Review – Strangefish – The Spotlight Effect – by James R. Turner

Back in the day when I was more heavily involved in helping at gigs and on merch desks for the CRS than I am now (and we’re talking not quite 20 years ago) I had the pleasure of seeing some amazing bands at the HLC in Rotherham, during what some regard as the golden era of the old CRS. I watched bands like Mostly Autumn, Karnataka, Arena, Threshold, among many others (all of whom are now household names across this mighty span of genre that we cover here at Progradar) make their first tentative steps into the spotlight, some more successfully than others. Some became instant favourites but some took time to bed in.

Now, other than the mighty Jump, there was only one band who never played the same set twice and brought bags of charm and charisma to the stage, and who presided over some of my favourite CRS gigs over the years that I was attending either as staff or simply Johnny Punter.

That band of course is Strangefish, those Mancunian scamps who used to pop over the border on a regular basis, not just as ‘the turn’ but also as members of the audience. These guys didn’t just play prog, they were immersed in the scene, loving the music they were playing and the bands who weren’t them.

After releasing one EP and two albums, the last of which, ‘Fortune Telling’, was their masterpiece, a full blown and fantastic concept album, they took an extended holiday. Drifting off a scene that they had illuminated and blown away with their musical presence, wallflowers they weren’t, and yet once they’d reeled us in, they were gone. Always leave ‘em wanting more it seemed.

Now, only a mere 12 years after their last album, they return, with an enhanced line up, and a brand-new slice of sound, ‘The Spotlight Effect’.

The core band, charismatic vocalist Steve Taylor, Paul O’Neill on keys, Bob on guitars and Dave Whittaker on drums, welcome new members Carl Howard on bass and Jo Whittaker on vocals, (and having seen this line-up at their debut gig a few years ago, I can confirm they are a mighty powerful musical combination) this is Strangefish reborn.

The break seems to have done them the world of good and, on the surprising opener, the acoustic Death of Common Sense, the well observed and intelligent lyrics are back yet the sonic palette is expanded. It might seem brave opening an album with an atypical song and a new sound for them, but this is the confidence of a band who know they’ve still got it and have a renewed sense of purpose.

Progress in Reverse is a scathing look at where we are now over an amazing musical piece, really jumping out on you after the opener. This is more familiar territory but with that subtly harder edge and deeper sound, this is a real boot you up the bum moment.

As the title of the album (and its subtitle – the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are being noticed more than they actually are) suggests, it’s overriding themes are over exposure and the fact that anyone can be a celebrity by being online.

Topics which the wonderful, and heavier edged, Iconacon (what a fantastic title) tackles with some skill and aplomb, Bob rocking out with the best of them and the band musically on top form, trading licks and riffs and vocals.

There’s also loss felt on this album, the lovely Summer Slips Away is a hauntingly beautiful poignant ballad where the understated guitar work of Bob and Paul’s gentle keyboards allow Steve and Jo’s wonderful duet to shine. The two voices work perfectly, it’s amazing the impact a second vocalist has on the band’s sound.

Strangefish have always been fond of their epics and well known for their effervescent stage presence and fun-loving attitude. There’s been serious undercurrents from tracks like Ignorance of Bliss of ‘Fortune Telling’ and, of course, they are no strangers to epic work outs that give them room to breathe and build and here is no exception.

The centrepiece of the album is the three-parter Delicate, consisting of 1: Now is not the time, 2: Half the Battle and3: The Light at the other side. This is a full-blown epic, looking at the struggle of life, the human condition and reaching out for help. There is so much going on here that I could spend the whole review analysing it however, the nature of the subject matter and the nuances and, indeed, resonance it will have with you is dependant on your perspectives and experiences, so I will leave it for you to decipher emotionally. I will say that Steve has never sounded better on vocals, particularly about 12 minutes in on the Half the battle section, before the motive spoken word part and then Bob’s guitar and Paul’s keyboard kicks in, it is heart wrenching.

The part where Jo’s vocals kick in after Paul’s sublime subdued keyboards and leads us into the Light at the other side, followed by Steve returning with a haunting counter melody, is the sound of 2018 Strangefish. Two powerful vocalists pushing each other on and giving the song such emotional depth and resonance.

Title track The Spotlight Effect features some great heavy guitar and bass work, the addition of Carl has ever so subtly brought the heavier and darker sound of the bands music out, with Bob and Dave sounding like they are enjoying themselves, riffing away whilst Paul’s keyboard work sparkles.

