Review – The Drinking Club – …really?!? – by John Wenlock-Smith

This album came up for review and upon listening I could immediately hear elements of early Marillion, I.Q, Pallas and Pendragon to name but four early eighties prog legends that this release harks back to on first and also subsequent listens. This independent release from The Drinking Club was the result of an advert posted over the internet to a Facebook group that celebrated those early 80’s Neo-prog acts mentioned above. In seeking like minded individuals/musicians to join with a project to turn Peter Hewitt’s shelved folder of discarded forgotten ideas into a more concrete and tangible firm reality. This album, ‘…really?!?’, is the result of those labours and efforts. What a labour of love it must have been to see these concepts and ideas taking shape, gaining traction and becoming fully formed.

When you add into that equation that the three members (Peter along with Kevin Borras and Tony Flint)worked on all this remotely, using file sharing and WeTransfer apps to compile the songs with various ideas, it is even more impressive. The results are definitely worthy of investigation by any prog fan as this album has much to savour, appreciate enjoy with some very interesting subject matter along with the guarantee of being wizard, witch and warlock free.

That said though, the element of political comment is clearly present as this album sees the anger and frustration of these 50 year old men venting their collective spleens on the issues of the day, ranging from immigration, the existence of God, tabloid hysteria and a painful divorce, to name but four issues. This is social conscience prog and how different it is to hear music that calls for a response and has strong and informed lyrics. Well this album has that in spades and is so well worth hearing for yourself, along with strong musical passages , solid guitar and keyboards to back everything up. This strong album has shot to the upper reaches of my best of 2023 albums already in a year of some stellar performances and will invariably create big waves come December.

The music is pretty epic at times with a few surprising influences and sounds and possibly some less obvious ones in parts! For example, I can hear traces of 80’s jazzers Working Week, especially when the trumpet kicks in during Light Years. It may not be obvious but I picked up on it for sure. It is a neat touch and one that adds to the gravitas of the subject matter of divorce and a failed relationship, the tangible hurt is sensitively handled without blame but with regret and is a bold exposition of pain and the determination to carry on and continue.

Especially noteworthy is the mock radio broadcast that forms both the introduction and outro of But For The Waves, which poses the question, what has the UK’s immigration process ever done for us? The answers this song offers are intelligent, heartfelt and artfully crafted and well worded and confidently addressed.

The album has a running time of fifty-one minutes and doesn’t drag at all. Each song has merit and the vocals are clear, in addition the guests all add something fresh and different First track Eternity (In An Empire Of Snow)/What We’re Made Of opens with a symphonic overture of synths and a good guitar line that leads into a more urgent section, this in turns leading to a solo guitar and a crash of drums, choral vocals and a subdued chord and a lone piano motif, all this lasts for over five minutes and is an impressive opening statement. I think the song is about the existence of God although I could be wrong on that! Next track is Ticking Clock which appears be about climate change and there are great lyrics in this one. Even better is But For The Waves which addresses the immigration crisis and questions the motives of those in charge and the media’s disinterest in the issue. This song is hard hitting and uncomfortable at times but its questions, while difficult, address our identity as a nation as does how our declining compassion weakens us. The outro is a brilliant and emotive heartfelt rebuttal to the question.

A Song Of Life is about a child growing up and the trials that can bring. Another interesting song in an album full of great tracks. Zero Sum Game is next with great synths and a surging guitar line. The song is about exploitation of artists with the special, often worthless, special edition of an album. This has a voiceover from a faded fictional prog musician who puts things into perspective. Light Years is the albums epic and my favourite with sombre music and lyrics but all wonderfully handled with, I must point out the great trumpet on this track too! The final track is A Song Of Deat. This song is about the cycle of life from birth to death and has a funky bassline that runs through the track and great lyrics as well. The album cover of a lone shoe in the sea is striking and is references in But For The Waves.

I thoroughly enjoyed this album, finding a wealth of great music with lots of nods to early 80’s Neo-prog and the future looks good for this trio, let’s hope there is more to come from The Drinking Club again very soon!

Released 3rd March, 2023

Order from bandcamp here:

…really?!? | The Drinking Club (

Review – A.C.T – Falling – by Kevin Thompson

I saw the Swedish band A.C.T. a couple of times when they played for the old Classic Rock Society in Rotherham. Both were great performances and I have a lasting memory of them reminding me musically of one of my favourite bands, Canada’s very own Saga. I also remember lead singer Herman Saming being a very enigmatic and energetic front man, who liked his hats on stage. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen them live since.

