Review – Riverside – Eye Of The Soundscape – by Kevin Thompson


This was meant originally as a preview, but time and tide, as they say… By now many of you may already have this and be making your own minds up. So here is my review…..

Tragedy when it hits is never expected and the devastation, after initial shock, rushes out like waves and ripples flooding over all it touches. Seeping like damp into everyone’s hearts it leaves you cold and numb. Many bands have faced upsets in their lives, some have survived others not. Many losses are through age and/or self abuse taking it’s toll, but when you lose someone before their expected time, it hits hard. Over the last few years Riverside have become one of my favourite bands and watching them ‘live’ last year we got the feeling they were on the verge of breaking through to the next level and greater things.

But fate is a cruel mistress and I was surprised the sudden passing in February of guitarist Piotr Grudziński affected me so emotionally. Then going online to find the outpouring of sympathy from other fans and the support for the other band members, families and friends was overwhelming. Bassist/vocalist, Mariusz Duda then lost his Father in May and further personal issues have dogged him since. He, along with drummer Piotr Kozieradzki and keyboardist Michał Łapaj, could be forgiven for wanting to take some time away, but it is to their credit and the measure of the men that they have decided to continue as a trio and have started to make future plans as well as continuing solo projects in the wings.


The band have already issued “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” in 5.1 and last Friday (21st October) they released the double disc instrumental “Eye Of The Soundscape”, a fitting homage to their  friend Piotr.

To misquote from Star Wars, ‘this may not be the Riverside you are looking for’. It is a collection of  ideas the band have composed and accumulated over a number of years, some of which have already appeared as bonus tracks with other albums. There are traces of the Riverside we know and love and the beautiful strains of Piotr’s guitar haunts the melodies, but this extensive work  has more in common with the likes of Tangerine Dream mixed with hints of Kraftwerk and Pink Floyd.

You may be accustomed to my reviewing album tracks on an individual basis, but in this case I feel the album works better if listened to as a whole. It will not be for everyone and with the best will in the world, you will find the direction and length of this formidable album (though the tracks on the second disc are generally shorter) tests you and it may be that only the hardcore Riverside fan will persevere and last the distance.


The ambient mood and atmosphere of this album floats you down a dark river of keyboards and effects, the bass and drums causing the eddy and flow, with the guitar propelling “Eye Of The Soundscape” along a dreamy and immersive journey, some of which will engage you whilst other tracks will wash over you like liquid velvet. Jazz infused saxophone passages echo in the night-lit jungle as you drift along, the large bright moon of sound casting fleeting shadows of effects through the dense foliage of music.

 Piotr’s fluid (at times Gilmoresque) fretwork is quite sublime if understated in places, on what some may see as an album of pleasant enough background music, soporific or even uninteresting. Before the devout following tear me to pieces, I hasten to point out I do not fall into those categories as I am also a fan of Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd and own many of their recordings in my collection along with other ambient classics and instrumentals.

 Some may only listen to “Eye Of The Soundscape” once and place the album on a shelf, leaving it to collect dust or brushing it off occasionally to attempt further understanding and convince themselves they do like it; you don’t have to. It will split opinion with it’s diversification but I feel  it stands as a fitting tribute from the band and on behalf of everyone Piotr’s presence touched, to a sadly missed and greatly loved friend.


There have been better Riverside albums musically, but none more emotionally charged from a band who truly have remained as positive as possible in the face of adversity. Never losing touch with their fans, sharing visions and hopes and updating everyone with every tentative step along this personal journey, they humble us. The quality of the instrumentation from the band is also first class.

I would recommend you listen before buying to ensure it is for you and those with a taste for the more chilled side of music give it a try, even if Riverside’s previous output has not been to your taste. There is light through this dark tunnel which will see this band emerge to you either as a bright new butterfly or a dull coloured moth, I know which I will follow as it flutters over the musical landscape.

On this occasion it seems only fitting to leave the last words in this review to the band as a parting farewell to Piotr:

“This is our last journey together so we dedicate this album to you, Brother. In our hearts you will stay forever.”

Released 21st October 2016

Buy ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ from InsideOut Music

Martin Turner Talks Wishbone Ash Tour


Founder of the legendary Wishbone Ash, one of Britain’s most enduring and best loved melodic rock acts, Martin Turner takes to the road with his 19-date UK ‘Written in the Stars Tour’ during November/December 2016.   

 Vocalist & bassist Martin Turner, who was the main composer and creative force of Wishbone Ash, and his band, will perform tracks from his 2015 album release “Written in the Stars” as well as a selection of much-loved Wishbone Ash classics.  Formed in 1969 by Turner and Steve Upton, Wishbone Ash forged a unique musical identity that produced some of rock music’s best loved works, influenced numerous successful bands and resulted in millions of album sales.

