Machina Viva

SKU: SR3078
Label:
Sensory Records
Category:
Post Metal
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Since their first release in 1999, WOLVERINE has pushed outside the boundaries of metal and evolved through inventiveness and explorative ambition, now incorporating a wider spectrum of musical elements into their own progressive sound.

Machina Viva is a natural evolution from their last album Communication Lost, inviting the listener into the melodic yet dark and moody world of WOLVERINE.  It is the band’s most dynamic album to date; from the 14-minute epic and powerful “The Bedlam Overture” and the dark electronic landscapes of “Machina”, to the naked and organic nature of “Pile of Ash” and “Sheds”. This is the next step in WOLVERINE’s explorations in the progressive field.

Machina Viva was recorded and produced by WOLVERINE in Sweden during autumn and winter 2015/2016. The album was mixed at Spacelab Studio (Germany) by CHRISTIAN “MOSCHUS” MOOS (HAKEN, DELAIN), and mastered by Grammy Award winning audio engineer BOB KATZ.

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  • Michael Romeo doesn't work quickly.  The man takes his time and a new Symphony X album is ready when its been honed to perfection.  Underworld is the first new album in four years.  To get to the point its ridiculously great.  Up through V, the band were the modern agents of neoclassical/symphonic metal.  With The Odyssey the band took a left turn with Russell Allen's vocals being more agressive and a pervasive overall crunchiness, heaviness to the sound.  Perhaps a bit less symphonic sounding.  With Underworld fans of the "old style" will smile once again.  The band has found a way to balance both sides of their sound.  Its heavy but extremely melodic.  Russell's vocals are spot on and Mr. Romeo's solos have an organic flow that will sweep you through the tune.  Its a beautiful marriage of styles - not too much of either direction that the band has exhibited in the past.  Toss in a theme built around Dante's Inferno and you've totally sucked me back in to the fold.  BUY OR DIE!"A lot has happened with New Jersey-based progressive metal band SYMPHONY X since the Iconoclast album was released four years ago. Singer ‘Sir’ Russell Allen recorded and toured behind several releases with ADRENALINE MOB, toured with TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and recorded the album The Great Divide with ALLEN-LANDE. Bassist Mike Lepond toured with HELSTAR and released his excellent solo album under the name SILENT ASSASSINS. Keyboardist Michael Pinnella released a solo album and guitarist Michael Romeo made guest appearances on some albums. Drummer Jason Rullo battled and successfully recovered from heart failure in 2013.Four years later, SYMPHONY X delivers another fantastic album, the band sounding just as powerful as Iconoclast, and amazingly never missing a beat. Titled Underworld, it is sort of a concept album, loosely based on Dante’s epic poem Inferno. Dante’s Inferno is not a totally original topic in the metal world; ICED EARTH featured an epic song based on it on their 1995 album Burnt Offerings and SEPULTURA wrote a concept album based on it with 2006’s Dante XXI, while SYMPHONY X themselves included references to it on their 1997 album The Divine Wings Of Tragedy. Several other metal bands have also been influenced by the poem.SYMPHONY X do not follow the tale word for word, but use it more as an inspiration. Michael Romeo is quoted as saying that the album has a theme of “going to hell and back for something or someone you care about.” He also said that this album is more about “the song” instead of the album as a whole, allowing it to flow better from song to song. This doesn’t mean every song is an attempt at a single. Romeo’s intent when writing songs for Underworld was for people to be able to take in the whole album in one listening. (The total album length is just over an hour, compared to Iconoclast’s two discs that were around 83 minutes).To be honest, the last two SYMPHONY X albums, 2007’s Paradise Lost and 2011’s Iconoclast were my favorite albums released by the band so far. I refer to them as the “angry” SYMPHONY X, mainly due to Russell Allen’s vocal delivery and the aggressive music on those particular albums. So, I waited to see if we would get a third album in this same vein from SYMPHONY X. The songs on Underworld seem to alternate between prog and aggression, but for the most part, the album is not as “angry” as Iconoclast. The album strikes a perfect balance between prog and power. Some songs are aggressive without being “angry”. There are definitely more classic SYMPHONY X elements here than on recent releases.The album is much more accessible than previous albums. The songs overall are shorter (most clocking in at around the 5-6 minute mark), and more to the point than on previous albums. For example, “Kiss Of Fire” is one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard by SYMPHONY X. It immediately became a favorite of mine on this album, with the verse, “Bring down the hammer, with serious anger – It’s me against the world!” section and the chorus becoming some of my favorite moments. This song probably represents the album to me more than any other, but the album is filled with classics, such as opener “Nevermore”, a ferocious track that is aggressive in the verses, while the chorus is more melody-driven. The title