Inside Of The Machine

"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

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    $15.00
  • "Is this really the end? Our story told, forever to be forgotten in the ashes of time? When we will perish, will anyone remember life stories, personal ventures gone into the vastness of space? No doubt that the question of mankind’s future existence is something that most people tend to ignore, busy with their daily troubles, probably only have nightmares about it or watching disasters in movies. On the other hand, that same question has a magnitude that will eventually consume the wanderers, possibly to cause paranoia, but it will still remain a personal truth. Within the vast corridors of Metal music, mankind’s quandary of survival has been quite a topic, always diverting patterns of thoughts regarding the matter whether with vile disgust or slightly more optimistic point of view. The Danish MERCENARY reached out for what would be considered as the darkened days, where mankind will be consumed by disease, hate and perdition. “Through Our Darkest Days”, via NoiseArt Records, carries on the bands continual modern melodic Death Metal deliveries, a hybrid with what could be perceived as contemporary Power Metal. Within the banned outskirts, a possible future is here, alive, telling its tale.Amidst the obscurest demesnes of “Through Our Darkest Days”, MERCENARY seemed to have preserved their musical principles since their earlier days. This new number shares the band’s greatest qualities once again on display. The impeccably crafted melodic Death Metal with updated driven Power Metal, a bit closer to the its modern Swedish counterpart al’a SOILWORK, Jakob Mølbjerg and Martin Buus provided assorted types of riffing whether shooting off harmonies in the vein of IRON MAIDEN, showcasing melancholic melodies or barraging partial staccato rhythms and several other palm muted chugs, a breed of a creative view, Buus delivering frantic soloing showing off his expertise with a few Bluesy like surprises on the side, Peter Mathiesen clearly a worthy addition to this band since his first days in 2009 with being a diverse drummer and of course at the bass and vocals, René Pedersen. I believed that I said it before, after reviewing the band’s previous “Metamorphosis”, but it has to be said again, ever since the departure of Mikkel Sandager, Pedersen took the reins as both clean and growl vocals. In that moment, I became even a bigger fan of the band as Pedersen drama fused clean vocals along with low to mid end growls of high quality swept me off my feet, always channeling spectacular harmonies that sound so rich and endless.Generally, “Through Our Darkest Days”, in comparison to the previous contender, “Metamorphosis”, felt somewhat defiant, aggressive, heavier, but also catchier that before much like the band’s earlier discography. Furthermore, the album’s amazing flow, and atmospheric acuities, created a sort of an understanding of the dimmed message the band is trying to create in front of you, mostly thanks to the profound grasp of the keyboards meeting perfectly with the band’s melodic fortitudes. “A New Dawn”, “Through Our Darkest Days” and “Holding On To Serenity”, assumingly the album’s prime highlights, were able to slightly shade the impact of early songs as “Firesoul” and “Shades Of Grey”. “Dreamstate Machine” and “A Moment of Clarity” delivered a chunk of fistful of heaviness, in your face Metal with distinctive sense of anger but also a look for beyond, out of the box inside looking out, harmonic vocals so emotive along with well written guitar riffs, cracking with rhythmic simplicity in times, but still shrewd as always. In last few words, it will never be the same, but MERCENARY, since emerging as a foursome crew, has been assimilating the meaning of true greatness, their attention to details is exemplary with great ideas to keep up the foundation going. " - Metal Temple
    $12.00
