Derek Sherinian and Simon Phillips to release ‘SHERINIAN/PHILLIPS LIVE’

First single “Aurora Australis (Live)” out now!

SHERINIAN/PHILLIPS is the musical alliance of Derek Sherinian and Simon Phillips, whose parallel reputations in virtuosic sonic inventions combine on the backdrop of instrumental genre fusion. Though the two had written and recorded together in the past, commitments to other projects had kept them busy in their own circles for a time. Upon their reunion for the recording of 2020’s The Phoenix, the duo has been going strong with consistent new releases ever since. Now, they are pleased to announce the release of SHERINIAN/PHILLIPS LIVEwhich exhibits the pair uniting once again for a collaborative effort, documenting a special concert recorded at The Grape in Ventura, California on August 29th, 2022. The set is due out on August 25th, 2023 on InsideOutMusic.

Joining Sherinian/Phillips are fellow creatives Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal on guitar and Ric Fierabracci on bass to round out the lineup of the evening. Several tracks from the latest studio album offering, Vortex, made their way into the set, such as the title track “Vortex”, “Seven Seas”, and “Aurora Australis” (the original recording of which featured Bumblefoot), alongside other instrumentals.

You can check out the performance of “Aurora Australis” now here:

Derek Sherinian, Simon Phillips – Aurora Australis (Live 2022) – EP (

SHERINIAN/PHILLIPS LIVE has every note – planned or jammed – captured like lightning in a bottle, taking listeners to the moment these sounds sparked from their instruments. The live performance sits naturally in a rock context, while reminiscent of jazz fusion concert structures, with room for each musician to stand out in a solo space, each carrying and trading unique melodies along the way.

Derek Sherinian: “After 20 years of making albums together, it was a great pleasure bringing this music to life with Simon for the first time.”

The album will be available in the following formats:

Black Vinyl | Ltd. CD Digipak | CD Jewelcase (North America)

Pre-Order is available via this LINK 


1. The Vortex (04:43)

2. Empyrean Sky (04:20)

3. Temple of Helios (06:17)

4. Inertia (04:32)

5. Alpha Burst (04:01)

6. Barnacus (03:32)

7. Seven Seas (05:51)

8. Ascension (02:48)

9. The Phoenix (04:55)

10. Introduction (00:31)

11. Aurora Australis (11:27) 


Derek Sherinian (keys/synth)

Simon Phillips (drums)

Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (guitar)

Ric Fierabracci (bass) 

Sherinian’s background as a composer and keyboardist extends well beyond his familiar Dream Theater run, with a notable solo career creating a landscape for contributions from an array of acclaimed musicians, alongside performance credits with the likes of Alice Cooper, Black Country Communion, Billy Idol, Whitesnake, Kiss, Black Label Society, and Sons of Apollo (doubling on production credits), among others. 

Phillips has equally rooted himself as a well-respected drummer and composer in the rock, metal, and jazz worlds, with credits ranging from Toto, Judas Priest, Jeff Beck, The Who, Whitesnake, and Joe Satriani, to a discography in jazz fusion with Protocol, movie soundtracks, and beyond. 

The diverse range of this pair’s individual talents collectively emerges through each work they craft together; Sherinian and Phillips continue to evolve their joint musical endeavors in new directions. 

Review – Gamma: What’s Gone Is Gone, Complete Elektra Recordings 1979-1982 – by John Wenlock-Smith

Last year Cherry Red released a ‘Complete Montrose Recordings’ boxset over 6 CD’s with various single edits and two live studio recordings. After four albums with Montrose between 1973 and 1977, plus a solo album in 1978, Ronnie Montrose formed Gamma with Davey Pattison in 1979. So, in the same tradition, comes this 3 CD boxset of the three Gamma albums made for Elektra before Ronnie Montrose called time on the band, (they did return for a fourth outing in 2000 with ‘Gamma 4’, not included here sadly, nor is there the live album that is currently about from a show in Denver in 1979 when the band were promoting their debut album). 

What is here is good, although the booklet is a little light in background information, somehow it merely reproduces the various album artworks and details the musicians playing. The music is, however, truly sensational, I bought the first few Gamma albums on vinyl and thoroughly loved them, especially the first and third. For some reason. I never really clicked with ‘Gamma 2’ but certainly do within this boxset, the album being a revelation here, sounding crisp and punchy and rocks like a b*****d!

Gamma existed at a time when rock music was undergoing a dramatic remaking. After punk had done its thing, and before the 80’s got into gear, there was a new wave of rock music emerging on American radio rock, with the likes of Bon Jovi poised to change the airwaves considerably. That process was already happening with the likes of Foreigner and Boston taking over the airwaves. 

