Yesterday saw the release of a new video for ‘Colors’, the latest track from smalltape’s ‘The Hungry Heart’ album.
The man behind the music, Philip Nespital, had this to say about the song:
“This track might be the most controversial song on “The Hungry Heart“. Not surprisingly it was also one of the most difficult songs I’ve written to date. In light of the social and political developments over the past decade, as well the global protests through the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, it seems to me that the message only grows stronger and more relevant than ever.
The evident truth is that people are actively and passively working against true democracy, with words and actions rooted in fear and hatred. This hatred, though conceived long ago, has been slumbering just below the surface and with the rise of populism globally, it has broken through. While racism, bigotry, and homophobia is unfortunately not unique to Germany, I chose to write the song through my perspective of living and growing up there.
As someone who deeply believes in the principles of democracy, most importantly freedom and equality, I feel the urge to speak up against racism as an ally to those that are being discriminated against. We give racism room to grow if we merely standby and watch or are willfully ignorant and look away. We can do a lot even by bravely speaking up and voicing that we disagree with discrimination and the violation of equality and civil rights for all. My intent and hope is that this core message of allyship and love spreads to all that listen.”
You can watch the video here:
Order the rather excellent album from bandcamp here:
Asia are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of their debut album next year, can you believe it has been 40 years since ‘Heat of the Moment’ first graced our airwaves! That album, of course, was a spectacular success and gave a new lease of life to a disgruntled Steve Howe who had been left in the cold by Yes as they had regrouped around Trever Rabin and Chris Squire. Steve was invited to join John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes in his then latest venture that brought the worlds of progressive music and AOR together in spectacular musical and financial success.
This set consists of five double CD’s featuring hitherto unreleased recordings of Asia in 1982, 1983, 2007, 2008 and, finally, 2010, recorded in the USA, Brazil, Japan and London. These sets are quite different in that the sound is always good and most noticeable is the bass of John Wetton, being often prominent and the band are playing very tightly and obviously enjoying themselves Naturally, many of the tracks are repeated over the five shows, although Carl Palmer’s drum solo moves from track to track as these albums progress.
The first set was recorded on Asia’s first US tour and, obviously, their debut album is prominently featured, although a new track that would appear on ‘Alpha’ was unveiled, albeit in a quite different version to the one that ended up on the album, as this features all four members playing keyboards to a drum machine backing before morphing into a full band performance where Steve Howe gets to wail and Carl Palmer hits things loudly. A lively rendition of Only Time Will Tell stands out with Geoff’s keyboard being prominent and John in fined voice indeed. In fact, Asia have seldom sounded rawer than this and everyone sounds in good form, this performance is particularly feisty and energetic. The rest of this set is fuelled by the balance of songs from their debut, Carl Palmer’s Drum solo and the double whammy of Sole Survivor and Heat of The Moment.
The second set is from August 1983 in Worcester, Massachusetts and this is a mixture of the debut and ‘Alpha’ albums along with Steve Howe’s solo segment of Beginnings/Valley of Rocks/Clap and Carl Palmer’s drum solo in Here Comes the Feeling, culminating in Sole Survivor and Heat of the Moment again.
The third set was recorded in Brazil shortly after the band reformed in 2007 and this set features tracks from their recently released album ‘Phoenix’, which stand up well to their earlier classics. Also Roundabout gets a dusting off here with John Wetton taking on the Jon Anderson parts. Well, he even gets a Chris Squire type sound and tone and his bass drives the song along nicely. It is great to hear these musicians really stretching themselves, though the sound is a bit crackly on this number, for some reason, but it doesn’t detract from what is an excellent version of a great song.
There is a version of Fanfare for the Common Man from Carl’s old band, ELP, and, again, we are in for a real treat here with Geoff Downes’ keyboards sounding not unlike a certain Mr. Emerson, and Steve’s guitar interjects and adds little flourishes throughout before he lets fly with a brief solo. It’s all highly effective stuff, as is the short bass solo from John Wetton. This set also includes a King Crimson track, In the Court of the Crimson King, and The Buggles’ song Video Killed the Radio Star.
