Odds & Ends: December 20, 2021

Artist: Waqas Ahmed | Album:A Perpetual Winter | Genre: Progressive metal | Bandcamp

This is a fun little EP from Pakistani-born, Romania-based guitarist Waqas Ahmed. It’s a bit cheesy, but in such a small dose it’s pretty enjoyable. Sometimes, I’m just in the mood for some flashy guitar work over a solid instrumental backing. A Perpetual Winter is strongly reminiscent of Dream Theater, so if that’s your cup of tea, I’d recommend this release as well.

Score: 79/100

Band: Chafouin | Album: Toufoulcan | Genre: Krautrock, Progressive rock, Math rock | Bandcamp

Toufoulcan overall has a stark sound, relying on ragged (mostly) clean guitars and odd, imposing riffs and rhythms. The mood varies from sinister to sunny, but those extremes never feel out of place. Synth embellishments flesh out the sound, and Chafouin utilizes repetition well to give each song a clear sense of build and direction. The individual tracks tend to be fairly short, and that adds a strong feeling of forward momentum.

Score: 81/100

Artist: Aaron Laughlin | Album: Lost Coast | Genre: Progressive rock, Folk rock | Bandcamp

On this EP, Aaron Laughlin channels the folkier side of classic prog–think very early Genesis and Strawbs–and blends it with hints of modern indie rock to make an exciting release. There are plenty of nimble guitar riffs, idyllic verses, and rich Mellotron flute and strings. Lost Coast is frequently moody and brooding in its instrumental moments, with fuzzy leads and otherworldly, ethereal backdrops. The closing “Lost Sacred Things” is an especially impressive piece of songcraft.

Score: 88/100

Band: Monarch Trail | Album: Wither Down | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

Monarch Trail’s latest album is fairly typical retro-prog. It’s quite lush, and it makes an effort to be dramatic. To be sure, there are some enjoyable passages with creative structures. Most of it though, simply does not stand out from the dozens of other bands playing in this style.

Score: 64/100

Band: The Omnific | Album: Escapades | Genre: Progressive metal, Djent | Bandcamp

I normally don’t cover djent because I don’t particularly like it. (I have referred to it as “djon’t” before.) I find this album a bit more tolerable than most, but I’m still not a big overall fan. Almost every song is too long, and the songs aren’t structurally varied enough to justify a runtime over three minutes. I am highlighting it, though, for the band’s unusual membership: they’re a trio of two bassists and a drummer. This ensemble leads to some very interesting timbral and textural experiments that I’m quite fond of, and I’d recommend that more dedicated djent enthusiasts check it out for that reason alone. 

Score: 60/100, but bear in mind that I’m not this album’s intended audience, so maybe take this rating with a grain of salt.

Band: Yomi Ship | Album: Of Agartha | Genre: Math rock, Post-rock | Bandcamp

This Australian trio plays an intricate, melodic, and moody variety of math rock that delicately weaves together technical riffs, smart songcraft, and experimental impulses. The result is a pretty solid EP that has a clear sense of flow and direction. 

Score: 72/100

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