Gamma were Ronnie Montrose’s own attempt to gain some commercial foothold and offered music that easy on the ear but still had an edge to it. Much of this came about because of his joining up with Glaswegian born Davey Pattison, who had relocated to Los Angeles to further his own career after a sojourn with Robin Trower. He was noticed by Ronnie and invited to join the project that became Gamma

‘Gamma 1’ was released in 1979, Pattison’s muscular vocals giving restrained power to tracks like Thunder And Lightning and the awesome epic Fight To The Finish, alongside the twisted tale of streetlights in Razor King, a song possibly inspired by the Glasgow Pattinson had left behind, and a freak instrumental in Solar Heat. There was also the distinctly poppy I’m Alive that, despite its lightweight nature and it vocoder vocals, pummelled along at a cracking pace. 

Pattison reveals himself to be a fine vocalist who has a great tone to his voice. Ronnie Montrose is very active on guitar throughout with punchy rhythm and fills galore. Razor King is a dark tale of violence and some nefarious behaviour, again this song has lot of guitars in it, it is a good track with a great guitar break from Ronnie that powers it along, especially when the guitars compliment Davey’s vocals. Ready For Action is a solid rocker with atmosphere and muscle, the production is busy and bustling with space for great dynamics and muscular bass from Alan Fitzgerald, another ex Montrose member and, once again, Pattison is in fine voice throughout. There is then a bluesy take on Wish I Was by Mackey Newbury and the final track is the brooding, sprawling epic Fight To The Finish which is full of energy and fire along with an epic guitar solo from Ronnie that peaks and the peaks again. It is a marvellous track that was always a favourite of mine back in the day and rounds out what is a varied yet consistent album, as does the second solo that draws the song to a close, a truly great song.

‘Gamma 2’ came out in 1980 and, straight from the off, it is a harder sounding album, still with lots of keyboard embellishments but also with muscular guitar work, Mean Streak being a particularly powerful opener. Again, Pattison is on cracking form, the months spent touring had definitely helped his vocal prowess develop even further. Here he is confident and assertive, with his voice soaring and floating over everything easily and gracefully and commanding respect in the process. The material he is working with is equally assured and the guitar work is fluid and powerful while also melodic and memorable to boot. Overall it makes for a winning combination. 

Dirty City is another gritty number with a strong chorus and excellent keyboard textures that turn into a driving beat amid the lyrics of streetlights tales and the dirt of it all and another blistering solo makes the track fly. Voyager is different again, having, as it does, more of a blues shuffle feel to it. This allows room for lots of blues fills as the song details the loneliness of an astronaut away from earth for a long time. This, of course, was around the time of the initial space shuttle launches when space travel was a distinct possibility once more. The song is hinged on a walking bass line that rumbles throughout in a great manner, it is a great performance that really impresses. I used to have this album on vinyl but never really took to it as well as the debut. Well, the intervening 42 years have now revealed this to be a really strong record, one that has power, muscle, attitude and brawn in spades and makes for a really enjoyable and rewarding listening experience.  

Cat On A Leash is the first sign of a track that promises but somehow fails to deliver, although the closing moments have a spark of life to them. Skin And Bone has beef and brawn to it. Great keyboard textures and more moody bass lines, with Ronnie’s sustained guitar lines, sound very effective indeed. The synth keyboard solo is a bit twee really but it is of its time and doesn’t distract to much. When the power chords charge in the song moves style and impresses greatly. A superb solo closes out the track well leading us into the riffing opening chords of Mayday, an instrumental opening section that Gamma do so well, with fiery guitar before Davey’s strong vocals begin, it closes the album in good form. 

‘Gamma 3’ come out in 1982 and, this time around, there was more emphasis on keyboard textures and sounds. Although the guitar is still present, it plays a less upfront role, with the fireworks largely saved for solo sections. The sound is a lot more radio friendly and focused, although the solo on opener What’s Gone Is Gone is glorious, as is the long sustained note like in Don’t Fear The Reaper, both most impressive indeed.  The album is a lot lighter in tone as a result, although there are undercurrents of power in play. Gamma we’re after a more commercial sound, one that would raise their stature beyond that of a perennial opening act, indeed I saw the band open for Foreigner in Birmingham on the ‘Tooth And Nail’ tour where they were fantastic. Sadly the change of approach failed to deliver any significant benefits with the result that Ronnie Montrose lost interest and split the band up to make more instrumental guitar albums.   

The rest of ‘Gamma 3’ is all fairly lightweight, electronic new age pop music with only occasional moments of merit. It’s a pity that the band went off on a tangent that didn’t really work for them for, while Stranger is a solid instrumental, what we really want are more rocky vocal tracks. Still, you can’t have them all I guess?

