Mindscapes

SKU: BMCD127
Label:
Black Mark Records
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I believe this gem of a disc is out of print. Second album from this Swedish progressive metal band has more than a touch of Marillion in the mix. Good melodic but crunchy stuff - grab it while these handful of copies are around.

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  • THIS NORTHERN VIRGINIA BASED BAND is a three-piece at heart, musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of RUSH and KING’S X. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES to the contemporary metal riffing of LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, will connect to the heavy core of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by DREAM THEATER and PORCUPINE TREE, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.KARMA SOWN IS A TRIUMPH OF A DEBUT ALBUM, immediate and memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens."Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember. There was a time when progressive metal remembered the ultimate goal of music; to have listeners enjoy the songs so much they would return to them again and again. Today, progressive metal is mostly the sort of music that could pass for muzak, if you don't turn the volume up too loud.Iris Divine wants to change that. They set out with the mission of writing progressive metal that is intricate and challenging, but still produces the kind of songs that listeners who don't have an advanced degree can love and sing along to. It's a challenge, and it goes against the tide, but it's a desperately needed revolution if progressive metal is going to flourish anytime in the near future.I knew from hearing the pre-release track “A Suicide Aware” that Iris Divide was special, and the full album reinforces the point. “The Everlasting Sea” comes out of the gates with plenty of tricky riffing and unusual rhythms, but they lead into big melodies with strong hooks and vocals. Their progressive playing isn't meant for show, it's a tool used to set a tone that juxtaposes with the more melodic moments. Finding the proper balance between these elements is not easy, and many a band have failed miserably trying to do so, but Iris Divine doesn't. On their debut record, they show a skill some bands have spent their entire careers failing to learn.What I love most about the record is that it can be seen in many different lights. If you like straight-ahead metal, there is plenty of heavy riffing and pounding drumming here to keep you satisfied. If you like progressive music, these songs have twists and turns, and Rush-like keyboards, in enough quantity to match the djent crowd. And if you're a fan of old-school radio rock, the choruses in these songs will be music to your ears. Keeping all three of these in mind at the same time can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.For being a trio, “Karma Sown” is a massive sounding record. The production is flawless, big and clear, without ever sounding too polished. The heavy parts are heavy, the vocals are up front, and you would never believe this was a self-produced record that was crowd-funded. I can put it up against many, many of the big label releases, and it would win the fight.In fact, I can think of a dozen so-called progressive metal bands that should immediately hand over their label contracts to Iris Divine, because it's a crime that a band that is advancing progressive metal in the right direction doesn't have the backing of one of the labels. Not to name names, but this album would be bigger than half of the progressive metal released this year if it had the media push behind it.In case you haven't noticed, what I'm saying is that “Karma Sown” is a fantastic debut, and the future of progressive metal. Iris Divine isn't a Dream Theater clone, and they're not djent. What they have done is integrate all the strains of progressive metal into a singular sound, one that could set the standard moving forward. If every band sounded this good, progressive metal wouldn't need to be underground. “Karma Sown” is the best progressive metal album of the year, bar none." - Bloody Good Horror
    $13.00
  • "‘Idiosynchratically beautiful’. These are two words that have stuck with me for nearly 20 years and which I recall almost every time I hear or read the name Arcturus. These words were quoted on an advert for the Norwegian band’s 1997 release, ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ within an issue of either Terrorizer or Metal Hammer magazine; I can’t remember which. What I do remember was that I was deeply into a stage of black metal discovery at the time and this quote resonated with me for some reason. I took the punt and received the album as a Christmas present. It wasn’t love at first listen; instead it was a slow and steady slog that has ended in a lasting and deep love affair. It was the track ‘Ad Astra’ that was the catalyst for repeat listens. Full of drama, avant-garde vaudevillian oddness and a compelling crescendo, it impressed me and forced me to listen to the remainder of the album more than perhaps I might otherwise have done.It is arguable that in the intervening years, Arcturus have never managed to hit the heights of ‘La Masquerade Infernale’. Neither 2002’s ‘The Sham Mirrors’ nor ‘Sideshow Symphonies’ spoke to me in the same way and despite containing some outstanding moments, I came away both times with feelings of slight disappointment. And that, as they say was that. In terms of original studio albums, nothing has been released since; indeed after the release of ‘Shipwrecked in Oslo’ in 2006, the band called it quits with the individual members going on to do different things. And so it has remained until now.Rumours were rife from around 2011 when various members made comments that alluded to