Selling The Aggression

Third album from this Dutch progressive band is a conceptual work.  This one has strong political leanings so it might bother some of you out there.  It basically deals with changes in the geopolitcal climate since the late 90s.  While the band's first album was squarely in the metal camp, the subsequent albums find them moving more and more into the prog rock arena but maintaining an underlying heaviness.  Plenty of keyboards featured throughout the mix in a way that complements the guitar driven heaviness.  For me the stand out is vocalist Dennis Binnekade.  He has a stunning voice and I noticed that this time around someone coached him on his pronuciation. Rock solid contemporary prog. Highly recommended.

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  • "Unwritten Pages’ Noah is an album born out of a passion for progressive, driving music, concept albums and 80’s science-fiction film. It combines the broad musical taste of its creator Frederic Epe and the stylistic and unique musical backgrounds of each project member, reaching from rock and metal to Latin influences and more classical/score-oriented arrangements.The album features soaring guitars, fat organs and bone-breaking drums, as well as a healthy dose of retro. But most of all, it never loses its focus on unique and melody-driven song-writing. And it comes in the form of an ambitious story, told through the eyes of the vocalists and musicians.Noah tells the story of a boy born in the ruins of the futuristic Utopia City, and Maria, the daughter of a ruthless politician who has – literally – split Utopia City in half and driven the poor to a district known as LS01X. As the political climate escalates, a few hundred people from both sides of the city are forced to leave their home world and start a new life on Mars. Here, both Maria and the boy grow up in the middle of a rising conflict between two factions that are unwilling to ignore their grudge-ridden past. Noah features the talents of Damian Wilson (Threshold, Ayreon, Les Misérables), Karl Groom (Threshold, Shadowland), Davy Mickers (Stream of Passion, Ayreon), Alejandro Millán (Hello Madness, Stream of Passion) and many others."
    $3.00
  • "On the success of their EP, Reflections, Italy's Cyrax returns with their first full-length album, Pictures. First impressions can sometimes be tricky and perhaps set aside for additional listens. But what can be said at the start is that Pictures offers some rather interesting progressive metal from some very talented and inventive fellows.While the "heavy metal" is apparent, it's not the first thing you might notice in Cyrax's musical equation. Notable is the extensive and varied use of keyboards, from quirky and innovative synths to the significant piano presence. Both can be found in the song Cyrax, which expresses the band's raison d'etre. However, the keyboard solo in the first half sounds like ducks farting underwater. The piano often adds a subtle even delicate nuance to a largely heavier number as in the later third of Shine Through Darkness Part I. Then at the start of Part II, the synths turn to the sound of harpsichord. If you're piano and synth fan, Larsen Premoli will give you a large and entertaining lesson in their creative use.A second thing of interest is the large use of classical music elements in nearly every song. I'm not talking about the huge use of keys to create some bombastic symphonic canvas (like Rhapsody of Fire, for instance). Cyrax uses both violin and cello, along with some choral vocals and piano, to steal lines traditional classical music. A superb example is These Greenvalleys where the strings are pronounced and female lead vocals stirring. The 7th Seal does much the same with piano line and choir vocals in the center of the song. Speaking more specifically to the vocals, the male lead vocalist Marco Cantoni quite the vocal wild card. His voice and sound is all over the place, screeching to screamo, cranky to gruff. It was hard to find him all that enjoyable.Alternatively, but also including many of the aforementioned aspects, several songs definitely put the heavy metal into Cyrax's progressive metal. Oedipus Rex, even with a generally subtle start, moves with some strong riffs and stinging guitar (against some of that piano). The three part Shine Through Darkness also has some very meaty parts, notable in the third part. But this trilogy, like all the arrangements, are diverse and varied showing the depth of Cyrax's creativity. Perhaps the best example of this might be the final instrumental track Phunkrax. Like the name implies it has some kind of funk, rock, and jazz fusion thing going on between the riffs, rhythms, and keyboards.Needless to say, Cyrax and their Pictures is not your ordinary, nor predictable, progressive metal, especially with the depths of it's classical music influence. It's definitely an album that's worthy of your attention and time. Easily recommended, just wish I had some music video to share at the end. (BTW: if you go to their web site you will find all the lyrics as well as the scores to the songs.)" - Dangerdog.com
    $13.00
  • This was the first album with the revamped lineup of John McLaughlin, Jean Luc Ponty, Narada Michael Walden, Ralph Armstrong, and Gayle Moran. They didn't quite hit the heights the original lineup did but there are brilliant moments throughout.
