LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT – Announce details for new album ‘LTE3’

 Album due out March 26th, 2021 

2020 came to a close with LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT announcing their return and new album to be released on InsideOutMusic. Today, the legendary supergroup comprised of Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), and Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) are pleased to officially announce that the new album ‘LTE3’ will be released on March 26th, 2021 via InsideOutMusic, twenty-two years after the bands’ last studio album. 

“After over 20 years since the last time we recorded together, the four of us stepped into the studio and it was as if no time had passed at all! All of the magic that made the first two LTE albums so special was still there and we had such a great time making this record. I’m extremely proud of what we created together and can’t wait for everyone to hear it!”

-John Petrucci 

“The best thing to come out of 2020 was this long-awaited reunion! And it was surely worth the wait as after all these years, the magic chemistry was still there and stronger than ever!”

-Mike Portnoy 

Tracklisting: 

1. Hypersonic (8:22)

2. Beating The Odds (6:09)

3. Liquid Evolution (3:23)

4. The Passage Of Time (7:32)

5. Chris & Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey (5:04)

6. Rhapsody In Blue (13:16)

7. Shades Of Hope (4:42)

8. Key To The Imagination (13:14)

Bonus Disc: Includes almost an hour of improvised jams.

The pre-order will start on January 22nd 2021 and the album will be available as:

•Limited deluxe hot pink 3LP+2CD+Blu-ray Box Set (incl. a poster and 4 artcards, Blu-ray includes a 5.1 surround mix with visuals, and full band interview from the studio)

•Limited 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook

•Limited 2CD Digipak

•Gatefold black 2LP+CD

• Digital album (2CD)

Watch the recently released teaser trailer, created by Christian Rios, here: 

In 1997, Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, and Tony Levin, joined forces to create Liquid Tension Experiment. The foursome would release their iconic, self-titled debut album in 1998 and the dazzling follow-up, LTE2 in 1999, creating a dynamic, frantic, and inventive sound all their own. The incredible creativity between the collective would prompt Petrucci and Portnoy to invite Rudess to join Dream Theater, effectively marking the end of this side project.  However, since that time, there have been few reunions more in demand. Now, with the world in lockdown and calendars unexpectedly aligned, the inconceivable has finally happened… a new Liquid Tension Experiment album. 

Band picture by Tony Levin.

LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT – Announce New Album to be Released on InsideOutMusic

Album due out in Spring 2021

The biggest music news of the year comes at the very end of 2020 as LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT announce their return with a new label and new album. The legendary supergroup comprised of Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), and Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) have signed with InsideOutMusic for the release of their 3rd album. The album is set for a Spring 2021 release, 22 years after the bands’ last studio album.
 
“What happens, when you put four of the most talented musicians on the planet in one room? LTE. We all have been waiting for this album to happen for a very long time and it makes us very proud to be releasing this album. This one is for the fans!” – Thomas Waber, InsideOutMusic Label Manager
 
“We’ve all known Thomas Waber for a very long time and Jordan and I recently discovered how great it was to finally get to work together when Dream Theater joined the Inside Out family a few years ago. There really is no better home for LTE and we all look forward to doing great things together!” – John Petrucci
 
“Myself, and John, have known Thomas Waber since we met on the very first Dream Theater European tour in 1993…since then I have worked with him and Inside Out for the past 20 years with Transatlantic, The Neal Morse Band and Sons Of Apollo. When LTE finally reunited this summer, we knew there was no other label that we could call home” – Mike Portnoy
 
The band have released a new teaser trailer, created by Christian Rios, which you can see here:

In 1997, Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, and Tony Levin, joined forces to create Liquid Tension Experiment. The foursome would release their iconic, self-titled debut album in 1998 and the dazzling follow-up, LTE2 in 1999, creating a dynamic, frantic, and inventive sound all their own. The incredible creativity between the collective would prompt Petrucci and Portnoy to invite Rudess to join Dream Theater, effectively marking the end of this side project.  However, since that time, there have been few reunions more in demand. Now, with the world in lockdown and calendars unexpectedly aligned, the inconceivable has finally happened… a new Liquid Tension Experiment album.
 
Earlier this week, the Tony, Mike, Jordan, and John teased separate profile images on their social media pages with masks labeled with L-T-E-3 covering their respective faces.  This was followed by the full band image on the band’s socials.
  
Stay tuned for more information in 2021!

TRANSATLANTIC – launch video for ‘Overture / Reaching For The Sky’/ first single from ‘The Absolute Universe’

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce their fifth studio album ‘The Absolute Universe’, set for release on the 5th February 2021. Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

Today they have launched the video for ‘Overture / Reaching For The Sky’, taken from ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’. 

Mike Portnoy comments: “’Reaching For The Sky’ is the first single off Transatlantic’s latest Magnum opus ‘The Absolute Universe’. It’s a great introduction to this epic album as it sets the tone in traditional TA style: proceeded on the album by an extended Instrumental Overture and then launching into this upbeat first song.

