II: This Time It's Personal

Second album from the Maryland based djent metal band is an explosion of melody and technicality with some cool ambient atmosphere tossed in. John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, and Wes Hauch pop up with guest solo spots. High powered stuff showing off why these guys have quickly risen to the top of the djent metal heap.

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  • "Refreshing, powerful, and extremely melodic – the adjectives I’d use at a push to describe Teramaze‘s 5th album. I have to admit I pretty much consider this their sophomore release as I was not party to their releases throughout the 90′s, with my first introduction to the band with their 2012 powerhouse ‘Anhedonia’ which quite ironically generated feels of anything but anhedonia. There has been an undeniable buzz around this release and I have found it virtually impossible to escape the widespread word and hype around this album anywhere I look online; generally I wouldn’t necessarily see this as categorically positive as it can taint your expectations unintentionally. Thankfully for the most part, my expectations and hopes with this album have been realised to the point that I welcome any melodic, thrash, progressive or otherwise metallically inclined music fan to check this 79-ish minute thematic conceptual monster.The initial impressions I have when comparing this with ‘Anhedonia’ is a development away from the slightly more thrash-oriented direction that I suspected was the impact of the members growing up in the era where that particular sub-genre beared its greatest fruits. I use the term development as I believe it has very much naturally progressed as compared to what I would consider a departure. The addition of more progressive structures and more varied layering works exceptionally well in Teramaze‘s favour to create a soundscape of in your face riffs, contemplative and brooding moods, earworm choruses, and timeless unity across the entire album.Without doubt one of the things that will grab listeners’ attention is the astonishing fretboard wizardry of band leader and Dean Well’s who treats us to undeniably wondrous smorgasbord of head nodding animosity (special mention to the riff at 2:02 in ‘Line of Symmetry’ – that will get you nodding with the mania of Jack Black), and emotive, creative, delicious lead playing that is akin to guitar heroes aplenty (Petrucci, Sfogli, Skolnick – just to name a few). The balance of great lead playing and rhythm work is a pleasure with nothing inappropriately overstated like one can sometimes expect of the genre. As a special addition, the tones are simply incredible on this album and it is glued perfectly with the bass and bonded by the fairydust keyboards that emerge to keep the sonic palette interesting (courtesy of Circadian Pulse keyboardist Dave Holley).The production is another point of veritable quality with all the instruments presented in a crystal clear state whilst maintaining vibe and not losing out to sterility which is a sad by-product of the self-produced musical climate of 2014. The only complaint I really have is that the mastering is a little hot which is noticeable after the first track (which was mastered in my ideal sweet spot). It sits at DR6 across the whole album on average which is nothing out of the ordinary for this day and age but it occasionally gets fatiguing especially over such a long record. Thankfully moment of distortion are kept to a minimum, however there are some trace elements of weakened transients and the occasional buried vocal that loses intelligibility.Vocalist Brett Rerekura is a joy to listen to and I am appreciative of the fact although his voice pushes the aggressive edge to fit the setting of the music, it is rich in melody and characteristic timbre and is not sabotaged with growls. Long live the singer in a metal band, I say! I detect glimmers of Layne Staley, Sebastian Bach and the rhythmic phrasing of James Hetfield. My only beef is the occasional “Aussieisms” I hear in some inflections which I am hyper-sensitive too (even though I’m Australian myself), however this doesn’t detract too much from what is a splendid vocal performance across the board. There are moments of supreme delicacy especially in ‘Bodies of Betrayal’ which I would have liked to have heard more of as well as a bit more of that delicate side to the band overall to give this album the dynamic curve it deserved. This is of course only a minor criticism.The album’s concept, while not narrative based centres around the experiential nature of deception; especially by that of governing bodies and the powers that be. I think the title of ‘Esoteric Symbolism’ is perfectly apt as this is not the viewpoint or mindset of everyone and best kept as the worldview of a particular minority of people. I think for some the lyrical approach could border on conspiracy but I like the exploratory nature of them and what is truly the harm in questioning some of the taken-for-granted “truths” we hold in this ever-changing