track follows, with many twists, turns and speed sections. “Without You” is a standout track. With its guarded delivery by Allen and acoustic guitar flowing in the background, it is probably the mellowest moment on Underworld, but that’s not a bad thing. The chorus is the focus of the track, with Allen performing some of his best work. The song probably has the most potential as a single. Another solid track, “Charon”, named for the ferry boatman of the underworld, follows. This track has a middle-eastern flavor to it.The longest track on the album (9:24 in length) follows, the excellent “To Hell And Back”. This song has so many great parts, it’s hard to pick a particular favorite, possibly Allen’s soaring vocal on the chorus or the “on and on and on / no quarter asked, no quarter given” section. “In My Darkest Hour” follows and is another favorite of mine, featuring speed riffing parts, mixed with a melodic chorus. Allen really shines on this song. “Run With The Devil” is even more up-tempo and another one of the more accessible songs due to the chorus. “Swan Song” finds keyboardist Pinnella taking the bulk of the spotlight with his piano flourishes. The album closes with the excellent “Legend”. Allen’s aggressive pre-chorus vocals and melodic chorus vocals make this an instant classic.I believe the playing on Underworld is at another level for the band. Lepond’s bass work is spectacular throughout and Jason Rullo makes a real statement with his drum performance. Fantastic work from keyboardist Michael Pinnella and of course guitarist Michael Romeo’s amazing riffs and solos are worth the price alone. But you get more, don’t you? You get one of the best singers in metal, Sir Russell Allen, making yet another classic album even better with his voice.The album’s exquisite cover artwork (once again by illustrator Warren Flanagan) features the return of the SYMPHONY X masks, around which are eight symbols that represent the circles of hell: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, and fraud. The symbol for treachery, the ninth circle, is underneath the masks, and hopefully will be revealed in full inside the album packaging.Underworld is a great album, which grew on me the more I listened to it. SYMPHONY X are masters of American prog metal, and have been for quite some time. Underworld further cements that reputation, and will undoubtedly please fans of all eras of the band." - KNAC.com 
    $14.00
  • Now here is a beautiful slice of contemporary progressive rock.  Anubis is an underrated band from Australia - bands down under don't seem to get the attention they deserve.  Hitchhiking is their third full length album.  2011's A Tower Of Silence was a big hit around here and frankly when it arrived it came as a huge surprise.  This long awaited follow up reinforces that the prog rock world needs to take notice.  The music has a cinematic Floyd-like feel.  Vocals from Robert James Moulding are emotion driven and have plenty of impact.  This is not a band who's music is filled with tons of soloing but what's here is solid.  In other words this is not old school prog - its very forward thinking but with a modern sound.  Highly recommended."I have long dreamt of an Australian progressive rock album that would inspire me to click the repeat button, in order to drift through its world all over again, and I am happy to declare that Hitchhiking to Byzantium has been on constant rotation for weeks at this point. Bringing an enchanting blend of Floydian melancholy and the energy of Rush to the table, Anubis have come to stake their claim as heavyweights in the Oz scene with their third opus.Whilst being equally impressed with their 2011 album A Tower of Silence (which I have only just heard recently also), I have found myself returning to Byzantium more to explore the subtle nuances contained within the album’s ten tracks. ‘Fadeout’ as an opening diddy is like riding a gentle breeze for just a short while before being swept up in all the drama and opulence of ‘A King with No Crown’, a reference quality track on every level, cinematic in scope and full of drama and tension and certainly an inspired choice as opening single for the album. ‘Dead Trees’ is a classic prog cut with all the bells and whistles sporting a vocal performance that harkens to a young James Labrie and a chorus that will have you by the balls from the first time you hear it.I mentioned a notable influence from Floyd and Rush earlier, but if I was to be honest, I would love to ask them if they are fans of American prog band Tiles and those wonderful Brits Anathema, because both bands are called to mind on this album amongst others like Sweden’s Anekdoten. The title track is a sublime centrepiece and features a plaintive aura that is sent soaring when spine-tingling female backing vocals lace the chorus. It’s so hard to choose a favourite song when they are all so filled with creamy goodness, but any of these three  - ‘Blood is Thicker than Common Sense’ (a seductive groover), ‘Tightening of the Screws’ (a majestic slice of melancholia reminiscent of early The Pineapple Thief) or ‘Partitionists’ (a lyrical and musical marvel) - could easily take the title for this humble listener.The final triptych features dark drama in ‘Crimson Stained Romance’, a song that reminded me most of a classic Floyd epic, the 15+ minute ‘A Room with a View’, which is nothing short of a sweeping symphony of moods and tones and the closing ‘Silent Wandering Ghosts’ sounds exactly like its title would suggest, haunting and transcendent with an outro to die for.These seven talented lads are a gifted lot, with every performance of outstanding quality, enhanced by a jaw-dropping production that let’s every instrument tell its own little story and play its part in this emotionally resonant work that as the band state themselves: "I feel that there's more of us in there - the hurdles that life throws at us and the only way to feel true inner peace - by examining the love around you. It's certainly an introspective record - but it's real life. It's about you, it's about me, it's about all of us. Hitchhiking to Byzantium. That journey is life."And somehow I believe them." - Loud Mag
