Through The Ashes Of Empires

"When they first emerged in 1994, San Francisco metalheads Machine Head appeared poised (along with the then-unstoppable Pantera) to lead the cause of American metal, proudly and purposefully, through the second half of that grim, grim, alternative rock-dominated decade. But, much to their fans' dismay, the band's masterful debut would soon give way to undercooked repetition on their sophomore effort and then, horror of horrors, a grueling descent into nu-metal sellout with their third, before finally crash landing to an uninspired nadir with their fourth. Within the span of seven short years, Machine Head's proverbial cup had gone from brimming to empty, their few remaining believers understandably holding out little hope for any sort of redemption. But against all odds, just when the jig seemed to be most certainly up, all of these missteps were summarily erased by the group's stunning fifth album, Through the Ashes of Empires, which saw them rediscovering their roots while reuniting bandleader Robb Flynn with his original Vio-Lence six-string partner in crime, Phil Demmel. Coincidentally or not, the results marked a return to form in no uncertain terms, with colossal first track "Imperium" single-handedly eclipsing the previous two and a half albums, while simultaneously recapturing the dark majesty and crushing authority of early Machine Head triumphs like "Davidian" and "Ten Ton Hammer." The same was true, to a slightly lesser extent, about ensuing headbangers "Bite the Bullet," "Left Unfinished," and the epic "In the Presence of My Enemies," which collectively showed what could happen when a great band actually follows its instincts instead of half-heartedly following trends. Not that Machine Head came back from their "lost weekend" completely empty-handed, as incrementally melodic and emotive material such as "Elegy" and "Days Turn Blue to Gray" successfully reenvisioned (and authenticated) a few elements of those failed experiments through the prism of the band's own sensibilities -- not Korn's or Limp Bizkit's. (In fact, only the rhythmically chugging "All Falls Down" was guilty of a complete and sorry relapse into nu-metal's intolerable whining.) And with the rousing final number, "Descend the Shades of Night," Machine Head delivered yet another monolithic highlight, as steeped in their glorious past as it was promising of the future." - Allmusic Guide

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  • Arguably the best American prog band going present us with their first album in 8 years.  Its a 47 minute mindf**k of a journey - just one long continuous track.  It starts out in quiet, ambient territory and then transmogrifies into something else.  Guitar leads snake to the fore and then disappear, Mellotrons and Moogs carry you along into the deepest regions of your mind.  Flute and bouzouki and there...and then they are gone.  Intense stuff that walks a similar path to early 70s Pink Floyd.  The band recommends you listen with headphones.  I agree!  Highly recommended.
    $11.00
  • Fifth album from this German instrumental psych/stoner band is a real mind crusher.  You like My Brother The Wind?  You need to hear this.  If Samsara Blues Experiment recorded an instrumental album it might sound something like this.  The album is interspersed with quieter introspective interludes that just seem to made the heavier parts heavier and the spacier parts trippier.  If you like your psych served up hard you can't pass it up.  Devastating stuff.  BUY OR DIE!BTW - the angry metal guy tells it way better than I can:"It was difficult for me to turn down a promo so intertwined with one of the subjects of my recently-completed dissertation. Aldous Huxley‘s migration to Eastern philosophy, influenced by both Taoism and Buddhism, is well documented in his final novel, Island. The inhabitants of the idyllic island practice such spiritual, philosophical models, culminating in the consumption of so-called “Moksha-medicine,” a hallucinogen which permits heightened awareness and understanding. The band which explores similarly Zen and reflective topics is one to catch my eye and I excitedly embarked on this quest for internal liberation.Moksha is the fifth full-length by Germany’s My Sleeping Karma, succeeding their previous release Soma (also a reference to Eastern spirituality and prominently interpreted in Huxley’s Brave New World). It accordingly incorporates Eastern instrumentation in a groovy, psychedelic exploration of exactly how mellow one can be while the music can still be interpreted as metal. Though it could be described as relaxing mood music, the distorted guitars and surprising technical proficiency of the band grounds Moksha in the space between rock and metal (and also qualifies it for AMG, you goddamned haters).If Kraut or psychedelic rock is your jam then you will assuredly find plenty to enjoy here. The minimalist approach with