world. Kudos to Teramaze for honestly and whole-heartedly fusing their beliefs with such hard-hitting music in a way that I see as completely lacking pretence.For me the standout tracks are ‘Bodies of Betrayal’, ‘Esoteric Symbolism’ (6:53 in this gives me goosebumps), and ‘viii In Vitro’ as I believe they hold the most profound emotional connection with me due to the individual moods they build. I have to admit the only track that I am not particularly keen on is the one with the guest vocals as I feel as though it breaks the flow of the album in a way that was superfluous to requirements. It came across as guests for guests sake which is probably my most direct criticism of the record.This is an exceptional release that stands up to my extremely critical ear and was only let down by perhaps a slight lack of expression with regards to dynamics (mastering and songwriting) across such a long album. Its length to some may indeed be a bit hard to swallow in single listens, however this is par for the course for me as a fan of long form writing. For fans of Metallica, Dream Theater, Alice in Chains and anyone who wishes to have a boot up the bum and an electrode to the brain from an ambitious and highly satiating album." - Metal Obsession
    $12.00
  • Sick shred with a progressive edge...from an unlikely source. Korn guitarist Shane Gibson formed this trio with bassist Eloy Palacios and drum monster Thomas Lang. The album is almost all instrumental (one vocal tune). A real burner from beginning to end."Combining thrash metal with progressive rock -- stOrk, is the brainchild of guitar ogre Shane Gibson (KoRn) and uber-drummer Thomas Lang.Best known for his soloing, Shane Gibson's frequent use of odd time signatures, heavy riffing, poly-rhythms, innovative tapping sequences and his impressive sweep picking technique provides the sonic spine of stOrk's masterful, musical progeny. Songs like, "Changing Lanes" and "Alien" on stOrk's debut album perfectly showcase Gibson's considerable shredding skills.World-renowned drummer Thomas Lang (Rhythm magazine's "Best Drummer in the World") provides the percussive punch to stOrk's sonic uppercut. With Lang's incredible interdependence, powerful double bass drumming combined with an innate musicality, his drumming on stOrk is both insanely heavy and musical at the same time. Featured on "Metal Fatigue" and "Nautilus," Lang's drumming is legendary.Rounding out this ultra power trio is Eloy Palacios (Vension) on bass. Palacios is the sonic superglue that binds Gibson's guitar and Lang's drums together. On stOrk's debut album, Palacios' virtuoso playing and bottomless bass pocket are not to be missed.Intense, dark, aggressive, futuristic and somehow familiar, stOrk sounds like nothing you've ever heard -- but always hoped you would. "
    $14.00
  • Withem is an up and coming Norwegian progressive metal band, inspired by the likes of Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind, Dream Theater and Circus Maximus.The band started to take shape in 2011 when Øyvind Voldmo Larsen (guitars) and Ketil Ronold (keyboards) met the gifted drummer Frank Nordeng Røe. Soon they were joined by the vocal talents of Ole Aleksander Wagenius and bass duties were taken care of by the special guest Andreas Blomqvist from Seventh Wonder.Withem’s debut offers varied sonic landscapes for the listener to explore, ranging from guilty-pleasure choruses permeated with memorable vocal hooks, to symphonic epic themes.  The unique vocal range of Ole Aleksander Wagenius gives the band a distinctive touch to tackle the overcrowded progressive metal scene.The passion and dedication put into the album is emphasized by the countless hours spent in studio perfecting each individual performance and making sure that the end result is a world class blend of progressive, symphonic and power metal.The Point Of You was mastered by Markus Teske (Vanden Plas, Saga, Spock's Beard)
    $13.00
  • Hiromi Uehara is the petite Japanese pianest that has been shaking up the jazz world for a number of years. With each passing album she has added more electric instrumentation and the music has taken on some fusion overtones. Time Control is a new project that moves her even further into fusion realms. While she mainly concentrates on acoustic piano she does play some synths. Her rhythm section is electric bassist Tony Grey with Martin Valihora on drums. The real star is noted electric guitarist David "Fuze" Fiuczynski. Fuze is probably most known for his use of fretless guitar (which appears here extensively) as well as fretted guitar. Hiromi gives him plenty of space to work his magic. There is lots of energy on this disc and the interplay between Hiromi and Fuze is dizzying - as they trade solos back and forth as well as play in unison. The juxtaposition between Fuze's distorted guitar versus Hiromi's fluid and clean acoustic piano is startling but it works...particularly when you hear them blazing away. Hopefully this is not a one off project and we'll hear more from this lineup. Highly recommended.