I love that it features one of my favorite qualities of the band in the sharing of the lead vocals…in this case: Neal singing lead on Verse 1, myself singing lead on Verse 2, Pete & Neal sharing the Chorus with myself and Roine on backups and Neal taking the glorious Bridge…all leading to Roine’s distinctive guitar solo. 

 Also interesting is that this version exclusively appears on the Abridged 1CD Version of TA5 (“The Breath Of Life”) while the Extended 2CD Version of TA5 (“Forevermore”) opens with the alternate version ‘Heart Like A Whirlwind’ which has different lead vocals and lyrics .”

Each album will be available on CD, LP & Digitally. But there will also be what has been called ‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’, which collects both versions together in one lavish package that includes 5LP’s, 3CD’s & a Blu-ray that includes a special mix that combines both versions into a third unique version in 5.1 surround sound with visuals and a behind the scenes documentary. All editions have artwork created by Thomas Ewerhard featuring the airship by Pavel Zhovba. 

As Mike Portnoy explains: “We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes. However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.” Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD, what’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

The full list of formats is below, and you can pre-order now here: https://transatlantic.lnk.to/TheAbsoluteUniverse

The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Available as:

Single CD Edition, Gatefold 2LP+CD, or Digital Album 

Track-listing:

1.     Overture

2.     Reaching For The Sky

3.     Higher Than The Morning

4.     The Darkness In The Light

5.     Take Now My Soul

6.     Looking For The Light

7.     Love Made  A Way (Prelude)

8.     Owl Howl

9.     Solitude

10.  Belong

11.  Can You Feel It

12.  Looking For The Light (Reprise)

13.  The Greatest Story Never Ends

14.  Love Made A Way

 ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’

Available as:
2CD Edition, 3LP+2CD Boxset, or Digital Album

Track-listing:

Disc 1:

1.     Overture

2.     Heart Like A Whirlwind

3.     Higher Than The Morning

4.     The Darkness In The Light

5.     Swing High, Swing Low

6.     Bully

7.     Rainbow Sky

8.     Looking For The Light

9.     The World We Used To Know

Disc 2:

1.     The Sun Comes Up Today

2.     Love Made A Way (Prelude)

3.     Owl Howl

4.     Solitude

5.     Belong

6.     Lonesome Rebel

7.     Looking For The Light (Reprise)

8.     The Greatest Story Never Ends

9.     Love Made A Way

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster. Includes both versions of the album over 5LP’s and 3CD’s, plus a Blu-Ray with 5.1 mix & documentary. 

Blu-Ray Track-listing:

1.     Overture (5.1 Surround Mix)

2.     Reaching For The Sky (5.1 Surround Mix)

3.     Higher Than The Morning (5.1 Surround Mix)

4.     The Darkness In The Light (5.1 Surround Mix)

5.     Take Now My Soul (5.1 Surround Mix)

6.     Bully (5.1 Surround Mix)

7.     Rainbow Sky (5.1 Surround Mix)

8.     Looking For The Light (5.1 Surround Mix)

9.     The World We Used To Know (5.1 Surround Mix)

10.  The Sun Comes Up Today (5.1 Surround Mix)

11.  Love Made A Way (Prelude) (5.1 Surround Mix)

12.  Owl Howl (5.1 Surround Mix)

13.  Solitude (5.1 Surround Mix)

14.  Belong (5.1 Surround Mix)

15.  Lonesome Rebel (5.1 Surround Mix)

16.  Can You Feel It (5.1 Surround Mix)

17.  Looking For The Light (Reprise) (5.1 Surround Mix)

18.  The Greatest Story Never Ends (5.1 Surround Mix)

19.  Love Made A Way (5.1 Surround Mix)

20.  The Making of The Absolute Universe (Documentary)

Initial tracking began in September 2019 when the band met up in Sweden to write and arrange the new material. As Portnoy explains: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,” recalls Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.”

This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic. “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right?” laughs Portnoy. “What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” admits Stolt. “The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?

“I always try not to compare albums as much as possible,” insists Morse. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that. Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album  (the band’s third, from 2009) than others that we’ve created.” 

For Trewavas, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.“I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we’ve done. As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best. As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything, and that shines through. I am very excited for people to hear it.”

Transatlantic were originally formed in 1999, releasing their debut album ‘SMTPe’ the following year as well as its follow-up ‘Bridge Across Forever’ in 2001. Following a 7-year hiatus, the band reconvened to record and release the much-acclaimed epic 77-minute, single-track album ‘The Whirlwind’ followed by a world tour in 2010 which included an appearance at High Voltage Festival in London where they were joined by legendary Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The band’s fourth album ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrived in 2014, going on to win ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Progressive Music Awards.