The instrumental Reverse Switch does that sneaky prog trick of revisiting Progress in Reverse, leading into the album closer, the rousing and stirring Up toYouThis has the closest sound to ‘old’ Strangefish as anything on here, with it’s big chorus and optimistic message, it finishes this cracking album with a positive and funky vibe.

Bands reforming after a break with new members can either give us a ‘90125’ or a ‘Calling All Stations’. Fortunately, this album is the follow up that ‘Fortune Telling’ deserved and is Strangefish’s strongest album to date. After having had that break, I think we can now put Strangefish back where they belong.

Next time when you look in the dictionary under the phrase ‘Comeback’ you will see a picture of this album.

Released 18th June 2018

Contact the band at sales@strangefish.co.uk to get a copy of the CD

Band picture by Jo Eames – Bank Studios

Review – Devin Townsend Project – Ocean Machine – Live At The Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv – by Jez Denton

When I hear of bands with project in the name, I get a kind of pre-conception of what I’m going to be listening too. When the main artists name precedes the project I’m pretty certain that I’m going to be hearing a vanity project, some sort of self-congratulatory audio jerk off; a look at me, ain’t I clever piece of work. Not that there is anything wrong with that as often the artist is right, they are that good. They are entitled to show off and give it large. Like Muhammed Ali in his pomp, some projects own the ring they are in and they create an enigmatic aura of musical invincibility. They say, and prove, with some justification, this is great stuff, you WILL enjoy it.

Often the reason this arrogance is successful is because it is done with an element of tongue in cheekiness, a knowing sense of not taking things too seriously. And this is something achieved by the Devin Townsend Project with glorious aplomb. The live album that dropped into my inbox last week is a majestic piece of over the top, bombastic, showing off, rifftastic and oblivion inducing noisiness; a symphony of a tight and talented band being directed by the Project leader to create amazing sounds that help provide contrasting visions of the discordant ingredients that make up this performance on record.

As a reference point I couldn’t help but think back to the early 1980’s and one of the original, and often underrated, exponents and developers of science within electronic music, Thomas Dolby. In 1982 he released his ‘Golden Age of Wireless’ album which was chock full of ideas that invoked scientific exploration and discovery. Which is something that DTP seem to have taken on and updated for a 21st century guitar driven band. Quite honestly, like Dolby, there are great parts of this album that are just completely bonkers, mad as a box of frogs, completely and utterly deliciously loony tunes. With my headphones on, listening to this album, I imagined a band with Christopher Lloyd playing guitar, Dr.Frank ‘n’ Furter on bass and Dr.Frankestein on drums. It is seemingly a live performance directed by Tim Burton in one of his more weird moments. It is a triumph of surrealist bombasticness, an opera of madness, a cacophony of crazy.

The thing with this album and project is that there is a lot thrown at it. But it works. From the choir that moves between sounding like a southern gospel group through to Russian sailors, often in the same song, to the crashing meld of guitars and drums, this live performance treads the thin line between being too over the top, too pretentious, too silly whilst still having glorious moments of sheer, unadulterated and joyful, scenery chewing genius. Referencing a stand out kitsch cult cinematic moment of the early 80’s, if a director somewhere wished to remake Flash Gordon, then the Devin Townsend Project would have to be top of the list for the soundtrack. This live performance is fabulous, brilliant, funny and glorious.

Released 6th July 2018

Order this from Burning Shed here

Review – Haken L-1VE – by James R Turner

 

Haken released their rather special ‘Affinity’ album back in 2016 and followed it up with a celebratory 10th anniversary European tour which, unsurprisingly, focused on that electro inspired album and its predecessor, the album that made their name, ‘The Mountain’.

Now, in the best tradition of all bands, they have decided to release their first live album, and what a package it is for fans.

Not only do we get a double disc live set taken from their gig in Amsterdam last year, but we also get the full set on DVD, complete with a 2nd DVD of their 4-song set at ProgPower USA in 2016 and the official music videos for Initiate, Earthrise and Lapse.

For anyone who was on that tour (and I was) this is a wonderful memento, and for those who weren’t lucky enough to be there, well, let me tell you more.

