Spin It Again - Live In Munich (2CD)

Two CD pressing. 2013 live release from the Canadian Prog Rock band. Spin It Again - Live in Munich captures the final night of the Saga's wildly successful 2012 tour in Germany. Saga's historical singer Michael Sadler surprised everybody by rejoining the band back just a few days before the recording of their most recent album 20/20. That studio effort charted in the German top 10 and the band sold out nearly 20 concerts in Germany and brought its music in cities and countries where they had never been before. Spin it Again, recorded and filmed in Munich, historically a second home for the Canadian prog rockers, features recent songs and all the Saga classics. Two hours of prog and melodic hard rock at its best.

Disc 1
1.Anywhere You Wanna Go
2.Mouse In A Maze
3.Careful Where You Step
4.The Perfectionist
5.You're Not Alone
6.Spin It Again
7.Corkentellis
8.The Flyer
9.Fish Beat
10. Six Feet Under

Disc 2
11.The Cross
12.Time's Up
13.Scratching The Surface
14.Tired World (Chapter 6)
15.Humble Stance
16.On the Loose
17.Wind Him Up
18.Framed
19.Don't Be Late (Chapter 2)

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  • It becomes a convenient crutch to describe every band emerging from Poland as sounding like Riverside.  In the case of Retrospective its actually true.  Lost In Perception comes 4 years after their debut Stolen Thoughts.  Granted this sophomore effort shows much more individuality.  Vocalist Jakub Rozsak doesn't sound anything like Mariusz Duda but the one thing they share in common is a great ability to sing with emotion.  You believe it.  There is a spacey vibe that does in fact sound like the earlier Riverside albums.  The good news is that while Retrospective isn't unique sounding, what they do they do extremely well.  This one is sneaking in at the end of 2012 as one of the better prog efforts we've heard in awhile. Highly recommended.
    $16.00
  • Nine Paths is the fourth album from respected Dutch band Knight Area. They have garnered attention around the world, performing in North America multiple times as well as tours through out Europe. Knight Area has performed at NEARfest in the US as well as The Night Of The Prog festival in Loreley, Germany. Not content to simply stick to a musical formula, Knight Area will surprise their fanbase with Nine Paths. While remaining firmly faithful to the symphonic rock tradition, the band has gone one step further and added a harder edge to their sound. This transformation comes courtesy of noted producer Neil Kernon (Cannibal Corpse, Queensryche, Nile) who’s mix has provided a more contemporary approach to progressive rock. The track “Please Come Home” features a guest vocal appearance by Charlotte Wessels (Delain). The music of Nine Paths is perfectly complemented by the fantasy art of Dennis Sibeijn at Damn Engine "Knight Area's fourth release, Nine Paths, is simply a great sounding album of melodic progressive rock. Earlier works were likely gathered under the symphonic rock genre also. But Nine Paths seems to find Knight Area upping the rock ante just a bit. With that said, don't think that founder, composer, and keyboardist Gerben Klazinga is not offering an abundance of his synthesizer finesse. Yet you'll notice an emphasis on straight melodic rock in Clueless, where prog nuances have been vacated. Even the instrumental Pride and Joy sounds more like a rock tune, even though keyboards and guitar get into some serious duets and dueling. Perhaps the clearest representation of melodic rock (also with some symphonic notes) is the incredible ballad Please Come Home, where Mark Smit is joined by Charlotte Wessels (Delain) in a brilliant duet. Yet, those rock notes arise in segments within other tracks as in the latter half of Summerland or with larger sound created by big riffs over synths in the heart of The Balance. Fundamentally, Nine Paths is melodic progressive rock. The opener Ever Since You Killed Me looms large in both progression and instrumentation. Later, The Balance, Wakerun, and Angel's Call offer more flashes of ingenuity than some bands can offer over several albums. One overarching element amidst these three is the impressive bass line within each. Next most notable is the satisfying drum work, as within Wakerun around four minutes where it the movement with near atmospheric color. It also introduces a heavier part of the song, advancing again that greater emphasis on a rock edge. In the end, as said earlier, Nine Paths simply sounds great. The musical canvas is large and Knight Area fills it with color and imagination to entertaining effect. Nine Paths is a must have for fans of melodic progressive rock. Strongly recommended." 5.0/5.0 - Danger Dog.com
    $14.00
