Review – Mary Reynaud – Make It Together – by Progradar

Cover 2

As I travel though this world full of incredible highs and unbelievable lows my companion has always been music. The type of music has changed through the years but one thing has been constant, it is music written not to make money but to enrich the lives of those that would hear the notes.

Obviously, since I started writing about music, the vast majority has been progressive rock and all of its variants but every now and again I hear something that people would not expect me to listen to but which really moves me in many ways.

The little beauty that grabbed my attention this time was the solo EP by long time Franck Carducci Band member Mary Reynaud, a delightful little bluegrass/folk/singer-songwriter concoction called ‘Make It Together’.

Consisting of six tracks and featuring Dorian Ricaux and support from Manu Bertrand and Franck Carducci himself, from the first listen it has brightened my day and washed away the blues.


“Like a Polaroid snapshot, this record represents the capture of a moment in time. It was not conceptualized and prepared as one normally prepares an album. However, during one evening in March, there was Franck, Manu and Dorian reunited in my living room gathered around me and my songs. Notes began flying, musical arrangements were settled and the idea to seize the moment was born. Two weeks after being in the studio, all three of us in a room and we recorded. Everything was captured as is, our hearts, our respiration, the ideas that came, our voices broken with emotion, the movements, the tiny flaws … just like in my living room. We mad it, together. And now, all you have to do is take a seat with us.” – Mary Reynaud.

So, all we have to do is press play and immerse ourselves in these wonderful pared back songs of wistful beauty, longing, joy, love and remorse, go on then!

“Last night a comet crashed in my dream, I first thought it might be a real bad thing…”

Magic Passerelle is an upbeat, fast paced little toe-tapper with some excellent fret work on Mary’s 1974 Martin D18 guitar and her delicate, yet sultry voice is the only accompaniment required. Just let the music wash over you and enjoy the feeling of the sun and wind on your back, a song for the summer for definite. The guitar playing is an utter joy.

“Close your eyes and stop your cries cause I will always be there, To dry your tears and take your fears and keep you warm with me…”

We turn to wistful and winsome with Make It Together a soft hued and soft timbred delight. The guitar playing drips emotion and Mary’s vocal is full of melancholy and yet gives a feeling of hope. The guitar playing and the way this delightful troubadour sings give a real feeling of gallic bluegrass. A song for warm nights sat around an open fire with a fine red wine, French of course!

“The sky is blue and I”m in a cloudy mood, I say I’m cool but my face don’t move…”

A sort of jazz/folk track with a light blues infusion (well, to my ears anyway), Sad For Nothing really hit home with me as it mirrored my feelings exactly, going through a difficult phase in my life. Stylish guitar playing, polished and earnest vocals and yet a feeling of remorse or something similar lying in wait in the background. The wonderful guitar picking is a delight to hear, a song for those close to us, late nights and serious discussions.

“I think I have a crush on you, It seems like I am falling for you, I know I’m wrong, I’m so young, but there’s not much that I can do…”

A passionate song of love and longing, No Way You Can Guess is full of beautiful fragility from the compassionate vocals through to the dreamy and contemplative guitar playing. I feel summer days and grassy banks alongside a jewel like, burbling stream, sepia tinged and nostalgia filled, where there is love, there will always be hope.

“Let’s spend the afternoon under the figtree, I’m Alice in wonderland and you are a pixie, Undercover of the leaves, there is no distance…”

The upbeat feeling returns with the utterly charming bluegrass hues of Under The Figtree. A three minute ditty with clever lyrics, clever guitar playing and Mary’s knowing vocals. You get a feeling of the mystery that Mary shows when she is in character as Alice in the live Franck Carducci shows. One to stand up and dance to under the stars, carefree and happy with life and yourself. A song of pure good-feeling, happiness and an utmost joie-de-vivre, bravo Mary!

“Stuck in frontof that white page, Wondering what you’d want me to say, I’m lost in an ocean of question marks, Time to give a piece of me…”

I loved reading the lyrics to 3 Chords And The Truth, the never ending battle about whether the songwriter should write to please the audience or just give a bit of themselves in the hope that the honesty will strike a chord. It is a wonderful song, straight from the heart of Mary Reynaud and you can hear the inner turmoil in her voice, a creation of sheer charm, elegance and grace. This is music pared back to the basics with the refined guitar adding a subtle backing to Mary’s heartfelt lyrics. Always be true to yourself, give all of yourself and no-one can ask for anymore, a parable for modern times perhaps?

Music truly is the food of love and you can’t help but adore this beautiful collection of songs from this talented lady. They lifted my soul from some very dark places and this EP should be on everybodys wish list. A natural feel-good lift for the body and mind and songwriting of the highest calibre, Mary Reynaud has released something true to her heart and we should all be thankful.

Released 14th September 2016

Orders will be available from 14th September from Mary’s website







Review – Children In Paradise – Morrigan – by Gary Morley


Another day, another new treat via cyber mail from the wallet emptier.

This time, I chose the album on the basis of the beautiful artwork.

See what I mean?

So, as per standard operating procedure, I magically converted the ones and zeros Mr WE sent me and stuck them to  shiny metallic disc, inserted said disc into a receptacle in a black box with a single glowing eye, pressed the arrow and…

It unfolded into a musical tapestry that beguiled and enchanted in equal measures.

