Specter, Fate & Fable

SKU: MP-02CD
Label:
Private Release
Category:
Progressive Rock
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Second album from this New York based prog trio.  The band is heavily influenced by early period Rush but elements of Yes and Kansas pop up as well.  The album highlight is the near 18 minute epic "The Eternal Spring".

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  • Maschine is a new British band led by guitarist Luke Machin.  You may know him from his work with The Tangent.  Maschine sounds nothing like that.  The music is contemporary prog rock with some heavy influences.  I would be hard pressed to call this metal.  The star of the band, front and center, is Machin himself.  He displays prodigious abilities as a guitarist...as a vocalist not so much.  That's pretty much the chink in the armour for this album.  Machin's vocals are not his strong suit.  He would be better off handing the job off to someone else and concentrate on what he does best - bringing the shred.  This isn't to say that this album is a wankfest.  Nothing of the sort.  Its actually quite tasteful and there is a good balance of keyboards and flute in support but I keep waiting for Machin to let loose with a solo and when he does he brings the goods.  His background as a graduate of Brighton Institute is apparent - the compositions reflect his knowledge of jazz, classical, and yeah metal.  Its all good stuff but the man needs to stay away from the mic.This is the US jewel box edition that has the same two bonus tracks as the German import digipak.  Other than the packaging the music is identical.
    $12.00
  • "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
  • "There’s a certain irony to a band naming its debut album A Long Time Listening and then waiting five years to release its follow-up – but whether by accident or design, this is exactly what Agent Fresco have done. In the interim, however, with only occasional ventures outside of their native Iceland, the quartet have managed to build something of a cult following with music that is both electrifying and emotional in equal measure. Amongst their fanbase, anticipation levels for second album Destrier are several orders of magnitude beyond stratospheric. So how can they possibly be met?So let’s put everyone who may have clicked on this review with a sense of trepidation at ease as soon as possible, because not only have Agent Fresco met those expectations, they have surpassed them with almost astonishing ease. Destrier is, bluntly, a fucking masterpiece. Whether you read what follows this paragraph or not, you need to hear Destrier as soon as you can. You have been told.For those of you that are still with us, let’s delve a bit deeper into exactly what makes Destrier (pronounced DE-streer, linguistics fans) so very special. Like its predecessor, the contextual nucleus of the album is an extensive exploration of the complex web of emotions surrounding a pivotal event in the life of singer Arnor Dan Arnarson. Whereas the theme of A Long Time Listening was the grief following the death of his father, Destrier deals with the aftermath of a particularly violent attack that left some significant physical and mental injuries. As one might expect, Destrier is a considerably more burly – at times even angry – affair.A significant proportion of what makes Agent Fresco’s music so special is how cohesively the band operate together. Throughout Destrier, they pulse, flex, twitch and turn together like the sinews of a single, well-honed muscle. There is layer upon layer of complexity in the sound they create, yet it coalesces into something so immediately accessible that it reaches out to hug the listener like a long-lost friend even during that first, glorious, play through the record.What’s more, whilst each individual track stands firmly on its own two feet, they are given an extra lease of life in the context of the album as a whole. This is particularly apparent with lead single “Dark Water“, whose eruption out of the ominous, brooding, Massive Attack-esque tones of opening track “Let Them See Us” pushes it into a practically euphoric release. The album ebbs and flows as a single, continuous work of art that makes pushing the stop button tremendously difficult, so it’s best to make sure you have a free hour for that first listen. What’s more, as my colleague and our resident Icelander Jon Þor pointed out to me, final track “Mono No Aware” fades down to the same delicate note that opens the album after reprising the title track. This effectively means that the album loops almost seamlessly, which is a magical thing.The titular Destrier itself is a type of medieval war horse, whose use was reserved for battle alone. It is metaphorically deployed here by Arnor as a kind of spirit animal, giving him the fortitude to confront the anger and vulnerability he felt in the aftermath of the attack. This shows neatly the cryptic yet vivid imagery that Arnor is capable of conjuring through his lyrics, placing him in the same league as Maynard James Keenan, perhaps coupled with Muse‘s Matt Bellamy in both his sense of theatre and his achingly beautiful falsetto. However, without access to a full lyric sheet as I write, I’ll refrain from any hamfisted analysis of half-heard lines; I think it deserves more than that.Destrier also shows that whilst their music is almost immediately identifiable as Agent Fresco, they are not bound by any restrictions of genre, making the album as much of a musical voyage of adventure and exploration as a lyrical one. Perhaps the most surprising moment lies in the title track itself, which suddenly drops into dense, practically atonal shards of syncopated noise. Elsewhere, elements of greasy garage rock, slinky lounge music and soft, bubbling electronica can be found alongside more familiar choruses (which are often big enough to be visible from space), delicate piano-led sections and ebullient math-rock riffing.With more dynamic surprises like the vulnerability of “Bemoan” dropping into the brash savagery of “Angst” to be discovered, Destrier is a near-perfect artistic expression that stimulates mind, body and spirit in equal measure. Listeners may well find themselves immediately besotted, then even more deeply gratified through repeated listens.As you can probably tell, Destrier is a most uncommon delight. It will almost certainly prove to be one of the most essential listens of 2015, and maybe an even longer timescale than that. We can only hope that it won’t take another five years for Agent Fresco to release their next album, but even if that does happen, we will probably not have tired of this one by then. Destrier is a masterpiece; a glorious, life-affirming masterpiece that, once heard, will make you wonder how you managed without it. Go seek." - The Monolith
    $15.00
  • One of the great hard rock albums of the 70s.  After Uli Jon Roth left the band he was replaced by Matthias Jabs.  His guitar technique was far removed from the neoclassical stylings of Roth, taking a more traditional hard rock/melodic metal approach.  Returning to the fold is Rudi's brother Michael Schenker.  With streamlined songwriting it all comes together.  A non-stop killer.
