Following last years disbanding of Sweden’s much-loved progressive rockers Beardfish, vocalist and driving force Rikard Sjöblom has turned his attention to his solo project Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly, and signed with InsideOutMusic for the release of their next album ‘On Her Journey To The Sun’ on 19th May 2017.
Rikard had this to say: “Gungfly was born out of necessity, songs came to life whenever there was downtime with Beardfish or if a song didn’t quite fit within Beardfish’s (otherwise quite broad and eclectic) frame of styles. I basically started recording songs, mainly pop-oriented material, but being the type of songwriter and musician I am, some prog slipped through the radar as well. With the break-up of Beardfish all of the prog-related material I write needed to go somewhere and Gungfly was ready and able for this step!”
Swedish progressive rock/metal innovators Pain of Salvation have announced the worldwide release of their long-awaited new studio album ‘In the Passing Light of Day’ for Friday the 13th of January, 2017 via their longtime label partners InsideOutMusic.
Working together with acclaimed producer Daniel Bergstrand (In Flames, Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad, etc.) at Dugout Studio in Sweden, the band have crafted an album that sees them returning to their much praised heavier sound, featuring the syncopated rhythms, glorious melodies, and intensely personal themes that Pain of Salvation fans have long loved about the band.
Inextricably linked to the near fatal illness that band-leader Daniel Gildenlöw spent much of the first half of 2014 recovering from, the album is an altogether darker and more impassioned journey. Taking the hospital bed as a narrative hub, the lyrical and musical themes touch on all the conflicting feelings that run through a person’s mind when presented with the prospect of death and the passing of life.
The album will be available as a special edition 2CD Mediabook (including expanded 48-pages booklet, several in-depth texts by conceptual author Daniel Gildenlöw, demo material & band commentary tracks), standard jewelcase CD, gatefold 180g 2LP vinyl plus album on CD as bonus & digital download.
Young British progressive rockers MASCHINE have announced the release of their second studio album ‘Naturalis’ for the 18th November 2016 on InsideOutMusic. The follow-up to the band’s debut ‘Rubidium’, this is the first to feature drummer James Stewart ( Vader) & keyboardist/vocalist Marie-Eve de Gaultier.
The album will be released as a special edition digipak CD & digital download, both featuring two bonus tracks recorded live in 2015 at Veruno Prog Festival in Italy. The full track-list can be found below:
1. Resistance (11:52)
2. Night And Day (5:08)
3. Make Believe (7:10)
4. Hidden In Plain Sight (7:01)
5. A New Reality (8:45)
6. Megacyma (11:46)
7. Eyes Pt.2 (Live in Veruno) (8:55)
8. Rubidium (Live in Veruno) (8:47)
AUGUST 5th, 2016 – “With This Heart”, the first new song from Kansas in 16 years, is now available. The song is taken from the band’s intensely anticipated new studio album The Prelude Implicit, which will be released on September 23rd, 2016.
The song will be available for purchase Friday, August 5th through iTunes, AmazonMP3, Spotify, and Google Play. Fans can also pre-order the album on iTunes, AmazonMP3, and Google Play at that time. Links to retailers can be found below:
“We are excited for ‘With This Heart’ to be the first new KANSAS song released in more than 16 years. It definitely fits KANSAS tradition.”
The Prelude Implicit is the first new album release in 16 years for the band that has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, and is famous for classic hits such as ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and ‘Dust In the Wind’, to progressive epics like ‘Song for America’and ‘Miracles Out of Nowhere.’ The album will be available on CD, double 180 Gram Vinyl and digitally on iTunes and Google Play.
The Prelude Implicit features 10 all new tracks written by the band and co-produced by Zak Rizvi, Phil Ehart, and Richard Williams. KANSAS’s signature sound is evident throughout the album. It showcases Ronnie Platt’s soaring lead vocals, David Ragsdale’s blistering violin, Williams and Rizvi’s rocking guitar riffs, the unmistakable sound of David Manion’s B3 organ and keyboards, Ehart’s thundering drums, and Billy Greer’s driving bass and vocals.
