Odds & Ends – September 23, 2019

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a2161853656_10Band: 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.

Score: 73/100

a0570910034_10Artist: 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 – July 11, 2019

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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.

custBand: 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”

Album Review: Pyramidal – Pyramidal

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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: BandcampAmazonApple 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”

Album Review: Pervy Perkin – Comedia: Inferno

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Band: Pervy Perkin | Album: Comedia: Inferno | Genre: Progressive metal, Progressive rock, Death metal | Year:  2019

From: Madrid, Spain | Label: Independent

For fans of: Dream Theater, Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, Porcupine Tree

Buy: Bandcamp | Apple Music

Literary references are nothing new in the fields of rock and metal. Grim writings, in particular, have provided musical inspiration to artists ranging from metal bands like Mastodon to acts as impressively-un-metallic as The Alan Parsons Project. The Inferno section of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is one of the most-referenced works in the whole of the literary canon. In spite of this, Comedia: Inferno, is an inventive, original, and enthralling album.

Each of the nine songs represents one of Dante’s nine concentric circles of Hell. Pervy Perkin’s music has always been heavy, but they turned up the aggression sharply here to match the dark subject matter. Continue reading “Album Review: Pervy Perkin – Comedia: Inferno”

Odds and Ends – March 21, 2019

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Odds and Ends is a segment where I do brief reviews of albums I either didn’t prioritize for longer-form reviews, or ones for which I don’t have that much to say.

a1945761875_10Band: Cheeto’s Magazine | Album: Amazingous | Genre: Progressive rock, Pop, Progressive metal | Bandcamp

This album was a disorienting experience. Cheeto’s Magazine blend sunshiny pop with metal riffs and complex structures. The closest analogue I can think of would be A.C.T., though this has an even more aggressively poppy edge. The songwriting is consistently ambitious, and there are some moments reminiscent of Dream Theater’s better output. I give them a lot of credit for ambition, but the juxtaposition of metal with those bubblegum synths is often jarring.

Score:  69/100 Continue reading “Odds and Ends – March 21, 2019”

Lesser-Known Gem: Mezquita – Recuerdos de mi tierra

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Band: Mezquita | Album: Recuerdos de mi tierra | Year: 1979 | Genre: Progressive rock, Flamenco-rock

From: Córdoba, Spain | Label: Chapa Discos

For Fans Of: Yezda Urfa, Gentle Giant, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Flamenco music

Córdoba was a stronghold of Islamic culture and influence from its conquest by the Umayyads in 711 until its recapture by the Castilian-Leonese king in 1231. Those five centuries of Islamic rule left an indelible influence on the region’s culture, most notably in music and architecture.

Mezquita was formed in Córdoba in 1978, in the wake of the death of Francisco Franco and Spain’s transition to democracy. This quartet drew heavily upon local Andalusian history as a center of Islamic culture: “mezquita” is Spanish for mosque, the album cover features Arabic text, and the music is powered by Moorish influences alongside Spanish ones. Continue reading “Lesser-Known Gem: Mezquita – Recuerdos de mi tierra”