What Children In Paradise sound like – All about Eve meet Panic Room. Bjork and Lisa Gerrard guesting with Opeth. Iona, Dead can Dance with guitars… Nightwish, Panic Room, that whole Symphonic Rock , female fronted Prog metal thing that’s a staple of the European Rock diet, but with a Celtic twist.

This is a recent area of Prog / Rock/ Metal that I’ve been dipping the metaphorical toe in.

There are the angelic voices and big guitar parts as seems to be the recipe for all of the above. But whereas Nightwish go operatic and Wagnerian on you, The Children take the folk / Celtic route. That’s where the charm of this album captured me. It’s haunting, mellow yet has bursts of Death metal growls and big guitar riffs. But it also has delicate keyboards, melody and a wide soundscape to get lost in

If I labelled albums by feel and vibe, then this would fit in with Arjen Luccasson’s “Ambeon” Devin Townsend’s “Ghost” album, Luna Rossa’s “Secret & Lies”, White Willow’s “Ignis Fatuus”, or the Nordic Giants albums.

It mixes elements of Prog ( lots of understated guitar , very Pink Floyd in places) , elements of folk , straight forward head shaking boogie ( Part 2 Cu Chulainn Is Mine has a middle passage that cries out for air guitar and good ol’ Headbangin’ !) added to the mix are a smatter of  Metal guitar and crashing drums. Live, this would sound magnificent, the orchestral parts sweeping you away.


So, for the 5th listen I put on my nice shiny new headphones, and was transported into the land of the Children.

Alone opens with a big drum sound and a pulsing bass, choppy piano and possibly a harpsichord? The singer intones words pure of tone .As with most mp3 files, the sound is compressed to the disservice of the words, but the feel of the track is cinematic and the strings swirl, leading to a guitar layered piece with acoustic and electric parts jousting and combining to build the epic soundscape.

Lyrically, it sounds like a song of unrequited love, her waiting for him, offering to help him, telling him she waits for him, all she has to give is her love… She’s waiting for him to acknowledge and reciprocate…

I wait opens with voice and acoustic guitar, a plaintive song of longing, the protagonist’s lonely view echoed by the music with flutes or Celtic pipes making an appearance.

I’m Falling opens with the sound of either a tuba underwater or a very very angry wraith playing saxophone. Intriguing sample! Here we have a “cookie monster” growl, but it doesn’t intrude, on the contrary, it adds a sense of narrative to the piece, whether this voice is a force for good or evil in the story I’m not sure, but we seem to be at a tipping point with the middle section taking on a much heavier sound, big big riffs, thundering bass and a great flanged guitar solo.

The atmosphere invoked in the next track I Will Follow You is one of menace, the promise of following you more of a threat than a promise if you’ll forgive the pun.


Battle is looming at least it feels that way with the snare drum echoing as the guitar crash through the mix. Far from being a song of devotion, the declaration of “I will Follow “slipping through the music and into the next piece.

Here it’s all about waiting, a sunny feel with the pure voice and melody slowly being enveloped by darker chords, the menace builds as the track grows, This is the core of the album, a trilogy with the Metal side coming through with a huge guitar sound, lush strings and orchestration conveying the power and majesty of a full throttle rock band.

The voice is deep in the mix, centre stage but overwhelmed by the thundering battle all around it. The narrator still waits for them to come back to her through the battle and in part 3 it appears that even dying won’t stop the reunion, with her now pleading to come find you, never leave you, and that his is your nightmare – not sure if it’s being lost, being found or something worse, but the music drives on, a big big sound very nice it is too.


As you may have guessed, I like what is here.

I liked it so much that in the middle of writing this, I stopped, logged onto the Band’s website and ordered a bundle of both albums for 30 Euros…

Yea, the curse of Martin strikes again!

I also then discovered the nationality of the band, and thought C’est La Vie, a second Gallic Prog band, C’est Tres Bon!

I digress, tracks 9 & 10  , In My Mind  and He’s Dying are where the Celtic vibe comes to the front – For those of a certain age, think  Davy Spillane goes metal, or for those of you younger than the Century, the sound is very much in the feel of Troy Donockley (Iona & Nightwish)  . Uilleann Pipes mixed with guitars and a full throttle rock band. A Glorious noise indeed.

And then it stops, a cliff hanger ending. the song drives towards the cliff, the music fades and the haunting final phrase of I see the Light echoes and fades.

It’s not Prog in the pastoral Genesis lineage, this is darker, a twisted hybrid of Celtic roots, Hard Rock and Prog that takes  you on a journey through the landscape that’s more EM Escher or Tim Burton.

If “Game Of Thrones” was a concept album, these would be the people to make it.

Released 22nd February 2016

Buy ‘Morrigan’ from the band’s website



Swedish experimental heavy-rock pioneers OPETH have released the fifth instalment, “Studio Report – Episode 5,” of their in-depth, behind the scenes series on the making of their 12th studio album, ‘Sorceress‘. In this new trailer, frontman Mikael Akerfeldt talks about the vocal recordings in the legendary Rockfield Studiosand the writing process for his lyrics. The highly-anticipated record is due out on September 30th via the band’s imprint label Moderbolaget Records with Nuclear Blast Entertainment.

