Citadel

SKU: SOM344D
Label:
Season Of Mist
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"The Seasons of Mist promo team must have collectively flipped their titties when the Sydney Conservatorium of Music announced they were to use Ne Obliviscaris‘s “And Plague Flowers The Kaleido” on their teaching syllabus. In a world of increasingly simple and commercial music, nothing screams musical credibility more than appreciation from a prestigious classical school. Mutual respect and musical coalition of the ‘complex’ and ‘respectable’ genres of classical, jazz and metal are commonly used by bands and fans for self-validation and in intellectual dick-waving contests. The one complaint I had about Ne Obliviscaris‘s début LP, Portal Of I, was that it was one of these exercises. It’s a fantastic, accomplished work of art and it was one of my favorites from 2012, but it lacked that feeling. It was a work of aesthetics without a tangible soul.

The same cannot be said of Citadel. Start to finish, there is a sense of cohesiveness and an underlying purpose to the record, beyond mere skill and pretentiousness (have you seen those song titles?). More, the Melbourne-based six-piece retains their unique brand of extreme metal combined with classical and jazz, improving on the already-stellar musical credibility which they crave so. Citadel is the complete package for the discerning prog fan and metalhead, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Ne Obliviscaris Citadel 03It’s not easy to pigeon-hole No Obliviscaris into a single extreme genre. While Portal Of I could be broadly categorized as symphonic black metal, Citadel bears stronger death influences. Compare the intros of “Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract” with “Pyrrhic”: the latter from Citadel bears further down-tuned guitars, a thicker bass drum, and tasty chromatic chord progressions, whereas the former has a more typical tremolo-picked black metal melody. The extreme metal sections here are absolutely punishing, such as on the opening five minutes of “Pyrrhic” and “Devour Me, Colossus I: Blackholes.” The battering blast beats, and the thick, technical riffs, contribute to this effect.

But along with its heaviness, there are the undeniable classical sections. The introduction, “Painters Of The Tempest I: Wyrmholes,” and the conclusion, “Devour Me, Colossus II: Contortions,” enclose the record, slowly breaking you into the complex soundscapes and lifting you away again at the end. Tim Charles’s violin is exemplary, and more varied than on Portal Of I. He uses a greater range in pitch, as well as more minor and atonal notes on these two songs, with the result of a beautifully unsettling experience. The recurring piano keys on these two tracks are haunting and bring the record full circle, while establishing the theme of the record. Charles narrates the quiet, desolate wandering through the eponymous citadel, just as the heavy tracks narrate its eventual destruction.

The greatest asset of Citadel is undoubtedly its ability to surprise the listener. Just when you think the band is settling into a regular rhythm, they introduce a new sound, nail a unique transition or progress to a new phase of a song. “Pyrrhic” will undoubtedly go down as one of my favorite tracks from this year, featuring a jaw-dropper of a breakdown and transition. After blasting the listener with some of the most aggressive material on the record, the tempo slows to a near stop, with ambient noise and a simple drum-line. After building, the background unexpectedly cuts – the use of silence as a contrast floored me. Additionally, the interlude, “Painter Of The Tempest III: Reveries From The Stained Glass Wound” (Pretentiousness: unparalleled), bears a flamenco flavor, with dual melodies from the violin and an acoustic guitar. They even use some djent-y riffs towards the end of “Painters Of The Tempest II: Triptych Lux.” There’s a sophisticated and utterly compelling integration of many components and styles here.

If I have one gripe (and I do only have one) it’s the production. Rather than allowing the enamored listener – of which there are many where this hype train is concerned – to gradually unfurl the intricacies of the music on their own, everything is unsubtly shoveled to the fore. There are many layers and instruments going on at various points here, which requires clarity in mixing, but everything sounds far too pristine. Each instrument seems to have been produced to have equal weighting and the same effect – the violin should be more delicate to better contrast the guitars, for example. The kick drum is similarly over-produced, weakening the rhythm component.

