Band: Devour Every Star | Album: Antiquity | Genre: Progressive metal, Trip-hop | Bandcamp
This is certainly one of the more distinctive genre fusions I’ve run across. Buzzy black metal merges with spacey instrumental hip-hop passages to forge a distinctive sound. It’s spooky and laid-back, and it’s definitely worth looking into. As a whole, it feels a little long; I think this style may be better suited to a 20-minute EP. Nonetheless, it’s quite unique, and this act shows ability beyond simply being a curiosity.
Artist: Ehsan Gelsi | Album: Ephemera | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp
This instrumental piece was commissioned by the city of Melbourne to celebrate Melbourne Town Hall’s 150th anniversary, thus it prominently features the town hall’s grand organ as its primary instrument. Ephemera is grand and majestic in its harmonious marriage of reedy organ and lush, liquid synthesizers. The whole album is quite warm, and it feels midway between Mike Oldfield and Rick Wakeman. Elements of classical and electronic music are regularly incorporated, making this a surprisingly diverse record despite its limited sound palette.
Band: Maragda | Band: Maragda | Genre: Heavy psych, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
This Spanish act’s new album is yet another strong release from Spinda Records. The guitars are brash and crunchy, and there are plenty of odd yet groovy riffs littering this record. Maragda is fairly short and straightforward, but it does its job effectively. It’s solid, to-the-point heavy psych that doesn’t disappoint or linger too long.
Band: Mastodon | Album: Hushed and Grim | Genre: Progressive metal, Sludge metal | Buy
This is a step up over their last album. There are a lot of elements to this record I like, especially the increased prominence of keyboards. However, there are a few elements holding this album back from being great. The first is that it is simply way too long. This album does not need to be 90 minutes. And even with that in mind, had they trimmed this album down, there are plenty of good songs but few great ones. Mastodon clearly functions best within a few select styles. With certain acts–most notably BTBAM–I’m fairly accepting of their ruts, but generic Mastodon simply doesn’t engage me on the same level. I’d rather just listen to Leviathan or Crack the Skye.
Band: Paradigm Blue | Album: Transist | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp
This three-piece put out one album 20 years ago and then went on quite the hiatus. Transist, their second album, and first since 2001, is a solid, enjoyable piece of prog rock. It’s inspired by a lot of classics without feeling derivative. The sound palette is lush, and the production is smooth but not sterile. The compositions are strong, and there’s a strong sense of continuity throughout the record. However, it’s a damn long album, clocking in at nearly 90 minutes. It’s a bit much to listen to all at once, but the hour-long “The Mobius Trip” suite is quite impressive.
Artist: Wippy Bonstack | Album: Wippy Bonstack’s Dataland | Genre: Progressive rock, Pronk | Bandcamp
This energetic album is full of odd, angular riffs and speedy flourishes. There’s a lot of Cardiacs-style weirdness with hints of jazz, pop, and punk tossed in here and there. This release exudes a definite Zappa-esque attitude; its weirdness is often the point. Despite its upfront strangeness at many points, it’s hardly inaccessible. The technical skill and odd structures on display here are underpinned by solid songwriting and good hooks. That said, it is a pretty long album, and it probably could have benefitted from some trimming.