  • After their last performance at Nearfest Apocalypse, Anglagard's lineup went through a bit of an upheaval.  Luckily it didn't materially affect the band's sound.  Anglagard is still Anglagard.  Prog Pa Svenska is a 2CD set that documents the band's three day residence at Club Citta in Tokyo, Japan back in March 2013.  Material is drawn from all three studio albums.  The recording is beautiful and the performances are stellar.  What else do you need to know?  How about this review:"May 14th of this year will see the release of a new Änglagård live album: Prog på Svenska—Live in Japan. Some of you may have been lucky enough to have been following Änglagård from the very beginning, but if you’re anything like me, you came into the game when Änglagård’s small catalog of music was either out of print or near impossible to find without spending a fortune; that is, with the exception of one little disc which somehow was available when snagging a copy of albums like Epilogue seemed to be a Herculean feat. That album was Buried Alive, the live recording of Änglagård’s last show prior to their 1994 breakup. While the liner-notes of Buried Alive reveal a band that was not 100% satisfied, 20 years later with the release of Prog på Svenska—Live in Japan, Änglagård is back and going strong with a new live recording that is rich in dynamic and deep in maturity, a performance that I am confident that they are proud to immortalize for their fans.Prog på Svenska represents the first of three consecutive nights that the masters of dark Swedish prog delivered at Club Città in Japan alongside The Crimson ProjeKCt (featuring the legendary Adrian Belew and Tony Levin). For me personally this is a special album that transports me back to when I witnessed their unbelievable performance only three weeks later at Baja Prog. Among a plethora of canonized acts at the festival (such as Hackett, New Trolls, and Three Friends), Änglagård’s remarkable performance showed that they stand in no one’s shadow. While there’s nothing like being there in person, Prog på Svenska is about as good a live recording and performance as I’ve ever heard on disc. I certainly am jealous of the Japanese fans who got to see them three nights in a row last year.The live-set on this album shows a balanced representation of the old and the new, featuring two tracks from each studio release along with an unreleased intro track which I assume (and hope) will be on Änglagård’s next studio production. So that the anticipation doesn’t kill anyone, I’ll start right off with the new song: ”Introvertus Fugu Part 1.” Perhaps the first thing to know about this track is that it’s our first look into the composition of the new band featuring Linus Kåse and Erik Hammarström alongside Anna, Johan, and Tord. I can happily say that “Introvertus” shows a band that knows how to move forward without abandoning the distinctive identity that they are known for, a fact that strongly hints at a powerful album to come in the future. The opening moments of the song show the band increasingly incorporating elements of modern classical and atonal music through the delicately dark chord changes on the piano before constructing a wave of tension with ambient bass noise, a distinctive guitar motif,  and a descending melody on flute playing against tuned percussion. As the ambient textures continue to swell, a big percussive crash shockingly interjects, setting the stage for an ominous swelling of Mellotron chords, resulting in an eerily delightful sound. The intensity continues to build with a drum roll on snare and cymbals that transition the piece into an aggressive angular instrumental attack featuring howling Minimoog modulation; enter a fiercely dark melody which is doubled or harmonized on most instruments before the band takes the listener into their signature dose of woodsy folkiness. Johan and Linus continue pounding in the rhythm section before the eerie central motif returns to bring “Introvertus” towards its close with the full force of Anna and Linus’ dueling woodwinds, one hanging on the melody while the other produces chaotic squeals before withering off the melody in a very unsettling (but cool) way.After kicking it off with an exciting intro the band takes us back 20 years with “Hostsejd.” The rich dynamics, especially the meticulously controlled Mellotron swells, really shine on this one while some small differences in instrumentation (such as the sax on the first main melody instead of flute) really keep the piece fresh and exciting. Although I was craving the intro on the follow up track, “Längtans Klocka,” the supreme level of interplay between all instruments that starts off the piece is fantastic. Furthermore, the guitar/Mellotron duet at about 6:30 that leads into a memorable theme is quite the highlight. Finally, the circus-y melody towards the end of the song somehow becomes even more diabolic in this slightly stripped down version as Tord’s demented waltzy riff serves as a perfect backdrop for the drunken saxes. Speaking of Tord, it certainly is nice to see him back in the band, and I must add that his guitar playing and sense of emotion is perfect for the band and has improved over the years. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated on “Jordrök,” a quintessential song in Änglagård’s catalog. The reality of the matter is that despite the fact that the band was quite mature at the time of Hybris‘ release, their capacity to bring out all the nuances in pieces like this shows that they are musicians who have truly refined their craft over the years. “Jordrök” sounds more alive than ever; the Mellotron flute section in the middle, one of the band’s absolute trademark melodies, is to die for, and Linus’ superb use of phrasing and pacing in the piano intro certainly takes this classic piece up several notches.Moving deeper into the performance we see “Sorgmantel,” one of my personal favorites from Viljans Öga. The first thing I noticed about this particular performance is that the intro sounds much more raw due to differences in instrumentation, this version starting out with a guitar and bass call and response. While I absolutely adore the studio version, this new arrangement and performance was also wonderful and brought its own set of advantages to the table. First, the bass/guitar duet at the beginning really exposes the melody and shows you that its not just about fancy instrumentation, it’s a gorgeous melody through and through. Second, the band is not concerned in the least bit with rushing through the performance of this piece; the pacing is delicate, precise, and emotional with plenty of space for ritard and sway as the intro melody gets passed around from guitar to bass and flute and is then countered by the piano, making the fugue-nature of this piece even more evident. The playing is incredibly tight but busting with dynamic throughout as “Sorgmantel” takes its many twists and turns before working its way to a quiet ending; graceful… even breathtaking.To wrap up the night, Änglagård once again goes back to the early 90′s, this time with “Kung Bore” and “Sista Somrar.” Although the former leans more on the folky side of the band, as does much of their first album, the highlight of the piece actually ended up being the mysterious and ambient middle section where the band shows that they have mastered perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of music: playing quietly with vibrant emotion. Between the light swells of guitar, weird effects on bass, a steady organ pattern in the upper register, and a lightly beating drum, this section goes beyond merely doing justice to the original. Finally, the depth and emotion of “Sista Somrar’s” slow, dark intro is, quite frankly, deadly, and goes miles deeper than the original studio recording (which was in and of itself very impressive) as an ominous sax melody flanked by stormy percussion and effects guides us to the unleashing of an uncanny tron female solo voice that will haunt your nightmares for weeks to come.In my opinion, Prog på Svenska—Live in Japan is an essential live album that you don’t want to miss out on. Quite honestly, I am a person who rarely enjoys live albums because oftentimes the performances and production are either significantly worse than the studio recording, or the live version ends up being stripped down to the point where there’s just something missing, or the band simply doesn’t offer an experience which is significant enough to enjoy the live version deeply; in most cases you sort of ‘had to have been there’ to get what’s so great about it. Such is not the case with Änglagård’s latest live documentation. From the performances to the production and the differences in detail from the originals, Prog på Svenska is a stellar capturing of live art through and through. And of course, I might add that if you ever get the chance to see Änglagård perform, take the opportunity; if your significant other isn’t a prog fan, take them anyways. Änglagård’s extreme level of delicacy in phrasing and dynamic is a tough match to beat in progressive music and should hold up even in the face of the snootiest of music connoisseurs." - Progulator
    $18.00
  • After a long silence Israel's best known death metal band returns. "Mabool" is the band's third album - a concept work with a Biblical theme. The band has always had a unique slant to their sound and it carries on here....it's an eclectic mix of death metal and Middle Eastern flavors. I always would kid about this band and describe their sound as "death metal goes to a bar mitzvah". Comes with a bonus disc in which the band does acoustic versions of some of their old material as well as a cover of "Mercy" from Paradise Lost. Avant-metal that really deserves to be heard.
