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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  • 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
  • Ambient/prog reworking of Dead End Kings arrives in a limited edition 2 disc digibook.  You get the CD version as well as a DVD featuring a 5.1 and 24 bit hi-resolution stereo mix."After last year’s successful release of their 9th full-length Dead End Kings, Katatonia have returned with a special release entitled Dethroned and Uncrowned. This album is special for two reasons. Firstly, it was brought to life with the help of the so-called ‘Katatoniacs’; that is, the fans were the ones who financed this project through a pledge campaign the band had set up where fans could pledge for various album formats and other items such as drumsticks, lyric sheets, posters, backdrops and even one of Anders’s old guitars. Needless to say, the pledge campaign was highly successful and reached its goal in four days. Secondly, the album is special music-wise, as it contains the same tracks that were found on Dead End Kings, but all of them have undergone a major makeover. As Katatonia wrote on their website: ‘the drums will be dethroned and the distorted rhythm guitars will be uncrowned’. What they have basically done is that they have kept the vocal lines intact but have experimented with the rest of the music, creating stripped-down, semi-acoustic versions of the songs with the focus on ambience and atmosphere, showcasing the band’s progressive song-writing talent. Katatonia have masterfully and rather elegantly transformed the songs into totally different entities and have given themselves as well as the listeners the opportunity to discover different aspects of each track, by adding little interesting details or emphasizing some parts that were not as noticeable as in the previous version, like the Jan Johansson-esque piano touches in ‘Leech’, or the 70s prog vibe in ‘Dead Letters’. All in all, Katatonia have managed yet again to create a beautiful, melancholic and touching piece of work that will certainly fulfill the expectations of the majority of their fans. Those who were not very keen on Dead End Kings (if such people exist), might enjoy some of the songs in their new versions, and, who knows, they might even appreciate that album a bit more after listening to this." - Metal Recusants
    $9.00
  • "Chapter 1, the debut album from Level 10 is the first collaboration between vocal powerhouse Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob) and bassist/producer/writer Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle) Frontiers President, Serafino Perugino initiated the duo to team up for the creation of a new Metal project which could melt the more contemporary sound of Adrenaline Mob with the more traditional European Power Metal melody and aggression.Sinner enlisted his Primal Fear/Voodoo Circle bandmates Randy Black (on drums) and Alex Beyrodt (on guitar) and Roland Grapow (ex Helloween, MasterPlan, Serious Black) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Voodoo Circle) to complete the lineup on lead guitar and keyboards respectively. On the songwriting side – besides the band members – the album features the songwriting talents of Magnus Karlsson, Carsten Schulz, Ralf Scheepers, Johann Fiegl, Sander Gommans and Amanda Somerville.For those fans of Russell Allen who were expecting Symphony X, you will be slightly disappointed, aside from Allen’s trademark pipes, there is not much here resemble Symphony X’s brand of neo-classical prog metal. By the same token, those fans of Allen who fear the agro-vocals and Godsmack-esque brand of “modern heavy rock”, can breathe easy, as the music on Chapter One leans closer to Euro power metal than mainstream hard rock.The album opener, Cry No More kicks off with a vengeance, with a guitar riff that would sound at home on one of Voodoo Circle albums. Allen’s vocals are powerful during the verses and soar on the multi-harmony chorus. Del Vecchio adds a 70’s moog synth sound on the keys and Black pounds the drums mercilessly. There is a crunchy, heavy groove on the mid-tempo Soul of the Warrior, featuring stellar vocal work on the chorus and a catchy as hell chorus. The tempo picks up with an 80’s sounding rocker with a driving beat, heavy chugging guitar rhythms, and Allen sounding aggressive while still maintaining his trademark melodic voice. The chorus features another killer multi-harmony vocal and Beyrodt and Grapow get to flex their muscles during the harmony guitar solo.The album takes a more AOR tone on the heavy rock anthem One Way Street, which has a 70’s Bad Company meets Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood feel to it. Randy Black’s percussion skills are on center stage, showing why Black is one of the most versatile drummers in power metal today. The albums first single titled Blasphemy has the symphonic bombast of European power metal and Allen’s voice is at it’s most evil sounding during the vocals and shows off his upper register during the chorus.Last Man On Earth is another hard rock song with a great hook and sing-a-long chorus, which does get a little repetitive