Maledetti

SKU: CRA0136512
Label:
Edel/Cramps
Category:
Progressive Rock
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A tremendous album where they mix the avant-garde stuff in a bit with the tunes and it really works! Don't let this description drive you off. This is a powerful fusion band. Just one with a fervent imagination. I know several people that hate that squeaky stuff but love the tune Evaporazione from this disc. Fusion with accessible avant-guarde moments.

-Rick Eddy

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  • Long awaited new album from this Israeli metal band. The music of Orphaned Land has extremely deep roots in their Israeli/Middle Eastern heritage. Melodies and even instrumentation are faithful to their region. Hmmm...I even think I hear some Mellotron strings here (must be cuz Steven Wilson produced this album!). The music is incredibly dynamic with gorgeous acoustic parts slamming into crushing slabs of metal. Vocals are a mix of clean and coarse and it all blends seamlessly. With repeated listens this might attain masterpiece status. Easily a top 10 release for 2010. Highest recommendation.
    $9.00
  • "The Royal Scam is the first Steely Dan record that doesn't exhibit significant musical progress from its predecessor, but that doesn't mean the album is any less interesting. The cynicism that was suppressed on Katy Lied comes roaring to the surface on The Royal Scam -- not only are the lyrics bitter and snide, but the music is terse, broken, and weary. Not so coincidentally, the album is comprised of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's weakest set of songs since Can't Buy a Thrill. Alternating between mean-spirited bluesy vamps like "Green Earrings" and "The Fez" and jazzy soft rock numbers like "The Caves of Altamira," there's nothing particularly bad on the album, yet there are fewer standouts than before. Nevertheless, the best songs on The Royal Scam, like the sneering "Kid Charlemagne" and "Sign in Stranger," rank as genuine Steely Dan classics." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • Darker is the long awaited second album from Swiss progressive rock band Dawn. It has been 6 years since the quartet rocked the prog world with their expert take on old school symphonic rock.Dawn formed in Montreux, Switzerland in 1996.  Since then the band has performed at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival, as well as at Swiss prog rock festivals Progsol, and Montreux Prog Nights.  The band has also opened for Kansas and Fish.  After a series of line up changes the band began to focus on their sophomore release in 2010 and perform them in concert.Dawn’s music is riddled with vintage keyboard sounds and flowing guitar solos.  Plaintive vocals ascribe a kinship to the British Canterbury prog family tree.  The album is conceived as a series of compositions dealing with Man in the 21st century: his fears, his conception of life, his reaction to technology, nuclear power, and the planet’s suffocation.  Darker was recorded in 2013 by Olivier Charmillot and mastered by noted audiophile engineer Bob Katz.
    $14.00
  • Third album from Wobbler finds them with a new vocalist Andreas Prestmo (who is a bit of an improvement). The music is still retro-British 70s prog but its clear that the spectre of Yes presides over the album. The King Crimson and ELP tidbits that cropped up on Hinterland are for the most part gone. Instead think in terms of The Yes Album and Close To The Edge with perhaps a bit of Octopus and This Is Gracious! tossed in for fun. Beginning to end its a total blast. Highest recommendation!"Norway's kings of symphonic prog, Wobbler, arrogantly sidestep the whole debate of "prog" versus progressive. Since it's dubious whether rock has anywhere left to progress anyway, they have instead chosen simply to celebrate the rainbow-colored fireworks, the airy-fairy themes, the danger and the drama and the joy of pure music that made prog what it really was, and still can be: An exhilarating musical spectacle, a gladiator match of major chord crescendos and mini-moog glissandos.Wobbler's third album, Rites at Dawn, is a case in point. It's a no-holds-barred declaration of love to the progressive giants. It's all here - Lars Fredrik Frøislie's overblown arsenal of every analog synth known to man, played with Wakemanesque flair and Emersonian hubris. Andreas Prestmo's soaring vocals, delivering at times delicate, fragile melodies and at times joyous, triumphant multi-part harmonies that would make CSN proud. The vibrant, stinging guitar of Morten Eriksen, the - you guessed it - thundering Rickenbacker bass of Kristian Hultgren, and finally Martin Kneppen's drumming, which manages that neat and esoteric 70's trick of making even impossible time signatures swing and swagger.Rites at Dawn is a major step forward for Wobbler. As songwriters they have matured. Even though the music is as complex as ever, it flows and breathes in a whole new way, and the addition of Andreas' vocals adds a very human, and dare we say emotional, element to the songs. The album somehow pulls off being both challenging and adventurous, but at the same time accessible and downright infectious. Even though this is the kind of prog connoisseurs will stroke their beards appreciatively to, it is also prog their girlfriends will like. And you really can't ask for more than that."
