Philadelphia- duo Rise Twain released their debut self-titled album last year on InsideOutMusic. The union of Brett William Kull (producer, audio engineer, and member of Echolyn, Grey Eye Glances, and Francis Dunnery’s New Progressives) and J.D. Beck (The Scenic Route, Beck-Fields, author & playwright) bring their collective years of direct and varied experience in writing, performing and recording music together for their impressive first album.
Today, the band have launched their first ever official video for the beautiful ‘Prayers’.
The band comments: “Prayers is an elegy for love to come down from a forbidden height, to call from the night, to remember, wake, and live again. It sings a desperate melody to the lost so that they may find their way home.”
1. Everspring 2. Golden 3. The Range 4. Lit Up 5. Death of Summer 6. Oh This Life 7. Prayers 8. Falling Skies 9. Into A Dream 10. That Is Love
Talking of how the duo came together: “I produced an album for J.D.’s original band, The Scenic Route”, says Kull, describing his first meeting with Beck in 2007. “They were a rocky, progressive kind of band, like a Jeff Buckley kind of thing. I was immediately drawn to his vocals. He’s such a strong singer.” Kull says he and Beck immediately hit it off, what he describes as an “inevitable connection.”
Adds Beck, “I just knew I had to work with Brett on a higher level. When I came in to cut the vocals on the Scenic Route album, the way we worked together…some people you just gel with, and then some people you have a barrier with. Brett and I gelled.” They spoke of one day collaborating on their own project, which finally surfaces as Rise Twain.
Discussing the album’s musical direction, Beck notes, “There’s not a typical structural theme that we use over and over and over. ‘Organic’ is a word that comes to mind. Seeking openness through simplicity and allowing the complexity of music to exist without the necessity of overly packing it or overly processing it. With that we were able to achieve such a broad spectrum of sound, and a colossal sense of its existence, without having to have a billion guitars and a billion things put over top. There’s some colouring with strings and other embellishments, but it really is something very simple and stripped down, and it’s awesome.”
Kull adds, “There’s a lot of complexity in this, but it’s not overt in the least bit. But yet, when you get into it, there’s all this really rich harmonic and dynamic stuff going on.”
RISE TWAIN are: J.D. Beck: Piano, lead and backing vocals Brett William Kull: Guitars, bass, keys, percussion, lead and backing vocals
‘Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari’ is the latest musical initiative of TOUNDRA, the intrepid instrumental rock band from Spain, that once again showcases their mutable capability to approach new projects and reinvent their art. This is not just an exceptional soundtrack to the quintessential German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene that turns exactly 100 years old in 2020, it’s also a dialogue with the listener with the intention of questioning ideas like manipulation, freedom and human nature itself. The album will be released by InsideOut/Century Media on February 28th 2020.
To get a glimpse of the magic of this amazing soundtrack the band has just presented an appetizer of what’s soon going to be premiered as the first video & single, that will be available next week:
The band states, “‘Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari’ is a movie with a very strong visual energy. It’s a film that takes elements of the terror movies to speak about authoritarianism. About how ideas can be controlled and eventually lead a human individual to do the worst things. It was premiered in between-war period, and it represents an advice about the real danger of some ideologies that nowadays are getting a new life across Europe; ideologies based in intolerance. That’s why we like to see this film as historical document that invites to some conscious thinking rather than let ourselves go where intolerants want to take us.”
The artwork has been done by Riki Blanco and it features all the iconic elements of the movie.
There will be a tour to present the album live and dates will be announced very soon, so stay tuned.
TOUNDRA took the world by storm with their personal instrumental rock on 2007. Since then, they have toured Europe intensively to the point of being considered one of the continent’s most exciting rock acts and have also taken their challenging music to places like Mexico or the United States. They have released three albums independently and two under the imprint of InsideOut/Superball and championed charts crossovering countries and genres, and they even formed the project Exquirla, which blends flamenco and rock.
2018 has been a rather excellent year for new music. It seems like no sooner has one great album come along then another arrives into the inbox at Progradar Towers. Music of all sorts of genres and description but the overriding feeling I have got this year is that there is joy back in music. The majority of new releases I’m hearing have enforced my faith in the restorative abilities of music and the fact that music can simply put a smile on your face and make the world a happier place to be in.
