Band: Abstracción | Album: Abstracción | Genre: Progressive rock, Psychedelic rock | Bandcamp
The debut EP from this Spanish septet draws heavily from the sound of Jethro Tull’s early material, and the liberal inclusion of sitar adds a late-‘60s psychedelic folk feel to the mix. Swirling Hammond organ and echoing electric guitar lines keep the atmosphere lush, while vocalist Catalina Requena’s willowy delivery occasionally bleeds into the instrumental elements. Each song is distinct, but the tonal continuity between the pieces keeps this recording cohesive and coherent.
Band: Ars de Er | Album: La Métamorphose | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp
I’ve run across more Belarusian prog bands while writing for this site than I ever anticipated. The latest of these is the one-man act Ars de Er, which incorporates hefty doses of classical and jazz. Strange harmonizations predominate on La Métamorphose, drawing comparisons to the original big names of avant-prog and RIO. Heavy, metallic guitar lines underpin moments of furious soloing and chaotic rhythms. The atmosphere on this record is oppressive. The strange, diminished chords and haunting keyboard textures make for an anxious, claustrophobic feel.
Score: 80/100 Continue reading “Odds & Ends – August 17, 2020”
Band: Moura | Album: Moura | Genre: Progressive rock, Psychedelic rock, Galician folk | Year: 2020
From: A Coruña, Spain | Label: Spinda Records
For fans of: Pink Floyd (pre-1973), Magma, Van der Graaf Generator
Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon
Near the end of last year, I reviewed the debut album of the band Híbrido. In that review, I praised the label Spinda Records for giving underground prog and psych in Spain a platform. Not long after I published that review, someone from the label reached out and told me to keep my eyes on Moura, a band from Galicia.
Moura’s self-titled debut record is a tour de force of psychedelic progressive rock. This quintet blends the dark psychedelia of Pink Floyd (c. 1968-1970), the compositional and instrumental complexity of acts like Yes and Van der Graaf Generator, and the native, Celtic folk of their native Galicia. This confluence is then draped in a druidic, occult atmosphere that in turn creates a menacing aura. (Galicia is a region in northwestern Spain which historically was populated by Celtic peoples and today retains significant Celtic influence in the local culture, particularly the music.) Continue reading “Album Review: Moura – Moura”
Band: Ak’chamel, The Giver Of Illness | Album: The Totemist | Genre: Krautrock, Psychedelic folk | Bandcamp
The Totemist is a swirl of ritualistic atmosphere and repetition. The murky aura augments the contrasts between the sharp notes of the acoustic instruments and the omnipresent, sinister drone. The compositions morph in naturalistic ways, and subtle touches of jazz are worked in amid the faux-shamanic folk, resulting in something quite creative.
Band: Cthulhu Rise | Album: Last | Genre: Progressive rock, Jazz-fusion | Bandcamp
This instrumental Ukrainian band reminds me a lot of Liquid Tension Experiment. The roots of the act’s sound clearly derive from Dream Theater-style melodic prog metal, but jazz plays a large role here too. The individual musicians flaunt their chops on the three songs here, but the soloing always comes off as purposeful. Each track is full of surprising twists and turns, with few ideas sticking around for more than about a minute at a time. Somehow, it avoids feeling disjointed.
Score: 84/100 Continue reading “Odds & Ends – March 9, 2020”
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”
Though this blog is only about a year old, I’ve been publishing music-oriented year-end lists on my personal Facebook since 2010. Those lists have usually covered all releases—albums and EPs—as well as music from genres outside the progosphere. Since starting this blog, I listened to more new music in 2019 than I had in any previous year, and it was even more skewed toward prog and prog-related output than in years past.
To save myself from having to write (and you from having to read) a 100-plus-entry list full of mediocre releases, I’ve instead opted to publish TheEliteExtremophile’s Top 50 Prog Albums of 2019. This post will cover entries 50-26. Part 2, covering the top 25, will be published on Monday.
I’m not publishing album scores here, and past album scores should not be read into too much. Reviews generally reflect something of a first impression, and after months of listening, albums’ standings rise and fall. This list also features some very good albums which I just never reviewed in full.