a resurrection of the band and later that year the rumours were confirmed. However, for one reason or another it has taken until 2015 for a new original recording to see the light of day, a development that has been greeted with great euphoria amongst the loyal Arcturus following.Arcturus version 2015 is comprised of Steinar Sverd Johnsen (keys), Hellhammer (drums), Knut Magne Valle (guitar), Hugh ‘Skoll’ Mingay (bass) and ICS Vortex (vocals). Together, they have created an album very much worthy of their lofty status and one that I would argue just about manages to match the quality of ‘La Masquerade Infernale’. The only reason I hedge my bets and say ‘just about’ is because I’ve only had about three days with ‘Arcturian’ as opposed to the 18 years I’ve had to enjoy ‘La Masquerade Infernale’. That said, I’ve listened to ‘Arcturian’ more times than I care to mention in recent days and it gives me chills on each and every listen. It is complex, quirky, brilliantly composed and professionally executed. I have no doubt that with even more time and attention, it’ll delight and captivate me even more than it does already.The one thing that perhaps I wasn’t expecting was the sheer amount of melody and accessibility that ‘Arcturian’ displays. It’s no exaggeration to say that for all of the complexity and raw heaviness, almost every track on the album contains a melody, lead vocal or some kind of hook that makes me sit up and take real notice. When I listen to new music, I have a tendency to make an ‘oooh’ noise and smile broadly if something excites me. I suspect that there will be some of you out there who do something similar. On ‘Arcturian’, I admit to ‘ooh’-ing all over the place.One of main reasons why this album feels so melodic and accessible is, I believe down to vocalist ICS Vortex. Yes he is an acquired taste but so unique is his delivery and so impressive is his range that seemingly very little is off-limits. He complements the music beautifully, managing sound both majestic but also a little unstable, as if he could spiral out of control at any moment. I mean, at times, he sounds like he’s yodelling for heaven’s sake; it’s superb.Onto the compositions themselves, they are all dense, multi-layered affairs that contain an abundance of richness. There are no songs that tend to extend over six minute mark and yet, such is the ambition of Arcturus that it feels like a million different ideas are injected into each composition, testing the listener and toying with them at every turn. I strongly suspect that this has been done with a certain playful, yet mischievous intent. Those strong Vaudervillian overtones of the band’s past make a welcome return, as do a number of various influences that pull Arcturus away from being simply discarded as a black metal band. As they demonstrate on ‘Arcturian’, there are elements of black metal to their underlying sound but they deliver so much more that to pigeonhole them in such a way would be inaccurate and disingenuous.Opening track, ‘The Arcturian Sign’, starts off somewhat disconcertingly with weird electronic noises and sounds. It’s a typically eccentric beginning which soon gives way to those unmistakable vocals of ICS Vortex and, at its core, a black metal meets prog composition. Dominated by powerful synths and relentless double pedal drumming, those odd sounds like laser guns nevertheless re-surface throughout. But within the tumult and idiosyncrasies is a really catchy, hook-laden chorus.‘Crashland’ has a light and breezy feel to it, taking in influences from space rock, folk music and more extreme climes. The sweeping synths are immediately reminiscent of the ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ era, as they are during my personal standout track, ‘Game Over’ with its addictive melodies and the way it builds and morphs so elegantly from one guise to another almost imperceptibly, ending in a crescendo of sorts that elicits another ‘ooh’ from my lips.‘Angst’ is a powerful and more extreme slab of metal, dominated by a blistering tempo, tortured screams atop another strong synth melody and the threat of a descent into chaos on more than one occasion. ‘Warp’ on the other hand introduces more electronic influences but has such an imposing and catchy melody that it’s impossible to ignore. ‘Demon’ has demonstrable Gothic synth pop overtones whereas ‘Pale’ delights with a marvellous driving central riff, a great chorus of sorts and some of the most varied and brilliant vocals on the entire record. The album ends with ‘Bane’, a track that further backs up the gorgeous ‘The Journey’ by providing amongst other things, some truly beautiful and subtle acoustic guitar playing which is a real joy.For all that, I have to say that ‘Arcturian’ is an album that’s best enjoyed in its entirety rather than picking and choosing individual songs. The album has a distinct flow and overall feel that helps to make it as special as it is, something that could be lost if listened to in a piecemeal manner.For the sake of balance, my only small gripe relates to the production which I think is a little on the weak side and robs some of the aforementioned richness from the music. Occasionally, the layers of music come together is a slightly messy muddle of impenetrable white noise which is a bit disappointing. But then again, there’s a certain ‘old-school’ charm to the mix too, reminding me of their heyday more than once. Maybe therefore, the production is entirely deliberate, those naughty scamps.It’s almost impossible sum up ‘Arcturian’ in a concise manner and do it the justice it deserves, except to say that if you’re a fan of Arcturus at their most original, challenging, audacious and quirky, prepare to take ‘Arcturian’ straight to your heart." - Man Of Much Metal
    $16.00