Set four is from Tokyo in 2008, just before ‘Omega’ was released. The ‘Phoenix’ album is featured with An Extraordinary Life standing out. Again, solo tracks from each member are included and this is also the longest of these sets at nearly 2 hours in length. The sound is uniformly good throughout and it is great to hear .
The last set in this collection comes from London in 2010 and is a great return to form for the band. Featuring, as it does, lesser played tracks like Finger on The Trigger and Through My Veins from the ‘Omega’ album, along with a Steve Howe solo and the usual Carl Palmer drum solo during The Heat Goes On. The set concludes with Sole Survivor, Go (from ‘Astra’) and Heat of The Moment.
The collection features new art from Roger Dean and a brief, but informative, booklet detailing each of the shows, just a shame that John Wetton is no longer with us to celebrate this significant anniversary. This box set is a wonderful way in which to both remember, and celebrate, a rather rawer and more ferocious Asia than their albums showed. It is a great collection, pricey but worthwhile as Christmas is soon with us!
This album is the fifth, and latest one, from the internet based & curated band, Fractal Mirror, which is comprised of a couple of Dutch and US members, amongst others including British local Boy Gareth Cole on guitars. Brett Kull of Echolyn acts as both a backing vocalist and as a creative muse or foil to the members to the band, perhaps to stimulate and enhance their creativity?
The album also marks a return to the longer tracks in which their progressive leanings can be unleashed fully, an element perhaps missing from their last two albums. Well, this release rectifies that issue conclusively as this allows for two of the album’s six songs to come in at well over the ten-minute mark and it really works on this record. Ashes is over seventeen minutes long and Borders runs out at just under thirteen, both songs benefitting from this extended running time as they have chance to expand well, allowing various themes and sections to emerge that are embellished and reworked during the running of the track.
There are also some exceptionally fine musical segments to these songs, especially in the guitar lines of Gareth Cole and in the mellotron of Leo Koperdraat, which really adds to the mood of the piece. I find the track to be very evocative and with its fabulous guitar lines from Gareth Cole, to be something a bit special sounding really. Even the shorter songs do not lose the progressive elements entirely. This is especially the case on Shadow Man which twists wonderfully with a very serpentine guitar line that threads through the final sections of the track.
The album opens with the brief Instrumental, Beyond, as is often the way in prog albums. It starts with swathes of keyboard sounds and textures, also there are some graceful acoustic guitar lines at play and then, latterly, some smooth electric guitar. It is all very pleasant and sets the album up perfectly for what is to come.
Ashes, the first of the two epics, is one to really get yourself immersed in as, over its duration, you will be taken on a voyage of sorts. Lots of ominous sounds and effects and a strident tone emerge and, again, it is very pleasing to the ear. All the while the sound is underpinned by the sounds of the rhythm section and also the electric guitar of Gareth Cole The vocals commence and work well, they are certainly strong enough on this song which also has some nifty bass runs from Ed, Leo’s Mellotron showing itself to be in fine fettle here too. This song talks of ‘ashes all around me’, and I suppose the song is about a relationship and about making it right. Relationships can be hard going at times and, as I’m sure we all know and agree, the key is commitment and communication, both of which will give a stable footing to build upon.
The lyrics go on to speak of another day wishing you weren’t here, another day of living in fear so I guess there might be an element of abuse within this relationship. Very sad words really and, overall the song has a melancholy feel and its subject matter is dark but, the music is very strong, the final solo from Gareth being suitably epic in both tone and nature, in all, a really good track.
Kingdom Of the Lost is another shorter piece but one with great vocal harmonies. This piece sounds very much like a song of loss and, as such, it has traces of slight melancholia at certain points. In contrast, it also has subtle slide guitar lines woven through its grooves, which work to create fine effect and impact.