    $16.00
  • We've had a hell of a time getting our hands on this album but its finally here and more than worthy of your attention.  In fact this is an album that is going to ride high on many 2014 top 10 album lists.This is the first full length release from this six piece band based out of Bergen, Norway.  The core sound of the band is rooted in classic progressive rock.  Think in terms of the aggressive side of Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson.  But there is more at play here.  A strong jazz element is at play as well.  I'm reminded of Jaga Jazzist and perhaps a bit of Frank Zappa and Mr. Bungle.  There is no doubt we are going to hear quite a bit from this band in the future.  BUY OR DIE!"An impressive album of refreshingly unique music that crosses many sub genres, including space-psychedelia, symphonic, heavy prog, avant-jazz and experimental/post metal. Wonderful vocals, very tight interplay among all band members with no one member or instrument really standing above any other--though the presence and performance of the saxophone is highly notable. This is complex music played so tightly. And the astonishing 14- minute epic, "God Left Us for A Black Dressed Woman," must be heard to be believed.1. "Oh My Gravity" (9:49) starts as a jazzy stop-and-start piece that picks up in intensity in the second minute before shifting to a melodic ballad in the vein of the heavier side of FROGG CAFÉ. The male vocalist sounds to me like something between RADIOHEAD's THOM YORKE and TODD RUNDGREN. Around the six minute mark the spiraling, swooning music sounds a lot like some of the louder stuff from MOTORPSYCHO's The Death Defying Unicorn. This feel continues into the seventh minute when organ and horns take turns embellishing the staccato music. The bare-bones, bluesy final 45 seconds is bizarre but so cool! A powerful and surprising opener to this unusual album. Very high marks for compositional prowess and instrumental performance. (9/10)2. "Wind Shears" (6:32) opens in a very psychedelia/spacey 1960s way. Then at the one minute mark it settles into a jazz groove with first sax and then jazzy guitar and Hammond organ filling the lanes over the rhythm section. Clavinet is added for a GentleGiant-like bridge before a polyrhythmic KING CRIMSON "Discipline"-like weave appears to support a brief ghost-like vocal. At 3:20 the sound gets much heavier over the same arpeggiated weave, nearly drowning out the still-soloing sax and organ. This is just like TOBY DRIVER (Kayo Dot/Maudlin of the Well)! At 4:05 things get quiet and sparse again, with the music vacillating from soft and delicate to heavy and abrasive. A very melodic kind of psychedelic big band section plays out for the final minute. Again, bizarre but so cool! (9/10)3. "Eschaton Hero" (8:29) opens with some guitar, keys & sax riffs repeated over latin percussion. At 1:00 everything settles down into another quiet section with a delicate vocal in Stian Økland's upper register. Beautiful chorus/bridge at 1:47 gives way to an unpretentious bass solo before settling back into the delicate vocal music. Same awesome bridge at 2:49 leads into a heavy section into jazzy chaos--all performed over the most simple, calm drum play. At 4:52 it gets even heavier as it plods along for a minute in support of a fuzz guitar solo. Finally the drums start to play--to match the frenzy of the rest of the band--then everything stops so the band can yell "Yay!" Then a variation on the previous frenzy picks back up until 7:05 when everything settles back down into the soft groove of the initial vocal section for a dirty sax solo before letting Stian finish the song out in his high voice. Well conceived and performed, just not my favorite. (7/10)4. "Extraction" (6:34) begins with another odd intro of two or three parts before settling into the vocal support section--which begins heavily before falling into another RADIOHEAD-like bluesy section. At 2:20 a neat Hammond section leads back into the heavy full band section that opened the vocals, then, again, drops off for the beautiful support of a multi-voice- supported section. At 3:45 a very smooth, stripped down electric guitar solos, until there is a full return to explosiveness at 4:20. A bouncy "O Yo Como Va"-like Hammond section at 4:40 gives way to a kind of Latin weave before falling back into the heavier rock weave from the first vocal section to end. (8/10)5. "God Left Us for A Black Dressed Woman" (14:12) opens with another KC "Discipline"-like weave that morphs and flows, polymorphs and grooves for two and a half minutes before decaying into a simplified form for a bluesy ROBERT PLANT-like vocal section. This song's amazing vocal performance could also be compared to some of the finest MATTHEW PARMENTER/DISCIPLINE works. Some incredibly powerful sections in this song--especially the multi-voice vocals in the eleventh minute and the