after a few listens but I guess that’s what why they call it a hook! Scream And Shout is another old school power mental anthem straight out of the 80’s with it’s, for lack of a better word, *shout* a-long chorus. The guitar harmonies and shredding solo section blend in perfectly and Black’s double bass drumming drives the song once again.Allen flexes his vocal muscles on the mid-tempo rock of Into The Wilderness, using his upper register as only he can. The song itself isn’t as memorable as some of the other material on the album save for the chorus, which has some fine harmony vocal work. The requisite piano power ballad All Is Gone is a fitting showcase for Russell Allen’s amazing vocal prowess, even though the song itself sounds like a combination of Symphony X’s When All Hope Is Lost and something off of one of the Allen/Lande albums, which is not surprising since Magnus Karlsson is one of the credited songwriters here.The crushing riff of Demonized brings the heavy power metal with Russell at his most sinister sounding. For those fans wanting to hear something heavy, this one is for you. Chugging guitar rhythms, aggressive vocals, pounding drums, and shredding solos, this one has it all, a headbangers delight! The groove-heavy Soul Is Enternal has a mid-tempo fist pumping rhythm with Allen using a more soulful vocal approach during the verses and letting loose during the chorus.The album closer Forevermore is a power metal classic filled with melody, a HUGE multi-vocal harmony chorus and superb vocals from Allen and guest Ralf Scheepers vocals are quite noticeable in the mix. This song is probably the closest to the sound of Primal Fear and tied with Cry No More for my favorite song on the album. In an age where so-called supergroups are becoming more prevalent, Level 10’s debut album finds itself in the upper echelon, even if its destiny is to be a one off studio project, only time will tell." - Lady Obscure
    $14.00
  • "'Symphony For A Hopeless God’ is the third album from French Symphonic Metal band Whyzdom. After two successful albums relying on the power of Symphonic Orchestra and Metal riffing, as well as on the beauty of female voices, they push their own “Philharmonic Metal” concept one step further with this eleven track release, adding an even more cinematic edge to their songs. The orchestra has never been so powerful, choirs have never been so haunting, riffs have never been so compelling and the vocals have never been so intense, ranging from pure and fragile melodies to harsh growls, all provided by mezzo-soprano Marie Rouyer. Six tracks here run in at over 6 minutes (with one over 7) and there is only one under the five minute mark, so one gets their monies worth here. This is dynamic mind blowing metal at its finest and most compelling, and I believe to be their best release to date. Tracks like the opener 'While The Witches Burn', the pounding and catchy 'Let's Play With Fire' and the bombastic and ever so slightly Progressive 'Theory Of Life' will leave you breathless and wanting more, the latter seeing vocalist Marie let rip! Whyzdom was always knocking on the door of major league female fronted metal, they have now been allowed in big time. Produced by Vynce Leff, being recorded, mixed and mastered at Powermania Studio, Paris, this is one helluva Symphony For A Hopeless God and as a consequence, is a must buy." - Ravenheart Music
    $14.00
  • Following two highly successful tours with established Progressive metalists PAIN OF SALVATION and two years of exacting work, DARK SUNS have finished their third album "Grave Human Genuine.""Grave Human Genuine" – this unconventional title was chosen with care and purpose, as it represents the three characteristic elements of this work: "Grave" signifies darkness, the sinister force, and the inevitable fate. "Human" is synonymous with the music’s inherent soul-depth, while "Genuine" means "real" or "authentic" and hence refers to DARK SUNS’ uncompromising approach to music.But what about the music? DARK SUNS don’t merely pick up where the successful predecessor "Existence" (2005) left off, they present themselves as many-facetted as never before. A clear nod to Doom, complex polyrhythms, unusual and diverse instruments and, last but not least, drummer NIKO KNAPPE’s characteristic yearning vocals comprise the album’s cornerstones. The variety of sounds stretches from angular Metal riff attacks via atmospheric ambient soundscapes and Techno reminiscences to Avant-garde influences – despite this complexity, an accomplished musical mosaic of enormous expressiveness.Exciting nuances are created by the incomparable bass of Pain Of Salvation’s long-time member KRISTOFFER GILDENLÖW, a friendly turn that resulted from the tours mentioned above, and DISILLUSION’s SCHMIDT’s guest vocals in "Flies In Amber."With "Grave Human Genuine," DARK SUNS have created a haunting album full of autonomy and instrumental class, self-consciously charting new musical territory. In this, the band from Leipzig embodies the essence of every true progressive band: compositional genius coupled with advancement. The dark suns radiate: gloomy, human and egregiously genuine.