TRANSATLANTIC – invite you to enter ‘The Absolute Universe’ on fifth studio album

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce their fifth studio album ‘The Absolute Universe’, set for release on the 5th February 2021. Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

As Mike Portnoy explains: “We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes. However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.” Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD,” adds Trewavas. “What’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

Each album will be available on CD, LP & Digitally. But there will also be what has been called ‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’, which collects both versions together in one lavish package that includes 5LP’s, 3CD’s & a Blu-ray that contains a 5.1 surround sound mix with visuals & a behind the scenes documentary. All editions have unique artwork created by Thomas Ewerhard. The full list of formats is below, and pre-orders start on the 20th November:

‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Special Edition CD Digipak

Gatefold 2LP+CD

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’

Special Edition 2CD Digipak

3LP+2CD Boxset

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster

Initial tracking began in September 2019 when the band met up in Sweden to write and arrange the new material. As Portnoy explains: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,” recalls Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.” 

This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic. “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right?” laughs Portnoy. “What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” admits Stolt. “The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?

“I always try not to compare albums as much as possible,” insists Morse. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that. Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album  (the band’s third, from 2009) than others that we’ve created.” For Trewavas, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.

“I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we’ve done. As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best. As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything, and that shines through. I am very excited for people to hear it.”

Transatlantic were originally formed in 1999, releasing their debut album ‘SMTPe’ the following year as well as its follow-up ‘Bridge Across Forever’ in 2001. Following a 7-year hiatus, the band reconvened to record and release the much-acclaimed epic 77-minute, single-track album ‘The Whirlwind’ followed by a world tour in 2010 which included an appearance at High Voltage Festival in London where they were joined by legendary Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The band’s fourth album ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrived in 2014, going on to win ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Progressive Music Awards. 

Review – Flying Colors – Third Stage: Live In London – by John Wenlock-Smith

This latest Release from US Prog supergroup Flying Colors chronicles the final date of the ‘Third Stage’ tour that was wound up at Shepherd’s Bush Empire last December. This is a 2 CD and DVD package which really brings to life the spectacle and musicianship the band offer live with both audio and visual recordings of the evening presented.

Unsurprisingly, the set is heavily focused on the then current ‘Third Degree’ album but with enough familiar favourites to create a dynamic balanced show, although sadly no version of that album’s epic Last Train Home was performed (I would gladly have traded Mask Machine for that song) but, even so, what is really apparent is the definitive bass playing of Dave La Rue who anchors the material along with the driving drumbeat from Mike Portnoy. Together, these two offer a fabulous launch pad from which the others can fly their colors, as it were.

Steve Morse is on exceptional form throughout, he is all over these songs with riffs, solos and fills abounding. He also appears to be really enjoying himself, as do the others, the mix and sound is superb with great separation throughout making this a rocking and enjoyable listen. Certainly, those who were there that night sure witnessed something incredibly special indeed. Flying Colors aim of blending musicianship with great songs was realised that night as captured here on these discs and in the excellent DVD of the show.

Especially fine are the versions of Geronimo (which features some excellent bass riffs and a distinctively fine groove from La Rue), the beautiful and emotionally laden epic that is Peaceful Harbour (with an awesome guitar solo from Steve Morse and a fabulous vocal scat from Casey McPherson that leads the song in), this song really shows the marriage of styles that combine to make Flying Colors such a wonderful musical proposition. Songs with emotional depth, musically strong and yet whilst interesting, they really display the talents each member brings to the band. Considering that the band is supplementary to their main day jobs, this is all the more remarkable and is very rewarding indeed.

The fluidity of Steve Morse’s epic guitar playing really shines out on this song backed with real groove and drive from the others, creating a really special version of an exceptional song. This allows for some good audience participation, encouraged by Mike Portnoy acting as unofficial choir master. This joyful song really impresses greatly and is a defining moment of an excellent show.

The second half of the show on disc two contains mainly the longer songs, the band keeping the energy levels high throughout. Crawl is also another epic number, clocking in at 11 Minutes 48 seconds, opening gently and delicately before the chorus is played and a faster more intense pace is picked up. After the initial section, Neal Morse’s keyboards come to the fore, along with a great guitar line from Steve Morse offset against fine keyboards before the guitar snakes the piece away, backed by more great bass work. A seriously good grower of a song ensues here.

The dynamics of this song are truly awesome and highly impressive, really creating the mood. Casey is on particularly good form on this song and, indeed, on the whole set. In fact it is fair to say that each of these musicians are really playing excellently. You can tell just how much they enjoy being together playing together to make this music full of passion and emotion.

Next we have two lengthy tracks, Infinite Fire and Cosmic Symphony, back to back. An exceptionally fine progressive section lasting about 24 minutes in all and full of stellar musical moments from everyone. There’s great interplay, between Neal and Steve especially, backed with strong support from Dave and Mike. This section is followed, and concluded, by strong versions of The Storm and Mask Machine.

This set is really an excellent one and proves that Flying Colors have significant worth and bring a lot of value to the party. If only they could allocate more working time and tour properly so that folks could really begin to appreciate them more, they could be even more successful and reach a far bigger audience and market rather than being Prog’s greatest secret or guilty pleasure.

For me, this a most worthy release and consolidates the strength and value this this excellent band offer to progressive music or to folks who appreciate fine music and great songs. I have no hesitation in recommending this highly to all, seriously great release.