  • New budget priced remixed and remastered edition of the hard to find first album from this fine Canadian prog metal band. Difficult to describe as they sound like no one else. Only thing I can say is these guys are great."Another band that just blew me away out of nowhere. The first time I heard of HEAVEN'S CRY, it was at the Powerpak show, when they opened for ANVIL. Go read my live review to see how they easily won me over.One weird thing I liked about this band is the use of 3 guitar players. The singer/rhythm player, a lead guitar player and an electric nylon string guitar player. Unfortunately, the third one gets drowned out by most of the guitars.A month after seeing them live, I saw this CD for a low price, and I decided to get it. Goddamn, I do not regret it at all, not one bit. It's no secret that I love Progressive Rock/Metal, and furthermore, I prefer music that is somewhat harder to classify, and this fits the bill. Is this Metallized Progressive Rock, or Progressive Metal that actually decides to rock out instead of using their abilities to just be musically indulgent?That's probably my favourite thing about HEAVEN'S CRY. This band's music is diverse and extremely well written and you have a sense of actually listening to a thought-out song instead of a jumble of riffs stapled together, although many Prog elements are present. It's just a matter of usage and degree. The rhythm section of this band can be described as a very intricate yet subtle lesson in time and tempo changes, the type noticeable only when you REALLY pay attention to the song.The music is pretty hard to pinpoint too. I'm not sure if it's really heavy Prog Rock or Hard Rock with a good deal of Progressive tendencies. Somewhere in between, I must say. The album starts off with a couple of rocking tunes, then it starts to get a little bit mellower and you can tell the Jazz influence creeping up, starting to be a bit experimental at times. The bass also has a funky sound to it, playing around the guitars, adding more feel to it. Technical, but not as extreme as SPIRAL ARCHITECT or DREAM THEATER, this should appeal to both fans of ZERO HOUR and GUNS 'N ROSES.There are only two problems with this CD, but they're kinda easy to look over. One is that the music isn't exactly aggressive or thrashy or violent. The melodies are really laid back throughout most of the album, and there is nothing that really grabs you by the neck and slaps you silly. I'm not saying that you have to have aggressive music in order to be considered Metal (hell, look at BLIND GUARDIAN. Not much aggression, yet they just rule), but I do feel some kind of a void when I listen to it. The other is the vocals. Although the band has two singers, they are impossible to differentiate. Also, and a lot of people I played this CD for agree with me, that the singers sound a bit like the Glam Metal vocal style with a little nasal tone to it. They are minor and just stupid complaints that people like me, pessimists for who the glass is always half empty, use to bitch about great albums." - Metal Observer
    $10.00
  • "Osada Vida, one of the most interesting Polish bands on the prog-metal scene, return with a brand new album. “Particles” is their first release after the line-up change in 2012, when Marek Majewski (ex-Acute Mind) joined the band as their new vocalist. New album includes 9 new tracks plus a brilliant cover of Metallica's track "Master of Puppets". One of the tracks include a guest vocal appearance by Sivy known from the Polish metal band Tuff Enuff.New album was just reviewed by the ProgArchives’ journalist:“The album sees a natural evolution in the band's approach, rather than wholesale changes. The cover art offers an immediate indication of this, being lighter and simpler than previous albums. The concept album approach is set aside in favour of presenting nine strong, individual pieces each intended to stand alone as a complete piece.The opening track, 'Hard-Boiled Wonderland' will be familiar to those who investigated the band's first DVD last year, as it was the only unreleased song included in that gig. The track blends influences such as Yes and King Crimson in an off-beat but rhythmic heavy guitar driven piece. While the pounding riffs are deliciously heavy, the feel is lighter than previous albums. 'Stronger' is the first of the tracks to fully reveal the band's stated ambition for this album of presenting something more accessible while retaining the musical integrity that has served them so well to date. The highlight of the song is some fine guitar and keyboards interplay between Rafał Paluszek and Bartek Bereska.(…)Overall, an album that represents quite a shift for Osada Vida. While excellent musicianship and fine production may be taken as read, the generally more accessible nature of the songs should appeal to a wider fan base while continuing to satisfy those who have followed the band thus far.”Osada Vida is one of the most interesting Polish bands on the prog-rock scene. Their discography includes three demos and three well received official releases - “Three Seats Behind a Triangle” (2006/2007), “The Body Parts Party” (2008), “Uninvited Dreams” (2009). Their albums feature elaborately beautiful music in the vein of Yes, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation and Riverside. In early July, Osada Vida released their first live DVD entitled “Where The Devils Live” featuring the recording of their live appearance at the Wyspianski Theater in Katowice, Poland in Autumn 2011. The band recently debuted in a new improved line-up - they have added a new vocalist Marek Majewski, previously known from the band Acute Mind. Osada Vida is also recognized worldwide - they played at the famous US' ROSfest 2011 and at the beginning of October 2012 they were a part of Israeli ProgStage festival where they performed next to Andromeda, The Flower Kings or Orphaned Land." 