    $6.00
  • THIS NORTHERN VIRGINIA BASED BAND is a three-piece at heart, musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of RUSH and KING’S X. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES to the contemporary metal riffing of LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, will connect to the heavy core of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by DREAM THEATER and PORCUPINE TREE, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.KARMA SOWN IS A TRIUMPH OF A DEBUT ALBUM, immediate and memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens."Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember. There was a time when progressive metal remembered the ultimate goal of music; to have listeners enjoy the songs so much they would return to them again and again. Today, progressive metal is mostly the sort of music that could pass for muzak, if you don't turn the volume up too loud.Iris Divine wants to change that. They set out with the mission of writing progressive metal that is intricate and challenging, but still produces the kind of songs that listeners who don't have an advanced degree can love and sing along to. It's a challenge, and it goes against the tide, but it's a desperately needed revolution if progressive metal is going to flourish anytime in the near future.I knew from hearing the pre-release track “A Suicide Aware” that Iris Divide was special, and the full album reinforces the point. “The Everlasting Sea” comes out of the gates with plenty of tricky riffing and unusual rhythms, but they lead into big melodies with strong hooks and vocals. Their progressive playing isn't meant for show, it's a tool used to set a tone that juxtaposes with the more melodic moments. Finding the proper balance between these elements is not easy, and many a band have failed miserably trying to do so, but Iris Divine doesn't. On their debut record, they show a skill some bands have spent their entire careers failing to learn.What I love most about the record is that it can be seen in many different lights. If you like straight-ahead metal, there is plenty of heavy riffing and pounding drumming here to keep you satisfied. If you like progressive music, these songs have twists and turns, and Rush-like keyboards, in enough quantity to match the djent crowd. And if you're a fan of old-school radio rock, the choruses in these songs will be music to your ears. Keeping all three of these in mind at the same time can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.For being a trio, “Karma Sown” is a massive sounding record. The production is flawless, big and clear, without ever sounding too polished. The heavy parts are heavy, the vocals are up front, and you would never believe this was a self-produced record that was crowd-funded. I can put it up against many, many of the big label releases, and it would win the fight.In fact, I can think of a dozen so-called progressive metal bands that should immediately hand over their label contracts to Iris Divine, because it's a crime that a band that is advancing progressive metal in the right direction doesn't have the backing of one of the labels. Not to name names, but this album would be bigger than half of the progressive metal released this year if it had the media push behind it.In case you haven't noticed, what I'm saying is that “Karma Sown” is a fantastic debut, and the future of progressive metal. Iris Divine isn't a Dream Theater clone, and they're not djent. What they have done is integrate all the strains of progressive metal into a singular sound, one that could set the standard moving forward. If every band sounded this good, progressive metal wouldn't need to be underground. “Karma Sown” is the best progressive metal album of the year, bar none." - Bloody Good Horror
    $13.00
  • "It has been an eventful year or so in the world of Haken. In September 2013, the sextet released what can only be described as a masterpiece of progressive music in the form of their third album, the magnificent ‘The Mountain’. This album received almost universal critical acclaim upon its release and even led to interest from the likes of Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, Transatlantic) and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. In the case of the former, it led to an invitation to play the inaugural ‘Progressive Nation At Sea’, but thanks to both ringing endorsements, the door to the American market has opened more widely of late. And if that wasn’t enough, Haken recently received no less than three