Its good to see Haken releasing their first live album as I get incredibly bored with bands getting on the album, tour, live album treadmill, especially where (particularly with the bigger bands) the set lists are written in tablets of stone and, much like dinosaur remains, are very much museum pieces. The key to a great live record (like ‘Wings Over America’, Wishbone Ash’s ‘Live Dates’ or ‘Field Recordings’ by The Fierce and the Dead) is its scarcity, and its immediacy. No-one wants to see a concert where the band duplicates their album sound live on stage with no spontaneity or the feeling that you are living in the moment, and no-one wants to buy a live album from a gig that sounds like the studio recordings, that’s the ultimate example of irrelevance. If you keep releasing live albums you lose your audience and Haken, wisely, have chosen a moment when they have a breadth and depth of songs to chose from and a moment in time when they are currently an energetic and enthusiastic live band with a lot of presence and charisma.

The current line-up of Ross Jennings (vocals) who works the stage like a frontman should which, added to the powerhouse drumming of Raymond Hearne and driving bass of Conner Green, puts that bedrock together to give Richard Henshall’s & Charles Griffiths guitars room to stretch. The keys of Diego Tejeida round it out and it’s the electronic sound that helps make the ‘Affinity’ material so strong on stage.

This taut and assured performance is reflected throughout this record. One of the treats for those of us who love the longer songs is Aquamedley, 22 minutes of the tracks from their debut album ‘Aquarius’, reworked and forming an integral part of the set.

That is what a live show, and album, should be all about, all eras are covered, with a rousing version of Visions closing the record. As previously stated, ‘The Mountain’ and ‘Affinity’ make up the bulk of the tracks, as songs like 1985, Affintiy.exe/Initiate and epic The Architect get a good work out, making their their mark on the bands set.

The only minor issue I have with Haken at this juncture of their career is that they seem to have their feet in a number of camps, neither being full blown prog, prog-metal or sitting in the electronic arena that ‘Affinity’ introduced to their sound. I would like to see them pick a direction (preferably the electronic sound) and move more cohesively towards it, but that’s my opinion, and it doesn’t detract from what is an excellently produced and sublimely performed live show.

With the superb bonus material on the second DVD, and the videos from their excellent Affinity album, this is a fantastic snapshot of where Haken are now, and of what a powerful and confident band they have become.

If they continue down this road, and hone their sound following the electronic influences of ‘Affinity’ they could be well positioned to be one of the defining bands of the new era.

Released 22nd June 2018

Order the album from Burning Shed here

 

Review – Galasphere 347 – s/t – by Roy Hunter

I’m old enough to remember that way back in
the 1960’s I loved a children’s program called
“Space Patrol”… The main characters flew
around the Solar System in a craft called the
Galasphere 347… And there ends any
similarity with this grand musical offering
from a new Anglo-Scandinavian band!!

The combined members of MotorpsychoWhite Willow and Änglagård (Ketil Vestrum Einarsen, Jacob Holm-Lupo & Mattias Olsson), along with Stephen
Bennett, have come up with a trio of super-melodic tracks here…

Track #1 – The Voice of Beauty Drowned (10:43) kicks us off quietly and
builds into a tour de force of symphonic prog beauty!! The “beauty”
here was never drowned… The mixture of harmonic vocals, guitars and
keyboards I find very uplifting – all held together with a melodic bass
line and measured drumming. KVE’s flute soars and searches out
tuneful heights, together with the “prog” ingredients of key-changes,
time changes, we have a special piece of music that I’m sure will be a
benchmark others will seek to emulate!

Track #2 – The Fallen Angel (15:35) Perfection!! A relaxed beginning with
an overlay of chiming guitars and soothing keys… The lyrics narrate a
tale of loss and woe but aren’t depressing in any way… “Reach out”
they urge us and yes, the proggy formula of guitar and keys do just
that!! The inclusion of a sublime piece of brass sets the tune off to a tee!
More virtuoso key work interspersed with harmonies from this talented
gathering of musicians brings this longest track to a fantastic finish!

Track #3 – Barbarella’s Lover (15:18) A ballad of heartbreak and elation
together? “Passion always gets us in the end…” The tried, tested and
perfected combination of excellent musicianship, song-writing, and
delivery leave us wanting more!

I hope this is only the first of many more recordings to come from
Galasphere 347

This album, only in my possession for a few hours, has already
become a contender for my album of the year!!!

Released 20th July 2018

Pre-order the album from Karisma Records here:

Galasphere 347

Also available from bandcamp here

Review – Stone Angel Syndrome – Discovery – by Progradar

“Discovery is a conceptual piece, a journey through time and space, but also a journey through our own lives. The music is progressive with moments of heaviness,ambient elements and gentle, emotional soundscapes fused with electronic drums.”