    $7.00
  • "Early 2012 the Welsh progressive rock band Karnataka embarked on a fifteen- date tour across the UK. Under the name New Light Tour 2012, the band reached as many areas of the country as possible; in particular those towns and villages they missed on previous tours. The band performed at some of the most unique and beautiful venues in the country, from traditional theatres and art centres to a stunning fourteenth century converted barn. Yet they couldn't perform in all places and therefore many fans − especially those from abroad − couldn't see how the new line-up managed to perform the band's back catalogue. So New Light Live In Concert, Karnataka's latest double album and DVD has been recorded for those people who missed them live on stage. However, it's by all means a great souvenir for people who attended their live shows as well. On this almost two-hour live album, DVD and Blu-ray you can witness and listen to an entire live performance.The live performance has been recorded at the start of their New Light Tour at the Met Theatre in Bury, England on February 23, 2012. This tour marked the first live show for a line-up featuring the new lead singer Hayley Griffiths. For those who aren't familiar with the band's third female singer an introduction is in place. She's a classically trained soprano who has achieved global recognition and critical acclaim for her role in the international phenomenon Riverdance and Michael Flatley's  Lord Of The Dance. She has sung for the emperor of Japan in Tokyo, at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow and for an audience of 20,000 people in Taipei Arena. Moreover, in 2010 her debut album Silver Screen won the Best Classical Crossover Artist Award. Her second album Celtic Rose was released in 2011; it's her first complete Celtic album composed of traditional and contemporary Irish and Scottish songs.Other new members in the band are the Turkish keyboard player Cagri Tozluoglu from Istanbul and the talented multi-instrumentalist Colin Mold, who was the driving force behind the folk rock band Kara. During the tour Mold played additional lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, violin and he did some backing vocals. The fourth new member is drummer Matt McDonough. Last but not least Karnataka's new line-up still consist of founding member Ian Jones on bass and bass pedals and Enrico Pinna on guitars and backing vocals. The latter made his debut on the band's latest studio album The Gathering Light (2010, see review).When you watch and listen to New Light Live In Concert you'll soon notice that the performed songs differ from the original album versions. This is mainly due to the fact that Hayley Griffith's vocals strongly differ from Karnataka's prior singers Rachel Jones (pre-1998-2004) and Lisa Fury (2008-2010). Her soprano voice provides the music a rather new sound that I like a lot. In my opinion a live album shouldn't be a copy of a studio album. I think it should sound differently and this is something in which Karnataka succeeded very well. However, not only the vocals differ from the original versions. Take for example The Calling, an instrumental piece from their latest studio album. It featured the Uillean pipes played by guest musician Troy Donockley. Since he wasn't available during the New Light Tour, the electric violin replaced the pipes. This worked perfectly and made the song still very enjoyable. The addition of several new violin parts on the older songs suited these songs quite well.Also the addition of twin guitar parts throughout the concert is a real treat to the ears. The combination of Enrico Pinna and Colin Mold playing both the same guitar parts makes the music sound very melodic. However, it's mostly Pinna who steals the show with his great electric guitar playing. His talent for playing excellent solos can be especially heard on the superb piece Forsaken. The band must have known that  Hayley's voice couldn't always shine during the songs from their back catalogue. Therefore she got a special solo spot. This way she got the chance to show all of her vocal talents on tracks that aren't original Karnataka songs. So they also included two Hayley Griffith's tracks on this album that demonstrate her vocal talents. Lagan Love from her Celtic Rose album was performed brilliantly. She sings it wholeheartedly and only accompanied