nominations in the Progressive Music Awards, quite an achievement for a band so relatively young.However, with the smooth, also comes the rough and almost immediately following the release of this ‘breakthrough’ album, bassist Tom MacLean announced his departure from Haken. An apparently amicable split, it was nevertheless a hurdle that had to be overcome at a point when the largest wave of the band’s career was about to be crested. An international audition invitation was extended and, following an extensive search, a young American by the name of Conner Green was assimilated into the Haken collective. Welcome sir!In many ways, ‘Restoration’ a three-track EP is as much a bedding-in of their new colleague as it is an opportunity to maintain the momentum created by ‘The Mountain’ whilst a new full-length album is brought to life. That said, to consider ‘Restoration’ a stop-gap is disingenuous in the extreme. It may only contain three tracks, but when the three tracks last well over half an hour and sound this good, who cares?The three compositions that make up this EP are very loosely based on tracks from the bands 2007/08 demo days, thoroughly re-envisioned, re-worked and re-produced in order to reflect the changing personnel and the experience gained since the demos were originally written. The result is, frankly, stunning.Whilst it took me a good many spins and many hours of effort to get fully submerged into the world of ‘The Mountain’, the music on ‘Restoration’ is much more immediate to these ears. No less complex and challenging of course, but for some reason, the music has ‘clicked’ much more quickly here.The EP opens up with ‘Darkest Light’, (Official video below) an energetic track that ably demonstrates the up-tempo and powerful side of Haken well. It’s an agile composition too that alters pace and timing signatures seemingly at will and pulls in influences from everyone from Dream Theater to Meshuggah. The latter is primarily due to the impressive combination of Ray Hearne’s powerful drumming, the chunky guitar tones courtesy of Charlie Griffiths and Richard Henshall and Green’s intricate bass work. Importantly however, the song is never derivative and contains everything you now expect from a band at the height of their powers. It’s a piece of music that oozes class but also offers that touch of playful cheekiness that has become synonymous with the Haken sound.‘Earthlings’ is a completely different proposition entirely. For my money, its closest reference point would be ‘Deathless’ from ‘Visions’ in so far as it is a much more introspective track with real atmosphere and a quiet, brooding intensity that is utterly beguiling. The melodies are much more immediate, much more pronounced and the whole thing builds beautifully and stubbornly towards a fulfilling climax that pushes all the right buttons.The undisputed star of the show however, is ‘Crystallised’. At over 19 minutes, it offers a return of the Haken ‘epic’, joining the likes of ‘Visions’ and ‘Celestial Elixir’ in an already formidable armoury. If anything, ‘Crystallised’ may be even better than the aforementioned, thereby easily taking its place among the very best that Haken has ever created.First and foremost, the sheer ambition is staggering. The composition begins unassumingly enough but quickly reveals a more grandiose underbelly thanks to some lush orchestral arrangements. From then on, the gloves well and truly come off and Haken take us on a wondrous journey full of twists and turns, light and shade, lengthy and dextrous instrumental segments and gorgeous melodies that stay with you long after the music has ended.There are echoes of those Gentle Giant influences and nods towards ‘Cockroach King’ et al in some of the a capella segments as well as hints of ‘Pareidolia’ at other times, thanks to that by now familiar delivery of vocalist Ross Jennings. Never once do the extended instrumental passages, led by the flamboyant keys of Diego Tejeida feel contrived or out of place; they are full of those classic progressive overindulgences, further reinforcing the importance of the likes of Yes, early Genesis and many others, but crucially, they fit in with the core of the composition and seamlessly segue from one to another perfectly.And then, everything comes together in what I can only describe as a stunningly epic finale, the kind where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and you find yourself grinning from ear to ear, enveloped in a musical utopia. The melodies are so uplifting and gorgeous that, coupled with the grandiose return of the orchestral embellishments, mere words find it hard to adequately express just how good it makes you feel.The bones of these songs may have been written many years ago in the band’s infancy. However, they have been brought back to life in the most brilliant way possible; taking everything that’s been good about the band in recent years and applying them to their early past to create something truly special. I only wish that ‘Restoration’ was six, seven or eight songs long. Mind you, if it were, I think I might have fainted from bliss before reaching the conclusion." - Man Of Much Metal blog