And so says the PR information for Stone Angel Syndrome’s debut release, one I’ve had the pleasure of seeing come to fruition for Kevin Burlison who, along with Dave Blackburn, is the driving force behind this interesting project. The album was written while Kevin was going through some difficult experiences in his life (I’ll say no more as that is not my story to tell) and you can tell he has put his heart and soul into it.

Kevin provides keyboards, synths, piano, harpsichord and hammered dulcimer, Dave all the electric and acoustic guitars. Martyn Leckenby is now the full time bassist and also helping on this release were Andy Plemper (sitar) and Chris Davison with vocals on the title track and who also provided mixing duties.

‘Discovery’ is a challenging release, intelligent music that takes some digesting and understanding. The ambient arrangements are reminiscent of Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre (just check out (and the planets dance) in the Dark Eternal World and you’ll see where I’m coming from), floating in a vacuum with the whole Universe in front of you, your mind an open book.

The band have thrown in a bit of a curveball on the first two tracks, A shadow over sunrise & Trans-lunar express, where the lush textures and atmosphere segue into something a lot harsher and darker, like a jam session involving Edgar Froese and an early iteration of King Crimson. The music jars and crashes creating a stark and demanding soundscape that really asks questions of the listener. To my ears it works incredibly well but, to be fair, it is not for the faint of heart and your heart rate does come back to normal when the wistful scenic music returns.

The only vocal track on the album is the title track, Discovery, which closes this intriguing and soul-searching musical journey out with something more akin to classical neo-progressive rock. It’s a calming and contemplative piece of music that lends an almost spiritual feel to the album and left me in an incredibly thoughtful and reflective frame of mind.

A collection of songs written from an intensively personal point of view that leaves a raw and honest feel to an album that requires more from the listener than you would normally expect. Ultimately it is an incredibly rewarding experience if you’re prepared to go beyond your usual boundaries and I highly recommend it.

Released 11th May 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

Review – Mike O’Donovan – No Time Like The Present – by Progradar

FOUND – Somewhere in Limerick – The Spiritual Successor to Van Morrison!

Yep, after listening to the debut release from highly regarded Irish singer songwriter Mike O’Donovan, I really could see that as a headline in a mythical Irish entertainment rag.

‘No Time Like The Present’ was recorded in Limerick, where he was born and raised, and spans many of the styles that have influenced Mike down the years, including the aforementioned Mr Morrison. Just listen to the opening track Underground and you cannot help but hear the legendary Irish musician and that sound and influence is at the heart of this involving, warm and nostalgic collection of songs.

Mike’s voice also has that halting character that infused Johnny Cash’s vocals in his later years, no more so than on Ghosts and If There’s A Time. The stellar supporting cast of musicians add some real class and polish to the songs too with some wonderful guitar work, brass and harmonica giving a real roots music feel.

There really is something for everyone on this album, the Mariachi hued It Was On A Night Like This, the 50’s smooth jazz rhythms of The Dancer and the elegant Santana guitar that highlights Distant Conversation but, for me, it’s Mike’s soulful vocal that makes this record such a good listen.

A debut that has been a long, long time coming, ‘No Time Like The Present’ is a wonderful collection of songs that shows a songwriter hitting his peak and you can hear the joy and love in every note.

Released 1st December 2017

Download album from cdbaby here

Order CD from the Irish Baha’i bookshop here:

CD – No Time like the Present, by Mike O’ Donovan

 

 

Review – Raging Twilight – s/t – by Progradar

The 1970’s in the US was a real melting pot of influences that produced some incredible music and defined the sound for the decade.Take your Neil Young, Eagles, Stephen Stills, Willie Nelson and the like and the blend of country, blues, gospel, folk and rock that melded into the sound of Americana that is still loved to this day.

Transplant that sound into the thriving live music scene in Glasgow and you have the possibility of some seriously impressive music. The competitiveness that this creates gives a spin-off where only the very best rise up through the ranks in true ‘spirit of survival’ fashion. Raging Twilight have demanded attention due to finely honing their sound and the playing pedigree of the musicians involved. This has given them the due respect and respect that has been properly won.

Their self-titled album is full of impressive tracks that take their cues from that pivotal 70’s sound mainly due to the extensive travels through Canada and the southwest USA of founder member Jack Law, who formed the band with Dougie Harrison.

The influences come flooding in from the first notes, Don’t Want A Lover channeling Neil Young, the bluegrass simplicity of Old Glass Jar  and Hope Sails The River with it’s Celtic hues and hints of The Pogues. The whole album is a wonderful musical journey through music that has influenced a generation of listeners and is an enthralling ride.

