Review – 25 Yard Screamer – Nemesis

‘Nemesis’ is the eighth studio album from Welsh Progressive Rock band 25 Yard Screamer. Released three years after their ‘Natural Satellite’ album, and twenty years after their inception, this new release takes key elements of the band’s past and combines them with a fresh modernity to produce a new musical voice to take them into their future.

25 Yard Screamer was formed in 2002 following Matt Clarke (bass) and Donal Owen (drums) assisting Nick James with a showcase gig for a music management company. The experience through rehearsals for that show, gave an indication to all three that there was a future in their collaboration. 2003 saw their first album ‘The Pictures Within’, 2011 brought the fourth album ‘Until All Are One’, a band favourite. This marked the bands first association with WhiteKnight Records, the label owned and run by Will Mackie and Rob Reed.

With their backing the international market opened up and the band started distributing and selling in the UK and around the world. Since then the band have released three more albums through WhiteKnight, 2013’s concept album ‘Something That Serves To Warn Or Remind’, 2016’s partial retrospective ‘Keep Sending Signals’, and 2019’s ‘Natural Satellite’.

‘Nemesis’ is my first experience of the band and it has made quite a big impression on me. Intelligent, insightful and thoughtful progressive rock with, at times, a distinctly harder edge. The band quote a variety of influences combining on this album, from Steven Wilson to King Crimson and The Mars Volta but also things such as the Conceptual and Performance Art of Marina Abramovic, the attitudes and relationships of people towards life and technology and how, as a society, we are choosing to exist today.

25 Yard Screamer deliver nine tracks of brooding, sparse music imbued with a dark melodic feel. I’m a particular fan of Incident, The Vibrations Of Speech and the haunting power of Giving Away My Last Secret with it’s harsh but brilliant guitar solo but the whole album is a mature and assured journey into a band who are confident of where they stand in the world and where they are heading. Dynamic, often crushing, riffs combine with thunderous drums, soaring keyboards and charismatic vocals to deliver a sound that, while familiar, has nuances all of its own. The final track on the album, Fragility Of Angels is exquisite, thoughtful vocals combine with sublime and wistful music to give us a hypnotic and mesmerising masterpiece resplendent with one of the best solos you will hear this year.

‘Nemesis’ may be my first step into the world of 25 Yard Screamer but it will definitely not be my last. This latest album from the Welshmen is a rather sublime slice of modern progressive rock complimented by hard rock sensibilities and deserves all the success it can garner.

Released October 7th, 2022.

Order from White Knight Records here:

25 Yard Screamer – Nemesis CD (

Review – Grant Ferguson – Windswept Isle

It’s electric…the way Grant Ferguson goes off on some new musical foray at the mere touch of a string. He doesn’t disappoint the demanding fan with his tricky licks, and never pushes away a newcomer with his harder edge, but rather pulls all listeners together on a common musical journey unlike any other in contemporary rock.

Propulsive, melodic rock guitar in the hands of Grant Ferguson is a powerful reminder of the instrument’s glory days. Influenced by some of the great axe masters: Jeff Beck, Gary Moore, David Gilmour and others, Ferguson is pushing his all-instrumental sound toward a new rock vision.

Born in Scotland, now based in Montana and Arizona, Grant is a breakout independent recording and touring artist who has released 3 albums, multiple singles and composed award-winning music for film and dance. 

‘Windswept Isle’ is Grant Ferguson’s sixth album. Over the years he’s matured as an artist, and grown more retrospective, even sentimental. While a good chunk of his writing has been about time (April Song, November, While the Sun Goes Down, December Sky, etc..) ‘Windswept Isle’ finds Grant focused afresh on the idea of place. Born in Scotland and an immigrant to the USA, Grant’s ties to his homeland are undeniable, both emotionally and musically. Perhaps as you listen to this collection of music you too will get a sense of the deep longing Grant carries in his soul – a yearning to connect with heritage, roots and place – the hauntingly beautiful windswept isles from whence he came.

I was introduced to Grant Ferguson and his sixth, and latest, release by his record company, Guitar One Records and, as is often the case with me, I was drawn in by the intriguing album cover. I’m also a big fan of instrumental melodic guitar albums so I was definitely going to have a listen, wasn’t I? And I certainly wasn’t let down, while ‘Windswept Isle’ can’t be called ground breaking, when the music and guitar playing are as good as they are on this superb release you really can’t go wrong!

