denmark and later in 2016 a European tour. In late 2016 or early 2017 we’ll write our follow up and continue to work to play and share our music with as many people as we can!

Kardashev

Interview with Kardashev

Progressive death metallers from Tempe in Arizona, Kardashev released their new album titled “Peripety” in 2015. The release received strong feedback from fans. I asked couple of questions about the album, scene, influences, gear, and more.

Hey guys. How are you doing?

We’re doing great! We actually got some rain in Arizona today, so we’re feeling pretty lively.

You released “Peripety” back in October. How do you feel about the release?

We feel pretty positively about the release, and the album itself. While we were writing it we were fairly certain it would be well received, and so far It has exceeded our expectations. Our fans have sent us some of the nicest messages and pieces of feedback. It’s really motivating! We’ve been shipping it out to more countries, chatting with people in places we’ve never been, and even found a few new friends to play games with online. The album release has really opened up some doors for us, as far as connecting with our fans. It’s been awesome, to say the least.

Peripety

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

It was hard. The writing process is always so wonderful, and for us it flowed really well. We all really connected in that regard. The tough parts came with all the parts of creating an album that don’t involve writing. There was so much planning for marketing the album, getting it to the right people for previews and reviews, setting a release date that wouldn’t conflict with other bands on Subliminal Groove Records, it was insane. These are all great opportunities and we’re thankful for them of course, it just gets very taxing. It’s true though, nothing worth doing is easy. We’ve really grown as a band and in our understanding of what it means to write music for an album, and so in the end it has been a positive experience.

How is the metal scene these days in Tempe, AZ?

The metal scene here is odd, to say the least. Its full of great bands and great people, but we’re a little short on venues. The venues that we have a great, don’t misunderstand us – but a lot have shut down over the years and as a result metal is a little less accessible. Our Bassist was out of the country from the time we played at UK Tech Metal Fest in July, all the way through The end of November – and so admittedly we’re a bit removed since we haven’t played a show in quite some time. We’re excited to get back into the scene because we’ve made some solid friends here. But AZ could definitely use some additional venues.

What is your opinion about the new wave of metal bands?

That’s quite a large group! The best answer is that there are some bands that we really enjoy, and others that don’t strike our fancy as much. We aren’t very good at keeping up with the newest bands just because there are so many. Music is a Beautiful thing and we’re glad that so many people want to make it. As long as most of these bands are writing honestly, and from their hearts, they have our support.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

We take a lot of influence from very simple things, such as landscapes and art that is done in a more minimalist style. Peripety is all about the ideas of letting go, accepting the beauty around you, and the idea that all of this is temporary. Those concepts took us back to nature, in that it is such a simple pleasure which is completely free. We tried to convey landscapes in the album art, the music videos, and even in the composition. Songs like Sopor and Lucido were written with the idea of clouds and large, empty spaces in mind.

Kardashev

What are you listening to these days?

There has been a lot of Atmospheric Black Metal playing. Bands like Mesarthim, Enisum, Selvans, and Lantlos all get a lot of playtime with us. There are the classics, which for us are The Contortionist, Aegaeon, and some Fallujah. We also listen to a lot of movie soundtracks, such as Interstellar and The Fountain. The score for Phantom of the Opera is breathtaking, and there are some very heart-wrenching songs in Les Miserables that we love. We really enjoy the more meditative side of electronic music, such as Shpongle, Emancipator, and Bvdub. We throw some Alt-J on from time to time, along with S. Carey and Jose Gonzalez.

Your five favourite records of all time?

Only five? There are three of us! we’ll have to do a few extra. In no particular order,

1. Melting Sun – Lantlos
2. Brother, Sister – mewithoutYou
3. Exoplanet – The Contortionist
4. Retold – Nest
5. Opus at the end of everything – The Flashbulb
6. Lateralus – Tool
7. L.D. 50 – Mudvayne

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you used to record “Peripety”?

We’ve been recording our own music since we started. Lots of musicians do these days, and it has always worked out well for us. All of the guitars are recorded using the Axe FX Ultra for guitar tones. We made the most use of it this time around after updating the tones for more bark or “djenty” sounds when needed. All of the songs were recorded using custom RC pickups, which helped us get the overall feel we were going for. Bass guitar was tracked on a Warwick Thumb BO 5 as line signal and then re-amped at Sound Lair with an Ampeg SVT-3 Pro and Ampeg 4×10 HLF cabinet. We try to record the best quality we can, incur as little cost as possible, and aim for simplicity. Here’s an overall gear list for the nerds among us.