by some beautiful string synthesizer parts. It's followed by Our Love from her Silver Screen album. This time her voice sounds rather operatically. It fits in perfectly to Karnataka's new arrangement which includes fine playing on the violin as well. Besides Griffith's skills as an amazing singer she also proves to be a real entertainer who can keep the audience focussed during a concert. To mention any highlights is rather difficult, because in my opinion the entire concert is just one highlight.Both the CD and the DVD versions benefit from a tremendous production and capture the details of the vocal performances as well as the arrangements without one musician over-powering the other. Also the camera work has been done well capturing the musicians at close range and from a distance showing the whole band in action. They perform material from The Storm (2000), Delicate Flame Of Desire (2003) and The Gathering Light in the best possible way and in 5.1 surround. In addition to the concert they included interviews with all musicians. They were asked about their background and musical influences and about the future and the past of the band. Finally a tour photo gallery can be enjoyed. New Light Live In Concert is a real must to listen to and to watch. Especially people who like bands as Iona, Mostly Autumn and Clannad are advised to check out this great new live release of Karnataka! " - Background Magazine
    $18.00
  • I'm not familar with what is currently going on in the Venezuelan progressive rock scene but if this is any indication I want to hear more... Mojo Pojo's music is an amalgam of melodic prog rock and fusion with a smattering of metal tossed in for good measure. The music grooves and is extremely catchy. A good chunk of the album is instrumental and these guys stretch out and shred Morglbl style on some tracks and just straight up prog rock on others. Vocals are fine - a mix of English and Spanish. Oh yeah - James Murphy heavies it up with a guest guitar solo on one tune but if you are metal averse I wouldn't sweat it, you'll enjoy the tune as well. Overall the music has a real upbeat feel good vibe. Nice packaging courtesy of Hugh Syme (how the hell can they afford them? Life must be good in Venezuela!). Mojo Pojo offers much for all progressive rock interests and can be easily recommended.
    $11.00
  • New edition comes with a bonus DVD filled with videos and documentaries. Same price as before!!Amaranthe are a new Swedish/Danish band signed to Spinefarm. The band is fronted by Elize, who you will know from her touring with Kamelot. To say Elize is hot is an understatement. The band don't take the expected gothic metal route. Their order of business is a mix of poppy-melodic metal laced with death metal. Curiously the band features three vocalists. Elize is front and center but she shares the spotlight with the death growls of Dreamland's Jake E and the clean vocals of Andy Solvestrom. At times there is a similarity to some of Delain's poppier tunes but the death growls add a heavier aspect. There was a buzz developing on this disc before it hit here - I have to say I was quite surprised.
    $12.00
  • What would you call a power trio that veers seamlessly between shredding peaks, jazzy moods, and fat funky grooves? Mörglbl of course! Often compared to Primus meeting Steve Vai, Mörglbl hits like a heavyweight jab and makes you laugh while you bleed! Mörglbl is the punch you don't see coming! Packaged in a limited edition digipak, "Jazz For The Deaf" is the fourth album from the world-renowned French jazz metal trio. This band with the unusual name is led by virtuoso guitarist Christophe Godin. Virtuoso bassist Ivan Rougny is complemented by the double bass of new drummer Aurelien Ouzoulias. With the release of "Jazz For The Deaf", Mörglbl has created an album with cross genre appeal. Fans of shred and fusion Gods like Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai or Freak Kitchen's Mattias Eklundh will find much to sink their teeth into. After entertaining crowds around the world, Mörglbl performed at Nearfest in 2008. It was the first time in the 10 year history of the festival that an opening act received two encores. This amazing performance sparked a flurry of interest from other festivals, culminating with Mörglbl receiving an invitation to appear at Progday 2009 in Chapel HIll, NC on 9/5/09.