 Martin says, “We had such a great reception from audiences at our recent “Written in the Stars” shows in the UK, Poland and Germany, we can’t wait to return to UK stages next months. I’m overwhelmed by the emotional connection audiences continue to make with the classic Wishbone Ash music which has been a backdrop to so many people’s lives – mine included. The material from the recent “Written in the Stars” album, which is in the same ballpark melodically and musically, has been very well received wherever we have played.”

Watch Martin chat about the tour here:

Tour dates are:-

Date                           Town                          Venue

 Nov 2nd, Wed             Bilston                       Robin 2

Nov 4th, Fri                 Bathgate                    Dreadnought Rock

Nov 5th, Sat                Aberdeen                  Krakatoa

Nov 6th, Sun              Carlisle                      Old Fire Station

Nov 10th , Thurs        Bristol                        The Tunnels

Nov 11th, Fri               Dartmouth                 The Flavel

Nov 12th, Sat             Great Torrington      Plough Arts Centre

Nov 13th, Sun            Penzance                  Acorn

Nov 16th, Weds         Worthing                    Pier

Nov 17th, Thurs         Dagenham               Roundhouse

 Date                           Town                          Venue

 Nov 18th, Fri               Deal                           Astor

Nov 19th Sat              Farncombe               Music Club

Nov 22nd, Tues         Bromsgrove              Artrix

Nov 24th, Thurs         Southport                  The Atkinson

Nov 25th, Fri               Grimsby                     Yardbirds

Nov 26th, Sat             Doncaster                 Leopard 

Dec 1st, Thurs           Twickenham             Eel Pie Club

Dec 3rd,  Sat              Porthcawl                  Planet Rockstock

Dec 10th, Sat            Leicester                   Y Theatre

Martin Turner also confirms his involvement in the compilation of “Wishbone Ash: The Vintage Years” – a definitive 32-disc CD boxed set spanning the period 1970 – 1991, scheduled for release by Snapper Music during 2017/18. This promises to be the deepest anthology of Wishbone Ash’s classic period to date and is being compiled with full co-operation and involvement of all key members of the definitive classic line-ups – Martin Turner, Steve Upton, Ted Turner, Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield. The content will dig deep into the archives and already many live and studio multi-track masters have been uncovered, largely from Martin Turner’s personal archive.

 In Spring 2017, Martin will release a live DVD/CD recording from the “Written in the Stars” tour, filmed earlier in 2016 at the Citadel, St.Helens.



ADRENALINE MOB enter studio to record new album


THE MOB IS BACK! The one and only ADRENALINE MOB have confirmed a brand new full length studio album will be released early 2017 via Century Media Records. Following 2015’s Dearly Departed, the forthcoming release is being recorded by ADRENALINE MOB guitarist Mike Orlando once again at his own Sonic Stomp Studio. Mike checked in with the following comment:
“Myself & Russell are hard at work finishing up the writing & are heading into the studio to track the new Adrenaline Mob album in a few weeks time. The album is coming out great & we’re both very excited on the sound & direction. We’re extremely thrilled to be releasing our 3rd studio album on Century Media Records! Our expected release time will be early 2017”
Since first bursting on to the scene in 2011, ADRENALINE MOB’s wild ride of hard rock and heavy metal melee continues to explode across the world. Still revving from two critically successful full lengths and standout EP’s; the gears are set for full throttle with an all new armory of lethal tracks. It’s undeniable, the beast that is AMOB is back! Stay tuned for more album details to be announced soon!
Russell Allen – Vocals
Mike Orlando – Guitar
Erik Leonhardt – Bass
Jordan Cannata – Drums

ADRENALINE MOB discography:

Omerta – 2012
Coverta – 2013
Men Of Honor – 2014

Dearly Departed – 2015




‘A winding trawl through myriad dark moods, at times supremely heavy, at others barely whispered, but always swathed in their own unique brand of somber atmospherics’ – 4/5 – Kerrang

‘Absolutely astonishing’ – 9/10 – Rock Sound

‘Make no mistake – this is a great album’ – Terrorizer

Hailed as one of the leaders of the death-doom genre alongside My Dying Bride & Paradise Lost, Sweden’s Katatonia have spent the last 25 years ever changing and evolving to become the much loved purveyors of dark progressive rock/metal we know today.

This year marks not only the band’s 25th anniversary but also 10 years since the release of their Peaceville album ‘The Great Cold Distance’.  Now the band is set to re-issue this classic album on special edition CD and vinyl. Founding guitarist Anders Nyström comments:

“Looking back at our set lists from a historic perspective, it dawned on us that there’s been no other album from which we played more songs than ’The Great Cold Distance’, so in the light of its 10th anniversary this year, it’s with much pride and joy to announce the ultimate edition featuring all the scattered bits and pieces related to this album. “

Originally released in 2006, The Great Cold Distance, Katatonia’s seventh studio albumwas recorded and mixed at Fascination Street, Örebro Sweden, produced by Nyström/Renkse on and co-produced, mixed & engineered by Jens Bogren & David Castillo. The album featured 3 singles, now classic Katatonia songs – “My Twin”, “July” and “Deliberation”. Vocalist Jonas Renkse, at the time of the album’s release stated“While embracing this album one must know that it will only help to increase the coldness between us. It’s a devious life. And this is a soundtrack to it.”