    $14.00
  • "In the mighty and fertile cold lands of Sweden in the early 2000, Markus Sigfridsson, a skilled young guitar player, with his best friend, Tobias Enbert behind the drum kit, created HARMONY, a Christian Power Metal band influenced by the great Scandinavian Neo-Classic tradition updated with a strong Melodic Prog-Metal tendency…The perfectly named HARMONY, is an ambitious group that was immediately warmly acclaimed by our community, a general positive consensus that occured right after the succesful release of their debut album, “Dreaming Awake”, in 2003, an impression that was even reinforced by its solid sucessor, "Chapter II: Aftermath", published in 2008.In late November 2014, it was the next crucial step in their career, their third offering, "Theatre of Redemption", was available. The big announcement was that it featured in the Lead Vocal role, one of the most reputed Metal singer from Sweden, the one and only LOST HORIZON’s former Daniel Heiman, who provides, as expected, a superb performance; very impressive in every section, displaying an amazing range and an outstanding emotional imperssonated feeling, and I had the privilege to review it with a good rating of 9 in result…"Theatre of Redemption" finally ends up really high, in my famous top list for 2014…They also encountered some kind of achievement with DARKWATER as a side-project; the duet of musicians is still very active and full of ressources!On May 22nd in Europe, and on May 26th in North America, the Swedish melodic Power Metal band HARMONY, will release a new work in EP format, entitled “Remembrance”…Once again published through Ulterium Records will features the legendary vocalist Daniel Heiman (ex LOST HORIZON/ex HEED/ now frontman for LAVETT) on vocals. This six track EP includes four re-recorded songs from the HARMONY's debut album, “Dreaming Awake”, as well as two brand-new songs.Of course, “Eternity”, “Dreaming Awake”, “Without You” or “She” are the reworked tracks; the running order is still the same, keeping the original successivity, while at the final slots, the songs ”In His Heart” and ”Feed My Hunger” are the newest compositions; you can count on the ultra precise sonic rendition in the purest Swedish Tradition as, like “Theatre of Redemption, “Remembrance" was mixed by the same glorious team at Studio Fredman (DREAM EVIL/HAMMERFALL/IN FLAMES).Although a little short, "Remembrance" is fully packed with the best exemples of "how Modern Power Metal has evolved" with orchestrated arrangments, a few ballads, sporadic acoustic elements and more subtle, understated interludes (“Without You”) and something sounding quite parallel to Progressive Rock (“She”), the whole is clearly well played and superbly produced with with a huge dynamic range .The epic side and the Metal straightness is still present, strategically added, giving a more accessible feel to the listener with song like the opening cut, “Eternity”.If the style of the early album is respected, obviously the new found technically and proficient focus has given another color to this EP, a challenging method crafted under a even more epic flavor, the title track and “She” were two of my favorites in their “Dreaming Awake”. Now maybe in concurrence with the quality of the recently added tracks, like the infectious chorus within ”In His Heart” and its numerous layers of harmonized vocals, or ”Feed My Hunger”…The second being the most emblematic; it fit into the existing stylistic musical realms and show the more Melodic way forward for what could be the band's future, with a sophisticated Eastern/Oriental chord-structures mixed with the refreshing harmonic excellence!Another warning coming from the North…Will you remember?" - Metal Temple
    $10.00