Released 18th September 2020

Order direct from bandcamp here:

https://flyingcolors.bandcamp.com/album/third-stage-live-in-london

SONS OF APOLLO LAUNCH VIDEO FOR ‘GOODBYE DIVINITY’; FIRST SINGLE FROM ‘MMXX’

SONS OF APOLLO–former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force)–are ready to ring in the new decade with a sonic boom with their second studio album, appropriately titled, ‘MMXX’ (pronounced: 20/20).

Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers (Portnoy and Sherinian), ‘MMXX’ will be released on the 17th January 2020 via InsideOutMusic/Sony as a standard CD package, Limited Edition 2 CD package (which includes instrumental mixes and a cappella excerpts), 2 LP + CD package, and on all digital formats.

Today they launch the Vicente Cordero-directed video for the albums lead single ‘Goodbye Divinity’. Watch it now here: 


Mike Portnoy comments: “From the minute we finished writing Goodbye Divinity, I knew we had our album opener and the first release off the album. I even remember posting on social media how excited I was about the song the day I tracked it!

The song has an immediacy that grabs you right away: great riffs, flashy playing and hooky vocal melodies. All of the elements that make up the SOA sound.

The video was directed by Vicente Cordero who I have now done over 20 music videos with and its look helps catapult the band from the Greek mythological past of the last album into the 21st century with this new album.

Pre-orders are available from today, with digital pre-orders on iTunes & Amazon receiving an immediate download of ‘Goodbye Divinity’.

Pre-order now here:

https://soa.lnk.to/MMXX

SONS OF APOLLO RETURN WITH NEW ALBUM MMXX 17TH JANUARY

SONS OF APOLLO – former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force)–are ready to ring in the new decade with a sonic boom with their second studio album, appropriately titled, ‘MMXX’ (pronounced: 20/20).

Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers (Portnoy and Sherinian), ‘MMXX will be released on the 17th January 2020 via InsideOutMusic/Sony as a standard CD package, Limited Edition 2 CD package (which includes instrumental mixes and a cappella excerpts), 2 LP + CD package, and on all digital formats. Pre-orders for all formats will be available starting November 15th, which will include an instant download of the album’s first single, ‘Goodbye Divinity,’ on iTunes and Amazon.

A teaser trailer was released on Inside Out’s official YouTube page here


“Stylistically, we have followed the same path as the debut,” outlines drummer Mike Portnoy. “But we feel that it has come out stronger, simply because we know one another better. ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY’ was the first time the five of us had worked together, so there was bound to be an air of experimentation happening. Now, we can draw on having the experience not only of recording that album, but also of touring together a lot. And now there is clearly a lot more obvious chemistry going on.”

“We did 83 shows on the last tour,” adds keyboardist Derek Sherinian. “And it was so worthwhile, because we came out of it with a stronger bond, and that is certainly reflected in what we wrote.”

The writing process began at the start of the year, as Portnoy, Sherinian and guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal got together. “The three of us were at my home studio in Pennsylvania,” explains Portnoy. “And it took about three weeks to get all the music written. That was a very smooth process. The last time, it certainly must have felt a little weird for Bumblefoot to be writing with Derek and me, because we were strangers to him. Now, we know one another better and that helped things push along.”

“Because we all have our home studios, it meant everyone could record there as and when they had opportunity,” continues Sherinian. “We all had the luxury of being able to take our time to get all the parts done, which was a huge help in the way the album’s come out. I suppose in all, it took about eight months to record everything.”

The lyrics were written by Soto, who also came up with the melody lines with input from Sherinian. “While Jeff was left to come up with the words on his own, as the melody lines are part of the music, it made sense for me to be involved with that part,” says the keyboard player.

There are eight tracks on ‘MMXX’, with variations in length totalling 60 minutes. “The final song is ‘New World Today, which is 16 minutes long,” says Portnoy. “This one has elements similar to ‘Opus Maximus’ and ‘Labyrinth’ on the previous album. It has some insane, brilliant instrumental moments, which I am sure the fans will love.”

“We wanted to do something epic here, as we did with ‘Opus Maximus’ last time around,” adds Sherinian. “You have to remember that Mike and I come from Dream Theater, where we never bothered about how long a song was. So, for us doing a 16 minute track is not a problem.”

Here’s the track listing for MMXX:
1. Goodbye Divinity (7:16)

2. Wither To Black (4:48)

3. Asphyxiation (5:09)

4. Desolate July (6:11)

5. King Of Delusion (8:49)

6. Fall To Ascend (5:07)

7. Resurrection Day (5:51)

8. New World Today (16:38)


The album title was inspired by a simple chronological fact. “This will be released in mid-January 2020,” says Portnoy. “That means it will be one of the first releases in what is a new decade. So I came up with the idea of calling it ‘2020,” except having it written in the Latin form of ‘MMXX’.”

And the album’s artwork has been created by Thomas Ewerhard (who was responsible for the cover design of ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY’), which inevitably reflects the title.

