After much demand, renowned Panic Room and The Steve Rothery Band guitarist Dave Foster has launched a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture and release his latest solo album ‘Dreamless’ on vinyl.
You can support the campaign here:
Dave had this to say about the project:
“There have been so many requests to release the album ‘Dreamless’ on vinyl that it’s about time it happened. Its is one of those albums that deserves to be heard in all it’s glory on a turntable. Due to the albums length it spans four sides, so it very satisfyingly is a double album.
This edition of the album will feature some extra sleeve notes which are my notes about the recording and the origin of each track.
I hope that you guys really want this to be on vinyl as much as I do, it will sound ace. If the project doesn’t make it’s target, I don’t have the resources to fund it myself so sadly it wouldn’t happen…..but I think you guys will make it happen.”
I had this to say about the album when I reviewed ‘Dreamless’ on the 1st of June last year:
“The usually modest and self-effacing Dave Foster has stepped out of the shadows and onto centre stage to deliver his second solo opus and is to be applauded and admired for doing so. Such a variety of moods, styles and colours doesn’t always mix well but when it is done with consummate skill, like it is here, you are treated to a cornucopia of musical delights. While neither ground breaking or game changing, what it is is really rather good.”
Ahead of their first ever London show at The Black Heart in Camden on February 8th, I got together with Dream The Electric Sleep‘s Matt Page.
Vocalist and guitarist Matt formed the band with Joey Waters (drums), and Chris Tackett (bass) in Lexington in 2009. After two self-produced, independent releases, “Lost and Gone Forever” (2011) and “Heretics”(2014), Dream the Electric Sleep’s third album, “Beneath the Dark Wide Sky,” marked a clear shift in the band’s songwriting style and sonic quality which Prog Magazine hailed as ‘monumental’.
You formed in 2009, how did you guys get together initially?
Joey, our drummer, and I are cousins and have played together for over 20 years so DTES has been in the making for a while! We played in other projects and kept trying to figure out what we wanted to do with our sound, our direction and the sorts of songs we wanted to write. We heard Chris Tackett was moving to town and he was a in a band we loved (Chum) from many years earlier and he contacted us to see if we wanted to try and put something together. After the first rehearsal we knew it was the sound we had been looking for and DTES started 🙂
Which bands were the early influences on your style of music?
We each have some similar influences but also some very different ones. I think all three of us would agree Pink Floyd and Zeppelin would be the core set that we as a band constantly look back to, but that is really just the tip of the iceberg. I grew up on Rush, Metallica, Tool, U2, Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Tori Amos, Joni Mitchel etc… that was where I came from. Chris was into Swans, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Queen, and Neurosis and Joey loved all of the above plus Soundgarden, Pantera and Alice in Chains.
And who do you listen to now?
Its all over the map! St. Vincent, Beach Boys, The Life and Times, Gorgoroth, Buried at Sea, Dragged Into Sunlight, Tom Petty, Janis Joplin… no continuity as you can see! We try to let all these things come in and find a place in what we do. It makes this project so much more interesting to see how sounds will collide!
You released your third album “Beneath the Dark Wide Sky” last year, how would you say this record differed from your earlier releases “Lost and Gone Forever” and “Heretics”?
I would say it is more deliberate. It was the first time we worked with a producer, and that was a great experience for us. Nick Raskulinecz was another lens to see the music through and he helped us tighten up the vision we had for the album. The earlier releases are more experimental, which I like and I think we will return to, but this time we wanted more focus to see what that would do to us, our writing, and the final product.
I believe “Beneath The Dark Wide Sky” is about a historical moment in the US called the Dust Bowl? What inspired you to write about this?
“Beneath the Dark Wide Sky” is inspired by photographs taken of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s by American photographer Dorothea Lange. Lange worked for the United States Works Progress Admiration and hoped her photographs could be used to educate the masses (via photo essays in major news publications and magazines) to the poverty and desperate living conditions of thousands of farming families and migratory workers who lived and worked in the drought-struck American Great Plains. Lange believed photographs had the ability to shine an objective light on issues of social justice and environmental degradation and could be used to persuade and motivate social and political change.
Much of what motivated Lange motivates me as the lyricist of the band. How does art inform the way we understand the world we live in and can it motivate us to challenge and change our assumptions? I am not sure there is an easy correlation, but I am very interested in those who try to bridge the gap between art and life.
Prog Magazine described the album as ‘monumental’, do you actually consider yourselves to be a prog band?
