Review – Downriver Dead men Go – Ruins

Downriver Dead Men Go is a cinematic post-rock band from Leiden, the Netherlands. Their highly anticipated third album ‘Ruins’ has just been released. DDMG previously released two critically acclaimed albums: ‘Tides’ in 2015 and ‘Departures’ in 2018, gathering a loyal and ever-growing fan base. Both albums feature a mesmerizing, atmospheric, melancholic sound, ranging from post-rock to touches of prog and dark wave.

I’ve been a long time fan of the band from my association with FREIA Music through my work with Bad Elephant Music and every DDMG album is a dense, imposing and highly melodic musical experience.‘Ruins’ takes that base and ramps up the tension to 11, a dark, brooding and utterly magnificent musical encounter that will linger long in the memory.

The guitars have that monolithic feel, as heavy and hard as age old granite yet hauntingly melodic at the same time. The music has a timeless grace to it, a melancholic leviathan that has a different concept of time or space than we do and has just awoken from an ageless slumber. There’s a wistful, desolate beauty to the songs starting with the timeless elegance of title track Ruins and the sparse grandeur of Secret. The sorrowful and plaintive pain evident in Helpless and Line in the Sand gives the tracks a thoughtful and mournful stateliness and the widescreen, cinematic magnificence of longest track Cruel World is a heart-wrenching joy to behold. The album closes with the short hypnotic apprehension of The Lie and you left feeling almost bereft.

‘Ruins’ is an album of varying emotions, stark highs and solemn lows, it’s a reflective and meditative work of art that is the ultimate soundtrack to a cold and rainy day spent in front of a roaring fire and, in my opinion, is simply superb!

Released 24th November, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

Ruins | Downriver Dead Men Go (bandcamp.com)

The Tangent announce ‘Pyramids, Stars & Other Stories: The Tangent Live Recordings 2004-2017’ for January 2023 release

The Tangent are pleased to present ‘Pyramids, Stars & Other Stories: The Tangent Live Recordings 2004-2017’ for release on the 27th January 2023 via InsideOutMusic. Collecting together tracks from 3 line-ups of The Tangent, this 2CD & 3LP album collects together show recordings from 2004, 2011 & 2017. Band leader Andy Tillison comments: “A Triple Live LP is the stuff of Bucket Lists, dreamed of doing one of these since I was a kid”.

The album will be available as a 2CD Digipak, a Gatefold 3LP+2CD & LP-booklet, as well as digitally worldwide. Listen to the track ‘A Spark In The Aether’ recorded by the bands current line-up, and pre-order now here: https://TheTangent.lnk.to/PyramidsStarsOtherStories_TheTangentLiveRecordings2004-2017

Included in its entirety is the 2004 ‘Pyramids And Stars’ concert in Germany featuring the “Roine Stolt” lineup of The Tangent playing its way through the majority of the debut ‘Music That Died Alone’ album along with (then) new material from their second album ‘The World That We Drive Through’.

Added to that, there are tracks from the COMM era line-up of the band at a concert in the UK – plus music recorded in the USA in 2017 by the band’s current line-up. These originally appeared on the ‘Southend On Sea’ and ‘Hotel Cantaffordit’ fan releases respectively. 

All is presented inside a re-imagined Ed Unitsky sleeve, to create a package that fans are sure to love. 

“This is a real, proper, live album” says Tillison. “It’s candid, it’s spontaneous, it has mistakes and things that are a bit too loud and things that are a bit too quiet. It’s what happened on stage at three gigs at which “making a live album” never crossed our minds.”  

The full tracklisting is below:

Side One

1. The World We Drive Though

Side Two

3. The Canterbury Sequence

4. The Winning Game

Side Three

5. In Darkest Dreams

Side Four

6. The Music That Died Alone

7. Lucky Man

Side Five

8. A Spark In The Aether

9. A Sale Of Two Souls

10. Perdu Dans Paris

Side Six

11. A Crisis In Mid Life

12. Doctor Livingstone (I Presume)

The CD’s (included with the vinyl edition) also include all of the above with the addition of:

13. Titanic Calls Carpathia

14. Two Rope Swings

Andy Tillison – Keyboards & Vocals (all tracks)

Jonas Reingold – Bass Guitar (all tracks except 9,10,11,13)

Luke Machin – Guitars & Vox (Tracks 8-14)

Steve Roberts – Drums (Tracks 8, 12, 14)

Roine Stolt – Guitars & Vocals (Tracks 1 – 7)

Zoltán Csörsz – Drums (Tracks 1 – 7)

Sam Baine – Keyboards (Tracks 1 – 7)

Tony ‘Funkytoe’ Latham – Drums (Tracks 10,11,13)

Dan Mash – Bass (Tracks 10,11,13) 

The Tangent online:
www.thetangent.org

https://www.facebook.com/groups/alltangentmembers/

Review Phi Yaan-Zek – Interdimensional Garden Party – by John Wenlock-Smith

I first came across Phi Yaan-Zek as many others may have, through the pages and tracks on Prog Magazine, although at that time it didn’t really grab me. I was probably on a different musical phase ,as is often the way with me. However, I recently read a review of his latest album from a writer for The Progressive Aspect whose eloquent words piqued my interest, hence this review.

In all the years of my life I have never really been a big fan of Frank Zappa, although I can clearly see his influence in this music. I certainly like it here, for sure, and definitely in the humour contained within these tracks. Phi is certainly a very fine musician and can play a very mean guitar line when required. He also enlists an extraordinary cast of collaborators, like Andy Edwards and John Jowitt of Frost* and he also has a couple of Aristocrats in tow to give this music much flair and finesse.

It has strong touches of psychedelia along with certain hippyish elements, but these are woven into the overall sound of the album. I am certainly highly impressed by all of this excellent and exciting music, it is all wonderfully produced with excellent guitar skills on display. The music also has jazz elements at times, giving the sound a definite jazz/fusion blend.

An outstanding track is track Wickety Wickety, which is a cross between a rumbling song, something like Nelly The Elephant but with brass embellishments. It is rather a fun piece but utterly engrossing and captivating. This whole album is different, it is definitely a positive sounding album and will imbue feelings of well being and contentment. Above all, this music is good fun and we should all be glad of that, especially at this time. Also notable is Anomaly Temporal with an almost reggae swing and spoken vocal from , this also has a touch of Star Trek to it and rounds out with an excellent instrumental finale.

I really enjoy the instrumental flourishes that abound throughout this very imaginative album, it really is a fascinating and captivating listen. Phi is a very fluid guitarist, think of folks like Steve Vai and you won’t be far off the mark, but he is also very melodic in tone and, whilst he can shred with the best, he works for the track, not just to stun.

This is clearly shown on My Favourite UFO which combines his fine guitar virtuosity with a strong tune to fine effect. This track has a dreamy type of sound and reminds me of 10CC in parts, it also has great bass from Bryan Beller of The Aristocrats. The song speeds up towards its conclusion and this proves very effective, as is the vocal from Ellie Williams. The next track Floating gives room for some free reign musical improvisation which is taken by Phi with Mike Keneally in tow, along with the fabulous and dynamic Aristocrats rhythm team of Beller and Marco Minneman. With Phi’s guitar floating over the top most efficiently and effectively, it really is a sublime piece of intent delivered really well.

Final track The Puffball That Ate My Village is another monster track with a similar pace to Wickety Wickety but with fiery guitar interjections and interplay between Phi and Chanan Hanspal, who play off against each other in a six string orgy of soloing. It’s all highly effective, especially with Andy Edwards‘ drums and Steve Lawson’s majestic bass playing that anchor it all together seamlessly. The song also features lots of guests adding chant type vocals, which really sounds good. When this track end there is a brief pause of about 2 minutes before A reprise of opener The Interdimensional Garden Party plays, this is a fitting close to an exceptional album but wait, there’s more as there is a brief untitled track that is basically the words spoken backwards deliberately.

This is a truly entertaining album with fabulous music and performances throughout. Definitely one of my album of the year contenders, outstanding. In a year that has seen so many really good albums, this one can truly stand tall and proud and I recommend it without hesitation, especially for its weirdness and sense of fun.

Released 7th October, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

Interdimensional Garden Party | Phi Yaan-Zek (pyzmusic.com)

VLMV – For Empire – Live At Tortington Church

Picture by Paris Grace

On one cold, wet and windy afternoon in early November VLMV, aka Pete Lambrou, brought VLMV’s live set up to a Twelfth Century Church on England’s South Coast.

The resulting video is a beautiful one-take-completely-live recording of usual set opener ‘For Empire’, taken from the latest album Sing With Abandon. For Empire’s title and general demeanour evoke an apprehensive anti nostalgia for the old world, and the lyrics are plainly critical, but throughout weaves a feeling of yearning: ‘I was hoping someone could turn this boat around’.

Pete Lambrou on the setting:

“This had to be recorded and filmed in an old Church; being one of the absolute pillars of old empire. The older the better. Not all the songs from the album were written in the midst of lockdown. A couple were performed live on the last tour before the pandemic hit, including For Empire. But their roots are in the aftermath of Brexit, and this feeling of abandonment I’d felt throughout, and then the realisation that your neighbours aren’t who you thought they were.”

The Churches Conservation Trust:

“Tortington, the homestead of Torhta’s people, is recorded in Domesday Book (1086). The entrance to this twelfth-century flint church looks like something out of a mediaeval fantasy – three rows of Norman carvings arch over a thick wooden door set with ornamental hinge straps. Inside, creatures unlike anything found in nature peer down from the chancel arch. They are called ‘beakheads’ – boggle-eyed monsters with beaks, tongues and squid-like  tentacles that frown and glare at visitors below. Once they would have been painted in bright colours to entertain – or terrify – worshippers.”

VLMV (pronounced and formerly known as ALMA) is a self-proclaimed ambient-ish post-something singer-songwriter / producer from London. Part of the illustrious Erased Tapes family, VLMV have released 2 albums on Fierce Panda Records, alongside 2022’s Sing With Abandon out on Pete’s own label, Nice Weather for Airstrikes. Live, VLMV deploy loop stations, multiple delay pedals, piano and strings to create a slow-moving, high-flying soundscape of luscious gravitas.

“Building atmospheric and quietly epic soundscapes that creep up on you unannounced….like a beam of light through a dark, cold night.” – Lauren Laverne BBC6 Music

“As worthy of your love and admiration as anything Sigur Rós or Explosions In The Sky have released” Team Rock

Featured image by Jess Robinson

Jethro Tull finish work on their 23rd studio album, due for release in Spring 2023

Photo by Assunta Opahle

Jethro Tull have completed work on the recording of their 23rd studio album, following swift on the heels of their critically-acclaimed return earlier this year with ‘The Zealot Gene’, their first album in two decades.

Ian Anderson checks in with the below:

“We have been putting the finishing touches to the artwork for the album cover and wrapped up the recording and mixing a few weeks ago. Due to the usual long wait for vinyl pressing and manufacturing, we are scheduled for an Spring 2023 release but, during the weeks and months to come, you will be hearing more about the record and the various formats which will be available. 

It’s a little too early just yet to tease you with titles, tracklists and content, but rest assured that it is all done and dusted as to mastering and the main elements of art and packaging. I hope you will like the concept and themes when I am ready to tell you more. It has been a long and tricky job to get the material recorded during a hectic schedule of touring in these last months. A day here, a day there and the odd burst of a few days together at some points along the way. 

I wrote the main themes and lyrics back in January of this year and sent the first demos to the band in February and March, much as I did with The Zealot Gene, back in 2017. Most of the recording took place in June and August with the stereo mixing done in September. My new pal Bruce Soord of The Pineapple Thief undertook to create the surround sound mixes and an alternative stereo mix too.”

Jethro Tull continue live dates this year, with shows in mainland Europe before returning to the UK for their annual Christmas shows, and then further dates in 2023. 

‘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 50 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 – Flute, acoustic guitar, harmonica, vocals

David Goodier – Bass guitar

John O’Hara – Piano, keyboards and accordion

Scott Hammond – Drums.

Joe Parrish-James – Guitar

JETHRO TULL ONLINE:

http://jethrotull.com/

https://www.facebook.com/officialjethrotull/

https://www.youtube.com/user/tullmanagement

https://www.instagram.com/jethrotull_/

Review – Gandalf’s Fist – Widdershins

English speakers today are most likely to encounter widdershins as a synonym of counterclockwise. But in earliest known uses, found in texts from the early 1500s, widdershins was used more broadly in the sense of “in the wrong way or opposite direction.” To say that one’s hair “stood widdershins” was, in essence, to say that one was having a bad hair day. By the mid-1500s, English speakers had adopted widdershins to specifically describe movement opposite to the apparent clockwise direction (as seen from the northern hemisphere) of the sun traveling across the sky, which, at the time, could be considered evil or unlucky. The word originates from the Old High German widar, meaning “back” or “against,” and sinnen, meaning “to travel.”

So that’s covered the origin of the album’s title but how does it relate to this, Gandalf’s Fist’s eighth full length release, their first new album of original material since the 5-Disc-Epic ‘Clockwork Saga’?

“Originally formed in 2005 by Multi-Instrumentalist Dean Marsh and lyricist Luke Severn, the band are now hitting their creative peak in their current 6-piece incarnation. Gandalf’s Fist draw on their mutual love for the ‘Golden Era’ of Progressive Rock, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and even Renaissance Folk to create unique concept albums, with their latest, ‘Widdershins’, offering up 8 individual songs exploring the nature of superstition.

Superstition and the human experience have gone hand-in-hand for thousands of years. In this respect, ‘Widdershinsis not just an album of the times, but an album of all times. In this digital age with, literally millions of voices whispering from our devices, what we hold to be true, and how the truths of others shape our daily lives could not be more salient. This theme of the album is bolstered by some of Gandalf’s Fist’s own truths: Some of the greatest riffs they’ve ever recorded, rollicking folk sections, soaring orchestral passages and the longest song they’ve ever written.”

So, there you have it, from the band’s own press release, a new album that has certainly whetted my appetite…

I’ve been a long time fan of Gandalf’s Fist, their unique brand of ‘Medieval Space-Rock’ just seemed to resonate with me and I still think ‘Clockwork Saga’ is one of the most ambitious, overblown and bloody brilliant ideas that any band have ever come up with. There’s a huge boat load of drama, spectacle and theatre in their music and ‘Widdershins’ is no exception. Keri Farish’s amazing vocals could grace the stage of any musical theatre and give real passion and emotion to every note and Dean Marsh’s thunderous riffing gives a monumental feel to the music. To my ears. on this album, Ben Bell and his stellar keyboard skills really come to the fore and add another layer of class and sophistication to band’s intense and vibrant music. Intricate melodies are woven into immense, epoch spanning, sagas and the Fist really know how to deliver a powerful refrain and when subtlety is the better option.

This is a well crafted collection of songs and, while there are no duff tracks, there are some real highlights too. Title track Widdershins is the first of two epic tracks and is a cleverly woven musical story that ebbs and flows delightfully from the elegant piano led opening to the vibrant close, there’s even a hint of a Bond theme in there (about two and half minutes in it goes all Live And Let Die, honest!). Dreamcatcher is all dramatic and sombre to start with before opening into a wonderful symphonic metal yarn and Wisp is an utterly compelling, rollicking, piece of folk that will have you jigging the night away.

Man of Signs is an enigmatic song from incredibly gifted and creative musicians. Subdued and mysterious at first, the vocals have an almost wistful and ethereal note to them, like a will-o’-the-wisp dancing on your synapses. The magic continues as a dancing acoustic guitar heralds some fantastic interplay between Dean’s guitar and Ben’s brilliant, ever-so-70’s, keyboards. Holding everything together, as he does on the rest of the album, is drummer extraordinaire Stefan Hepe, a rather excellent piece of music. Gandalf’s Fist may just have reached their musical zenith with the brilliant Cave, a proper epic of a track coming in at just under twenty minutes and one that fascinates with its scintillating musical narrative. Keri’s striking vocal performance is just the start as the thunderous riffs, dynamic drums and coruscating keyboards stride across the landscape in a dominant fashion. This a potent nod to the ‘Golden Era’ of progressive rock with complex time signatures and elaborate instrumental sections and it’s just scintillating. Pompous and overblown maybe but that’s what the best progressive rock was always about and the Fist do it with plenty of style and not a little aplomb!

The ‘Clockwork Saga’ will always be seen as a monumental piece of work but, as a stand-alone release, ‘Widdershins’ sees Gandalf’s Fist at their absolute vibrant and dynamic best, every musician giving 100% and, while I’ve always been a fan of this very distinctive band, this new release sees them hitting an entirely new level.

Released 21st November , 2022.

Order direct from the band here:

Gandalf’s Fist – Widdershins (gandalfsfist.com)

Arc of Triumph shine light on billionaire greed with new release: ‘The New Adventures of the Superhumans’

Leeds duo Arc of Triumph release their double a-side single this week, The New Adventures of the Superhumans/In My Arms, the first material from the band since their 2021 album Rampjaar.

Picking up the thread laid by their previous two albums, Arc of Triumph’s political leanings are more evident than ever in The New Adventures of the Superhumans. It gives a scathing commentary on society’s inequalities.

The song warns of a dystopian future where the rich are still untouched by the damage to our planet caused almost exclusively by them:

“The final age is looming / so save the superhumans / they haven’t flown this far to lose.”

Although imagining a distant future, the song’s themes are applicable today. Simon Elvin said:

“Inequality is greater than ever. People can’t afford to eat. And the planet is in mortal danger. Yet, billionaires continue to hoard wealth hand over fist. Piling misery and suffering on the vast majority.”

Rory Holl said:

“Sometimes it feels as though there’s nothing you can do. We wanted to document our feelings on the current situation. If it did make anyone think differently, then that would be amazing. But I think most people have made their minds up already.”

Musical influences for Arc of Triumph (made up of Simon Elvin and Rory Holl) are wide-ranging from 70s prog of Yes! and Genesis to 80s electro pop, with a nod towards latter-day Radiohead.

And the “electronic textures and moody synth sounds” described by James R Turner in his review of their second album, Rampjaar, last year are certainly back in this new release.

The song is heavily driven by 80s synth and organ sounds, with hypnotic, delayed guitar lines and glitchy drum machines, giving way to jarring drum rhythms and falsetto vocals.

After a brief hiatus following the release of Rampjaar, the pair were back in the studio in the spring to start work on new material. The double a-side marks the first release for their third album due for release next year. So, watch this space!

In a review of Rampjaar in The London Economic in 2021, Jack Peat described the album as harnessing a “superb technical ability to deliver a futuristic prog-rock album befitting of its time”.

And Superhumans is certainly befitting of its time too. The video imagines the Earth as a dead planet with the only survivors being the privileged few who are able to preserve themselves from the destruction they have caused.

We see the likes of Boris Johnson, Putin, Trump, members of the royal family, Jeff Bezos, Roman Abramovic and Jacob Rees-Mogg escaping the dying Earth. They rocket off in cryotubes to a new planet while the rest of us perish. A metaphor for their financial ability to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The final chorus imagines how history will judge these people:

“In cryogenic futures / they’ll raise the superhumans / and make them pay for what they’ve done.”

Watch the video to see their fate:

Listen here:

Simon said:

“As well as the emergency of climate change, the way the rich can shield themselves from the problems they cause is reminiscent of the current cost-of-living crisis. We have nurses using foodbanks. We have schools with lower budgets next year than they did in 2015.”

Rory added:

“People are struggling more than ever just to exist. But it doesn’t affect the rich and privileged so it’s hard for them to care. We don’t think people who have grown up in luxury and who have never had to worry about money should be running the country.”

Review – Avandra – Prodigal

Progressive-metal stars AVANDRA return with their new album, ‘Prodigal‘. With a passion for non-standard time signatures, electronics and technical elements, the band have produced a concept album that explores the meaning of ‘home’ and the freedom to attain your own destiny. ‘Prodigal’ follows the protagonist through a difficult journey of loss and betrayal; from joining the military only to discover they were responsible for the bombing and destruction of his home, to returning and rebuilding.

A towering behemoth of thunderous guitars, violent drumming and monolithic bass playing all backed by the wonderful and melodic soaring vocals, ‘Prodigal’ is quite a powerful statement. An elegant journey into the intensity that progressive-metal can create, highlights abound throughout this impressive collection. There’s the clever, restrained feel in opener Codename: Pharoah that continues with the excellent The Downpour with its every so memorable and haunting chorus. Occasional harsh vocals along with soaring cleans produce a dynamic contrast that really lingers in the memory throughout the album. The rueful, sombre and wistful notes of New Beginnings and the dignified piano and atmospheric synths of In Träumen showcase a softer, more reflective side to the band which is highlighted fully with the exceptional Facing an Armoured Dreadnaught. In Memoriam is just a fast paced destroyer of polished progressive metal and the superbly chaotic and dissonant Dissembling the Artifice will literally blow your mind with its fevered intensity. All of this energy and dynamism comes to a frenetic close with Daybreak, a dramatic conclusion to the events that have gone before.

AVANDRA have created a thrilling and compelling take on the progressive-metal genre and one that is delivered with not a little expertise and finesse. ‘Prodigal’ is one of those intricate and influential albums that takes some understanding at first but when you peel back the final layer of this epic behemoth, it is a wonder to behold.

Released 18th November, 2022.

Buy from Layered Reality here:

Avandra – Prodigal (Pre-order) (layered-reality.com)

Review – Threshold – Dividing Lines

In a time when the world is in uproar and chaos we need something familiar, something grounded that we can keep hold of to steady ourselves and music is one of those things that can provide that stability. When one of your favourite bands releases a new album, like a familiar friend, it is something you really look forward to and cherish.

There is no other band that sounds like prog-metal stalwarts Threshold, their style of music, punchy, hard hitting and yet very melodic, sounds like nothing else and is instantly recognisable, but never mundane or monotonous. Their 12th full length album ‘Dividing Lines’, is set to be released on 18th November via Nuclear Blast Records.

Dividing Lines’ marks the second album since the return of former vocalist Glynn Morgan, who reunited with the band on their previous effort ‘Legends Of The Shires’ (2017)darker album than ‘Legends Of The Shires’, the band have described it as Legends’ darker, moodier older brother”.

There’s no band that can fuse the hard hitting punch and power of top level prog-metal with a classy melody quite like Threshold. The thunderous riffs of Karl Groom’s guitar combine perfectly with the granite-like rhythm session of Steve Anderson and Johanne James, deliciously monstrous and monolithic. Add in the compelling, almost lyrical keyboards, of Richard West and Glynn Morgan’s definitive and potent vocals and you have a the perfect combination.

A new album from Threshold is always an event worth waiting for and ‘Dividing Lines’ is no exception, the thunderous power of opener Haunted literally takes your breath away and opens the album on a very high note. Hall of Echoes takes that dynamism and adds a layer of sophistication, Karl’s guitar and Richard’s keyboards working in perfect unison on a track that is pure Threshold and Glynn’s vocals full of an emotive intensity, a brilliant song. Let It Burn and Silenced continue the run of superbly written and performed tracks, the former full of a brooding authority thanks to Glynn’s fine vocal performance and the the latter (the first single released from the album) a pure cut of perfect Threshold, short, sharp and in your face but with a melodic resonance running deep to its core. You can feel a sense of real unity throughout this album, the musicians in perfect sync and seemingly having a total blast and you can’t help but get caught up in that feeling. I found that, at first, ‘Dividing Lines’ lacked the immediacy of ‘Legends Of The Shires’ but repeated listens have shown that patience is key with this new release and there is real depth, particularly on tracks like The Domino Effect, a ten minute prog-metal masterpiece that showcases all that is best about Threshold. A song that ebbs and flows with real elegance that combines perfectly with superbly judged dynamism and has a wicked chorus to boot! The album really clicked for me after a few listens to this musical gem and, in my opinion, it is one of the band’s best tracks of recent years.

Edgy, punchy and in your face, Complex is hard hitting and high-powered. A staccato riff giving the song a compelling potency and Glynn’s vocals once again on top form. King of Nothing opens in a wistful manner but that soon changes into a stylish vitality and forceful dignity to bring us another excellent track with another memorable chorus. Then we come to a song that just defines everything Threshold have become, Lost Along The Way is a perfect slice of prog-metal magnificence and defines just what the band are all about. Flawlessly judged riffs with potency and intimacy and an impeccable melodic backbone from the super smooth synthesisers, Glynn’s wonderful vocals and a haunting chorus all combine with the excellent backing of one of the best rhythm sections around to deliver a masterclass. Run is a more hard rock oriented track but one that fits seamlessly into this ever impressive album and then we come to the album closer Defence Condition, another ten minute plus song full of spark and energy, a fast paced rollercoaster ride showcasing a band full of confidence, self-belief and a certainty in their ability.

For fans of the band it’s been a long five years since ‘Legends Of The Shires’ but when they return with an album as strong as ‘Dividing Lines’, you could say it has been worth the wait. Threshold are one of the pre-eminent proponents of prog-metal performing today and this fantastic new release has cemented their position right at the top of this particular musical tree.

Released 18th November, 2022.

Order the album here:

Threshold – Dividing Lines (bfan.link)

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 (whiteknightshop2.co.uk)