As Portnoy explains, “For the first record, we had a mythological feel. This time around though, there’s a much more futuristic style to what we’ve got. It has a very 21st century appeal. And the band crest is more polished, cleaned up and a lot more modern than last time, when it had an old fashioned look.”

“Each member of this band has their own signature sound on their instrument,” adds Sherinian. “And when you put all of this together what you get is a wonderful five-headed beast. It makes this a sonically special band, which is definitely what comes across on ‘MMXX’. You can hear odd time signatures and amazingly crazy performances here. Overall, we’ve been satisfyingly more adventurous this time than we were before, and I know people are sure to love what we’ve done.”

In touring news, the band’s headlining ‘MMXX World Tour’ will launch January 24th in Pomona, CA, USA and will take them around the world throughout the new year. They have also just announced European tour dates for March 2020, and you can find those below:
Europe 2020
Mon 2nd March Drammen, Norway Union Scene

Tue 3rd March Gothenburg, Sweden Traedgarn

Thu 5th March Kyiv, Ukraine N.A.U Theatre

Sat 7th March Moscow, Russia RED

Sun 9th March St Petersburg, Russia Aurora

Tue 10th March Pratteln, Switzerland Z7

Wed 11th March Milan, Italy Live Club

Fri 13th March Bilbao, Spain Santana 27

Sat 14th March Barcelona, Spain Razzmatazz 2

Sun 15th March Madrid, Spain La Riviera

Thu 19th March London, U.K. Islington Assembly Hall

Fri 20th March Eindhoven, Netherlands Prognosis Festival

Sun 22nd March Show Brno, Czech Republic Sono

Tue 24th March Kosice, Slovakia Colosseum

Wed 25th March Budapest, Hungary Barba Negra

Review – The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude Of A Dream – By Gary Morley

Everyone has an opinion. Either carefully constructed after reading up, researching and questioning all and sundry, or shot from the hip in nanoseconds without further thought of the ramifications of the snowball as it grows.

Neal Morse. Opinions on him are as many and verbose as is his output. Unlike his output, they are binary : either the “God” thing does it for you or it doesn’t..

Well I’m not going anywhere with that construct. I’m going to review the music. And there’s a lot of it on this album. ‘The Similitude Of A Dream’ is 2 CDs worth.

I was lucky enough to get a pre release mp3 file and listened with a view to scribbling a couple of pithy one liners about style over substance, myth or mistake etc, but then the hooks in the piece caught me.

Dragged me back into the musical world of Morse and his musical fellow travellers – Mike Portnoy, Eric Gillette ( fab guitar work here) the bass of Randy George, a fine partner in crime for the much maligned Portnoy and Bill Hubauer provides  keyboards to a fine standard.

A world class band of brothers who ooze musical chops at every point, but in an understated manner.

I described the album to a friend as “A Musical symphony without the W****y ELP bits.

It has a theme that runs through and it matters not that this theme is based on a 17th Century fable. It’s as relevant as dragons, small furry creatures or starships when it comes to telling a tale.

If you loved ‘Snow’, a high-water mark in Spock’s Beard back catalogue as far as I was concerned, are familiar with Transatlantic’s epic widescreen albums and like a good melody , then this album will float your boat and tick all the boxes.

It’s epic in sound as well, great instrumentation link the themes as they get expanded and revisited across the 2 discs.

The similarity to ‘Snow’ is that once again, we have a protagonist who feels separated from all around, and sets out on a voyage of exploration.. I think? Or it’s a bad trip brought on by the dodgy narcotics offered to him in” Draw the Line”

Oops, got distracted listening again….

Where was I? Oh yes. In a (wisely) unpublished review of Dream Theater’s ‘The Astonishing’, I made reference to ALW doing prog or DT doing musical theatre, with the results as horrible as expected.

This is the opposite, an album that is a musical   in a direct, song based way, no dodgy narrative clunkers or strange interludes here, just a collection of songs that fit thematically and musically. Oh – apparently it’s referred to as a Concept album.

People like musical hooks to hang things on, for this, dust off the Genesis “Trick of the Tail” hook for the vibe in “The Ways of a Fool”. Add in Queen too for these are the first vocal harmonies to elicit them since Jellyfish popped up in the 90’s.

Then there are some very Beatles approved strings , a flash of Banksian keyboard prowess and some very Queen guitar before those harmonies kick in again. This track is rapidly becoming a firm favourite here.

The first CD builds to the climax of “Breath Of Angels”, which is the most overtly religious track , hardly surprising when you listen to the lyric, but the angel voices in harmony layered behind Neal as he exhorts us to the City Of Light… A New Jerusalem anyone?

CD 2 doesn’t let go either. Unlike my CD player which refused to give up CD 2 3 times… is this a sign?

Anyway, we rock off at full speed with a keyboard flurry that Jon Lord would be proud of in “Slave to Your Mind”, then we have an appearance of a saxophone in “Shortcut To Salvation”, a west coast vibe to this one, a vocal tour de force from Mr M.