That is a good question. I think progressive music has MANY definitions and we fit some of them but not all of them. I never set out to be in a particular genre and because of that, many influences found their way in. This diversity of sound made it harder to define the band and that pushed us further into the progressive community. That particular community wants music that at its core is difficult to define but also music that is searching for something and I would say we fit that bill. We see ourselves as coming out of the spirit of bands like Floyd or Zeppelin or Peter Gabriel or Queen. Those bands are loved by the progressive community and outside it… that is the space I think we are trying to occupy.
Do you think there has been a resurgence in progressive music over the last couple of years?
I do. I think people are craving substance again in music. They want to hear an artist struggle, a reaching for something beyond their grasp, for artists invested in asking questions, thinking about the world, searching and seeking. I think progressive artists are more likely to be engaged in these frameworks and that is where the resurgence is coming from.
Your gig at the Black Heart is your first ever London gig, how much are you looking forward to it?
It is something we have looked forward to for a long time! Most US bands hope to go meet their supporters in other countries and most of the time it never happens. For us to be able to go to London and meet our supporters face-to-face and shake their hands is a big honor. These are the people that have supported us for years and I want to personally thank them! I just want it to be fun for everyone in the room. Live music is a celebration and that is what I am doing, celebrating that moment together, band and supporters united!
Who are your favourite live artists and what is the best gig you’ve ever been to?
I will speak personally here. For me seeing Roger Waters perform the Wall was a big one as well as Peter Gabriel on the 25th anniversary tour of SO. I know Joey recently went to see Devin Townsend and loved it as well as Ghost.
With the advent of the internet, streaming and illegal downloads is recorded music being devalued and are live performances now the best way of connecting with your fans?
Really our best way of connecting with fans has been the internet and releasing albums in that way. In the US the live market is just terrible. I won’t get into the details, but its tough over here. To be able to reach into other parts of the world so easily, it made it possible for us to build a niche of support within the prog community that is spread out all over the globe. Live performances have been way less effective in getting this project where it is. That being said, I am hopeful we can find a way to utilize live performances to reach more people and this current tour is a test of that. We will see if it yields positive momentum!
Do you consider Dream The Electric Sleep to be mainly a live band or a recording band?
I think we have always wanted to be both but as I said in the last response, the US live market is really anemic and scattered right now, at least for us. Because of this we have spent most of our time writing and recording albums as this seems to have been the most productive thing we can do to move the project forward.
What advice would you give to new up and coming artists?
I would tell any band getting started to see this is a long haul process. Finding ways of building a sustainable project should be high on the list. Progress is made inch by inch.
What’s next for the band?
After the tour its time to write again! I hope to take a little bit of a break to reflect on this project and what it needs to be going forward. We have poured every ounce of extra energy we have into this project and over time, you learn more about what you want out of it.
See Dream The Electric Sleep live at The Black Heart on Wednesday 8th February – Free Admission.
Long Branch Records is proud to announce the signing of the french progressive metal sextet UNEVEN STRUCTURE. Their new album La Partition, which they’ve worked on for almost four years now, will be released internationally in Spring 2017.
La Partition is a full concept album and the follow-up to the bands first EP “8” (2009) and their debut full-length “Februus” (2011) which both received great feedback and critical acclaim.
A truly exciting prospect for the future of heavy music, UNEVEN STRUCTURE disassemble and reconstruct the metal genre we all know and love by creating contemporary atmospheric movements that are all at once dripping with seductive cinematic ambience and groove-laden riffs.
Since their critically acclaimed debut album Februus in 2011, Uneven Structure have been hard at work touring, writing, touring and making videos. Although only their second album, the anticipation for La Partition and new material is at an all-time high.
Comments guitarist Igor Omodei:“While not being a fresh start, La Partition is a very different beast from what we’ve released in the past. So it made sense for us to move over to the SPV/ Longbranch Records team to back our evolution both as artists and individuals. We can’t wait to see these five years of work to unfold over the next weeks. See you on the other side and cheers to you all!”
See Uneven Structure live:
25.02.17 – Haarlem – Complexity Fest, Netherlands
01.04. 17 – Sucy-en-Brie – Heart Sound Metal Fest, France
29.09.17 -01.10.17 – Cologne – Euroblast Festival, Germany
ABOUT UNEVEN STRUCTURE:
Hailing from France, one of the biggest markets and breeding stock for bands within the Tech Metal and Progressive Rock scene, Uneven Structure was formed in may 2008 from the intention of Benoit Friedrich (bass) and Igor Omodei (guitar) to finally bring the technically enhanced and progressive music they had been working on for themselves alive. The sound they were aiming to create was a one of a kind merger of groovy polyrythmic guitar riffs with huge slick of ambient guitar leads, which they undoubtedly accomplished.