Quirky production aside however, Citadel is nigh-on masterful. Credibility permeates everything, from the complex song-writing and varied vocals to the superior riffing, violin-work and interesting drumming. A melancholic note overhangs the record, reflecting the theme of a destroyed society, which gives this record better direction than Portal Of I. I only hope Ne Obliviscaris continue along this path – self-indulgent dick-waving and all." - Angry Metal Guy blog

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    $13.00
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    $12.00
  • "Forming in 2008, the floodgates appear to be wide open creatively for releasing full length product for this UK progressive metal act. Two albums within two years, as well as a prime support slot for the Devin Townsend Project across 12 countries in Europe during 2011 leads us to the third record Enigma. Filling out as a quintet with new keyboardist Shaz, the nine songs on this effort illustrate the ability to siphon the old, complex template with a modern, semi-staccato meets djent guitar style in shorter, compact arrangements.Aeon Zen isn’t afraid to add a light, jazzy horn break during the tranquil section of the somber “Seven Hills,” which contrasts the conventional Dream Theater-like musical montage that opens the record instrumentally entitled “Enter the Enigma.” Drummer Steve Burton is adept at death metal blasts just as he is twisting tempos at will- check out the Opeth-esque “Divinity” for his double bass maneuvers, lightning fast fills and impeccable sense of timing.Alongside the professional skills of vocalist Andi Kravljaca (Silent Call), three other vocalists appear to add their own texture to the band’s cause. Atle Pettersen (Above Symmetry), Jonny Tatum (Eumeria) and Nate Loosemore (Lost in Thought) give Enigma a deeper emotional platform, as the clean and extreme deliveries match the mood of each arrangement.It’s a younger generation who seem willing and able to push parameters and use technology to deliver a wider scope of feelings, emotions, and contrasts. Much like the peanut butter and chocolate argument of whether each is better separate or together, Aeon Zen has no qualms about loving Symphony X, Threshold, and Megadeth as much as Periphery or Between The Buried And Me- and making it work within their output.Melodic, modern progressive metal that should grab a wide scope in audience enthusiasm - Enigma could be a sleeper hit if these gentlemen land the right touring situations. " - Blistering.com
    $8.00
  • "Death’s widespread influence on death metal has never been in denial, but picking one favorite album from the Florida act is no easy feat. Some factions prefer the raw death metal days, while others look to the free-forming arraignments heard on The Sound of Perseverance and Symbolic. Though it’s hard to choose the defining Death album, Leprosy can be argued as the most important release in the development of Death’s future. Released just a year after Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy was an admirable sophomore effort from the mind of a musician still finding himself creatively. Chuck Schuldiner was not working from some patented formula; he was penning the death metal manifesto as he was going along. Playing unpolished and straightforward music was not to Schuldiner’s liking, and Leprosy was where his focus became clearer. The songs became more composed, the production was much improved, and the instrumental playing started to get craftier in execution. Schuldiner handled the guitars and bass yet again (Fun Fact: though Terry Butler is credited as the bassist, he did not play on the record). This time, guitarist Rick Rozz help share some of the load, and he and Schuldiner had enough interplay to make it work. Drummer Bill Andrews, on the other hand, was average at best. He had to follow-up Chris Reifert’s amazing work, and Andrews wasn’t on the same skill level. Also, the production put an odd echoing effect on the snare, making it louder than the rest of the instruments. A smart move made by the band was to pare down the amount of songs to eight, which would later become a standard for much of ‘90s death metal. By doing this, it allowed Death to eliminate any chances for filler. While only one song would remain a prominent set-list favorite (the premier anthem “Pull The Plug”), a claim could be made to the slow-burning title track or the progressive finisher “Choke On It.” Just because Death tried to expand their creative palettes was not an indication that their first album was a one-off experiment. Most bands put their best songs up front, but Leprosy reached its peak near the end with the double attack of “Open Casket” and “Primitive Ways.” Any sense of the future was replaced by a blood-thirsty sonic bombing of death metal so fast that a few vertebra had to have been snapped by head-banging listeners. To Schuldiner, Death was more than just a guts-and-blood death metal group, and Leprosy was the beginning of that transformation. The band began to get more technical and progressive, with the help of an array of temporary bandmates. Leprosy was not just a bland sequel to Scream Bloody Gore, but a worthy second act to a band that had plenty more to come. For continuing to help set the guidelines for the death metal genre, Leprosy gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation." - About.com
    $8.00