The new 4 disc deluxe hardback 40 page book edition of the album, to be released on 20th January 2017, will include 3 bonus discs featuring b-sides and bonus songs, a new 5.1 remix of the album by Bruce Soord (Wisdom Of Crowds) and a live album of Katatonia playing ‘The Great Cold Distance’ in its entirety with the renowned Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria, performed in September 2016. The design of this essential 10th anniversary edition has once again been taken care of by long time collaborator Travis Smith.

The double gatefold LP version of the original album is set for release on 9th December, and includes the b-sides & bonus songs. Both the black vinyl and limited edition red vinyl versions are available to pre-order now:


4 disc deluxe hardback book:

2 LP gatefold:

Ltd edition 2 LP gatefold on red vinyl (available exclusively through the Peaceville webstore & Omerch) – /

Friday 21st October, at London’s 02 Shepherds Bush Empire, Katatonia will play their biggest UK headline show to date which will feature a very special 2 set performance.

One set will see Katatonia perform ‘The Great Cold Distance’ in its entirety.

The other set will feature a wide selection of tracks panning the band’s 25 year including most recent album ‘The Fall Of Hearts’. Support comes from Agent Fresco & VOLA.

Tickets are on sale now – and

Katatonia are currently on tour in Europe with their Fallen Hearts Of Europe tour before heading to Australia for headline shows in December.

(Featured image by Therés Stephansdotter Björk)

Review – Fire Garden – Far and Near – by Progradar


“I’ll keep evolving and put that into my songs.”
Alanis Morissette

One of the great pleasures of being a music journalist/reviewer is watching an artist mature from their initial early steps and through their growing career. You see how the raw musical talent becomes focused and more mature to give ever impressive musical releases.

One such artist, for me, is Chicago native Zee Baig and his musical project Fire Garden. From hearing 2012’s debut E.P. ‘The Prelude’ (where I initially became friends with this engaging musician) through 2014’s first full length release ‘Sound Of Majestic Colours’ to this latest album ‘Far and Near’, you can see the increasing skill and artistry, not only in the music but in the songwriting too.

Zee is the mastermind, songwriter, guitarist, lyricist and a founding member of Fire Garden. He is self-taught musician. His main influences are the music of late 60s and early 70s and bands like Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson and classic bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and many more.

Zee has called on the undoubted drumming skills of Jimmy Keegan (Spock’s Beard) on the new release, which also features Jordan Rudess’ keyboard wizardry and is mixed by Bruce Soord. The spectacular artwork is from the feverish mind of the legendary Travis Smith.

Frank Lucas (piano, keyboards, synths), Marc Malitz (bass) and Barry Kleiber (bass) make up the rest of Fire Garden and each adds their own considerable expertise to the melting pot.


The album opens with title track Far and Near which is a haunting two minute instrumental that drips with pathos, feeling and intense emotion. Dominated by a sentimental piano note, it really strikes a chord with me, leaving me feeling slightly melancholy, but in a good way. There’s Something begins with a delightful strummed guitar before the drums become the driving force. Zee’s vocals lull you into a state of grace with their lush tone before the riff gets a little heavier and the song takes on a more serious feel. The chorus has a great hook and you just seem to be carried along on the wave of sentiment that the track engenders. There’s a slight interlude in the middle of the song, an ominous feeling that we are working up to something as everything slows down to a meditative pace. It’s a laconic and laid back, if intricate, build up to a slow burning guitar solo that hits you in the solar plexus and holds you in place while stripping your soul bare. A nicely judged and intelligent song that shows just how far Zee has come as a songwriter. A thunderously powerful riff is the opening to A New Day, a song that has the feeling of U2 but as if it was played by Metallica, the imperative verse drives on with the urgent vocals and dynamic drums. There’s a mesmerising feel to the heavy riffing and eerie organ note that adds to the wall of sound that is being generated. The slow build to the solo really sets you on edge and then Zee’s coruscating guitar really burns bright. A really compelling and forceful track that holds your attention to the explosive end.