Borders concludes the album in a lengthy workout, during which there are several great instrumental passages that unfold gracefully, as does the song itself. This track calls for holding the border one last time but what this really means is not clear. Even so, this sentiment is clearly expressed at various points in the track and with some power presence and influence.
When you add all this together what emerges is another fine album from this band for whom bigger things, audiences and shows must surely beckon and, with the power of Bad Elephant Music behind them, their future certainly looks very promising indeed. So hop on over to their bandcamp page to find this fabulous modern prog album and see what you think.
Prog icons The Flower Kings are pleased to announce the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for 4th March 2022. The band have also announced the first live dates in support of the album, taking place in Sweden beginning end of March 2022.
The band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.
The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.
Speaking about being reunited with his brother in the recording room, Roine adds, “It is great to reconnect with my brother as a bass player – yes we’re brothers in a familial sense – but we’re also ’brothers’ in our teenage years’ journey of exploring bands like Yes, Genesis, Zappa, King Crimson, Weather Report, etc., so the reference points are evident. We both know each other’s musical path so well, which means we also know where we’re going.”
Next years tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:
30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden
31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden
1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden
Look out for more information on the new album, pre-orders and the first single on the 10th December.
Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) is back with a new Star One album titled Revel In Time. The new album comes more than 10 years since the previous release and is due out on Feb 18th, 2022 on InsideOutMusic.
Today, Arjen is pleased to share the second single and video for the album’s opening track “Fate of Man.”
Watch the video for “Fate of Man” here:
Arjen has this to say about the track:
“This fast and furious album opener is the second video clip/single of the new Star One album ‘Revel In Time’. The lyrics are inspired by the movie Terminator.
For me this is the most Star One-ish track on the album, reminiscent of ‘Set Your Controls’ from the first Star One album ‘Space Metal’. The lead vocals are by the amazingly talented singer Brittney Slayes of Unleash the Archers and the virtuoso guitar solo is by none other than Michael Romeo of Symphony X. One of my own favorite tracks on the album. I hope you like it too, enjoy!
Video clip edited by Dave Letelier… in true Terminator style :-)”
1] Fate of Man 5:29
2] 28 Days (Till the End of Time) 7:21
3] Prescient 6:34
4] Back from the Past 4:50
5] Revel in Time 4:38
6] The Year of ’41 6:20
7] Bridge of Life 5:14
8] Today is Yesterday 5:46
9] A Hand on the Clock 5:52
10] Beyond the Edge of it All 4:52
11] Lost Children of the Universe 9:46
CD 2 features the same songs as CD 1, but with different vocalists
The album will be available for pre-order on Dec. 17th and it will come as Ltd. 2CD Digipak, Ltd. Deluxe 3CD+Blu-Ray Artbook (incl. a poster of the cover artwork), and as 180g Gatefold 2LP (incl. the album on CD & an LP-Booklet).
CD 2 features alternate versions of the same songs as CD 1, but with different vocalists. Also available will be a 5.1 mix, a high-res audio version, and an exclusive, hour-long Behind the Scenes video, on the Blu-ray included in the Artbook.
Arjen explains the decision to return with a new Star One album:
“Ayreon is like the mothership for all my music. It contains all the different musical styles that I like to listen to and that I love to create. But I’m always looking for challenges and trying to create something new and original as well. Working within a set of constraints forces you to do that, so sometimes I like to limit myself and focus on just one style. For example, with Star One I focus on the metal-side of Ayreon. That means you won’t hear the exuberantly liberal use of acoustic instruments that are so often featured on Ayreon albums, like violin, woodwinds, cello, horns, dulcimer, mandolin, etc.”
You asked for it, you got it. Karnivool have officially confirmed a Blu-ray release of their ‘Decade Of Sound Awake’ livestream performance on December 10, 2021.
Forced to cancel most of their Australian ‘Decade of Sound Awake’ tour, Karnivool took their full touring production into the Heath Ledger Theatre, Perth to perform their seminal, platinum selling second album ‘Sound Awake’ in its entirety for a special live streamed event.