  • "The first album by Flying Colors got mixed reviews. Some people loved it (I was one of those) whilst others were disappointed that a band that included Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse had made an album that wasn't very "prog." Well, the second album from this band can't be criticised in that way because this is most definitely a prog album. Opening with a 12 minute song, and ending with a 12 minute, three part suite, these are the obvious progressive songs, but most of the shorter songs also mix pop/rock with progressive elements.So, starting at the beginning, Open Up Your Eyes is like a mini-Transatlantic epic, with the first four minutes consisting of an instrumental overture before the vocal come in. There are plenty of swirling keyboards and lead guitar, and Portnoy's characteristic drumming is there too (something that was largely absent from the first album.) The next two tracks are more in a heavy metal style, something not usually to my taste, but certainly Mask Machine has a catchy hook and is an obvious choice for a single. After Bombs Away comes a more straightforward ballad, then the rocker A Place In Your World with some nice guitar riffs and keyboard lines, plus a singalong chorus. Lost Without You is another Power Ballad and the shortest song on the album at under 5 minutes. Then we get to the point at which the album really hits the heights. I defy anyone to listen to the last 3 tracks, one after the other, and not be amazed at the genius of this band. Kicking off with One Love Forever, which has an infectious acoustic guitar riff and a celtic feel, we then move on to what is probably my favourite song on the album. Peaceful Harbour has a beautiful spiritual feel to it, and the beginning and end put me in mind of Mostly Autumn. Finally we have a real gem. Cosmic Symphony is a three part suite with sections approximately three, three and six minutes long. It starts with thunder and rain effects and a simple repeated piano line before vocals, drums and guitar come in. Finally these are joined by a melodic bass line. The second section is more jazz keyboard based and then we move on to the final part which reminded me of REM. The song ends with the same piano line and thunder effects which began it.A superb album, even better than their first and certainly proggier." - ProgArchives
    $6.00
  • Its been some time since Michael Harris' Thought Chamber project made its debut.  The band consists of Michael Harris (guitars), Ted Leonard (vocals), Bill Jenkins (keys), Jeff Plant (bass), and Mike Haid (drums).  Ted Leonard and Bill Jenkins will be familiar to you from their membership in Enchant (Ted is also fronting Spock's Beard now).Psykerion is a sci-fi cybermetal concept album.  Harris plays with a lot of restraint compared to some of his solo albums.  In fact I would classify it as tasteful.  Leonard is one of the best vocalists in prog and he doesn't disappoint.  Lots of solos flying around on guitar and keys but it maintains a melodic integrity through out.  Hopefully we don't have to wait another 7 years for the follow up.  Highly recommended.This is the limited edition import version that comes with 2 bonus tracks.
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  • Fifth studio album from this always interesting Polish prog band.  Lizard's music always has a dark quality to it.  At times there is a noir quality that reminds of King Crimson but there is a strong symphonic rock component that dominates their music.  Master & M is a conceptual album based around Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master & Margarita" novel.  It consists of five long chapters with some intense instrumental passages.  Vocals are excellent but the problem with Lizard is that band leader Damian Bydlinski sings in Polish.  Highly recommended.
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  • I'm going to cut to the chase: if you are a fan of Fish-era Marillion...if Peter Gabriel's voice makes you spooge...then you need to own this disc.A Time Of Shadows is the second album from this Irish neo-prog band heavily influenced by vintage Marillion. Vocalist Liam Campbell is excellent and clearly from the Fish/Gabriel school. Good long tracks filled with melodies but still plenty of intricacies. Beautiful artwork from Ted Naismith rounds out a superb package. If the words "clutching-at-straws" gives you goosebumps you are a click away from musical nirvana. Highly recommended.
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  • Seventh album from one of the leading lights of the modern progressive rock movement.  The album demonstrates the band expanding the scope of their sound a bit as some of the material has a metallic quality.  Overall though the band stays true to their roots - plenty of 'tron, organ and analog keyboard sounds to be heard.  These guys didn't forget where they came from.  They just crossed over to the dark side...a little bit.  Embrace the crunch and enjoy.  Highly recommended.