Now to my favourite song on an album of great tracks, Life of a Drifter is a whimsical and nostalgic song that brings out feelings of hope and regret deep from your soul. The laid back chorus is gentle and touching breaking into a softly sung but heartfelt chorus. There is a sense of not wanting to look back at a sepia tinged past so that some sort of pain or less can remain hidden. Don’t look back, just focus on tomorrow, it really touched a nerve with me and I am moved every time I listen to it. The serenity is broken by clashing drums, guitar and keyboard, a maelstrom that leaves you breathless with its ferocity before a more focused and powerful rendition of the chorus is sung. This is all leading up to an absolute monster of a keyboard outro by the legendary Jordan Rudess, given free rein to let loose his mind-bending virtuosity. Turst me, you’ll be left slack jawed by the brilliance! The slow brooding A Thousand Lost Souls is a superb instrumental that seems to just be boiling under the surface, leaving the tension readily apparent. I love the way it makes the hairs on your arms stand up with its intensity and focus. Once you’ve heard the first note, you daren’t turn it off, it is like it is talking to you in a mystical musical code. War and Peace is a darkly powerful prog-metal track that feels like it has clawed its way up from the bowels of the earth, elemental and alive. The repeated, singular, words, are delivered in a menacing chant before the industrial riff and deliciously evil guitar threaten to take over your mind, leaving you a slave to the rhythm.


Faint Shadows follows that seriously heavy prog-metal direction with a riff that could topple mountains, primordial and destructive. There’s a feeling of barely controlled chaos that is bubbling under the surface before the ever more potent drumming of Jimmy Keegan breaks free. The vocals begin, almost shamen-like in their delivery, as if they are speaking an incantation and one that draws you in close. You know that something is lurking in the shadows but know not if it is of the darkness or the light, however, you have to follow your instinct and find out. It is a really vivid and dominant song that brooks no argument. Heartfelt, sombre and slightly mournful, the opening notes to Whitelight just leave your heart in your mouth. This is a passionate plea of a song that seems to linger in your subconscious. Zee’s vocals are wistful and dreamlike and you just find yourself left in a trance, able neither to move forwards or back, your attention on every word that you hear. The delicate guitar and keyboards just add to the atmosphere, a song powerful in its contemplation. The mood is broken by a dark-edged riff and frenzied drumbeat before a hypnotic piano brings a feeling of tension and the close of the song. At nearly eleven minutes, Diary Of The Blood Moon is the lengthiest track on the album and hits you straight away as being the most progressive of the songs too with an intricate play off between the drums, guitar and keys. Driven along by Jimmy’s expansive style and Zee’s brooding guitar it is a hectic ride for the uninitiated. Interspersed with interludes of calm and reflection, it is an intense crucible of musical majesty that bestrides this album like a colossal behemoth. The last two minutes raise the bar even higher with a build up of momentum that intensifies with a fiery guitar solo and dominant rhythm section to just leaves you open mouthed in admiration.

So Zee and Fire Garden have raised the bar even higher with this latest release. ‘Far and Near’ is a magnificent album that never loses focus or intensity and, while it is great to see Jordan Rudess and Jimmy Keegan giving their considerable talents to this enterprise, it is very much the product of Zee Baig and Fire Garden’s consummate skill set. Trust me, as an all consuming listen from beginning to end, this is a definite must buy for your music collection.

Released 21st October 2016

Buy ‘Far and Near’ direct from Fire Garden





Debut Self-Titled LP by heavy prog-trio Chickn, Inner Ear Records, Greece


Greek Dionysian band Chickn recently released their self-titled debut album, on October 10th via Inner Ear Records. Chickn is a modular music band formed during the Christmas holidays of 2012 in Athens. Bringing together an assemblage of musicians whose primary work has been influenced by Eastern Mediterranean music, psychedelic and progressive rock.

Angelos Krallis (vocals, guitars, lute, tsambouna, udu) grew up in Kos island, a Greek paradise close to the Anatolian coast of Turkey and hooked up with “rembetiko” musicians. Evangelos Aslanides (drums, percussion, djembe, darbuka, bendir) and Pantelis Karasevdas (drums, percussion, congas, djembe) both hail from Exarchia, the music scene of Athens. The  main  pillars  of  Chickn’s  music  is  improvisation,  as well  as  their  tendency  to  embrace  the unexpected. They  have  developed  a  large  body  of  artists that  they  work  with  and  as  a  result their liquid line-up gets temporarily solidified by their current expressive needs.


This is a radio zapping 68-minute car drive. This is a field unfolding in front of your very eyes and at the same time a call of wandering. This is an attempt of these unique musicians to invent themselves through playing. This is Jetztzeit rock. A sound conceived as a jump in the free sky of history.

The album was composed by the Athens-based trio in Athens and Valencia during the period 2014-2015. It was recorded from July to October 2015 in Sonic Playground Studio and in Iraklis Vlachakis’ home in Athens. The album was produced by Chickn and Nikos Triantafyllou and it was mastered by Alan Douches in West West Side Studios in New York.

Musicians appearing on this album:
Konstantinos Protopappas (electric guitar), Haris Neilas (darbuka, congas, cowbell), Andreas Kiltsiksis (oud, amanes) and the band Baby Guru (Sir Kosmiche (bass), Prins Obi (additional synths, additional vocals) and King Elephant (saxophone)).