  • Third album from this superb Dutch band.  Laser's Edge has a long standing relationship with the band, having released their debut, Hallway Of Dreams, in North America.Take equal parts Loreena McKennitt, Kate Bush, and Within Temptation and you've got the basic sound of Kingfisher Sky.  The band was formed by ex-Within Temptation drummer Ivar de Graaf and is fronted by his wife Judith Rijnveld.  Judith is an incredible vocalist - her voice will transfix you.  The lineup features two guitarists, cello, keys, bass, and drums.  Everyone in the band is first class but you will always be drawn back to Judith.  The music takes on a mystical, ethereal quality in places.  It never really crosses over into the metal realm but the guitars can get crunchy in a nice way.  One notable guest on this album is Kristeffor Gildenlow who handles all the bass parts.  Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • "Formed in 1979, Sky brought together the worlds of rock and classical music in a highly successful and inspiring way. Featuring the gifted talents of guitarist JOHN WILLIAMS, percussionist TRISTAN FRY, legendary bass player HERBIE FLOWERS, former Curved Air keyboard player FRANCIS MONKMAN and guitarist KEVIN PEEK, Sky recorded their debut album at Abbey Road studios in the early months of 1979. The band’s self-titled debut reached the UK top ten in May 1979 and went on to achieve Platinum status in the UK and was also a major hit in Europe and Australia. Also a huge live attraction, SKY released this, their second album (a double LP), in April 1980. "SKY 2” was a fine achievement featuring the classic tracks "Hotta”, "Sahara”, "Vivaldi” (a re-working of the Curved Air piece), the epic side-long "Fifo” and the hit single "Toccata” and topped the UK album charts upon its release, becoming Sky’s most commercially successful album.This Esoteric Recordings edition has been newly re-mastered and includes a DVD (NTSC / Region Free) featuring all of Sky’s surviving BBC TV appearances in 1980, all previously unreleased on video or DVD – namely the highlight’s of Sky’s concert at Hammersmith Odeon in 1980 as broadcast by the BBC on "Rhythm on Two” and Sky’s performance of "Toccata” on "Top of the Pops” in April 1980.The original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay."
    $19.00
  • Remastered edition.
    $12.00
  • "And straight out of left field…One thing you really don’t expect to hear these days is proper gothic/symphonic metal in the classic late 90’s-mid 00’s tradition.While a few bands have recently begun making overtures towards a return to form if not revitalization of a genre that’s been effectively moribund since 2008, many of them are veterans going back to the sound that made them famous in the first place.  Leaves Eyes come immediately to mind, as does a recent surprising move to the operatic frontlines from longstanding (if previously somewhat boring) second stringers Xandria, who proved that sometimes losing a few founding members can be the best thing that ever happened to a band*.*for another glaring example of this principle, see also Theatres des Vampires, who only became a truly notable venture under the ostensible leadership of the lovely Sonya Scarlet…But what happens when we’re not talking classic acts undergoing some measure of renewal?  Moreover, when we’re not only talking a brand spanking new outfit, but one that (get this) doesn’t even hail from European climes.  Say what the hell?But here you go, a self-released gem right out of that busy musical hotspot of Minnesota (of all places…and we’re not even talking a Prince related project here!).  While not as bombastic as, say, Phantom Agony/Consign to Oblivion era Epica, Leaves Eyes or Mother Earth/Silent Force era Within Temptation, keyboardist/guitarist Damien Villarreal and vocalist Chelsea Knaack have come together to make what may be the first actual gothic/symphonic metal offering to come out of the United States.Sure, we’ve had a gothic/death metal crossover act (Echoes of Eternity, though they’re at least part Canadian) and a few lower rung gothic cum pop radio acts (remember that lone album where anyone cared about Evanescence?  Good move breaking up with Ben Moody, there, Amy…), but actual symphonic metal with operatic vocals?  This is total bizarro world stuff over here, in a nation still (sadly) dominated by aggro acts, hip hop and tuneless, emotionless math metal and prog wannabes.So once you manage to get over the shock factor engendered by their domestic origin, how does the music rate?  Well, for one thing, Knaack taps into similar vocal range and dynamics to earlier Simone Simons, albeit with a bit more stiffness that calls Carmen Schaeffer of Coronatus to mind (though I’m betting she was aiming more for earlier Floor Janssen if not Tarja Turunen stylistically).The guitars are somewhere in the middle, managing to keep Villarreal’s fingers a whole hell of a lot busier than the standard chunka-chunka single note stutter rhythms that tend to be a genre standby.  