Shot in a venue singled out for its incredible contemporary design and unique acoustic properties, the historic performance includes a full run through of the Sound Awake album, key songs from their other albums (including fan favourite ‘Fade’, captured on film properly for the first time), and some new material.
Within hours of the May 12, 2021 broadcast, they’d had an avalanche of requests from their global fanbase for a physical version of the visually stunning concert. Never intended for release but with online clamour hard to ignore the ‘Decade of Sound Awake’ Blu-ray will be available to buy from December 10.
Simple Boy Goliath New Day Set Fire To The Hive Umbra All I Know The Medicine Wears Off The Caudal Lure Illumine Deadman Change Fade Roquefort Aeons All It Takes
Watch the DECADE OF SOUND AWAKE video trailer here:
Karnivool acknowledges the Whadjuk Nyoongar people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work, live and play. We pay respects to all Aboriginal elders and people, standing united towards a shared future. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.
This batch of lockdowns has an unexpected, pleasant side effect in that it has enabled and stimulated creativity amongst musicians. This has resulted in some marvellous, and often unexpected, pleasurable listening opportunities. Where projects that were once pipe dreams have been given a dust down and often have then come to fruition and some fabulous music has emerged as a result.
Yes finally managed to deliver their long overdue and much promised album ‘The Quest’ to complimentary reviews, Big Big Train have been busy too, releasing ‘Common Ground’, Steve Hackett has released two albums in these times and now Nova Cascade have issued their third album, ‘Back From the Brink’. The album is another mixture of ambient and progressive ideas, although it is short with a running time of just over 45 minutes, but those 45 minutes are certainly imaginative and well realised by the band.
Nova Cascade’s last album, ‘A Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’, has paved the way for this epic new album, one that was partially inspired by events surrounding the band with Dave Hilbourne suffering from long covid, a battle which he won thankfully but at some cost to his well-being and mental health. Undeterred, Dave decided to channel these feelings into music, this may in part explain why this music is both dark at times and hopeful at other points.
This album has all been recorded remotely with Dave compiling it all into some order and there are some fabulous performances from each of the members, noteworthy of which being the guitar and violin work of Eric Bouilette of The Room and Nine Skies and the flute playing of Charlie Bramald, which really lifts to album at key points.
This album is best appreciated on headphones, I find as it’s textures can unfold gradually revealing their crafted treasures at ease.
Several tracks really stand out, firstly The Minutes After which is a graceful instrumental with some delicate acoustic guitar runs and that fabulous flute adding to the mood and lightening it up, this track is fantastically evocative and has melody a-plenty. Another song that really lifts this album is the longest piece, Back From The Brink, which encapsulates all that is good about Nova Cascade.
It has enough space for instruments to rely shine, very strong keyboards interspersed with guitar fills and a strong, but not dominating, bass part and a hauntingly evocative flute floating over gentle piano and guitar lines. Yet, somehow, this all gels together, creating music of both beauty and warmth. It is all highly impressive sounding and it’s a joy to hear this excellent piece with its great dynamics.
Between these two epics lies a while slew of shorter, but never less than interesting pieces, most notably There Is Always A Way, which manages to blend the music with the words of Neil Armstrong’s, creating a great atmosphere. Eric’s violin also adds significant class to the piece before Dave’s synthesizers are ushered to centre stage. Even then, it is the ensemble playing that is presented so vividly, it’s all about the whole sound that is being offered here.
The final vocal track, Long Winter,followsand, here again, Dave sounds very Steve Hogarth like in his wispy delivery and reminds me of some long-forgotten eighties vocalist (Fergal Sharkey perhaps?), either way, it certainly works well. This song is highly personalised as it speaks about what Dave went through with long covid, yet, despite that, it is a quietly triumphant track, to these ears at least.
The whole album is predominantly instrumental, with just three vocal performances from Dave Hilbourne on Phantom, The Hill and Long Winter.