1. Chickn Tribe

2. Omens

3. Aleppo – Jam

4. Modular Prayer
5. Taqsim – Rhy – Tavk Hava
6. Forget – Small Things
7. Articulation
8. Modular Prayer (Reprise)
9. Prelude On Mary
10. Shifting Time Blues – Akhedia



Review – OPERATION:MINDCRIME – Resurrection – by Kevin Thompson


I came across Queensryche whilst serving alongside the U.S. Forces among others in The Netherlands, where I bought the ‘Operation : Livecrime’ box set from the PX. The video was an excellent concept and I enjoyed it so much that when my video player died I bought it on DVD. I bought their back catalogue and traced the progression in their sound and Geoff Tate’s voice. I then bought ‘Empire’ which for me was the pinnacle of their recordings.

None of the others since have been particularly bad, ‘American Soldier’ being worthy of note but they never seemed to match either ‘Mindcrime’ or ‘Empire’. Then came the acrimonious split and albums from both parties. Traces from both of old successes but again nothing outstanding. I stopped at ‘Kings & Thieves’ and didn’t buy ‘Frequency Unknown’ or ‘The Key’ from Geoff’s new band Operation: Mindcrime , which was part one of a trilogy and quite badly mauled by the press.

So when I was asked to review this, the second of the three part story, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The old logo is cleverly reworked into the cover design which looks like a panel from the page of a graphic novel, a good start, but what is the concept? Who better than the man himself Mr Geoff Tate to explain, “It continues the story that began on the first album ‘The Key’ with the near death experience of the lead character known as ‘H‘ and his subsequent recovery of the missing encryption key. With the Key finally in his possession, ‘H‘ has everything he needs to finally launch his long awaited project called ‘The New Reality’. Or does he…”

Time to see if Mr Tate has everything he needs to resurrect my interest……


Intriguing sound effects, introduce the short, opening instrumental piece and title track ‘Resurrection’, which then slides into track two, ‘When All Fades Away’, a heavier more majestic piece of instrumentation which seems to imply the beginning of, or preparation for, a journey in it’s tone. Seguing into the thirty second track ‘A Moment In Time’, where Geoff Tate’s vocals make a brief introduction before we find ourselves ‘Through The Noize’, on the next track. Whilst Tate’s distorted vocals (similar to those used on previous recordings) are meant to impart a certain atmosphere, for some reason they seem to ‘muddy’ the sound on this recording and I have to really listen to understand the lyrics.

Whilst not classic Geoff Tate he appears to be moving forward has gathered a worthy band of musicians/vocalists to ably assist him so he’s not ‘Left For Dead’ yet, as this fifth track leans toward the ‘Queensryche’ trademark sound with memorable chorus. The lyrics indicate a fighting spirit, knocked down but undeterred he will rise and push on as he leads out with ‘It’s all I know….’

Most of the lyrics seem autobiographical and can be listened to as a continuation of Tate’s dislike for corporate/political improbity and corruption bought from excesses of wealth. Yet at the same time it could be viewed as a personal reflection of the last four years, since the acrimonious split from his former band mates in most unsavoury fashion have at times left him feeling ‘Miles Away’. The tracks seem to grow in stature along with Tate’s confidence and the selected performers are allowed to show their various talents, flourishing guitar solos and the drums in particular standing out here.

‘Do you think he knows?’ a question Tate feels ready to answer as he sings Healing My Wounds’, and brandishes his trusty sax solo on this album for this first time, (an instrument he under-uses in my opinion), which brings a different flavour to the sound and soaring guitar adds to the orchestration creating an epic feel. ‘I think he knows’.


The laid-back retro-‘ryche delivery on the eighth track belie ‘The Fight’ the man has been waging on all fronts. Acoustic finger picking intro and Geoff’s beginning to feel less reason to look backwards and a growing recognition he’s able to not only stand on his own terms but also that he’s free to explore avenues that may not have been possible within the band collective. He seems comfortable with this song, like a familiar snug blanket and let’s hope Tate’s not shy of using the old sound mixed in with new ideas to progress himself.

Tate may have had the impression at times that he’s ‘Taking On The World’, but he seems to be coming out on top with the best track on this album unashamedly channelling his inner ‘ryche, which echoes staple tracks like ‘I Don’t Believe in Love’. Whilst the voice is used a little more economically these days as age does it’s duty on the vocal chords, he is still on fine form and sounds as if he’s really enjoying himself for the first time in a while and finding his path forward. Again the musicianship as on all the tracks is excellent. I particularly like the introductions on each track as they add to the atmosphere.

I’m not sure Tate feels ‘Invincible’, but with his confidence asseveration on each track, number ten sees him facing off against his demons sensing he holds the key to his resurrection and growing stronger with each breath.