Catch up on the previous episodes:
Mikael leads you through the Rockfield Studios:
speaks about the guitar recordings:
speaks about the drum recordings:
speaks about the bass recordings:

Opeth recently released a lyric video for the record’s title track “Sorceress“, which has has already received mass critical praise from fans and critics alike. Watch the video here:

‘Sorceress’ track list:
1. Persephone
2. Sorceress
3. The Wilde Flowers
4. Will O The Wisp
5. Chrysalis
6. Sorceress 2
7. The Seventh Sojourn
8. Strange Brew
9. A Fleeting Glance
10. Era
11. Persephone (Slight Return)

Sorceress cover

Pre-order ‘Sorceress’:
Nuclear Blast Store: (orders come with signed inserts – whilst stocks last):

Pre-order ‘Sorceress’ Digitally:




Meshuggah Album Cover

The Swedish extreme tech-metal pioneers MESHUGGAH recently revealed the title of their upcoming eighth album, “The Violent Sleep Of Reason”. Today, the band released the first trailer where Tomas Haakediscusses the title and cover artwork for the eighth album. Watch the video on the Nuclear Blast YouTube channel:

Tomas Haake comments, “Basically, the whole idea of why we chose the title is it kinda connects with the lyrical content of the album. Which is to a fair degree about current events and what you see is going on as far as terrorism today, extremist views on ideals, and religious dogma and the violent implications that you get from being asleep so to speak and not acting/reacting to what is going on in the proper way”

The album was produced by the band and was engineered by Tue Madsen of Puk Studios in Kaerby,Denmark. For the cover, the band once again enlisted Keerych Luminokaya who created the artwork forKoloss and The Ophidian Trek as well as the new images for each of the 7 albums and 3 EP’s featured in the 25 Years of Musical Deviance box set.

“The Violent Sleep Of Reason” will be available in the following formats:
Nuclear Blast UK Store:
– Mail-Order Exclusive Box Set*
Limited to 1,000 worldwide
Includes: Latex face mask, (2) stickers, (2) 1.25” buttons, poster flag, certificate    of authenticity
– Limited Edition Double Gatefold Gold Vinyl
– Limited Edition Double Gatefold Silver Vinyl
– Limited Edition Double Gatefold Light Blue/Orange Bi-Coloured Vinyl
Available here:
– Limited Edition Black Double LP
– Limited Edition Double Gatefold Picture Disc
– CD Digipack
Available here:

Track listing as follows:
1. Clockworks
2. Born in Dissonance
3. MonstroCity
4. By the Ton
5. Violent Sleep of Reason
6. Ivory Tower
7. Stifled
8. Nostrum
9. Our Rage Won’t Die
10. Into Decay

Visit MESHUGGAH online at

Twitter:  @nuclearblasteu
Instagram:  @nuclearblasteurope



New lyric video from The Tangent – article by Progradar

Progressive rock stalwarts and innovators The Tangent return, after main man Andy Tillison’s heart attack last year, with  a great lyric video for single A Few Steps Down The Wrong Road and you can watch it here:

Andy wanted to return to the more socially aware music that he has generally written since he was a teenager.

Andy told me,

” …obviously it’s something where we;ve beaten the punks, the independents, the Bonos and Stings to the post in having something to say about the Post Brexit racism. The song is NOT about Brexit itself… that wouldn’t interest me enough to write a song…”

In an announcement on the band’s facebook page he went on to say,

It’s a song from a man who loves his Yorkshire, his England, his Britain and his Europe more than the self serving hacks from the tabloid press seem to love anything.

This is The Tangent. We are a PROGRESSIVE ROCK BAND. This is our new song. Play as loud as you can – and make sure you listen to the very end.”

The track, and the band’s upcoming as-yet-untitled album, will feature artwork created by renowned UK comic artist Mark Buckingham, who has provided designs for both DC and Marvel as well as artwork for The Fierce And The Dead.


Sonata Arctica - Closer to an Animal

After announcing the new album ‘The Ninth Hour‘, due on October 7th, the Finnish melodic metal quintet SONATA ARCTICA now present the first in a series of album trailers. Check out the first one here in which the band talk about the first single, ‘Closer To An Animal’:

Pre-order the album digitally here:

Nuclear Blast UK store exclusive:
Limited Edition Light Blue Vinyl:
Exclusive Digipack CD + Canvas Artwork Print:

Pre-order from
Digipack CD:
Black Vinyl:

‘The Ninth Hour’ full tracklist:
01. Closer To An Animal
02. Life
03. Fairytale
04. We Are What We Are
05. Till Death’s Done Us Apart
06. Among The Shooting Stars
07. Rise A Night
08. Fly, Navigate, Communicate
09. Candle Lawns
10. White Pearl, Black Oceans Part II – “By The Grace Of The Ocean”
11. On The Faultline (Closure To An Animal)

Watch the lyric video to ‘Closer To An Animal

Once again, the upcoming album was produced by SONATA ARCTICA themselves and mixed by Pasi Kauppinen.