The boxset is good but a bit of a missed opportunity really as, without ‘Gamma 4’, it feels incomplete but certainly of interest, if only for ‘Gamma 1’ and ‘Gamma 2’, both of which are excellent.

Released 30th June, 2023.

Order from Cherry Red here:

Gamma: What’s Gone Is Gone, Complete Elektra Recordings 1979-1982, 3CD Boxset – Cherry Red Records

Danish math-stadium rock group Isbjörg release new single ‘Homeward Bound’ on July 14th 2023

Homeward Bound is the third single from Isbjörg’s upcoming second full-length album which is expected to be released in early 2024.

Along with the latest releases ‘Ornament’ and ‘Afterglow’, ‘Homeward Bound’ marks a new era for the band who, since the release of their debut album ‘Iridescent’ in 2019, have welcomed Jonathan Kjærulff Jensen as their new front figure.

With ‘Homeward Bound” Isbjörg continues to push the boundaries of just how catchy and approachable math rock can be. ‘Homeward Bound’ is an energetic up-tempo track packed with catchy hooks, tight musicianship and the unmistakable larger-than-life Isbjörg sound.

‘Homeward Bound’ is available on all major streaming services from Friday the 14th of July 2023.

Presave here:

Homeward Bound by Isbjörg – DistroKid


Isbjörg is a Danish math-stadium rock band centered around the piano.

The aim of the band has always been to surprise and break musical boundaries without compromising the songwriting. Odd time signatures and polyrhythms combined with catchy hooks and lush melodies captures the listener in an intense and captivating soundscape.

Following the release of two EP’s and singles, Isbjörg released their debut album ‘Iridescent’ in 2019. The album was very acclaimed by both fans and critics for its epic, piano-centered sound and the captivating songwriting.

After the release of ‘Iridescent’ Isbjörg have been touring around Denmark and played everything from small clubs to big festivals such as SmukFest in 2019. The last couple of years Isbjörg have worked intensively on writing their follow-up album. After the departure of singer Niklas Jespersen in early 2022, Isbjörg welcomed Jonathan Kjærulff Jensen (Lara Luna) as their new lead singer and are now standing stronger and more focused than ever with a lot of single releases planned for 2023 before releasing their second full-length album in early 2024.

Homeward Bound press release and bio (før release)

Isbjörg is:
Jonathan Kjærulff Jensen – Vocals

Mathias Bro Jørgensen – Piano, vocals

Dines Dahl Karlsen – Guitar

Lasse Gitz Thingholm – Guitar

Mathias Schouv Kjeldsen – Bass

Frederik Ølund Uglebjerg – Drums

Single Review – Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate – Burn The World

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate are Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland on their own or with Kathryn Thomas (flute). They combine prog/alt-rock, funk, metal, ambient, contemporary classical, minimalist, and electronica elements, and often explore scientific themes.

Before the release of their new album ‘The Light Of Ancient Mistakes’, they release the first single from the album, Burn The World, on May 13th, a progressive rock song about climate change.

“We are at a turning point. If action is taken to substantially reduce the damage we are doing to our environment, then millions of lives are likely to be saved. If we don’t, as usual, the most vulnerable will be the least protected. Past actions mean that anthropogenic climate change is now inevitable, but the extent and the speed of the change depend on what we do now.”

With such serious subject matter, this song was always going to be a sober and solemn piece of music but the duo’s fantastic songwriting skills have made it something of a melancholic beauty.

“There’s unbroken sea
Where an island used to be
The coral bleached
The sandbags breached, long ago…”

The superbly written lyrics bring the impending climate disaster into sharp focus and the music adds that laid back, sorrowful feel to the song. Malcolm’s vocals are passionate and pensive and give the required gravitas that situation deserves. His guitar solo is hauntingly beautiful but with a sense of loss and and heartbreaking devastation. It is an amazing song that treats a difficult subject with dignity.

I feel immensely moved by this piece of music and I am sure it will herald another superb album from Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate and I cant’t wait to hear it.

Released 13th May, 2023.

Check out the track on bandcamp here:

Burn The World | Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate (

Review – Godsticks – This Is What A Winner Looks Like

It’s been a long and eventful road for Godsticks since emerging onto the scene with their eponymously titled EP in 2009 showcasing the band’s then progressive-rock leanings. Since then, subsequent albums became progressively heavier and received further critical acclaim, culminating in the ‘genre redefining’ prog metal masterpiece that was ‘Emergence’, which ultimately led to them being signed to Kscope. Having extensively toured Europe since 2012, in the last few years the band have finally gained recognition as the explosive, high energy live act they’d always threatened to become.

Having released their fifth full-length studio album, ‘Inescapable’, in February 2020, a mere month before the world plummeted into lockdown, the band had no means to perform the new songs to an audience. Living in this world of stasis, it wasn’t until September 2021 when the band were able to perform the tracks for a live audience that they began to think about their next album. 