  • Evergrey are back and better than ever!  I think the general consensus is that as the band became more and more popular the music became a bit more commercial and the production slicker.  Tom Englund has gone back to the basics and its clearly the right move.  Jonas Ekdahl (drums) and Henrik Danhage (guitars) have returned to the fold and production has been handed over to Jacob Hansen.  This is a return to the "classic" Evergrey sound - that perfect balance of melody and heaviness with the right amount of "prog" injected when necessary.  COMEBACK ALBUM OF THE YEAR!  BUY OR DIE!"One of the leading names in the power/progressive metal world is the Swedish five-piece, Evergrey. Forming in 1995, the band has released eight full length albums, with number nine releasing this fall. The band has been known for relatively dark lyrics and concept albums since their debut, and because of this fact, it was very difficult for me to get into their music. I can easily count the amount of times I thought “I should listen to Evergrey” on one hand. Though I wasn’t well versed in their discography, what I had heard was moving quite slowly, was downright melancholic, and just couldn’t catch my attention. That was until the Hymns for the Broken album landed in my inbox.First off, the notable changes in the lineup, with the return of Jonas Ekdahl (drums) and Henrik Danhage (guitar) grabbed my attention immediately. Though the band briefly spoke about the addition of the two previous members on their Facebook, “What can we say? We missed each other.” I truly believe that this decision, and the amazing mixing by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Amaranthe, Primal Fear) and production quality are what set this album up for its coming success.The album kicks off with a very eerie intro track, then jumps into the first single and video, “King of Errors”. Even without being an Evergrey fan in particular, I have always known who Tom Englund was, as his voice is so unique and legendary in the industry that I couldn’t ever really escape it. This song is a great display of the power and ability he has as a vocalist to truly bring a wonderfully written song to an entirely new level. The blend of the guitar riffs and keyboard work is perfection to say the least, but when the awe-inspiring guitar solo hit, I knew this album had me by its teeth.Immediately following is another one of the strongest tracks on the album, “A New Dawn” with a strong and hard-hitting guitar and bass riff that doesn’t ever really let go throughout the song. This song features one of the more beautiful keyboard solos on the album, but yet again that guitar solo just comes out of nowhere and destroys any solo I have ever heard this band release. “Black Undertow” is another perfect example of why Englund is so well-respected in the music world. It begins with his chillingly lower vocal range, but builds back up to where he truly shines. This song not only features another soaring and strong chorus, but the rhythm work between all instruments keeps it dark and eerie, though the keyboard lightly dances above it all.The title track to the record explodes into this phenomenal musical intro, but fades just as quickly as it hits. Boasting some of the strongest, most emotional lyrics on the album, the song hits a chord in many personal ways. “Scream loud, these hymns are for the broken,” are just some of this crowd enticing chorus that Englund sings flawlessly throughout. Bringing the album to a close is the over seven minute song “The Aftermath” which begins in a ballad-like fashion, but builds to a very strong finale. The tempo remains slow, but the flawless movement in the instruments keeps it absolutely enthralling. The last half of the song is entirely instrumental, and the conversations between keyboard, bass, and drums is something that I could listen to on repeat for hours, especially when the haunting lead melody soars above it all.If you can’t tell, I can’t think of a single moment on this album I don’t absolutely love. As someone who could never get hooked by an Evergrey album, I can assure you this is not just ‘fandom’ talking. Hymns for the Broken is a perfect album that even after weeks of constant play, I can not get enough of. Perhaps it is indeed perfection, or perhaps it just hit me at the right time in my life, either way I am in love. Easily a current contender for album of the year, it’s so full of beautiful melodies and amazing arrangements that any fan of power or progressive metal will absolutely love. I don’t doubt that all previous fans of the band will appreciate this album as much as I do, but I sincerely hope that new listeners give this record a fair and objective chance as well.This is definitely their most ambitious release yet, and they absolutely nailed it!" - Metalholic 
    $15.00