    $13.00
  • Third album finds the band as a guitar/bass/drums trio with master bassist Antoine Fafard covering keyboard parts. The overall tone of the album is heavier due to guitarist Mark Tremblay adding a bit more crunch to his sound. The star of show continues to be bandleader Fafard who's exemplary frettless basswork comes across as a stylistic blend of Michael Manring and Percy Jones. Another smoker from this great Canadian band. Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • Here's a new band that will give avant prog fans a screaming orgasm.  Rhun are a French ensemble.  Their music quite effectively captures the essence of Magma, RIO, and Canterbury.  That's just the first song!!  "The musicians offer an interesting and vivid mosaic of predominantly Canterbury, Zeuhl, Jazz, RIO, and (Kraut)Rock. Beside two guitars, bass, drum, percussion and thrown in sounds, two horn players bring lively colors on sax, bassoon, clarinet and flute in this complex mix. The two singers act in a more avant-garde way as for example Magma. People interested in above mentioned styles should have fun." 
    $18.00
  • "Brazilian death metal upstarts Sepultura took an incredible creative leap forward with their second full-length album, 1987's Schizophrenia. Although it was recorded not too long after their primitive, black metal-dominated debut efforts -- 1985's Bestial Devastation EP and 1986's Morbid Visions LP -- Schizophrenia introduced an entirely new sound fusing thrash and death metal, and all of it supported by much improved songwriting, musicianship, and the first truly professional-sounding production job of the band's short career. Constant touring, rehearsal, and the addition of lead guitarist Andreas Kisser (his classical guitar training and memorable solos made an immediate impact) were all key to this stunning transformation, but the heightened level of proficiency at hand is such that it almost seems miraculous at times. With their precise, lightning-quick staccato riffing and multiple, distinct, but interlocking sections, the album's opening triplet of "From the Past Comes the Storm" (preceded by a Psycho-inspired intro theme), "To the Wall," and "Escape from the Void" proved simply devastating to the ears. And yet the seven-minute instrumental "Inquisition Symphony" (later covered by Finnish cello virtuosos Apocalyptica) was arguably even more breathtaking in its diversity, brilliantly showcasing the band's incredible, new-found combination of melody and aggression while adding some tasteful synth touches, to boot. Additional head-banging standouts like "Screams Behind the Shadows" and a re-recorded version of early fan favorite "Troops of Doom" bookend a few less distinctive offerings on side two -- those being token thrashers "Septic Schizo" and "R.I.P. (Rest in Pain)," plus the acoustic interlude "The Abyss," but only a trifling of momentum is lost, nevertheless. All of which helped make Schizophrenia the first Sepultura release to make serious waves with international critics and fans, while setting the stage for the group's imminent breakthrough release, Beneath the Remains." - Allmusic Guide
    $8.00
  • "It was the friendly split heard round the world: two bands – same logo, same history….huh? Two Rhapsody’s? Would they sound the same? What does Rhapsody even sound like without Luca? All those questions are now about to be answered as Rhapsody of Fire (RoF) will finally present the response album to the overwhelmingly cinematic masterpiece spewed by Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody (LTR) in 2012. In the interim, there is a new record company (AFM), the first North American Tour and a Hess in….a Hess out. The split with the former HolyHell guitarist has left Roberto De Micheli as the lone guitarist, which turns out to be the best move of all. Meanwhile, Fabio Lione has been the busiest and a singer for hire – guest starring on a multitude of releases, including a long stint with Brazil giants Angra – and permanently joining Hollow Haze on top of Vision Divine. Fans wondered, when would that long awaited response album from Alex Staropoli be heard? The time is now and “Dark Wings of Eternity” is upon us. Right, right….you want the verdict! Well this album will definitely distinguish the band from LTR, but at the same time all of the key RoF qualities remain.Is it a win? Absolutely! Alex Staropoli takes RoF in a more organic and metallic direction, which on the first listen may come across sounding “under produced” when compared to the grandiose “overly produced” previous albums. Successive listens unveil the beauty of “Dark Wings of Steel,” an album that favors drama over theatric, proving there really is room for two