The latest album to get me buzzing and happy to get out of bed on a wet and miserable October morning is the new release, and 10th studio release, from progressive rock stalwarts The Tangent:
“Entitled “Proxy” it’s a single CD and Vinyl – a riot of juxtopposing styles, presented in a really direct manner and despite being firmly rooted in the stylistic traits of the Progressive Rock Genre takes some unexpected turnoffs and a major swerve.
Recorded during the band’s tour with Karmakanic in 2017/18 – there were more chances than normal to work together on the record – hotel writing sessions, van discussions, soundcheck ideas – all of which have allowed the band to make an album that is organic and as close to being that band, as has happened to the group of far flung members since they began their career 15 years ago.”
Thank you press release, main man Andy Tillison goes on to say, “I often think of good progressive albums as being like the Bayeux Tapestry, an account of the times the band lives in, using all the history that got us to that point, commenting on the Now with the experience of the past.”
Andy agreed with me that ‘Proxy’ is a lighter album than ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’, the band’s previous studio release but it does start with the obligatory protest song, title track Proxy. A track about the continuing wars that share their name with the song. The Tangent have always brought politics into progressive rock and this song carries on that connection, Prog always being born from counterculture. It’s a complete prog reference journey with Tillison’s swirling hammonds and synths, Jonas Reingold’s signature punchy bass, Steve Roberts’ dynamic drums and Luke Machin’s stylistic guitar work. Take yourself on a sisteen minute nostalgic road trip punctuated by the ever so elegant sax and flute of Theo Travis, this is what the band have always been good at, delivering a potent message with lashings of fantastic music to ease it home. The guitar and vocal motif at the end puts a particularly large smile on my face, tipping a nod to the 70’s in the process, The Tangent are back!
Now the album takes a wander over into left-field territory with the jazz-fusion instrumental The Melting Andalusian Skies, a piece of music as laid back as they come, sit back, enjoy the warm, sunny feel and let the ever so smooth sounds flow over you. Luke and Andy trade guitar and synth like the best jazz pros and Theo gives the whole shebang the necessary chuzpah. Luke throws in some Gordon Giltrap guitar and even acid jazz to give a psychedelic overtone, this is music for the hell of it, these guys are having a seriously good time, it’s patently obvious. Described by the band as an attempt to find the missing link between Porcupine Tree and Jamiroquai, A Case Of Misplaced Optimism is more funk than any man should have to handle! This track will get you digging the groove and saying ‘yeah man’ every five seconds, it is seriously infectious piece of music that put a huge grin on my face, yep, the joy is here for everyone to hear.
Rapidly becoming one of my all time favourite songs by the band, The Adulthood Lie is my stand out track on what is becoming a seriously good album. The Tangent do electronic dance music (yes you read that right, EDM!) and it works brilliantly. I know Andy wasn’t sure how the fans would take this homage to Ibiza, Fatboy Slim, Sophie Ellis Bextor and the rest but, to me, it’s a fantastic track. It’s chock full of catchy moments and a seriously infectious vibe that gets you up and dragging your dancing boots out of the cupboard before you even know what you’re doing. You know what, this is what progressive music should be about, you’re hearing a true progression and maturation of The Tangent’s sound and it’s bloody brilliant. As Andy says,
“Our belief is that Progressive Rock music is still a valid and viable musical form in 2018 and will continue to be so. Our band has always sought to take on board things from the present and add them to that magical mix. We don’t claim to be offering the FUTURE. We just claim to be offering one set of possibilities. Ours. Now.”
There’s a repeated vocal line that runs through the song that starts, “When I was young, I fell in love…”, trust me, that will rapidly become a glorious earworm! Andy admitted the band had gone a bit mad on this track but was really glad that they had.