sparingly-used instruments and catchy but repetitive leads will worm its way into your skull. There aren’t multiple riffs throughout each song; rather, a core motif which gradually progresses and develops throughout, lending a charming coherency to the album – see opener “Prithvi” for this. Occasional synths and piano keys afford an ethereal air too. However, it’s the points at which more overt Eastern instrumentation is used that the material really stands out. The five “Interlude”s which split each of the main songs strongly evoke My Brother The Wind, with groovy bass-lines and the interesting use of monk’s chants and hand-operated drums. The album’s concept is thus drawn into the music and it creates a quite captivating effect. The sudden and disturbing emanation of pop shite from one of my housemates’s bedrooms drew me from my trance and alerted me to how involving the material is.Despite the repetitive and seemingly improvised nature of the music, its technicality is another boon. As the songs progress and layer, the guitars and drums can become quite intense despite the over-arching serenity (I’m aware this sounds like a contradiction but it’s a testament to the subtle song-writing). The nifty transition at 2:30 of “Akasha” foregrounds a sound very similar to mid-era Anathema, and the transition at 4:00 demonstrates the talent of the bassist and drummer, leading into an appropriately-climatic harmony. This is just one song, but jazzy drum fills and strong bass work permeate the entirety of the release. The Floydian jam on “Interlude 5” is compelling too.I would argue that Moksha effectively achieves its goal and nails the style it strives for. However, I do feel that it may be too niche for some listeners – it’s easy for me to concertedly listen for the technical accomplishments as a reviewer, but the music can slip to the background into the realms of mood music. Though a pleasant listen it may be, one could argue it’s a little safe and it certainly doesn’t arouse my passions sufficiently to push my score to excellent. Furthermore, each of the main tracks can sound quite similar if not explicitly listening – that said, the interludes split up the record nicely so this effect is mitigated. I’m also part of the niche rock and metal market that appreciates the spiritual subject matter, if only on an academic level.Turning my gaze to the empirical and away from the spiritual, the solid dynamics certainly aid affairs. The principle tracks hit a DR score of 8, with the “Interlude”s varying between 10 and 14. There is good breathing room for each instrument and each is clean without being over-produced. A holistic sound is achieved which envelops the listener well.I imagine there is quite a specific demographic that this music hits so it may not be for everyone, but I’m enjoying my journey to the geographic heights of Nepal, the enigmatic Sadhus of India and through the tenets of Yin Yang. The ultimate dearth of diversity and Moksha‘s intrinsic tranquility limits my true passion for the record, but it’s a worthwhile investment nonetheless. Aldous would be proud." - The Angry Metal Guy
    $13.00
  • Steve Moore is probably best known as one half of the Pittsburgh based band Zombi.  He also has quite a prolific solo career.  Light Echoes marks his first release for the Cuneiform label.  The album is recorded purely with vintage analog synthesizers and is very heavily in debt to the Berlin school sound of deep space electronics.  These are long form compositions that on par with anything done in the 70s.  Time to bliss out!  Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • Consider The Source are a brilliant instrumental trio from New York.  Their music touches on world music, fusion, prog rock and more.  All three members are virtuosos but the spotlight is squarely on guitarist Gabriel Marin.  He plays fretted and frettless guitars - single and double necks.  He triggers synth patches, he plays all kinds of acoustic stringed instruments.  The sounds he creates will utterly blow your mind.  If you caught the band on tour with Morglbl you know what I'm talking about.  Their music has a strong foundation in improvisation - so much so that they are well absorbed into the jam band scene but the band proudly embrace their appeal to prog fans as well.  His 2CD set burns from beginning to end.  Highly recommended."World War Trio (Parts II & III) is the second installment of Consider The Source's epic grand vision. Following the dense, nearly 24 minute, five part composition that comprised World War Trio (Part I), this double album begins with the trio of masterful technicians' progressive rock, metal and jazz foundation, then draw from Middle Eastern and Indian traditions- balancing shifting moods and tempos, cerebral and emotional jabs and intellectual and primal pursuits- into a dynamic audio experience that has been described by one critic as "the soundtrack to an alien invasion"."