Right after the summer festival season and the release of their anticipated record, the band will embark on a European tour together with their label mates TWILIGHT FORCE. Dates as follows:

Special Guests: TWILIGHT FORCE
presented by: Metal Hammer, Musix, Blast, Rock it + & Dragon Productions
07.10.16 NOR – Trondheim, Trondheim Metal Fest *SOLD OUT*
08.10.16 SE – Borlänge, Liljan
09.10.16 SE – Huskvarna, Folkets Park
11.10.16 DK – Copenhagen, Pumpehuset
12.10.16 DE – Hamburg, Markthalle
13.10.16 NL – Haarlem, Patronaat
14.10.16 NL – Tilburg, 013
15.10.16 UK – London, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
16.10.16 FR – Paris, La Machine du Moulin Rouge
18.10.16 FR – Strasbourg, La Laiterie
19.10.16 CH – Pratteln, Konzertfabrik Z7
20.10.16 IT – Milan, Alcatraz
21.10.16 DE – Mannheim, Alte Seilerei
22.10.16 DE – Bochum, Zeche
Booking: Dragon

Review – Nosound – Scintilla – by Progradar

Nosound - Scintilla

“The power of music, whether joyous or cathartic must steal on one unawares, come spontaneously as a blessing or a grace–”
Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

I write reviews and run this website purely for the love of music. I don’t get paid for anything I write or publish and this bothers me not one iota. I am a music lover and I feel it is my mission to expose as many people out there as I can to some of the wonderful, awe inspiring, life affirming songs that are created mostly to be heard and to enrich people’s worlds.

Hopefully this will mean that they will then support the artists by buying the music or sharing it with even more people which will enable those musicians to carry on their creative endeavours. A musical Circle of Life if you like.

This could be upbeat music that just puts you in a really great mood or music written specifically for the love of life. When I’ve had a major upheaval in my life I like to listen to music that soothes my soul and calms me down, cathartic songs that can take the worries and strains of real life and just smooth them away to ease me into a place of calmness. I’m not bothered about genre, it is the music that speaks to me the loudest that I want to hear and, more often than not, it’s one band who my radar zeroes in on….


Italian alternative band Nosound started as a one man studio project in 2005 by Giancarlo Erra, but has since grown into a five piece band, evolving into something unique, focused and powerful. The music is evocative and intense, with personal songwriting. Influences range from Pink Floyd to Brian Eno, from Porcupine Tree to Sigur Ros, passing through rock and electronic/ambient.

As well as Giancarlo (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Nosound is Marco Berni (keyboards, vocals) Alessandro Luci (bass, upright bass, keyboards) Paolo Vigliarolo (acoustic & electric guitars) and Giulio Caneponi (drums, percussions, vocals).

I discovered the band upon the release of their 2013 album ‘Afterthoughts’ and I was immediately bowled over by their particular type of widescreen melancholia and wistful imagery which really struck a chord with me. This led to the discovery of their back catalogue including such gems as 2013’s reissue of the wondrous ‘Lightdark’, a remaster of the album originally released in 2008.

Their trademark symphonic lushness and winsome ennui really suited many of my moods and I almost felt reborn and pulling free of the trappings of a painful life after listening to the music.


So, you can imagine that news of a new album by this expressive band is going to make me a happy boy and you’d be 100% correct. Earlier this year an email arrived from the PR company stating:


After barely containing my excitement, I ploughed on to see what we had coming in store for us.

Featuring guest appearances from Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh and acclaimed Italian singer Andrea Chimenti‘Scintilla’ is inspired by personal upheaval and a desire for change and is a wholly new musical and visual approach for Giancarlo Erra’s ever-evolving band. Cellist Marianne De Chastelaine returns tot he fold but, this time, in a more free-flowing and improvisational capacity.

He goes on to say:

“The intention with ‘Scintilla’ was to do something a bit more different than previously and illustrating more vigorously what Nosound is today.

During a decade of activity, my listening tastes have shifted gradually towards a more simpler, more direct music with an intimate character that still retains a certain richness and detail in sound.

Northern folk and alt singer-songwriter music are possibly the stronger influences, but generally speaking, everything that is simple, direct and minimal but with rich sound is what I like, and what I hope this album is.”

This latest work marks the beginning of the second phase of Nosound’s fascinating career.

Nosund garden party

Low key and almost under the radar Short Story makes a very unassuming entrance. Delicate piano, lush soundscapes and an almost ethereal vocal immediately set the tone and calm any rushing heartbeats. With an almost organic creativity to the music, it seems to have a life of its own as it wistfully drifts across your psyche with its gentle sonic palette. Last Lunch immediately takes on a more melancholic and dreamlike note, the music being the tapestry upon which the vocals paint their temperate scene. Initially a paragon of self-control and emotional depth, it really touches you deeply, the wondrous Cello is particularly emotive  and touching. 7 minutes of laid back, low key and yet deeply stirring music has an ultimately cathartic outcome and I find myself afloat upon a sea of my own dreams and aspirations. I saw Nosound play live at The Resonance Festival two years ago and can still remember how much of himself Giancarlo puts into the songs as he sings them. They are part of him and come from the depths of his very soul. As the song comes to a close you feel you have been through quite an emotional journey and are all the better for it.