“It was impossible not to notice the creative tsunami that the pandemic engendered in the music industry – every band and their dog were writing and releasing new music. For me though, it was the least creative time in my entire life.” mentions guitarist and band main man Darran Charles.

Their love for writing and productivity had been reignited simply by being able to perform live. Despite the new-found resolve, the band remain humble yet incredibly driven. Experimenting with electronic sounds and delegating writing duties in the band allowed ‘This Is What A Winner Looks Like’ to be their most collaborative album to date.

Recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios, the album was produced by James Loughrey and mastered by Maor Appelbaum. The album’s striking cover artwork was created by Richard Beeching who mentions “The band and I agreed we needed a visually engaging sleeve to match the album’s strong title, but nothing too literal.  Something just about abstract enough to allow the audience to make of it what they will.  Our primate fits the bill nicely.”

Godsticks come crashing into your inner space with an almighty, primeval bang, this new album is hard, dissonant and downright heavy, with a capital ‘H’! Progressive metal with a definite emphasis on the ‘metal’, opener If I Don’t Take It All has crunching riffs aplenty and Charles’ vocals have that hard-edged, world weary style to them. The rhythm section feels hewn from granite and yet there’s a melodic vibe deep down, especially on the chorus. There’s a real vibrancy to the music although that vibrancy has a definitive chaotic edge to it. What a thunderous start to the album! Eliminate And Repair takes a step back with it’s staccato guitar and incessant beat, like everybody is just waiting for things to kick off. The track ebbs and flows a bit but never quite explodes, becoming something of a brooding slow burner. This Is My New Normal opens in a similar vein with that restless and skittish guitar hitting you where it hurts but this track has a really funky chorus in a (heavy) Red Hot Chilli Peppers style. There’s a real groove to the track, if an exceedingly heavy one and I’m sure this will really rock in a live setting. Godsticks can turn the dial back when they want to, as the low key, intense and somber Devotion Made To Offend shows. A weighty and thoughtful track that really gets under your skin, the rhythm section really shining and providing the foundations of what is a really classy song. Silent Saw dials it back even further and reminds me a bit of Queensrÿche at their ‘Empire’ peak. The sorrowful vocals and melancholy tones of the guitar add real solemnity and gravitas to the track and make it one of the stand out pieces on the album.

Time for a punch to the solar plexus, Throne and Don’t Say A Word take the quieter, reflective mood and blow it apart with excellent recurring riffs and discordant beats that break into a superbly melodic chorus once again, these guys really have the knack of blending the two and it gives their music a real polish. The lead track from the album, Mayhem, is exactly that with a monstrous riff that could flatten buildings, it’s not just metal, it’s HEAVY metal! It’s so bloody heavy that you can’t help but just love it and it’s got to be a mosh pit favourite at the forthcoming gigs. Revelling in the chaos of the track, Darran Charles, had the following to say:

“I stumbled upon this really ugly dissonant chord that sounded great with distortion, and thought about ways of making it sound even nastier and more chaotic (hence the title). But I was also interested in causing Tom (drummer) physical harm so I devised a bass drum pattern so complex that it will likely cause him a repetitive strain injury in the very near future. This song promises to be immense live and the music video hopefully translates the energy we’re going to bring to the stage when we take this song out on the road.”

Lying is a delightful, lighter, track that allows you to pick yourself up after the preceding rock behemoth and sees Charles’ vocal take on a much more atmospheric tone and the music is given space to breathe, which is welcome. I love some seriously heavy music as much as the next man but, now I’m getting older, I do need a sit down now and again. The elegant guitar solo is a highlight of what is an airy and refined piece of music. The album closes out with Wake Up where Charles’ dynamic vocal and the stylish music remind me of some of Chris Cornell’s solo work. While lacking the punch of some of the other tracks, this song really has intelligence and depth and shows a more inventive side to the band.

If you like your progressive metal with a big emphasis on the metal then this new album from Godsticks is one you should definitely check out. There are heavy, mountain moving riffs galore and a rhythm section that is as prodigious as they come but there’s also some high quality melodies and Darran Charles’ excellent vocals complete what is a rather impressive package.

Released 26th May, 2023.

Order from Burning Shed here:

Search – godsticks (

Review – Gustaf Ljunngren & Emil de Waal – Stockholm København

“It’s as much about the spaces between the notes as the notes themselves and the state of mind that you are left in.”

One of the surprise releases of the year for me in 2022 was Gustaf Llunngren’s ‘Floreana’, a delightful album that “will leave you in a place of utter calm and leave you ruminating on life, the universe and just about everything.”