    $12.00
  • Its been quite a long time since we've heard from Magic Pie.  They went through lots of trials and tribulations getting this album finished but now its finally arrived.  If you are not familiar with this band here's the deal: Magic Pie are a Norwegian band with a retro 70s sound.  The music is a bit of a high wire act balancing the neo-prog sounds of The Flower Kings with the heavier elements of classic Uriah Heep.  They also seem to be the darlings of Rosfest having played there multiple times."It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since these proggers from Norway released their promising debut "Motions of Desire". At that time, their music struck me as an enthusiastic combination of classic prog and classic hard rock. (Think Deep Purple for the hard rock side of that equation.) At their best, they offered memorable passages and pieces that sounded like they very well could have been long lost recordings from many years ago. At their worst, they sometimes fell short of filling the big shoes of the legendary bands whose music they strove to emulate. That's actually not bad for a debut album from a new prog band. I found much to like and looked forward to hearing from them again in the future.Checking back in on them a decade later, I must say that I am very impressed with how they have developed and matured. No longer do I get the feeling that certain sections of songs are direct homages to any particular band from any one particular decade of prog's illustrious history. Their influences, while still very present and valid, are now more varied, including a greater percentage of modern reference points. More importantly, their influences are just that--merely influences rather than templates or even primary reference points.The sound quality on "King for a Day" is superb thanks in large part to the enlistment of sonic genius Rich Mouser (whose resume includes similar work for prominent contemporaries like Spock's Beard, Transatlantic and Dream Theater).Keyboardist Erling Hananger is an excellent addition to Magic Pie's recipe. His keyboard parts are expressive, dynamic and integral to the music. When appropriate, his leads seamlessly blend, harmonize, and work synergistically with electric guitar.The lyrics have a melodramatic and somewhat tragic flair this time around, but this is prog so you should be accustomed to the musical ride including a few tragic tales from time to time by now, right?OK ' so it's time for the "magic" question... A decade after their debut album, how has my impression of Magic Pie changed?On "King for a Day", I now hear a band which has found "its own voice", one that resonates confidently in the space somewhere between classic arena rock of yesteryear (on prog-steroids of course) and modern melodic prog of the 21st Century (like Spock's Beard and The Flower Kings). Add a few dashes of modern prog-metal to taste and you, my friend, have baked up a very nice confection indeed... MAGIC PIE!If you love modern prog anthems with big harmonies and 'sing along' choruses, give "King for a Day" a listen! I'm glad I did!" - ProgArchives
    $15.00
  • Virtuoso keyboardist Vivien Lalu has created a new progressive metal epic featuring an all star cast:Band [A-Z]---Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta) - VocalsMike LePond (SymphonyX) - BassSimone Mularoni (DGM) - GuitarsVirgil Donati (PlanetX)- DrumsVivien Lalu (Shadrane) - KeyboardsGuests [A-Z]---Jens Johansson (Stratovarius)Joop Wolters (Shadrane)Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie)Mike Andersson (Cloudscape, Fullforce)Peter Wildoer (Darkane, James LaBrie)Born of Noelle and Michel Lalu, musicians from the ‘70s French progressive act Polene, Vivien Lalu has released a surplus of recordings through an array of different bands and projects since 1997, as the keyboard player for underground black/doom band Time For A Change. At the turn of the millennium Lalu played keys for two underground progressive metal bands from Paris, Sad Warden and then Mind’s Orchard, and in 2002 was hired by Hubi Meisel (ex-Dreamscape vocalist) to compose and record the keys for his solo album EmOcean, the following year doing the same for Meisel’s sophomore album Kailash, both of which were released by Lion Music.It was at this time Vivien Lalu begins recruiting his own associates from major prog and metal bands — some of which he shares time composing music alongside in progressive metal act Shadrane — and forms his own solo project, LALU. The first full-length Oniric Metal was released on Lion Music in 2005 and began an entirely new chapter for this composer and his insatiable need to create mind-expanding, cinematic music.These accomplishments