Since the release of the debut album “Februus” in 2011 the band did multiple European tours with tech metal and prog rock genre-leaders such as Protest The Hero, Textures or Tesseract and performed at festivals such as Brutal Assault or Euroblast. While listening to the new album “La Partition” you will hear and feel the progress and growing the band made since “Februus”, due to the fact that their sound is now even more complex and perfectly arranged, catchy, experimental and technically enhanced, but also groovy. A perfect combination of the hardness of metal with the elaborate techniques of prog and the atmospheric sounds of ambient.
Not only has the sound of Uneven Structure been growing and changing with this new album, but also the band internally. With Arnaud Verrier on drums (ex Zuul FX and Kadinja) and Steeves Hostin (Beyond The Dust) as guitarist the band is more than perfectly prepared to continue their legacy, but also to open a new chapter in their musical career by performing mindblowing live shows all over the world.
Arnaud Verrier – Drums
Benoit Friedrich – Bass
Igor Omodei – Guitar, Production, Videos
Jérôme Colombelli – Guitar
Matthieu Romarin – Vocals, Production
Steeves Hostin – Guitar
Barrie, ON’s ambient progressive metal / rock duo JUPITER HOLLOW announce they will be performing the following Ontario show dates in support of their debut EP ‘Odyssey’ recently released on Jan 13th.
Feb 26 – Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
March 3 – Barrie, ON @ The Foxx Lounge
April 15 – Toronto, ON @ Cherry Cola’s N Rock & Rolla Cabaret Lounge
‘Odyssey’ is a concept record featuring 5 tracks to introduce JUPITER HOLLOW‘s ambient experimental progressive songwriting plus will act as a prelude to their planned full length ‘AHDOMN’. The duo was birthed in 2015 and have already mastered the art of bringing their fans on an audio and visual experience. Their sound is usually referred to as spacey, experimental and refreshing, reminding listeners of bands like Tool, Pink Floyd, A Perfect Circle, Tesseract, The Contortionist and Rush. Consisting of two young, passionate and driven Canadian artists, Grant MacKenzie (21) and Kenny Parry (18), the pair perform with a dominating stage presence, while captivating their audiences with their unique sonic journey.
Grant, who plays guitar, bass and synth for the band started his music career 8 ½ years ago at the age of 12, sitting in his basement watching the movie Rock Prophecies. This movie was about legendary rock photographer Robert M. Knight, finding and transforming a young, unknown guitarist from a small town into a worldwide success. Inspired and motivated, Grant spent the next few years honing his guitar skills, writing music, and later learning the business side by attending college for business marketing. At age 20, Grant was invited into the Brotherhood of the Guitar, by founder Robert M. Knight, leading to endorsements with Ernie Ball Music Man and JH Audio.
While Grant was performing with another group at a local battle of the bands, he came across a mesmerizing singer by the name of Kenny Parry (vocalist, drummer and synth for Jupiter Hollow), who was almost performing as if he was possessed on stage, hitting notes that seemed impossible by any guy. Kenny Parry started music at the young age of 2 years old, setting up pots and pans like a drum set and banging away. This led to an obsession with music, and a discovery of his unique talent. In his teenage years, Kenny won himself the title “Best Drummer in Ontario” 3 years in a row. Around this time, Kenny started learning how to sing after being inspired by singers such as Maynard James Keenan, Mike Lessard, Dan Tompkins and Ian Kenny to name a few. Through years of strengthening his vocal abilities in choirs, bands and hours of dedication, Kenny has acquired an articulate vocal range, relentless endurance, and almost shocking performance through his uncontrollable stage presence.
Shortly after meeting, Grant and Kenny knew that their talents combined would create something truly unique, and Jupiter Hollow was born. Since then, the duo effortlessly created music in Kenny’s basement for months on end. The concept grew to be a two-man band, since Grant and Kenny wrote all of the music and wanted to keep it that way. The two musicians use technology to their advantage, allowing them to perform with a dominating stage presence, while captivating their audiences with their unique sonic journey.
I have been listening to more laid back, contemplative music recently and really enjoyed some great folk music as well but, every now and again, you need something to blow the cobwebs away.