    $7.00
  • This is another one of those classic Renaissance radio broadcasts that tape traders have circulated for years.  It gets an "official" release courtesy of Purple Pyramid.  It was recorded on the Turn Of The Cards tour at the Academy Of Music in NYC on May 17, 1974.  If you are fan and you don't have a cassette squirrelled away somewhere you need to own it.
    $17.00
  • This one is a real mindblower.  One of Italy's best bands, La Maschera Di Cera, has created a musical sequel to Le Orme's Felona E Serona.  I can't recall any band ever doing something like this.  Like all of the band's work it remains faithful to the "Rock Progressivo Italiano" sound.  Apart from cleaner sounding sonics it could have easily pass for somethining recorded in 1974.  The music does in fact pick up on some of the core themes and melodices from FeS.  You want 'tron?  You got it!  You want flute?  You got it.  To wrap the whole package together the band licensed the cover art from Lanfranco, the artist responsible for the art for FeS.  So it really does feel like a sequel.  Please note there are actually two versions of the album.  This is the English language edition - it features a slightly different mix than the Italian version.  Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • "Forming in 2008, the floodgates appear to be wide open creatively for releasing full length product for this UK progressive metal act. Two albums within two years, as well as a prime support slot for the Devin Townsend Project across 12 countries in Europe during 2011 leads us to the third record Enigma. Filling out as a quintet with new keyboardist Shaz, the nine songs on this effort illustrate the ability to siphon the old, complex template with a modern, semi-staccato meets djent guitar style in shorter, compact arrangements.Aeon Zen isn’t afraid to add a light, jazzy horn break during the tranquil section of the somber “Seven Hills,” which contrasts the conventional Dream Theater-like musical montage that opens the record instrumentally entitled “Enter the Enigma.” Drummer Steve Burton is adept at death metal blasts just as he is twisting tempos at will- check out the Opeth-esque “Divinity” for his double bass maneuvers, lightning fast fills and impeccable sense of timing.Alongside the professional skills of vocalist Andi Kravljaca (Silent Call), three other vocalists appear to add their own texture to the band’s cause. Atle Pettersen (Above Symmetry), Jonny Tatum (Eumeria) and Nate Loosemore (Lost in Thought) give Enigma a deeper emotional platform, as the clean and extreme deliveries match the mood of each arrangement.It’s a younger generation who seem willing and able to push parameters and use technology to deliver a wider scope of feelings, emotions, and contrasts. Much like the peanut butter and chocolate argument of whether each is better separate or together, Aeon Zen has no qualms about loving Symphony X, Threshold, and Megadeth as much as Periphery or Between The Buried And Me- and making it work within their output.Melodic, modern progressive metal that should grab a wide scope in audience enthusiasm - Enigma could be a sleeper hit if these gentlemen land the right touring situations. " - Blistering.com
    $8.00
  • Hardbound mediabook edition with one bonus track."I haven't had anything similar on my musical plate for a while, so Gazpacho's eighth album Demon was an interesting, beautifully surprising and absolutely brilliant variation. Again Gazpacho mixes progressive sounds with electronic elements and folk instrumentation with the addition of dynamic riffing and amazing vocals. The outcome is a unique sound that is quite inimitable and rare to find. How much you enjoy the new record will mainly depend on how you respond to this incredible mix and the singing style used by the vocalist. Anyway Gazpacho rules, especially at night.I'm a great fan of these guys and for those of you that still don't know who they are, Gazpacho is a band formed in Oslo, Norway in 1996 by childhood friends, Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen, along with Jan-Henrik Ohme - later joined by Mikael Krømer, Lars Erik Asp and Kristian Torp; they released their debut album Bravo in 2003.Demon, the upcoming record, is a concept album based on the true story of a manuscript found in an apartment in Prague where the writer, a previous resident, had detailed his chase of an evil, “The Demon”. Demon is for sure full of emotion and humanity and the way the Norwegian band reproduces in music the diabolical story and the psychosis of the protagonist is wonderful.The story is told in four parts and it starts with 'I've been walking – part 1' and it couldn't start in a better low-key fashion way. There’s something disarmingly powerful about loud vocals from Jahn Henrik Ohme that add incredible