    $16.00
  • Limited Edition Blu-Ray version featuring the 24bit / 96kHz stereo mixes and Dobly AC3 5.1 Surround mixes.So what does a heralded jazz organist do in his spare time?  Create an epic prog rock album of course.  Some of you may be familiar with Jim Alfredson and his organ jazz trio Organissmo.  Theo is a side project that must scratch Jim's itch to let loose with a whole arsenal of keyboards (don't worry - that Hammond figures quite prominently).  Its very clear that Jim is heavily influenced by the classic prog bands of the 70s. You can hear some elements of Yes, ELP, Pink Floyd and a host of classic rock bands in the DNA of the material but overall its a very contemporary sounding album.  In that way its similar to Beardfish in the sense that Jim takes the old school sounds and adds it to something modern so you here the echoes of the grand old days but it doesn't sound dated at all.  I can listen to stuff like this 24/7.  Highly recommended. "Formed by world reknown keyboardist Jim Alfredson (organissimo, Dirty Fingers, Janiva Magness, Greg Nagy Band, Root Doctor) THEO harkens back to the keyboard-centric superbands of the 1970s like Yes, Genesis, and Emerson Lake and Palmer, but with a distinctly modern and bold approach.THEO also represents a return to the concept of the keyboardist as a vital and irreplaceable part of the group, rather than a mere sideman.The intrepid and dynamic music is paired with auspicious lyrical themes of corporatization, consumerism, loss of innocence, exile, and the obsession with celebrity. Lead vocals are handled by Alfredson himself. Usually relegated to background duties, Alfredson's surprisingly flexible baritone voice shifts from soaring muscularity to intimate falsetto and everything between.The eponymous debut album features six tracks including an epic three song opening suite comprising 24 minutes."
    $17.00
  • "IRON MASK stand out from many other artists of the neo-classical metal genre because they manage to combine high musical ambitions with a certain kind of accessibility and lots of variety. With 'Fifth Son of Winterdoom', Dushan Petrossi and his band manage the musical claim to be very catchy, so fans of Firewind, Dio, Iron Maiden, Yngwie Malmsteen and Rainbow will all have their joy in this extraordinary album."
    $15.00
  • Yet another brilliant work from this Norwegian prog band.  The Greatest Show On Earth is the band's third effort.  While the first album Identity delved into alternative/prog realms bearing similarity to Radiohead, their second album All Rights Removed was full on Pink Floyd worship.  This latest effort carries on in similar fashion.  There are parts of the album that were written with tracing paper.  It evokes the mood and feel of Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, and maybe even a bit of The Wall.  This isn't to say the band doesn't inject any personality of their own - they do.  There are contemporary elements, its just that when they go into full on Pink Floyd mode its so apparent and so well executed that it blinds you to everything else that is going on.  What Bi Kyon Ran is to King Crimson or The Watch is to Genesis, Airbag is to Pink Floyd.  Original?  Truth be told not really.  It doesn't matter, its so well executed that you will just immerse yourself in the listening experience.  Highly recommended.
    $17.00
  • "Spirit's debut unveiled a band that seemed determine to out-eclecticize everybody else on the California psychedelic scene, with its melange of rock, jazz, blues, folk-rock, and even a bit of classical and Indian music. Teenaged Randy California immediately established a signature sound with his humming, sustain-heavy tone; middle-aged drummer Ed Cassidy gave the group unusual versatility; and the songs tackled unusual lyrical themes, like "Fresh Garbage" and "Mechanical World." As is often the case in such hybrids, the sum fell somewhat short of the parts; they could play more styles than almost any other group, but couldn't play (or, more crucially, write) as well as the top acts in any given one of those styles. There's some interesting stuff here, nonetheless; "Uncle Jack" shows some solid psych-pop instincts, and it sounds like Led Zeppelin lifted the opening guitar lines of "Taurus" for their own much more famous "Stairway to Heaven."" - All Music GuideRemastered edition with four bonus tracks.