The album was released through Jazzfuel music so I was exceedingly happy to receive an email from the label inviting me to check out Gustaf’s latest release in collaboration with Emil de Waal, ‘Stockholm København’.

Emil de Waal has been one of Denmark’s leading drummers for three decades. Gustaf Ljunggren initially studied the saxophone at the Rhythmic Conservatory of Copenhagen, where whispers spread throughout the school that he was the best saxophone player in town and yet never practiced. His career has seen him prove that he can bring grace, musicality and heart to any instrument he touches, from the pedal steel guitar, to the bass, piano, and more.

‘Stockholme København’ is the third collaboration between the two has a vast array of influences including Jazz, Americana, Film Music and Electronica. It is full of space, coaxing the listener into a meditative state and inviting them to drift away with their own imagination.

There’s an elegant, laid back grace to this release, eight tracks that are more about moods, textures and patterns than your usual songwriting. Every time I listen to it I am taken to another place, somewhere otherworldly. The music speaks to my soul and brings my often worried mind into a state of relaxation and contemplation.

It’s hypnotic, mesmerising and utterly addictive from the cool, warm tones of the keyboards on opener Sangur and the delightfully upbeat, ethereal guitar motif of title track Stockholme København where Gustaf’s refined and graceful acoustic playing just lifts the piece to ever increasing heights of sophistication. Glar is a celestial soundscape of electronic musical waves washing over you, interjected with pulsing notes, like a soundtrack to an arty Sci-fi film set in a sun baked environment and the slightly off-kilter guitar notes of Kyklop give a slightly alien aloofness to this unhurried, lighthearted track.

Imnum speaks of the lazy days of summer, the leisurely drumbeat and hazy keyboards to be listened to under a blazing sun and without a care in the world. There’s a very relaxed ebb and flow and the electronica lays a musical, meandering path before it. Wistful and utterly serene, it’s an addictive way to spend five minutes of your time. At Line Level has a real 80’s feel to it with the staccato drums and haunting keyboards. Dreamlike and serene it worms its way into your psyche like watching the sunrise on a beach in the early hours. The notes of a keyboard dropping like gentle rain and a shimmering cymbal open Fever Revisit, another piece that seems almost Sci-fi influenced with the electronica sending my mind back to early classic like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. There’s an insistent tone to the music, like radio signals flying through space and it’s all done with metronomic perfection. The album closes with an intimate recording from a performance at STUK in Belgium. Pirates is a whimsical, heartwarming guitar led instrumental Americana piece that is just about perfect. The guitar playing is full of life and love and the ever so classy drumming just adds that layer of humanity to the music, a delightful end to a fantastic album.

Well, it’s happened again. Gustaf Ljunggren, this time in collaboration with Emile de Waal, has delivered an utterly sublime, beautiful and transcendent recording that has blown me away. This is music for the soul and, when all is chaos around you, just makes you very happy indeed.

Released 7th July, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

Stockholm København | Gustaf Ljunggren / Emil de Waal (

Review – The Book Of Revelations – The Plumes of Encheladus

The Book of Revelations‘The Plumes of Enceladus’ is a very interesting release and is the brainchild of one Gerard Freeman who has, for many years, wanted to make an album in which he could entertain his version of early Genesis music. He has done this mainly on his own but with some assistance from Russ Wilson of Genesis tribute act Visible Touch.

Gerard became entranced by the music of Genesis after playing his older brother’s record collection and seeing Curved Air in Sheffield in 1971. He uses samples of vintage keyboards, synths Mellotrons etc. to craft a truly authentic sound, indeed so well constructed and performed is this music that one could believe that you have discovered a hitherto unknown or unreleased Genesis album. Gerard also has a very Gabriel-esque vocal style along with elements of Fish.

Overall this record is captivating, being the best Genesis album you’ve never heard. If imitation is the finest form of flattery then Gerard has triumphed here for sure, he even has the lyrical style of Steve Hackett and the dexterity of Anthony Phillips in the guitar parts. There is more than a passing nod to the likes of ‘The Geese And The Ghost’ with its beautifully layered sound and its overall lightness of touch, it really is most impressive stuff.

The main theme of the album is that of Greek Myology and the tales of Zeus, brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus and Pandora and their tales of destruction and control. The story is not simple and I found it hard to follow. With its subplots of violence, torture and incest, it’s like an prog episode of Eastenders, just with a progressive music soundtrack rather than the Mitchell brothers infighting and it has sections of great intricacies and beauty that really draw you in.