    $15.00
  • Since their first release in 1999, WOLVERINE has pushed outside the boundaries of metal and evolved through inventiveness and explorative ambition, now incorporating a wider spectrum of musical elements into their own progressive sound.Machina Viva is a natural evolution from their last album Communication Lost, inviting the listener into the melodic yet dark and moody world of WOLVERINE.  It is the band’s most dynamic album to date; from the 14-minute epic and powerful “The Bedlam Overture” and the dark electronic landscapes of “Machina”, to the naked and organic nature of “Pile of Ash” and “Sheds”. This is the next step in WOLVERINE’s explorations in the progressive field.Machina Viva was recorded and produced by WOLVERINE in Sweden during autumn and winter 2015/2016. The album was mixed at Spacelab Studio (Germany) by CHRISTIAN “MOSCHUS” MOOS (HAKEN, DELAIN), and mastered by Grammy Award winning audio engineer BOB KATZ.
    $13.00
  • "With Post-black metal experiencing a kind of popular renaissance, the amount of bands either jumping on the genre bandwagon or being thrust into mainstream recognition is at an all time high, and to some the genre is reaching it’s saturation point. Writing Lotus Thief off as just another post-black metal band, however, would be a grave mistake. Elements of the genre certainly do exist on Rervm, their debut album, but serve as more of a creative launch point than a genre template or set of stylistic rules. This presents an album that’s as sprawling and varied as the story it tells, and one that seamlessly blends genres into a greater whole. The one constant are the ethereal, beautiful female vocals layered atop the varied instrumentation.As previously stated, post-black metal is just a starting point for Lotus Thief. The first three tracks contain everything from doom metal style slow crawls to classic Deep Purple style riffing. That the band weave all of this together so effortlessly on their debut album is proof of the band’s skill as musicians and bodes very well for future releases. Part of this genre hopping instrumental virtuosity is certainly due in part by Otrebor, the man behind the always incredible Botanist. The compositions here are as lush and expansive as his previous work, and further cement him as one of progressive metal’s unsung visionaries.However, Otrebor is joined by Bezaelith, who not only contributed the female vocals to the album but also wrote and composed the vast majority of the music. Otrebor focused mainly on drums, where his genius can indeed be heard, but Bezaelith is due credit for her brilliant work on creating the evocative and bottomless soundscape which permeates the entire release.The album’s production strikes a balance between lo-fi warmth and modern depth, giving birth to lush soundscapes where guitars, drums and keys ebb and flow under the angelic vocals. Repetition is a key element to the album, but never to the point where anything becomes tiresome. Sections are repeated just enough for them to to feel familiar, and then the song moves on, very much akin to how Gojira will milk a riff for all it’s worth before switching things up for the listener. This is a very easy album to get lost in, and it seems to fly by all too quickly. Thankfully, there’s a good amount of subtle depth in the instrumentation, and combined with the vocal hooks you’ll be coming back for more in no time.Lotus Thief have crafted a fantastic debut that comes out of left field and leaves you wanting more, and that most other bands should envy. Time will tell if this project will bear as much fruit as Otrebor’s other work, but if it does, we’ll all be the better for it." - Heavy Blog Is Heavy
    $8.00
  • Beautiful, haunting experimental metal from this Icelandic band.  Like some other extreme metal bands (think Ulver and Opeth) they have evolved into something very different.  If Sigur Ros recorded a black metal album it might sound like this.  