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  • "Alternative Rock is not a genre that graces my ears very often, but as always, they are open; as is my mind. The funny thing is, any time I am exposed to something I wouldn't normally find myself listening to, there is always something about that band that has my wanting attention for one reason or another, be it the sound of the vocalist, the mixing, or those infectious hooks in the chorus. For its genre, the ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN (formerly AGUA DE ANNIQUE) is perfectly postulated and is a leading act, with their non-repetitive writing (something I hear too often in commercial rock), excellent vocals and songs leaving you burning with an urge to sing along.Their latest release, "Drive", is no exception; as an album, it proves to be versatile, with no two songs sounding identical, but every song keeping the rhythm and mood to make the album fit piece by piece. "We Live On" feels like a typical pop-rock track, upbeat and driving, with an extremely powerful vocal performance in the choruses by Van Giersbergen. "Treat Me Like A Lady" does not want to be treated like a lady, and takes a noticeably heavier tone, brimming with attitude. "She" begins ever so modestly, making us think we're brought back to some level of calm, but explodes into an incredibly fast-paced chorus for such a Rock band, and includes yet another infectious chorus; something that is fast becoming an obvious highlight. "Drive" – I adore the sound of the bass in this song, the way it is dislocated from the drums, adds another dynamic. Van Giersbergen's even more stellar performance in the chorus demonstrates her large vocal range and versatility. Save for electric bass, "My Mother Said" is an entirely acoustic song and is the softest, most heartfelt song on the album; the band's namesake flawlessly demonstrates her ability to fit her voice around any song to emote any mood wants. "Forgive Me" is especially different, demonstrating unusual chord progressions, totally different instrumentation, and revealing even more, the extent of control that Van Giersbergen has over her range. "You Will Never Change" is upbeat and punchy, through-and-through with an – okay, let us just assume that every song on this album has an infectious chorus; definitely one of my favorites on the album. "Mental Jungle" begins with a strange, Arabic-sounding vocal melody, also featured on the chorus; I do indeed also love this chorus, as well as the interesting chord progressions. Quite easily the most unique song on the album, it strays from the pipeline rock sound that this record has been purveying. "Shooting for the Stars" takes the cake for the 'radiorock' track on the album, where every note, every beat, every lyric, screams commercialism and airtime. Not necessarily a bad song, but not the most interesting on the album. The album closes with "The Best Is Yet To Come" which makes me thing, Anneke has even better music to offer us in the future? The song itself takes first place on the album for me; the presence of the overdriven guitars and bass compliment her voice perfectly to create a powerful and catchy, yet Heavy Rock track, with interesting and unpredictable licks and hooks.Van Giersbergen and her band are quickly cementing themselves as one of Europe's currently most powerful and gorgeous-sounding rock groups, whom don't necessarily always cling to the commercialized, radio cliché sound, although no doubt perfectly suited to long air time. Coming from a metal head who listens to a fair share of female singers, I believe she could sing anything she wanted to, and the band of musicians that have got together and recorded this organic album with her have done so masterfully, and I'm not sure if the best is yet to come." - Metal Temple
    $7.00
  • This is another one of those classic Renaissance radio broadcasts that tape traders have circulated for years.  It gets an "official" release courtesy of Purple Pyramid.  It was recorded on the Turn Of The Cards tour at the Academy Of Music in NYC on May 17, 1974.  If you are fan and you don't have a cassette squirrelled away somewhere you need to own it.