Recording/Composition:
Reaper DAW
Reason DAW
EZ Drummer
Interface:
M-Audio Fast Track Pro
Guitars:
Fractal Axe Fx Ultra
Ibanez RG7321 with RC Intruder Pickups
Dunlop Jazz III Picks
Elixir Nanoweb strings
Monster Cables
Bass:
Warwick Thumb BO 5
Monster cables
Ampeg SVT-3 Pro and Ampeg 4×10 HLF cabinet
Vocals:
Shure SM7b for vocal tracking

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

We are already writing new material that build on the single we released before “Peripety”, called “IOTA”. We want to put out a couple of music videos, and maybe re-release our demo, “Progession”. We haven’t decided on that last idea, yet.

Any words for the potential new fans?

If you like our music, show it to your friends! We’re very honored to have your support!

“Peripety” by Kardashev is out now and you can get it from Bandcamp.  For more news from Kardashev follow the band on Facebook and Twitter.

Jeff Carter

Interview: Jeff Carter of Darkening

I have previously wrote about Darkening‘s debut album “Augür” here, and I felt that it was necessary to conduct an interview with the band’s mastermind Jeff Carter and find out what lies behind the music he brought into life through this release.

Jeff was kind enough to answer my questions in the interview below.

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

Life is going pretty well, actually. With the release of the album, I seem to finally have free time here and there to do other hobbies besides music.

Speaking of new music, you recently released an album. Are you satisfied with the reception you received for “Augür” so far?

Yes, so far, the reception has been quite great. There are a few music entities interested in hearing where I take things next, being as this was kind of a surprise album for older fans of mine – they are excited as well. Kind of a different musical approach than people are used to hearing from my earlier compositions, which incorporated input from other musicians (Deus Invictus, The Chariot, were some earlier work of mine).

Darkening - Augür

What is “Augür” about?

On a personal level, Augur is about many things…some of which I will not get into…but to basically graze the surface – nightmares, omens, and how they correspond to real life situations and events. I sought to capture the essence of what it is like or might be like right before something tragic happens directly to oneself, predominantly the feeling that you know deep down, via sickening feeling, that you or someone else has a cursed existence for the next few minutes. There are many stories that sort of link together a tragedy, or string of tragedies. Some subjects include a religious person seeking death after being misled by a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a girl who grows up in a government facility who finds out she has special telekinesis after the tests and unleashes the power on all humanity, and finally a person who is possessed with a spirit which makes him a werewolf, among other subjects. All stories are partially inspired by my love for horror movies, but interlaced with the fact that some things aren’t explained, and some things that happen in life can be quite creepy and unsettling. Darkening is the band that specializes on bringing that fear to music. The term “Augur” itself means “interpreter of omens”.

Jeff Carter
Are there any touring plans?

Not in the immediate future, being as we are a studio band. Of course as coverage, exposure, and fan base increases…so would our desire to support it with a live show.

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

I would really love to get out to the UK, Germany, Sweden….to name a few…

Who and what inspires you the most?

Mysticism, nature, heavy metal bands of the 70′s. Myself and the studio players on this album included, do not really like very many “newer” metal bands….we grew up on the 90′s death metal scene and kind of skipped back to old Black Sabbath. Of course music inspires us, inspires me…so I really won’t go into too much without sounding like just another musician in an interview…haha. Obviously my family goes a long way towards my inspirations. Lastly, Darkening is mostly inspired by pioneers in art and music…and by the fans.

What other genres of music do you listen to?

Lots of electronica (progressive house….I guess because it’s “prog”). Um….anything from jazz to reggae to 80′s pop. Anything can be entertaining if played with precision and done well. I am a huge fan of The Police, in fact, that is where a lot of my drumming influence comes from. And of course: Motorhead.

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

Huge Stewart Copeland (The Police) fan. I grew up listening to his drumming in the weird reggae time signatures, which kind of opened up the door for me as a kid to listen to bands like Rush, Yes, and Blue Oyster Cult. I learned to play “blast beats” when I was 12 years old after getting pretty hyped up hearing a Cannibal Corpse album I bought at the record store. Took a while, but after jamming with high school friends and acquaintances for years, I tried to step up my game on drums to a “professional” level – trying to make as few mistakes as possible. After all, if it wouldn’t sound good on an album…why bother playing? Perfection was key. With guitars, bass, and singing on albums…mainly got the practice in on other peoples’ guitars…and singing in my car when I was younger. It took years before I tried to test my vocals out in front of people. Also a pretty big fan of Opeth and some of the other Scandinavian bands out there.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

Just would like to say thank you to the fans for their support, thank you to Annie and all at Prog Sphere for what they do, and thanks to Progstravaganza for the superb interview. You all are great! Happy Holidays from the Darkening camp!