“The whole of Supper’s Off came from a daft thing I said about “Cooking The Books Of Revelation” in a rather boring meeting at college…”
Being a fellow Yorkshireman, Andy has a particular sense of humour, Supper’s Off was a recording made at the time of (Tangent album) ‘Le Sacre Du Travail’. It wasn’t properly recorded until this album but it’s another iteration of The Tangent’s so called Fast Song. GPS Culture, Evening TV, Uphill From Here and Spark In The Aether could be said to be the others. My friend, and Bad Elephant Music boss, David Elliott has called it “an anthem for the modern progressive rock band” and he’s not wrong. A captivating and utterly addictive track with the funkiest keyboard hook and guitar riff going, it’s blasts into your mind at a mind-blowing rate of knots and takes everybody on a fun-fuelled musical roller coaster ride before tipping its hat and firing off into the distance.
Normality is resumed with the ten minute bonus of Excerpt From “Excerpt From “Exo-Oceans”, a little dip into Andy’s Kalman Filter material which is edgy, spaced out and best listened to in the dark with something addictive (legally, obviously!! you know, like Whiskey!) and this brings the heart rate down nicely so you can actually process what you’ve just listened to.
‘Proxy’ is a joyous celebration of music, done in The Tangent’s inimitable style. It’s an album that truly bears repeated listens, I’m sure Andy has left little chestnuts and references in there for people to pick up on. What we’re hearing is a true progression of the band’s sound that, while keeping what has always made them who they are, now resonates even more clearly with the world we live in. Music to make you think and music to lift your soul, what more can you ask for?
Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly recently announced the release of ‘Friendship’, their brand new studio album, due out on November 9th, 2018. Following the release of 2017’s ‘On Her Journey To The Sun’, as well as 2018’s retrospective 5CD collection ‘Rumbling Box’, the band masterminded by former Beardfish frontman & current Big Big Train member Rikard Sjöblom.
Today a video for the track ‘Ghost of Vanity’ has been launched and you can watch that here:
Rikard comments: ”A song that really just came to me all at once while I was strumming away on my guitar one day, lyrics and all. I kept singing ‘I don’t want no part in this’ over and over at first and then started partake in. Well, vanity is something I’ve never been a big fan of but one way or another we’re all slaves to it. I think most people, especially teenagers and young adults strive to live up to unrealistic expectations from TV-commercials or the superficial parts of showbiz. I remember when I was a kid and thought everything they said on TV was true, or at least didn’t reflect too much about whether thinking about what it was I didn’t want to it was real or not. No matter how much we try to not care about how cool or pretty or rich we are, I think it gets to us. The ghost of vanity is always present and I guess it takes a lot of reflecting over your own identity and a lot of courage to try to be yourself. I admire those who truly are.”
The album will be available as a limited CD Digipak & gatefold 2LP + CD (both including 3 bonus tracks) as well as digital download. Pre-order now here: https://Gungfly.lnk.to/Friendship
The full track-listing is as follows:
1.Ghost of Vanity
4.A Treehouse in a Glade
6.If You Fall, Pt. 2
7.Crown of Leaves
8.Slow Dancer (Bonus Track)
9.Past Generation (Bonus Track)
10.Friendship (Utopian Radio Edit) (Bonus Track)
Rikard comments of the musical direction: “Musically, what can I say? This is prog rock, but I want to be free to move in whatever direction the music wants to go and I happily go exploring where it wants to take me. Even though there are a few softer songs and sections, most of the album turned out to be a rocker; a collection of hard rock songs with lots of tricky parts, some heavier moments and some downright jazzy elements too!”
Rikard Sjöblom is perhaps best known as the multi-instrumentalist frontman of Beardfish, who established themselves as one of the most consistently brilliant modern-day progressive rock bands over the course of eight studio albums. In recent years, he has also become known for his work with English progressive collective Big Big Train, playing live with them as well as performing on their most recent studio album ‘The Second Brightest Star’ as well as the new live album ‘Merchants of Light’.
Roine Stolt, known as the guitarist, singer, writer and at times band leader of the groups The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Agents of Mercy, Kaipa DC, as well as from his work with prog icon Jon Anderson and the new super-group The Sea Within, is releasing a new album on November 23rd, 2018. Under the moniker ROINE STOLT’S THE FLOWER KING, ’Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ offers 10 songs and almost 70 minutes of playing time celebrating the style Roine is most revered for: progressive rock, richly orchestrated with all the trademark elements from four decades of the genre.
