Odds & Ends – September 23, 2019

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a2161853656_10Band: Chaos Over Cosmos | Album: The Unknown Voyage | Genre: Progressive metal | Bandcamp

Chaos Over Cosmos’s debut album draws heavily from acts like Fates Warning and Symphony X. The music is fleshed out with lush synths. There’s no shortage of power metal cheese, both vocally and instrumentally. The songs themselves tend to be pretty long, but they do a good job of keeping the momentum up and not overstaying their welcome.

Score: 73/100

a0570910034_10Artist: Richard Henshall | Album: The Cocoon | Genre: Progressive metal, Progressive rock | Bandcamp

The latest album from Haken’s guitarist/keyboardist is exactly what you’d expect. There are tons of speedy, intricate riffs, and smart contrasts of metallic heaviness with moments of jazzy and poppy levity. The soloing is restrained, avoiding the common pitfall of virtuosic masturbation that you often find in this corner of prog. My one real complaint here is that Henshal’s vocals are pretty weak. His chops as a guitarist are solid, but his voice is often weak or strained.

Score: 80/100

a1901657252_10Band: Magic Pie | Album: Fragments of the 5th Element | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

Magic Pie are among the schlockiest, corniest, cliché-wallowingest bands in the modern prog rock scene, and this album sounds just like all their others. The music is jam-packed full dramatic vocals; needless, complex flourishes; disjointed hairpin tone and tempo changes; and an overall sense of self-importance. I could continue pillorying their music, and I do enjoy griping, but just there’s something about this band I’ve got a soft spot for. Through all their interminable cheesiness, there seems to be a sense of earnestness I find endearing. And sometimes I’m just in the mood for a little schlock.

Score: 66/100

a1686920452_10Band: Obsidian Tide | Album: Pillars of Creation | Genre: Progressive metal | Bandcamp

Do you like Opeth? Then you’ll probably like this band. They play a very Opeth-y brand of progressive melodic death metal. The instrumentalism is top-notch, and clean moments regularly contrast against the distortion and growled vocals. This band hails from Israel, and a few flashes of local folk flavor do arise, though they never linger long. The music here is pretty solid overall, but they sound so similar to Opeth, that it can feel derivative at times.

Score: 74/100

a2565288850_10Band: Orotoro | Album: Of Manatee and Siren | Genre: Progressive rock, Grunge | Bandcamp

Orotoro certainly have some stoner-y influences, but I feel that grunge is a better descriptor of what they’ve fused with progressive metal. Both the guitars and vocal style are reminiscent of Pearl Jam, but with far greater technicality and structural complexity. The songs here are powerful and bombastic, chock full of engaging riffs and inventive rhythms.

Score: 86/100

a2044231092_10Band: Toboggan | Album: Demo Sans Mot | Genre: Zeuhl | Bandcamp

This two-song demo is full of jazzy interplay between the bass, keys, and drums, and the rhythms section pulls off some especially impressive work. While the first song was a showcase of keys, guitar takes the lead on the second. The music feels impressively focused for all its wild instrumental wandering, though the second song could have been shortened up a hair.

Score: 81/100

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