An email came into Progradar Towers from my friend Matt Benton at Hold Tight PR…
“After a two year hiatus, Canadian melodic proggers Slyde are back with their new EP ‘Back Again’. Four tracks of intricate, contrapuntal technical prog-rock, the band’s new release is set to land on February 17. For fans of Haken, Coheed and Cambria, Rush, Dream Theater, etc, Slyde‘s music is driven by the clean vocals of frontman Nathan Da Silva and the powering keyboards of Sarah Westbrook; a beguiling fourpiece with an impressive return to form.”
Being a massive fan of Coheed and Cambria and Haken, that was enough to get me intrigued so I decided to delve into Slyde‘s new four track E.P. ‘Back Again’ and see whether the reality could live up to the promise.
A concept EP, ‘Back Again’ continues to explore the links between environmentalism and the wider world, with a sci-fi twist. Following 2011’s EP ‘Feed The Machine’, which discussed the cyclical pattern of civilization between ‘The Machine’ and ‘The Consciousness’, and 2012’s EP ‘New World Sympathy’, which tackled oil industry and the injustices of mining companies, the new EP ‘Back Again’ traces a similar theme. Lead track Fading centres on the idea of extraterrestrial beings observing Earth and its civilization, but drawing back, due to humanity’s violent and destructive nature. Similarly, the title track Back Againrevolves around the Pale Blue Dot concept and the beauty of our world, which is often overlooked and uncherished by society.
Making up the rest of the band are Alberto Campuzano (bass guitar & backing vocals) and Brendan Soares (drums & backing vocals).
Fading gives no warning and no chance to catch your breath, the riff-heavy opening bars break into tight, if manic, and convoluted keyboard and guitar section before Nathan’s vocals join in and, yes, they do sound a lot like an early Coheed & Cambria but, trust me on this, that is no bad thing. Superb musicianship is at the fore here, just listen to the incredibly intense and intricate short-lived solo that rears up, incandescent and fiery before leaving you with seared eardrums. At times it almost verges on speed metal, such is the breakneck pace but it always has that progressive sensibility at the core. A visceral but incredibly enjoyable listening experience.
A nice 80’s synth inspired intro opens Join The Parade, a track that adds a funky, jazz feeling vibe to the technical wizardry. I really like Nathan Da Silva’s vocal delivery, it has a really unique sound, quite high pitched, that really fits the music. The musicians have turned down the intensity from 10, but only maybe to 8, and the vibe is more relaxed but only like a Tiger is relaxed if you sedate it. Powerful and intense instrumental sections show that this Canadian four piece are ploughing a not inconsiderable furrow with this new E.P. and their prowess is undeniable but what takes it up another notch is the intelligent songwriting which is entirely evident on this impressive track.
A thunderously entertaining song, Divide hoves into view like some elemental behemoth with its forceful and energetic riffs and compelling drumbeats. Like the bastard offspring of a union between early Rush, Haken and Coheed & Cambria it consumes everything before it. The vocals are edgier and more authoritative and the brilliant interplay between keys and twin guitars on the solo in the middle of the track is genius. A track that is immediately accessible but has layers of intricacy, it really does demand repeated listens, just listen to the solemn piano led close out!
The title track is a much more subtle and cultured affair, almost mainstream in its delivery. Back Again is more complex than it would first appear. Insightful lyrics and Nathan’s wistful and contemplative vocal give it a nostalgic feel. The staccato, slightly offbeat rhythm is a nice touch and , as you get further into the song, the music begins to remind me of Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls but with a lot more complexity. This song has layers and layers of impressive multiplicity from the energetic drums to the refined bass playing and it is all held together by the notably imposing guitar playing and Nathan’s signature vocals. A really sophisticated and refined ending to the E.P.
Not just an epic heavy prog-fest, Slyde have delivered an intelligent and compelling 4-track E.P. that hints at much promise to come from this Canadian four piece. It’s on my i-pod for repeated listens and I can see it staying there for some time to come. ‘Back Again’ should be the catalyst that takes this impressive band on the next step to the recognition they truly deserve.
I feel like I am playing catch up here to be honest. ‘Do Not Disturb’ has been on my ‘to purchase’ list for a while but something always conspired to prevent me. I bought ‘Trisector’ the week it was released, like many in hope of a rebirth and a recharge of my passion for VDGG. I was disappointed, probably because expectation was too high, but I ashamedly did not rate it or give it the attention that VDGG’s music needs to have be appreciated.