depth to a song. The intermittent piano notes are just perfect and the delicate violin sound is like a nice shade of color you don't notice on painting but that painting wouldn't be the same without it. A great bonus.The second part of 'I've been walking' – that is the third track of the album – starts exactly where the first movement of the piece ends but adding a dark shadow to the overall atmosphere. There are still vocals but now are slower and they mix perfectly with the other instruments. The bass is gorgeous and the way the song turns into a more ambient and atmospherical dimension is great. It's such a damn good track and together, 'I've been walking' parts I and II, might be the best tunes that Gazpacho has ever written.The mix of sounds of the opening track changes completely in 'The Wizard of Altai Mountain' becoming electronic in the first part of the track and turning into a sort of gipsy or Yiddish sound in the second half. We are all crossing lands pursuing the demon.The story ends with 'Death Room' and the motifs of the 'The Wizard of Altai Mountain' come back like creating a circle with that song. Oriental sound, progressive rock and folk are all mixed together and the resulting fusion sound is incredible. I rarely make direct comparison among artists but this time I cannot avoid to think of Radiohead's music mixed with folk elements to create an intricate yet beautifully original tone. Other times they make me think of the Scandinavian prog-rock band Airbag but again Gazpacho find their way to be definitely unique.The story ends here and Demon too, a captivating and intriguing album that is absolutely brilliant. I like the way it flows song by song and the variety of sounds blended in it. Such experimentalism is the proof that the Norwegian guys are really talented and they deserve to be considered one of the best progressive rock bands on the scene today.Demon is an album that requires time and patience to be understood and to gain the listener's estimation and it will reward open minded audience. Play it in the dark to fully experience its great music." - Echoes And Dust
    $13.00
  • "New live album from Swedish prog rock sensation Moon Safari. Recorded at the band's performance at the classic Baja Prog festival in Mexicali, Mexico. The album features some of their classic tunes as well as pieces from their latest studio release Himlabacken Vol. 1. Drumming on this release is Mikael Israelsson from Swedish prog rock band Black Bonzo. Recommended for all fans on melodic prog rock."
    $16.00
  • Remastered Edition.
    $12.00
  • "Australia is home to many fine progressive acts like Voyager, Arcane, Vanishing Point, Karnivool and the Melbourne based band Eyefear. The Inception Of Darkness illustrates once again why Eyefear are such a likeable group, and together with those fellow bands mentioned above are proving the land down under has plenty of progressive talent.This band has been around for quite some time and Eyefear's last release The Unseen came out in 2008 and it is one CD I have returned to many times. The Unseen is such a good metal album, and as you can tell from my score below I like The Inception Of Darkness a great deal also.Like Tomorrow's Eve and the heavier progressive bands, Eyefear perform a potent selection of animated metal, while clean vocals dominate this recording with some darker spoken words on track four which really suits the haunting material. Eyefear's lead vocalist Danny Cecati has a different style than most as he tends to hold his notes longer and is well suited to their songs. With eight tracks on the standard version, the special version has additional tunes which are orchestral versions of three songs off the album and are very well done indeed. I really like the use of keyboards on this recording, they are very tasteful and combine so well with the other instruments which also sound impressive. The two part title tracks "The Inception Of Darkness Part 1 – Transcending" and "The Inception Of Darkness Part 2 – Reborn" are two of the best being both dramatic and powerful, "Redemption" is another good lively song that opens this new album while "Legions" is a fine heavy closer. The Inception Of Darkness has plenty of appeal and that attraction continues to grow with each listen of this newest Eyefear release.Of the vast number of Progressive Metal groups, Eyefear certainly belongs amid the upper ranks, as The Inception Of Darkness is that good." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $15.00