following heavy full-band part. A very DISCIPLINE-like soft section then ensues with a slow build to an awesome crescendo and frizzed finish. The song evolves, shifts, twists and turns and surprises throughout. Again there are several parts that remind me of MOTORPSYCHO's Unicorn. Without question this is one of the best prog "epics" of the year! (10/10)Aside from the above references to Motorpsycho, King Crimson, Radiohead, Toby Driver, Matthew Parmenter/Discipline, the overall impression this album leaves me with is similar to that of DIAGONAL's eponymously titled debut album from 2008. SEVEN IMPALE's City of the Sun is a wonderful collection of masterfully composed, executed and recorded songs.A 4.5 star album that I can't see giving anything less than five in that it is a treasure for the ages!" - Prog Archives
    $14.00
  • Third Ion is a Canadian quartet who's music is squarely in the prog metal domain with a bit of a tech edge.  Oh yeah - I should mention that they have a bizarre obsession with video games.  With a background of playing in Into Eternity and The Devin Townsend Band you know straight away these guys have chops from hell.  This is one of those albums that can leave you off kilter as its constantly shifting directions but it has a melodic base to work from.  Vocals are totally clean and quite good - maybe a bit of a Maynard influence crops up here and there.  Keys are mainly used for texture but its important as a bed for the sick fretwork.  The insertion of "chiptune" sounds add an oddball factor - luckily they don't over do it.  So far 2015 has been a solid year for prog metal.  I expect Third Ion's debut to sit highly on top 10 lists at years end.  Highly recommended."Where to begin? Introducing the band Third Ion or my blatant skepticism about them? Actually both converge. Third Ion is a progressive metal band consisting of former members of Devin Townsend Project and Into Eternity. Their common interests revolve around prog, science, video games, which informs their music. So much so that lyrically the songs consider physics and metaphysics and, musically, the title track is written in 13/8 time signature. Moreover, all the songs will be released in 8-bit as an homage to early video games.And that's where my skepticism reared it's ugly head. Cripes. Chiptunes meets metal. Nintendo and Super Mario and their sparkle and glitter music invading my ear drums. And MIDI too. I hate that shit. And then to think of the players' former band background. No, not death vocals, too.But. Behold. My fears were unnecessary. 13/8Bit is some pretty classy and inventive melodic progressive metal, and there's no death metal vocals. Yeah, in the title track they do some of that Nintendo wonkery, but it's a rather cool and entertaining song, even playful. The songs are large on massive, but not deathly technical, riffs, inherent melody and harmony, and sufficient intrigue in arrangements. Then they're spiced by Justin Bender's spry and fierce guitar solos. Even bass player Mike Young gets to do so as within the second half of Particle Displacement Mechanism or Capitol Spill, by example. You'll also find Young's keyboards in the mix, notably within Time Lapse Beta, varying between simple piano to ethereal synths. Underneath, yet also nearly ubiquitous, are Aaron Edgar's drums, providing beat and rhythm, but also offering some flurries of poly-rhythms. Things do get slightly weird with the only instrumental, Van Halien. It sounds like chiptune, metal, and jazz fusion but, in the end, it's strangely convincing, even appealing. So my skepticism and fears were largely unfounded. Third Ion's 13/8Bit is creative and intriguing progressive metal, defintely worth your time and consideration. Recommended." - Dangerdog.com
    $10.00
  • Budget priced but nice slipcased set of the two excellent albums from the rather obscure Mr. Albert Show - "Mr. Albert Show" and "Warm Motor".Mr. Albert Show:"Holland have other bands of great interest and muscial dexterity than just Focus, Earth & Fire, and Golden Earring to mention some of the more well known bands from there. After having read about this band; MR. ALBERT SHOW in a book I wanted to give them a listen. So, this band emerged out of two other bands, and indeed this was a fortunate companionship. This album has such good music, full of sax, organ and guitar riffing all the way with very memorable melodies. Its a loose groove of jazzy rock mixed with more late 60's musical tendencies and feelings. The vocals are handled by either a female vocalist, a male vocalist or more often just a blend of voices.This album seems to be sadly unknown which is sad since this music is so joyous and full of good vibes. Off the 9 tracks, 2 are over 5 minutes, but they all have a very high standard throughout the entire album. MR. ALBERT SHOW has been compared to the English band Colosseum, and I also hear resemblances