Trifles and Pandemonium‘ was the last album of theirs I bought, but the prohibitive costs of importing copies from abroad have prevented me from purchasing the current EPs, which is a shame because I really like this band. They never cease to put a smile on my face, from their infectious blend of complex progressive rock mixed with the accessibility of mainstream AOR, so I was pleasantly surprised when they agreed to let me review their latest release, ‘Falling‘, which is the third EP of a planned quartet. I have, much to my chagrin, only heard parts of the previous two. Whilst they apparently have an overarching narrative embedded in the three EPs and upcoming fourth, this third part can stand on its own. With six original tracks, the premise being – just like the dinosaurs – the human race faces extinction in the very near future as something terrible hurtles toward Earth at maximum velocity.

This exposes the traits of human nature and our actions, facing adversity and how we respond. Despite the gloomy plot line, the band’s effervescent personalities and upbeat tempos move this EP along quite nicely. They have a distinctive style and sound, but also like to experiment a little as well. One should never sit on one’s laurels.

Fall In is a short instrumental with the sounds of disturbed animals and the foreboding sound of something approaching swiftly, which explodes into the second song, introducing our first character as they are desperately Digging A Hole and building a survival shelter in the backyard. Are they a conspiracy theorist believing the end of the world is coming, or do they know something as they ignore their partner, who would prefer, if this were the end, to spend what time they have left together enjoying one another’s company. It reminds me of one of my favourite films, Take Shelter, in which Michael Shannon is plagued by apocalyptic visions and tries to stay sane, as his obsessive behaviour causes his marriage to Jessica Chastain’s character, livelihood and health to fall apart. Are the apparitions of the world ending real or is he suffering from a possible hereditary illness?

We then meet Emelie, The Girl Without A Past, who can recall nothing of her life but is bestowed with a special gift that allows her to see into the future and our impending doom. No amount of medical help brings back any memories and no one seems to know of her past. So, can her visions of what’s to come be trusted? Look to the skies for your answer (but try and avoid walking into a lamppost). When relationships have run their course, it is sometimes hard to admit it is no longer working and any feelings you had have faded into the distance. You don’t want to be there, claustrophobic, you can hardly Breathe, yet you carry on living the lie, pretending everything is OK for you. You have tried to say how you feel and leave before, but then something happens that makes you realise you have little time left. You reassess and decide to spend what precious minutes remain together, as your partner professes, they cannot breathe without you.

Is there nothing that can be done to prevent the oncoming threat? The longer we leave it to do something, the less chance we have of survival, it’s A Race Against Time if we are to save ourselves. The bells toll the end, run and hide with your loved ones, say your goodbyes. The immensity of what approaches leaves mankind in awe. Terrifying yet exciting in varying measures, you will witness the greatest spectacle ever seen and be a part of it. Is there any point in running to find a place of solace? The naivety of some fixated on the spectacle, the realisation for you that once done there will be nothing left, no one to remember or tell the tale of what is about to happen. Should you disillusion them? No, hold them, treasure them while you can and say One Last Goodbye to the one you love.

Siren’s wail, people scream at the shuddering impact, the object destroys everything in its path and all fades to silence as the Fall Out begins. Somewhere, the last notes of a piano are heard before being swallowed into the darkness. Incorporating sound clips and effects to enhance the feelings of a torn humanity, the building tension of those involved is portrayed by the music and lyrics, conveying their emotions. From tender keyboard passages and bursts of guitar coupled with the driving force of drum and bass, we hear the stories of those affected, good or bad it doesn’t matter now, as they face judgement day.

Masters of their craft, A.C.T. once again delight with tight playing, crisp vocals and the energy they imbue with their intricate arrangements. I am still amazed they are not more widely known.

In the meantime, I’m off to see how benevolent my bank manager is feeling.

Released 1st March, 2023

Check out the band’s website here:


A version of this review was originally posted on The Progressive Aspect.


Kyros – The End in Mind – PRESS RELEASE

Kyros have unveiled a brand new single and it’s an epic of nearly 8 minutes long with an incredible video which has also been created by the band. It’s the first new original music from Kyros since 2020 and marks the start of a new creative period for the band with more new music and live shows to come. The single is available on download and streaming sites now at:

Kyros – The End in Mind (

Guitarist, Joey Frevola says “The four of us have been very productive over the last couple of years writing tons of new music and spending time together as friends. Our collaborations have only gotten more fruitful and inspired as a result. ‘The End In Mind’ is our first offering of what we all agree is the best version of KYROS yet. It’s catchy, it’s got crazy playing, it talks about young people’s angst – boom. That’s KYROS”


Now in their tenth year, Kyros have released three studio albums, three EPs, a covers album and a live-in-the-studio album. The most recent studio album was the 2020 release Celexa Dreams, which showcased the band’s growth and evolution as musicians. The album featured the band’s most experimental sound to date, with electronic elements and a wide range of influences from other genres. It received widespread praise from fans and critics alike, solidifying Kyros as a leading act in the progressive rock scene. As one of the many bands that had to adapt and evolve in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Kyros took their new songs to the “stage” and toured Celexa Streams across the online world. In doing so, they seamlessly refashioned their way of working to show they are progressive both in musical style and in work ethic.