If you like to be challenged by metal outside the norm this is highly recommended."I’m a prime example of being caught in a rat race, a cog too much a part of the corporate clockwork and maybe that’s why on some basic level I identify so strongly with the timeless concept behind Sólstafir‘s fifth and much anticipated release. Ótta comes three years after the release of Svartir Sandar, with the concept of the album staying close and personal to their Icelandic roots. So much so that that the album flows according to an old Icelandic form of time-keeping similar to the monastic hours or Eykt (one eighth of a solar day), And so, Ótta consists of eight tracks, beginning with a representation of midnight, moving through each Eyktir in the day, coming to a close in the period between 9 pm and midnight. Hardly a riveting concept on paper, but thought provoking nonetheless.Much like the post-metal genre being built on rising crescendos, so “Lágnætti,” “Ótta,” “Rismál” and “Dagmál” are the slow and steady climb before you reach the boiling point of “Middegi” and “Nón,” only to have their power stripped away quite dramatically with “Midaftann” and “Náttmál.” Now stop for a moment, close your eyes and feel “Lágnætti” (low night) wash over you. The intro rises up, uncoiling with slow deliberation, pure atmosphere at first, culminating in an isolated and memorable piano melody that along with frontman Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s vocals, would fit right in on Coldplay‘s Viva La Vida. “Lágnætti” quickly settles in and gives you that familiar feeling that Ótta is indeed the next logical progression from Svartir Sandar. The album grabs hold of and builds on the very same subtleties and charm, the same enveloping moodiness and even the same delicate eccentricities of the earlier release, rather than following on with the bolder adolescence like Köld and Í Blóði og Anda (In Blood and Spirit).Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s vocals have been perfectly matched to each track and at times it’s tough to imagine it’s the same vocalist. For much of the front-end of Ótta and then again towards the back-end, our intrepid frontman dabbles in the same instrumental, minimalistic style he used on Svartir Sandar. In “Lágnætti” and the title track, he could take the place of Chris Martin fronting Coldplay, and then in “Rismál” and “Midaftann” he creates a new and fantastical beast seemingly from leftover parts of Shining and Katatonia. Giving the release more time to soak in, you’ll find hints to the glory of the past, like his screamy shouts leftover from Köld‘s “Love is the Devil (and I am in Love)” and then in “Middegi” and “Nón” there are hints of the glory locked and loaded in Svartir Sandar‘s “Þín Orð.”Instrumentally Ótta feels like a swirling melting pot of flavours, colours and textures. The title track stands out, surely competing with Ulver‘s “Not Saved” as one of the most addictive pieces of music I’ve come across, all thanks to its bluegrass-like banjo frivolity playing with the violins. And while I have no idea whom to credit for the piano arrangements on “Lágnætti” and “Midaftann” and they don’t don’t hold quite the same dizzying quirk of Svartir Sandar‘s “Æra,” they’re beautiful, melodic, well played and hold just the right amount of tragedy and atmosphere. Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason go minimalist on the guitars and drum lines, only playing what’s absolutely necessary. The guitars are delivered with a tasty distorted fuzz that takes away from the cleanliness of the album, and while solos are used sparingly, stand-out moments do filter through on “Nón” and “Miðdegi.”The production used on Ótta sounds largely like what worked so well on Svartir Sandar, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. There’s enough fuzzy warmth and focus of dynamics to keep the album an interesting and comfortable listen. What more can I say here, I’m unable to find fault with this album. It’s not one you’re going to skip around and listen to in bits and bites and needs to be experienced as a whole. Ótta is a serious piece of art and yes, it does indeed stop time!" - Angry Metal Guy 
    $12.00
  • ""It is a rare thing these days for a post-metal band to break the mold. So many bands play sludgy, lurching, epic metal that it can be hard to tell what band is trying to sound like Isis this time. This brings me to the breath of fresh air that is Secrets of the Sky.The Oakland based sextet takes what is a great but tired genre and adds a dash of black metal and a bit of prog. Imagine if you tossed Neurosis, more recent Immortal, and Porcupine Tree into a blender. Sounds like a fucked up mix, right? It's an awesome fucked up mix though.The Sail Black Waters consists of 4 tracks that are rooted in sludge, that manage to take twists and turns throughout it's all-too-short forty-one minute run-time. There are moments of dreamy soundscapes, harmonized clean vocals, and crescendos aplenty.A band they bring to mind is the Australian black-metal-with-a-violin band Ne Obliviscaris. They don't necessarily sound alike, especially because Secrets of the Skysimple aren't playing as fast, but their progressions are quite similar. Also, Secrets happen to employ a violin as one of the several talents of vocalist Garett Gazay. Their use of it is much more subtle than Ne Obliviscaris to the point where it becomes a game listening for it.In short, a phenomenal debut." - Metal Injection
    $14.00