Back to ‘Do Not Disturb’, though I have read other reviews of it long before I knew I was going to look at it from my critic’s perspective. I will try not to let the views of others seep into my piece but parallels will be drawn.
Messrs Hammill , Evans and Banton are past masters of Prog and Progression, ploughing their own furrow in a field of innovation and challenge. Peter Hammill famously being influential to the likes of Johnny Lydon and Fish, amongst others, in vocal style and lyrical content. They were the outsiders of the golden era of Prog even pushing the limits of rhythm and tone in an epic way.
The album comes out of the starting gate with a real shocker, Aloft, an ethereal and very open track that slowly bleeds into an urgent, intense examination of the avoidance of life by forever moving forward but never back. The fear that if you stop you will fall being the thematic key in this song, but fear not, the old intense rhythmic atonal VDGG kicks in from nowhere without missing a step, relieving any fear that they had given up on their identity.
Alfa Berlina comes straight from the past, Hugh Banton provides a silky Hammond backdrop that seems to speak of human frailty and what makes us human as a condition of the sum of our memories. I say seem as I am trying to interpret the lyrical content and I hesitate to second guess these guys. This is actually a sing-a-long VDGG with a discernible hook. A late 60s Psychedelia straight from the UFO club complete with oil slides, or maybe that’s just in my head?
Forever Falling is incredibly accessible with a chugging guitar riff carrying you along that could easily fit into an 80s King Crimson or Talking Heads bandwidth. It works because it’s not impersonation, it’s pure VDGG running with an idea to see what happens.
(Oh No! I must have said) Yes, What can I say about this track? It’s a high point and stood out on the first play through. This is classic VDGG and stands next to the classic tracks of old. I ask how the hell do you write the organised chaos and drag it back through a jazz feel and back through entropy to tease the listener? It has been mooted that this is an exercise in Evans et al doing a VDGG history through one song but I kind of hope that it’s more like they found a groove and followed it to its natural end.
Go, the closing track, is the guys going down the route of old school Krautrock and putting a different spin on it. It’s all atmosphere with a stillness all its own.
The album has tonnes of light and shade and isn’t mired in the past or shackled by it. It has very tight production and, as you would expect, the musicianship is off the chart. I don’t think I heard a bar of 4/4 rhythm from Guy Evans or, conversely, any contrived attempts to be clever. It crosses genres from jazz to progressive and onto electronic.
If this is the end of studio music for Van Der Graaf Generator,as has been inferred by the band, then it is a fitting album to end on. Unlucky thirteenth studio album? Well I don’t think so at all.
Sweden’s much loved architects of dark progressive rock/metal, Katatoniacelebrated their 25th anniversary as a band in 2016, a year that also saw them release their 10th studio album – the critically acclaimed The Fall of Hearts.
A special one off anniversary show took place at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire towards the end of the year but now the band has revealed that they will tour the UK & Ireland in May. Guitarist Anders Nyström comments;
‘We’re really excited to be returning to the UK and Ireland for a proper full headline tour in support of our latest album ’The Fall Of Hearts’. Last year, we only got as far as playing London where we focused on the 10th anniversary of ’The Great Cold Distance’ by playing the album in full, so this time we’ll be coming back for more! Join us in May and see us deliver the rest of the darkness!’
A new 2 disc tour edition of The Fall Of Hearts is due for release on 17th March 2017 through Peaceville, the new version will feature live tracks taken from the band’s show in the Ancient Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in September 2016.
February 3rd also sees the release of a limited edition 10th anniversary version of their class album The Great Cold Distance. This new 4 disc deluxe hardback 40 page, book edition of the album 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 September 2016. The design of this essential 10th anniversary edition has once again been taken care of by long time collaborator Travis Smith. (Available to pre-order via www.peaceville.com/store & http://www.omerch.eu/shop/katatonia )
Orenda n. [aw-ren-duh]
1. A supernatural force believed by the Iroquois Indians to be present, in varying degrees, in all objects or persons, and to be the spiritual force by which human accomplishment is attained or accounted for.
“A dormant potential to create exists within all human beings. It unconsciously binds the species at large. Most people just never unlock it. With Our Arms To The Sun examine that precious and potent power on their 2016 full-length concept album, ‘Orenda’. Painting in hues of rock, alternative, and metal, their cinematic sound blankets a curious canvas of Arizona Desert, weaving together a sonic journey to self-actualization for the quartet – Josh Breckenridge (vocals, guitar), Joseph Leary (guitar, programming), Joseph Breckenridge (bass), and John McLucas (drums).”
