The Oblivion Particle

So here's my personal confession...after Neal left I felt that Spock's Beard lost their way.  Nick is a fine vocalist but there was something quirky about Neal's writing that had a reverential old school quality that I found lacking.  The albums didn't grab me.  Nick left and Ted Leonard took over on vocals.  Whether it was Enchant or Thought Chamber, he's always stood out and he fits Spock's Beard quite well.  The new drummer Jimmy Keegan slipped into the blend with no dificulty.  The result is (to my mind) a resurgence from this band.  Ryo Okumoto always puts on a show - in particular his heavy reliance on Hammond organ reminds me quite a bit of Steve Walsh.  In fact the sound of the whole album has a Kansas vibe. Coincidentally David Ragsdale guests on one track.  I'm not sure I can remember the last time I said this about a Spock's Beard album - Highly recommended.

"Very few bands are so recognizable that you know who you are listening to within 2 seconds.  That is all it takes at the beginning of the first track on The Oblivion Particle to know you are listening to Spock’s Beard.  There is no slow buildup or keyboard swells, just straight BAMM!, here we go.  And if the opening notes don’t get you, the organ 5 seconds in will.  The band’s 12th studio album, this one the second with singer Ted Leonard and drummer Jimmy Keegan, is a culmination of years of perfecting a sound and identity, one that not even 2 major lineup changes could fracture. With this new album, Spock’s Beard up their game again and show that this lineup is here to stay.

If there was a track that defined what Spock’s Beard are, it might be the opening track, “Tides of Time.”  There are certain checklist items that mark their sound and they are all in this track.  The organ, the harmonies, the acoustic breakdown, the rocking middle and the epic ending.  Each member finds their moments to shine on this one and it provides a jaw-dropping sound overload that could leave one satisfied at that moment; only there is another 60 minutes to go.

The album zigs and zags through a few more experimental moments, mixing in some surprises with more traditional Prog elements.  The album’s second track and first single is “Minion”, is a perfect example.  The opening a cappella harmonies provide the sort of memorable chorus and harmonies we’ve come to expect from the group.  While, the following distorted keyboard section is also standard Spock’s Beard.  But the verse and middle of the song is much darker and takes us on a surprising journey.

The most unique song the album is the brilliantly titled “Bennett Built a Time Machine”, which the album’s cover is based on.  Drummer Jimmy Keegan takes lead on the vocals here and sounds incredible.  His voice actually fits the track better than Leonard’s probably would have.  The song is one of the album highlights and helps keep the record from sounding redundant.  It is almost a pop song most of the way through until turning on the jets and shifting into Prog mode.

There are some heavier moments such as “Hell’s Not Enough” and “Get Out While You Can”. “The Center Line”, however, might be the most similar to something you might have found on their group’s previous album “Brief Nocturnes…”  The track opens with an expansive piano recital piece, before turning into a combo Prog-Western bounce with acoustic guitars carrying the groove. Ted’s voice lifts the choruses flawlessly and creates an almost cinematic soundscape.

Even with all of these great moments, it is the album’s closing track that is the best song on the album.  “Disappear” might be one of the best songs the band has recorded since Neal left the group.  “We could disappear, you and me, we could be, anyplace else not here” sings Ted in the chorus as he wonders what might be if we left with no one knowing what happened.  The song is really the closest thing to a ballad on the album, but it doesn’t stay that way for long.  2 minutes in, the song stirs into a frenzy just before a brief cameo by Kansas’ David Ragsdale, appearing with his violin.  Of course, the big epic orchestral ending takes us home as Alan Morse provides the finishing touches with his unique finger picking soloing excellence.