helped Lalu to begin securing score and soundtrack work for film and television; over the last few years he’s written many cues for the orchestral soundtrack for the Warner Bros movie Seuls Two, for the show Science X made in association with Lucasfilm Ltd. Additionally he joined the production team behind Laszlo Jones in order to assist the recordings and production of Banana Nation (Universal Music Group). He’s composed many soundtracks for French television, music and sound effects for Neko Entertainment, worked as a sound designer for Ubisoft Entertainment and much more.After collaborating with Shadow Gallery for a song on their Digital Ghosts album, and working with Canadian drummer Chris Nalbandian for his Paralysis of Analysis solo album — recording all keys and sharing solos with Derek Sherinian and Alex Argento — Vivien finally settled in and began work on the second LALU opus. Handling all composition and songwriting duties, as well as all keyboards on the massive production, Vivien weaved the cloth of the new album with vocalist Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta), bassist Mike LePond (SymphonyX), guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM), drummer Virgil Donati (PlanetX), the album’s parts recorded in several countries including the United States (Los Angeles and New York), Germany and Italy, produced by Lalu in his own studio, and mixed at Boumbox Studio in Paris by Yan Memmi (Dio’s Lock Up The Wolves, Marcus Miller’s The Sun Don’t Lie, etc.). Additional contributions from Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), Joop Wolters (Shadrane), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie), Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) and Peter Wildoer (James LaBrie) were also carefully built into the album, the final product boasting over fifty minutes of exceptional, massive  cinematic, atmospheric metal Lalu has dubbed, Atomic Ark. 
    $13.00
  • "Esteemed international metal label Season of Mist began pursuing the two-guitar, three-singer Vancouver quartet Anciients after hearing a series of early mixes for what would become the band’s debut album. It’s easy to imagine what initially lured the diverse label to the band: The tracks on Anciients' nine-song entrance, Heart of Oak, are hyperkinetic but heavily anchored. They surround the hooks you might expect from a Baroness anthem with tangential and technical playing that trends toward prog rock but stops short of Opeth or Enslaved’s maze of redirections. Anciients excel at muscular and agile guitar solos, while the guitarists, Kenny Cook and Chris Dyck, also volley the vocal duties, jumping from death metal bellow to pop-metal lift. It’s exciting stuff, really-- often complicated without seeming excessive, skillful but soulful, approachable but not pedestrian. At its best, Heart of Oak is immediate and electrifying, an album that suggests Anciients’ half-prog, half-pop metal is bound for big stages.By this point, though, you’ve probably wondered what’s up with the band’s name: Why, after all, add an extraneous vowel to a perfectly good handle? That excess is emblematic of Anciients' chief musical foible-- time and again, they add unnecessary sidecars to songs that would have been more effective left alone. Of these nine tracks, only one doesn’t break the six-minute mark. The exception is a tender but predictable instrumental, a mid-album interlude meant as a tribute to some late friends and family members. But the rest of these things are hyperbolic monsters that speak to a rookie act attempting to get through all of their influences at once, even though three of the members have been playing together in other groups for a decade. They are trying to make a very big point all the time, and the weight collapses in on itself. “The Longest River”, a nine-minute cut with a woefully apropos handle, swivels from acoustic foreboding to contract-and-expand thrash, from distended solos to dense stomp, from sweet-singing verses to growled impasses. None of it’s bad, but none of it is astounding enough to pardon the way it obviates an excellent refrain.That’s a consistent problem for Heart of Oak, a record that adulterates many incredibly exciting moments with consistent excess. “Flood and Fire”, a late-album highlight, seems more like a string of song pieces than a proper song, with a righteous solo swiping momentum from a great chorus that, in turn, stymies several great and grim hardcore shout-alongs. As Cook told Metal Underground, album opener “Raise the Sun” initially keys on Fleet Foxes before leaping into a verse so sticky and warm that ASG or Torche might like to have it back. Elsewhere, the song convincingly invokes metalcore