Review – Subsignal – A Poetry of Rain – by John Wenlock-Smith

I’d not really bothered much with Subsignal until now, I’d seen folk talking about them online but not investigated them for myself, fearing that they were German prog metal and as such possibly best avoided, especially when my taste is for towards symphonic prog like The Emerald Dawn, Big Big Train and the like.

Well, I could not have been more wrong in my view for this album has definitely impressed the hell out of me. It is rather exceptional, just ten songs in all (on the bonus version) but with such style grace and variety running throughout. Okay, there are a few more heavy tracks but, in everything, there is melody and intelligence that go hand in hand to create some really strong and fine music. I did think that, perhaps, the album started off slowly but by the time you reach the fourth track, Silver (The Sheltered Garden), things really improve and very dramatically so.

What I like here is the fantastic use of dynamics to really make an impression and all the touches that they add to help in this realm but let’s start at the beginning shall we? Subsignal are a five piece, German, band who have been around since 2007 when they began as a side project for Arno Menses and Markus Steffen of Sieges Even after they disbanded.

The album begins with a brief overture called A Poetry Of Rain which leads into The Art of Giving In. The overture is gentle with good acoustic guitar over a wash of synthesised sounds and then a strong drumbeat ushers in the second track with some almost Dream Theater like guitar with strong bass and double bass drums to give a metal feel. However, within this power there is the band’s secret weapon, the sublime voice of Arno Menses who sings rather than growls and has a strong voice without any accent, he really is an accomplished and fine vocalist. There is also a suitably ferocious guitar break which impresses greatly. This is an exciting track that definitely grabs your attention from the off, the song ending on a high note with a strong driving performance with, oddly enough, an almost country feel with its pedal steel guitar and almost Americana sound, it is most impressive. Marigold is next and although you can almost hear The Power Of  Love (Jennifer Rush) in the opening, it thankfully moves in a different direction. There are lush vocal harmonies and some gentle guitar licks and fills, this is a layered and sumptuous sound which adds greatly to the songs strengths and is really rather fine by any standards. Silver (The Sheltered Garden) opens with a powerful crunchy guitar and an equally aggressive bass but behind the power there is a beast of a song. With great instrumental support from guitar and bass respectively, this track really deserves to be heard far wider than just prog circles as it is brilliant, strong most satisfying.

Impasse is even better than its predecessor, this track is remarkable with some very nifty bass runs throughout. It is a slow burn of a song, one that really grows on you with its acoustic mid section which really is impressive in style. A great chorus leads to a beautifully melodic guitar solo that puts you in mind of Steve Rothery and the impression doesn’t end there as the song has more than a touch of Marillion to it in many respects. For me, this is the track that really makes the album so good and so strong. Embers Part II: Water Wings has a great looping guitar line that sticks with you long after it ends. There is a build up of power in the mid section with chiming guitars and a prominent bass before the power riff resumes and the band add in soaring vocals and great piano runs against the looping guitar line. All of these together make this another highly impressive track, think of AOR with prog touches, utterly sublime and fantastic. Melencolia One is a punchy little rocker that marries great dynamics and intelligence with strong songwriting and performances. Again, more great bass runs add to the dynamics and the return of the crunching guitar works well, almost too good as I am totally swayed and won over by now. I really am liking this band a lot, so much so I am going to investigate their back catalogue as soon as I can!

A Wound is a Place to Let the Light In opens with an accapella vocal before a grand piano enters, along with more strong bass runs, add in a highly emotive vocal and you get another spectacular track with a stunning chorus and. It’s totally compelling and I’m on the ropes here now. The Last of its Kind is the final song proper on the album and opens with sequenced keyboards noises before some heavy bass and a muscular riff. The vocals are now sung growled and all the better for it on this track. An active drum beat and fills add to the surging power of the track with good keyboard textures floating over it all before a neat guitar solo leads in to the next verse and chorus. The song then takes a left turn with a jazzy saxophone solo which, when set against the heavy riff, is very impactful, as is the growling bass that carries the song forward before the punishing riff is reintroduced as the track draws to its conclusion. There was a bonus track, A Room on the Edge of Forever, on my download and it is a more restrained, gentle number with acoustic guitar and Spanish guitar trills The good clear vocal helps greatly before sweeping guitar chords usher in a multi layered vocal section and a delicate acoustic solo plays to fine effect. A key change adds emphasis and lift to the track which is very strong and ends on a gentle note