There is a whimsical feel to the opening of Little Man, nostalgic and playful, as the chiming keyboards resonate. It soon opens up into a much more mature track as the soothing strings and heartfelt vocals stir up emotions deep in your psyche. The way the drums are delivered is relaxed and composed and the Cello, once again, provides moments of pure indulgence. A sinuous soundscape is created that leaves tendrils of thoughtful contemplation floating around in your mind, the meandering guitar playing is another highlight of this reflective song. In Celebration of Life sees the first contribution from Vincent Cavanagh and the introduction is as sonically intimate as they come, small pearls of musical delight surround you and leave you in a tranquil state, musing what is to come next. More verdant strings continue the meditative mood. The whole musical vista that is laid before you is celestially sublime and, when the vocals begin, all breathy and gossamer like, the spell is set and you are caught right in the middle of a thing of utmost beauty. The exquisitely heart-breaking solo is absolutely amazing and strikes you right in your heart, a song of pure delight and wonder.

Nosound in Studio 1

Sogno e Incendio was co-written, and is sung by, renowned Italian singer Andrea Chimenti, it is serenely intense and full of a deeply felt passion. The vocals are delivered in such a fashion as to leave you hanging on every word, whether you understand them or not. The musical accompaniment is classically superb and compliments Andrea’s voice perfectly, it is like a melancholy lament but is oh so beautiful, painfully so in places. The Italian language, especially when sung, is a thing of charm and grace and I am left with a feeling of utter bliss as the elegant guitar floats around your mind. The trancelike Emily is like wisps of cloudlike delights that fleetingly leave an impression on you before moving on, transient and ephemeral notes of music that leave you in a dreamlike reverie. It is surreal but in an exquisite fashion and tugs at your heartstrings all too briefly before departing to who knows where.

Cavanagh returns for The Perfect Wife, a mournful and somber track which wears its heart on its sleeve. There’s a deep lying and potent passion at the core of this powerfully compelling song, the ardent sentiment is clear in the fervor of the vocals. The somber and forlorn music is incredibly emotive and fills you with a sorrowful empathy, the Cello seems to become animate and alive with its own character and draws you even further into this dark and plaintive story. These musicians leave nothing behind and exhaust you with their intensity and ardor, as impassioned a track as you will hear this year. What appears to be an alluring love song at first with its tender piano and fragile vocals, Love is Forever soon reveals its unexpected sarcasm in the cynical lyrics yet you can never get away from the fact that this song has style and artistry at its heart, quite a conumdrum. I just let the winsome music wash over me and enjoy its cathartic powers.

Nosound logo small

Evil Smile is an elegantly charismatic track that takes you on a meandering journey through a wonderful acoustic soundscape, the organic feel is increasingly evident in the flow and texture of the vocals and the hypnotic music, especially the strings. The trance-like instrumental sections leave you mesmerised, only recovering when the introspective voice of Giancarlo wakes you from your musing state. The final title track Scintilla takes all that has come before and amalgamates it into something even more divine. A fantastical musical journey where you are the only passenger and there is a musical universe of a myriad opportunities in front of you. Hesitant and slightly unsure, it takes small steps before the halting vocals draw you in and the journey commences for real. A song (and, indeed an album) worth listening to with headphones on and silence around you to pick up every tiny nuance and subtlety. Enjoy a fine wine and just relax as this seraphic track cleanses your heart and soul and encourages the deepest parts of your very being with its almost heavenly grace and charm.

Nosound - band

Not so much a leap into the unknown as a slight re-imagining of who they were before, ‘Scintilla’ is more than just a piece of music or an album of new songs. It alters your state of mind and your very essence and you come out of the other side feeling a better and more complete person. That Giancarlo Erra and Nosound can achieve that is testament to their amazing songwriting skills and musical ability. I implore you to buy this album and, as soon as you can, see them perform it live, I promise you will not be disappointed!

Released 2nd September 2016

Buy ‘Scintilla’ (in various formats) from Burning Shed







Extreme metallers BRUJERIA will release their fourth full length album, entitled Pocho Aztlan, on Mexican Independence Day (September 16) via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Today, the band has debuted a new track from that album entitled “Bruja-

Pocho Aztlan is now available for pre-order on Limited Edition Neon Yellow Vinyl, Limited Edition Orange Vinyl and CD/T-Shirt bundle (images below) from the Nuclear Blast UK web store:

Fans can also pre-order the album digitally via iTunes and receive the song “No Aceptan Imitaciones”  and “Bruja-” instantly:

The lyric video for the first single from Pocho Aztlan, “No Aceptan Imitaciones” can be viewed below:

Pocho Aztlan track list:
1. Pocho Aztlan
2. No Aceptan Imitaciones
3. Profecia Del Anticristo
4. Angel De La Frontera
5. Plato O Plomo
6. Satongo
7. Isla De La Fantasia
8. Bruja-
9. Mexico Campeon
10. Codigos
11. Debilador
12. California Über Aztlan (DEAD KENNEDYS cover)

Pocho Aztlan is the band’s first release since Brujerizmo was released in 2000 via Roadrunner. It was recorded over the course of many years and at several studios around the globe. The end result was mixed by Russ Russell (NAPALM DEATH, THE EXPLOITED).