The keyboard work is obviously very Tony Banks influenced and it shows with lots of delicate sections and big chords and sounds. Good use of sampled analogue equipment gives an authentic sound and feel to the music too. Greek mythology was a big part of early Genesis music as the classical trained public schoolboys used that form as an inspiration for much of their earlier years. So this theme works well for Gerrard, it’s like an updated sonically improved version of what had gone before. As a teenager Gerard and his friend transcribed ‘The Musical Box’ and in doing so learnt it’s composition. This was all pre-internet and was very laborious work, it was also very rewarding and satisfying to him and Gerard has redrafted music in a similar style and vein. 

The album has seven tracks, the first five form a suite called Malice À Forethought (a cautionary tale in five parts), there’s another track titled Love Letter from a Newspaper to a Coffee Shop and a further, four part, concept piece entitled The Chthonic Deities Of Vengeance, which is a really great multi-part piece of over eighteen minutes duration and has a real whiff of Supper’s Ready to it. The song has a very dark tone to it but that just adds to its intensity as it uses Mellotrons and synths to fine effect, along with an epic and skilled keyboard break that has distinct echoes of Firth Of Fifth. It is beautifully delivered, although it lacks the majestic guitar solo that elevates that particular song. This track does have a lot going for it, it is sweeping, epic and very good indeed. 

The album’s title was taken from a space related program that Gerard saw where they discovered water in an ice form on one of Jupiter’s moons, Enceladus and, Gerard being interested in that sort of thing, made note of it as a possible title for the album. 

This is a great album and one that I am sure many would relish as it has a slew of treats in a style many would enjoy and embrace.Apparently there is more planned but for now, sit back, embrace and enjoy this rather exquisite epic music as there are such excellent passages and sections to this amazing album. It has a good booklet with lyrics to follow as you listen and excellent artwork. In all, this is a classy album and one I would highly recommend to all.

Released 21st April, 2023.

Order the album here:

The Book of Revelations – The Plumes of Enceladus (

Review – The Fierce And The Dead – News From The Invisible World

‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change’ Albert Einstein

Some people don’t like change, some people are scared of change but things must evolve, things must progress. Let’s face it, if there was no evolution then I wouldn’t even be writing these words, there would just be primordial sludge (now there’s a name for an extreme metal band!).

The Fierce And The Dead have embraced change in a huge way and in a way that their fans, and the wider world, would never have thought remotely possible just a couple of years ago! These self-proclaimed pioneers of ‘funny music’, one of the most influential instrumental bands of recent years have added vocals to their music, yes, I said it, vocals!! Now, if that isn’t progressive when it comes to music and a huge evolutionary step for the four guys from Rushden, then I don’t know what is but, before we delve deeper into their new long player, ‘News From The Invisible World’, let’s look back at their history…

The Fierce & The Dead are a British rock band formed in 2010. The band consists of Kevin Feazey (lead vocals/bass), Matt Stevens (guitar/keys), Steve Cleaton (guitar), and Stuart Marshall (drums). While they started as an instrumental band, Feazey has taken on the role of lead vocalist in recent years, adding a new dimension to the band’s sound. Their music is a fusion of psychedelic rock, old metal records, post-rock, prog, broken analogue synths, and shoegaze.

The 8-song, 42-minute ‘News From The Invisible World’, their fourth studio release, marks the band’s first release featuring vocals from bassist Kevin Feazey. Guests include Matt Jones (Jamie T/ Beady Eye) on keys, Tom Hunt on backing vocals (Orange Clocks), and brass from Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey/Gallon Drunk). The album has been 5 years in the making.

For vocalist/bassist Kevin Feazey: “The album really digs deep into where we come from musically and sets up the path ahead, we’ve always found ways to do things differently, and now those doors are wide open. It came together over lockdown, which meant that we had a chance to take stock, see the music from a different perspective, and allow ourselves time to experiment with different textures and sounds. Adding vocals didn’t seem like a dramatic step, but something that these pieces would benefit from, it felt obvious to us.”

“We wanted to make an ambitious record like Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips made in the late 90s, but you can hear lots of influences in there, even the Carcass and Napalm Death records we loved when we were teenagers, Slowdive and all sorts,” says guitarist Matt Stevens. “We didn’t get to tour the last record as much as we’d like due to my cancer diagnosis and then COVID, and it went bonkers, so hopefully, this one will be somewhat easier.”

I have a long history with the band, first reviewing the band’s 2013 release ‘Spooky Action’, and have followed them ever since and my role at Bad Elephant Music has meant I have been involved in a lot of their subsequent releases. However, this review comes without bias, this album is brilliant because of the music and I’m not the only one who thinks so! I must also point out the incredible artwork from the legendary Mark Buckingham.