Nice piano too.

This album is shaping up to be a contender for best of the year lists…

Then the crash out with their inner Zeppelin with the monster riff of “The Man In The Iron Cage”, it might be a Zeppelin riff ,but the vocals are pure Morse – no pastiche of Percy Plant here, Neal has a very individual voice and it makes him stand out in an army of clone vocalists raised to believe that karaoke is the way to sing.

Big keyboards again: Purple Zeppelin .This is  joy to my old ears. The guitar solo slides in, all flash and stylish restraint, linking to a gentle vocal and acoustic piece about God and faith and breaking out of self inflicted limitations – all very new age, but remember this is based on a 17th century tome, so new age is as fresh today as it ever was… Before the band crash back in with the hook laden choruses. If I was a singer, I’d be singing along… and rocking out with my air guitar, Gibson Les Paul of course.

The Neal Morse Band have a way with a tune, they sprinkle their own stardust on the tunes here. Thematically linked to the story, the songs follow the narration or rather are the narration as there’s no cod theatrical voice over needed. Listening again, it’s the natural flow of the words and harmonies that impress.

Not only have they got me contemplating life’s metaphysical journey and the pitfalls therein, they’ve also got me wanting to read the words to better follow the twists and turns they guide us through.

CD2 builds from the charging stomp of ‘Iron Mask’ to a contemplative piece with fretless bass and strings, a mellow little piece called “Sloth” which leads into one of  those “Oh So Neal” songs – all campfire acoustic guitars and sing along tune a pleasant reminder of “Wind At My Back” from ‘Snow’, here titled “Freedom Song”.

The clever use of the upbeat music to convey the joy of the protagonist unburdening himself of the burdens stopping him is simple and effective.

You get the old time gospel hoe down distilled into a song full of hope and optimism.

Appalachian mountain Prog anyone?

We then get the big finale. The crowd are warmed up by “The Freedom Song” / “I’m Running”, featuring some fabulous bass dexterity and a nod to Phil Collins big band tub thumping full spectrum production with the kitchen sink relegated to 3rd sax…

Another gentle nod to Genesis and Bank’s contribution in the piano intro to “The Mask” which veneers on the pastiche such that I was expecting Romeo to lock up his basement flat and join the journeyman…

This nasty little voice in my head is playing spot the Genesis reference now. “Confrontation” intro had me thinking ‘Eleventh Earl of Mar’, don’t know why as couldn’t hum it to win a pint, so where that popped up is anyone’s guess.

Most Un- Abacabish is the instrumental breakdown which sounds like the you tube cat got not only the Theremin but the rest of the instruments too.

‘Back to the City of Destruction’ qualifies as the most depressing hook line to any song ever, but the Deep Purple Hammond flurry after it erases such piffling triviality to a foot note.

We are into big bold grand piano chords and time changes now, classic “American” Prog where technical flash breaks free from pious restraint and madness ensues as they fight over the direction of the piece, aptly called “The Battle”, the piano and keyboard here are fantastic, a bit ELP in bombast in places, a bit Benny Hill in others (listen – you’ll know what I mean).

Sadly it means rather than the cataclysmic battle of Armageddon, it comes over more Ernie the fastest milkman for me, but it’s a small price to pay for the joy of the piece.

The climax, “Broken Sky / Long day“, delivers everything you want for the finale.

Heartfelt vocals over subdued instruments that builds , you can tell that the end (of the song) is coming, and your heart lifts as the song unfolds  it’s wings, shakes them free and prepares to soar.

And soar it does with a lovely keyboard flurry and full Morse the Evangelist vocals, with a guitar part that didn’t trigger Genesis associations …

No it’s doesn’t sound like comfortably numb….

Sorry, that little cynical voice appeared again. Ignore itt. The most iconic of guitar solos will obviously echo through space and time…

Better that than the Jonas Brother‘s attempt…

The sums of the parts with this piece greatly outweigh a few “borrows” here and there.

I loved it and I’m neither A born again American or An American Born Again.

The production, songs, package and playing on this are all woven together to create a modern classic, for once the praise surrounding this project undersells it, it is that good.

All band pictures courtesy of Robert Smith

Released 11th November 2016

Buy ‘The Similitude Of A Dream’ from Radiant Records

 

 

 

Barcelona based festival Be Prog! My Friend announce Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress / Will join Jethro Tull, Marillion, Anathema & more

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30th June – 1nd JULY 2017 – BARCELONA

THE FESTIVAL WHICH HIGHLIGHTS THE WORLD’S BEST PROGRESSIVE BANDS ADD MIKE PORTNOY’S SHATTERED FORTRESS TO THE LINE UP

Since its inception in 2014 the Barcelona based festival Be Prog! My Friend has played host to the likes of Opeth, Steven Wilson, Anathema, Devin Townsend, TesseracT, The Pineapple Thief, Magma, Agent Fresco, Camel, Meshuggah, Katatonia, Riverside, Ihsahn and Alcest.