BRUJERIA‘s legend has proliferated for nearly three decades. When the band first emerged from the sunbaked hellscape of Los Angeles in 1989, the city was on the brink of chaos. Daryl Gates ruled the LAPD with an iron fist, overseeing a legion of blue-suited stormtroopers who cracked brown and black skulls at every opportunity. Rodney King, the ’92 riots, and CA governor Pete “Pito” Wilson’s anti-immigrant Prop 187 were all on the bleak horizon. The Mexican-American agitators of BRUJERIA captured the mood of the city’s minorities with the band’s infamous and widely banned 1993 debut, Matando Güeros (“Killing White People”), quickly becoming the Spanish-language counterparts to early grindcore masters TERRORIZER and NAPALM DEATH. Led by lyricist and mastermind Juan Brujo, BRUJERIA were alternately rumored to be satanic drug lords and members of well-established metal bands. The truth, as always, lay somewhere in between.

Fast forward to right about now: Pocho Aztlan is BRUJERIA’s first new album in 16 years. The title translates to “Wasted Promised Land,” a combination of Aztlán, the fabled ancestral home of the Aztecs, and the term pocho, which native Mexicans use to refer—not always kindly—to their counterparts born in the States. Brujohimself is pocho, a man caught between two worlds. Many pochos are not exactly accepted with open arms in Mexico. Meanwhile, they’re too often regarded as second-class citizens in their adopted US home. Brujo has transcended both scenarios through the power of BRUJERIA’s uncompromising grindcore and death metal. His all-Spanish lyrics are as vivid as they are effective: Bona fide tales from the frontlines of the drug war, the racial divide, and the battle for the border. “A lot of BRUJERIA songs are true stories,” Brujo says. “And if they haven’t happened yet, they will happen.”

Juan Brujo – Vocals
Fantasma – Vocals, Bass
Hongo – Guitar, Drum Programming
El Cynico – Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Hongo Jr. – Drums
Pinche Peach – Vocals, Samples
Pititis – Female Vocals
A Kuerno – Guitar
Sangron – Backup Vocals
Guero III – Backup Vocals

Twitter:  @nuclearblasteu
Instagram:  @nuclearblasteurope

Review – Circuline – Counterpoint – by Progradar


“What do you get when you take two theatrical lead vocalists, a keyboard player from Juilliard, a jazz-rock genius on guitar, a bass player from Monster Island and a drummer with progressive rock in his DNA? The modern cinematic ProgRock band Circuline.”

That’s a pretty impressive opening gambit from the press blurb for Circuline’s latest release ‘Counterpoint’ and the next line nearly made me crack-up!

Circuline’s newest release, ‘Counterpoint’ (May 2016), features an all star line-up of SEVEN guest guitarists…”

No, you didn’t misread that, it said SEVEN guest guitarists!! Well, to me that could just turn out to be overkill or the musical equivalent of herding cats but, you never know!

So, for the sake of completion, here are those guests…..

Randy McStine (The Fringe, Lo-Fi Resistance), Doug Ott (Enchant), Alek Darson (Fright Pig), Ryche Chlanda (Fire Ballet, Renaissance), Alan Shikoh (Glass Hammer), Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact, Dave Kerzner) and Stanley Whitaker (Happy the Man, Oblivion Sun).

So, would these additional musicians add to the depth of talent the band already has or would they prove that too many cooks can actually spoil the broth? Read on and find out……

Band 2

The album opens with a a powerful statement in New Day, a track that builds on a rolling drum beat and off-kilter keyboards to almost drive you crazy. Coruscating guitars blaze across the landscape, it is like some crazy sci-fi soundtrack or diabolical mind weapon that seems to be forcing you into submission. Dynamic guitars dominate the soundscape, interspersing with the keyboards like some ELP-esque monster. It’s forceful and influential Prog with a vivid outlook and a highly impressive beginning to what is awaiting us.

Like a one-two knockout, Who I Am explodes into the ring on the back of staccato piano opening, insistent and demanding, before a huge crunching riff literally knocks you over. Man, I’m getting hooked on this already! A huge wave of sound engulfs you with its magnificence and you just hang on for the ride. A break in the squall sees that piano note return, gentler and questing, along with the benign waves of the cymbals, calming your heartbeat. The vocals begin and they are theatrical to the max, superb interplay between Billy Spillane and Natalie Brown giving the music an extra nuance. That monstrous riff is what drives this catchy song on though, brooking no resistance. I love the laid back, chilled sections that occasionally grace your aural sensors, they give you a sweet respite from the upsurging music that hits you square on the jaw but always leaves you smiling. To be honest, it’s one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year and I could almost recommend the album just on the strength of this one song.

Did you expect a pause for breath? Well you should have known better. Another drama laden introduction building to something profound leads in the mysteriously named Forbidden Planet, keyboards swirling all around , apprehensive and almost sinister, are setting the scene. The vocals begin, quite emotive and descriptive, adding more shine to the proceedings. I’m almost reminded of the latest Dream Theater album, but in a good way. The thumping chorus will have you singing your lungs out, it is pure musical theatre of the best variety. Artful and dramatic, the guitar solo that fires out is superb and just adds to the feel that you are in an actual theatre, enjoying a musical show. The excellent bass-lead, guitar heavy, run out of the song adds even more of that drama and leaves you with a knowing smile on your face.