I love the fact that The Fierce And The Dead do things properly ‘old school’ by releasing singles before the full album and the first release was the excellent Wonderful, a cacophony of joyous, chaotic music with Kev’s energetic, almost manic, vocal giving it a wide-eyed clarity and an almost Cardiacs-like vibe, especially with the excellent use of the brass section. This was a pointer of the wondrous things to come. The second single, Golden Thread, opens with a riff that’s a punch to the gut, harder than granite and Stuart Marshall‘s heavy, primeval drums adds serious weight. There’s an ebb and flow to the song that reminds me of prime Faith No More but with a more laid back vocal approach. This song wants to shake you by the hand and then punch you in the face and, you know what, you’d probably just let it! Photogenic Love was the 3rd single and the one that most notably veered away from the band’s original sound, TFATD but with another dimension ( or, should I say, FROM another dimension!) but you aren’t progressive if you aren’t progressing, so to speak. I think this is a fantastic new direction and sounds like 90’s pop mixed with fuzzy psychedelica, almost like A-ha met with the Gorillaz and asked Billy Corgan to join in the fun. It sees the band taking the next step in their journey and is, to my ears anyway, bloody fantastic and their best song yet.

And that’s just the three singles, we are lucky folk indeed as there are another five tracks to gorge yourself on. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, opening song The Start is, indeed, the start of something new for the band and majors on Kev’s vocals. There’s a wonderfully uplifting feel to the track as it begins to build and swell into a wall of jubilant and exuberant music. You cannot help but smile as the multi-voice chorus takes you higher and higher. Shake The Jar opens with a fantastically fuzzy, psychedelic riff from Matt and gives this high energy track a hard edge almost reminiscent of The Jam in their early years. Another song that has a bit of ebb and flow but this is music of the highest quality and a band who have embraced their new direction and are having an awful lot of fun with it. Shoe-gaze, Lo-fi, call it what you want but the brooding, edgy and ever-so-cool Non-Player is a mighty fine piece of music. Kev’s vocal has a haunting, mesmeric quality to it and the music has a world-weary, knowing grace at its core. The guitar playing could be straight from a spaghetti western at points and the sax playing from Terry Edwards is just genius.

Time for a bit of full on bombast methinks. The opening to What A Time To Be Alive is the closest we’ve come yet to a traditional TFATD track on the album so far and actually makes you realise how much the band have progressed in the last five years. It is monstrous, heavy and yet very melodic and also a very good piece of music but, to my ears, the rest of the songs have much more maturity to them. It’s a wonderful nod to the past and a pointer to where the future lies for this talented group of musicians (and vocalist!) as the track closes with a synthesised vocal interjected between Matt’s huge riff and Stuart’s thunderous drumming. There’s a Foo Fighters meets Nick Cave feel and vibe to the album closer, Nostalgia Now. A portentous title perhaps as the old TFATD is just nostalgia and the band are embracing the future. Kev’s heartfelt, delicate vocal and the elegant piano note are all that’s needed to give a hushed and almost melancholy feel to a track loaded with different textures and sounds. If there’s one song on this album that points to the band’s future then it surely is this masterpiece.

‘News From The Invisible World’– true fans will love it, there’s real maturity and creativity in this album, The Fierce And The Dead shift effortlessly between different styles to show they are no one trick ponies. You could say that this is a case of a band reinventing itself but staying close to their roots but it’s more than that, this is band raising their game to the highest level and that is really where they belong…

Released 28th July, 2023.

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Piano virtuoso GLEB KOLYADIN unveils new solo album ‘The Outland’ out July 21st via Kscope.

Written throughout the past years, the record speaks to the introspective nature of the Iamthemorning pianist, whilst exploring facets of his sound that have yet still to be uncovered. 

Utilising the silence afforded from the pandemic, it offered a new perspective of introspection and the perfect outlet to mould his melancholic creativity. Entirely instrumental, the album emphasises melodic themes through different tracks to create a six part symphonic suite in a way that only Gleb Kolyadin could. 

The piano mastermind himself had the following to say regarding the album: 

“The Outland was recorded over 2020 and 2021 which was a very troublesome time for us all and I wanted to capture this feeling. During the period of covid when we were unable to travel I found I would create new worlds in my head, as a way of being able to escape.” 

Over time however, this idea transformed into something much deeper for me. I’ve since moved to the UK, and now it represents a new beginning. A rebirth if you will and ironically has more of an escapist air around it and has been given a new lease of life.  

Gleb continues:  

It’s a combination of being both an uplifting and introspective work that has been a long time coming. I am happy to finally share the music that is The Outland. A world within a world, assembled from disparate fragments, in many ways, like all of us.   

Acting as the protagonist in ‘The Outland’, piano is certainly the focal point of the album yet there are some truly stunning performances alongside Kolyadin. They come from an all star cast in the form of Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree / King Crimson) on drums, Tony Levin (King Crimson / Peter Gabriel) on upright bass and Vlad Avy on guitar.