    $17.00
  • Sensory is proud to announce the signing and forthcoming release of a new rising star on the Greek progressive metal scene – Persona Non Grata.Greece has always had some of the most fervent metal fans in the world. Although the main interest has been so called “true metal” bands in the style of Manowar and Iron Maiden, progressive metal started to take hold of the country in the 90s. Bands such as Dream Theater and Fates Warning routinely perform in Athens and both have released live CDs and DVDs from their Greek performances. Greek bands such as Fragile Vastness and Sensory’s own Wastefall have generated a buzz world wide and the scene continues to expand. Persona Non Grata will surely continue this tradition of great progressive metal.Persona Non Grata’s formation began in 2003 when John Ioannidis (keyboards) invited Chris Gatsos (guitars) to join his group Fatal Error. It didn’t’ take long for John and Chris to realize that they had to move on to progressive metal music which was a mix of rock that John loved to play and heavy metal that Chris grew up with. In order to achieve this they had to change the band’s line up. During this period they focused on writing the music which would be the material for their first CD “Shade In The Light”.It was 2 years later when vocalist, Bill Axiotis, joined the PnG group and they started recording this album. They asked session musicians Akis Gavalas (drums) and Chris Vogiatzis (Bass) to help record the album. When the sessions were over they felt a synergy with the three members of the band and came on board permanently, completing the lineup of Persona Non Grata."Shade In The Light" captures a band creating complex music but coming from the melodic end of the metal musical spectrum. Similar bands would include Circus Maximus, Vanden Plas, and Poverty's No Crime.Persona Non Grata's MySpace Page
    $6.00
  • "Following the success of their debut ‘Vitriol’, Symphonic metallers Evenoire have announced the release of their sophomore album ‘Herons’. The band combines Gothic and Symphonic Metal with a very distinctive Medieval/Folk approach, with a special mention to extraordinary lead vocalist Lisy Stefanoni, whose ethereal and powerful voice and evocative flute add an extra dimension to the melodies and make her one of the most promising female singers around. And if ‘Vitriol’ was centered on “water” themes, this new album focuses on “fire” and all those mythological creatures that represent it. The music is heavier than ever before although the lyrical side of the band is still prominent. ‘Herons’ was recorded at Dreamsound Studios in Munich, Germany, with Mario Lochert, Dejan Djukovic and Daniel Rehbein (Emergency Gate, Graveworm, Visions of Atlantis) behind the consolle. Mastering and Mixing duties were handled by Jan Vacik (Dreamscape). The band has also announced the collaboration with keyboardist/producer Riccardo Studer (Stormlord, Hour Of Penance). A very special guest appearance by singer Linnéa Vikström (Therion) is also confirmed."
    $15.00
  • Magnus Karlsson's name might not be that familiar to you but if you are a fan of melodic metal you probably own an album or two he was involved in.  The Swedish guitarist's original band was Last Tribe.  After a number of albums for Frontiers he was the man behind the curtain for the two Allen/Lande albums as well as a bunch of other projects for the label.  Ultimately he became a member of Primal Fear and toured with this.Freefall is his first solo album under his own name.  He plays all the instruments except drums which are handled by Danny Flores of Mind's Eye.  Calling in favors, Karlsson has enlisted a who's who of vocalists from the melodic metal realm: Russell Allen (Symphony X), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Tony Harnell (TNT), Rick Altzi (Masterplan), David Readman (PC69), Mark Boals (Malmsteen), Michael Andersson (Cloudscape), Rikard Bengsston (Last Tribe), and Herman Saming (A.C.T).  That's a lot of good pipes!
    $13.00
  • This is the new 40th anniversary edition.  The CD features the expanded set and given a new mix courtesy of Robert Fripp, Tony Arnold, and David Singleton.  The DVD-A features a hi-rez (24/96) stereo mix and hi-rez (24/48) versions of the 2005 mix as well as the 30th anniversary remaster.  You also get a 24/96 vinyl transfer.  I think Robert has definitely beaten this one to death.  Once you have this version there isn't anything left.