  • After a 10 year absence Enchant are back.  The band started in 1993 making them one of the earliest prog metal band.  Actually they are sort of an interesting band in that they seem to exist in both the prog rock and prog metal realms.  Some metal fans think of them as a bit lightweight and some prog rock fans think they are too heavy!  One thing is for sure they are wildly successful.  This is definitely prog but it never loses sight of the melody.  Fronted by the great Ted Leonard (who is now doing double duty with Spock's Beard) this one is a no-brainer - whether you are metal or prog head.  "irst impressions are the similarities to Spock’s Beard. Hardly surprising since Ted Leonard has been singing with them since 2011. He’s been with Enchant longer; their first CD came out in 1993. And familiarity doesn’t breed contempt here, fortunately.Bay area progressive rockers, they steer a straight course composing guitar-structured songs that they extemporise over. Guitarist Douglas A Ott is also the band’s main producer, with The Great Divide having been recorded at his own studio, but if in the past the band’s followed his direction they’re now more involved after a ten year gap working on other projects. Also, while integral, Ott doesn’t dominate Enchant’s sound but flows in and out adding a hard rock bias to their generic musical flavouring. Drummer/percussionist Sean Flanegan and bassist Ed Platt have the solidity of early Kansas and musically there are some pretty snazzy and often too brief keyboard solos from Bill Jenkins.A rolling cyclical bass line forms the basis of opening number ‘Circles’ with Leonard pondering life going round well, like a circle – while the lyrics aren’t profound they feel right and though this isn’t a concept album, despite the band stating otherwise, there are common themes concerning the human condition in a loosely existential manner. Mainly straight verse and choruses ‘Circles’ breaks out into more complicated time signatures before an acoustic comes to the fore, vocals return, an electric guitar take over and it concludes with a nicely warm keyboard solo. ‘Within An Inch’ follows with a steady rock backbeat over which Ott’s playing echoes Camel’s Andy Latimer interrupted briefly by some John Ellis punk-styled sirening. ‘The Great Divide’ follows suit in a more epic manner, the arrangement akin to Genesis in their golden period.Enchant don’t play with the fairies, despite what their name suggests. If anything they’re two steps removed from an AOR sound leaning in towards early Asia with some latter day Beatles thrown in, and a less grandiose take on Spock’s Beard. One might refer to them as technically proficient rather than emotionally overwrought, meaning there is a heartfelt flavour to their songs, and they tend to grow on you.The subdued opening to ‘Life In A Shadow’ throws a brief curveball echoing the Canterbury sound of Hatfield & The North before a heavy chorded chorus takes this into a rocking tune with soulful harmonies. ‘Deserve To Feel’ pours on the technical drumming and dribbling triplet bass figures with some flashy pyrotechnics predominantly on guitar but with keen keyboard flourishes, moving into a more intricate musical score as Jenkins and Ott trade inspired lines towards its conclusion. Likewise, ‘Here And Now’ builds reflectively moving towards emotional drama.Finely composed, played well, Enchant’s The Great Divide might not have you falling under its spell, but you may well be surprised how you find yourself being drawn to playing it." - The Midland Rocks
    $13.00
  • Expanded 2CD digibook edition comes with a 16 page graphic novel and a bonus disc with 30 minutes of music. "Tao of the Dead, the seventh LP from embattled hardcore-prog studio junkies ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, is something of a double-concept album, running the thematic gamut from the death of rock radio to the work of comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell. It is split into two sections-- well, suites-- divided by key. There's a limited edition that comes complete with an extra half hour of music and a graphic novel. There's that cover. Considering, if I told you Tao of the Dead was the band's most stripped-back, least bombastic affair in ages, would you believe me? Trail of Dead pared down to a four-piece for the 10-day Tao sessions, re-shifting their focus back to guitar and peeling away plenty of the ostentatious orchestral-psych flourishes that’ve bogged them down in the recent past. Save the quarter-hour you'll spend with its five-part closer, Tao of the Dead seems to chop its recent predecessors' average per-song runtime roughly in half. Worlds Apart and especially So Divided-- the nadir of the Trail of Dead catalog-- dragged on with excessive runtimes and twice-too-many choruses and elaborate instrumental scaffolding that, tarp removed, revealed a house of cards. Rather than blowing out the back end of every song with such a movement, Tao of the Dead maps its grand ambitions over its full length; songs slip by quickly but not without notice, and certain motifs reappear throughout, lending