“Orenda is that hidden power inside all of us,” says Josh. “The character in the album is discovering it. You can’t really transcend your own ego, shadow, or bullshit unless you make a connection with what whatever that obstacle is inside of you, eliminate it, and move past it. That’s what the new music is about.”
One of the great joys of writing about music is following an artist from their early beginnings, fumbling around, learning how to make their music better and more involving and seeing how they progress album on album.
I get a real buzz and satisfaction from seeing some of these artists mature into incredibly talented bands and individuals who create some of the most impressive music to be heard today.
One such band is Arizona’s With Our Arms To The Sun, a quartet who create cinematic experimental music from the middle of nowhere in the Arizona desert. I have been a long time fan and supporter from their first album and have become friends with main man and guitarist Josh Breckenridge, enabling me to get early previews of any new music.
In early 2016, the group retreated to Los Angeles with a batch of demos and began pre-production on what would become ‘Orenda’ with legendary the Melvins founder Buzz Osborne. Josh and his bandmates holed up in a rental house “in the middle of nowhere Arizona” to track the music. They emerged with the 10 songs the comprise the new album.
This powerful band create epic soundscapes through the use of instrumental music but new album ‘Orenda’ sees them take a step into the unknown by adding vocals to the music. Could this be a step too far from what they have become known for or a logical evolution that sees them move to the next level of their career?
The opening track Disdain – Why I Am opens with a suspenseful gusting of wind before a humoungous riff crashes the party and blows any cobwebs from your psyche. Joshes anguished screams outlines the protagonists frustration. There is a real torment in the earnest vocal that follows, punctuated by that ever present riff, big enough to move mountains. The clever touch is the way the whole song just puts the breaks on with some really chilled out, mystical feeling guitar and bass, almost meditative in its delivery. There is a real feeling that this band made the step up to the big leagues with the quality of this song and, for a man who is no fan of growling vocals, I feel they add rather than distract to the whole experience. A pretty impressive opening it must be said.
A quite eerie guitar opens Memory – The Drift and the vocals have a dreamlike quality to them as they gently tread on your mental synapses and lull you into a quiet sense of security. It doesn’t last long as another riff hewn from solid granite blows away the mirage with its intensity. The vocals are more like a rhythmic chanting and give an aura of native mysticism to the song before a raw scream emerges from the depths. The track rolls along like an unstoppable force of nature, punctuated by periods of calm and reflection, allowing you to get your breath back. The vocals begin again, ardent and impassioned, backed by the incredibly powerful rhythm section and the arcane blasts of Josh’s intense guitar work, incredibly compelling music that demands your attention.
After the huge walls of sound that comprised the first two tracks, the mellow and reflective tones of Doorway to Clarity are a complete contrast, like a two minute break to get yourself together and contemplate how much the band have grown and developed with their new sound. It is deliberately thoughtful and a really chilled out piece of music.
First track released from the album Macrocosm – Prometheus relates to the character realising that he’s a piece of something bigger. It opens with a laid back feel as it begins to build. The guitar is expressive in its minimalism, an impression of a wide open space is conveyed by the vocals and music, an infinite blackness punctuated only by the stars. Hold that thought as the guitar takes on a harder, aggressive edge and the vocals become more like a chant, the hypnotic effect of the guitar takes over your mind and you begin to lose yourself in the vagaries of the intricate music. This is quite a demonstrative song, there is meaning and subtle definition in the music and it builds into a really brilliant song that leaves you nodding your head in appreciation. I especially like the way the song settles and closes out with the understated guitar at the core.
(Picture credit Melina Dellamarggio)
There is a real pathos and wistful note to Doorway to Realization, an emotive track and another two minute hiatus of composure. It has touch of 80’s electronica to my mind with the elegantly haunting piano that echoes in your mind, backed by Josh’s stirring vocals.
Considered and deliberate, Apex – 100 Year Dream opens at a leisurely pace. The vocals are low down and full of meaning before that immediately recognisable guitar sound takes over with another sonic powerhouse of a riff. I’ve tried to stay away from the ‘T’ word with this review but I really do get the feeling that these guys are channelling their inner Tool on this album and I say that because I honestly believe that they deserve comparison with bands of that calibre. The incredibly intense instrumental section that follows really does blow your mind and Josh’s vocals take on an angry edge. The elaborate and sophisticated music moves between the all encompassing dark heavy parts and the freedom of the lighter sections to create something totally immersive.