and psychedelic rock, hangman riffs and fleeting blast beats. The parts are exhilarating, but strung together with more enthusiasm than wisdom so they’re mostly exhausting. Taken a track or two at a time, Heart of Oak is manageable; make it from end to end, though, and it’s difficult not to feel frustrated by the fatigue.These complaints aren’t meant as some preclusive warning against Heart of Oak; rather, they’re only an honest assessment of a band that, in years to come, is probably going to be great. If Anciients choose to venture further deeper into labyrinthine prog, they’ve got the riffs and rhythms to make it compelling over the long haul. They seem as steeped in the suffocation of black metal from Scandinavia as they do in the sweetness of Allman licks from Georgia, as capable of thrash sprints as they are stoner lulls. And as the pealing organ and rumbling field recordings of the gorgeous (but, again, incredibly excessive) closer “For Lisa” suggest, they bring a wide-eyed approach to their music. Heart of Oak doesn’t have a compelling, cohesive narrative thrust, but there’s always time to buy a book of folklore, right?Alternately, Anciients could choose the route of bands such as Baroness or even Mastodon, embedding that sharp technicality within songs that make their points with concision that doesn’t forsake intricacy. The kernels of these songs are strong enough to suggest that they’re not very far off-- that is, their biggest problem as a band isn’t a dearth of ideas but, rather, discretion with those ideas. Anciients are exciting new prospects, with or without that cumbersome vowel chaiin." - Pitchfork
    $13.00
  • No idea where this band came from but its one hell of a breath of fresh air. This is the debut release from a new German progressive metal band. The Old Man And The Spirit is an existential concept album with a larger than life feel, perhaps a long the lines of the release release from Joseph Magazine. The band features two vocalists - Herbie Langhans and Dilenya Mar. Each one takes on the role of a character in the story. The male/female vocals work very well together. Beautiful juxtaposition of quiet acoustic passages and bombastic, symphonic metal. Its only January but I think you can already consider this one for a Top 10 prog metal list for 2012. Highly recommended."“The Old Man and the Spirit” is an ambitious concept album dealing with the polarity of human sensuousness and superhuman awareness. Two main characters interpret the music on this theatrical and challenging record: “The Spirit”, who is the personification of all wisdom and awareness that is unachievable to mankind but that lacks of the ability to feel, and her opponent “The Old Man”: a bon vivant who has lived through all highs and lows of human sensations. These two characters are interpreted by the two band singers: a female Dilenya Mar and a male Herbie Langhans.But the operatic and cinematic setting of the album was put together by the bands’ two masterminds: guitar player Peter Degenfeld and the classically trained ivory tinkler Christopher Tarnow. “From the beginning it was our intention to do an album presenting one big piece of music” tells Degenfeld. “One of the very first things that came about were the two characters together with the basic content of the story. Basically before the notes were written, we knew what each song had to sound and feel like and what the lyrics had to say. With these restrictions we started the songwriting process. In the end writing songs under these self-imposed limits turned out to be just great”.While “The Old Man and The Spirit” is undoubtedly a demanding musical statement, Beyond The Bridge are determined to make their steps to bring their music on tour. “We put a lot of effort into the goal of creating the studio sound on stage and we have already rearranged some parts to make them more suitable for live performances”, explains Degenfeld.Beyond The Bridge’sline-up is rounded out by bass player Dominik Stotzem, Fabian Maier on drums and Simon Oberender on keyboards and guitar. Simon also took care of the album production at the famed Gate Studios (owned by the famed producer Sascha Paeth, who mastered the album).While at first listen the album will easily appeal to the Progressive Rock / Metal audience, thanks to the virtuosity displayed in the playing and the compositional design, the album can be easily enjoyed by all who are looking for songs that can excite the listeners. “The music is touching. It will even touch you in a different way each time you listen to the album”, concludes Peter Degenfeld. “The lyrics are inspiring and ambiguous. This encourages to dig deeper into the spiritual journey of the "Old Man"."