Well that’s it, it certainly does make a hugely positive impression when you listen and their great mix of heavy and soft sounds works really well for the band and makes this a truly exceptional album, why have I not heard these before now? This is a really excellent release, if you don’t know this group then maybe its time that you discovered them for yourself.

Released 22nd September, 2023.

Order from the band here:

A Poetry of Rain – SUBSIGNAL – The Official Website (

Review – DANTE – When We Were Beautiful – by Progradar


Indulge me, if you will. Imagine a School of Rock but based around Progressive Rock and all its associated sub-genres. What classes would take part in there? Intricate guitar solos?, mind-bending keyboards?, fantastical lyrics about orcs and fairies?

And what artists would have attended this august establishment? Could Yes, King CrimsonPink Floyd and Genesis have been some of the star pupils and then prefects as the likes of Marillion, Pendragon and then Porcupine Tree became the next young minds, eager and willing to learn?

Well, if there was a class in the modern version of the school for ‘huge and extensive riffing’ then Augsburg’s DANTE could well be at the top of the class. Having listened to ‘When We Were Beautiful’, their follow up to the impressive ‘November Rain’, I cannot help but notice the huge, mountain sized guitar riffs that emanate from the majority of the songs.

It is not overpowering but it is definitely one of the main features of the record and this band, the other being the, possibly, controversial cover…

Is a half naked woman acceptable on the cover of a relatively mainstream record in this day and age or is it just not politically correct? Well, the cover to DANTE’s certainly stimulated some heated debate when it was shared on social media. To me, I feel it just about stays on the right side of being a bit sexist and, in reality, we should not let it detract from the main question, is this album any good……….?


DANTE are Alexander Göhs (vocals), Markus Maichal (keyboards), Christian Eichlinger (drums) and Julian Kellner (guitars).

‘When We Were Beautiful’ is their fourth album, following 2008’s self-released debut ‘The Inner Circle’, 2010’s ‘Saturnine’ (released through ProgRock Records and 2013’s Massacre Records released ‘November Red’.

The release of the last album was clouded by the death of co-founding member, and bass and guitar player, Markus Berger. That is how death not only became a topic of the new album but also the driving force of the creative process, expressed in songs like Finally, where the band bid farewell to their friend in a harrowingly beautiful way.

‘When We Were Beautiful’ is released through Gentle Art Of Music.

Gentle art of music

Right, onto the main course and the seven tracks that make up the album…

Rearrangement Of The Gods opens with an ominous note, a brooding tone before Christian’s drums herald the appearance of the first tasty riff. The guitar wails with a plaintive note, a slight dissonance or a cry for help that pierces your mind. A convoluted and intricate progressive section follows before overlaid voices take up the mysterious narrative. Alexander’s distinctive vocal joins the fray, backed by that insistent heavy riff. He has a voice that could divide opinion, it is harsh and straightforward but I feel it matches the music perfectly with its almost industrial tone. He shows he is no one trick pony on the impressive chorus where his voice opens up magnificently to harmonise with the others. It’s quite and insistent track on the verse, driving you back like a finger poked into the centre of your chest but opens up into a huge soundscape everytime the superb chorus makes a return. Throw in some excellent keyboards, especially on the vibrant and energetic solos, and some combustible guitar licks and an extended and rather fiery solo and you have a rather intense and powerful opening to the album. A rather catchy, addictive and heavy riff opens Ambitious with a wry smile and a wink, hard-edged drumming and a forceful bass line add a solidity and a burst of 70’s keyboards give it  a knowledgeable air. The vocals come in with that assertive and emphatic edge. A dark, dense and monumentally hefty song that somehow still seems light on its feet. It bludgeons its way into your affections with its direct heavy metal edge yet, the short, elaborate guitar and keyboard/piano runs and the chugging, industrial instrumental sections keep its progressive roots firmly on show.

