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Annihilator - Feast 2013
Okay there are still a lot of fast paced thrash metal songs, but that's the trademark of Annihilator since the first day. However, this time, the band added more melodic songs ("No Surrender", "One Falls, Two Rise"), a ballad ("Perfect Angel Eyes"), even the guitar interludes are back. In the end, an enjoyable album.
Lars Eric Mattsson - Epicentre 2013
This year, he released ”Epicentre”. While following the neoclassiclly oriented ”Aurora Borealis”, ”Epicentre” does not follow up on ”Aurora Borealis”. While the preceding album was quite onesided, this one is multifacetted, as Mattsson explores a range of expressions and vistas. Thus, we are treated to tracks, like 'Cinnamon' or the swinging 'Too Late', while others, like 'No Way, No Surrender' and 'Wait for the Sunrise' as well as the heavy 'Freedom Fighters' and 'No More War' are all out prog metal attacks in the form of complexly structured flurries of passages and sections. ... -> show full review
Divided Multitude - Feed On Your Misery 2013
Compared to many of the other artists on Nightmare's roster, Divided Multitude represent the heavier end of the progressive metal gamut, without ever entering into extreme metal territory. The music on this album is also more accessible than a lot of other progressive metal is, as Divided Multitude draw extensively on heavy riffage and larger-than-life melodies as hear in power metal. Moreover, vocalist Sindre Antonsen has adopted a slightly gruff singing style akin to what you might hear on a Pertness or a Symphony X album. His singing style thus adds a further edge to the overall sound of the album.
That being said, we are dealing with progressive metal, and the Norwegians do make use of complex song structures, and there are several twists and turns as well as changes in time and tempo. In the closing track 'Reborn' – perhaps the best track on the album – the listener is even treated to dissonant chords. The band's combination of twin guitars and keyboards makes for a nicely layered and kind of epic sound, which is in nice contrast with the heavy grooves and crushing riffs also heard on the album.
I think this is a pretty solid progressive metal album, an fans of both vanilla progressive metal and prog power metal should find ”Feed on your Misery” very enjoyable.
(review originally posted at metalmusicarchives.com)
A Cosmic Trail - II: Mistrel 2013
This is not completely wrong, but there is more to the album's seven tracks than pure progressive metal. Granted, there are plenty of metal elements in the form of chucking riffs and distorted guitars accompanied by pounding drums. However, there are just as many atmospheric and mellow passages on the album as there are heavy ones, as A Cosmic Trail draws on other genres, such s jazz fusion and psychedelic rock as well as, of course, progressive rock. Much like the music on Yes' "Tales from "Tales from the Topographic Oceans", the tracks on "II: Mistral" have the form of massive auditive vistas with multiple layers and moods, ranging from the dark and bleak to the more uplifting.
This album is more than progressive metal, and it has just as much in common with the likes of Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson as it does with, way, Opeth or recent Enslaved. Still, there are enough metal elements on this album that, if you like progressive rock and also happen to be a metalhead, there should be plenty of good stuff for you on "II: Mistral".
(review originally posted at metalmusicarchives.com)
Mayfair - Schlage Mein Herz, Schlage 2013
The title track 'Schlage men Herz, Schlage' is a quite psychedelic affair with esoteric mildly distorted guitars and …, while 'Firestorm' is atmospheric and features some elements akin to alternative rock. The alternative mode and the atmospheric mood also characterizes the heavy and brooding 'Wwwrong', which also offers a sense of dark psychedelia as well as some more solid merallic riffage towards the end. 'Drei Jahre Zurück' combines minimalistic gutiar figures with driving, but melancholic, metallic pumping riffs. 'Abendp_rno' (I think it's Abendporno', which mean 'porno in the evening) combines metallic drumming with punky riffs and, 'Island' is a nother heavy and darkly psychedelic track with simpel clean guitars overlaid on top of atmospheric and noisy guitars in the background – not unlike what you might hear in drone metal or atmospheric and depressive black metal (without this song sounding at all like those two genres). 'Du Allein' is similarly dark, at time reminding me of a blend of U2 at their darkest and Paradise Lost at their lightest (check out the chorus). 'Tric Trac' is in the ... -> show full review
Anton Johansson's Galahad Suite - Galahad Suite 2013
Being a concept album that draws on the aesthetics of heavy metal and hard rock, we are essentially dealing with a progressive metal release here. Themes are repeated through out the album, and each track is essentially a movement, with the first track serving as an overture, or prelude, of sorts, and its theme being repeated in the last track. Now you might think that you are in for some complex and epic music akin to Dream Theater's ”A Change of Season” or ”Scenes from a Memory”, but, while the structure of the album in its entirety might be complex, the music itself is by and large pretty straightforward. We are dealing with musc the evolves around rocking riffs combined with softer passages (which in itself makes for interesting album dynamics). We are more in the territory of Queensrÿche and Persona Non Grata (or Rainbow at their most progressive) – that is, very accessible progressive metal which has both commercial appeal and sophistication.