Taking place in the beautiful open air surroundings of Poble Espanyol – a huge stone built architectural museum – the site is one of the most important and striking landmarks of tourism in Barcelona. Whilst by day the Catalonian hotspot may play host to some of Barcelona’s most interesting historical articles, by the end of June to the start of July it will instead play host to some of the world’s finest progressive bands.

This year saw the festival co-headlined by Steven Wilson and fellow progressive heavy weights Opeth. So far for 2017 Be Prog! My Friend have announced the legendary Jethro Tull as Saturday’s headliner alongside Norwegian music collective Ulver, Anathema, Animals as Leaders and Caligula’s Horse. While Marillion will headline the Friday.

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Now Be Prog! My Friend have announced that Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress will join the bill. Mike Portnoy comments:

‘I am so excited to be bringing my Shattered Fortress show to Spain and Be Prog My Friend! The Shattered Fortress is myself and an all-star Prog lineup performing Dream Theater’s 12 Step Suite live in it’s entirety for the first time!

This is not “a new band or project” for me, it is an exclusive event that will be making several select live appearances in select markets throughout the world in 2017…and Be Prog My Friend is one of the selected shows!

The setlist at the show will be comprised of the 12 Step Suite and select other Dream Theater songs that I’ve written the lyrics to. 

Keep in mind, I have no plans (or interest) in revisiting DT material in any of my other bands…this is not an ongoing “project” or career move…this is merely a unique event that I am doing in select markets in 2017 to share with fans around the world…so catch it while you can!!’

Tickets are on sale now at the fixed price of 130 Euros:

http://www.ticktackticket.com/entradas/goto.do?claves=.127248&origin=TTT&codIdioma=ING

Press for Be Prog! My Friend festival 2016:

‘And so Prog finds itself in love with Barcelona, the delightful weather and everything that Be Prog! My Friend has to offer’ – Prog Magazine

‘The leading festival for progressive music in Spain, showcased avant-garde music in a magnificent location’ – The Independent

‘Set in the hazy sunlit square of Barcelona’s historic and quite stunning Poble Espanyol, it certainly beats the sodden mud of the British festival season’ – Total Guitar Magazine

‘If nothing else, it proves that prog is alive and kicking. Especially in Catalonia’ – Classic Rock Magazine

http://www.beprogmyfriend.com/

facebook.com/beprogmyfriend

Be Prog! My Friend takes place in the heart of Barcelona and with an airport only 12km away, regular, cheap flights make it an easy festival to get and from the UK. Bands will start playing from mid/late afternoon each day which will also mean visitors have plenty of time to explore the stunning city of Barcelona while they are there.

http://www.barcelonaturisme.com

 

THE NEAL MORSE BAND ‘THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM’ THE NEW ALBUM & TOUR DETAILS

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RELEASED NOVEMBER 11 ON RADIANT RECORDS
VIA METAL BLADE RECORDS/SONY

2CD, TRIPLE VINYL AND DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

WORLDWIDE TOUR STARTS

JANUARY 15, 2017 IN NASHVILLE, TN

 NEAL MORSE: LEAD VOCALS, KEYBOARDS, GUITARS

MIKE PORTNOY: DRUMS, VOCALS

RANDY GEORGE: BASS

ERIC GILLETTE: GUITAR, VOCALS

BILL HUBAUER: KEYBOARDS, VOCALS

The journey of Neal Morse has seen three decades of musical accomplishments, the latest being the inception of The Neal Morse Band. Morse has forged many relationships over the years with his other bands, Spock’s Beard, Flying Colors, and Transatlantic. However, the most compelling and fruitful efforts have been those with drummer Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, ex-Dream Theater).

Now the current line-up of “The Neal Morse Band”Morse, Portnoy, bassist Randy George, keyboardist Bill Hubauer and guitarist Eric Gillette—brings forth “The Similitude of a Dream”, a concept album to be released November 11 on Radiant Records via Metal Blade Records/SONY. This will be the eighth studio album with Morse, Portnoy and George, and the second as a true collaboration with this current lineup. A lyric video for the song, “Overture,” premiered on PROG Magazine’s website earlier today and will be available on the band’s official YouTube page tomorrow. Watch the lyric video for the songs “Long Day” and “Overture”

Clocking in at over 100 minutes, this amazing piece of prog storytelling will leave you breathless, exhilarated, amused and fulfilled in a way that only inspired music can. It will be available in various formats: a two CD package, a Special Edition with the two CDs and “The Making of a Dream” DVD, or as three vinyl records along with two CDs.