Spock’s Beard are Prog rock’s most reliable unit.  They have yet to disappoint and always provide comfort to their faithful fans with music that is both inspiring and breathtaking.  And while The Oblivion Particle shows a harder edged Spock’s Beard, it also displays a group that shows no signs of slowing down and is ready to take on all comers." - The Prog Report

 

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  • "Good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night (depending on where you are in the world), how’ve you been? I’m good, thanks. Anyways, first thing’s first, before we get to the review, let’s take a minute to explain what is “Lingua Mortis”? “Lingua Mortis” was a 1996 album by German Heavy Metal legend RAGE, an album which took some of their classic songs and presented them in new symphonic arrangements.Fast forward 17 years, RAGE is still going strong, and after playing live shows with what’s known as “Lingua Mortis Orchestra” over the last few years, RAGE finally decided to create a new “Lingua Mortis” album, this time however the band chose to create an album of all new material. Based on the true story of the “1599 Gelnhausen” witch hunting’s and featuring around 100 musicians, “LMO” is a monster of an album. Make no mistake about it, this is a Metal album through and through, Composed by Victor Smolski with Lyrics by Peavey Wagner, this album is as much RAGE as any album they have released in their illustrious career, but this is RAGE with a completely different edge to them.It opens with “Cleansed by Fire” a ten minute opus opening with a witch chanting with a choir coming in, this is the song that tells you all you need to know, the song is melodic, deep, heavy, catchy, this is Rage at their finest, Peavey Wagner’s usually harsh vocals are softer here and are perfectly complemented by the female accompaniment, this song incorporates three parts into it, “Convert the Pagans Pt1”, “The Inquisition” and “Convert the Pagans Pt2”, the guitar work by Victor Smolski is absolutely exquisite throughout.I wanted to do the usual track by track review, but I honestly can’t, it would take too damn long, this album moves and twists more times than I could possibly put into a single review, it’s heavy as hell, the masterful blast beats are here, the guitars are incredible and at times reminiscent of the masters like Pell and Malmsteen. The choice to mix Peavey’s heavy vocals along with softer and operatic female vocals and at times choirs is a brilliant move as they blend perfectly. The album at times even has an 80s sound (like the opening of “Devils Bride”).The bottom line here is that this album is nothing short of a masterpiece, if you love RAGE (like me), you’ll love this album, if you love Symphonic Metal, you’ll love this album, hell, it’s very hard not to love this record as it features elements from a lot of metal genres and mixes it in with an amazing array of orchestral work. I’m not really the type to call an album perfect, but I find it hard not to in this case, the hooks are there, and so is the heaviness, it’s probably the best symphonic album I’ve heard without a NIGHTWISH label on it.The album comes out August 2nd, and I certainly suggest you go on YouTube right now, have a listen to a sample and go out and get this album as soon as it’s out, you won’t regret it. " - Metal Temple
    $13.00
  • "The vast riches lying within the reach of Google have included a lot of bands I’ve discovered by typing long strings of words bookended by “metal” in an effort to root out underground music of varying sub-genres that I might enjoy. Forum posts often proved most fruitful, those splendid user-generated gifts of musical knowledge. One particular band I heard mentioned glowingly a few years back via a forum post was Serdce.They are a Minsk-based group and one whose 2004 album, Cyberly, was being billed as an unknown classic. I take comments like that with a pound of fucking salt. Yet it turned out to be true. So it gave me much pleasure that Blood Music worked with Islander here at NCS to premiere music from Serdce’s soon-to-be-released record, Timelessness. It was doubly nice that Heavy Blog Is Heavy began to post about them as well with yet another song premierel, because Serdce are a quirky progressive death metal band worth checking out — and worthy of that tag.I admit to feeling jarred when I first heard this album. It’s a big shift from their last record, 2009’s The Alchemy Of Harmony, a record I worship and regard as a masterpiece, although the changes make sense because they’ve been expanding toward a more prog-metal-focused sound with each release. As this was always a big part of their style, the shift away from