A good example of this is 'Somewhere – The Quest', which combines an uplifting drive (and, frankly, some pretty awesome guitar riffs) with an AOR sensibility and at the same time keyboard figures akin to more Dream Theater-oriented progressive metal. 'Happy – The Incident' features the same type of keyboard, but combines a more funky drive with power ... -> show full review
Fates Warning - Darkness in a Different Light 2013
Stylistically, this album falls somewhere between “Disconnected” and “FWX”, which are probably my least favorite Fates Warning albums, but in combining these albums, “Darkness in a Different Light” rises above these two albums, taking the best of both and moving it in a direction of its own. The songs on the album are, for progressive metal standards, pretty short and relatively straightforward at first listen. But after a couple of listens, the listener will discover little details that are more reminiscent of the bands legendary early 90s output. This is largely due to the return to the two-guitarists set-up, which Fates Warning exploit in a number of interesting ways on this album.
The opening track opens with a frantic wasp-like guitar figure on top of a groovy guitar riff and takes the listener – in true Rush-style – through a couple of different passages before the verse kicks in. The verse is a heavy and groovy affair with an acoustic guitar overlaid on top. Already here, the listener is reminded of some of the aesthetics of “Parallels” and “Inside Out” which made efficient use of the combination of distorted and clean guitars. But, still, what we hear here is not quite identical to those two albums, as Fates Warning pursue ... -> show full review
Carcass - Surgical Steel 2013
Having reunited a couple of times for gigs and festivals, Carcass eventually was reestablished as a band proper and released the much expected “Surgical Steel” in 2013. And, boy, this must be among the most kick-ass comebacks of any rock band in the history of music.
After a hyper-melodic intro in the form of '1985' and its rich Iron Maiden-esque twin guitar harmonies, the album explodes into the aptly titled 'Thrasher's Abbatoir' which combines thrashy riffage (some of which has the same compact quality as Exodus' trademark riffs had back in the day), brief and explosive blastbeats, and old school death metal riffage as well as some more hardcorish elements. The uptempo ... -> show full review
Dream Theater - Dream Theater 2013
I can't help thinking that Portnoy's absence has moved Dream Theater closer to "normalty" - they still have an "out there" composer (Rudess), but I really miss Portnoy's over the top crazyness and his desire to incorporate an eclectic range of influences (ranging from 70s Prog Rock to modern Art Rock like Muse and Extreme Metal like Opeth) into the music.
On this album the most obvious influence is Rush - indeed, at one time the lyrics mention "restless angels" and I couldn't help thinking of Rush's recent album (Clockwork Angels), since the music was also a good match.
Having said all that, the album is very well made and nice to listen to, all the other DT ingredients are there ... even LaBrie's vocals are much better than usual. Alas, the inspiration for great tunes is sorely missed. I really prefer Haken's 2013 album "The Mountain" - no THAT's inspired songwriting, and musically easily on par with Dream Theater.
Comment by Mike 4 months ago
Frank Flight Band - Remains 2013
Queensrÿche - Frequency Unknown 2013
Queensrÿche were once one of the world's premier progressive metal bands, releasing sophisticated yet accessible classics like "Operation: Mindcrime", "Empire" and "The Promised Land" among others, but after "Hear in the Now Frontier", which took a more grunge-oriented turn things went downhill with only a couple of interesting releases amidst a mass of, compared to the classics, boring albums. As we all know, the post-"Frontiers" era has been turbulent and ended with Queensrÿche being slit into two: one consisting of the founding members plus Todd LaTorre and Parker Lundgren, and one with Geoff Tate and essentially a bunch of hired hands.
With both versions of Queensrÿche aiming to release an album in 2013, there was a bit of a race going on to release first, I think - a race which Tate won with the release of "Frequency Unknown" way before the other Queensrÿche released their album. But is the release of "Frequency Unknown" really a victory? Is it enough to just release an album before the other Queensrÿche?
Well, no. The album will of course also have to be musically interesting? And, to be frank, "Frequency Unknown" does not strike me as interesting. It features music which is more in the vein of post-"Frontier" Queensrÿche - that is, more alternative metal with grunge and groove elements, and very few, if any, progressive elements. There are some heavy moments to be sure as in 'Slave', 'Running Backwards' and 'Dare'. While there are some good moments on the album, such as many of the guitar solos provided by guest musicians like Lita Ford, K.K. Downing and Chris Poland, ... -> show full review
Queensrÿche - Queensrÿche 2013
So, what about the La Torre-fronted version of Queensrÿche and their album, which is merely entitled "Queensrÿche"? Is that another load of post-"Hear in the Now Frontier" grunge-tinged alternative commercial rock?