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The Neal Morse Band (L-R): Eric Gillette, Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Neal Morse, Bill Hubauer. Photo: John Zocco

Track Listing:

 Disc 1:

  1. Long Day
  2. Overture
  3. The Dream
  4. City Of Destruction
  5. We Have Got To Go
  6. Makes No Sense
  7. Draw The Line
  8. The Slough
  9. Back To The City
  10. The Ways Of A Fool
  11. So Far Gone
  12. Breath Of Angels

 Disc 2:

  1. Slave To Your Mind
  2. Shortcut to Salvation
  3. The Man in The Iron Cage
  4. The Road Called Home
  5. Sloth
  6. Freedom Song
  7. I’m Running
  8. The Mask
  9. Confrontation
  10. The Battle
  11. Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)

Together, Morse and Portnoy have launched four bands, but the one that has endured the longest and thus with the most musical output has been The Neal Morse Band. Over the years, Morse, along with Portnoy and George, always assembled musicians as needed to support Neal’s solo music. In 2012, they held auditions to find the musicians needed to fill out the band as a permanent lineup that would write music collectively. Hubauer and Gillette joined the band after three days of auditions. The fivesome went on to release The Grand Experiment in 2014 followed by the Alive Again live DVD/2 CD package in 2015.

The Similitude of a Dream is loosely and sometimes directly based on the book, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan,” explains Neal Morse. “The book’s original title was The Pilgrim’s Progress from this world to that which is to come, delivered under the similitude of a dream, and was originally published in 1678. The book chronicles the spiritual journey of a man from the City of Destruction to a place of Deliverance. Someone had suggested to me that I do a concept album based on this book, but I kind of forgot about it. Then when I began writing new songs last December, the suggestion came to my mind. I had never read the book, so I Googled the SparkNotes story outline and began to write some little song bits and instrumentals based on what I had read. Those bits combined with the ideas that the other guys brought to the table then miraculously exploded into this double concept album. Funny thing is, this album only really covers about the first 75 or 80 pages. Maybe we should’ve made a five disc collection! Well, we’ll save that for later. Ha.”

Continues Neal, “At the conclusion of the grueling recording sessions, I remember Mike saying rather prophetically, ‘Boys, I think we just made the album of our careers.’”

“I honestly think this is THE album of my career,” declares Portnoy. “Neal and I have now made 18 studio albums together, and I consider The Similitude of a Dream the absolute creative pinnacle of our collaborations together. I’ve always had a soft spot for double concept albums such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy, and I can bravely say that I think we’ve created an album here that can sit side by side with those masterpieces. Bold words, I know, but after a career of almost 50 albums, I honestly consider this to be one of the defining works of my career.”

“We weren’t sure we had enough music to make a double CD, and yet it seemed as though the concept and the music wanted to go there,” bassist Randy George continues. “Ultimately, we created so much great music in the sessions that it just had to be a double album! To cap that off, we worked with a pre-imminent classic album cover artist to create painted illustrations of our concept which will grace the booklet!”

The Neal Morse Band tours worldwide almost yearly and continues to grow in popularity, attracting new listeners everywhere they go. The band has toured in North America, Central America, Europe, Israel, Mexico and India. The shows are filled with excited and extremely loyal fans, some which have regularly traveled very long distances to see the band. The band has an extensive catalog of live shows on Blu-Ray and DVD as well.

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Their latest round of worldwide tour dates start January 15, 2017 in Morse’s current hometown of Nashville, TN. More dates will be announced in the coming weeks on the band’s official website.

North American Dates

 Jan 15 Nashville, TN – Venue TBA

Jan 17 Seattle, WA – Triple Door

Jan 18 San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom

Jan 21 Whittier, CA – Center Theater

Jan 22 Phoenix, AZ – Nesbitt-Elliott Playhouse Theater

Jan 24 Denver, CO – Oriental Theater

Jan 25 Dallas, TX – Curtain Club

Jan 27 St Charles, IL – Arcada Theater

Jan 28 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom

Jan 29 Toronto, ONT – Mod Room

Jan 31 Montreal, QUE – Club Soda

Feb 01 Quebec City, QUE – Salle Jean Paul Tardif

Feb 02 New York, NY – Highline Ballroom

Feb 03 Washington DC – State Theater

Feb 07 – 11 Cruise To the Edge

European Dates

March 22 Barcelona, Spain – Apolo

March 23 Milan, Italy – Venue TBA

March 24 Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7

March 25 Aschaffenburg, Germany – Colo-Saal

March 26 Berlin, Germany – Lido

March 28 Warsaw, Poland – Progresja Music Zone

March 29 Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle

March 30 Verviers, Belgium – Spirit of 66

March 31 Cologne, Germany – Stollwerck

April 01 Malmo, Sweden – KB

April 02 Tilburg, Holland – O13

April 04 Luxembourg – Rockhal

April 05 Paris, France – Divan Du Monde

April 06 Birmingham, England – O2 Academy 2

April 07 Glasgow, Scotland – O2 ABC

April 08 Manchester, England – O2 Ritz

April 09 London, England – O2 Islington Academy

 Additional

April 12 Tel Aviv, Israel – Havana Club

May 6th Gettysburg PA – RosFest

And more to be added…

 

 Internet and Social Media

www.nealmorseband.com/

www.facebook.com/nealmorse

www.twitter.com/nealmorse

www.instagram.com/NealMorse

www.youtube.com/NealMorseMusic