calculating, mid-paced death metal into lighter Cynic-focused realms works phenomenally well. And it’s not as confined or as prog-by-numbers as you might think.he fusion side of this record isn’t a minor flirtation, like most of your average jazz-inflected metal dubbed progressive. In reality, it makes up the majority of the album’s sound and journey — and it’s a dense and dream-decorated journey at that. While the style on display in Timelessness is brilliant and multi-faceted to these ears, it may not be aggressive enough for the tastes of some people. For those in that camp, I urge you to examine their prior albums.That observation is not intended as an indictment or an implication that this new album is not as good as their past work — to the contrary, I would venture to say this is Serdce’s most eclectic and strongest album yet. I merely mean to say that it’s of a more airy and progressive nature and that not all metalheads may be open-minded enough to appreciate it.Serdce have been creating Meshuggah groove-gliding influenced death metal long before most of the pack who followed that lead, and they continue to do it better than most. But for those who are groove-averse, that’s far from the totality of what they have to offer. Throughout Timelessness you will hear a lot of piano playing and orchestral/carnival-esque synths, and in addition, the vocals are primarily sung this time around. Overall, the strong Cynic-vibe of the record comes not only from the riffing and fusion elements; the effusive, prominent, and exploratory bass playing brings that comparison to mind as well.Huge artistic shifts in a band’s sound remain a double-edged sword, usually causing long-time fans to quarrel for and against such transformations in equal measure. Serdce have skillfully navigated these tricky waters and come out the other side a totally different, yet no less intriguing group. Timelessness doesn’t last forever, yet it contains innumerable timelessly memorable moments within its titanic, fluid, multi-part songs. Jump on the bandwagon or crawl in the dust – Timelessness will find an interested and eager audience either way — though I urge you to give it a chance and get on board." - No Clean Singing
    $16.00
  • A new remastered 2CD & DVD edition of Steve Hackett's legendary "Tokyo Tapes" featuring John Wetton, Chester Thompson, Ian McDonald & Julian ColbeckIncludes a brand new studio track - "All Along the Watchtower" by Steve Hackett & John Wetton & two studio tracks from the 1997 release "Firewall" and "The Dealer"All tracks newly remastered by Ben FennerDiscs Three - NTSC region free DVD of the December 1996 Tokyo concerts, bonus rehearsal footage and band biographiesAlso features booklet with photos, memorabilia and essay"What would happen if occasional members of Genesis, King Crimson, Asia, Yes, Frank Zappa & Weather Report all got together to form a unique team for just one night" - Such an event took place in December 1996 in Tokyo, when Steve Hackett gathered together a group featuring JOHN WETTON (Bass / Vocals), IAN McDONALD (Flute / Sax / Guitar / Keyboards / Vocals), CHESTER THOMPSON (Drums) and JULIAN COLBECK (Keyboards / Vocals) to perform a wonderful set that featured classic tracks such as "Watcher of the Skies", "Firth of Fifth", "The Court of the Crimson King", "Shadow of the Hierophant", "Los Endos" and many more. Esoteric Antenna are pleased to announce a new special release of "THE TOKYO TAPES" which has been newly remastered and includes a brand new studio track especially recorded for this reissue, "All Along the Watchtower" by STEVE HACKETT & JOHN WETTTON, along with two studio tracks featured on the 1997 CD release. This set also features an NTSC / Region Free DVD of the Tokyo Tapes concert, (long deleted), and bonus rehearsal footage. This version of "Tokyo Tapes" is the ultimate edition of this classic live album.DISC ONE - CDWatcher of the SkiesRiding the ColossusFirth of FifthBattlelinesCamino RoyaleThe Court of the Crimson KingHorizonsWalking Away from RainbowsHeat of the MomentDISC TWO - CDIn That Quiet EarthVampyre with a Healthy AppetiteI Talk to the WindShadow of the HierophantLos EndosBlack LightThe SteppesI Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)Bonus tracks:Firewall (studio track)The Dealer (studio track)All Along the Watchtower - Steve Hackett & John Wetton (studio track)DISC THREE - REGION FREE NTSC DVDWatcher of the SkiesRiding the ColossusFirth of FifthBattlelinesCamino RoyaleThe Court of the Crimson KingHorizonsWalking Away from RainbowsHeat of the MomentIn That Quiet EarthVampyre with a Healthy AppetiteI Talk to the WindShadow of the HierophantLos EndosBlack LightThe SteppesI Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)Bonus features:Eighteen minutes of rehearsal footageBand Biographies