I’ve recently got into the solo work of Stephen Stills and can hear subtle hints of that amazing musician throughout, intentional or not. Dust Bowl Rust Belt Blues, Chemical Jayne, The Still with their elegant guitar and haunting vocals, it’s a nostalgic look into the past that leaves you in a wistful frame of mind.

Then there’s Nothing’s There, a superb tune full of English eccentricity that reminds me of The Travelling Wilburys, a real grin inducing song!

If you’re a fan of superbly constructed songs that take their influence from those greats of the past but are given an up-to-date flavour then you have opened the right door. Come on in and enjoy the ride!

Released 16th April 2016.

RAGING TWILIGHT – Raging Twilight (aRTee Records)

 

Review – Matt Baber – Suite For Piano And Electronics – by Jez Denton

Whenever I get a new album through to review from the great guys at Progradar and Bad Elephant Music I tend to download it onto my phone and put the headphones on to listen whilst I walk my dog in the morning. It’s a time, as the world around us comes to life, for reflection and to empty troubles and worries from the previous days and prepare for whatever is going to be thrown at us. And it’s a time when I can drift off to wherever the music I’m listening takes me, thinking about the images and feelings that are inspired and where I draft, in my head, these reviews I write.

This morning’s walk with Mungo was an enriching experience as the debut solo release, ‘Suite for Piano and Electronics’ by Matt Baber created an ambience that complemented our early morning enjoyment of the countryside around our home in North Oxfordshire. Baber, with reference to his influences such as Steve Reich and Keith Emerson, is a pianist and keyboard player of some sublime skill; the music he creates has a simple beauty and flow that is evocative and moving. It is not easy to categorise this music, as Baber himself says in Bad Elephant Music’s press release, but it’s all the better for that, this is music that gives the listener the scope with which to enjoy it how they wish.

When I was a kid I used to be inflicted, by my dad on Sunday morning’s, with easy listening piano ‘lift’ muzak from the likes of Richard Clayderman and that gave me a distrust of anything piano based. However, in recent years, I have found a new love for this instrument through the work of the likes of Rick Wakeman and Tony Turrell who have both released fabulous albums of piano playing. Baber’s album fits neatly into that new love I have.

As I walked across the fields in the early morning with my dog, two contrasting pieces of music came to my mind. Firstly, the work of the likes of Vaughan Williams and Elgar, pieces of work very much inspired by the environment around them with Baber’s suite having the feel, if not necessarily the style, of something quintessentially English in its backbone. The second point of reference for me, and which is the highest compliment I can pay Baber, is that, once I finished this album, the piece of music I needed to listen too was the theme from the film, Merry Christmas Mr.Lawrence, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s hauntingly beautiful piece. The lifts and drops in style and tempo on this album create that same beautifully evocative wonder as Sakamoto’s masterpiece, it truly is that good.

Matt Baber has created here an album that is, as Bad Elephant’s David Elliott says, ‘…intelligent and melodic stuff, easy to fall in love with.’ I certainly did, I’m sure people who take the time to listen to this will do too. Put it on your headphones, take yourself and your dog, if you have one, for a long, long walk in the fields and countryside and immerse yourself in the beauty around you and in your ears.

Released 15th June 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

Review – GEPH – Apophenia – by Progradar

“Apophenia is he experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data, the term was coined by the German neurologist, Klaus Conrad.”

Now we’ve got the lesson out of the way, ‘Apophenia’ is also the second album from cutting edge Boston based instrumental progressive jazz metal trio GEPH. The group consisting of Josh Goldberg and John Tyler Kent on Chapman stick and Josh Merhar on drums released their debut self-titled album in March of 2016.

Let’s get one thing clear, I’m a big fan of the first release going so far as to say,

“…you end up with a really intense and powerful listening experience that makes you think and it is all the better for it. GEPH is a band worth watching as they really should be going places!”

So this new collection of tunes has a lot to live up to. I won’t ramp up the tension too much but, suffice to say, I was in no way disappointed…

The intense jazz/metal/prog fusion of opening track Macroaggressions gives a pointer to what is to come, the intricate stick work between Goldberg and Tyler Kent instantly mesmerises you and Merhar’s obvious skill on the drums adds an off-kilter counter balance. It’s a deliciously dark piece of music that leads on the path to temptation. Whole Body Headbangadds mystery and intrigue in a chilling fashion, there is definitely a sombre, even sinister, feel to the music on these first two tracks and I like the intrigue it conveys.