KANSAS returned to the studio in January 2016 after signing with Inside Out Music. Says Inside Out founder and president Thomas Waber, “KANSAS is the biggest and most important Prog band to come out of the United States. I grew up listening to them, and their music is part of my DNA. ‘The Prelude Implicit’ undoubtedly adds to their already impressive musical legacy. I can’t stop listening to it, and we are proud to be releasing the album.”
The result of the time in the studio was even more than the band imagined. “This is definitely a KANSAS album,” remarks original guitarist Richard Williams. “Whether it is the trademark Prog epic like ‘The Voyage of Eight Eighteen’, biting rocker such as ‘Rhythm in the Spirit’,or mindful ballad like ‘The Unsung Heroes’,there is something on this album for every kind of KANSAS fan. After years of pent-up creativity, the entire band is very proud of ‘The Prelude Implicit.’“
Lead Vocalist Ronnie Platt adds, “Recording ‘The Prelude Implicit’ was an incredible experience, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. It is my hope that, knowing the intense listeners that KANSAS fans are, the continuity yet diversity of this album will be pleasing to them.”
The album title, The Prelude Implicit means, “Without a doubt, this is a new musical beginning,” explains Ehart. Tattoo artist, Denise de la Cerda, did the oil painting of the front and back cover. “It shows a Phoenix flying from the past into the future.”
The Prelude Implicit Track Listing:
1.) With This Heart
2.) Visibility Zero
3.) The Unsung Heroes
4.) Rhythm in the Spirit
6.) The Voyage of Eight Eighteen
9.) Crowded Isolation
10.) Section 60
KANSAS will be debuting songs off The Prelude Implicit this fall, live in concert, as part of their Leftoverture 40th Anniversary Tour. More information on the tour, including tour dates, can be found at www.kansasband.com
What a difference 20 years makes. In the far distant past of the 1990s, “Prog” was still a dirty word; reviled, ridiculed and lampooned by the critical establishment and cynical music fans alike. You could count the number of bands playing the music on two hands and you’d still have fingers to spare.
Fast forward to 2016 and it’s the mirror image; Prog is seemingly everywhere. The critics have thawed, the stigma has mostly dissipated, new generations are discovering it and the old guard fans have climbed out of the caves and fallout shelters they’ve been hiding in to proudly proclaim; “Told you so!” Hell, it’s almost respectable!
This has inspired a dizzying number of new bands and a blizzard of new Prog releases each month. There are so many that sometimes I fear I’m going to be buried under an avalanche of mellotrons, organs and shifting time signatures. Yet thankfully, despite the overabundance of choices there are still albums that really leap out from the multitude, grab me by the shoulders and demand I pay attention. ‘Threnodies’, the second full-length release from London-based quintet Messenger is one such album.
Their prior album ‘Illusory Blues was a dream-like affair, an intoxicating blend of folk rock intimacy and Pink Floyd-ish soundscapes. Primarily acoustic and beautifully restrained, it conjured up images of the flower-power past while still sounding firmly relevant to the 21st century. The album did occasionally hint at a more powerful beast lurking beneath the surface. There were moments in songs like Midnight and The Return that briefly notched up the intensity, a teaser for possible future sonic explorations that ‘Threnodies’ gloriously fulfills.
Opening track Calyx demonstrates this newfound muscularity in an amusingly surreptitious way. Beginning in a stylistically similar fashion to their prior release, it’s a floating, ethereal arrangement with only the extroverted drumming of Jaime Gomez Arellano indicating what is to come. A little past the halfway point the song quietly fades out and then a pulsating synth riff fades in to introduce the explosive conclusion. And what a joyous sound it is! A swirling vortex of powerful drumming, acoustic piano, thunderous bass and a wall of warmly distorted guitar, it’s a thrilling introduction, a preface to even more visceral delights to come.