You can buy “Augür” from Bandcamp here, and follow Darkening on Facebook.

Shepherds of Cassini

Review: Shepherds of Cassini – Helios Forsaken

Generally our ears are accustomed to hear music that mostly originates from European countries or North America, especially when it comes to artists that play progressive rock/metal. Shepherds of Cassini are breaking that “rule” and reach out from very far New Zealand. The quartet is making music that could be described as post-progressive rock/metal with addition of space rock. The biggest trademark of this young group is usage of violin in their music. Although they certainly are not the first band with this instrument in the mix, Shepherds’ violin player Felix Lun makes the band’s sound incredibly rich and delicious.

 

The band released two albums so far. Their self-tiled album was released in 2013, and the other one is actually this year’s release titled “Helios Forsaken.” This recording is a must-hear album of 2015, as it comes with a strong structure and plenty of untried elements. Their songs are pretty lengthy, but no matter of that the band is capable of taking you into their world by spellbounding sound which doesn’t make you feel bored in any moment.

 

Shepherds of Cassini - Helios Forsaken
With “Helios Forsake” Shepherds of Cassini show that they pay a lot of attention to instrumentation. However, they also succeed in creating outstanding great vocal segments, courtesy of Brendan Zwan, wrapping up the predominant instrumental soundscapes. Usage of unconventional instruments is a big plus, and helps “Helios Forsaken” to stand out.

 

As an absolute favourite of this six-track release, I would single out the title track. It deserves to be named after the album (or the opposite). This piece is a bit darker than the other songs on the album, and it features a good unison of clean and growl vocals that I mentioned earlier.

 

Something fresh and innovative comes together with something we already love. And its name is Shepherds of Cassini.

 

 

Links:

https://shepherdsofcassini.bandcamp.com

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Jeff Carter

Review: Darkening – Augür

Atlanta based death/black metal band, Darkening is a project of composer, producer and drummer Jeff Carter. Darkening is one of those bands who know very well how to merge “soft” elements with dark music without killing its meaning with melodic death metal influences and ambient guitars accompanied with growls.

Darkening recently released their debut album titled “Augür.” The record feels like a medium that hides the feeling of loneliness in its forsaken sound. Not only the music, but also lyrics and artwork help to feel the darkness. Simply it can be told that the name of the band feels right.

Augür

There are nine tracks in total on “Augür.” It kicks off with a nice instrumental intro. In some parts of the album vocals are done in a death metal way, but drumming is more characteristic for the black metal genre.

“Augur” is not just a raw album. It also has its emotional side. This album perhaps summarises a part of one’s life. That is why I found it different and gave this album a spin. Check out this record if you are looking for a release that is aggressive, dark but also emotional.

Buy “Augür” from Bandcamp here. Follow Darkening on Facebook.

Turbulence

Review: Turbulence – Disequilibrium

Turbulence are a Lebanese progressive metal band and “Disequilibrium” is their debut album. This is progressive metal that sounds not too far removed from a modern version of 90’s progressive metal with a bit more of distorted guitar and melody. The music has a similar feeling and immersive quality, only updated for the present day. The songs are easily assimilated, with honey-dipped melodies and top quality prog metal riffing seemingly on demand.

Disequilibrium

Although this is the band’s debut, the performance is exquisite and their songwriting skills are highly developed and advanced. This is an album that is put together extremely well. The interplay between vocals, guitars and keyboards is well-judged and everything fits together flawlessly.

“Modern” progressive metal doesn’t always sound this professional, slick and polished, but there is still an edge here and a depth to the songs. Turbulence know what they are doing, and this is shown throughout the music.

Disequilibrium” is truly an enjoyable album.

“Disequilibrium” is available now from iTunes. You can follow Turbulence on Facebook here.

Drumm

Review: Drummond – Getting Comfortable EP

Drummond is a guitarist from New York who just released his debut EP titled “Getting Comfortable.” His music is largely based on progressive rock/metal and jazz fusion. For a debut release, “Getting Comfortable” sounds very professional and imaginative, it’s is a release that has a lot to offer.

Getting Comfortable

“Getting Comfortable” is almost completely an instrumental recording. It includes four songs that are centered around the mixture of jazz fusion and progressive rock, but there are also some other influences that add up to the overall taste. The EP seems to be balanced very well between the progressive and fusion parts, but the transitions between the two feel rather smooth than forced.