    $30.00
  • Out of print limited edition CD/DVD with bonus tracks."Dubbed as single-handedly reviving 80’s Bay Area thrash in the UK with the killer ‘Enter The Grave’ in 07, Evile attempt to up the ante with their sophomore, and boy do they succeed. ‘Infected Nations’ is a monster second helping of awesome bulldozing riffs, shredding solos and roaring vocals, an exquisite metallic frenzy which should be lapped up by anyone who knows anything about a decent thrash record. With their dystopical lyrical themes synonymous with the genre, Evile seem to have their formula perfected and leave you with the feeling they’re half the thickness of a matchstick away from a future thrash classic." - Rock Sound Magazine
    $6.00
  • "Right from the start, a vastly different Weather Report emerges here, one that reflects co-leader Joe Zawinul's developing obsession with the groove. It is the groove that rules this mesmerizing album, leading off with the irresistible 3/4 marathon deceptively tagged as the "Boogie Woogie Waltz" and proceeding through a variety of Latin-grounded hip-shakers. It is a record of discovery for Zawinul, who augments his Rhodes electric piano with a funky wah-wah pedal, unveils the ARP synthesizer as a melodic instrument and sound-effects device, and often coasts along on one chord. The once fiery Wayne Shorter has been tamed, for he now contributes mostly sustained ethereal tunes on soprano sax, his tone sometimes doubled for a pleasing octave effect. The wane of freewheeling ensemble interplay is more than offset by the big increase in rhythmic push; bassist Miroslav Vitous, drummer Eric Gravatt, and percussionist Dom Um Romao are now cogs in one of jazz's great swinging machines." - All Music Guide
    $7.00
  • "Henry Fool's Men Singing is an ambitious four track instrumental album featuring members of No-Man, I Monster and Roxy Music. Equal parts dynamic drums, spiky guitars and atmospheric washes of fluttering flutes and vintage keyboards, the album was produced and arranged by Stephen Bennett (keyboards) and Tim Bowness (guitar), and mixed by Jarrod Gosling (I Monster/Regal Worm), who also contributes Mellotron, glockenspiel and artwork. Appearing on two of the four tracks, Phil Manzanera's legendary guitar skills can be heard in the context of long-form instrumental music for the first time since his celebrated stint in 1970s mavericks Quiet Sun. Other contributions come from Peter Chilvers (bass), Michael Bearpark (guitar), Andrew Booker (drums), Myke Clifford (sax/flute) and violinist Steve Bingham. A vibrant and instinctive contemporary take on Progressive, Psychedelic and Jazz Rock styles, Men Singing is available as a limited edition cd in vinyl replica artwork. Mastered by Pink Floyd sound engineer, Andy Jackson."
    $15.00
  • Incendiary trio led by guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen. This is a tough album to categorize. Its a mind bending instrumental mix of stoner rock and fusion. Ms. Thomassen channels her inner-Hendrix and Iommi in counterpoint to the acoustic upright bass of Ellen Breken and drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad. Pure raw guitar driven power that is aggressive but melodic. Highly recommended."Debut album from very exciting new trio led by guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen. With one foot in heavy rock and one in jazz they effortlessly manage to combine monster riffs and high energy rock´n´roll with progressive and lyrical modern jazz. Fully instrumental apart from the distant shouting in a Melvins cover, "Shoot!" is more song structured than other guitar led trios such as Bushman´s Revenge or Scorch Trio. Ellen Brekken plays electric and acoustic bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad is the drummer. The album has a lovely vintage, classic analog feel that surely has something to do with it being recorded live in the studio with the musicians actually playing together. It was mixed by Kai Andersen in Athletic Studio and mastered at Dave Collins Mastering in Los Angeles. We love this band and the album comes highly recommended."
    $18.00
  • German power metal masters. New remastered edition features 5 bonus tracks!
    $13.00