to bands like Affinity (UK), the charming early 70's rock of Gravy Train or the spacey sound of italian/german band ANALOGY."Act of Love" is the opening track starting of with a slightly bluesy melody but soon taking off in a jazzrock direction with loose psychedelic overtones in the laidback vocal and melodical arrangement. The vocals are as I mentioned done in harmonies, or maybe "collectively" is a better word. Either way it sounds very warm and above all: unpretentious. The songs never become obvious or so but instead often puts in nice addictive melodious breaks and themes or harmonica solos and so on. Bertus Bogers (saxophone and vocals) were one of the main writers in this band."Don't worry" is a short song clocking in at 2:37 but still one of my true favorites, party because the singer Inez' fantastic bluesy vocal style. And indeed the musical hooks are just unbeatable, this is early 70's loose progressive rock in the best style. "White bear skin coat" is another quick song with some humorous lyrics and indeed catchy rhythms and beats impossible to dislike. It might start of with some three chord moves with fast rhythm pattern but indeed adds some usual delightful musical twist and turns. "Wild sensation" was released as a single back then and is another true highlight. "There's a sad song in the air" is the longest track on the album with its 7:14. And indeed it has some long solos and jams and I am not a big fan of these kind of pointless meandering songs but in this case I really do like the solos and can safely say that this track is another important highlight here.This might not be for fans of strictly symphonic musical preferences, but more for the adventurous progressive rock fan who likes his music with a big dose of rock and riffs." - PassagenWarm Motor:"At the time of their second album, the band had dropped the psychedelic element of their music to concentrate more on the jazz-rock side, resulting in some first rate progressive rock. 'Did You Really Find Somebody' opens the album, and straight away you can hear the difference. Much more relaxed and jazz-orientated, it includes a lovely jazz guitar solo, which you hear far too little these days, and good use of the horn section. 'Electronic Baby' beefs up the rock element slightly, with some heavy guitars making an appearance, and also includes a good keyboard solo and a nice flute interlude. 'Let It All Hang Out' has a funky groove to it, and a vocal at times reminiscent of Joe Cocker, while 'Bantal' is the most out and out jazz track on here, featuring intricate rhythms and time changes. The generally longer tracks on this album (only six in all) work very well, and none of them drag at all, making for a truly progressive album - in that the band have actually progressed on from their debut. Now out on CD with bonus tracks - a couple of fifties style rock'n'rollers (which really do not fit in with the music on the rest of the album) in 'I Can't Help It' and 'Show Me Your Tongue', and whether you have heard their first one or not this is definitely worth checking out" - Peter Jolly[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"12263","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"200","width":"200"}}]][[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"12264","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"200","width":"200"}}]] 
    $14.00
  • Remastered edition with 2 bonus tracks."Easily one of the most important heavy metal albums ever released, Stained Class marks the peak of Judas Priest's influence, setting the sonic template for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal more than any other single recording. This is the point where Priest put it all together, embracing their identity as the heaviest band on the planet and taking the genre to new heights of power, speed, musicality, and malevolence. Not until Painkiller would the band again be this single-minded in its focus on pure heavy metal. Their blues-rock roots have been virtually obliterated; largely gone, too, are the softer textures and gothic ballads of albums past. The lone exception is the morbid masterpiece "Beyond the Realms of Death," on which the band finally finds a way to integrate the depressive balladry of songs like "Epitaph" and "Last Rose of Summer" into their metal side. Starting out with quiet, mournful verses, the song's chorus is ripped open by a blazing guitar riff as Rob Halford shrieks about leaving the world behind, a dramatic climax that sounds like a definite blueprint for Metallica's "Fade to Black." Yet it wasn't this song that inspired the ridiculous 1989-1990 court case involving the suicide pact of two Nevada teenagers; that honor goes to the Spooky Tooth cover "Better by You, Better Than Me" (penned by none other than the "Dream Weaver" himself, Gary Wright), on which the band allegedly embedded the subliminal backwards-recorded