  • "Even though John Peel raved about Circle years before the release of Meronia, their first indie EPs stayed underground. And even though this is a harsh, 75-minute heavy load of Krautrock, it brings Circle more toward popularity. And when thinking about the content of the album, they sure have earned it. Krautrock and hypnotism are old genres, but Circle has brought it to a whole new level. Their punkish past shows easily through, so that gains another new level which can be heard as heavy guitar walls and complex basslines. Also, the simplified drum sound and the patiently used keyboards add something to Circle's sound that is raw, but yet quite hard to copy. If you ignore the two noise rock tracks here ("Merid" and "Wherever Particular People Congregate"), the base line of Circle's music is clear: one guitar riff, which is played with only slight changes during the whole song. And believe it or not, it works. Lehtisalo's Gregorian singing and moaning guitars make Meronia a really moving album. And luckily the music of Circle doesn't concentrate to a one player; the band as a whole depends on the each other member. Sure, you can call some lacks in dynamic playing and the whole sound, but, after all, losses make albums more individualistic. Meronia is an outstanding debut album, but even more it is an unvaluated indie rock milestone." - Allmusic
    $27.00
  • "Alcest, the pioneering post-metal/blackgaze band from France is back with ‘Kodama’ (translates from Japanese as “tree spirit” or “echo”) after a brief two year absence. I was quite excited to hear that they had a new album coming out, and more excited still when I learned that Neige (vocals, guitars, bass, and keys) was returning to his more black metal infused roots. I mention Neige specifically as even though Winterhalter (drums) is an official member, Alcest is Neige’s own unique creation, and one he has been at work on since the tender age of fourteen. He writes the music, lyrics, and forms the concept –historically his expression of visions from his youth contacting a far off country or Fairy Land. Together they (along with live members for shows) have crafted a rich and beautiful discography of music that is part shoegaze, part post-metal, with a healthy dose of black metal as well. Since gaining in popularity, the scene has seen many rip-offs, but none do it as well as Alcest have over the past decade.Which brings us back to ‘Kodama’. I’ll say quickly that I found 2014’s ‘Shelter’ to be quite disappointing. That album focused solidly on the shoegaze element of their sound; it was a very light album, almost poppy in nature. I think it was actually rather boring, truth be told. With ‘Kodama’ however Neige deliberately wanted to go in a heavier and darker direction. The artwork hinted at this even before any music was released. The album is also a concept album, dealing with the relationships between mankind and nature, and was inspired by Japanese culture, and specifically Hayao Miyazaki’s film ‘Princess Mononoke.’ Of course unless you speak French far better than I do, you have to interpret all this by the music and vocals alone. Thankfully Neige’s music and vocal work is very expressive, and the music this time even more so than on some previous albums.The album starts with the title track, and the listener is immediately greeted by Alcest’s signature sound, it’s full, melodic, heavy, and as always very beautiful.  And typical of shoegaze, the elements blur and bend together into a wall of sound. The result is very expressive, and very spiritual. Neige’s guitar work is very recognizable, as is his composition style, and the balance between the light and dreamy elements and the heavier elements are once again perfectly balanced and walked between. The second track, “Éclosion,” starts similarly to the previous, but soon we’re treated to the heavier, more aggressive black metal style and screams which Alcest is so well regarded for. The difference between the screaming style of Neige and other vocalists who use black metal screams is that even while the screams are aggressive and wild, they are never negative, Alcest is deliberately a positive and uplifting band, and Neige has spoken in past interviews over his disappointment that people take his screams as anger or negativity when in reality they’re most often an expression of ecstasy. In other words trve kvlt black metal fans will do well to steer clear of their music, and good riddance.‘Kodama’ continues with this pattern through the rest of the short (42 minute) album. The mix of the two styles, and the wonderful juxtaposition of them that was so painfully missing from ‘Shelter’ run through several other songs as well, perhaps highlighted best by “Oiseaux de proie” the second to last track, which was also the first single from the album. I know I wasn’t the only fan to smile when I first heard it and be pleased to see the light and heavy balance be brought back in such a satisfying way.The only small complaint I have after repeated listens is that while it’s great to hear Alcest return to a balance of their signature sound (rather than the one side we got with their last album) is they don’t really give the listener anything they haven’t already heard on earlier albums such as ‘Écailles de Lune’ or ‘Les Voyages de l’Âme.’  I would have liked to have heard them take more risks and try or add something new to their already well established sound. But perhaps I’m simply being unnecessarily critical. Not every band has to, or even should, change their basic sound and approach, particularly when they set the bar for how it should sound. Neige has been remarkably consistent with his vision and the quality of it for a long time now, and I listen to Alcest to hear his vision of the world, not mine.To reiterate, ‘Kodama’ is a welcome and triumphant return to the sounds and style that Alcest fans have come to love and expect. And it takes the listener on a journey out of themselves to places they perhaps never knew existed, a place of beauty and healing. Any fan of the band should be very pleased with this release, and it’s as good as any of their early releases as an introduction to their sound. Neige and Winterhalter have joined together and put out a beautiful and solid release. And one that deserves repeated listens." - Metal Wani