"Queensrÿche" sounds like Queensrÿche. You know, the first time I listened to this album, I felt happy. I felt like I'd met an old friend. Really, the Queensrÿche that I know and love is what you hear on albums like "Rage for Order", "The Warning", "Empire", and, of course, "Operation: Mindcrime", and "Queensrÿche" is a continuation of that classic Queensrÿche-style. It is almost as if the last sixteen years have been released and "Queensrÿche" were the album released after "Promised Land". What I'm trying to say is that Queensrÿche are back 'en force' and they sound better than they have more than fifteen years.
The twin guitars of the early years are back, as are the heavy riffs and edgy guitars - just check out 'Spore', 'Redemption', 'Vindication' and 'Fallout'. Picking up where they left off on "Empire", the band successfully combine melodic hard rock with traditional heavy metal, wrapping it in a multi-layered texture of sophostication and mild progressivity. Wilton and Lundgren's twin guitar attack is back up by Jackson's rock solid bass, and Scott ... -> show full review
Kikagaku Moyo - Kikagaku Moyo 2013, EP
Oh what's happening, wonder why KIKAGAKU MOYO have played stuffs easy to understand.
I've got blown by their weird Kraut-ish Oriental edges when I listened to their first single for the first time. The unrefined, non-united atmospheric aggression might squeeze something comfortable into my brain. No objection to say they play acid folk with strong Kosmische initiation upon this EP indeed, but simultaneously I guess they might grab more of folksy acidity with mainstream-y tips.
Fantastic wet, foggy airsound has been created by gracious female voices (sensual, dangerous traps in a sense) based upon specific ethnic freakout psychic folksy agents launched with sitar, theremin, and deep guitars, percussive drums. Quite dreamy especially for acid folk freaks on the psychedelic ground like me. On the contrary, smooth and simple spherical sound body, that can be digested easily in general, should not satisfy Krautrock adherents enough, sad to say.
Oh yes let me say the fourth track "Lazy Stoned Monk" (what a fascinating title!) has completely reminded me eccentricity of 'real Kosmischemuzik' ... quiet but explosive underground beats based upon bubbled synth lesions / mellow guitar riffs, and weird obscurity with dark matter can be called as surrealistic Geometry methinks. Not simply lazy but powerful with strong intention to invade my mind space. This enthusiasm is what I want really.
Got unified compactly upon a part, but such a meditative wave can make us dream that we can grab more hypnotic, more mysterious, more addictive smoke agents particularly on stage. Amazing.
Tomutonttu - Hylyt 2012
This album "Hylyt", constructed with lots of samples created by Jan for a decade, and released in 2012, may notify us he's produced samples case by case and built a structural creation up dexterously with his simple theory and simple plan. Combinations with many noises and musical phrases, each of that sounds eccentric for us, can get crystallized as a fantastic dreammare. Looks like every sound has been put together in disorder but mysteriously (at least) I cannot hear any confusion via them. Some phrases are based upon well-matured mellow riffs (especially on B Side), and basically inorganic chemistry but natural mess structure would not disturb me.
His soundscape reminds me Satan Alfa Beel Atem aka Ziggy Atem indeed, but let me emphasize this, Jan’s creation consists of various unsettled elements "obviously with his strong intention" that we could not hear via Ziggy's schizophrenic messages and samples at all. We can have Tomutonttu sound-salad prepared with enormous sounds leaning towards natural beauty and inorganic dirt, and seasoned with versatile noises launching spicy, sour, bitter earache for us. Enjoy.
Jastreb - Jastreb 2012
Hailed from Zagreb (Croatia), JASTREB, a psychedelic / stoner / Krautrock obscurity, say they were founded as a destroyer agency against the earth in 13th century. Their eponymous album featuring a long jamming titled Yggdrasil has been released in the summer of 2012.
JASTREB, mystical troubadours hailing from 13th century (!), finally have discharged such a minimalistic, hypnotic, apocalyptic stoner nightmare just now. In this dark matter, the very beginning distorted noise sounds like the key bullet, that goes through our brain and shoots us away into their infernal space. Deep, insidious heavy riffs produced with soundgel by guitars, bass, and drums, can easily give us claustrophobia or something. No major key nor clear tone needed but superb minority and disastrous negative fantasy attack slowly and gradually but continually for completing our brain contusions.Yes step by step, their loud sounds and noises get louder and louder, whilst they get flooded with mind-altering maniacal status created by their own soundscape agents. Sounds like they fall into ruin suddenly at last. Why cannot we feel this 37-minute Yggdrasil fruity? Not long nor boring but enthusiastic, like a big tree.
Top Prog LPs of 2013