Rhapsodys without picking sides.Luca’s vision of Rhapsody is the cinematic grandiose direction – a grand production of sight and sound, dazzling and spectacular. Alex Staropoli has side stepped and stripped down Rhapsody of Fire just a bit towards a purer “heavy metal” direction. Fans might take that statement as a step backward, but keep in mind, having two bands that are exactly the same would be silly and certainly wouldn’t help either. The guitar sound is more prominent, darker, and little less speedy as in the past (save for two of the album’s tracks). The choirs and choruses that fans have come to expect remain intact, as well as those building and sweeping melodies, written to perfectly balance the strengths of Fabio’s voice. Clearly, this is Staropoli’s band and he makes his presence known in a huge way (more on that later), and Roberto’s work is absolutely brilliant and cannot go unnoticed! His riffs are engaging and his solos are masterful, in many ways exceeding Luca’s own (which Turilli would freely admit). Many people do not realize that Roberto was actually in Thundercross in 1993, the band that would change its name to the famous Rhapsody in 1995 (though he did not play on the “Land of Immortals” demo of 1994).For any true fan of the band, approaching “Dark Wings” brings a certain level of both excitement and concern, especially considering Luca’s absence, the band’s back catalog and history, and LTR's post-split opening salvo that only raised the bar. It is nearly impossible for any fan of these bands to simply turn off the past and not instantly begin with comparisons. By giving “Dark Wings of Eternity” room to fly and breathe, I guarantee with each successive spin any concerns will quickly fade. In the end, you will find that RoF really isn’t all that far from where it already was! As soon as "Vis Divina" (intro) and opening track “Rising From Tragic Flames” begin you will notice the hallmarks – choirs, speedy riffs, Fabio – are all there, but the sound, especially the drums, is more natural. Staropoli’s keyboard play is much more modern and flamboyant juxtaposed to De Micheli’s neoclassical style. When that choir bridges you to Fabio’s first verse, you quickly realize this is classic RoF.For purposes of keeping this review from becoming more like a novel, lets group the tracks into “quicker” and “slower.” History has proven that Rhapsody of Fire is more often than not associated with quicker tunes, which are the ones that tend to be prominent among the fans. “Rising From Tragic Flames” is akin to classics like “Unholy Warcry” as the choir and speed is strikingly similar. “Silver Lake of Tears” presents a fierce and angry Fabio on the verses, which will be just what many fans have been hoping for (and no…we aren’t talking “Reign of Terror” angry). The title track is slightly more mid-paced with a De Micheli riff that is just as lethal as the speed. The song has one of the coolest guitar vs. keyboard solo battles, something that happens in multiple tracks on the album. “A Tale Of Magic” is an up-tempo half-speed with one of the most memorable choruses on the release. It’s a challenge to pick and outright favorite, but for now the pendulum swings in favor of “Tears of Pain,” with its simple, though highly fetching, riff that just draws more anger from Fabio’s voice.As for the “slower” side, which encompasses ballads and mid-paced tracks, the crop includes the building layers of “Fly to Crystal Skies” - galloping into the chorus along the bass pedals of Alex Holzwarth and the stunning ballad “Custode Di Pace”- a song like so many other greats from RoF and another pedestal for Fabio. “Angel of Light” showcases Fabio’s current strengths - the upper mid vibrato – matched in perfection only by Alessandro Conti. The song sports another one of the best choruses, as well as a slow Manowar type gallop as the song progresses. One of the real standouts in this category is “My Sacrifice,” which rises like a mountain, each level progressively heavier, ranging from near ballad from the onset, to mid-paced bass centric while pausing on the bridge with a uniquely Italian acoustic flair before cascading into the chorus.As mentioned earlier, a word about Alex Staropoli. For starters, I’ll admit that I had my concerns about his “flying solo” as a writer and those concerns were dispelled by “Dark Wings.” His play is much more flamboyant and modern than on previous releases, including a number of keyboard solos that battle back and forth with Roberto’s guitar. It’s an exciting element that really enhances the album. If I had one stylistic gripe, it would be that the keyboards are so prominent in the mix that they suffocate the guitar riffs at times (examples include