Roine comments: “Unlike many later albums, where recordings have continued over months, this new album has been a fairly quick and effective affair – we started tracking in Holland at the beginning of July and mix was done by mid-August! The songs are written in a very ‘unorthodox’ way – some melodic content and some riffs are ideas that have been circulating for years – some may even be from before the first TFK album – they just hadn’t found a home in any of the bands/albums I did in the last 15 years yet.”
‘Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ is a celebration of all the styles that have been part of the colourful, daring and dynamic songwriting and arrangements that Roine masters like no other, yet also offers a more immediate, more hands on approach. “Like that first TFK album, I’m the main lead vocalist here again – it works as these lyrics are important to me and resonate with my view of the world. A lot of the guitar work is actually my spontaneous ‘demo’ guitars” and that goes for much of the synth work, too. I didn’t want to ‘process’ ideas too much as there is much power in the initial creation – I wanted to keep it that way.”
The album features a host of other musicians, including long-time collaborators Jones Reingold, Hans Froberg & Michael Stolt, as well as fellow The Sea Within member Marco Minnemann, Max Lorentz, Zach Kamins, Rob Townsend & Nad Sylvan.
‘Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ features stunning artwork from Shaun Beyond (https://www.instagram.com/shaunbeyond/), and will arrive as a limited edition CD digipak, Gatefold 180g 2LP + CD & as digital download.
You can find the full track-listing below:
6.Next To A Hurricane
9.Six Thirty Wake-Up
10.The Spell Of Money
As previously announced, Roine will take The Flower Kings catalogue on tour later this year, as well as playing tracks from this new album. He comments: “I am excited that the album will be released in November this year and at the same time will be in South America playing The Flower Kings music with a band that also includes Hasse Froberg & Jonas Reingold and also introduces two younger friends; Zach Kamins on keyboards and Mirko DiMaio on drums – both fabulous musicians. We will also bring this to Europe where we join forces with legends Spocks Beard.”
South America 2018
16th November – Carioca Club, Sao Paolo, Brazil
18th November – El Teatrito, Buenos Aires, Argentina
19th November – Teatro Nescafe, Santiago, Chile
21st November – Teatro Del Patronato Peruano Chino, Lima, Peru
23rd November – C3 Stage, Guadalajara, Mexico
24th November – Auditoria Blackberry, Mexico City, Mexico
InsideOutMusic 25th Anniversary European Tour feat. Spock’s Beard & Roine Stolt’s The Flower King
30th November – Cosmopolite, Oslo, Norway
1st December – Kulturhuset Studion, Stockholm, Sweden
2nd December – KB, Malmo, Sweden
4th December – Zeche, Bochum, Germany
5th December – Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland
6th December – La Machine, Paris, France
7th December – De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
8th December – Hedon, Zwolle, Netherlands
9th December – Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
10th December – Academy Club, Manchester, UK
The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, will release their 10th studio album ‘Proxy’ on November 16th, 2018. Recorded during the band’s tour with Karmakanic in 2017/18, which saw them with more chances than normal to work together on the record – hotel writing sessions, van discussions, soundcheck ideas – all of which have allowed the band to make an album that is as organic as they have achieved since their formation 15 years ago.
Andy Tillison comments: “Our belief is that Progressive Rock music is still a valid and viable musical form in 2018 and will continue to be so. Our band has always sought to take on board things from the present and add them to that magical mix. We don’t claim to be offering the FUTURE. We just claim to be offering one set of possibilities. Ours. Now.”
‘Proxy’ is a riot of juxtaposing styles, presented in a really direct manner and despite being firmly rooted in the stylistic traits of the Progressive Rock Genre takes some unexpected turnoffs and a major swerve. The albums kicks off with a trademark Tangent prog fantasia based around growling Hammonds, shrieking Synths, whirling guitars and sharp percussive bass – influences of ELP, Egg, Hatfield & the North, Caravan and Camel proudly worn on their sleeves. This 16-minute title track eventually becomes a protest song about the continuing wars that share their name with the song.