    $21.00
  • Reign Of The Architect is a multi-national metal project with its core musicians based in Israel.  The main "architect" appears to be Yuval Kramer, guitarist for Amaseffer.  Not surprisingly there is a musical connection here as well.  While most of the members are Israeli, some prominent names crop up: Mike LePond (Symphony X), Jeff Scott Soto, Joost Van Den Broek (After Forever).  The album is put together like a metal opera with various vocalists - male and female filling the different roles.  The overall feel is purely epic in nature.  In terms of musical reference guideposts, Amaseffer and Saviour Machine come to mind but the male/female vocal parts bring to mind Beyond The Bridge.   Highly recommended."Reign of the Architect are a multi-national progressive metal band that came together in 2008. Originally started as a side-project collaboration by Mexican drummer Mauricio Bustamente and guitarist for Israeli progressive metal group Amaseffer Yuval Kramer, the group also numbers Israeli singer Yotam Avni of death metal band Prey For Nothing, who wrote the basic storyline for what would turn out to be their debut album Rise.The group emailed ideas back and forth until it was time to record in 2010. To fill out the lineup, the group recruited several well-known and respected metal musicians, including bassist Michael Lepond (Symphony X), as well as guest musicians in keyboard player Joost Van Der Broek (Ayreon), highly regarded Israeli jazz fusion guitarist Assaf Levy, and the legendary Jeff Scott Soto (Yngvie Malmsteen, Journey, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) to perform on certain tracks. Reign Of The Architect’s first album was delayed due to the inability to find a label to release it, but finally it has seen the light of day. What could have been a disappointment instead was revealed to be a truly gripping, cinematic work of symphonic progressive metal.Rise is a sci-fi concept album of some sort. According to Kramer, the story is an “allegory of the powers that rage inside the human soul”, dealing with the subjectivity of things such as good and evil, and right and wrong. In accordance with this duology, the music on this album falls into one of two categories; either slower dramatic and mournful, or heavier bombastic and angry. Both are done in a very cinematic fashion, and combining influences from Latin, Middle Eastern, European, and jazz fusion traditions into one melting pot of progressive metal riffing.After a symphonic intro, the album opens, interestingly enough, not with a high energy song as would be expected, but with a waltz-type song, and then a ballad which starts very minimal and then turns into something more dramatic for the finale. The song “False” has a heavy, desperate feeling, and is a very powerful metal song which descends into a very surprising but very fitting jazz fusion-esque solo. The song also ends with an almost-ragtime piano section, which nicely contrasts the rest of the song.There are three vocalists featured on the album: Davidavi Dolev, Tom Gefen, and Denise Scorofitz – and this is one of its greatest strengths, as each one is given parts that perfectly suit their range and sound within the music. It adds an amazing amount of dynamicism and variance to the album.There are also a few guest vocalists to add even more to what Rise has to offer. The singers are given specific characters that are important to the concept to sing. Most appear throughout, as the concept demands, but Jeff Scott Soto makes his mark on only one track: the brilliant “We Must Retaliate”, the second single release from the album. Members of the Israeli thrash metal band Dark Serpent appear on the final song, “Hopeless War” as soldiers, and also making guest appearances (and acquitting themselves wonderfully) are Joost Van Der Broek (playing a keyboard solo on the first single release, “Distant Similarities”) and Assaf Levy, who provides guitar solos on “False” and “As The Old Turns To Sorrow”.Musically, the rest of the band is excellent. The guitar, drums, bass, and keyboards all sound fantastic and work very well together. Guitar-wise, the riffs in the more metal moments are strong, flowing, and cohesive. The bass parts, half of which are played by Michael Lepond who replaced original bassist Kyle Honea when the latter was unable to continue, are their own entity not just following the guitar. Lepond is a fantastic bassist, one of the best in progressive metal, and it shows here.Rise is three acts and fifteen songs long, running at 65 minutes. It is not long for progressive metal record, but it does occasionally feel like it drags a bit. All the songs are within the four to six minute range, and contain enough variety to keep things interesting for the most part, but the back half of the album is less interesting than the first half. The first seven songs are brilliant, while the next nine have a few shining moments, namely “We Must Retaliate” “Crown of Shattered Dreams” and “Hopeless War” among others, but are generally a little less remarkable. It is also the first part in a planned two part saga. No word on when the second album will be released, but one can hope it will be just as good as this one. Reign of the Architect have created a fantastic work of progressive cinematic metal for their debut. The variety of sound showcased, and the strong composition and musicianship along with some great guest musicians make this an excellent addition to any progressive metal collection. It is very well-produced and has some very thoughtful lyrics. Rise is definitely one of the top progressive metal albums of the year so far." - The Monolith
    $14.00