As a disclaimer, I’m sure there are some excellent albums not included. This is a one-man operation (in relation to reviewing, that is; my editors, Kelci and Dan, have been tremendously helpful), and I simply cannot listen to everything that gets released. I also have my personal biases against some rather popular trends in prog, which affected the composition of this list. But if you’ve got recommendations, do not hesitate to shoot them my way, either through this site, via email, or through my Facebook page. Continue reading “Top 50 Prog Albums of 2019, Part 1: 50-26”
Band: Híbrido | Album: I | Genre: Progressive rock, Heavy psych | Year: 2019
From: Algeciras, Spain | Label: Spinda Records
For fans of: Mastodon, Antemasque, Yes
Buy: Bandcamp | Apple Music
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: Chaos Over Cosmos | Album: The Unknown Voyage | Genre: Progressive metal | Bandcamp
Chaos Over Cosmos’s debut album draws heavily from acts like Fates Warning and Symphony X. The music is fleshed out with lush synths. There’s no shortage of power metal cheese, both vocally and instrumentally. The songs themselves tend to be pretty long, but they do a good job of keeping the momentum up and not overstaying their welcome.
Artist: Richard Henshall | Album: The Cocoon | Genre: Progressive metal, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
The latest album from Haken’s guitarist/keyboardist is exactly what you’d expect. There are tons of speedy, intricate riffs, and smart contrasts of metallic heaviness with moments of jazzy and poppy levity. The soloing is restrained, avoiding the common pitfall of virtuosic masturbation that you often find in this corner of prog. My one real complaint here is that Henshal’s vocals are pretty weak. His chops as a guitarist are solid, but his voice is often weak or strained.
Score: 80/100 Continue reading “Odds & Ends – September 23, 2019”
Odds & Ends is a recurring column where I cover short releases and albums I wasn’t able to commit enough time to for a full-length review.
Band: Custard Flux | Album: Echo | Genre: Psychedelic rock, folk rock | Bandcamp
Custard Flux has a neat little gimmick. With the exception of one electric guitar solo, all instrumentation is acoustic. This band’s particular blend of psychedelic pop and folk rock with progressive leanings results in something unique. Despite being almost all acoustic, the music is bombastic and impactful, and there’s a nice mix of the straightforward and the weird.
Score: 80/100 Continue reading “Odds & Ends – July 11, 2019”
Band: Adrift | Album: Pure | Genre: Post metal, Sludge metal, Progressive metal | Year: 2019
From: Madrid, Spain | Label: Temple of Torturous
For fans of: Isis, Neurosis, early Mastodon
Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon | Apple Music
While not entirely synonymous, “post metal” and “atmospheric doom” are used interchangeably to describe quite a few bands. For some acts, one label is an obviously better fit than the other. For Madrid’s Adrift—with their blend of massive, destructive riffs and spacier, meditative moments—I’d apply both without hesitation.
Pure, this quartet’s fourth full-length album (and their first since 2012), is one of the least overtly “proggy” records I’ve written about so far, but that doesn’t take away from its ambition, experimentation, or adventurous spirit. The album is filled with insistent, tumultuous riffs the charge forward in strange rhythms and engaging structures. Continue reading “Album Review: Adrift – Pure”
Band: Pyramidal | Album: Pyramidal | Genre: Space rock, Progressive rock | Year: 2019
From: Alicante, Spain | Label: Krauted Mind Records/Lay Bare Recordings
For fans of: Hawkwind, Änglagård, Magma, Elder
Buy: Bandcamp | Amazon | Apple Music
If there’s one thing the current progressive rock scene does not lack, it’s mostly-instrumental stoner metal acts which bill themselves as “progressive” despite lacking any real musical adventurousness. An upsetting number of bands regularly release albums full of uninteresting 15-minute heavy blues jams and label it as “space rock” or “progressive rock”. Thankfully, Pyramidal are not one of those acts. They lean heavily on early Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath influences, like many of those aforementioned stoner acts, but Pyramidal couple those influence with more daring jazz, krautrock, and even zeuhl influences.
Pyramidal is a band that’s been on my radar for a while, and with the release of their self-titled fourth studio album, I’m pleased to find that they’ve hit a new high in their songwriting and instrumental skill. In addition to the core band members, the group brought in a few guests to contribute saxophone, violin, and synthesizers. This is doubtless their most ambitious, progressive release to date. Continue reading “Album Review: Pyramidal – Pyramidal”