“Getting Comfortable” is mainly guitar-focused release, and Drummond does his job flawlessly. The closing song “Ecotone” also features Sithu Aye on guitar, who brings refreshment to the EP’s sound. The same song features Sara Donnellan on vocals who brings depth and breaks the “monotony” of an otherwise fully instrumental track.

Fans of jazz fusion and instrumental progressive rock will enjoy this record, and it’s one of 2015’s best newcoming releases. Give it a try without hesitation.

You can get “Getting Comfortable” from Bandcamp.

Prospective

Interview with PROSPECTIVE

Italian prog metal/djent band Prospective have come up with the release of their debut EP “Chronosphere” in March. In the interview below the band speaks about the EP, future and more.

How would you described your debut EP titled “Chronosphere”?

We guess Chronosphere is a mix of anger, melody and groove. The songs are very metal but also lovely! Syncopated grooves are also a main event in the ep.

What kind of gear did you use to record ”Chronosphere”?

Our EP is completely D.I.Y., we recorded everything in Flavio’s little room. We used a Line 6 toneport UX1 to record guitars, bass and voice. Guitars were dialed in pod farm, bass was D.I. and in Cubase we made the tone, voice was recorded with a classic SM58. For the drums we used Superior Drummer.

Prospective - Chronosphere

I wonder what inspired the story behind the “Increase” songs?

The first part is about a dream, the second is about 2 people toghether in space (or some sort of dream) trying to escape.

As a very young band, do you think there are things that need to be improved in music business to encourage new starting bands and artists? What are these things?

At the moment, for our genre, the music industry “is on the internet”. There are a lots of great bands and not-so-great bands out there, the trick is to have luck and to play something that no one ever did. Nothing has to be improved in the music industry in this sense, because is all about the people’s taste.

Prospective live

What are you guys up to these days?

In these days we will playing at a Metal-Fest in our town Bologna and we’re also pre-producing the last songs for our upcoming album.

Where do you see Prospective 10 years later from now?

We hope on tour with some great bands. We know a lot of young bands here in Bologna and Italy in general, maybe one day we will tour with them, it would be awesome!

Buy “Chronosphere” from Bandcamp, and follow Prospective on Facebook.

The Story of Progstravaganza: Fughu

Watch “The Story of Progstravaganza” Mini-Documentary Featuring FUGHU

Prog Sphere teamed up with Argentine progressive metal purveyors Fughu for a mini documentary discussing about progressive scene today, its future, bands and Progstravaganza. Watch the video below.

We have recently announced the first Progstravaganza CD edition, that will include many great features. First of all, besides the sampler in digipack, this compilation will include a printed version of the Progstravaganza magazine filled with interviews, reviews, specials, commentaries, and more. The smiler will be distributed through mail-order stores, labels and distributors all over the world. One of the bands off the sampler will get an opportunity to release an album through Prog Sphere. The selection of the band will be managed through a public poll, and the band that wins most votes will be the winner. Also, all bands-participants of the sampler will be promoted through Prog Sphere Promotions for the period of six months.

Artists interested in taking part on the physical edition of Progstravaganza compilation can e-mail Prog Sphere at info@prog-sphere.com

Progstravaganza XIX: Convergence

Progstravaganza XIX: Convergence Out Now

The nineteenth edition of Prog Sphere‘s Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation series brings 39 bands. 38 bands are for the first time on the Progstravaganza compilation, as Eyot previously took part on Progstravaganza VI. Having said that, there are 430 bands in total that paraded through the Progstravaganza compilation series.

Progstravaganza XIX is titled Convergence, and the album art was once again done by amazing artist Chris van der Linden from LindenArtwork. Speaking about the sampler’s name and design, Chris said:

With the successful Progstravaganza sampler series nearing its 20th edition milestone, we thought it would be nice to call this edition Convergence. Things have been gradually come into form, getting better with each release. Prog Sphere and all the bands have continued to work hard to deliver something stellar with each new compilation, and I wanted to reflect that journey and grand feeling into the artwork. Something mysterious is going on, something big, pulling strong, drawing ever closer…”

As you noticed, we are nearing the 20th edition in the series, and we are thinking of doing something special for that occasion. The bands interested in taking part on Progstravaganza XX (to be titled later) can contact us at info@prog-sphere.com

But for now, let’s focus on Progstravaganza XIX and great 39 tunes it brings. Check them below and head over to our Bandcamp to grab this sampler.