    $14.00
  • The new wave of Norwegian progressive metal has found a worthy representative in Circus Maximus. The band has a wide variety of musical influences, from pop/rock to 70's Prog-Rock to Heavy and Death metal, all of which is blended together and gives them their unique sound. This melting pot creates a mixture of great melodies, groove, heavy riffs and weird odd time signatures."The First Chapter" was recorded in various studios in Norway, and mixed in October 2004 in Denmark at Jailhouse Studios with well-known producer Tommy Hansen (Helloween, Pretty Maids, Wuthering Heights) at the helm.The sound is impeccable, the musicianship is out-of-this-world, Michael Eriksen's voice is amazing (reminding of Tony Harnell, Joey Tempest and Ronnie Atkins), and the songs are simply outstanding. A superb mixture of classic hard rock anthems and progressive technical bits and pieces. Just listen to tracks as the upbeat opener "Sin", the beautiful ballad "Silence From Angels Above", the grandiose "Glory Of The Empire" or the 19-minute magnum-opus "The 1st Chapter".This album will appeal to all fans of bands such as Symphony X, TNT, Dream Theater, Pretty Maids and Queensryche.Circus Maximus will be making their North American debut at ProgPower USA in Atlanta, GA on September 16, 2005.
    $13.00
  • Stunning new album from Crippled Black Phoenix arrives as a sprawling 2CD set. This is one of the hottest progressive bands on the planet. Led by Justin Greaves, CBP channel the spirit of early Pink Floyd but update it with modern production. This is the band's fourth (or fifth depending on how you count) album. There is a thematic subtext dealing with corruption and injustice. This seems to be a recurring theme with CBP. Listen to this album - you can just hear a band about to explode on the world wide stage. BUY OR DIE!
    $19.00
  • Second part of the English Electric concept dealing with life across the UK landscape.  What a beautiful album.  First off lets make it clear - Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford made a huge mistake.  Vocalist David Longdon should have been Phil Collins replacement in Genesis.  He would have fit like hand in glove.  The album features the band augmented by a variety of guest musicians including Andy Tillison of The Tangent who contributes organ, Moog, and Mellotron parts.  Its all very British sounding and once again a wonderful mix of old school prog and a more contemporary neoprog sound.  Highly recommended.
    $13.00
  • This release finds the band hooking up with Steven Wilson again but this time Andy Sneap did the mixing. This is the so-called "heavy" album with the mellower one to follow soon. No major surprises here - if you liked the direction the band moved in with Blackwater Park than you will definitely dig this. In my opinion the title track is a complete monster and will be hailed as a future classic. Now available at a budget price.
    $13.00
  • "New live album from Swedish prog rock sensation Moon Safari. Recorded at the band's performance at the classic Baja Prog festival in Mexicali, Mexico. The album features some of their classic tunes as well as pieces from their latest studio release Himlabacken Vol. 1. Drumming on this release is Mikael Israelsson from Swedish prog rock band Black Bonzo. Recommended for all fans on melodic prog rock."
    $16.00
  • DeEvolution tells the story of an elite group of leaders from a heavily industrialized city who find, brainwash and then exploit an indigenous tribe’s shaman, believing he would be the perfect supreme leader. By propping him up as possessing all the answers to societies ills the elites use him in order to gain and keep more control over the masses. They plan to influence the masses on several fronts: Religion, Media, Consumerism, and Government.Twin brothers, Jasun and Troy Tipton along with Erik Rosvold released two albums with the Progressive-Metal act Zero Hour. The band's second album "The Towers of Avarice" won sparkling reviews from nearly every metal magazine around the World and has achieved classic status among prog metal fans. Zero Hour successfully toured Europe and performed twice at Prog Power USA, the largest prog-metal music festival in the World. In 2003, fans were disappointed when Zero Hour parted ways with Erik Rosvold.In late 2007, Jasun began writing material for Cynthesis. As the music developed Jasun could only imagine one vocalist to really connect to the material. After one phone call both Jasun and Erik were very excited to work together again.The final piece of the puzzle was to find an amazing drummer. Jasun asked Troy what drummer he would like to work with. Without any hesitation Troy said, "Sean Flanegan is the guy". Sean is best known for his work with the Progressive Rock band, Enchant (Blink of an eye & Tug of War).Produced by Dino Alden, DeEvolution is the first of a projected series of albums from this reunited force of progressive metal.
    $8.00