But this album features no overall concept. The second track is a sun-drenched Mediterranean fusion instrumental, more Chick Corea than Che Guevara. And the third track is referred to by the band as an attempt to find the missing link between Porcupine Tree and Jamiroquai. By the time we reach the centrepiece epic track ‘The Adulthood Lie’, the rulebook has been left behind and the band are trying to fix the car with whatever is at hand. The Tangent came of age some time ago now. After 15 years with a constant presence on the periphery of the scene, this album is the next step on the road from a band who have painstakingly revered and recreated the past, with one eye on the future.
The album will be available as a limited CD digipak, Vinyl LP + CD & as digital download. The full track-listing is as follows:
2.The Melting Andalusian Skies
3.A Case of Misplaced Optimism
4.The Adulthood Lie
6.Excerpt From “Exo-Oceans” (Bonus Track)
The album features the following players: Andy Tillison – Vocals, Lyrics, Keyboards, Composer Jonas Reingold (The Sea Within, Steve Hackett Band) – Bass Guitar Theo Travis (Soft Machine, Travis-Fripp) – Sax & Flute Luke Machin (Maschine, Francis Dunnery Band) – Guitar Steve Roberts (ex Magenta, Godsticks) – Drums
With special guest: Goran Edman (Karmakanic) – Vocals
HAKEN, one of progressive music’s most exciting bands, have announced details of their much-anticipated fifth studio album titled ‘Vector’, due for release on the October 26th, 2018. The album was produced by the band themselves, and recorded & mixed by Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood (Periphery, Devin Townsend Project), with the artwork once again being handled by Blacklake.
The band comments: “On the back of celebrating the 10 year anniversary of our conception, all of us here in the Haken camp are extremely excited to begin this new chapter of our career and share ‘Vector’ with the world.”
The album will be available as Limited edition 2CD Digipak (including instrumental versions), Gatefold vinyl 2LP + CD, & as digital download. You can find the track-listing below:
2. The Good Doctor
3. Puzzle Box
5. Nil By Mouth
7. A Cell Divides
To celebrate the announcement of the new album, the band are opening up a unique opportunity for one fan’s artwork to be used as the etching on the fourth side of the vinyl LP version of the record. Haken are inviting fans to submit their own version of the Rorschach test ink-blot image which graces the album’s cover, and one winner’s art will be picked by the band to be etched into every vinyl copy of Vector.
Since their inception in 2007, Haken have shown over four previous studio albums, one EP and a live release that they never stand still, merely satisfied to rely on past triumphs. Rather, Haken always look for ways to challenge themselves as musicians and artists, and also to keep the listeners on their collective toes. “We don’t like to make simple music,” laughs vocalist Ross Jennings. “We always aim to defy expectations, and I believe we’ve surpassed what we aimed to achieve with our new album.”
Their fifth studio record sees the band going in a heavier direction with the music. “We’ve always had a heavy influence”, explains guitarist Charlie Griffiths, “but it was obvious from the riffs that were naturally coming out of us early in the writing process that this would be a more metal album. These are some of the most riff driven songs we’ve ever written.” As is usual, Haken produced the album themselves, but for the first time they have enlisted Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood during the recording and mixing stages. Formerly bassist with Periphery, in the last couple of years he has built a reputation as a fine producer. “We produced the album ourselves, as we always do,” insists Jennings. “But we’re fans of what Adam has done with Periphery, Sikth and Devin Townsend. He has a great reputation for the heavier end of our genre”.
But if this album is musically heavy, then there’s an underlying theme running through the seven songs which is certainly esoteric and fascinating. “The scene is set with the track The Good Doctor, which was a really fun song. Musically it feels like a logical step from ‘Affinity’, but lyrically it’s a bit more theatrical and about as ‘rock opera’ as Haken has ever got”, explains Griffiths. “It’s about a Doctor with an intriguing, perhaps sinister interest in a particular patient. From there the story enters the point-of-view of the patient – who appears to be catatonic, but his mind is sparking with what could be memories, or delusions brought on by the treatment he’s receiving – we leave this up to the listeners to decide. Although we don’t want to give too much away, people who are familiar with our back catalogue will have fun discovering further clues we’ve planted throughout the album. And that’s the challenge for the fans – to find out for themselves their own meaning for ‘Vector’ as an album”.