The heavier, bluesier ‘Smear Campaign’ wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve and the thin veneer of the concept fails to fully cover the most blatant of all the tracks to raise the bitter taste in the musical throat, on the thorny subject of the last four years. With cries of  ‘What’s the point, easy target’ and ‘People will either love you, or hate you’ among the lyrics it’s not a giant leap to see the real pain. Yet with shifting time-scales and changes in tempo it also showcases once again, the excellent musicians he has surrounded himself with and teases us with a brief but delicious slice of Geoff on sax and building into a dramatic finish.

As in any conflict you find at some stage you will be asked ‘Which Side Your On’, (it’s the way it was spelled on the review copy I was sent) as Tate appeals to anyone listening and rallies support for his cause. Unfortunately this seems to lose cohesion, sounding  more indistinct. For me this could have been left off the album as it offers nothing and causes the album to stumble a little and lose it’s way.


The penultimate track offers Tate ‘Into The Hands Of The World’, and is probably the riskiest track on the album as it juggles genre, mixing brass with heavy guitar riffs and twiddly keyboards along the way and whilst once again it doesn’t hold a consistent earworm of a tune it is more palatable than it’s predecessor and leads us to the grandiose platform for the last track.

 Tate addresses you ‘Live From My Machine’, recovering the album and finishing in majestically, relaxed style. ‘It’s always a challenge, facing the challenge’, he sings in acknowledgement of what he has achieved on this album.

It may not reach the dizzy peaks of past triumphs but ‘Resurrection, sees Geoff Tate climbing in the right direction and with conviction to greater heights and building empires.

(I can only hope the sound quality is better on the actual release.)

Released 23rd September 2016

Buy ‘Resurrection’ on CD from Amazon


Review – FVNERALS – Wounds – by Emma Roebuck


Glasgow Based FVNERALS’ Tiffany, Syd and Chris sit in that dark world of Doom, Ambient, post rock, shoe Gazing alternative music. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, upbeat about the music this trio produce. No, that’s not insulting, it’s just a fact about the music they produce. This is their fourth release and they have been around since about 2012.

The name evokes an image and the music reflects that right back in the mirror.  If can imagine the Cocteau Twins meeting Trent Reznor and then having a session with the Tangerine Dream (circa Zeit) then you have some idea of what to expect.

The sound is huge but full of space for Tiffany’s voice to swim in the soundscapes, more as a complimentary instrument than a vocalist putting lyrics over a song. This is Goth/industrial in the great tradition, following its predecessors and then leading the way to a different feeling. Their contemporaries, the likes of True Widow, Chelsea Wolfe and, to a lesser degree, Sigur Ros are ploughing the industrial furrow in an interesting way and getting an audience for it.

It is pointless doing a track by track description as this is an album that generates a feeling rather than songs which I would normally avoid except that we must never restrict ourselves to one path for we may miss much that is rewarding.

I will talk about Crown, the slow grinding guitar reminiscent of Tony Iommi on the first Black Sabbath album but without the release of any of the tension that builds from the beginning to the last 2 minutes, when it is replaced by a plaintiff keyboard and acoustic guitar sound. It lets you free long enough for a breather then goes straight into the next track Antlers. This is a lesson in guitar distortion and the use of Tiffany’s voice to provide a theme into an ambient openness drifting along on the current of the music. The closer Where is the most Spartan of all the tracks and it has a deep sense of loss and dread from beginning to end,  I would draw a connection to early Anathema here, if anyone needs a link.

To sum up really this is not even close to mainstream and it’s progressive music in that its seeks to find a place of its own that is as far from the 4/4 3 minute pop song of the “X factor” as you could possibly get. It has an atmosphere that is at the same time chilling and terrifying yet has a sense of comfort at the core.

None of the music is fast paced banging or hectic, it has a consistent rhythm to it.  If want something that is away from the mainstream and has a sense of ambient darkness then this is the one you want.

Released 14th October 2016.

Buy ‘Wounds’ from bandcamp.


Review – The Far Meadow – Given The Impossible – by Gary Morley


A challenge from the wallet emptier…

I’m to listen to a new release on Naughty Pachyderm’s imprint, write a review and post it off all before David “The Progmeister” Elliot realises I’ve been listening through the keyhole of his prog vault.

So I sneaked into Elephant HQ, snuck under the wallet emptier’s detection wet string and tin can alarm system, negotiated Tom Slatter’s tentacle armour, carelessly strewn about the floor. Through a door located beneath the might piles of CD’s awaiting re-homing, I step into a bright and sunny place, the Far Meadows.

And that folks is where our story really begins.

The press release for The Far Meadow’s ‘Given The Impossible’ helpfully tells me that the members of this band were in other bands before. The band claim to enjoy leek knotting, Icicle archery and banana pushing. I may have snatched a look at the unfinished article as banana pushing? Seems a bit farfetched to this progboy, but I’m here to listen to the noise they make, not comment on what they do when not making noise.