  • Second release from this superb progressive metal band from France - and their debut release for Sensory. Everything about the sophomore effort is an improvement - from the production to the performances (and there was nothing wrong with Mental Torments). If you are fan of mega-tight ensemble work, chops from hell and real songs then you have to hear Anima. We are very proud to have SUE as part of the Sensory roster."The early beginnings of Spheric Universe Experience dates back to 1999, when guitarist Vince Benaim decided to create a progressive metal band together with his friends Sam (on drums) and John Drai (on bass). The band did some local gigs in and around the southern parts of France, going by the name of Gates of Delirium.They knew that they limited their own repertoire by not incorportating vocals and keyboards, so by 2001 keyboardist Fred Colombo entered the band together with vocalist Alex. Now going by the band name of Amnesya, the guys did lots of liveshows and one demo CD.In August 2002, the band split because of musical disagreements leaving Vince, John and Fred to continue under the name of Spheric Universe Experience.During the next 8 months their passion for composing led them to write a complete album, which they recorded at home as a demo in April 2003 with session vocalist Franck Garcia, who came in just a few days before the recordings began. The vocals were recorded in a professional studio, and although Franck didn't have much time with the band prior to recording it, the result is very convincing, which is why he joined the band fulltime.The 2003 demo, "The Burning Box", was sent to Intromental Management in Denmark, who immediately fell in love with the bands sound, and decided to offer them a management-deal.Helped by session-drummer Volodia Brice, the band began recording the debut album, “Mental Torments”, in August 2003.In summer of 2004 Spheric Universe signed a worldwide record deal with French label Replica Records. An American license was also inked with Nightmare Records.Nico "Ranko" Muller joined the band in fall 2004 as their new drummer, and with him on-board the line-up was complete. The debut album, Mental Torments" was finalized by the great mix of Tommy Hansen (Jailhouse Studios, Denmark - a.o. Helloween, TNT, Pretty Maids). The cover artwork was created by famous Swedish artist Mattias Norén at ProgArt Media (www.progart.com).2005 was spent writing new material plus playing various live shows, opening for acts such as Scorpions and Uli Jon Roth in France.Now, the band has finalized their 2nd effort, “Anima”, which is a strong follow up to the debut, showcasing S.U.E. from their finest side. The album was recorded by Charles Massabo during the summer of 2006 in Coxinhell Studio Studio and Kallaghan Studio in France and was mastered at Jailhouse Studios in Denmark by Tommy Hansen, giving the music of S.U.E. the extra powerful touch that is needed in today’s music market. Artwork was this time around handled by Björn at Killustrations Media in Germany (www.killustrations.com).The music of Spheric Universe Experience is technical, melodic and possesses a top-notch progressiveness, that can be compared to bands such as Dream Theater, Pain Of Salvation and Fates Warning, but filled with an incredible intensity and an original identity of their own."
    $13.00
  • Remastered edition contains 6 bonus tracks include 2 previously unreleased songs."A stunning self-reinvention by a band that many had given up for dead, 90125 is the album that introduced a whole new generation of listeners to Yes. Begun as Cinema, a new band by Chris Squire and Alan White, the project grew to include the slick production of Trevor Horn, the new blood (and distinctly '80s guitar sound) of Trevor Rabin, and eventually the trademark vocals of returning founder Jon Anderson. His late entry insured that Rabin and Horn had a heavy influence on the sound. The album also marked the return of prodigal keyboardist Tony Kaye, whose crisp synth work on "Changes" marked the band's definitive break with its art rock roots. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was a huge crossover hit, and its orchestral break has been relentlessly sampled by rappers ever since. The vocal harmonies of "Leave It" and the beautifully sprawling "Hearts" are additional high points, but there's nary a duff track on the album." - Allmusic Guide
    $9.00
  • Remastered edition of the fifth album. Classic.
    $13.00
  • "Italian power metal band Holy Knights have managed to let ten years elapse between releases. This is not often the best business model- just ask Axl. The band currently consists of Simone Campione (Nexus/Thy Majestie/Ex-Irencors): Guitars, Bass with Claudio Florio (Crimson Wind/Trinakrius/Ex-Synthesys): Drums and Dario Di Matteo: Keyboards/Vocals and they have produced an easy-to-review-for-the-lazy album. Why is it easy? That would be because it would be simple to say something along the lines of, "If you like (insert Euro power metal band such as Rhapsody)...then you'll like Between Daylight and Pain.In the main this is a generally accurate comparison as Holy Knights bombard the listener with a massive wall of sound including fairground/carnival type music on "Frozen Paradise". They are not quite as over the top as some of their contemporaries and when they rein it in they are like Royal Hunt which is a good thing. Yes it is somewhat of a cheesefest but it reveals a joie de vivre lacking in so much modern music and that makes this reviewer happy." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $14.00
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    $17.00