    $5.00
  • "One of the most influential heavy metal albums of the 1990s, Vulgar Display of Power is just what is says: a raw, pulverizing, insanely intense depiction of naked rage and hostility that drains its listeners and pounds them into submission. Even the "ballads," "This Love" and "Hollow," have thunderingly loud, aggressive chorus sections. Preaching power through strength and integrity, Phil Anselmo discards any further attempts at singing in favor of a militaristic bark and an unhinged roar, while the crystal-clear production sets Diamond Darrell's pummeling riffs against a rhythmic backdrop so thunderously supportive that Darrell often solos without underlying rhythm guitar parts. The album again follows Cowboys from Hell's strategy of stacking the best songs at the beginning and letting their momentum carry the listener through the rest, but the riffs and sonic textures are more consistently interesting this time around. Pantera's thick-sounding, post-hardcore power metal and outraged, testosterone-drenched intensity would help pave the way for alternative metal acts like Korn and Tool; Vulgar Display of Power is the best distillation of those virtues." - All Music Guide
    $9.00
  • "Released to massive European acclaim, Machine Head's full-length debut, Burn My Eyes, successfully bridges the gap between second-generation Bay Area thrash (Testament, Death Angel, etc.) and the modern-day Pantera school of hard knocks. Produced by underground stalwart Colin Richardson, Burn My Eyes is a bone-shattering exercise in brutality that gives Pantera's classic, Vulgar Display of Power, a good run for its money. A veteran of the Bay Area thrash scene, guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn emerges as Machine Head's anchor. As guitar player of the riff-heavy yet vocally challenged band Vio-Lence, Flynn had already distinguished himself as a riff-making machine on tracks like "Serial Killer" and "Kill on Command." Interestingly, with the release of Burn My Eyes, every effort was made to cover up Flynn's involvement with his ex-bandmates. Looking back at it, it's easy to understand why. Because of the quick word of mouth in the underground metal community, comparisons to his ex-bandmates would have limited the impact of the record, possibly thwarting its merits. If Vio-Lence held promise, Machine Head was a different proposition all together. Anthems like "Davidian" are monstrous slabs of metal that, by far, eclipse anything Flynn had previously done. Nevertheless, Burn My Eyes is a classic debut and one that helped launch a huge European groundswell for the band that would result in a tour as Slayer's support act. A few months later, the Head would return and headline the very same venues in which they'd opened for Slayer." - Allmusic Guide
    $6.00
  • 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
  • "I wasn't expecting to see a new release from the German power metal legends Gamma Ray this year probably as front man Kai Hansen has been involved with his new impressive metal band Unisonic. However this is not an album full of fresh material as such but a live one which means Gamma Ray have now released two live recordings since 2008 and one new full length studio album To The Metal in 2010. They did release the EP Skeletons & Majesties in 2011 which was a different take on some previous Gamma Ray tunes and it received a mixed reception. Since their first release in 1990 Gamma Ray have had a total of ten full length albums and six of these were recorded before the year 2000, so the Gamma crew haven't been so active in recording new material since. Maybe this live album is a filler for the fans till we see that new album hopefully in the not too distant future, with a new Helloween release also on the horizon 2013 is looking great for all the European power metal buffs.Skeletons & Majesties Live is a dual CD release with a DVD version to follow, captured during 2011 at the Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland. Once again Gamma Ray are performing like the enthusiastic precision team they are with Kai Hansen on vocals and guitar and long term members guitarist Henjo Richter and bass player Dirk Schlachter. While behind the kit is their longest serving drummer Daniel Zimmermann who has since departed Gamma Ray after having provided those stirring beats for many years. I was surprised to read this as I was under the impression that Daniel had parted ways with Freedom Call the band he co-founded to concentrate on Gamma Ray, but anyway Daniel has now been replaced by Michael Ehre.Continuing on the theme from the 2011 EP, Skeletons & Majesties Live isn't your usual Gamma Ray collection, as there are different or unexpected inclusions. Like acoustic versions of "Rebellion In Dreamland" and "Send Me A Sign" which sound fine for what they are in these much lighter arrangements, but pale in comparison to the metalized originals. However there is still a fine bundle of Gamma Ray style metal like the memorable animated tracks "Anywhere In The Galaxy" and "Dethrone Tyranny", and both sound fantastic. I was surprised by the absence of material from the latest full length studio album To The Metal, a song like "Empathy" would have been a great inclusion but on Skeletons & Majesties Live the swift track "Rise" is the sole inclusion from that album. An added attraction that fans of Hansen's former band Helloween will recognise are the vocals of Michael Kiske who appears on three tracks including one of Helloween's classics "Future World".Skeletons & Majesties Live demonstrates that Gamma Ray are still up to the task, but myself I do prefer their previous two live albums Skeletons In The Closet and Hell Yeah! The Awesome Foursome. Though the DVD may change my thoughts, especially with a Blu Ray edition on the cards." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $14.00
  • "NEWLY REMASTERED EDITION OF THE RARE 1978 ALBUM BY CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE ROCK BAND FM BOOKLET WITH FULLY RESTORED ARTWORK & ESSAY. Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the release of a remastered edition of the 1978 mini-album by the Canadian Progressive Rock group FM, Direct to Disc . The band began life in 1976 with CAMERON HAWKINS (Synthesisers, Bass, Vocals) and NASH THE SLASH (Jeff Plewman) (Electric Violin, Mandolin, Vocals) coming together as a duo, making an appearance on national TV in Canada in the Summer of 1976. By March 1977 FM became a trio with the addition of MARTIN DELLAR on Drums. The Canadian Broadcasting Company offered to release the band s debut album, Black Noise on the CBC label later that year. By the end of the year Nash the Slash had been replaced by BEN MINK on Electric Violin and Mandolin in time for the sessions for Direct to Disc , an album that featured one track per side and was recorded directly to a master disc from which records were pressed, rather than from a master tape. This mid-priced Esoteric Recordings release is the first time Direct to Disc has been issued in Europe and has been newly remastered and includes an illustrated booklet and a new essay."
