Band: Abstracción | Album: Abstracción | Genre: Progressive rock, Psychedelic rock | Bandcamp
The debut EP from this Spanish septet draws heavily from the sound of Jethro Tull’s early material, and the liberal inclusion of sitar adds a late-‘60s psychedelic folk feel to the mix. Swirling Hammond organ and echoing electric guitar lines keep the atmosphere lush, while vocalist Catalina Requena’s willowy delivery occasionally bleeds into the instrumental elements. Each song is distinct, but the tonal continuity between the pieces keeps this recording cohesive and coherent.
Band: Ars de Er | Album: La Métamorphose | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp
I’ve run across more Belarusian prog bands while writing for this site than I ever anticipated. The latest of these is the one-man act Ars de Er, which incorporates hefty doses of classical and jazz. Strange harmonizations predominate on La Métamorphose, drawing comparisons to the original big names of avant-prog and RIO. Heavy, metallic guitar lines underpin moments of furious soloing and chaotic rhythms. The atmosphere on this record is oppressive. The strange, diminished chords and haunting keyboard textures make for an anxious, claustrophobic feel.
Band: Frogg | Album: The Golden Path | Genre: Progressive metal, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
Do not confuse this Italian Frogg with the identically-named NYC-based death metal band I covered earlier this year. This Frogg, though also ultimately death metal-based, is more melodic, with frequent clean passages. Post-metal-style walls of noise are a common occurrence. The nearly half-hour “Hostile Forces” suite is an impressive composition brimming with tonal contrasts and diverse sound palettes. The closing epic “Melting Souls” is a bit too clean and melodic for my taste, and the finale feels overwrought, but the preceding pieces manage to elevate this record.
Band: Krallice | Album: Mass Cathexis | Genre: Progressive metal, Post-metal | Bandcamp
Avant-garde metal stalwarts Krallice have released their ninth full-length album. Mass Cathexis is a swirling storm of harsh guitars and chaotic drumming which often becomes blurry and impressionistic, channeling post-rock and post-metal. These ambient metal tendencies are counterbalanced with plenty of gritty, grinding black and death metal passages. While enjoyable overall, some of the quieter, more atmospheric moments lack momentum or a clear purpose, leaving them aimlessly adrift for a few minutes at a time.
Band: Obskyr | Album: Obskyr | Genre: Progressive rock, Zeuhl | Bandcamp
Obskyr are a Swedish instrumental act who lie about midway between Änglagård and Magma. While rooted in more traditional progressive rock, there’s a dark, experimental edge running through these seven songs that would fit in well in the zeuhl scene. Jazz and folk tinges crop up frequently, and the guitar playing is often idiosyncratic. “Anti Shadows” even draws from surf rock for a fun, spooky experience.
Band: Stop Motion Orchestra | Album: Hydnora | Genre: Progressive rock, RIO | Bandcamp
Most of this EP is taken up by the nearly-11-minute “Blue Fog”. It begins as a folky, jazzy number replete with violin and vibraphone. As it progresses, though, it gradually grows darker. Buzzing electric guitars gnaw away at the edges, and soon the remainder of that initial folk sound has fallen away. Discordant violin skips over top of an irregular, distorted riff. A bit past the midpoint, it dissolves into a drone experiment, full of lush synth tones and odd sonic textures, though it closes on a reprise of its opening theme. There are two short songs as well. “Spaghettification” veers too much into the realm of avant-garde for me, and it feels scattershot and unfocused. “On the Floor”, meanwhile, has madcap, Koenjihyakkei-style vocals, an energetic pulse, and a fantastic sax solo.