the opening riff to the title track and “A Tale Of Magic.”). In those heavier tunes, the riffs could easily drive the melody alone.In summary, “Dark Wings of Steel” is a well written and fantastic effort. It demands attentive and successive listens before its true beauty is revealed. Changes are both bold and subtle, especially the more organic sound. The mix meter tilts with Staropoli, which throttles the riffs at times, but the quality of play is superb. The song writing is top notch, leaning more dramatic and less theatrical to distinguish the band from LTR, and Fabio shines not only with his voice, but also in his role as lyric writer. Enough cannot be said about Roberto, who has taken over and stepped up in the absence of Luca. For me, this album is a testament to his play. “Dark Wings of Steel” will not replace the classics, but it will find its place among them. The future is bright for one of heavy metal’s veteran acts." - Metal Underground
    $15.00
  • "I know that an album is timeless when, after many years, I return to it and it still sounds fresh. This is what happen to me with ...and so we destroyed everything by Sleepmakeswaves. The instrumental post-rock four-piece band from Sydney is now back with another amazing album, Love Of Cartography, that, starting from the name itself and its fantastic album cover, proves the tendency the band has to map new creative directions within the instrumental rock framework.The new album was recorded in Byron Bay with producer Nick DiDia (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against The Machine) after fans – and me of course among them - helped to raise over $30,000 through a Pozible campaign. I listened to Love Of Cartography many times before writing about it and, even now, 'Emergent' is playing fulfilling my room with its melody and creating a somber climax.The first thing you'll notice listening to Love Of Cartography is how the Aussie band has moved towards a electro-rock sound that is gonna blow your mind. As masters of meticulous instrumental rock, apocalyptic guitar landscapes, they spoiled us delivering great music, and Love Of Cartography is gloriously no different.Kid, Otto, Alex and Tim, again wonderfully demonstrate their ability to swap pursuing rhythmic sections with soothing ambient segments without losing a step. Love Of Cartography is full of emotional passages that captivate the listener more than the most beautiful mermaids.The journey through the ten tracks of Love Of Cartography starts with 'Perfect Detonator' that launches the listener into the Sleepmakeswaves's space. 'Perfect Detonator' is a complete listening experience, peppered with sonic leitmotifs that fold back onto themselves once the final chords are drowned out by silence. The exploration of this instrumental rock world by the Aussie band continues: ‘Traced in Constellation' flits between glitchy synths and shimmering guitars, whilst the short 'Singularity' unfolds as an interlude and creates a beautiful tension that explodes in the brilliant 'Emergent' that incorporates both post-rocky and electronic elements and suggests that there’s room for the old and the new Sleepmakeswaves's styles to coexist.'Emergent' has a slow-burning introduction but the band doesn't hesitate to proves that they have lost none of their appetite for noise and pursuing rhythm. This track is a journey within a journey; simply awesome.There’s space, too, for the band to expand upon loud-quiet dynamics; 'Great Northern' has a great mix of those segments and listening to it is pure joy. 'The Stars Are Stigmata' is of a bit heavier ride instead that brings us back to the Sleepmakeswaves's style we already adore. This track is as engaging as it is dramatic and the balance between acoustic and electronic elements is a killer.Passing through the soft 'A Little Spark' that invites quiet contemplation, we land onto 'Something Like Avalanches' that is a perfect track with its amazing guitar riffs. The journey through Love Of Cartography ends with the beautiful 'Your Time Will come Again' that blends in it several music genres and the outcome is a beautiful, notable electro-rock ballad. 'Your Time Will come Again' is a credible substitute for nirvana, demanding you to set yourself free from all corporeal existence. Your mind will thank you later.Love Of Cartography ends here but its music won't leave you. The journey is one way." - Echoes And Dust
    $15.00
  • The band's second album finds them seeking their own identity. There is still a Porcupine Tree vibe but its much less overt. Keyboards are definitely not in the forefront - this is a guitar driven effort with lots of crunch, distortion, and a schmearing of grunge. Good stuff!!
    $10.00