So , The Far Meadow – First impressions are that it’s a refined, gentle place where musicians meet to construct songs with verses and choruses, middles, beginnings and ends. They construct them in the traditional manner, with some lovely keyboard, flute and guitar flourishes between them.

The singer has a very pure soprano voice, all crystal and fine wine, whereas I’m more partial to an earthy red wine in an odd glass voice. But this voice is all pure elven tones,  a departure from my preferred dwarvish blues gravel throat singers that have lived a full life . If you play the “sound like” game, then it’s more Juliette Reagan than Marianne Faithfull, more Christina Booth than Beth Hart. But it works.

Marguerita Alexandrou has a nice tone, a clear and unfaltering delivery and an interesting quality to her inflection that gives extra character to the material. The high notes are dealt with in her stride without any of that ghastly X factor wobble that seems to be used to stretch every utterance into a poly syllabic outburst.


Here we have a singer in tune, on the beat and singing that compliments the band behind her. That’s another good thing. The album sounds like the entire band were involved with the final mix.

As the Elephant team were  kind enough to supply lyrics, I can finally do a proper grown up review and tell you that on this album, you learn about Wedding day nerves, Cracking the Enigma code, the facile nature of ambition, overcoming fear, a warning that technology cannot replace real engineers and more. OR I’ve misread the whole pile and it is actually a concept album about pan dimensional celestial flying nymphs… again.

So, modern themes for a modern Prog band to sing about. And they do sing. And they play. And they harmonise. And put in excellent little instrumental flourishes.

The songs sound like they are fully formed, not a collection of ideas and clever twiddly bits bolted together. As with all bands, the tipping point for me is would I enjoy them live?

The answer to this is YES.

I want to hear the dynamic shift and synth solo in the middle of Dinosaurs performed through a concert P.A. The Guitar solo after it will be a foot on monitor moment, adulation from the crowd driving the guitarist on through the solo. The keyboard and guitar parts are crying out for dry ice, big lights and a frenzied crowd…

Himalaya Flashmob cracks on , a rocky little ensemble after the Prog work out in Dinosaurs.

Lots of angular guitar riffs and angst filled vocals to start off, this is “The Epic” on the CD, a treatise on the vapid rewards of overachievement, A thoroughly modern disease, the overachiever’s bucket list route to enlightenment.

The track blasts off into It Bites land with some more great keyboard: guitar interplay before breaking through the clouds to a peaceful single guitar then instruments and ethereal voices paint the picture of the climbing of a mountain.

The protagonist seeks fulfilment through overachievement, joins the queue for the top, gets a wake up shot as finally they realise just how small they are, ego or no ego.

Do they learn from this? See the error of their ways and return a better person? The story is left at the point of enlightenment for us to decide. Not a cliff hanger, although, stuck at the top of a mountain struck by a sense of your own insignificance could be said to be the ultimate cliff hanger!


There is some great instrumental prowess here, but no sense of grandstanding. The music flows around you as you drift off in an enlightened cloud of Prog bliss. The final track, The Seamless Shirt starts all rock guitar and thundering drums, with a Zappa / Miles Davis Electric band vibe, the drumming is metallic rather than metal, then suddenly switches to a folk staple, not the first time this particular song has been shoehorned into an alien landscape .

The Stone Roses co-opted it on their debut album. Some pair of American folk singers adopted it too, back in the pre- streaming era.

Scarborough Fair gets dragged into the middle of this song, twisted to fit the narrative, we then flip back to the funky percussive tale of broken trust and dashed hope. a relationship in the making and unmaking of the shirt.

Again we get a guitar solo, this time , as I mentioned Frank, this references Steve Vai, with a lovely lyrical solo, the final instrumental section is a beautiful piano and drum piece, very Herbie Hancock in tone that stretches and bridges to the final verse.

Then, all too soon it’s over. 45 minutes of musical delights that is more progressive, more dextrous and more interesting than I deserved. Another fine wallet emptying collection for the ever expanding Bad Elephant stable.  I really need to negotiate a discount as this reviewing is getting expensive.

I know  I am lucky to get he pre-release mp3, but nothing beats the delight of owning the actual finished product. Be it vinyl or CD, it’s a thing of solidity in a fluid world.

‘Given The Impossible’ is that too, and like a good curry , it matures with time. I’ve listened constantly now for 4 or 5 plays. There are nuances and passages of beauty that my ears are enjoying navigating along. The more I listen the more it connects in my head to It Bites and Francis Dunnery’s lyrical guitar parts .

The naughty pachyderm has done it again, an excellent release.

Released 4th November 2016

Buy ‘Given The Impossible’ from Bad Elephant Music on bandcamp

Review – Blind Ego – Liquid – By Rob Fisher


I first came across Blind Ego courtesy of having originally discovered the delights of ‘World Through My Eyes (2005)’ by German based band RPWL. In the process of discovering more about them it emerged that lead guitarist Kalle Wallner was also running a solo project by the name of Blind Ego who, by pure coincidence, had just released a second album entitled ‘Numb (2007)’.