Not confined to genre, the pianist traverses the landscape of classical piano to jazz-rock and fusion effortlessly as he glides across ‘The Outland’. The album is bookended by both the longest tracks of the record, ‘Voyager’ and ‘Hermitage’ each just as vital yet different as the other. The first opens with a ten minute symbiosis of Jazz-Rock and Fusion whereas the latter ‘Hermitage’ offers more of a look into the world of Jazz. 

Moments of self analysis are littered throughout ‘The Outland’. They vary in the form of the introverted ‘Ascension’ that ruminates on darker moments which are then counterpointed by the contemplative shimmering of ‘Cascades’. Matched only in scope by the experimental ‘Apparatus’.

The Outland’s musical inspirations reflect Kolyadin’s increasingly varied musical palette that include, Pat Metheny and Hiromi, Steve Reich, 1970’s Progressive Rock in the vein of legends Gong and Mike Oldfield alongside British Folk adorned with a cinematic edge. Welcome to The Outland.

The artwork, designed by Andhika Ramadhian, is an abstract portrayal of a hermit, trapped within a geometrically paradoxical space symbolising the turbulent times that ‘The Outland’ was penned in. However as time has gone on since it’s original writing, 

 The Outland tracklisting: 

1.     Voyager

2.     Ascension

3.     Cascades

4.     Mercurial

5.     Apparatus

6.     Hermitage

The Outland will be available on CD / black LP and digitally on July 21st via Kscope.

Review – Dave Foster Band – Glimmer – by John Wenlock-Smith

According to the dictionary Glimmer means to shine faintly with a wavering light, which is interesting as I think Shimmer would be an equally meaningful title for what is a rather fascinating album from the Dave Foster Band.  This release is one that uses lots of strong musical passages to get its point across. Through the entire album Dave Foster himself glimmers on the guitar, proving that his association with Steve Rothery is a symbiotic one in which both parties gain significantly in the process.

Take …Or You Steal Some with its creeping bass lines and it’s arpeggio guitar lines that form the thrust of the track. Vocalist Dinet Poortman’s excellent, breathy, and often fiery, vocals add much power and passion to the music the band offer. The song has tasteful guitar work from Dave and a solid rhythm section playing throughout, it’s a rather splendid track that draws you into the music. As does Chasing An Echo which has heavy bass keyboards and slide guitar from Dave that weaves it way through the track hypnotically. This song grows on you with repeated plays, as indeed does the whole album. It’s is a very mesmerising with lots of great highlights and is very ‘Marillion’ in parts, in the sound sculptures it paints, yet it has its own identity and uniqueness retained. Dive In is a little lighter but with a funky backbeat to it, it is a very bouncy number with crashing power chords that elevate the track once again. Dinet’s vocals really grab the attention with her great bland of power and subtlety proving a winning formula. Again, Dave delivers some snake slide guitar that impresses greatly, as does the really excellent solo he offers in the closing moments, blistering stuff! 

Opening track Every Waking Moment is another blistering assault on the ears with lots of feedback and sustained chords and notes being used to good effect. Although it is when the song opens up sonically that the real crunch takes effect, and it is very satisfying when it does. The skill being employed here is very high indeed, especially when Dave delivers another fiery guitar break over a strong throbbing bass part and keyboards. This is really strong and exciting music being played here, barnstorming even. Memory Box is, on the face of it, a somewhat lighter track but don’t be fooled as within its grooves are some searching lyrics about keeping secrets and not being open. This is definitely a radio friendly track with lots contained within its four minute running time. Run is similar with real presence and punch. Again, this rocker is very satisfying, the more I hear this album, the more impressive it becomes. It is a definite grower, the synths looping on this song are most memorable and create a great atmosphere and add to a really good track.

Stigma is another hard hitting track with good power chords alongside a powerful lumbering bass line and good keyboards. This creates a fantastic sound, harmonious and yet powerful at the same time. There are good guitar fills from Dave in this track too, this is a very powerful performance that has melody and dynamism. Another excellent solo rounds the song out well. I love this guitar solo over the crunching rhythm section. I really like this track, it’s possibly the best on the album. The Rules Have Changed is hinged on a spidery guitar riff and more crunchy chord work that drives the song along nicely. The riff is repeated again, as are the punchy chords, which, combined with Dinet’s excellent vocals, work really well and create a great atmosphere. More guitar lines are added as the riff powers up before another fine Dave Foster solo really impresses.

This album has really grown on me over the past few weeks as I find much to appreciate and to enjoy within its grooves. It is a very accomplished and well produced set of songs where nothing outstays its welcome. Several of the tracks are absolute belters and make the album highly worthy of your attention as it is really very good indeed. I highly recommend it, now to check out his earlier releases I think.   

Released 19th May, 2023

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