This is a good thing, as is his ability to hold down a reasonably melodic solo or harmony lead fill on occasion; these certainly enhance the sound to an unusual degree and keep the listener more on their toes than fans of the genre are accustomed to.But is he a virtuoso guitar hero on any level?  Not in the least.  Consider him a rather competent, melodically oriented craftsman with light prog leanings (you can pick out the Fates Warning by way of Dream Theater aspirations in a few of the rhythmic choices and modulations, not to mention the mostly inobtrusive but omnipresent keyboards which he also provides).Rounding out the trio is drummer Jordan Ames, who offers equally competent drumming, which appropriately for the style is never very flashy or notable, but filled with enough stuttering polyrhythms, cymbal work and a dash of double bass-inflected kit runs to show the guy to be quietly accomplished (much like what I’m trying to get across about Villarreal).  Coming from the Shrapnel school back in the day, I prefer a lot more flash in my players, but there’s nobody here who’s less than superlative in their musical competencies.The one major failing, and one I find with far too many acts these days, irrespective of genre, age or nation of origin is a noticeable lack of soul.  Like comparing Jimmy Page to Carlos Santana or the guys in Queensryche to Randy Rhoads, while in the right general ballpark, there’s something central and essential that just isn’t there.While more effusive and warm than several likeminded European acts (as befits a trio of blustery, heart on the sleeve wearing Americans), there’s a certain unexpected coldness to the sound and lack of bombast that baffles somewhat.  More of a note of constructive criticism, much akin to chiding a favored student for the mistakes that kept him from getting an A+ instead of a B, but worth noting nonetheless.All told, if you’re a fan of gothic symphonic metal in the days before that scene became overcrowded with no-talents and pop radio leanings and have some measure of respect for progressive leanings in your metal (think Ray Alder-era Fates Warning far more than Jason McMaster-era Watchtower and you’ll get a clearer picture), you really don’t want to miss out on this one.The first US overture into the gothic symphonic revival delivers a very credible and respectable showing, and gets themselves some high marks in the bargain.  Good stuff." - Third Eye Cinema
    $12.00
  • Xystus is a Dutch progressive metal band formed in 1999 by drummer Ivo Van Dijk and guitarist/vocalist Bas Dolmans. They enlisted bassist Mark Brekelmans and second guitarist Bob Witsma. Through the course of releasing two albums – 2004’s “Receiving Tomorrow” and 2006’s “Surreal” – the band built up a buzz and fanbase in The Netherlands. The band supported Kamelot and made numerous festival appearances. In December 2005, Xystus went on a European tour in support of Epica. The band had even greater ambitions and in 2006 they contacted the Utrechtsch Studenten Concert – the oldest symphony orchestra in The Netherlands. The resulting two year collaboration resulted in the rock opera Equilibrio. Conceived as both an actual stage production and studio recording, Equilibrio was performed to four sold out audiences in July 2008 – over 4,000 people witnessed the opera. Sensory is proud to release the studio recording of Equilibrio, which features key scenes from the opera. In addition to the 60 piece USConcert orchestra and 30 member choir, Xystus enlisted vocal performances from Simone Simons (Epica), George Osthoek (Orphanage, Delain) and Dutch theater veterans Michelle Splietelhof and John Vooijs. The story of Equilibrio revolves around a wanderer named Diegu (Bas Dolmans) who finds himself caught between the forces of good and evil - the power mad ruler Primos (John Vooijs) and the altruistic rebel Avelin (Michelle Splietelhof). Primos makes a pact with Death (George Osthoek) to take over the world. After unsuccessful efforts by Diegu to mediate between Avelin and Primos, the latter ends up with complete power and the world is thrown out of balance. Diegu is summoned by the godess Lady Sophia (Simone Simons). She watches over Earth and entrusts Diegu with the job of reuniting Primos and Avelin in order to restore the balance between good and evil again.