Polish Rock masters RIVERSIDE are pleased to announce that their upcoming seventh studio album ‘Wasteland’ will be released via their longtime label partner InsideOutMusic on September 28th, 2018.
The album will once again feature artwork designed by longtime visual partner Travis Smith (Opeth, Devin Townsend, etc.) and the record’s main track-listing reads as follows:
RIVERSIDE – “Wasteland”:
1. The Day After
2. Acid Rain
3. Vale Of Tears
4. Guardian Angel
6. The Struggle For Survival
7. River Down Below
9. The Night Before
RIVERSIDE’s Mariusz Duda checked in with the following comment about the album’s overall concept: “I’d been thinking about exploring “post-apocalyptic” regions for a long time. I read books, watched films, played video games, all connected by stories about an attempt to survive in a world that had just ended. But writing such a story myself didn’t make much sense until now. RIVERSIDEare starting a new chapter and after our recent experiences, a story like that has gained more meaning. “Wasteland” is mostly about what’s happening in the world these days but it also makes a reference to the tragedy that befell the band in 2016. Musically, we’ve returned to darker sounds but we have also turned a new page and recorded the album in a different style. It’s still RIVERSIDE but expressed in a much deeper and more mature way. Most artists say the same thing while promoting their new releases: that they have just created their best work to date. I won’t say that because everything we have done so far has been consistently very good and unique. But I will say that we have never had such an incredible emotional load on any of our previous releases, and it’s not likely that we will ever make such a charged album again. “Wasteland” is an epic, multidimensional, poetic and very deep album. Perhaps of the once in a lifetime kind.”
RIVERSIDE’s “Wasteland” marks the first studio album effort with newly composed music after the tragic passing of founding member and guitarist Piotr Grudziński on February 21st, 2016.
Attention: More album details, its pre-order option as well as a first single will be launched on July 27th, so stay tuned for more news soon…
After having just performed on a string of European festivals including the prestigious Night Of The Prog festival at the historic Loreley Amphitheater in Germany last weekend, RIVERSIDE are next embarking on the “Wasteland 2018 Tour” throughout October/November to support the release of their upcoming album. See an overview of all confirmed upcoming dates below:
RIVERSIDE – “Wasteland 2018 Tour”:
12.10.2018 Gdansk (Poland) – B90
13.10.2018 Poznan (Poland) – Tama
14.10.2018 Wroclaw (Poland) – A2
16.10.2018 Katowice (Poland) – Miasto Ogrodów
17.10.2018 Lódz (Poland) – Magnetofon
18.10.2018 Torun (Poland) – Od Nowa
20.10.2018 Kraków (Poland) – Studio
21.10.2018 Warszawa (Poland) – Hala Kolo
30.10.2018 Berlin (Germany) – Kesselhaus
31.10.2018 Schorndorf (Germany) – Manufaktur
03.11.2018 Lisbon (Portugal) – LAV
04.11.2018 Madrid (Spain) – MON LIVE
05.11.2018 Barcelona (Spain) – Salamandra 1
06.11.2018 Lyon (France) – CCO
07.11.2018 Paris (France) – La Machine
09.11.2018 Manchester (UK) – Academy 2
10.11.2018 London (UK) – The Electric Ballroom
11.11.2018 Sint-Niklaas (Belgium) – Casino
12.11.2018 Utrecht (The Netherlands) – TivoliVredenburg
14.11.2018 Hamburg (Germany) – Markthalle
15.11.2018 Oberhausen (Germany) – Turbinenhalle 2
16.11.2018 Pratteln (Switzerland) – Z7
17.11.2018 Neunkirchen (Germany) – Gloomaar Festival
RIVERSIDE – Festivals 2019:
04.-09.02.2019 Tampa to Key West & Cozumel – Cruise To The Edge
More dates to follow soon…
Look out for more news on RIVERSIDE in the coming weeks…
In late 2017, Dream Theater signed with Sony Music’s progressive imprint InsideOutMusic. Now, in preparation for the band’s fourteenth studio album and their first album ever produced in collaboration with this leading worldwide label, they are pleased to announce that they have entered the studio to begin the writing process. Recently, John Petrucci and James LaBrie shared a quick video update from the writing sessions on the band’s official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dreamtheater
James comments: “We’ve been here for one week and it is going sensational. Everybody is in the one room…and I gotta tell you, if the first week is any indication of where this album is going, you’re in for a treat.”