  • 2 CD edition comes with a bonus disc featuring acoustic versions of material from the core album."Recently Dutch symphonic metal outfit Epica celebrated their first decade as a band with a massive show and a release of a DVD and now they’re back with a brand new studio album, which may very well be their finest moment to date…On “The Quantum Enigma” Epica has grown far beyond their humble musical beginnings. The symphonic elements and the massive choirs are still very much in place, but the band has found a new sense of renewed vigour and focus. High paced scorchers like ‘The Second Stone’, ‘The Essence Of Silence’ and ‘Reverence – Living In The Heart’ are poignant examples of the aforementioned refound sense of urgency. The band isn’t afraid to incorporate elements from thrash, death and progressive metal in their musical fabric, which makes this album a tempting listening adventure for people who aren’t necessarily into female fronted/symphonic metal.Vocalist Simone Simons shines on tracks like ‘Omen – The Ghoulish Malady’ and ‘Canvas Of Life’, while Arien van Weesenbeek shows his drumming prowess in the aforementioned ‘The Second Stone’ and ‘Essence Of Silence’. A special mention should go to guitarist Isaac Delahaye. His tasteful leads and solos are the proverbial icing on the cake. Particularly the main guitar solo in ‘The Quantum Enigma – Kingdom Of Heaven part 2’ is simply mindboggling.Production-wise “The Quantum Enigma” is a true gem, thanks to the considerable talents of Joost van den Broek (ReVamp, MaYan) and Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Pestilence). The direct and in-your-face production sound gives the album a definitive edge which is somewhat lacking on some of Epica’s earlier works.“The Quantum Enigma” is the sort of record where everything comes together. Great songs, great atmosphere and the band has finally managed to capture the energy of their live shows on a studio album. It’s still early in the year, but “The Quantum Enigma” is destined to become one of the musical highlights of 2014." - This Is Not A Scene
    $14.00
  • Christian Vander has been opening up the tape vaults releasing some prime (and some not so prime) Magma material. Mekanik Kommandoh is the previously unreleased original version of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh which was rejected by their record label.
    $18.00
  • 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
  • Pre-first album material. Very cool stuff.
    $13.00
  • "Despite the rumors, pre-fusion acid jazz-rock is alive and well, living it up in Southern California. Psicomagia is the joint forces of leading members of noted prog and stoner-rock outfits Astra and Radio Moscow. The band serves up a mixture of the same essence that Soft Machine, Tony Williams Lifetime, and Magma pioneered during that magical period just seconds before progressive electric jazz was grabbed by the institutional jazz scene. A formula thought lost until this day, when seemingly out of the blue, the relentless force of Psicomagia appeared. Spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist and producer Brian Ellis' roaring saxophone, constantly interplaying Tyler Daughn's franticly screaming organs and synthesizers, the soul of Psicomagia is in the endlessly permutated bursts of energy of the two. The relentless heart, however, is kept going by drummer Paul Marrow (Radio Moscow), who carves out a constantly brooding and shifting rhythmic base along with the heavy, travelling bass of Trevor Mast. Together they balance a line between an insanely tight and rhythmic notion of progress, as well as transgressing each instrument's carved path on this cataclysmic journey of musical events. Imagine, on top of that, two poets, repeating obscured mantras, rumbling bells and gongs, and you're getting closer to playing your own Jodorowsky-does-jazz movie playing in your head via Psicomagia. If Psicomagia sounds like a thing of the past, it's simply because they have inherited a unique quality lost in music today: grabbing onto a wide array of genres, and permuting them into their own distinct musical landscape. "
    $23.00
  • Termo Records reissue program of the White Willow catalog continues.  This remastered edition features new artwork and liner notes as well as 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks.Seven songs of melancholy and mysticism... White Willow's music embraces gothic, folk and classical elements within a progressive rock framework. The second release from Norway's White Willow carries on in the tradition of their debut Ignis Fatuus. Joining founders Jacob Holm-Lupo and Jan Tariq Rahman are new members Frode Lia, Sylvia Erichsen and Anglagard's Mattias Olsson. Also returning is engineer Jo Wang who's audiophile approach to recording has once again created a sonic masterpiece. Ex Tenebris features a dynamic mix - from moody quiet instrospection to heavy symphonic pyrotechnics. Perhaps more personal and focused than Ignis Fatuus, yet the album offers a more mature sound. Clearly one of the finest progressive rock bands currently recording.
    $16.00