Band: BaK | Album:Crater | Genre: Progressive rock, Progressive metal | Bandcamp
BaK is a bombastic Australian act which blends the sound of acts like Pain of Salvation and Dream Theater with Middle Eastern instrumentation and rhythms. The closest parallel to BaK is probably the Tunisian power metal act Myrath, though some of the weaker moments on this EP do remind me of Grorr. The integration of those more exotic influences is done better than most acts who attempt similar genre fusions, but it’s still really tough to not come off as corny.
Artist: Christian Cosentino | Album: Lawn | Genre: Progressive metal | Bandcamp
This proggy atmospheric black metal album makes extensive use of lush, programmed orchestration. Many parts of this record feature piano as a co-lead instrument alongside guitar, and strings are almost always present. Normally I’m not the biggest fan of this type of arrangement, but I credit the success here to the fact that he went in a more atmospheric direction, instead of something more traditionally proggy, technical, and overblown.
Band: delving | Album: Hirschbrunnen | Genre: Post-rock, Krautrock | Bandcamp
This is the solo debut from Elder’s guitarist/vocalist, Nick DiSalvo, so there are plenty of expectedly Elder-ish moments on this instrumental record. Each one of these songs contains at least one strong idea, but unfortunately it gets bogged down in a lot of the airy build-up of post-rock, which I’m not wild about. I could see this album being good mood/background music, but with a few exceptions (such as “Wait and See”), it failed to hold my attention for any extended period of time.
Band: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard | Album: Butterfly 3000 | Genre: Psychedelic rock, Progressive pop | Bandcamp
I don’t know how KGLW is able to be so consistently stellar across so many genres. Polygondwanaland was one of the best prog releases of 2017, Nonagon Infinity is a psych classic for a reason, Infest the Rats’ Nest is a modern masterpiece of thrash metal, and Butterfly 3000 is another win for the band. The album is synth-centric and full of dreamy melodies which wash over the listener. It’s a gentle sound palette, but the compositions are clever. The lead melodies are inventive, and the songs morph in surprising, satisfying ways. The mood can shift easily from warm and comforting to anxious and close. The songs are short and accessible, but the KGLW have not tempered their ambitions or creativity.
Band: Сѣта (Sieta) | Album: Новъгородъ (Novgorod) | Genre: Folk metal, Progressive metal, Black metal | Bandcamp
As someone who enjoys learning about both Russian history and historical linguistics, this is a pretty cool nexus of those niche interests. Новъгородъ tells the story of the forceful Christianization of Novgorod in the 10th and 11th Centuries. Lyrics from the perspective of the Novogorodians are in Old East Slavic, an ancestor of the modern Russian language; and the invaders’ lyrics are in Old Church Slavonic, an ancestor to both New Church Slavonic (the traditional liturgical language of Eastern Orthodoxy) and modern Bulgarian. The music on this album is dense and lush, and folk melodies are integrated seamlessly throughout. Acoustic instruments are included in ways which feel natural and unobtrusive, and the lengthy songs move back and forth between movements and recurring themes effortlessly.
Band: ymilykdis | Album: 66 ⅔% | Genre: Math rock, stoner metal | Bandcamp
This gnarled, twisting record is full of strange riffs that vacillate between what I’d expect of Don Caballero and (very) early Mastodon. The songs occasionally do get lost in their own weirdness, with off-kilter drumming and layers of speedy guitar licks barely holding together. One song features rapper Zeroh in a guest slot, and somehow those disparate pieces fit together very well. The experiments on this record aren’t always successful, but they manage to be engaging most of the time.