    $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
  • "The allure of This Misery Garden might be found in their name. A garden is a place of beginnings and endings, of life and death, with the eternal element of hope also fixed upon it. Yet, misery can describe any of these appointments as well. On their debut work, Another Great Day on Earth, This Misery Garden explores both hope and despair with each swelling and rising within the progressive compositions. The title itself is also reflective of their musical and lyrical tone even as it bends in upon it's own cynicism. This Misery Garden's atmosphere and content is dark, deep, and often foreboding layers of melancholy with songs such as Swan Song, Rejection Song, the carefully betraying Instant Recoil and Dirty Playground being disturbing representatives. Between the eerie and introspective movements, This Misery Garden weaves thick threads of bleak chords over a dark rock resonance. If visions of Katatonia or Perfect Circle, possibly even Tool, invade your audio experience as you listen, then you will have a sense of Another Great Day on Earth foundations. For some, myself included, Another Great Day on Earth may be too despondent for an immediate repeat listen, but it does require significant and repeat attention to plumb the depths of its sophisticated portrait of hope and despair." - Dangerdog
    $3.00
  • "There’s something to be said for the willingness to change. Some bands get stuck in the mud, developing a signature sound and then finding that they are unable to shake free of it. Iceland’s Momentum is not one of those bands. The band technically started in 2002 as a one-man black metal act called Afsprengi Satans. The first transformation came a year or two later as drummer Kristján Gudmundsson began to add musicians that could help play his music in a live setting. Those early sounds ranged from black metal to death metal, and the Momentum moniker arose out of the realization that this wasn’t the same band that Gudmundsson had started.As the band has progressed, from their first recorded demo Death to Christianity to their newest release The Freak is Alive, they have mutated into a three-piece progressive sludge/doom act. Kristján Gudmundsson is still playing drums, with bandmates Ingvar Sæmundsson and Hörður Ólafsson handling guitar and bass duties, respectively. With tinges of post-metal and deep clean vocals that are reminiscent of some kind of Gregorian chant, Momentum certainly does not rest on their laurels.he Freak is Alive is an album I picked up simply because I thought both the title and album artwork were a little ridiculous. I had no prior experience with Momentum, but I was immediately taken with Holaf’s vocal stylings. The album’s lead off track ‘Bury The Eyes Once Gold’ is one of my favorites, and demonstrates the range in Holaf’s voice. His howls are intense and full of emotion, while his clean singing is low and haunting. The track starts off heavy and sets the tone for the rest of the record. ‘Between Two Worlds’ has opens with a clean, melancholy guitar progression. Other standout tracks include ‘Gauntlet’, a six-minute journey that makes use of a sitar, and ‘Creator of Malignant Metaphors’ with its intricate guitar lead. The record has a gloomy, heavy feeling that is well represented in the first two tracks and carried through final seconds of sound. Whether the guitars are clean or distorted, whether the vocals are clean or howling, The Freak is Alive stays heavy and a little sad.Momentum makes good use of odd time signatures, strings and sitar, and melds progressive and post-metal with sludge in a really interesting way. My only issue with the album is that by the time I get to the final two tracks, ‘Undercover Imagination’ and ‘Depth of the Whole’, the melancholia is played out. The last two tracks don’t grab your attention the way the earlier songs do. It leaves the ending of the album weak. Overall though, I appreciate and enjoy what Momentum has done on this record. I’m very glad to have discovered this treasure from Iceland, and I certainly recommend you dive into their previous albums." - Echoes And Dust 
    $12.00
  • "If you look at Jim Matheos’ career, across his role at the helm of the pioneering progressive metallers Fates Warning, to his collaborations in OSI and Arch/Matheos, and his appearances with Gordian Knot and Memories of Machines as well as his own solo material, people might think they know what to expect from this guitarist. Tuesday The Sky, however, from the opening sounds of the debut album Drift, is set to expand those boundaries even further.The impetus for Tuesday The Sky came from a Fates Warning bonus track that Matheos felt didn’t fit: “I started the first song, probably about a year and a half ago, as an idea for a Fates Warning bonus track. But as we progressed with Theories of Flight I realized it might not fit in and we decided to go with the all-acoustic bonus disc. This left me with a song that I really liked but didn’t know what to do with. So I started thinking about writing a few more in this style to see where it might lead.”The resulting full-length album, Drift, came together in the