Band: Legendry | Album: The Wizard and the Tower Keep | Genre: Power metal, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
For all the hackneyed, cliché, sword-and-sorcery heavy metal imagery Pittsburgh’s Legendry evoke in their artwork and lyrics, the music is ambitious and inventive while remaining surprisingly accessible. They walk a fine line straddling traditional metal, power metal, and progressive rock with their speedy riffs, dramatic vocals, and soaring solos. The Hammond organ adds a distinct character that helps Legendry stand out from other traditional metal acts.
Band: Lucy in Blue | Album: In Flight | Genre: Psychedelic rock, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
These Icelanders clearly drew a lot of inspiration from Pink Floyd’s 1968-1971 period, as well as from more modern acts like Anekdoten and Astra. The music floats along at an unhurried pace, full of lush keys and soaring, Gilmourian guitar lines. They manage to work in their own unique twists to the music, and they did a commendable job of keeping the atmosphere of the album relaxed and flowing, rather than drawn-out and plodding. That said, at times I wish they’d been a little more daring. Parts of this just make me think I’m listening to outtakes from the Atom Heart Mother sessions.
Band: Orsak:Oslo | Album: Orsak:Oslo | Genre: Space rock, Krautrock | Bandcamp
Hailing from Sweden, this act plays music in a style somewhere between Hawkwind and Neu!. The percussion tends to be minimalistic, and the guitar playing uses impressionistic chords to provide a rich backing for the sparse lead guitar lines. While enjoyable for a song or two at a time, this act ultimately wears thin over the course of a full-length album. If you’re big into drone or post-rock, you might like this more.
Band: Tamam Shod | Album: Yek | Genre: Post-metal, Heavy psych | Bandcamp
This Polish quartet play a fuzzed-out, sludgy variety of metal with some strongly cosmic leanings. Reverb is laid on thick on the vocals, and the guitars snarl with satisfying texture and grit. Among the usual big walls of sound of post-metal, though, are technical passages which draw more heavily from math rock and jazz. There are moments where Yek drifts into some of the meandering stoner territory I’m not wild about, but it maintains its overall focus quite well.
Band: Thieves’ Kitchen | Album: Genius Loci | Genre: Progressive rock, Canterbury sound | Bandcamp
Genius Loci is emblematic of a lot of my problems with the current progressive rock scene. Thieves’ Kitchen quite blatantly base their sound on bands like Yes and Caravan. However, unlike the better bands of the genre, they do nothing to add their own unique flavor or update to it. This album feels safe and unadventurous, and it’s an overall uninteresting listen. I view them a lot like some of the biggest names in the current scene, such as Glass Hammer and Big Big Train. It comes off as technically skilled but anodyne. It’s faux-ambitious with its long songs that don’t say anything new or different. Then again, I’ve got rather heterodox views on Glass Hammer and Big Big Train, so maybe take my skepticism with a healthy dose of salt.
Band: Timeworn | Album: Leave the Soul for Now | Genre: Post-metal, Progressive metal, Sludge metal | Bandcamp
These Norwegians play a twisty, proggy variety of sludge metal highly reminiscent of Mastodon, which will likely also appeal to fans of acts like Gojira and possibly even Meshuggah. There are plenty of powerful, driving riffs full of raw aggression. The album ends especially strong. The last two tracks most fully embrace post-metal influences and show the band at their most adventuresome. Leave the Soul for Now is a bit longer than it needs to be, but the music is enjoyable enough that this isn’t a huge hindrance.