Welcome back to TheEliteExtremophile’s Top 50 Prog Albums of 2019. If you missed Part 1, covering entries 50-26, you can read it here. Continue reading “Top 50 Prog Albums of 2019, Part 2: 25-1”
Band: Híbrido | Album: I | Genre: Progressive rock, Heavy psych | Year: 2019
From: Algeciras, Spain | Label: Spinda Records
For fans of: Mastodon, Antemasque, Yes
Spain has thriving progressive/experimental rock and metal scenes, and Spanish bands have been featured on this site multiple times. The Spanish label Spinda Records is a recent discovery of mine, and they’re the sort of label I love. Based just north of the border with Gibraltar, they focus on underground, local acts that play progressive and psychedelic music. This support provides such acts with a valuable link to the outside world.
One act which particularly stood out to me was Híbrido. Híbrido’s music straddles a line between desert rock and more traditional progressive rock, which occasionally veers into the territory of a somewhat light version of post-metal. Continue reading “Album Review: Híbrido – I”
Band: Handwrist | Album: The Golden Swan | Genre: Progressive rock, Zeuhl, Avant-garde rock | Bandcamp
The Golden Swan was originally envisioned by its composer to have a choir sing in Basque and for there to be symphonic orchestration. Due to budgetary and logistical constraints, these ambitions had to be shelved, but the result is a distinct blend of rock, jazz, and classical music, nonetheless. The four movements of this album flow together seamlessly. Elements of the Canterbury sound are evident, and the jazzy atmosphere makes me think this would have been even better had it been recorded as originally intended. Moments on this album do meander, but those shortcomings are well worth it.
Score: 76/100 Continue reading “Odds & Ends – October 21, 2019”
Band: Atsuko Chiba | Album: Trace | Genre: Progressive rock, Math rock, Post-punk, Post-rock | Year: 2019
From: Montreal, Canada | Label: Mothland
For fans of: The Physics House Band, The Mars Volta, early Portugal. The Man, Cardiacs
The 1980s produced a lot of very good music. I’ve got a soft spot for some synthpop, and I love genres like new wave and post-punk. However, that decade, particularly its latter half, was not especially kind to progressive rock. In the current musical landscape, though, both progressive rock and post-punk are on the cultural and creative upswing. Occasionally, there is the rare nexus of both those genres’ revivals. Atsuko Chiba are one such nexus.
On Trace, their second full-length release, this Quebecois quintet lean into the dark, jagged rhythms of bands like Joy Division and Wire while mixing these influences with the complexity and technicality of math rock. Ample synthesizers, inventive melodies, and nonlinear song structures add to their prog bona fides. Continue reading “Albums Review: Atsuko Chiba – Trace”
Band: The Dark Third | Album: Even As the Light Grows | Year: 2018 | Genre: Post rock, Progressive rock, Post metal
From: Auckland, New Zealand | Label: Sony BMG
For fans of: Pure Reason Revolution, Alcest
I was surprised at just how much I liked this album. It’s a very strong debut outing, and I’m very interested to see what this New Zealand quintet will do in the future. The Dark Third use atmosphere as an instrument unto itself, and there’s a nice balance of loud and soft elements.
The opening epic begins with a wall of distorted guitar which transitions into an impressive instrumental exercise. Guitar lines soar over complex rhythms, only to be overtaken by majestic violins. Hints of blackgaze (black metal shoegaze) show up momentarily, but they’re soon replaced by the melancholy verse. Broad guitar arpeggios complement the vocals, which sound like they’re adrift in space. Near the 8-minute mark, the song becomes a quiet acoustic piece, led by piano and folk-inflected guitar patterns. This shift leads back to the earlier bombast to close the song out. Continue reading “Album Review: The Dark Third – Even As the Light Grows”