message "Do it." Astounding implausibility aside (as the band pointed out, why encourage the suicides of fans who spend money?), it isn't hard to see why Stained Class might invite such hysterical projections. On balance, it's the darkest lyrical work of the band's career, thematically obsessed with death, violence, and conquest. That's not to say it's always approving. Sure, there are battle cries like "White Heat, Red Hot," horrific nightmares like "Saints in Hell," and elements of the fantastic in the alien monsters of "Invader" and stone classic opener "Exciter." But the band stays philosophical just as often as not. The twisting, turning title track adopts the biblical view of man as a hopeless, fallen creature preyed upon by his baser instincts; "Savage" foreshadows Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills" in depicting violent colonizers as the real savages; and closer "Heroes End" laments the many legends born from untimely deaths. So in the end, what really cements the celebrated morbidity of Stained Class is the sinister atmosphere created by the music itself. Never before had heavy metal sounded so viciously aggressive, and never before had that been combined with such impeccable chops. Seemingly at will, Tipton and Downing spit out brilliant riffs that cut with knife-like precision, usually several per song. This means that there's a lot to take in on Stained Class, but if there's nothing here as immediate as the band's later hits, there's also a tremendous amount that reveals itself only with repeated listens. While the album's overall complexity is unrivalled in the band's catalog, the songs still pack an enormous visceral impact; the tempos have often been jacked up to punk-level speed, and unlike albums past, there's no respite from the all-out adrenaline rush. Heavy metal had always dealt in extremes -- both sonically and emotionally -- but here was a fresh, vital new way to go about it. It's impossible to overstate the impact that Stained Class had on virtually all of the heavy metal that followed it, from the NWOBHM through thrash and speed metal onward, and it remains Judas Priest's greatest achievement." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • While this Pennsylvania based band flirted with prog metal in the past, their fifth album finds they going full bore in the direction of symphonic rock. Its a conceptual work that borders on rock opera. The band is always fronted by a female vocalist - with different ones over the years. The one constant is that Rowen Poole is always able to find excellent ones. Vocalist Ashley Peer sings in an upper register that reminds a bit of Sally Oldfield. A wide variety of keys (even 'tron) imparts a sound that is very reminiscent of Knight Area crossed with Novella-era Renaissance. This is the good stuff.
    $13.00
  • "History will undoubtedly enshrine this disc as a watershed the likes of which may never truly be appreciated. Giant Steps bore the double-edged sword of furthering the cause of the music as well as delivering it to an increasingly mainstream audience. Although this was John Coltrane's debut for Atlantic, he was concurrently performing and recording with Miles Davis. Within the space of less than three weeks, Coltrane would complete his work with Davis and company on another genre-defining disc, Kind of Blue, before commencing his efforts on this one. Coltrane (tenor sax) is flanked by essentially two different trios. Recording commenced in early May of 1959 with a pair of sessions that featured Tommy Flanagan (piano) and Art Taylor (drums), as well as Paul Chambers -- who was the only band member other than Coltrane to have performed on every date. When recording resumed in December of that year, Wynton Kelly (piano) and Jimmy Cobb (drums) were instated -- replicating the lineup featured on Kind of Blue, sans Miles Davis of course. At the heart of these recordings, however, is the laser-beam focus of Coltrane's tenor solos. All seven pieces issued on the original Giant Steps are likewise Coltrane compositions. He was, in essence, beginning to rewrite the jazz canon with material that would be centered on solos -- the 180-degree antithesis of the art form up to that point. These arrangements would create a place for the solo to become infinitely more compelling. This would culminate in a frenetic performance style that noted jazz journalist Ira Gitler accurately dubbed "sheets of sound." Coltrane's polytonal torrents extricate the amicable and otherwise cordial solos that had begun decaying the very exigency of the genre -- turning it into the equivalent of easy listening. He wastes no time as the disc's title track immediately indicates a progression from which there would be no looking back. Line upon line of highly cerebral improvisation snake between the melody and solos, practically fusing the two. The resolute intensity of "Countdown" does more to modernize jazz in 141 seconds than many artists do in their entire careers. Tellingly, the contrasting and ultimately pastoral "Naima" was the last tune to be recorded, and is the only track on the original long-player to feature the Kind of Blue quartet. What is lost in tempo is more than recouped in intrinsic melodic beauty." - Allmusic Guide