A native chant opens The War – Light The Shadows and leaves you feeling like you are in the middle of a sci-fi movie. There is a subtle build up as the song progresses, the hushed vocals combining with the understated music to create an air of mystery. This erupts into an authoritarian mantra with a potent riff driving it on. The music stops and the dominant chant continues to great effect before the all-powerful music takes over, the drums a particular highlight. This is a commanding and influential track that really delivers on the promise and just takes a step back into calmness and composure to close out stylishly.
The third quiet oasis ‘doorway’ is Doorway to Ascension a delicate instrumental that overlays spoken word to leave you ruminating on the whole theory of existence and life, the universe and everything in an introspective fashion.
Regret – Sailing Stones at the start is like an oasis of serenity and calmness, gentle guitars, subtle drums and Josh’s softly delivered vocal but it is only temporary before it erupts into a dynamic track full of raw aggression, screaming guitars and belligerent vocals as if the weight of the world is on its back. These two polar opposites survive in a musical world of juxtaposition challenging you to take sides in an urgent conflict. Another imposing song that feels like a force of eternal nature.
And so it comes to an end, the closing song Homebound – March of the Trees has an aura of finality to it, the conclusion to a journey of self-discovery and one that we have been privileged to bear witness to. Once again, a low key opening belies what is to follow, the forces of nature lead in an evolving guitar note that has an edge of suspense to it, only added to by the measured drumbeat. Josh’s chanting vocal has a world weary feel to it before it becomes an anguished cry full of a pensive melancholy. The whole track opens up into a huge panorama of sound occasionally allowing itself to become pared back before the pained aggression returns. This terrific sonic assault on the senses eventually closes out leaving you open mouthed and numb.
This is heavy and experimental progressive music from artists who are nearing the height of there already impressive powers. They create songs that ebb and flow between the intensely dark and the incredibly light and it is utterly addictive. With Our Arms To The Sun are an elemental force of musical nature, unstoppable in its voracity and deserve to be mixing it with the big boys and, on the strength of this incredibly impressive new release, they will be supping at the top table very soon!
Due to be released April 2017
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Danish band Mew have announced Pre-order details for their seventh album ‘Visuals’, due to be released on April 28th.
Frontman Jonas Bjerre has worked on the projections for the band’s live shows since their early days. Usually, the Danish trio finish an album and Bjerre gets to work on the visuals. For their seventh record, though, the singer decided to turn things upside down, working on the visuals first and seeing if they informed the music. The resultant record feels like a culmination for one of rock’s most ambitious and inventive groups: Visuals is where Bjerre and his bandmates, bassist Johan Wohlert and drummer Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen, join the dots of a career that has spanned over two decades. “We do everything on this album ourselves,” says Bjerre. “We produced it ourselves, I did the artwork, I’m doing the visuals. Visuals felt like a fitting title. I like the idea that each song has a visual aspect to it somehow.”
Mew have a tradition of, as Bjerre puts it, hiding away in a cave for three or four years between albums. The tour that accompanied 2015’s +- album found the band reaching a creative peak that they felt was too exhilarating to be dampened by a period of extended cave-dwelling. They arrived home with demos that had been written on the road and the spark was lit. They wanted to break the cycle and make an album quickly. “We just felt like, “if we do it the normal way, it’s gonna be another three or four years before we get to do it again’,” says Bjerre. “If you keep doing it like that, ultimately you make a handful of albums and then you’re ready for retirement.” The trio wanted to make an album spontaneously, keeping the energy they’d generated on the road going.
Listen to their new song ‘Carry Me To Safety’ here:
They set to work in Copenhagen and started knocking the demos they’d written on tourbuses and in hotel rooms into shape. At the same time, new songs were emerging in reaction to what was going on around them. Mew aren’t a political band but couldn’t help but be affected by rolling news and the death of an icon. “It was pretty dark last year, so some of the darkness in the lyrics comes from that. You definitely get the feeling that things don’t last forever when someone like David Bowie dies.” Visuals was completed in just under a year – what Bjerre describes as an “incredible” feat for a band used to periods of prolonged tinkering. “Spending less time on it, you can still maintain the feeling you had when you first wrote it,” says Bjerre.
‘Visuals’ is Mew at their most compact, their chemistry at its most potent. With only one song over five minutes, it’s their most concise album. Bjerre says there was no need for a grand, overarching concept. Each song on ‘Visuals’ represents its own little chapter and story: nothing needed to be overly long. “Each album is like a collection of thoughts and ideas that fit the time we’re in,” he says. “They’re like little diary entries, except they’re a little bit more veiled perhaps. To me, albums are memories of times in my life.”
Recorded and self-produced in Copenhagen, ‘Visuals’ was completed in under a year and sees Mew at their most concise, each song representing its own little chapter and narrative. The first taste of the album comes in the shape of the mesmerising intricacies of the album’s finale Carry Me To Safety.
Meanwhile, the slow-build euphoria of album opener, Nothingness And No Regrets, and expansive 80’s-style pop of TheWake Of Your Life countered by the discordant stomp of the intriguingly titled Candy Pieces All Smeared Out and blissful glide of In A Better Place, compete across eleven tracks that convey an irrepressible ebullience of a band on their debut album.
Many of the newer tracks evolved in light of what was happening globally. “It was pretty dark last year on many levels, so lyrically that definitely came into play, it’s an important reminder to treasure the here and now,” says Bjerre. Visuals feels like the culmination for one of rock’s most ambitious and inventive groups.
Twenty years into their career, Visuals is the distinctive sound of Mew seizing the moment…
New European tour dates have been announced for May 2017.
Tickets will be on pre-sale from 9am local time on Jan 25th, and on general-sale 9am local time on Jan 27th.
May 17 – Paradiso, Amsterdam
May 19 – Point Ephemere, Paris
May 20 – Trix, Antwerp
May 21 – Trinity, Bristol
May 22 – Ritz, Manchester
May 23 – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
May 25 – Luxor – Köln
May 26 – Knust – Hamburg
May 27 – Immergut Festival, Neustrelitz
More world-wide tour dates to be announced very soon.
Sweden’s musical alchemists, OPETH have debuted a new video for their song “Era” today. The video’s track is featured on the band’s critically praised, 12th studio album, Sorceress, which is available now via Nuclear Blast Entertainment.
The video for “Era” comes just ahead of the band’s return to the U.S for headline spring tour with support from Gojira and Devin Townsend Project. The tour will also include a special one-off show in Philadelphia on May 6th with Mastodon, Gojira, Eagles of Death Metal, Devin Townsend Project and Russian Circles.
Watch the video here:
The beautiful shot, cinematic video was directed by Markus Hofko (www.bowbowbow.co) and features stunning visuals that perfectly sync with the band’s dynamic music.
“I have to say our involvement in the making of the ”Era” video was so minimal we can’t take credit either for or against its brilliance. We did 3D scans of our bodies (clothed) in Munich during the last European tour. I remember everyone’s extremely tired and probably slightly hungover. The director just placed us in a ice-cold room and then scanned us with something that looked like a flashing hairdryer. Done! We’ve done our part for the video. Next! During the process of finishing the piece it got clear to me that it really works with the song. That’s something I was involved in actually, picking the song. It’s extremely difficult. Which song to choose? How do I know what works best for this format? Well, I don’t. I picked a song from the record that has a strong chorus. Slightly old school way of thinking I guess, but ultimately it didn’t matter all that much to me. The video is nice. I dig it. It’s slightly on the pretentious side, but hey, works for me! And like I said, it really works with the overall vibe of the song. Lyrically and musically and definitely emotionally.” – Mikael Akerfeldt
Order “Sorceress” now:
The record will be available in an array of formats and editions including CD, 2CD Digipak, 2LP Vinyl (in various colours at 180 gram) from the Nuclear Blast Store: http://nblast.de/OpethSorceressNB and Recordstore.co.uk (orders come with signed inserts – whilst stocks last): http://nblast.de/OpethSorceressRS
OPETH Tour Dates:
May 4 – Nashville, TN – Nashville War Memorial (w/Gojira)
May 5 – Charlotte, NC – Carolina Rebellion Festival
May 6 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory Outdoors (w/Mastodon, Gojira, Eagles of Death Metal, Devin Townsend Project, Russian Circles)
May 7 – Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom (w/Gojira, Devin Townsend Project)
May 9 – Chicago, IL – The Vic Theatre (w/Gojira, Devin Townsend Project)
May 11 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre (w/Gojira, Devin Townsend Project)
May 12 – Kansas City, MO – Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland (w/Gojira, Devin Townsend Project)
May 13 – Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room at Old National Centre (w/Gojira, Devin Townsend Project)
May 14 – Somerset, WI – Northern Invasion Festival