My interest was piqued by the superb musicians he had assembled to play with him. Paul Wrightson (ex Arena, replacing John Mitchell who sang on the first album), John Jowitt (ex IQ and Arena), Michael Schwager (ex Dreamscape) and Yogi Lang (fellow RPWL band member), with guest appearances by Sebastian Harnack (Sylvan) and Iggor Cavalera (Sepultura, Mix Hell).

Listening to ‘Numb’ was – and whenever I play it, still is – a happy revelation. Honest, fresh, atmospheric, it is full of punch and packed with energy and inventiveness. There is a steely drive and an exciting raw emotional power which resonates at all levels across the album. The intensity and the ever shifting flow of our emotions becomes the elemental force which powers and gives meaning to the music.

Wallner believes ‘Numb’ is all about the intensity of emotions, “snapshots of extreme feelings flooding one’s consciousness for a short time, siegeing the mind and letting nothing else reside next to them.” He emphasises this by using only one word for the title of each track: Lost, Guilt, Numb, Leave, Death, Change, Seek, Risk, Torn, Vow, Change. The music perfectly mirrors and captures this rollercoaster of emotions through solid rock-style drumming, crunching power riffing, all interspersed with acoustic arrangements and melodic solos which captivate and surprise.


It has been a long seven years since then and I’ll confess that news of a third studio album from the Blind Ego stable certainly put me in a state of agitated excitement. Wallner’s choice to lead with another single word title, ‘Liquid’, certainly seems to signal a clear intention to carry on where the previous album left off.

The musicians he has gathered around him this time are equally impressive. Vocals are shared between Arno Menses (Subsignal), Erik Ez Blomkvist (Seven Thorns) and Aaron Brooks (Simeone Soul Charger), whilst the always impressive Sebastian Harnack (Sylvan) returns alongside appearances from Heiko Jung (Panzerballett) and Ralf Schwager (Subsignal) on bass. It is also wonderful to see the inimitable Michael Schwager remaining behind the drum kit for this third instalment.

‘Liquid’ is an album of profoundly stark and unexpected contrasts – lyrically, emotionally and musically. Where ‘Numb’ has a relentless and intensely focused momentum, ‘Liquid’ to some extent takes its foot off the pedal, gives itself some time to breathe, and offers a more varied, versatile and challenging range of music with which to grapple. There is a greater sense of maturity about this release, a more reflective and contemplative approach to the song writing which takes the edge off the direct rawness which characterised ‘Numb’ and in the process, opens wider possibilities for emotive expression in and through the music.

The passion, the intensity and the focus are all still present in abundance. But there is now a more deliberate and even meditative quality coming through. When passion is spent and the rage of emotion has run its course, reason quietly returns and adds its voice once more. Indeed, this is often how the album feels; torrents of sharp, powerful, aggressive passages are followed by calmer, soothing almost heightened moments of tranquility and clarity, the instrumental ferocity dialed right back to leave an airy, almost passive, healing aftermath.


Kallner’s guitar work is blisteringly brilliant. Listening to the sheer precision of his playing, the eagerness and constrained passion he exudes and the forcefulness of his attack when he abandons controlled discipline and lets his virtuosity soar in some jaw dropping solo work belies the impression that this is something deeply personal. You get the feeling that he is working things through, maybe in his own mind, and riding the ebb and flow of shifting, troubled emotions as he goes along. Some people are good at expressing themselves through words; he lets his guitar do his thinking out loud.

To this extent, ‘Liquid’ becomes a fascinating insight into the turbulent thoughts and emotions which are swirling throughout the album, sometimes expressed in symphonic eddy’s churning just below the surface, at others gushing in anthemic, foot-stomping torrents before cascading into serene, harmonic waters. There is a natural momentum which carries you along from track to track and into the seamless, almost intuitive transitions between moods, thoughts and feelings.

Not everything on this album works. Just as you can become lost in your thoughts, so there are times when the music feels as if it has lost a little of its direction and focus. Some of the ideas don’t quite work as I suspect they were intended, upheavals in rhythmic timing perhaps too hasty and maybe one or two of the hooks not quite transiting to where the music wants to lead us. But then, thoughts are never complete, feelings are always on the way to somewhere else and the exuberance, fervour and excitement of the music is more than enough to carry us through the choppy waters to the next part of the river.

Wallner believes that ‘Liquid’ “completes a comprehensive artistic process that saw its beginnings years ago”. This new release certainly brings significant developments and unexpected progressions to the Blind Ego project. My sincere hope, however, is that rather than reaching the end and completing the journey, there are more bends yet to come in this particular musical river.

Released 21st October 2016

Buy ‘Liquid’ on CD or Vinyl from The Gentle Art Of Music