    $6.00
  • This is the gatefold sleeve vinyl edition released on the Kommun2 label...which happens to be run by Agusa's own Tobias Petterson.With almost forty minutes of new material, AGUSA delivers a wide array of seamlessly-executed, organic rock on the aptly titled Agusa 2. The band’s tranquil output blends tripped-out psychedelic and progressive rock structures are inspired by more folk than occult influences, instilling visions of nature, the cosmos, and dreamlike passages, meandering into realms of a possibly supernatural or parallel existence. While not a fully instrumental recording, backing vocal mantras only seep in through purposeful cracks in the construction of these immense movements, adding an even more spacious feeling to the overall flow of the album.AGUSA was formed in the springtime of 2013, when Tobias Petterson and Mikael Ödesjö, former members of Kama Loka, recruited Dag Strömqvist and Jonas Berge for their early ‘70s progressive rock project. In the Summer, the outfit ventured out to the countryside where Dag lived, to a place called Agusa — virtually only a loose gathering of homes deep in the forest. Within these secluded surroundings, and the most amazingly sunny, warm Summer day, the new collective had an extensive, extremely inspired jam session which somewhat solidified the direction of their sound, so of course, the name AGUSA was simply perfect for the outfit.In the Autumn of 2014, the band went into the studio to record their first album, Högtid, which was released on vinyl and digital media in early 2014. After a handful of gigs during the Winter, Dag decided to leave AGUSA to travel around India, and following a number of auditions, Tim Wallander, also a member of blues trio Magic Jove, joined the band. In the beginning of 2015, the refreshed lineup went into Studio Möllan once again to record their sophomore full-length, this time having asked a close friend of theirs, Jenny Puertas, to play flute on the recording. The match was so perfect that the band instantly invited her into the band on a full-time basis, expanding their lineup once again. They began performing with this new arrangement weeks later, and have not looked back.
    $27.00
  • Back in print after many years. Second album from this important French band. Revolving cast of musicians that always spin around Richard Pinhas as the focal point. Using King Crimson as a launching point, Pinhas' snake guitar leads evoke the spirit of Robert Fripp but his use of synthesizers often led the band down a pre-industrial path. Some gorgeous Mellotron work here as well. Essential.
    $15.00
  • "When Tosin Abasi released his debut solo album under the moniker ANIMALS AS LEADERS in 2009, few would have predicted the band’s meteoric rise to the apex of the progressive rock/metal world. Although Abasi earned acclaim as the lead guitarist in the Washington, D.C.-based metalcore act Reflux, it was still a long-shot that an instrumental album of progressive metal with jazz, electronic and ambient flourishes would develop anything more than a cult following.Fast-forward two-plus years to Weightless, the group’s sophomore effort, and ANIMALS AS LEADERS is revered worldwide as a trailblazing pioneer of modern heavy music. The group’s genre-defying compositions have earned extensive praise — Steve Vai called the band “the future of creative, heavy virtuoso guitar playing.” Guitar World Magazine also featured Abasi on the cover twice over the course of this album cycle, further cementing his legendary status within the current progressive scene.Now in 2014, ANIMALS AS LEADERS delivers what is quickly going to be hailed by fans and media alike as the group’s career defining release that will ultimately redefine the progressive world as we know it. This third full-length release is a bombastic, dynamic and innovative explosion incorporates elements spanning across the entire musical spectrum. It also marks the recording debut of drummer Matthew Garstka, whose technical proficiency and unique style allows Abasi and guitarist Javier Reyes the room to push their boundaries to previously unthinkable heights.Reyes states: “I think some of the new tracks are some of AAL’s strongest and musical material yet and extremely happy with how the album came out. Everyone who took part with this album (Misha Mansoor (Periphery), Adam Getgood (Periphery), Diego Farias (Volumes), and Navene Koperweis) is extremely talented and I think we’ve done a great job of capturing it onto what is now the third ANIMALS AS LEADERS album.”"
    $12.00
  • "It has been an eventful year or so in the world of Haken. In September 2013, the sextet released what can only be described as a masterpiece of progressive music in the form of their third album, the magnificent ‘The Mountain’. This album received almost universal critical acclaim upon its release and even led to interest from the likes of Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, Transatlantic) and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. In the case of the former, it led to an invitation to play the inaugural ‘Progressive Nation At Sea’, but thanks to both ringing endorsements, the door to the American market has opened more widely of late. And if that wasn’t enough, Haken recently received no less than three nominations in the Progressive Music Awards, quite an achievement for a band so relatively young.However, with the smooth, also comes the rough and almost immediately following the release of this ‘breakthrough’ album, bassist Tom MacLean announced his departure from Haken. An apparently amicable split, it was nevertheless a hurdle that had to be overcome at a point when the largest wave of the band’s career was about to be crested. An international audition invitation was extended and, following an extensive search, a young American by the name of Conner Green was assimilated into the Haken collective. Welcome sir!In many ways, ‘Restoration’ a three-track EP is as much a bedding-in of their new colleague as it is an opportunity to maintain the momentum created by ‘The Mountain’ whilst a new full-length album is brought to life. That said, to consider ‘Restoration’ a stop-gap is disingenuous in the extreme. It may only contain three tracks, but when the three tracks last well over half an hour and sound this good, who cares?The three compositions that make up this EP are very loosely based on tracks from the bands 2007/08 demo days, thoroughly re-envisioned, re-worked and re-produced in order to reflect the changing personnel and the experience gained since the demos were originally written. The result is, frankly, stunning.Whilst it took me a good many spins and many hours of effort to get fully submerged into the world of ‘The Mountain’, the music on ‘Restoration’ is much more immediate to these ears. No less complex and challenging of course, but for some reason, the music has ‘clicked’ much more quickly here.The EP opens up with ‘Darkest Light’, (Official video below) an energetic track that ably demonstrates the up-tempo and powerful side of Haken well. It’s an agile composition too that alters pace and timing signatures seemingly at will and pulls in influences from everyone from Dream Theater to Meshuggah. The latter is primarily due to the impressive combination of Ray Hearne’s powerful drumming, the chunky guitar tones courtesy of Charlie Griffiths and Richard Henshall and Green’s intricate bass work. Importantly however, the song is never derivative and contains everything you now expect from a band at the height of their powers. It’s a piece of music that oozes class but also offers that touch of playful cheekiness that has become synonymous with the Haken sound.‘Earthlings’ is a completely different proposition entirely. For my money, its closest reference point would be ‘Deathless’ from ‘Visions’ in so far as it is a much more introspective track with real atmosphere and a quiet, brooding intensity that is utterly beguiling. The melodies are much more immediate, much more pronounced and the whole thing builds beautifully and stubbornly towards a fulfilling climax that pushes all the right buttons.The undisputed star of the show however, is ‘Crystallised’. At over 19 minutes, it offers a return of the Haken ‘epic’, joining the likes of ‘Visions’ and ‘Celestial Elixir’ in an already formidable armoury. If anything, ‘Crystallised’ may be even better than the aforementioned, thereby easily taking its place among the very best that Haken has ever created.First and foremost, the sheer ambition is staggering. The composition begins unassumingly enough but quickly reveals a more grandiose underbelly thanks to some lush orchestral arrangements. From then on, the gloves well and truly come off and Haken take us on a wondrous journey full of twists and turns, light and shade, lengthy and dextrous instrumental segments and gorgeous melodies that stay with you long after the music has ended.There are echoes of those Gentle Giant influences and nods towards ‘Cockroach King’ et al in some of the a capella segments as well as hints of ‘Pareidolia’ at other times, thanks to that by now familiar delivery of vocalist Ross Jennings. Never once do the extended instrumental passages, led by the flamboyant keys of Diego Tejeida feel contrived or out of place; they are full of those classic progressive overindulgences, further reinforcing the importance of the likes of Yes, early Genesis and many others, but crucially, they fit in with the core of the composition and seamlessly segue from one to another perfectly.And then, everything comes together in what I can only describe as a stunningly epic finale, the kind where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and you find yourself grinning from ear to ear, enveloped in a musical utopia. The melodies are so uplifting and gorgeous that, coupled with the grandiose return of the orchestral embellishments, mere words find it hard to adequately express just how good it makes you feel.The bones of these songs may have been written many years ago in the band’s infancy. However, they have been brought back to life in the most brilliant way possible; taking everything that’s been good about the band in recent years and applying them to their early past to create something truly special. I only wish that ‘Restoration’ was six, seven or eight songs long. Mind you, if it were, I think I might have fainted from bliss before reaching the conclusion." - Man Of Much Metal blog
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