downtime between Fates Warning finishing Theories of Flight and the beginning of the touring cycle, enabling Matheos to explore a type of atmospheric and instrumental music you might not expect of him. He comments: “With this kind of music, it’s a lot about creating a mood and letting that sink in and develop over long periods of time, as opposed to the more frenetic format of most prog music.” Taking cues from artists like Brian Eno, Boards Of Canada, Sigur Ros and Explosions In The Sky, he explores expansive textures and ambient electronica, as well as some of the most colossal riffs he has ever produced. The album also features the talents of God Is An Astronaut’s drummer Lloyd Hanney, who provides a rhythmic backbone that is at once punchy, precise and restrained when necessary. Other guests include long-time OSI collaborator and former Dream Theater member Kevin Moore who plays keys on two songs, and Anna-Lynne Williams (Trespassers William, Lotte Kestner) who provides ethereal vocals (of the non-verbal kind) on two other songs.Instrumental music often forces a different way of thinking when it comes to writing, and Tuesday The Sky is no different: “One of the things I did was to look at the writing from a sound design perspective. What I mean by that is I would start with interesting sounds that would (hopefully) lead to interesting parts, rather than the other way around.” Matheos continues: “So, I would start by experimenting with different guitar/amp/effects combinations, sometimes all analog, sometimes digital, often for days, until I came up with something that inspired me to play things I liked.” It’s an approach that has paid dividends and is reflected in the music, flowing freely and naturally across its 10-song duration.What the future of this project holds and whether it will be taken out on the road is yet to be seen. Matheos comments: “It would be a challenge to bring this project but it is an interesting idea and one I would at least consider if there seems to be enough interest.” What is sure though, is that Tuesday The Sky’s debut is a bold, brave, creative and ultimately successful album from one of rock’s most underrated of musicians."
    $20.00
  • "Discovering new music is always a great feeling. Especially (at least to me) when you’re discovering a new band that not many people have heard yet. Back in early May my life took a change for the better when Voyager’s promoter Incendia Music sent me an email about this new band from New Haven, CA, called Earthside. I checked out the single, entitled “The Closest I’ve Come”, that was supplied with that email. I don’t think I have ever been more gobsmacked before ever. Within seconds my brain was literally strewn all across the floor. I don’t think I have recovered yet from that experience. You know when you hear a song that is so good that you’re wondering how you could have lived your life up until that point without having heard said song before? That’s how I was feeling.A Dream In Static is the title of Earthside’s debut album, and if I was blown away by the first single, it is nothing compared to what I’m feeling now. A second single, “Mob Mentality”, was released about a month ago, and it was then that I fully realised just how big this album would turn out to be. But let’s start with the basic stuff. The gentlemen in this band are Ben Shanbrom (drums), Frank Sacramone (keyboards), Jamie van Dyk (guitars) and Ryan Griffin (bass). I commend each and every one of these guys, the amount of musical brilliance on this album is through the roof. It’s like listening to a slightly more laid back version of Opeth.A Dream In Static kicks off with the first single. For many years I have struggled big time with instrumental tracks, and especially prog music in general. I have slowly gotten into the likes of Opeth and Dream Theater, but this is the song that finally won me over completely. The composition is one of total beauty, and the melody that kicks in at 1.30 is just too good for words. Mind-blowing, spine-tingling, mind-boggling, heck, whatever you want. Bring out your thesaurus, it still wouldn’t be enough. I could dedicate this entire review to the one track, but let’s move on!Next up is the second single, “Mob Mentality” features one of my favourite metal vocalists of all time, Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust. He is the first of a handful of guest vocalists featured on this release. Lajon’s voice fits this song perfectly, I don’t know many other vocalists that can conjure up so much raw emotion, and in combination with the talent of Earthside, backed by The Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra, this track is more like a roller-coaster ride than anything else. An intense sense of drama is seeping through every second of this 10 minute piece that also would serve as the perfect movie score. Metalsucks labeled the music video for Mob Mentality “the most impressive/insane music video of 2015”, make sure you check it out below!We move on into uncharted territories for the first time, where the title track greets us with an intro that I could swear was written by Mikael Åkerfeldt himself if I didn’t know better. Then, outta nowhere, TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins steps in and completely dominates. I must admit that I have never listened to TesseracT before, but just because of this track I am strongly considering going to their show in Sydney next week. His soaring vocals are soul-wrenching and addictive at the same time. I would love to say that this is my favourite track on the album, but it’s simply not possible to single one out. For the first time in what feels like forever, I have encountered an album that pretty much is a definite 10/10. “A Dream In Static” makes a break towards a more djenty and groovy sound. It is a nice change of pace, and it also definitely highlights that no songs are alike on this album.Speaking of djent, there are times when such a label would be justified on this album I suppose, but at the same time the influences are so widespread, and I don’t think I could count the amount of genres on two hands. This is why Earthside remind me so much of Opeth in a way, they extract parts from the obvious ones, such as prog and melodeath, but also soul and jazz, amplify them, and make a sound that they well can call their own. I have never come across another band that sound anything like Earthside before.Next up is “Entering The Light”. Here guest Max ZT is a vital part of the sound, playing a hammered dulcimer. The melody created by this widely forgotten instrument, in combination with the MSSO, is absolutely enchanting. “Skyline” is probably the most basic/straightforward (well, everything is relative I guess) track on the album. Starting out as a full band metal jam it is a track that would work great live I’m sure. As the song progresses a beautiful piano melody takes over, just to be eradicated by the overpowering metal once again. It feels like this track is a battle between despair and hope.We’re getting closer to the end. Fellow Swede Björn Strid (Soilwork) is handling the vocal duties on “Crater”. It is really quite interesting because Björn is given the opportunity to use his softer/more melodic vocals, as well as his harsher style, which is what made him famous. The blend of vocal styles are absolutely fantastic, and I am not sure if Strid has ever produced a vocal performance like this in the past.Now, if magic mushrooms took the shape of a song, this would be it. “The Ungrounding”’s absolutely crazy underlying Infected Mushroom-esque sound is one of the most unexpected things I have heard in a while. And, just like everything else on this album, it just works. For some bizarre reason a prog metal version of Infected Mushroom makes all the sense in the world.The last track on the album, “Contemplation of the Beautiful”, is also the longest one, clocking in at 11.49. It feels very much like a cinematic intro, with some sampled sounds setting the mood. The song suddenly erupts into chaos, and Eric Zirlinger’s (Face The King) screams are absolutely earth shattering. Words simply cannot describe how massive this song is. There are twists and turns, light and darkness, and a jaw-dropping crescendo that concludes this journey that I will never forget.I am just left with two questions:  how is this a debut album? And where did this band come from? With some luck in this difficult business, I am sure that they can become one of the genre’s giants in the future. Mind = Blown." - Metal Obsession
    $12.00
  • "Germany's Eden Circus is a band that has been together for a while but worked tirelessly on the songs that make up this, their debut album, "Marula." Much like the time they invested in the album and its songs, the listener should be just as committed to listening to the album and giving it the necessary time to plant its seeds and grow. When I first listened to "Marula," I thought it was just a good album with a fair amount of contrast in each song. But when you have those contrasts (i.e., quieter moments and heavier moments), it's important to pay closer attention to how they are used and what is going on. It's easy to think "Wow, that's so subtle" and not really listen to the vocal or the intricacies of the music underneath.The fact that vocalist Siegmar Pohl has a very quiet, raspy voice that tends to blend with the music just makes it more challenging. But the key to music that has a thick layer of complexity is to listen to it over and over, allowing it to reveal itself. You cannot force "Marula" to be something it isn't. It has elements of '90s alternative progressive metal like Tool, but don't expect them to attack you like Tool would. They have post-prog moments like Porcupine Tree, yet they never commit to sounding like them. Eden Circus is familiar but still a stranger. You think you know what will happen next but when it doesn't, you aren't sure why.The opener "Devoid of Purpose" starts off quietly before it works its way into heavier riffing. "Comfort" has quieter verses leading to a very angular riff that works as the chorus. Siegmar does have a harsh vocal in his arsenal but uses it quite sparingly, which makes those moments all the more powerful. A perfect example is "101" where he works his way to a growl.The majority of the songs are long, which allows them room to ebb and flow as needed. In addition to the aforementioned songs, my favorite tracks are the two closers, "Her Lovely Hands Upon the Black Earth" and "Playing You." Both are atmospheric, progressive and epic - full of dynamics.Eden Circus has figured out how to be melodic but not make it so obvious that you tire of them. "Marula" is a textbook "grower" of an album. If I were to give it a rating a month from now, it would probably be an even higher rating." - Power Of Metal
    $14.00