    $14.00
  • 2CD limited edition mediabook features a bonus CD with 1 extra track as well as 5 acoustic versions."Beer soaked and battered from the epic battle with the Terrorsquid, Captain Bowes and his merry band of Scottish pirates were able to proceed further northbound. The quest for gold and desire for plundering alcohol was too strong, especially in these days when the golden age of piracy was nearing its end. However, with enough energy as men in their mid-20's could muster, the buccaneers "scraped the barrel" yet again for new innovative ideas to add to the folkified brand of metallic pirate songwriting. With nothing to lose....the band fuels the most fun of the adventures to date.Following in the footsteps of men like Francois l'Olonnais, who ate a fucking heart, or Jean Lafitte, who told King George to suck it, or even Blackbeard's mentor, Benjamin Hornigold, who just didn't give a shit, Bowes, Evans, Murdock, Alcorn and Vernon relish in the spoils of others....stealing their rum, turning ships into cannon fodder, and calling out the Spanish and Japanese bastards that turned them into peg legs. Sailing the high seas like the days of yore isn't an easy task in the 21st century, so they get their fair share of weird looks, critical analysis citing stupid silliness and comparisons to Jack Sparrow. Pirates care not, they take and steal.This volume of adventures includes a new round of war, silliness, and mishaps. There's pompous and overbearing keyboards (that's not a bad thing when it comes to these lads), ridiculously engaging choruses, the occasional black metal screech (from Elliot Vernon) and bizarre speed changes that really harken back to the "golden age" of hardcore punk a la Attitude Adjustment, Ludichrist/Scatterbrain, Agnostic Front, and The Meatmen with that hallmark metallic edge. Songs like "Wooden Leg" and "Surf Squid Warfare" are nearly straight up punk, again another hallmark of Alestorm releases. As for production, it's Lasse Lammert, so expect perfection and he delivers.The single biggest "change" with this release is that the fun side is ratcheted up quite a bit more. I've never heard a collection of songs that are so perfect for the band's already stellar live shows. Oddly, the most fun comes in the form of the Taio Cruz cover "Hangover," the controversial hip hop song that sounds way more like a normal Alestorm song than a Top 40 megahit. It so suits the band's live image that it easily is my favorite song on the album, though I wouldn't be shocked if it was met with utter hatred. It compliments the first single "Drink" even more than the "ironic" before and after title effect. "Magnetic North" is the first song since Running Wild's "Jennings Revenge" that truly makes you feel like you are on the high seas.Alestorm clearly isn't for everyone. You either love them or hate them, mostly having to do with whether you decide to accept the "old pirate bullshit." I stand by my plea that metal needs bands like Alestorm, if only to immerse oneself in the cheesy silliness of life. If you've seen the band live, or Bowes' other equally silly fun power metal act Gloryhammer, you cannot help fist pumping or waving a drink. This album is even more fun than Tobias Sammet's new Edguy release. Drink up mateys...the Golden Age won't last forever!Highs: The most fun pirate album EVER.....Lows: ....if you like that sort of thing. Alestorm has it's haters, and they will be out in droves with this one.Bottom line: Alestorm scrapes the barrel yet again....and a new "sunrise on the Golden Age" is seen on the horizon." - Metal Underground 
    $16.00