John adds: “There’s a lot of ideas flowing, and it’s already been really productive after only a week in. So far the music is heavy, progressive, melodic, shredding and it’s epic.”
The band will hold a live Facebook Q&A with fans during their time in the studio on June 28th at 3PM Eastern Time / 8pm UK time. Make sure to tune in!
Haken released their rather special ‘Affinity’ album back in 2016 and followed it up with a celebratory 10th anniversary European tour which, unsurprisingly, focused on that electro inspired album and its predecessor, the album that made their name, ‘The Mountain’.
Now, in the best tradition of all bands, they have decided to release their first live album, and what a package it is for fans.
Not only do we get a double disc live set taken from their gig in Amsterdam last year, but we also get the full set on DVD, complete with a 2nd DVD of their 4-song set at ProgPower USA in 2016 and the official music videos for Initiate, Earthrise and Lapse.
For anyone who was on that tour (and I was) this is a wonderful memento, and for those who weren’t lucky enough to be there, well, let me tell you more.
Its good to see Haken releasing their first live album as I get incredibly bored with bands getting on the album, tour, live album treadmill, especially where (particularly with the bigger bands) the set lists are written in tablets of stone and, much like dinosaur remains, are very much museum pieces. The key to a great live record (like ‘Wings Over America’, Wishbone Ash’s‘Live Dates’ or ‘Field Recordings’ by The Fierce and the Dead) is its scarcity, and its immediacy. No-one wants to see a concert where the band duplicates their album sound live on stage with no spontaneity or the feeling that you are living in the moment, and no-one wants to buy a live album from a gig that sounds like the studio recordings, that’s the ultimate example of irrelevance. If you keep releasing live albums you lose your audience and Haken, wisely, have chosen a moment when they have a breadth and depth of songs to chose from and a moment in time when they are currently an energetic and enthusiastic live band with a lot of presence and charisma.
The current line-up of Ross Jennings (vocals) who works the stage like a frontman should which, added to the powerhouse drumming of Raymond Hearne and driving bass of Conner Green, puts that bedrock together to give Richard Henshall’s & Charles Griffiths guitars room to stretch. The keys of Diego Tejeida round it out and it’s the electronic sound that helps make the ‘Affinity’ material so strong on stage.
This taut and assured performance is reflected throughout this record. One of the treats for those of us who love the longer songs is Aquamedley, 22 minutes of the tracks from their debut album ‘Aquarius’, reworked and forming an integral part of the set.
That is what a live show, and album, should be all about, all eras are covered, with a rousing version of Visions closing the record. As previously stated, ‘The Mountain’ and ‘Affinity’ make up the bulk of the tracks, as songs like 1985, Affintiy.exe/Initiate and epic The Architect get a good work out, making their their mark on the bands set.
The only minor issue I have with Haken at this juncture of their career is that they seem to have their feet in a number of camps, neither being full blown prog, prog-metal or sitting in the electronic arena that ‘Affinity’ introduced to their sound. I would like to see them pick a direction (preferably the electronic sound) and move more cohesively towards it, but that’s my opinion, and it doesn’t detract from what is an excellently produced and sublimely performed live show.
With the superb bonus material on the second DVD, and the videos from their excellent Affinity album, this is a fantastic snapshot of where Haken are now, and of what a powerful and confident band they have become.
If they continue down this road, and hone their sound following the electronic influences of ‘Affinity’ they could be well positioned to be one of the defining bands of the new era.