‘Back From The Brink’ is a really fine album indeed and it is a pleasure to listen to. I would recommend this to anyone, especially if you like ambient, instrumentally driven, progressive music, as this album offers that and far far more. I’m sure you will find it an agreeable listen, I certainly did enjoy this album but I do recommend headphones for best results. It’s an aural treat for tired ears, float away into a world of tranquility and class.
The new album, featuring guest appearance from The Flower Kings’ Roine Stolt on title track, due out on Feb 18th, 2021.
Swedish progressive rock outfit Jonas Lindberg and The Other Side have signed with InsideOutMusic for the release of the upcoming new album Miles From Nowhere due out on Feb. 18th, 2021. Led by Multi-instrumentalist and composer Jonas Lindberg, the new album consists of seven songs which spans the full range of the progressive rock landscape – from the soaring ”Summer Queen” (led by Jenny Storm), to the folksy instrumental ”Astral Journey” to the closing title track; a sprawling 25 minute epic which features none other than Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic) on lead guitar.
Jonas Lindberg on signing with the label: “It’s a great honor to be on this label alongside such great acts like Dream Theater, Yes, Jethro Tull among others! Being a fan of the genre myself, many of the bands on the label are big influences and longtime favorites of mine.”
Miles From Nowhere will be available to pre-order from the 17th December 2021, on CD, Gatefold 2LP+CD & as Digital Album.
Lindberg had this to say about the new album: “Miles From Nowhere is my fourth release and second full length album with my progressive rock project “Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side”. It was recorded between 2019 and 2020, in part during the pandemic, and is a followup to my 2016 release called Pathfinder. This album is much more “symphonic” in a way with much longer songs and it even features a couple of epics. The lyrics are also much more personal in a way, and reflects a lot upon things happening in my life between both albums. While I considered Pathfinder to be a band effort at the time, on this one I’m playing a lot of the instruments myself and even singing lead vocals on a couple of tracks. In part due to logistical difficulties caused by the pandemic. It also features some more guest musicians than just the lineup of my original project members, with one of my biggest influences in the genre, Roine Stolt guesting on the epic title track.”
”It’s such an honor to have one of my biggest influences in the genre playing on one of the tracks! I’m so happy that he wanted to do it. Roine’s solo follows one of Jonas Sundqvist’s strongest vocal tracks ever, and he somehow managed to top that. Such a great guitar player,” says Lindberg.
Watch the album teaser video here:
1. Secret Motive Man (7:26)
2. Little Man (5:49)
3. Summer Queen (15:52)
4. Oceans Of Time (11:37)
5. Astral Journey (5:50)
6. Why I’m Here (4:26)
7. Miles From Nowhere (25:32)
PT I – Overture, PT II – Don’t Walk Away PT III – I Don’t Know Where You Are PT IV – Memories, PT V – Miles From Nowhere
Life came full circle at Hull City Hall on Sunday evening, 14th November 2021. I first saw Marillion at this venue on the 9th July, 1990 and, thirty-one years later, here I was, about to watch one of my favourite bands on the first gig of their ‘The Light At The End Of The Tunnel’ tour.
It’s been a long time since Marillion last played live to their loyal fans, as Steve Hogarth said at the start of the gig, over 700 days! and you could sense the excitement in the venue beforehand. For the only time in living memory, the queue for the merch stand was way longer than the queue for the bar!
The support act was a duo called Antimatter and their short set was an excellent appetiser for what was to follow. Powerful vocals with electric and acoustic guitars made for a great listen and the audience were very appreciative.
The atmosphere in Hull City Hall had been building to a crescendo as the band came onto the stage full of vigour and enthusiasm and an honest joy at playing in front of a live audience again.
I saw the band last at the Royal Albert Hall nearly two years ago, in November 2019 and they just seemed to be so up for this gig, Steve Hogarth was laughing and smiling had a great rapport with his band mates, Pete Trewavas was bounding around the stage with obvious energy, Ian Mosley was a powerhouse behind the drum kit, Steve Rothery patrolled his corner of the stage in his usual stately manner and Mark Kelly was dominant, raised at the back of the stage behind his impressive bank of keyboards.
Steve Hogarth explained that the setlist would be a sort of greatest hits that the band had collaborated on and the concert opened with a blistering version of Sounds That Can’t Be Made and followed it up with the iconic King, Hogarth central on the stage with his guitar raised in tribute. There was a fizzing intensity and power to the band’s performance this evening and, while the venues acoustics may have not been up tot he standard of some of the modern arenas, it certainly did not effect the enjoyment of the enthusiastic crowd.
A rather emotive version of Beautiful had a lump in my throat and a scintillating rendition of one of my favourites, You’re Gone, had the whole hall in thrall. It’s been so long since we have been able to enjoy live music that everybody in the room was obviously enjoying themselves immensely, standing up and cheering and whistling at the end of every track.
The party was in full swing and Mr Hogarth was evidently enjoying himself as the band ran through really strong renditions of The Party, Bridge, Living With The Big Lie and Runaway, every song raising the roof even higher. Steve Rothery’s guitar playing just blows me away every time and the power and precision of Ian Mosley’s drumming has to be seen in a live setting, the man is just a machine!
Steve Hogarth is a most engaging frontman and has a very special rapport with the audience, his utter joy at being out at the front of the stage was obvious to all, no more so than when introducing Be Hard On Yourself, the first single form the forthcoming new album ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ and, according to Steve, ‘It’s going to be a belter…”.
Well, Be Hard On Yourself was an absolute belter in itself and Steve was in fine vocal form, delivering a finely tuned and stirring vocal, ably backed by Pete Trewavas, the band building in confidence as every song was performed. Fine performances of Berlin and The Release led into my favourite song of the evening, an utterly spellbinding arrangement of perennial favourite, the haunting and electrifying Neverland that closed out the set.
Of course there was going to be an encore, the crowd demanded it with their hands, voices and feet (all in a good natured fashion, of course!) and the band returned to rapturous applause to deliver a rather fantastic version of every part of The Leavers, a phenomenally compelling and powerful piece of music that always makes it mark. We weren’t happy with just that song though and, as the band left the stage again, the noise levels rose to a crescendo before we were treated to a rocking, fun, sing-along version of Garden Party that brought the house down and finished things on an ultimate high!
Nearly two years of frustration and pent up energy were released in considerable style at Hull City Hall tonight and it will be a gig that will live long in my memory, oh what a night…!
“Hidden in our unstable and chaotic and random experience of the world is the utter stability of the deeply and ever unfolding human mind. If you learn to quiet yourself, to quiet your mind – you will find this path”
Based out of Boston, Massachusetts, the dynamic rock trio, RAIBARD, combine an array of genre influences and styles to produce an experimental, progressive sound. Their new album, Dark Realm of the Daylight, is no exception.
“We made this record for everyone who doesn’t fit inside a preconceived box. We don’t fit in either. ‘Dark Realm of the Daylight’ is about nonconformity. It’s about exploring who you are without any judgement; about letting go of rigid thought and antiquated visions. ‘Dark Realm’ is opening to experience the world as it truly is.”
The band was founded in December 2015 by Daniel Gil and they draw upon musical inspiration from rock and metal bands including LED ZEPPELIN, THE BEATLES, and OPETH. Daniel also brings in his interest as a modern mystic; someone who experiences hidden realities and studies ancient texts on mysticism. The title track on the new album is inspired by author and teacher Tony Buzan who teaches about mind mapping and the genius of every single human being, promoting the advancement of consciousness through inner awareness and compassionate living.
From the psychedelic soundscape of “Eternal Rise” through to the more heavily, distorted guitars in “Forever After”, Dark Realm of the Daylight is transcendent in nature. The album explores the light and the dark through progressive instrumentation, intricate composition, and meaningful lyrical themes. Become immersed in the dynamic atmosphere exploring a sense of the avant-garde.
New single, ‘Eternal Rise’, is released on 16th November and you can listen to it exclusively here: