Band: Avandra | Album: Skylighting | Genre: Progressive metal, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
After this band’s stellar debut last year, Skylighting has come as something of a disappointment. This is still a metal album, but only barely. They went in harder on ballads and gentle pieces, and the distinctive vocals—one of the strengths of Descender—wear thin on this record. All in all, much of the album’s atmosphere comes off as mushy and indistinct. There is some very good music here, particularly in the album’s second half, but this turn toward gentleness is disappointing.
Band: Dysylumn | Album: Cosmogonie | Genre: Post-metal, Progressive metal | Bandcamp
This churning maelstrom of an album relentlessly pushes forward with its crashing walls of distortion, enticing melodies, and unpredictable structural turns. Dysylumn blend the best textural elements of atmospheric black metal with a more urgent undercurrent. This is a pretty long record, clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, but it feels like it needs that length. It doesn’t meander or lose focus, but Cosmogonie does require patience.
Band: Mr. Bison | Album: Seaward | Genre: Stoner rock, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
This album turned out to be better than I expected. When I first started listening, I feared Mr. Bison was just another stoner-psych band that billed itself as prog despite playing run-of-the-mill desert blues. Despite being drenched in stoner fuzz, this album has quite a few sonic trappings more typical of prog rock, as well as some exciting compositional detours. There’s plenty of meat-and-potatoes stoner rock too, but the twists and turns keep it interesting.
Band: Pull Down the Sun | Album: Of Valleys and Mountains | Genre: Post-metal | Bandcamp
This group from New Zealand draws from that nation’s history and landscape to create a pummeling brand of atmospheric sludge. Both the aggressive, distorted moments and the clean idylls envelop the listener, and there’s a good balance between those extremes.
Band: Onségen Ensemble | Album: Fear | Genre: Post-rock, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
This melodic, fuzzy brand of post-rock has a distinctly astral atmosphere. The spacey wordless vocals and brass arrangements are evocative of early Magma. Jazz and chamber music influences are also evident here, and those elements are deployed artfully alongside the heavier moments. Certain aspects of Mike Oldfield-style new age music are present here as well.
Artist: Bobby Shock | Album: The Unforeseen | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp
The $15 price tag is a bit much, but The Unforeseen is a fresh album with a broad spectrum of influences. Bits of electronica, disco, and folk are present. Between Shock’s voice and his often-aggressive bass playing, this release almost sounds like a Chris Squire album. Ample synthesizers make everything feel lush and smooth, and they add a certain sonic continuity to an otherwise varied record. Shock displays skilled composition which is both cerebral and catchy.