There is a definite Celtic feel to the opening, and title, song Windswept Isle and it’s the only track with any vocals, a sweeping breathy Celtic harmony that imbues the track with an ethereal, otherworldly grace. To be fair, on this piece, Grant’s guitar is very much part of the storytelling and not hard-edged and in your face and it works perfectly. The next four songs see Grant come front and centre and certainly major on his highly impressive guitar playing and technique. Force Of Nature reminds me a bit of Gary Moore in his ‘Wild Frontier’ hard rock phase, a pounding, fast paced stomp across Grant’s windswept landscape with occasional pauses for breath, it’s excellent! Big Sky Road has that expansive feel to it, bringing to mind open spaces that stretch on forever, empty apart from the local wildlife and it really hits home in your heart, a properly emotive track.

Sunday Promenade takes a bluesy attitude to the music and a feel of Neal Schon’s superb ‘Beyond The Thunder’ in every relaxed and uber-cool note. There’s more of an urgency to Beyond The Veil, a Celtic undertone that wouldn’t be amiss on a Runrig release adding a huge amount of polish to Grant’s intricate guitar playing. An ultimately uplifting, powerful track that really resonated with me. Grant’s yearning for the land of his birth ultimately manifests itself in the endearing charms of album closer My Heart Is Not Here, the heartfelt fiddle playing that opens the track bleeds emotion and sincerity. It’s a wistful, nostalgic piece of music that sees this impressive musician laying his heart on his sleeve and ends the album on a heartfelt, passionate note.

‘Windswept Isle’ is an exquisite ode to the land of Grant Ferguson’s birth and a highly appealing collection of tracks full of charm and charisma and is an album that I feel I will be revisiting quite often.

Released August 25th, 2022.

Order the album here:

Grant Ferguson | Home | Guitar One Records

Review – Saro Cosentino – The Road To Now

Music has an uncanny ability to change your perception, let me explain what I mean by that. It’s a well known fact that I struggle with VDGG frontman Peter Hammill’s vocals, his voice has always seemed to grate on me, whether with the venerable progressive rock legends or singing with Isulders Bane, etc. I just haven’t been able to appreciate a voice that is, to some, one of the best out there. So, when I got sent a promo for the long awaited third solo album from Italian composer and producer Saro Cosentino, ‘The Road To Now’, with a tag line that said, “Featuring Peter Hammill.”, It didn’t immediately draw me in.

I will, however, always listen to any new music that is sent to me as how can you judge anything if you have not experienced it? To my surprise, I was completely seduced by the album and Peter Hammill’s contributions so let me tell you more about the album and why I found it to be one of the surprises of this musical year.

First, some background…

The third solo album by Italian composer and producer Saro Cosentino, ‘The Road To Now’ features singers Peter Hammill (on four songs), Tim Bowness (of No-Man) and Karen Eden, plus instrumental contributions from the likes of Gavin Harrison, David Rhodes, John Giblin and Trey Gunn. Available on heavyweight colour vinyl, CD and digital formats, it is the long-awaited follow-up to 1997’s acclaimed ‘Ones And Zeros’.

The Road To Now’ was recorded in the UK and US as well as at Cosentino’s own studio in Prague, with final mixing taking place at Real World in Bath. The opening ‘You’re The Story’ is followed by ‘The Joke’, the first of four songs featuring the unmistakable tones of legendary prog singer Peter Hammill. ‘November’ (on which Bowness provides a backing vocal) is a tale of long lost love, the outstanding ‘Time To Go’ contemplates the very end of the road (hopefully a long time from now), while the closing ‘When Your Parents Danced’ considers the first central figures in one’s life in their younger days, ‘before life’s stories made them what they’ve become’.

Having contributed to ‘Ones and Zeros’, as well as records by the likes of William Orbit and Chris Rea, the versatile Australian singer Karen Eden returns to perform on two contrasting tracks; the portentous sounding ‘Pray’ and (by way of contrast to everything else on the record), the pop song ‘Us (Scars on Skin)’. The album also contains the instrumental ‘Howl’, which switches from strident to atmospheric midway through and showcases the skills of the musicians involved.

Saro Cosentino creates music imbued with a timeless grace and elegance, whether it’s jazz infused progressive rock, mature, well crafted pop/rock or elegantly constructed instrumentals. You can tell from the way the music opens out in front of you that it is not just ‘written’ but also ‘composed’, like a soundtrack for an arty, perceptive film. There’s a precise nature to the composition of the tracks where every note and every word is placed carefully to create an attractive and creative whole.

Wistful, dreamy opener You’re The Story has a wonderfully nostalgic feel to it, given a contemplative purity by Tim Bowness’ restrained and sophisticated vocals. It’s a stunning, if low key, opening to the album but I’ve long been a fan of Tim’s voice anyway. The big surprise is the dark magnificence of The Joke where Peter Hammill’s voice is the main component of the track and is what makes it stand out so much. This is a moody, malevolent song and a thing of sombre magnificence, consider me hooked. This album also marks the first time I have ever heard Karen Eden’s voice and, on Pray, it has a theatrical drama and dynamism that bleeds through into the whole track. The coruscating saxophone of Nicola Alesini and cello of Dorota Barova are pure genius and add a whole extra dimension to what is a rather impressive piece of music.

This unanticipated wonder of an album showcases Saro’s brilliance as both composer and musician and continues with the melancholy grandeur of November where Hammill’s heartfelt, sorrowful vocal leaves an aura of remorse and regret that is only emphasised by the strident trumpet of Radim Knapp, a truly emotive song that hits you hard. At first US (Scars on Skin) seemed a bit out of place, an uptempo pop song among a collection of much more serious pieces but, taken in isolation, it is a fine showcase for the exquisite vocals of Karen Eden. A delightfully impish four minutes plus of uplifting music that just cleanses your template. The gravitas returns with the sparse, melancholy tones of Time To Go, Peter Hammill imbuing the track with sincere honesty and languid grace.

The one instrumental on the album, Howl, gives the talented musicians involved in the creation of this record a platform on which to demonstrate their accomplished talents. A dramatic piece of music that ebbs and flows and allows you to lose yourself momentarily in its notable wonders. The album closes with the measured and restrained spectacle of When Your Parents Danced, a sublime and criminally short song where myself and Peter Hammill finally click for good.

Saro Cosentino is nothing short of a musical genius, he has collected a hugely talented group of musicians together and created the biggest musical surprise of the year for me. A composer of not inconsiderable talent and a gifted songwriter, his choice of guest vocalists makes this an album that really should be on your wish list.

Released 7th October, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

The Road To Now | Saro Cosentino (


Emotive and conceptual, Klone have once again broken new sonic ground and built further on their signature expansive sound. 

Since 2019’s opus Le Grand Voyage, French art-rockers Klone have risen to new heights across

the globe, touring alongside the likes of Leprous and Pain of Salvation, and blowing away festival crowds at HellfestMotocultorProg Power USAMidsummer Prog, and Cruise to the Edge. Back with new album Meanwhile, the band return with sprawling textures, huge guitars and beautiful melodies to satisfy progressive metal fans and rock listeners alike. 

Recorded in February 2022 with producer Chris Edrich (TesseracT, Leprous, The Ocean Collective), Meanwhile chronicles the best and worst aspects of humanity. Vocalist Yann Ligner’s high-concept and oftentimes meta lyrics paint a picture of events taking place at the same time but in different places, while he muses about choices that are made against our will that can change the course of our common history – resulting in some poignant reflections about today’s world. 

First single, ‘Within Reach’, showcases Klone’s signature blend of beautiful soundscapes, monstrous riffs and off-kilter time signatures, blended with relatable lyrics. The band say:  “Within Reach is about those missed opportunities, those moments that elude us, close to the tipping point and so often within reach. The song introduces the album and sets the tone with a powerful and direct opening. With a sharp sound, Chris Edrich’s massive production enhances a composition full of relief and straight to the point Both heavy and refined, “Within Reach” condenses the ingredients that make the colour of this new album.” 

The striking artwork for Meanwhile was created by Umut Recber, who experimented with photo manipulation techniques to create a striking image of stormy skies which perfectly represents the music within. 

Klone’s most concise, direct and sonically accomplished album yet, Meanwhile is an essential listen. The album will be released on February 10th 2023 on CD / LP / limited edition silver coloured vinyl LP / limited edition clear vinyl LP / digitally and is available to pre-order HERE (


1. Within Reach [05:00]

2. Blink Of An Eye [05:22]

3. Bystander [05:05]

4. Scarcity [04:25]

5. Elusive [05:02]

6. Apnea [05:22]

7. The Unknown [04:55]

8. Night And Day [05:36]

9. Disobedience [05:44]

10. Meanwhile [06:48]

 Klone have confirmed they will be supporting the release of Meanwhile with live shows, beginning in their native France, but more dates will be announced soon. 

02/12/2022 – Lille – Le Black Lab 

03/12/2022 – Nantes – Le Ferrailleur – Nantes Metal Fest

28/01/2023 – Clermont-Ferrand – La Cooperative De Mai

09/02/2023 – Le Mans – L’alambik / Superforma

10/02/2023 – Bordeaux – Le Rocher De Palmer

11/02/2023 – Paris – Le Trabendo

24/02/2023 – Poitiers – Le Confort Moderne 

15/04/2023 – Savigny-Le-Temple – L’empreinte

Klone are:

Yann Ligner : Vocals 

Guillaume Bernard : Guitar

Aldrick Guadagnino : Guitar

Morgan Berthet: Drums 

Enzo Alfano: Bass 

Review – Oak – The Quiet Rebellion Of Compromise

Oak is a Norwegian progressive pop/rock band that originally emerged from a folk-rock duo. The four members have a diverse background spanning from classical piano to electronica, prog- and hard-rock, with references to the alternative scene as well as progressive rock – something that has combined to make a distinguished and unique sound.

OAK originated as a folk-rock duo, which expanded into today’s lineup of Simen Valldal Johannessen on vocals, piano and keys, Øystein Sootholtet on bass, acoustic and electric guitars, Sigbjørn Reiakvam on drums, percussion, programming, keys and guitars, and Stephan Hvinden on lead, rhythm and slide guitars. 

Musically, ‘The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise’ is the most dynamic Oak album so far, with a wide range of influences showing through. We’re still in very familiar Oak territory, but with some sharper edges and some surprising twists and turns. After their previous album ‘False Memory Archive’, the band set out to write some shorter songs for a change – and ended up with their longest songs yet. As on their other albums, there are subtle hints to both past and future songs in the Oak universe.
For this album, the band decided to write about an important and touchy subject – Suicide and psychic health in general. Music as an art form can be very open for interpretation, so to be sure that the message comes across, they’ve asked for advice from experienced scholars on the subject. The font used on the album cover is partially made of handwriting from two real suicide notes, to underline the concept.

There’s a deep underlying wistfulness and melancholy to this third album from the band and that’s entirely understandable considering the subject matter. Thoughtful and engrossing, the music is meaningful and contemplative and the lyrics are insightful and hard hitting.

When music is used as a relayer of a serious and often unsettling subject, it can add even more meaning, observation and perception and when that music is as brilliant as it is on a piece of work as exceptional as this, it really does bring home what the band are trying to get across. At times wide screen and cinematic and at others, minimalistic and sparse, ‘The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise’ is a musical masterpiece in inception and delivery.

This is a near perfect collection of songs where every track is a a complete work of art, from the hard-hitting opening trio of the dynamic Highest Tower, Deepest Well, the sparse, plaintive and melancholic Quiet Rebellion and the grandiose, compelling and potent Dreamless Sleep to the epic splendour and pomp of my personal favourite Paperwings, this is an intense and profound emotional journey.

Add in Sunday 8 AM, a beautifully judged near six minutes of music that sees vocalist Simen Valldal Johannessen at his most touching and emotive and the harder edged rock of the charismatic Demagogue Communion and this is a thoughtful, often melancholy, delight of an album and, when you come to the wishful and reflective whimsy of album closer Guest of Honour, it is almost like saying goodbye to a close friend with whom you have had a life changing experience.

Oak have a unique, innovative sound and you can hear it mature and transform on every album they release. Their approach to music is refreshing and sees them deliver meaningful music that has heart and soul and, with ‘The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise’, these talented musicians have created their most accomplished and consummate work yet.

Released 11th November, 2022.

Order the album here:

The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise | Oak (

Review – Galahad – The Last Great Adventurer

“A great song should lift your heart, warm the soul and make you feel good.” Colbie Caillat.

A simple caveat to an art form that transforms our daily lives into something utterly different. If you’re like me than music can take you to a much better place, my life would not be what it is without the joy and enrichment of music and, every now and again, an album arrives that completely blows me away, there is only music that can have this effect on the human race.

Before I tell you why I think Galahad’s eleventh studio album is just so good, let us delve into the background of the band and the album with some of the PR blurb:

‘The Last Great Adventurer’ has been several years in the making and many of the songs on the album actually pre-date the previous ‘Seas of Change’ album from 2018! Plus, due the constraints of the recent Covid emergency, the album was recorded at several locations over the last couple of years by the various band members and finally edited, mixed and mastered, as usual, by engineer/producer extraordinaire Karl Groom (Threshold/Dragonforce/Pendragon/Arena/Yes etc.).

As well as the long established nucleus of Stu Nicholson (vocals), Dean Baker (keyboards) and Spencer Luckman (drums) ‘The Last Great Adventurer’ is also the first Galahad studio album to feature Mark Spencer (Twelfth Night/Alan Reed) on bass guitar throughout as well as making some great contributions on backing vocals and triangle!  

Lee Abraham, now very much established as the band’s guitarist, also adds his own inimitable stamp to the album with some great guitar playing and a few blinding trademark guitar solos.

The main album consists of five tracks plus two bonus tracks on the CD including, at long last, a new version of  Another Life Not Lived originally written by the late and much missed Neil Pepper and Stu back in 2009.

Alive opens the album in fine, dynamic and powerful style with Dean’s pulsating keyboards and Spencer’s pounding drumbeat before Lee’s crushing guitar riff precedes Stu’s elegant vocals. This towering, fast paced track is charismatic and compelling as it flies along and the catchy chorus will have you singing along in harmony. It really is a fantastic, eye opening start that sees the band hit the ground running, Karl Groom’s influence as producer adding a fine polish to proceedings and new boy Mark Spencer showing he knows his stuff with his superb bass playing, add in a potent, pulsating solo from guitarist extraordinaire Lee Abraham and you just about have the perfect mix. Omega Lights sees the band leaning on their lengthy progressive heritage and the opening has a strong feel of 80’s nostalgia to it with its pared back, calming synth sounds and their wistful note. There’s an almost sombre feel to the song, an anticipation of what is to come, the music feeling as if wrapped in the mists of time as a low bass note enters proceedings followed by Lee’s purposeful guitar. Stu’s dignified vocals see the tempo rise before the song flowers into a glorious chorus. This contrast of refined verse and uplifting chorus continues and delivers a rather fine track full of determination and confidence. There follows an intricate section where the band put their prog chops on show for everyone to see and do so in fine fashion, just a brilliant piece of music. There’s a middle-eastern influence to the opening of Blood, Skin and Bone, like an Islam call to prayer and it works exceedingly well. Lee’s strident guitar combines with the forceful rhythm section to add some polished aggression and Stu’s slightly menacing vocal adds some mystery to the song. I really like the way this track flows with subtle intensity and Dean’s keyboards give a real mystical undertone and make it into an unstoppable force. Lee contributes a deliciously potent solo that just leaves me smiling in admiration, what a stunning song!

Enclosure 1764 has a theatrical, almost operatic quality to it, Stu’s vocal delivery wouldn’t be out of place in the cast of Les Miserables if you ask me and the tension created by the keyboards is hair raising. It is the shortest track on the album but is no less important and I find it bewitching and spellbinding as the drums and guitar add to the intense atmosphere, Lee is absolutely on fire again on this scintillating song. The magnificent title track, The Last Great Adventurer, is a very personal tribute to Stu’s father, Bob and is a highlight among a collection of very high quality songs. There’s emotion, passion and sympathy entwined throughout its ten minute plus running time and Stu’s vocals are at their best. This is a band at the height of their powers, one that is working in perfect harmony and you can hear it in every word and every note, add this to the epic songwriting and you just cannot go wrong. Full of sentiment and warmth, this song will leave a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, spellbinding and enthralling.

The two bonus tracks are no mere throwaways, included just to flesh out the album, they add to already engaging experience, Normality of Distance is wistful and endearing, a calming influence running throughout, Stu’s vocals heartfelt and harmonious, a beautifully nostalgic and contemplative feeling song, I loved it. There’s obviously a lot of history behind this new version of Another Life Not Lived and you can almost feel it in the atmosphere as the hairs on the back of your neck start to rise. The slow paced opening and the melancholy guitar note make way for Stu’s soulful vocal that touches your very soul. The beautiful chorus is full of a sorrowful passion, there’s a story spanning many years being told here and being told perfectly, I’m not crying, you’re crying!

When music is as good as this and touches you in a very personal manner, it can’t really get any better. In my opinion Galahad have returned with what can only be described as a modern progressive masterpiece and one that will stand the test of time and should be remembered as being one of the best albums of recent years. It’s my album of the year and I really can’t give it any higher praise than that.

Released 24th October, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

The Last Great Adventurer | GALAHAD (

Review – Grace and Fire – Elysium – by John Wenlock-Smith

Grace and Fire are a newish, harder sounding, progressive rock band who hail from the East Midlands and who are attracting a fair degree of attention in prog circles and quite rightly so. ‘Elysium’, their debut album, is an accomplished and stimulating set of modern rock with many progressive elements very much in evidence. The album is based around the themes of the world experienced through Dante’s Inferno and especially the seven visions of hell encountered in his work.

The album begins with the instrumental Overture which sets the tone for what is to follow. The sound on the album is far more rock oriented, although there are plenty of keyboards included in the mix. Guitars crunch but not unpleasantly so and the vocals of André Saint are clear and sound fine to these ears. the next track is title cut Elysium, which is a strong song with a crunchy guitar sound and soaring synths before the vocals begin, Elysium being the land of the Gods in Greek mythology. I really like how this album sounds, it is heavy but not overly so and its progressive elements are in clear view. Breathing Murder features Derek Sherinian who delivers guest keyboard solos and he is a good fit for this track, adding fine touches and fills to the overall sound. His synths really make this song a strong one and his interplay with the guitar of Aaron Gidney is wonderful to hear. Everyone is working together to make the song sound the best it can be and they certainly succeed here, this is a most excellent number. The sound is excellent throughout with space for all to be heard, the mix is by Karl Groom of Threshold, a man who clearly knows a good sound when he hears one and is efforts in this area pay clear dividends in how great the album sounds.

Paradise Lost follows and is a more restrained piece, being more of a slow burn of a track, one that creeps up and then impresses the hell out of you. This is especially so when it breaks out into a wide-screen sound during the chorus. It is highly effective and the song works well because of it. There is a spoken passage from Goran Edman in which the devil is renounced after his part in the downfall of man and banishment from the Garden of Eden, another fine track. Chains of Sanity is a rather more brutal song with hard hitting guitars and deeply personal lyrics about mental health and the struggle for freedom for a mind that wants to soar but is imprisoned within. The track has fabulous guitar work and a superb solo and is another strong song. Sea of Dreams continues in a slower mood and tone, with low whistles from Zachariah Gidney that add depth and colour to the sound. This mellow number is enlivened by another great solo from Aaron Gidney and also with an epic chorus that really sticks in the memory, highly impressive stuff.

A Warrior’s Tale features Mark Boals on vocals (best known for his work with Yngwie Malmsteem). This is another harder track with excellent parts from all, quite how the band managed to recruit such quality collaborators is a very good question but these guests definitely help raise the quality bar very high and, in doing so, help make this debut album really something special. It is very impressive and confident in a year which has seen several  similarly impressive debuts from the likes of Ghost of the Machine and others. This is great news for rock music fans and this album deserves to be high up in the end of the year lists. Eyes of the Seer is another highly impressive track with great guitar work again and some complementary bass parts from Tim Ashton that really adds emphasis to proceedings. The Great Divide Pt. 1 continues this with a dignified bass line for Aaron Gidney to play off to fine effect, this instrumental leads into The Great Divide Pt. 2, the albums longest track. This piece has eastern sounding influences and sounds most impressive with yet more fabulous guitar tones, sounds and effects. It brings to mind Rainbow’s Gates Of Babylon in places, although in reality this sounds very different to that but I can hear the influence. The song is about how friends grow apart to result in a great divide that comes between them.

That concludes the album and it is one that leaves more questions than answers, but in a good way, as it encourages one to play and listen again until its themes make sense. In all ‘Elysium’ is a very good and different album with strong and inspired music. Some fantastic passages and parts, along with the guest contributors, make this a most worthwhile release and one most definitely worth your investigation.

Released 15th November, 2021.

Order from bandcamp here:

ELYSIUM | Grace and Fire (

Review – Dave Brons – Return to Arda – by John Wenlock-Smith

Opening with a spoken word introduction heard over sea noises and wordless vocals, Dave Bron’s new release continues his musical exploration of Middle Earth and the realm of worlds made known through the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien. The album is titled ‘Return to Arda’, ‘Arda’ being the name Tolkien gave to Earth. The album has three parts, Sea, Soil and Sky, and each part is comprised of several tracks Sea has four tracks, Soil has six and Sky the remaining five tracks. The album is best heard in its entirety for maximum impact and effect. Knowledge of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is not essential but might help, the excellent booklet notes most certainly will as they are highly informative.

The album is mostly instrumental although there a few vocals pieces which help the album flow. There is some truly inspired guitar playing throughout with Dave really playing to his strengths and using his bevy of effects and techniques to fine effect. Dave is a huge fan of Steve Vai and this shows in his use of guitar orchestrations and style. Dave certainly can shred with the best yet, above all, he is a master of melody and uses his skills to enhance rather than to stun, the melody for Beyond where the Waves Break, for example, is simply gorgeous and is well matched with the emotion of the track. A similar feeling is evoked with Dave’s acoustic guitar refrain to match the piano track, another winner to these ears.

The track that opens the Soil sequence is also really impressive with a great vocal from Sally Minnear, her voice fits extremely well with Dave’s guitar where he plays a blinder of a solo, reaching for new heights as he goes, all with the complementary background of all the other players making a full sounding, Celtic infused, track and it sounds really impressive. The music is epic in scope and sound with acoustic guitar used sparingly, but most effectively, to craft a really great sounding album of almost hummable tunes, this is all a big step forward from his previous release ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost’, and that was impressive enough. This new release is even more so with better tunes, seemingly even more inspired and better realised, Dave has certainly raised his bar here.

I really adore this album it has really grown on me as I have heard it. I join other reviewers in singing its praise and raving about its contents and being very special, effective and superior to all that has gone before . It is quite frankly a stunningly inspired release and one of the best instrumental guitar albums that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, yes, it really is that good! The album’s cover and booklet are similarly outstanding, you can feels the passion contained with the grooves and some truly inspired playing is on offer here.

The Soil section gives way to Sky in which we see Dave soaring in his playing along with some fabulous vocals from Sally. This is especially so on The Tears Of Nienna where Dave uses harmonics to great effect. The spoken voice that opens On Eagles Wings also captures the emotion of the song as the guitar line  lifts it upwards. Even better for me is the magnificent Beauty and Starlight which begins with delicate acoustic guitar and a hauntingly wonderful Sally Minnear vocal line. This is a stunning and captivating track and also features an achingly gorgeous guitar solo from Dave who wrings out every possible drop of emotion. It really is fantastic, my favourite thus far.

The penultimate song is Gathering in the Clouds which begins with pipes. It’s a very Celtic sounding piece, really emotive and full of feeling. It may only be short but it’s wonderfully evocative and close with a spoken ending to conclude a highly emotional, yet very rewarding, aural journey in the hands of Dave Brons and friends, all of whom add beautiful parts to a possible album of the year. It is simply beautiful music that is masterfully made and I urge you to find room in your life for this most spiritually rewarding release.

Released 4th November, 2022.

Order the album here:

Return to Arda | Dave Brons (

Review – Comedy of Errors – Time Machine

From Glasgow Scotland, Comedy of Errors are a progressive rock band playing in their own distinctive style. They have a notable live presence dating back to the 1980s and were contemporaries of bands like Marillion and IQ, but for some unknown reason never released an album until they reformed in 2010. Since 2010’s ‘Disobey’, the band have released three further long players before a five year hiatus until 2022’s ‘Time Machine’.

The one thing that I have always loved about this band is, despite obvious nods to the bands of the so-called ‘Neo-Prog’ era, they have resolutely ploughed their own furrow, resulting in a distinct sound that could only emanate from these talented Scotsmen. It is definitely progressive rock but it is Comedy of Errors‘ take on that music and has produced such gems as 2015’s ‘Spirit’ and 2017’s ‘House of the Mind’.

So, after five years, it’s been a welcome return from this reviewer’s point of view and a rather splendid one too! This new release is chock full of the intelligent songwriting and stellar musicianship that always graces a Comedy of Errors release, soaring chords, immaculate guitar playing, effortless keyboards and dynamic drums, all backed by Joe Cairney’s always fine vocal performance.

Leading the fanfare this time is the flawless keyboard playing of Jim Johnstone, who also wrote all the music and lyrics on the album. Opener The Knight Returns, which has its origins in a track written in the 80’s, is a rollicking prog ride into medieval times, almost a musical gallop if you like. You can feel it’s 80’s roots but they’re brought bang up to date by Johnstone’s songwriting prowess and the superb guitar work of Sam McCulloch and Mark Spalding is a delight, as it is throughout this enjoyable romp. As album openers go, it certainly gets you in the mood for what is to come! Lost Demigods has nods to musical greats throughout (not all from recent centuries either!) and references a lot of Johnstone’s heroes, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Shakespeare and more. The song definitely heads in to the more popular music side of progressive rock but is none the worse for it with its fast tempo and Joe’s great vocals (sounds to me like he’s loving it actually!).

The band’s serious side is shown on the epic and outstanding Wonderland, a treatise on the rise and fall of the supposedly most powerful nation on the planet, America. Social and political commentary have rarely been delivered in such an impeccable fashion in the music industry and it’s a testament to a songwriter and band at the height of their powers. A brooding masterpiece of a song that ramps up the tension note by note and word by word and is sure to be a live highlight of the band’s upcoming shows. The cacophonous crash of keyboards, guitars and drums and Joe’s intense, solemn vocals tell the damning tale perfectly. I always love an instrumental on a progressive album and Comedy of Errors don’t let me down with the wistful, whimsical wonder of The Past Of Future Days, grounded on John Fizgerald’s elegant bass playing. A glorious showcase for keys and guitar, this track will definitely leave you smiling.

The main album closes with the heart wrenching but beautiful lament of title track Time Machine, a plaintive ode to loss and regret that is underpinned initially by a gentle piano and Joe’s forlorn vocal. This elegantly mournful song continues to build patiently as it gets under your skin and begins to take hold of your emotions, the basic premise seeming to be about building a time machine to see those we have lost once more. It’s full of a painfully stirring, melancholic spirit but is so wonderfully performed that it really touches your soul. Not ones to quit while ahead, we are then treated to a dynamic and brilliant live version of the band’s classic track Disobey, recorded live at their 2016 performance from RosFest. While the song doesn’t fit with the main album proper, it is a worthy addition and a reminder of Comedy of Errors‘ dominating stage presence.

After a long five year absence, ‘Time Machine’ is a fine return from one of progressive rock’s premier artists and an album that I am constantly revisiting. Cementing Comedy of Errors‘ status as one of the foremost artists in the genre, it is sure to be one of 2022’s most welcome releases.

Released 23rd September, 2022.

Order from the band here:

Comedy of Errors : Shop

Review – Esthesis – Watching Worlds Collide

Esthesis is a progressive & alternative rock project formed and led by French multi-instrumentalist Aurélien Goude (music, lyrics, keyboards, vocals, guitars, bass and other stuff). The current line up is composed of three other musicians : Baptiste Desmares (lead guitar), Marc Anguill (bass) and Arnaud Nicolau (drums). Esthesis music is characterized by many influences (british rock, film score, jazz, ambient, metal, electronic music…) and primarily based on emotion and ambiences. 

After a first sold out EP in 2019 (‘Raising Hands’), Esthesis released a debut album in November 2020 (‘The Awakening’).

7 new songs, 7 encounters and stories between different worlds that intersect and collide, with varied atmospheres, ‘Watching Worlds Collide’ promises to be a real step up from their already impressive debut release.

Oh boy, has Aurélien really explored his notable creativity on these seven new tracks, this album is a lesson in cool understatement and the mantra of less is more. Wonderful jazz grooves combine with electro funk undertones and glorious ambient back grounds to deliver something rather sublime and really emotive. Add in some sharp suited rock vibes, just enough to give the music a needed harder edge now and again, and Esthesis deliver effortless style in spades.

Notable highlights include uber-cool opener Amber, as laid back and groove laden as they come, with Baptiste’s intense guitar playing, the melancholy piano-driven Skimming Stones where Aurélien’s heartrending vocal shines supreme and the lengthy 57th Street, an object lesson in combining the stylish sensibilities of smokey jazz grooves with an almost 50’s noir film score to deliver a slick, elegant twelve minutes of musical excellence, all wrapped up in a sharp suit.

But there isn’t a duff track on the album, first single Place Your Bets has that discordant rock edge to it and is mean and moody and Wandering Cloud is a 50’s New York minute in musical from. Vertigo has the electro-dance beats that make it a toe-tapping delight and album closer Through My Lens finishes things off with a laid back, sax infused, swagger, all backed up by a stunning solo from Baptiste Desmares.

Overall, ‘Watching Worlds Collide’ is a seriously good album with tons of Gallic flair, intelligence and inventiveness, it is also the coolest thing you are going to hear this year and I love it!

Released 19th August, 2022.

Order the album here:

Watching Worlds Collide | Esthesis (