But in addition to their successful studio efforts, Kyros are also known for their dynamic and energetic live performances, which have garnered them a dedicated fanbase around the world. They have toured throughout the UK, Europe and USA and have also performed at festivals such as Night of the Prog and RoSFest, as well as supporting high profile bands such as Marillion, Spock’s Beard and Vanilla Fudge.


Shelby Logan-Warne

Joey Frevola

Robin Johnson

Peter Episcopo

Jethro Tull launch video for ‘Hammer On Hammer’; new studio album ‘RökFlöte’ out 21st April

Jethro Tull are set to release their 23rd studio album, ‘RökFlöte’, on the 21st April 2023 via InsideOutMusic. Following 2022’s ‘The Zealot Gene’, the band’s first album in two decades, Ian Anderson and the band are returning with a 12-track record based on the characters and roles of some of the principle gods of the old Norse paganism, and at the same time exploring the ‘RökFlöte’ – rock flute – which Jethro Tull has made iconic. 

With just over two weeks to go till release, today they are pleased to launch the third single taken from the album. Watch the video for ‘Hammer On Hammer’ (by Christian Rios) here:

The track takes inspiration from the god Thor, a loyal & honourable warrior who wears a powerful symbolic belt and wields a hammer. His mortal enemy & nemesis was Jormungand the sea-serpent.

Watch the previously released video for single ‘Ginnungagap’ here:

Watch the video for ‘The Navigators’ here:

It was also recently announced that ‘RökFlöte’ would receive its premiere in Dolby Atmos immersive audio on the 17th April at Dolby Studios in London. The special event will see Ian Anderson in attendance alongside Bruce Soord who undertook the mixing for this spatial audio version.

‘RökFlöte’ will be available on several different formats, including two limited deluxe formats that include bonus demo material, extensive liner notes & a blu-ray featuring Dolby Atmos, 5.1 surround sound, alternative stereo mixes by Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief), as well as a bonus track and in-depth interview with Ian Anderson. The album will also be available digitally in the spatial audio formats Dolby Atmos & Sony 360 RA. The full list of formats are below:

Ltd Deluxe Dark Red 2LP+2CD+Blu-ray Artbook incl. 2 x art-prints

Ltd Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook

Special Edition CD Digipak

Gatefold 180g LP+LP-booklet

Digital Album

Take a closer look at the deluxe formats here:

Pre-order now here:

1.    Voluspo

2.    Ginnungagap

3.    Allfather

4.    The Feathered Consort

5.    Hammer On Hammer

6.    Wolf Unchained

7.    The Perfect One

8.    Trickster (And The Mistletoe)

9.    Cornucopia

10. The Navigators

11. Guardian’s Watch

12. Ithavoll

Ian explains the album’s title & theme in more detail: “The title of this offering went through a little change or two along the way. I started with the idea of a predominantly instrumental album for rock flute – as in rock music. When the subject material of the album presented itself, I was drawn to the term Ragnarök from Norse mythology – their version of apocalyptic end times or Biblical Armageddon. The “final showdown” scenario is ubiquitous and inherent in Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, for example. Ragnarök translates as “destiny of the Gods”, the rök part meaning destiny, course, direction. With umlaut firmly in place, courtesy of the Germanic origins of Old Norse, Flute became Flöte in keeping with the spelling. With me so far? I just can’t miss the glorious opportunity for a good and legitimate umlaut.”

Jethro Tull continue live dates this year, with shows in mainland Europe, as well as a newly announced headline date in London on the 23rd May to celebrate the new album release. They will also return to North America later this year, with the first show in Wolf Trap confirmed and more to be announced in the coming weeks. Find the full list of shows here:

‘The Zealot Gene’, released in January 2022, was Jethro Tull’s 22nd studio album and it garnered critical acclaim across the board. Reaching #9 in the UK album charts, a feat the band hadn’t reached since 1972, it also debuted at #4 in Germany, #3 in Switzerland, #5 in Austria, #8 in Finland, as well as top 10 in the US Album Charts, Current Album Charts and Rock Album Charts.

With more than 30 albums to their credit and sales totaling more than 60 million, Jethro Tull are one of the most successful rock bands of all-time with a catalog that contains classics that still resonate today. Led by Ian Anderson, Tull still continue to tour throughout the world, entertaining audiences of all ages. 

The band consists of:

Ian Anderson – Concert and Alto flutes, Flute d’Amour,            

Irish whistle and vocals

David Goodier – Bass guitar

John O’Hara – Piano, keyboards and Hammond Organ

Scott Hammond – Drums.

Joe Parrish-James – Electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin