ESBEN AND THE WITCH ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM ‘OLDER TERRORS’ AND SHARE NEW TRACK ‘SYLVAN’

esben-and-the-witch-500x500px-72dpi-rgb

The dark atmospheric rockers ESBEN AND THE WITCH are now sharing the first track from their forthcoming album ‘Older Terrors’. The band will release their new full-length on November 4th.
 
ESBEN AND THE WITCH comment: “Our forthcoming album ‘Older Terrors’ was written and recorded over the course of a year in Berlin, our adopted home. We’ve spent eight years getting here, sweating on stages, holed up in studios and exploring all that which inspires awe and terror. The album features four tracks. In this digital age of music we wanted to create a collection that worked together but could also be separated, each track standing alone, carving its own path and telling its own tale. This record is dedicated to the sublime. To Edward Young’s Night Thoughts, John Martin’s apocalyptic visions, Caspar David Friedrich’s forays into the forest and to the sparks of light that glimmer in times of utter darkness.”
 
Regarding new track, “Sylvan” the band adds: “We wanted to paint a picture of a forest in flames. Of wild destruction, spectacular and terrifying. The calm amidst the ancient pines shattered by an insatiable desire, all-consuming, all-devouring and with a raging intensity so fierce it can set anything on fire. Ultimately, as the flames engulf the trees, it is a song about searching for meaning and even beauty in a burning world.”
Track-list
01. Sylvan
02. Marking the Heart of a Serpent
03. The Wolf’s Sun
04. The Reverist
Something ancient and primordial stalks the four tracks on the fourth full-length of ESBEN AND THE WITCH. The haunting voice of Rachel Davies weaves arcane spells through hypnotic patterns. Interlaced in these invocations is the emotive string sorcery provided by guitarist Thomas Fisher, while Daniel Copeman evokes a state of trance with his shamanic drumming and wide sonic landscapes painted by electronic synthesizer magic.
 
ESBEN AND THE WITCH were formed in Brighton, a windswept English seaside resort, when Daniel Copeman hooked up with Thomas Fisher in 2008. After a number of failed auditions for a vocalist, Fisher had a chance meeting with longtime friend Rachel Davies, who proved to be the perfect fit as singer for the newly created three-piece. A band name was found in the foreboding Danish fairytale “Esben and the Witch”.
 
The self-released ’33 EP’ (2009) and a 7″ single entitled ‘Lucia, at the Precipice’ (2010) caused a vibrant buzz that led to a first record deal. With the single ‘Marching Song’ (2010), ESBEN AND THE WITCH heralded their debut full-length ‘Violet Cries’, a Gothic post-rock nightmare that hit the stores in January 2011. The album was immediately picked up by critics and fans alike, managing to climb to #13 in the UK Indie Chart. Two singles, ‘Warpath’ and ‘Chorea’ and the ‘Hexagons’ digital EP followed in the same year.
 
2012 saw the trio commence work on their sophomore album ‘Wash the Sins Not Only the Face’ which was released in early 2013 and again scored critical praise. ESBEN AND THE WITCH decided to take matters into their own hands and published the third full-length ‘A New Nature’ (2014) on their own imprint, ‘Nostromo Records’. The band travelled to Chicago to record with Steve Albini and the result was an intense, sprawling creation inspired by the trio’s increasingly heavy live show.
 
Having established themselves as a highly individual act and an excellent reputation as an outstanding live force, ESBEN AND THE WITCH have honed their songwriting skills to the sharp crystalline edge that now manifests itself clearly on ‘Older Terrors’. Beauty, emotion, and musical depth celebrate a glorious wedding on these tracks. You are herewith invited to join this aural feast.

Pre-order the album – smarturl.it/EsbenandtheShop

Line-up

Rachel Davies: vocals, bass

Thomas Fisher: guitar

Daniel Copeman: drums, synths

http://esbenandthewitch.co.uk/

www.facebook.com/esbenandthewitch

https://twitter.com/WEAREEATW

https://esbenandthewitch.bandcamp.com/

CROBOT – RELEASE NEW TRACK ‘PLAY IT COOL’

Crobot - Fat City

Central Pennsylvania-based rockers, CROBOT have released another track ‘Play It Cool’ from their forthcoming album, ‘Welcome To Fat City’ – set for release on September 23rd via Nuclear Blast.

Pre-order ‘Welcome To Fat City’ now:
– Limited Edition Gatefold Blue Vinyl + signed insert from the Nuclear Blast UK store:http://nblast.de/CrobotNBUK
– CD + Vinyl + signed insert from Recordstore.co.uk: http://nblast.de/CrobotRS
– Alternatively, pre-order the digital album and receive ‘Welcome To Fat City’, ‘Play It Cool’, ‘Not For Sale’ and‘Plague of the Mammoths’ as instant grat tracks: http://nblast.de/CrobotWTFCIT

Check out the official video for ‘Not For Sale

The band are set to return to the UK this Autumn with Aussie rockers Airbourne. Tickets are now on sale, full tour dates and ticket links below.

25.11   UK       Ebbw Vale – Brain Freeze Festival

With Airbourne
17.11   UK       Portsmouth, Pyramids Centre
18.11   UK       Norwich, UEA
19.11   UK       Nottingham, Rock City
21.11   UK       Birmingham, O2 Institute
22.11   UK       Leeds,  O2 Academy
23.11   UK       Newcastle, O2 Academy
24.11   UK       Glasgow, Barrowland
26.11   UK       Manchester, Ritz  (SOLD OUT)
28.11   UK       London, Electric Ballroom
29.11   UK       London, Electric Ballroom

Tickets available here: http://nblast.de/CrobotAirbourneTIX

More info:

Crobot are:
Chris Bishop – guitar, vocals
Brandon Yeagley – lead vocals, harmonica
Paul Figueroa – drums
Jake Figueroa – bass
http://crobotband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Crobotband
@Crobotband
https://www.instagram.com/crobotband/
Crobot live

SEVEN IMPALE ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM & SHARE NEW TRACK

Cover

Seven Impale‘s debut album, “City of the Sun”, was very well received by the prog audience over the world, and in the year poll of 2014 at Progarchives.com, the album got ranked as the 7th best that year. 
So, in spring 2016, Seven Impale teamed up again with producer Iver Sandøy (produced Enslaved, Krakow etc.) in Solslottet Studio to record the follow up. 
 
The band has grown a lot since the debut, without loosing any of their  youthful energy. New album “Contrapasso” consists of nine highly varied and complex tracks expanding upon the unique sound Seven Impale started investigating on “City of the Sun”, but….. they’ve gone much further this time. 
 
On “Contrapasso” you find a band that are more daring, experimental and complex. Again, they touch upon the harder soundscapes as well as including more catchy and upbeat tracks, but on this album everything goes one step further. 
 
Visiting places where no band has been before, with “Contrapasso” Seven Impale pay no heed to genre boundaries. Melding melody, experimentation, dramatics, atmosphere and contrasting rythms, with “Contrapasso”, Seven Impale has created an essential album for any fan of progressive rock!  Listen to new track ‘Languor’ now:

https://soundcloud.com/karisma-records/seven-impale-languor

Line-up:

Tormod Fosso – Bass, cello

Erlend Vottvik Olsen – Guitar

Benjamin Mekki Widerøe – Sexophone, midiflute

Stian Økland – Vocals, guitar

Håkon Vinje – Keyboards

Fredrik Mekki Widerøe – Drums, percussion

“Contrapasso” is released on 16th September via Karisma Records with the vinyl version of the album following on 28th October.

www.facebook.com/sevenimpale

http://www.karismarecords.no/

 

 

ANTHRAX RELEASE MUSIC VIDEO FOR ‘A MONSTER AT THE END’

Anthrax cover

ANTHRAX has released the official video for ‘A Monster At The End‘, a song from the band’s latest album, ‘For All Kings‘. Watch it here:

http://www.vevo.com/watch/anthrax/Monster-at-the-End/USME31600498

The original concept was to have four still photographers placed strategically on a Florida set while the five members of ANTHRAX performed song ‘A Monster At The End‘ live. Each photographer would hold down his camera’s shutter button continuously for the near-four minute-long song, capturing a steady stream of hundreds of still images.

Hey, it might have been a great idea,” laughed video director Jack Bennett, “but holding down the shutter button on a still camera for that long a time? All we would have ended up with were four jammed cameras!”

Shooting the entire video with Super Sharp HD video still cameras, Bennett wanted an animated, staccato-feel to the flow of the individual images. “Video shutter speeds are faster and more reliable than anything we could have done manually, and we wanted as big a pool of still images to choose from as we could get.”

In post-production, Bennett went through the footage frame by frame and hand-picked the still images he wanted to animate — hundreds of them. Rather than print the video at 24 frames per second, he animated movement of the band members using the still images, creating a jagged, crude motion. “We didn’t want fluidity, we wanted the video to have more of a comic book feel to it, like flipbook animation.”

This also allowed Bennett to hang on the band members’ individual movements to accentuate the power of their playing, such as the strength in Charlie Benante’s drum hits, or Scott Ian’s strumming or Frank Bello‘s rhythm.

ANTHRAX‘s latest masterpiece “For All Kings” reached #4 in the Finnish charts, #5 in the German and #21 in the UK charts.

Order ‘For All Kings’ here:
Digital Album from iTunes: http://nblast.de/AnthraxForAllKingsIT
Limited Edition Double Gatefold Etched Lilac or Clear Vinyl from the Nuclear Blast UK store:http://nblast.de/AnthraxNBUK
Limited Edition Digipack CD from Amazon.co.uk: http://nblast.de/AnthraxForAllKingsDigi

More on ‘For All Kings’:
‘Evil Twin’ Lyric Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPmLkF3e6Fc
‘Breathing Lightning’ Official Track: https://youtu.be/NXYKpKWHxaI

More info:
www.anthrax.com
www.facebook.com/anthrax
www.nuclearblast.de/anthrax

NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS UK
Web:  nuclearblast.de
Facebook:  facebook.com/nuclearblasteurope 
Twitter:  @nuclearblasteu
Instagram:  @nuclearblasteurope
YouTube:  youtube.com/user/NuclearBlastEurope

MESHUGGAH POST SECOND TRAILER FOR THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON

Meshuggah Album Cover

The Swedish extreme tech-metal pioneers MESHUGGAH will release their upcoming eighth album, The Violent Sleep Of Reason on October 7th via Nuclear Blast. Today, the band release the second trailer in which Tomas discusses the lyrical inspiration of the eighth album.

Order your copy of the album on iTunes and receive “Born In Dissonance” as an instant grat:http://nblast.de/MeshuggahiTunes

Tomas Haake comments about the album, “Basically, the whole idea of why we chose the title is it kinda connects with the lyrical content of the album. Which is to a fair degree about current events and what you see is going on as far as terrorism today, extremist views on ideals, and religious dogma and the violent implications that you get from being asleep so to speak and not acting/reacting to what is going on in the proper way”

The album was produced by the band and was engineered by Tue Madsen of Puk Studios in Kaerby,Denmark. For the cover, the band once again enlisted Keerych Luminokaya who created the artwork forKoloss and The Ophidian Trek as well as the new images for each of the 7 albums and 3 EP’s featured in the25 Years of Musical Deviance box set.

Track listing as follows:
1. Clockworks
2. Born in Dissonance
3. MonstroCity
4. By the Ton
5. Violent Sleep of Reason
6. Ivory Tower
7. Stifled
8. Nostrum
9. Our Rage Won’t Die
10. Into Decay

“The Violent Sleep Of Reason” will be available in the following formats:
Nuclear Blast UK Store:
– Mail-Order Exclusive Box Set*
Limited to 1,000 worldwide
Includes: Latex face mask, (2) stickers, (2) 1.25” buttons, poster flag, certificate of
authenticity
– Limited Edition Double Gatefold Gold Vinyl
– Limited Edition Double Gatefold Silver Vinyl
– Limited Edition Double Gatefold Light Blue/Orange Bi-Coloured Vinyl
Available here:  http://nblast.de/MeshuggahNBUK

Recordstore.co.uk:
– Limited Edition Black Double LP
– Limited Edition Double Gatefold Picture Disc
– CD Digipack
Available here: http://nblast.de/MeshuggahRS

Visit MESHUGGAH online at  www.MESHUGGAH.net
Like:  www.facebook.com/MESHUGGAH
Follow:  Twitter.com/MESHUGGAH
Watch:  www.youtube.com/MESHUGGAH

NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS UK
Web:  nuclearblast.de
Facebook:  facebook.com/nuclearblasteurope 
Twitter:  @nuclearblasteu
Instagram:  @nuclearblasteurope
YouTube:  youtube.com/user/NuclearBlastEurope

Review – Glass Hammer – Valkyrie – by Progradar

13838352_10154548077629674_524627867_o

What separates the bands that have longevity from those that are just a flash in the pan is the ability to evolve and progress while never losing sight of what endeared them to their fans in the first place.

They take the basic ingredients of what makes them unique and then add new ideas and sounds to build on that original idea and, in the case of current classic prog maestros Glass Hammer, end up releasing 18 studio albums, yes, read it again, 18 studio releases and every one an evolution of what has gone before.

I’ve been a huge fan of Glass Hammer since the days of ‘If’ and am privileged to be close to them enough to be able to get an insight into what makes them tick and how the new album, ‘Valkyrie’, came to be.

The follow up to last year’s ‘The Breaking of the World’ is a concept album in the vein of ‘Lex Rex’ and ‘The Inconsolable Secret’ and will see vocalist Susie Bogdanowicz take a bigger role than on previous releases she has appeared on. The concept behind the album is the struggle of a soldier’s return home from the horrors of war, to the girl that loves and who must ultimately find her way to him.

I asked original founder member Steve Babb where the idea for the new album came from,

“We hadn’t done a full blown concept album since Perilous and we all knew it was high time we did one. We were ready. The subject matter was trauma. How to get past it? Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes it takes a hero to rescue the hero from the aftermath! The world is so torn up at present, and there are a million tales of trauma. It’s a violent time we live in. Most people’s own experiences pale in comparison to what some are living through – so it’s to them I dedicated the lyrics and to those who are standing by their sides to help.”

With a more pared back line-up, Steve explained why Susie had been brought to the fore,

“Fred and I both contribute lead vocals on the album. The lyrics of ‘Valkyrie’ were, for the most part, intentionally written so that the female lead would gradually come to the fore. To my ears the whole thing has more impact that way. The male vocals tend to convey the darker parts of the story while Susie really had to bring out the more emotional moments and the hopefulness that our albums tend to convey.”

Susie

The writing of the album was a taken on by Steve and fellow co-founder Fred Schendel, with such a sensitive subject being dealt with extremely well I asked how he and Fred go about the writing process,

“Fred assuredly changes some things in his sound. I added some vintage gear to my own rig to achieve “the bass that ate the world” sound – which is what we call it. (Intro to No Man’s Land). The overall sound changed too. It’s very live. That was what we set out to do. Not make a sterile, pure, overproduced sounding album. We wanted it to be on the edge. Hope it works!”

Steve went on to say,

“Alan (Shikoh) has co-written in the past, but he insisted Fred and I write the entire thing in the same way we did some of our best known albums. We’ll write separately, then run the ideas by each other. In some cases we combine our ideas (Dead And Gone). Being a concept album and I have the entire thing playing in my head – its up to me to fill in the gaps or to let Fred know what kind of song we need to keep the story moving. “Rapturo” was the very first thing that he wrote – the album’s ending. “Valkyrie” was the first I wrote – the title track. We spend several weeks writing, then months rehearsing and rewriting. That’s how it happened this time.”

alan

“Long years ago I travelled, Upon a road that led me, To fields of battle far from home, And that is where you’ll find me…”

The Fields We Know begins with an eerie note, a haunting tone before Steve’s instantly recognisable bass opens up, lively but intent. A fast paced song definitely from the Glass Hammer stable, it has lulls and highs and a dreamlike feel in places, emphasised by Susie’s delightful vocal. Some wonderful hammond playing by Fred and Alan’s signature guitar sound deliver something fresh and yet still the sound we have become accustomed to. This album is as much about the intelligent lyrics as it is the excellent music and it is worth having the lyric booklet with you as you listen. A strong opening that has already drawn you in to this intense story. The powerful drums of Aaron Raulston come to the fore as the track comes to a satisfying close.

“He debated one idea the morning through, Were his memories of childhood even so, He believed that good resides in every heart, Now it seems man’s been rotten from the start…”

A drum and bass heavy start begins Golden Days, another fast paced track with insistent vocals and staccato soundtrack where Susie’s vocals come to the very fore. A song that demands your attention and gives a reality check to our young soldier. Some of the keyboard playing leaves you in a trance and the excellent musicianship we have come to expect is present and correct. Alan Shikoh gives another guitar masterclass in the middle of the track aided and abetted by Fred’s magical fingers across the keys. There’s a darker core that opens up, smoldering and heightened, the real horrors of war becoming reality. This is progressive rock at its most profound, telling a story in an intensive and vivid manner, technically superb but still with deep emotion right at the heart of the song.

“The orders came at two a.m., At dawn the first wave would advance, As prayers were said the notions fled, Of honor, glory and romance…”

If the opening two tracks could be called ‘classic’ Glass Hammer then No Man’s Land is the first big evolution in sound, the intro is deep, dark, meaningful and, actually, quite scary and it reminds Steve Babb of some pre-Glass Hammer stuff he and Fred used to do years ago. To quote Steve,

“If we ever play that one live it will peal the plaster off the walls. It’s scary HUGE when we’re doing it together!”

The instrumental opening to the song is actually spine chilling and has your mind imagining all sorts of different scenarios on the field of battle, if you are of a certain age then you will have heard stories, even seen them in films, of the desperate charges into no man’s land that killed so many soldiers, young and old and left thousands severely injured and there is a serious tone to the music that befits those memories. It is a stop you in your tracks moment in the album, a moment of reflection and thought. A jarring guitar, keys, drums and bass section brings you back from your reverie, interspersed by some delicate playing from Alan and Fred, before the vocals begin, fervent and impassioned, as I’ve said before, read the lyrics as you listen to the song and you will be almost transported back in time to that dreadful day of carnage and horror. A powerful song imparting a dark story but one that has flashes of light, hope and heroism throughout. Steve’s bass anchors another insistent and passionate instrumental section where these musicians seem to just bounce of each other to deliver an intricate and concentrated piece of music that takes you on a diverse musical journey, as if you are flying over the battlefield witnessing all below. The end of the song is quite mournful and sad, the intensity of the music begins to dig deep into your soul and leaves you wondering what will happen to our lonely soldier next.

13874742_10154548058019674_90048320_n

What comes next is a real surprise, Nexus Girl is a beacon of light in the darkness and could be called electro-pop. It’s upbeat vibe and tone is highly addictive and just seems to lift your soul and mood after the dark vibes of the previous track. Aaron’s drumming is tight and precise and the rhythm of Steve’s bass lays the foundation for Fred to work his electronic wonders with the intricacies and free-thinking of the keyboards, quite delightful.

“I lay down my head and I dreamed of you, I’ve fought to remember the whole day through, The dream that smiles today and then, tomorrow dies, Sets me to longing and then away it flies…”

Another stand out moment on an excellent album, title track Valkyrie is just brilliant. The band wanted to get a sound like The Beatles playing in a very big Church and I think they nailed it. A slow burning opening with a low key vocal as the story becomes less about the soldier and more about the girl. Eventually he tells her he can never make it back. That’s when she comes to him – and then promises to help him home. Which is why the song was named Valkyrie. A mythical angel of the battlefield who swoops in to take the fallen warrior to Heaven (or Valhalla). A really deliberately paced track that has an utterly uplifting feel to it. The vocals are fervid and heightened and full of an emotive force and the organ sound raises the hairs on the back of your neck. It sounds nothing like Glass Hammer but you intrinsically know it is them and it is a profound, almost spiritual musical experience, cinematic progressive rock at its very best.

“His mind is shaken, He tries to waken but it’s all in vain, always in vain, So he tends his wounds as best he can, Here within the lingering fog of war, Which hides his weary heart…”

Another deep and weighty introduction starts Fog Of War, the stylish bass and edgy drums joined by the keys to give an illusion of perplexity and puzzlement before there is a chink of light in the fog afforded by the lilting keyboards and the angularity of Alan’s guitar note. A complex mosaic before Susie’s vocal tells the story of a man lost in his war and the fog of uncertainty. There’s a dynamic, compelling lift to the chorus but this track has many facets, like a human brain unsure of what is actually happening. The music takes you on a circuitous journey of 70’s influences and modern themes as the band evolve their sound into a more aggressive style but never lose sight of their roots, Alan’s solo is a case in point with an Alex Lifeson feel to it, yet with a rarefied edge. A byzantine, Daedalean song that asks more questions than it answers, very deep.

Fred

“Time’s come now at last, let all that’s passed be past, You’ve been wandering, lost in a dream, only a dream…”

Dead And Gone is a heartfelt song, the soldier’s love trying to bring him back from the brink and convince him there is light where all he sees is darkness. A lament, the vocals delivered in a beautifully poignant fashion by Susie with just a delicate piano as accompaniment. A wistful, ethereal song and one that brings a lump to your throat and tears to your eyes. There is beauty and good among the ugliness, horrors and evil of war, just bring yourself to the light. A thoughtful and contemplative song brought to life by the nostalgic longing that is its foundation. A fight between the darkness and trauma that war imposes on those who have to fight and the love and devotion of those who want to help. There’s a darkly fervent instrumental section that spars with its uplifting, vocal lead alter ego and yet the song has a melancholy, sombre feel as it comes to a close, she seems unable to bring her love back from beyond the darkness.

“I see the shadow in your heart, The chains upon your spirit, And all that’s kept you far away from me, yet I have come at last my love…”

The heroine has finally come to her love in the winsome Eucatastrophe, love is a light that can pierce the darkness that engulfs his heart and the refined feel to the song has love and light written large all over it. The heavenly note of Susie’s vocals leaves a gossamer like feeling of  joy on your soul before the song opens up with an inspirational Hammond organ note that builds to a wholly positive and hopeful crescendo.

“Don’t turn away, hold onto me my love, Just open your eyes, The Long night has passed, The dark on has fled…”

The final track on the album and the most intensely poignant, Rapturo is a delicate, soulful and beautiful piece of music that brings the conclusion of our epic story. A wonderfully warm and charming opening full of peace and love opens up to a rapturous vocal and a widescreen sound that seems to pervade every part of your being and fill you full of hope and emotion. There is a powerful feel to the music, the force of good will always strive to overcome the force of evil and, as long as we can see the goodness inside of us, we will prevail. The music just fills you will a feeling of fervent emotion, passion and goodwill, like the huge ensemble numbers that close out all the inspirational musical shows, quite superb.

Forest

After suitable pause for reflection on the amazing musical experience that I have just enjoyed, this is my conclusion:

“With its insightful, thoughtful lyrics every bit as important as the mightily impressive music, ‘Valkrie’ is a concept album in the true sense of the word. With some delightful departures from what some would call their signature sound (The Beatles anyone?) Glass Hammer continue to evolve into one of the world’s foremost Progressive Rock bands. This iconic group of musicians lead you on a journey through the horrors of war with a totally immersive sixty-five minutes of music and you will come out the other side changed forever. I can’t recommend this album enough, one of the best albums of 2016? One of the best albums of recent years more like…”

Released 27th September 2016

Pre-order ‘Valkyrie’ from the official Glass Hammer store

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review – Evergrey – The Storm Within – by Kevin Thompson

LP1042_tem_de.pdf

Despite my ever widening musical interests and the list of artists I listen to growing at a rapid rate, there are always bands that have defined historical points in my life, regardless of genre. Opening new chapters in my musical dictionary has always excited me, that rush you feel on hearing a band for the first time that resonates and elates, making the hairs raise on your arms and the delicious tingle stroke the back of the neck is exquisite. Suddenly you feel immortal and could do anything.

The band invest, you invest and you feel part of the journey they take, the ups and downs the highs and lows and the progression. A much needed progression so as not to stay static, waste away, fade and disappear. The progression will lose some investors along the way from band and fans and gain new ones. There will always be naysayers, those who don’t want change, refuse to understand and will always bemoan the perceptive loss of what they enjoyed through any deviation. But I feel a band has a duty to themselves to follow their hearts and at times that will mean blocking out the negativity to allow the creativity. We owe it to them to try and understand and listen with open minds and hearts, if we do not like the new direction then by all means leave the flock but attempts to desecrate should be left at the door as you exit.

And so it is with Evergrey who, along with Sylvan, introduced me to the heavier side of Prog. ‘Recreation Day’ blew me away, especially the title track, and I invested, like a coke fueled trader, in their stock. They have always excited me, and I have awaited new releases with relish. Then something happened. Had I become used to the sound, taken the music for granted without realising after all these years? ‘Hymns for the Broken’ hit me like a musical tsunami, refreshing, vital and passionate making me feel like the the first time I’d heard them. It hammered into my Top Ten of last year and was never dethroned, beating off any pretenders.

And so to the new album ‘The Storm Within’, could it match or surpass it’s predecessor?

Josefin Wahlstedt

(Picture credit Josefin Wahlstedt)

Opener, Distance, wrong foots me initially with slow echoing piano but then it kicks in, heavy and with intent guitars burning, drums roll, bass thunders and keyboards majestically swirl as Tom S Englund emphatically reminds us ‘it’s not over, we’ll soon be closer than before’. I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer as an eerie escalation pumps the blood vessels and the pulse increases. The sound is swelled with a children’s choir fading out to the haunting piano keys. Like a tornado it has picked you up, spun you round and landed you back where you started, static electricity crackling into…

Rikard Zander’s keyboard charge with the musical hounds of hell in pursuit and the heartbeat increases, the energy Passing Through your body. Tom’s vocals urgent and beseeching, soaring solos from Henrik Danhage tearing musical veins apart like a practised surgeon, tendons strained by the pounding bass of Johan Niemann, twitching the muscles driven by the drums of Jonas Ekdahl as the keyboards race out into the distance leaving fading notes in it’s wake popping like blood vessels.

A haunting call and the chopping guitars like a savage axeman swing into play as an explosive burst from Jonas hits you in the cranium. The vocals seek to reassure as you regain your bearings, Someday you will shed your vulnerability and we will all be welcomed with open arms together, carried into the symbiotic bloodstream of the musical body.

Heavy pulsating bass and guitars exhale with force, cloying at the icy air as the drums drive freezing winds and Tom entreats you not to be lead Astray into the cold winter of sorrows, stay strong against adversity, don’t give in, don’t let go. The guitar cries with the vocals and you feel a chill as the onslaught reaches a juddering halt. Breathe.

Piano and strings softly lament a relationship that can never be, to expect it would to be asking The Impossible. A forlorn hope that can only break hearts and torment souls. Is there no end to this?

Release

Ripped from futile reverie by the sheer aggression of music, racing across the aural planes like a savage hoard. Anger bursts from My Allied Ocean of torment. Destroy, burn it all, leave no stone unturned as the instrumental blows lay all to waste. Keys fan the flames of guitars and bass as the black smoke drums bring darkness and leave nowhere to hide, no safe haven.

Grandiose keys and guitars put us In Orbit in this wonderful duet with Floor Jansen (Nightwish), adding cream to the bitter coffee of  Tom’s hurt as he runs from the pursuant staccato guitar riffs and dreams that haunt.

No respite or let up in intensity as keyboards berate and the crestfallen The Lonely Monarch seeks to understand why he keeps trying to keep a crumbling relationship from falling apart. Dueling guitars torture the air, thoughts screeching through his head and thundering to a finish.

A few moments of respite in beautiful melancholy as Evergrey produce their best kept secret, Tom’s better half, Carina Englund. Having sung on all their previous albums she steps rightfully to the fore on this heart-aching duet The Paradox of the Flame.  Caressed with Rikard’s sublime piano playing and accompanied by lush violin serenading the bitter-sweet realisation that the relationship is lost. Guitars join the heartbreak as the violin soars and all fades as a memory and I feel a shiver run down my spine and the hairs prickle on my arms.

The fierce torment as you Disconnect from the entreating and you are almost overwhelmed by the shuddering barrage that snaps you away with a full on musical onslaught. Tom’s emotionally wrenching pleas torturing himself, his guitar sparring with the lightening dancing fingers of  Mr Danhage, as he rends the strings across his fretboard urged on by the pulsing throb of Johan’s bass and the flying sticks of Mr Ekdahl. The pace slows with variation and an angelic like voice cries us out to the dying instrumentation.

Majestically, the band take us into the last and title track The Storm Within, all the pieces have been building to this classic piece of Evergrey bombast. All they are and have is thrown into this and elating as only a song can when it emotionally connects. Happiness and sadness ride hand in hand as the album reaches it’s fervent climax and leaves me emotionally drained.

So there you are, another year and another definite inclusion in my Top Ten of the year. Whilst this is not the same Evergrey I first heard, to me this is the new and improved model. They have progressed and I feel myself privileged and honoured to be able to listen to albums like ‘The Storm Within’. Long may they continue.

THIS is why I love music and always will, it touches you and can carry you though what ever storms you face, lifting you above it all. I will invest in this until my dying day as it’s dividends will  outweigh any losses and repay you with an Emperor sized fortune.

Released 9th September 2016

Pre-order ‘The Storm Within’ direct from the band

 

The Fierce And The Dead confirmed for RoSfest 2017 – article by Progradar

Rosfest_2017_24x36-01

The Fierce and the Dead have been announced as the opening band for Sunday at Rosfest 2017. This slot at the festival is often dubbed The Church of Prog; the truly dedicated audience filling these chairs on an early Sunday morning, receptive to good music and eager to spread the word about it, is the equivalent of a congregation in progressive rock circles.

I dubbed them ‘A soundtrack for the current generation’. Purveyors of ‘lovingly crafted noise’ and pioneers of what they call ‘Funny Music’, this cult band saw their latest, limited edition, E.P. ‘Magnet’ sell out before its release date on August 14th last year. The Fierce and the Dead are as hot as it gets in the underground, small label and independent world at the moment.

Blake Carpenter of RoSfest said,

“We can’t wait to see this band make their live US debut at ROSfest 2017, and we’re certain that our first-rate audience will give Matt Stevens, Kev Feazey, Stuart Marshall and Steve Cleaton a warm welcome.”

TFATD RoSfest

I spoke to the band about their first visit to America…

“We’re so pleased to be playing in America and to play our first show at RoSfest is very exciting. Everyone I’ve spoken to who has been has said what a great festival it is and we’re really happy be involved” says guitarist Matt Stevens.

“Events like RoSfest are willing to take chances and invest in the global scene they represent – we are beyond stoked to have been asked to play, a real honour” adds bass player Kevin Feazey.

“Getting the chance to play our material to a new audience in a new country is a really exciting opportunity for us, and we can’t wait to get over there and pick up the audience so they can join us on our sonic journey!”  continues guitar player Steve Cleaton.

“And all that remained were The Fierce And The Dead…..”

The three day festival begins on Friday, 5th May 2017

Tickets and information can be found at the RoSfest website.

14086419_10154487071918420_1969328143212124090_o

(TFATD at The ArcTangent Festival, photo credit Ed Sprake)

Review – Andy Tillison Diskdrive – (machte es) Durch – by Emma Roebuck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This solo album is, as Andy told me, a diary of his healing process following his serious illness last year. The literal translation of (machte es) Durch is “Made it Through” and this album is music that he considers to be “the extra material in the CD that is life”.

The album consists of 5 tracks, each different from the other, all of which thematically cover his musical influences and loves. From the electronic territory of Tangerine Dream journeying through Funk/jazz/trance through a tribute to Camel and an exploration of Borodin’s Classical influences. This all sounds highly pretentious and self indulgent doesn’t it? The reality is that it isn’t even vaguely pretentious, mainly because Andy is one of the most grounded people I know who has a passion for life and living it artistically through his music.

After his heart attack just over a year ago, enforced inactivity, especially after a particularly hectic and productive previous two years, cannot have sat well with him. The product of this sits on a CD for all to see and be laid bare.

The Pursuit of Oil opens the album and it comes straight from the Tangerine Dream ‘Ed Froese’ play book. Coming in at just under 22 minutes, this song shows an insight into what TD stood for in the early 70s. It starts and builds through the piece with a tension and atmosphere which makes you want to burst, until you get to the last 5 minutes when it explodes into a guitar (sound) and keyboard celebration of the ecstasy of being alive. Theo Travis adds a beautiful Flute refrain on this track that is the icing on a very impressive cake.

The album then flows directly into the title track Machte Es Durch continuing the thematic survival, almost “Phew”, feeling. It has a Jazz rock/prog  style with a foundation that only a “Hammond organ” can provide.  Intrinsically, it is a musical version of a journey with all the metaphors of  improvisations and returns to the common core.

The idea for the title of The Hood Of A Dodge comes from the Bruce Springsteen song  Jungleland but the music comes from the Trip hop Acid jazz of the 90s and, to be honest, feels like my experiences in the 90s at festivals and surviving that time somehow intact, Massive Attack and Portishead, eat your hearts out. It was recorded, apparently, in Ward 17 of Leeds General Infirmary last August, how I would have loved to have been on the ward that day!

Andy Tillison

Yuri Gagarin – From the Steppes of Central Asia is an interpretation of the classical composition by Alexander Borodin “In the Steppes of Central Asia”, the site of the Soviet Union space program and as far from the west as you can actually get geographically without being back in the west, so to speak. The power and passion in this track is worthy of the likes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Pictures At an Exhibition’ and I think that, performed live especially, it would definitely be of that level.

Music Inspired by ‘Music inspired by the Snow Goose’ has been around for a while and Andy posted a version of this on youtube around Christmas 2013. It’s a fun homage to Camel and explores the classic Camel album “inspired” as they say in the book. Here is a full album in 9 minutes given the Tillison touch. His love and affection of the original ring true throughout the track and it is a mischievous fun trip full of nostalgia.

This is a healing album that I have taken to heart and passes the listening in the dark test as well as driving up the A1 from Scotch Corner to Newcastle and back several times over. As coping strategies go, this is a very good for the creator and the listener.

Released April 2016

Buy ‘Durch’ direct from The Tangent store

 

 

 

 

 

NIGHTWISH – FAN DOCUMENTARY ‘TO NIGHTWISH WITH LOVE’ RELEASED

NIGHTWISH fans have had a busy year. Since October 2015, over 60 fans from 50 countries have been filming a crowdsourced NIGHTWISH fan documentary. During the past year, fans have answered questions about their fandom and the band and have performed weekly tasks presented to them in front of a mobile phone camera.

The webproject “To NIGHTWISH with Love” is active on the Yle (Finnish Broadcasting Company) website. Hundreds of hours of material was produced and sent to Yle by the fans. Yle‘s production team has used the material to create a number of web documentaries, including a full-feature documentary film, “To NIGHTWISH with Love“.

The documentary filmed by fans discusses the band, and the fans’ passion and fandom in the words of the fans themselves, in tens of different languages.

“In the end, fans from over fifty countries participated,” say the directors of the documentary, Kaisa Alenius andHarto Hänninen. “It has been an eye opening experience to see that people with completely different background can suddenly share similar ideas about life, identity and art. This is the power of fandom.”

In addition to the documentary, an online series with 18 episodes is published on the “To NIGHTWISH with Love” -website. It has been edited from the material produced by the fans where the fans learn Finnish, discuss the universe of music as well as the different vocalists the band has seen. NIGHTWISH‘s music has helped the fans through difficult times, but it has also connected people. One of the most important themes of the online series is love.

“This is a documentary that I’d like to see right away,” said Tuomas Holopainen of NIGHTWISH upon hearing about the crowdsourcing project underway at Yle, Finland’s national public service broadcasting company.

The documentary “To Nightwish with Love” was released online on Saturday 20 August, and it is now available to watch here:

To Nightwish With Love Documentary

Next Sunday, on 28 August there will be a whole night dedicated to the Finnish symphonic metal stars, on Yle Teema channel in Finland. Including an interview of Tuomas Holopainen, the documentary and a premiere of a concert, Yle Live: NIGHTWISH in Mexico City (2015). The concert will be available on the “To NIGHTWISH with Love” -website on Sunday 10 PM (UTC+3).

The band also announced a new release date for the DVD “Vehicle Of Spirit”. The two-concert-live-release will see the light of day on November 25th.

Catch the band live one more time on their “Endless Forms Most Beautiful World Tour 2015-2016”:

26.08.  PL       Straszecin – Czad Festival
03.09.  CZ       Havirov – Havirovske Slavnosti
08.09.  P         Lisbon – Coliseu
10.09.  E         Madrid – Barclaycard Center
12.09.  IT        Mantova – Palabam
14.09.  BG       Sofia – Arena Armeec
02.10.  KR       Seoul – Samsung Blue Square
05.10.  CN       Shenzeng – A8 Live House
07.10.  CN       Shanghai – QSW Culture Center
09.10.  J          Tokio – Loud Park

Order NIGHTWISH‘s current record, ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful‘, here:http://nblast.de/NIGHTWISHFormsNB

More on ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’:
‘Élan’
OFFICIAL VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZisUxkdnTo
‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’ OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKgHMG1tKKw
‘Alpenglow’ OFFICIAL TRACK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2_ETb-63oo
‘Shudder Before The Beautiful’ OFFICIAL TRACK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5diJsEdLS_8

Nightwish Vehicle of Spirit