Hollow is a more circumspect song, the introduction washes over you before a passionate vocal and guitar fire up and lead the way. Heartfelt and moving, even a bit darker in places, there is a more progressive than cinematic feel to the track as it gets into its stride. To my ears there a definite hints of Glass Hammer and even Dream Theater in the intricate keyboard playing and the way the song seems to be built in layers, the instrumental sections are really convoluted and complex. It’s almost as if the musicians decided that they just wanted to have a prog-infused jam session, and a mightily enjoyable one at that! Once normality is restored we get more of the dominating vocals, leaving an ominous overtone in places. There is something for everyone in the song, baroque progressive moments, touches of Prog-Metal and, well, just excellent songwriting and musicianship.

One of the shorter tracks on offer, Erosion is an instrumental that opens full of suspense, the cinematic overtones are there in spades, this could be the soundtrack to a sci-fi film with its haunting atmosphere and heavy doses of tension. It is quite disturbing in fact and I found myself on edge all the way through.

I love the bassline that opens Nautilus with its jazz-funk feel, there’s a really upbeat atmosphere to the song, the distinct guitar note and vigorous drumbeat adding to that high energy aura. The vocals, once again, hit the spot and give the song its own identity. At first, you aren’t sure whether there are too many influences running through the music but, by the time you’re really involved in the album, it is a distinctive sound unique to Circuline. I feel the keyboards generally take the lead and the rest of instruments follow and it works very well indeed. Another clever integration of the complexities of progressive rock infused with some powerful rock elements to give that cinematic feel, the guitar solo is another sterling effort.

guuitar man

The mood quietens for the delightful Stay which has more akin to a piano lounge track than your usual progressive fare but I really like it. Laid back, funky and with chunks of jazz dripping all over it, Natalie’s vocals are the centre-point of this sepia tinged song. Thoughtful and contemplative, it really does give you a complete feeling of chilled out security. The guitar playing is fluid, serene and composed, it is a song for a wonderful, warm summers day when you haven’t got a care in the world.

S.O.A is just over one minute of quite unsettling mind warfare if you ask me, it is really quite sinister……

That mood carries on into the opening of Inception with its 80’s synth overtones that seem to want to invade your mind. Again, another impressive cinematic soundscape that draws pictures deep in your psyche, music that challenges the mind as well as satiating the soul. It is almost transfixing in the way it draws you into its embrace to leave you feeling oddly at home. Then the vocals start and your attention changes, the voices, lilting in their delivery, have a hypnotic edge and work in concert with the inventive music to give a superlative listening experience, a musical journey that, once traveled, you are happy to return to time after time. The closing out of the song is particularly brilliant.

So, onto the final instalment in this cinematic treasure, Summit has all the clever subtleties of what has gone before, a quite enigmatic opening before the song begins its final traverse of your musical landscape. Sultry bass lines and drumming add a great backdrop to the exemplary harmonised vocals, like the perfect recipe from some masterchefs of the musical world. Nothing is ever too simple with these guys though, we have some involving musical sections to add substance to the lush vocals laid before us. Grin inducing guitar solos and keyboard runs abound and you are just left floating in a world of musical well-being. The potent chorus adds strength to the beauty of the rest of the song, you are left wanting for nothing with this band’s repertoire and it is shown to the full on this finishing track, some more prog wizardry to add to the dramatic and cinematic feel. I have to admit, by the end of this song and album, I am left feeling that I have been spoiled by the music and talent on offer.

So, do too many guitarists leave you herding cats or give extra shine to an already impressive collection of musicians? Well, if you’ve read what goes before this conclusion you’ll know that they enhance things immensely. A deep well of musical wonderment is laid before you to drink from at will, take a small sip and come back for more (as you will) or take it all in one gulp to be completely indulged. Whichever way, you’re going to love it!

Released 5th May 2016

Buy ‘Counterpoint’ direct from the band







Review – Tarja – The Shadow Self – by Craig E. Bacon

Tarja The Shadow Self

“There is a darker side of us all…Every one of us, we have a darker side that we should probably just appreciate that it exists…I believe it’s a beautiful darkness…The Shadow Self, it is a creative force in all of us.” –Tarja

Those familiar with Tarja’s solo work, or with the symphonic metal genre, will find much that is familiar in ‘The Shadow Self’. There are plenty of metal/hard rock guitar riffs, lots of low end, a smattering of strings and choirs, and lyrics that mostly sticks to discussing darkness, anger, love, and the natural world. Tarja has been headed in a single artistic direction since 2007’s ‘My Winter Storm’, and her latest album continues on that path. However, while some artists make a familiar-sounding album due to lack of inspiration or personal comfort, Tarja is clearly perfecting her craft, and ‘The Shadow Self ‘makes up the ground between past efforts and the ideal for what a symphonic metal album can be.

Lifted from an Annie Lennox interview, the album title provides a thematic focal point; indeed, ‘The Shadow Self ‘is the most thematically and musically cohesive album of Tarja’s career. Starting from the premise that each of us have a darker side, and that it’s best to face this darkness head on, the songs here move between introspection and explosive expression.

Tarja 1

The singles from the album focus in on the positive, creative force of the shadow self. On No Bitter End, Tarja encourages the listener to engage the darkness on its own terms.

“Blackout the sun/Light nowhere/Tell me you don’t need it anymore…”

To say that we each have a darker side is not to say that we are evil, but merely points to the fact that much of our inner life is a mystery, is unknown, is a void even to ourselves. But perhaps it is in this very darkness that we will find hope, strength, love, and freedom.

“Open up your inner eye/Let hope save the day…To be there with all you need/And nothing left to prove…..”

The chorus and bridge sound a bit like the best of the 80’s power ballads, musically emphasizing the ultimately triumphant outcome of this introspective journey.

Similarly, Innocence maintains a cautiously positive tone in the lyrics.

“Inside of me doors will stay open/A thousand lives to live/Waiting like universes do without an end/Love break into my innocence…”

However, the video version makes it clear that the innocence of the title may very well be that which has been lost, and the album version of the song features an alternate, extended instrumental break that suggests much the same. A solo grand piano picks out the melody, gradually builds in intensity, meanders into pounding and resounding bass chords, then calmly returns to the melody before being joined by a full string section and choral vocals.

The effect is unsettling, occasionally jarring, but finally invigorating. Tarja has done this sort of staggering of classical and hard rock within a song before (Anteroom of Death, Victim of Ritual), but the classical component is more adventurous and thematically cohesive here. As album opener, the song also announces that Tarja is breaking new artistic ground whilst perfecting old standbys.

Even if our inner darknesses contain a positive creative force, they surely also possess immense destructive capabilities. On those who have hurt and abused us, the shadow self seeks self-expression of our most violent impulses. The album explores this aspect of the shadow self as well, showing how even these impulses may be channeled in a properly creative direction.

Tarja 2

(Picture credit: Jaromir Zajicek)

In Supremacy, a Muse cover and one of the album’s high points, the target is an oppressive institution.

“Policies have risen up and overcome the brave…Embedded spies brainwashing our children to be mean…”

Instead of fear or angry fantasy, the song expresses a resolve for action.

“You don’t have long/I am on to you/The time has come to destroy/Your supremacy…”

The cover doesn’t stray too far from the original in terms of structure, but it does feature truly heavy guitars, cinematic John Barry-esque orchestration, and stratospheric vocals from Tarja to drive the hook home.

Diva relishes the poetic justice awaiting those who try to diminish our sense of self, if we only walk away and leave them to sink in their own rotten ships. The song may also serve as a personal response to Tarja’s dismissal from Nightwish and their subsequent song Bye Bye Baby. Once again the orchestration is cinematic in scope, carnival sounds and spoken vocals add a layer of creepiness, and Tarja’s vocals highlight both her range and her finesse.

Indeed, Tarja’s vocals are, as they should be, the main feature throughout the album. On Too Many, what could have been an extended fadeout instead gradually drops out instruments until only Tarja’s vocals remain. Whereas another artist might have ended the song with a whisper, or cut the song off after the first line once all other instruments were silenced, Tarja continues to sing until she has completed the chorus. The result is powerful, both in its presentation of the lyrics and in its completion of the album’s theme of a personal journey into the darkest corners of one’s own soul.

“Not too many facing their tears/When sunrise outshines the grey/Many too many living their fears/Only few won’t fade away…”

The repetition of this chorus takes the form of a lament, but is transformed by the choice to drop out instruments and leave Tarja’s voice as the final musical statement. In this closing moment, Tarja is expressing neither pity nor regret for others, but rather resolve and defiance on her own behalf–there are many too many living their fears, but she is one of the few who will face their tears and not fade away.

Tarja Woodstock

Befitting its thematic cohesion, ‘The Shadow Self’ also comprises Tarja’s most unified musical statement thus far (in her rock albums, anyway). Tarja has stated that she wanted the album to have more of a band feel, and this does sound more band focused, with fewer orchestral and choral overlays than some of Tarja’s past work. The riffs are little heavier, and Tarja’s lead vocals are kept to the fore, with minimal choral backing on most songs. This makes the ‘classical’ components more powerful when they do become the focus on songs like Living End and Diva.

It also makes room for more musical flourishes and nuances than is typical in the symphonic metal genre. Living End features beautiful acoustic guitar and pipes, while Demons In You begins with a half-minute funky jam before transitioning into a heavy piece spotlighting Alissa-White Gluz’s vocals. Even here, Tarja eschews the generic set of growls in favour of using both growled and melodic vocals from Gluz, allowing these to interplay with Tarja’s own melodic leads.

‘The Shadow Self ‘is unmistakably a Tarja album. It sounds much like other Tarja albums. It’s just a better Tarja album, one that displays a clear artistic vision as well as the skill and confidence to push forward with the arrangements and production.

Oh, and it also includes a bona fide hit song. You’ll know it when you hear it.


  1. Innocence [6:03]
  2. Demons In You [4:44]
  3. No Bitter End [4:26]
  4. Love To Hate [5:57]
  5. Supremacy [5:03]
  6. Living End [4:41]
  7. Diva [5:45]
  8. Eagle Eye [4:36]
  9. Undertaker [6:41]
  10. Calling From The Wild [5:13]
  11. Too Many [7:47]

‘The Shadow Self’ was released on 5th August 2016

Buy ‘The Shadow Self’ from Napalm Records

Craig E. Bacon

Craig E. Bacon is a PhD Candidate in Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. When not actively putting to rest all interpretative questions surrounding Kant’s idea of the highest good, Craig may usually be found at home with his beloved wife and rescue animals, listening to a Prog record with a craft beer in hand. Craig E. Bacon: Music, Philosophy, Beer, etc.
Craig Ellis Bacon