The appropriately titled Oracles of War was the “hallelujah moment” for me. A song that begins with a riff that had me instantly reaching for the volume control to add a few more decibels of heft. It’s a doom riff that would make Tony Iommi proud. Then the swirling organ comes in and we’re transported back to the wonderful sonic time where giants like Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple roamed the land, laying waste to eardrums with gleeful abandon. This track puts a big goofy grin on my face that just won’t go away. Please don’t call it “Prog Metal”, that would be a disservice. Progressive rock and heavy metal were born together, siblings with more in common than not, cruelly separated by record labels into more easily marketable factions. Oracles of War reunites them in spirit and it’s a most happy reunion. At the halfway point the intensity drops and a calm enters, I hear a definite influence from the LA folk-rock scene in this section, hints of CSN&Y and Buffalo Springfield. It made me ponder an alternate universe where Ken Hensley and Tony Iommi went to Stephen Stills’ house in Laurel Canyon for a jam session.
It’s a testament to how good Messenger really is that they don’t belabor the point and remain on that one sound. We then venture into the gorgeous Balearic Blue, a dip into crystalline musical waters, a refreshing cool-down from the prior intensity. A truly lovely song with a beautiful ringing guitar sound and understated electric piano, mellotron and organ, propelled by the nimble interplay of the rhythm section. It’s a delight.
Album highlight Celestial Spheres is up next, an infectious arrangement that blends the progressive rock sophistication with the loose jam band qualities that came so naturally to bands in the early 70s. Too often these days bands choose one path or the other, thankfully Messenger has the talent and the songwriters to meld them together seamlessly and organically. I also have to mention the inspired guitar interplay of Khaled Lowe and Barnaby Maddick, they complement each other so well and inspire memories of jamming Wishbone Ash and Allman Brothers records when I was a youngster. Speaking of guitars, the riff that comes in around the 4:20 mark and introduces the ending section is another gem on an album full of them. This is the type of song I’d like to hear them play live and stretch out on.
Nocturne begins in a darker more mournful vibe and features a thunderously heavy riff punctuated by the huge bass sound of James Leach. Then, in the last third, the dark clouds part and a lovely acoustic guitar section prepares us for the catchy folk & jam rock groove of Pareidolia. The ending section of that piece brings us back around to Pink Floyd territory, from the ‘Wish You Were Here/Animals’ era.
The album closer Crown of Ashes brings the Wishbone Ash influence back with a lovely lyrical guitar line and closes the album out on an uplifting, laid-back note.
All told I’m thoroughly impressed with Messenger, one of my favorite discoveries of the past couple years and a band that I predict even greater things from in the future. ‘Threnodies’ is sure to be high on my best of 2016 list, I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
So, here we go with the first of Progradar’s ‘guest’ or ‘collaborative’ reviews and the first to step up to the plate is Emma Roebuck with a review of Caligula’s Horse and ‘Bloom’……….
The third album from Caligula’s Horse ‘Bloom’, and my first exposure to their brand of Rock/metal/prog, finds me smiling. It passes a few tests for me, one played it through several times in the car and I didn’t feel the need to change the album and my passengers, who are not prog fans, were nodding along to riff laden music. The second test is playing it in the solitude of unwinding after a working week.
I won’t do a track by track break-down just say Sam Vallen, Jim Grey and the rest of the guys are a fine addition to Aussie prog-rock. It has something for most fans of the harder side of prog music, loads of hard, powerful guitar riffing with layered musical texture underneath. I am drawn instinctively to the better, mid-period, Dream Theater and Opeth stuff as you would expect but, also, Anathema too, not as copyists but as fellow travellers.
There is also plenty for the casual listener too, the songs draw you in and are accessible from the first listen, with plenty of variety from the softer Undergrowth creeping up on you to the aural ‘smack in the teeth’ half way through the Title track Bloom. These guys can write songs with nuance and skill and are not formulaic by any stretch of the imagination.
The Stand out track for me is Dragonfly. Coming in at just short of 10 minutes, it has everything good that this album has to offer in one song. Trying to imagine this performed live, I see a great set closer in this one.
Jim Grey has a voice that has remarkable range and works in the quieter moments and higher registers too, but maintains a power when they rock out and they can rock out, Rust being a fine example of an outright technical track that Threshold would be proud to produce.
To finish, it’s a worthy piece of music that shows how good some of the technically minded progressive musicians can write at the harder edge of this thing we called ‘prog’.