the disc a somewhat hallucinogenic disorientation. Mostly, though, they move; the clipped construction helps, as does the Dark Side of the Moon-style seamlessness between cuts. But the songs themselves-- out front with the melodies, easy on the extraneous racket, alternately lovely and bruising-- are among the most delicate and memorable the band have unleashed. And, smartly, in shifting the focus back to the tunes themselves, they've pushed the grand payoff to the end, once they've really earned it. Opener "Let's Experiment" gives way to "Pure Radio Cosplay", a sweaty rocker with an almost Stonesy underpinning that laments the death of rock radio, a clever inversion considering it's the band's most radio-ready track in years. Conrad Keely's rough-hewn, gun-to-the-head howl is, like almost everything, pitched down somewhat here on Tao, evincing notes of near-prettiness at times, but he spits out "Cosplay" like he really can't believe something like Nickelback exists while he languishes in semi-obscurity. Yet the sour, why-not-us vibe of World's Apart couldn't be farther from the fantastical worlds Keely touches on here; his lyrics, as they often do, seem dwarfed by the music, but the few he dangles out in front seem to emerge from Keely's full immersion in Tao's mythos. He didn't just namedrop Yes' Relayer and Rush's Hemispheres in pre-interviews because there's little or no pause between songs; each conjures a fully-formed universe between your ears, a quality Tao not only aspires to but frequently achieves. As "Cosplay" winds down, Keely jumps in with "Wanna do another?," and off they go to "Summer of All Dead Souls", elegantly oscillating between space battle to acoustic plea without overselling either. "Cover the Days Like a Tidal Wave" lays a spoken-word missive over some undulating chords. Despite its title, "The Wasteland" is a lovely, sinewy psych-grunge number, gliding nimbly from mellotron to megawatts. And "Spiral Jetty" feels like a the start of something overcooked that, in the past, Keely and company might’ve drawn out. Here it doesn't hit the two-minute mark, closing out with a bit of dazzling feedback, then easing into the sumptuous "Weight of the Sun (Or the Post-Modern Prometheus)". These aren't epics in miniature, exactly; they move through sections and shift tone gracefully, but individual tracks rarely overstay their welcome, instrumental passages rarely getting more than a few seconds to themselves. When the reprise of "Cosplay" swings around again two-thirds of the way through the record, it's a surprise every time: shouldn't that've felt longer? Tao, smartly, farms out most of its monolithic hugeness to the record's last two-- well, six-- tracks. But not before "Ebb Away", the loveliest track Trail of Dead have made since "Crowning of a Heart" from The Secret of Elena's Tomb EP nearly a decade ago. A little guitar tumble, remarkable in its understatement, gives way to a crunchy alt-rock chorus that sees Keely letting go of attachment and doing as its title suggests. It'd make for a helluva closer, but Tao of the Dead isn't about to let anybody off that easy. Onward and upward they go into kosmische whirl "The Fairlight Pendant", guitars encircling like three Can records playing at once. It gets to be a little much after a few times through, but I suppose it wouldn't be a Trail of Dead record without some overblown throwback jam, a slack "Pendant" happily picks up. But there's still the little matter of "Strange News From Another Planet", the five-part, key-of-F, half-a-"Family Guy" closing suite. "Strange News" is a bit like the last three Trail of Dead records in microcosm, lots of movement, with a tendency to drift. The track goes from a lurching alt-rock swirl to sampling a documentary about teenage homelessness in Seattle to a Source Tags-style hardcore pummel and back around again. Some will find the grandiose "Strange News" the most thrilling bit of Tao; others may take it as a separate piece entirely, saving it for later or skipping it outright. So much of Trail of Dead's post-Source Tags & Codes output has felt desperate to recapture that now-classic set’s bluster and heart, only to favor one over the other to the detriment of both. That album’s teetering-on-the-brim mix of beauty and furor seems now like lightning in a bottle, the sort of thing you’d spend your life trying (and failing) to replicate. Tao of the Dead does feel, in its songs and structure alike, like the first post-Source Tags record not cooled in the giant shadow of their decade-old triumph; more patient, more potent, more dynamic, less overloaded, the band deftly charting out their "Flight of the Navigator" death trip, the skewed alt-prog fantasia between their ears come hurtling to life. Set your controls for the heart of your bong." - Pitchfork.com
    $17.00