band x 2

Monster riff? go on then, the opening to Beauftiful Again nearly knocks you off your feet with its ferocity. A labyrinthine and heaving metal maelstrom that feels like it carries the weight of the world on its broad shoulders. A real progressive melting pot that cools down slightly for Alexander’s vocals to take the lead. Earnest and pleading, he gives some real gravitas to the song. The harmonised chorus is really rather superb and gives an excellent counterpoint to the imposing might of the guitars and drums. It’s like a musical version of a scorched earth policy, removing any unnecessary detritus from its path as it fires through. DANTE show they are more than just some notable riffing as a delicate piano note descends upon the track, catching you unawares, before drifting away as the influential wall of sound returns. There is a heartfelt feel to the vocals and piano at the start of Until The Last Light Breaks In, giving you pause but, what’s that? yep, you guessed, another towering, hell for leather riff takes over, aided and abetted by some harsh keyboards and we are off on another riff-fueled musical white water ride. A fleet footed and convoluted instrumental section threatens to overwhelm you before things calm down a little. There’s a passion in Alexander’s voice that matches the fervency of the music and it rises and falls in both tempo and emotion. A seriously involved and emotional listening experience that includes some ferocious and potent guitar work from Julian (the solo is actually mind-bending) and leaves you feeling both sated and drained as it comes a to a close.


There’s a mysterious feel to the beginning of Let Me Down, it stutters slightly with an electronic and industrial resonance. A staccato riff powers in, along with some Hammond organ, to give it that hard edge again. This whole section has a feel of some virtuoso musicians having a rather exciting jam session and you nod your head in appreciation. The vocals have a profoundly heavy character to them as the song keeps moving off into distinctly prog-metal territory. Weighty guitar riffing and drums that could knock an elephant off its feet give the song a real density at its core, like both the immovable object and the irresistible force. Julian is given free rein and makes the most of it, his guitar playing is immense on this song and leaves you almost slack jawed and this is matched by Markus’ utterly absorbing and exuberant keyboards. I bet this track would be awesome live. Sad Today  is the shortest track on the album but, perhaps, the most profound. A gentle piano and tender, compassionate vocals give you a lump in your throat. A song like this could feel a little out of place among the heavy riffs and thunderous rhythms but the band carry it off perfectly. Wistful and serene, it leaves you rapt in a sad and nostalgic atmosphere.


Rather profoundly, the last track on the album is Finally. Electronic sounds open the song and then Julian hits you right in the solar plexus with a huge riff. The song erupts with the drums driving things along, adding a steely edge to the coruscating guitar work. A whirlpool of progressive tinged musical chops holds you in its sway, keyboards swirling around your head and the guitar seems like a barely tame wild animal seeking to escape its cage. The vocals seem to bring order tot he chaos, Alexander taking centre stage and dominating proceedings while that melting pot of musical virtuosity carries on behind him in a slightly subdued manner. Yes, it is still a heavy song but it has a aged feeling of experience and patient wisdom. The guitar fires at you, over laid by a jumble of spoken voices, the chorus is quite addictive in its emphatic delivery and you get a feeling that the whole album has been leading up to this final outpouring of emotion. You have to applaud the excellent musicianship going on between your ears, these guys can really play their instruments exceedingly well, emphasised every time they decide to go off on an absorbing progressive jam (which they do frequently). As this song (and album) come to a close, it is the farewell to their fallen friend that takes over and the passion, pride and grief are all too evident, especially on the solo that is full of fervor, remorse but also love and joy.

Slightly controversial cover aside, ‘When We Were Beautiful’ is a superb and fitting tribute. The music is not dominated by the plethora of riffs, rather it is accentuated and complimented, these guys are outstanding musicians and it is evident in every note that they play. If you like your progressive metal with a little something extra, you are going to love this album, I did.

Live photos by Jutte Leiske.

Promo photos by Christina Bulka.

Released 18th March 2016.

Buy ‘When We Were Beautiful’ direct from the band