  • "Quite the misleading band name, ya know? Project Arcadia isn’t much of a “project” as it is a Bulgarian outfit fronted by the ever-awesome Urban Breed, he of Tad Morose, Bloodbound, and currently, Trail of Murder fame. Prior to Breed joining, the band released From the Desert of Desire in 2012 to rather muted results, as in, no one on this side of the pond gave a flying toss. Sure enough, add Breed to the fold, record a new album in the form of A Time of Changes, and viola, Nightmare Records takes care of the rest. Not a bad deal.Hovering around traditional power metal and 80s metal protocol (the accompanying bio cites MSG and the Scorpions, which there is scant correlation), Project Arcadia wisely focus on the considerable vocal talents of Mr. Breed. He’s given ample breathing room to allow for his superbly melodic and hefty pipes to get their kicks, like on the soaring chorus for “I Am Alive,” and the acoustic-led “The Ungrateful Child,” which sees the Swede go full-on tender. But for the most part, the band plays it muscular, hitting some brute riffs in stride on “Formidable Foe” or finding some double-bass happenings on opener “Here to Learn.”The addition of Breed is sure to bolster Project Arcadia’s profile immediately. However, being that Breed is also known for being a bit of metallic nomadic, one had to wonder how long he’ll stick it out with the band. But the songs are certainly here on A Time of Changes, suited perfectly for Breed, who ten years after his shining moment on Tad Morose’s Modus Vivendi, can still hang with the best of ‘em. If the Swede was smart (and he is), he’ll stick with this, and Trail of Murder and keep on being productive…" - Dead Rhetoric
    $12.00
  • "Assignment is another band releasing a new album on a new label after a short silence, five years to be correct. Inside Of The Machine, the progressive metal band's third work, finds them signed to Belgian's Mausoleum Records. It's also a quite ambitious work at that: a concept album with four different vocalist player character parts, and several guest guitarists.For the concept and vocalists, which include Robin Beck, Mats Leven, and Michael Bormann, and their parts you can check out the information following the review. Of three guest guitarist the most notable wizard is Bernie Versailles from Redemption offering some lead songs, though I don't know on which song(s).As for the music, this Assignment at their best, creating a progressive metal package by mixing elements of classic melodic hard rock, melodic and symphonic metal metal, power metal, and even a little rock fusion. That comes in the latter half of the instrumental Bug In The System, one of the best songs here. Some the best vocal songs are those with Bormann and Robin Beck (only because she's one of the best rock vocalists around), specifically Love Between Heaven & Hell and Ending Love. The latter one finds Beck's presence a bit stronger in front end which makes the song even more compelling. The antagonist in the story is obviously The Machine and it's introduction in I Am The Machine has a heavier darker feel. Alternatively, the concluding End Of The Machine has more melodic and brighter, yet still forceful, timbre to it. Throughout you get lots of ripping guitar leads often paired alternating synth solos. I'm guessing the full CD package comes with all the lyrics, otherwise, at times, the story is difficult to follow. Once more, Assignment's Inside Of The Machine is an ambitious and entertaining work of melodic progressive metal. Recommended." - Danger Dog
    $16.00
  • earMUSIC is happy to announce the long-awaited final chapter of the successful Savatage re-issues series. Previously unreleased and originally only intended for the Broadway rendition, “Streets: A Rock Opera” - the groundbreaking album by Savatage – is now released including its original narration parts.To complete this extraordinary release and to award the many fans who have shown dedication and love for Savatage’s legacy, the final chapter of this reissue series will feature the band’s favourite videos. Released for the first time on DVD and restored from the original tapes, the video collection spans from Savatage’s 1987’s video ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ until 1996’s ‘One Child’.As on all previous chapters of the Savatage re-issues series, the album includes newly-written liner notes by Jon Oliva, who is sharing his memories about all Savatage videos.Fans looking for unreleased and rare bonus tracks will be happy to discover a lot of extra audio content on the DVD: ‘Shotgun Innocence’, ‘Forever After’, one instrumental acoustic version of ‘Voyage’, live versions of ‘Stare Into The Sun’ and ‘Conversation Piece’ recorded in Japan (but NOT included on the official live CD) and the piano version of ‘Sleep’. The bonus track ‘Larry Elbows’ deserves a special mention: this previously unreleased song didn’t make it on the original “Streets: A Rock Opera” album due to time limits and is finally available to all the fans that never forgot the creativity and the energy of this extraordinary band.“I’m really excited for this version of ´Streets´ to finally be released" – says Jon Oliva – “It was something different, an idea that Paul O’Neill had to take the progressive rock opera format to a bigger and better place than anything we had done, and anything I had heard anyone else doing before. This version of the album has only been floating around on bootlegs.”
    $23.00
  • Second album from this superb Italian instrumental prog band.  The quartet mine the heavier end of the prog spectrum but never hit the metal end.  King Crimson, Rush and perhaps even a band like Liquid Tension Experiment come to mind.  The band serves it up hot and heavy with plenty of interplay between keys and guitar.  If you are looking for subtlety this album won't do it for you.  If you want to get slammed in the face with something that screams out THIS IS PROG...have I got an album for you.  Highly recommended.
    $15.00