    $14.00
  • Austrian progressive power metal band Serenity has been a bit overlooked in the past but it appears as though their star is in ascendancy.  Ex-Whyzdom vocalist Clementine Delauney complements lead vocalist Georg Neuhauser quite well.  Perhaps she nudges him out of the spotlight a bit but all for the greater good.  The music has a large scale symphonic element that will draw comparisons to Kamelot.  Since they have toured with Youngblood & Co its not that surprising.  So the formula seems to be in place - two great vocalists married to melodic, bombastic metal.  Their best album.  Who's in? 
    $12.00
  • Fourth studio album from the prog "supergroup" of Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard), and Pete Trewavas (Marillion).  Like the previous albums expect marathon length pure prog rock that reflects back onto the golden age.  The title track is 32 minutes long!This is the 2CD/DVD Deluxe edition.Track List:Main Disc:1    Into the Blue                                          25:112    Shine                                                       7:263    Black as the Sky                                       6:434    Beyond the Sun                                        4:29 5    Kaleidoscope                                          31:53TOTAL TIME: 75:43      Bonus Disc:1    And You and I                                         10:432    I Can't Get It Out of My Head                   4:433    Conquistador                                            4:104    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road                      3:165    Tin Soldier                                               3:216    Sylvia                                                      3:497    Indiscipline                                              4:438    Nights In White Satin                                6:12TOTAL TIME: 40:59Making of Kaleidoscope DVD – Full length DVD behind the scenes of the writing and recording of this amazing album. Running time 1 hour and 26 minutes. Edited by Randy George. NTSC Region Free
    $28.00
  • Excellent new sci-fi prog metal project put together by Carptree mainman and keyboardist Carl Westholm. While Westholm is probably better known for his involvement with Carptree he has also been working in the metal field for many years in bands like Abstract Algebra, Krux, and Candlemass.Westholm has assembled an interesting cast of musicians for this larger than life Ayreon-style project. First off, Mats Leven in handling vocals. Right there that is enough for me. Leif Edling, the driving force behind Candlemass plays bass and helps with lyrics. What else do you need? Various members of Carptree and others fill out the heavily symphonic sound lending an epic scope and feel. Highly recommended.
    $3.00
  • "In 2013, Norway's ever mercurial Motorpsycho released Still Life with Eggplant, with second guitarist Reine Fisk added to the fold. It was a collection of "other songs," those written for previous albums but not recorded. Those five cuts, despite their random sources, did have another connecting thread: they reflected some of the band's earliest explorations into hard rock and neo-psychedelia as displayed on records like Demon Box and Timothy's Monster. The way forward for Motorpsycho was apparently through the lens of the past. Behind the Sun marks the band's 25th anniversary, and once again, they journey further into that back catalog of unrecorded material. Produced by bassist and vocalist Bent Sæther, Motorpsycho once more employs Fisk as well as violist Ole Henrik Moe and violinist Kari Ronnekleiv. These nine tracks are as focused as those on Eggplant and often more adventurous. Opener "Cloudwalker (A Darker Blue)" begins as something of a Baroque psych tune and unwinds into a taut dynamic rocker with the strings and multi-part vocal harmonies adding texture and force. "On a Plate" is furious, riff-driven guitar rock that recalls the unhinged energy of the band's earliest sound. Rumbling tom-toms and pulsing synths introduce the instrumental "Kvæstor (Incl. Where Greyhounds Dare)," but are quickly joined by the twin-guitar attack of Hans Magnus Ryan and Fisk. A throbbing bassline and strings drive the front as the guitars sing, churn, and shape-shift between intensity and melody. The "Hell, Pts. 1-3" is a suite that began on Eggplant. It continues here with "Hell, Pts. 4-6: Traitor/The Tapestry/Swiss Cheese Mountain." Over nearly 13 minutes, it commences as airy, twisting prog rock with blended acoustic and electric guitars, synths, and strings, all buoying Sæther's urgent vocal. While a fingerpicked vamp holds the center, tension begins to ebb and flow as stinging guitar solos, dreamy keyboard interludes, and cymbal washes gradually erect an architecture of transcendent, anthemic rock. "Entropy" reveals Motorpsycho's more subtle dimensions. At over seven minutes, it gradually unfolds with a lyric bassline, lush, layered vocal harmonies, shuffling drums and skittering cymbals, and breezy keys and guitars, all contrasting sharply with its melancholy lyrics. "Hell, Part 7: Victim of Rock" closes the set with a screaming solo guitar and drum assault over a frenetic bassline. Unhinged sonic psych effects -- loads of reverb, backmasking, etc. -- frame this labyrinthine, careening rock ride that sends Behind the Sun off on stun. After more than 20 records, Motorpsycho remain inexhaustible in their creativity, fully, energetically, in command of a musical vision that is boundless." - Allmusic Guide
    $18.00
  • Mother's Ruin is the second album from the band formed from the ashes of Black Bonzo...and its a sprawling 2 disc set.  The agenda is the same - to recreate the sound of 70s hard rock.  The Swedes nail it in spades.  When the keys are out front you'll immediately think of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep.  The guitar driven songs are a bit more reminiscent of Humble Pie and Rolling Stones.  Vocalist Magnus Karnebro (ne Lindgren) is the perfect front man.  I'd love to hear from him more often.  If I didn't tell you otherwise I could easily convince you this album was recorded in 1974 (and I think that was the objective).
    $17.00
  • Lots of changes in the Mangala Vallis camp with this new release.  Bernardo Lanzetti is out, replaced by the great Rob Tiranti aka Rob Tyrant.  Many of you know Rob from his work in the metal world with Labyrinth but he has alway worked with New Trolls so he knows how to dial it back.  Great, great set of pipes.  The music has changed a bit too.  Its not as overtly retro although at times the keyboard sounds harken back to the 70s.  Definitely more of a contemporary neo feel.  Its a concept album about a hacker who infects the world with a virus that will destroy all the digital files on the planet.  Good times!
    $16.00
  • Third album from this very fine Irish neo-progressive band.  Dead Heroes Club have that traditional sound down.  Frontman Liam Campbell's voice has an uncanny resemblance to Fish and Peter Gabriel (which one depends on the tune).  This one is ripped right out of the Clutching At Straws playbook but the band tends to stretch out a bit more.  I also noticed that the guitar is cranked up a bit more than in the past.  Good stuff.
    $15.00
  • When Worlds Collide is the latest release from Portuguese prog metal band Forgotten Suns.  When the band first burst onto the scene they were very much in the neoprog camp.  Their sound evolved over time with guitarist/founder Ricardo Falcao taking the band into more metallic territory.  With his chops from hell its no wonder.  This is squarely prog metal in the Dream Theater style.  Vocalist Nio Nunes doesn't go for the stratosphere.  He sticks to the midrange and there even some growls in spots.  Apparently keyboardist Ernesto Rodrigues collaborated on the writing.  The results seems to be the band's heaviest work.  While the keyboard work is more than fine the defining sound of the band is guitarist Falcao.  He's the focal point and really delivers the goods.  Forgotten Suns amps up the tried and true prog metal formula and comes up with something quite memorable.  The album runs 79 minutes and is packed with epic length tracks through out.  By the time the album is over you will be exhausted!  Highly recommended.
    $13.00
  • Second (or first - they are interchangeable) half of the simultaneous release from this Argentinian prog rock band.  "The Facts" might differentiate itself slightly from "The Tales" in that there seems to be a bit more of a crunch factor in the guitarwork but overall this is still symphonic rock.  Pretty damn good too!  Guesting on this album is the great Damian Wilson on vocals.
    $13.00
  • Sound Of Contact is a new band put together by Simon Collins and session keyboardist Dave Kerzner.  Yeah - Simon is Phil's son.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - Simon plays drums and he also sings.  His voice is eerily like his dad.  At times virtually indistinguishable.  The music follows a similar path to Phil's work with Genesis and solo.  Parts of the album are pure prog - in fact the album closes with a killer 19 minute epic called "Mobius Slip".  Other parts of the album exhibit a poppier more commercial side.  I don't think of the album as a pop album - its a prog rock album.  Kerzner provides some very interesting keyboard work - lots of intricacies through out the album.  There is that commercial element that reminds me of Genesis in the 80s.  With his voice sounding so much like his father, Simon will always be cursed with being compared to Phil.  That's a fact.  Overall I think he's come up with an interesting album that fans of more contemporary progressive rock will enjoy.
    $12.00