    $6.00
  • Standard edition comes (at the moment) with a slipcase "o" card wrapper."It’s been quite a past few years for the incredible Anathema. Honors have been bestowed upon them, they’ve released an instant classic album in “Weather Systems”, and last year they released one of the best live concert films I’ve ever seen, “Universal”. Anathema is on top of the world, and they are only getting bigger. With all of this on their shoulders, they approach the world once again with their new album, “Distant Satellites”, a fitting name for a massive album. Again, with all of their recent success creating huge expectations, can this band meet such critical reception? Needless to say, Vincent Cavanagh on vocals, Danny Cavanagh on guitar, Jamie Cavanagh on bass, John Douglas on percussion, Daniel Cardoso on drums, and Lee Douglas with her wonderful vocals were all up to the challenge.“Distant Satellites” is a very different album from “Weather Systems”, or anything else they’ve done, for that matter. It is different, yet somehow instantly familiar. It includes everything that makes them Anathema, but adds new and exciting elements to their already excellent formula. If you’ve never heard Anathema, their formula (in their last few albums, anyways) includes soaring guitars, amazingly catchy melodies, spiritual lyrics, and emotional flow both vocally and structurally. They are the masters of melody, and they remain complex and progressive even while being simple and accessible. They are truly masters of their craft.This new album, then, is no different in those terms. The melodies return in force, such as the serene beauty of “The Lost Song” parts 1-3. And, yet, there is something different here. The melodic lines are somewhat more complex, less in-your-face, and more organic. This especially shows in the song lengths, most of them being over five minutes. This allows for more growth and more progression. Indeed, then, the melodies on “Distant Satellites”, while not being as instantly lovable or recognizable, are certainly more difficult and possibly will have a longer “shelf life” in my mind. Yes, the orchestrations seem to be lower key, as well, allowing the vocalists to express themselves more personally then ever.There are other improvements, too. I feel that the musicianship is more fervent and on a higher plateau of difficulty than Anathema has tried. Drummer John Douglas, especially, plays amazingly well from start to finish, accenting the music with awesome pounding and fills. The rest of the band are at their peak, too, with Vincent and Lee being especially great with emotional and meaningful vocal performances.“Distant Satellites” is different in more meaningful ways, too. Utilizing post-rock/metal structures is nothing new for Anathema, but they really do perfect them here, as on “Dusk”, a dark, climactic song. Yet, there is a sense of continuity between tracks, too. This is obviously the case between the three parts of “The Lost Song”, but it’s also apparent throughout the album, as if Anathema is telling us a story, convincing us of our true selves and our connection with the universe and with each other.This album is wonderful in the first half, but my excitement reached new heights in the second half. Anathema has taken it upon themselves to change things up a bit. They wanted to progress their sound, but make it all seem so natural. So, in the second half, the album climaxes with one of the best songs, simply called “Anathema”. But then, we are thrown for a loop somewhat, as “You’re Not Alone” features a hefty portion of electronic vibe. It’s great, but the best is still to come.Next, “Firelight”, a darkly ethereal instrumental track that is completely electronic, is thrust upon us, and is followed up by what may possibly be the best song Anathema has ever produced, “Distant Satellites”. This track combines everything that has ever made Anathema great: soaring melodies, climactic structure, gentle spirituality, amazing vocals, and now an electronic beat that is both complex and catchy. Vibrant, mesmerizing, and pure, this track elates me every time I hear it. It takes this album, and my heart, to new heights. The album finishes with a gentle ballad that just seems so fitting, yet it still has the strong electronic influence.So, is “Distant Satellites” a winner? In every way! Is it their best album? I don’t know; it has the potential, but it might take time, just like “Weather Systems” did. What I can tell you is that this new album is more mature, more progressive, more interesting and eclectic, and less formulaic then anything Anathema has crafted yet. It does sacrifice some accessibility and some instant likability for these things, but I respect their decision massively, and I fully expect to see “Distant Satellites” at the tops of many lists at the end of 2014." - Progulator
    $9.00