The haunting, simple grace of Little Guy is a wistful contrast tot he previous tracks, just lose yourself in the near three minutes of ambient music and let it wash over you, leaving a carefree atmosphere. It segues perfectly into the laid back grooves of Get Your Insignificance, to my ears a track that defines why I like this trio so much. The Chapman Sticks deliver a real cool and collected sound and the staccato style of the drums a perfect accompaniment as the tempo increases.

“We kept what we thought worked on the first album all the while trying out new sounds, directions and ideas. The results feel much more organic to me, and the whole album feels as though it really stays with you. This is the best collection of music I’ve been a part of yet.” – Josh Goldberg.

The stylish sounds keep on coming with the urgency of Mourningstar the next funktastic track for your ears to enjoy. There’s an edgy, almost free-form jazz beat to the music and the baroque style to the stick play enthralls from beginning to end. That earlier dark and labyrinthine vibe returns on the gloriously moody W.W.F.D, near nine minutes of mystic, arcane and almost dystopian sounds that really get under your skin and leave you with a very uneasy feeling indeed.

The album closes with the space jazz/metal grooves of Back From Space Earth and the guys really jam out on this elegantly psychedelic tune that has your toes tapping and your head nodding to the rhythm. It’s tripping music for the jazz/prog generation and has a nostalgic smile in every note.

To my ears GEPH have taken everything that was good about the first album and given a coat of polish and added sophistication to deliver a collection of songs that intrigue and impress on every level. They’ve lost that raw, brash edge and matured into a very fine group of musicians who certainly know which direction they are headed in.

Released 6th July 2018.

Check out the band’s website for news on pre-orders coming soon – here

 

 

Review – Glass Hammer – Mostly Live In Italy – by Progradar

“While it’s standard practice for bands to edit live material before releasing it, we knew going in that the guitar tracks would need replacing. We viewed that as an opportunity to do something really unique with this album, namely, adding some new ideas to the mix while preserving the integrity and energy of the live show.” – Glass Hammer co-founder Steve Babb.

That explains the album title then, glad that’s out of the way! ‘Mostly Live In Italy’ represents Glass Hammer’s first-ever concert in Italy at the 2 Days + 1 Prog Festival in Veruno and they were determined to create an incredible memento from that experience that their fans would love.

It features nearly all of the band’s amazing ‘Valkyrie’ album, a wonderful treatise on the horror, fear and eventual hope of World War 1 along with nearly twenty minutes of classic Glass Hammer material.

The symphonic introduction raises the hairs on the back of your neck and then the instantly recognisable duo of Steve Babb’s bass and Fred Schendel’s keys take over as we move into the smooth sounds of The Fields We Know and the energetic tones of Golden Days where the guys also get to show their instrumental chops, Susie Bogdanowicz’s elegant vocals stamp their authority on proceedings immediately. From the first note you know that this is going to be a cultured live album, taking all that’s great about the studio releases and adding that edgy, immediate feel that you can only get from a live setting. There’s a nice flow to the music and you feel you are being drawn into the actual performance.

One of my favourite tracks from ‘Valkyrie’ is No Mans Land and this domineering, dread inducing song is giving a haunting treatment on the live stage, a powerful statement that lives with you long after it comes to a close. Nexus Girl, Fog of WarDead And Gone – they all hold you in rapt attention, Susie’s stage presence coming across in her regal vocal delivery and the musicians just excel in front of a live audience. This is a band at the height of their powers and sure of their place in the pantheon of prog rock bands, just listen to Eucatastrophe and you’ll see what I mean.

A welcome addition to the tracklist is the wonderful The Glass Hammer Melody – Chronos Deliverer/If The Sun which had me grinning from ear to ear and picking out the parts of classic GH songs from the years gone by, the close out is just magical, the keyboards and Aaron Raulston’s drums bringing the piece to a crescendo and the vocals delivering the classic lines,

“When the morning comes, when at last the sun shines clear, I will hear you singing…”

It’s utterly spine tingling and then we finish off with a high-energy, up-tempo version of Hyperbole from 2009’s ‘Three Cheers For The Broken Hearted’. Here the band really sound like they are most definitely ‘on it’ and it is a vibrant end to what has been an utterly involving near seventy five minutes of ‘mostly’ live music.

Once again, the seminal US progressive rock band Glass Hammer have delivered on their promise, ‘Mostly Live in Italy’ is progressive rock at its majestic best in an incredible live setting, what more could you possibly want?

Released 18th May 2018

Order the live album from Glass Hammer’s webstore here