    $5.00
  • "It takes a certain talent for bands to satisfy both diehard fans and those seeking something different. In 2008, Stratovarius underwent a transformation after the critically destroyed self-titled release from 2005 and the subsequent "Revolution Renaissance" demo. Then there was the departure of founder/guitarist Timo Tolkki and the series of bizarre events that followed, including the infamous internet letter relinquishing the band and its back catalog to singer Timo Kotipelto, keyboardist Jens Johansson, then bassist Jari Kainulainen, and then drummer Jorg Michael.From the point the band finally regrouped, it sought to quickly reinstate past glory with a vengeance, releasing “Polaris” followed by the stunning “Elysium,” which would prove tough to beat. However, "Nemesis" is a "black diamond" of pristine perfection in every way and the band's best effort since 1997's “Visions."When the new release was announced, the band commented about being more mature in the song writing and the tracks having a “darker and more modern" edge. The guitar sound is noticeably crunchier and the album scores a complete victory in the song writing. To the non-symphonic metal fan, my incessant glorification of the genre may result in the combination of eye rolling and the nondescript "whaa-whaa" of any adult in a Peanuts cartoon. To Stratovarius fans, “Nemesis” is a collection of the band's greatest hits that you never heard until now. The soaring and emotionally charged choruses are more fetching than ever and the guitar work has more hooks than Kim Kardashian’s closets. You have to admire guitarist Matias Kupiainen, who has stepped in, stepped up, and has outshined Timo Tolkki in every aspect (no disrespect to Timo). At the time of “Polaris,” I had no worries about how vocal great Kotipelto or key legend Johansson would fare, but Matias came in and elevated their play to a levels unheard especially with “Nemesis.”The most noticeable difference on this album is Johansson’s brilliant and refreshing key work. The album is filled with keyboard pops and over the top bombastic finger play shown in “One Must Fall,” “Fantasy,” and especially “Halcyon Days.” Many fans have been lulled into the prototypical Stratovarius sound from Johansson over many years, and now he has raised the bar. There is a jolt of excitement to every song, sort of an amalgamation of Olof Morck’s work in Amaranthe and a splash of “Rage for Order” era Queensryche. This shouldn’t scare away any longtime fans of the group, it’s the most upbeat and exciting that I have ever heard the band.Tracks that rise above include the speedy opener “Abandon,” which sets the perfect tone for the entire album, “Unbreakable,” the perfect choice for a first single,” and the three tracks with the most glorious choruses in Stratovarius’ illustrious history: “Out of the Fog,” “Castles In the Air,” and personal favorite “Stand My Ground.” However, these tracks do not overshadow any of the others; there simply is no filler, no boredom, and no mistakes.With effortless delivery, “Nemesis” is markedly superior to “Elysium” and makes the great “Polaris” look like a demo. Stratovarius has stormed out to an early and big lead in the race to the best of the year, one that on paper appears to be filled with so many potential winners. There is little doubt that an album that instantly ranks among this Finnish band’s all-time best should be able to withstand much of the competition.Highs: Simply put, one of the finest releases in the band's history.Lows: Really none, but it may not appeal to non-symphonic metal fans.Bottom line: Stratovarius takes back the throne by evoking the divine goddess of retribution." - Metal Underground
    $11.00
  • Some of our rabid regulars asked us about an Australian band called Anubis. It was one of those rare occasions where I admitted to being stumped. Some investigation brought up an interesting label/collective called Bird's Robe Records. The label casts a pretty wide net, featuring all different types of bands but all have a strong progressive element. Anubis may well be their most "straight ahead" prog band. Damn if this isn't a great disc!Anubis have a modern sound but there are symphonic elements and on more than one occasion I'm reminded of Pink Floyd. The album kicks off with a 17 minute killer filled with emotive vocals and spacey keys. If David Gilmour had produced the new Pineapple Thief album it might sound something like this. Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • Numbered limited edition hybrid SACD of this late 80s Rush title.  The key here is in the mastering.  Kevin Gray is at the controls and he does a consistently great job.  I would expect this to be the definitive digital edition.
    $27.00
  • "Luciferean Light Orchestra is the eponymous troupe of musicians and debut album led by Therion’s mainman Christopher Johnsson that was recently announced and released via the band’s own site, to little fanfare. According to him, this is a compilation of material that he had in reserve and that he sort of amassed through the years, when he came up with ideas which were too “vintage” or somewhat more left-field that your average Therion song would be...It differs quite a bit from Therion in that it barely has any similarities to most of them tunes included here, other than the use of rather tame but pretty hypnotizing and almost hedonistic female vocals, some of which are done by Mina Karadzic, who, if I am not mistaken, is one of the ladies who starred in one of a series of highly artistic and sometimes slightly enigmatic videos that Therion released in the past couple of years and a few simple choirs that sound quite oratorial. Mina is the only other person than Johnsson that is being identified as a contributor. Everything alludes to 70s prog rock, with a somewhat ritualistic approach and dark gloomy riffs, that border on heavy proto-metal, which I suppose is pretty nice.Johnsson, probably must have done most if not all of the composing and is credited for the guitar as well as some keyboards and hammond, which pops up quite regularly and did provide some backing vocals, but was aided by a couple of drummers, a bass player, no less than 5 guitarists, 2 keyboard players and 3 hammond organists as well as 9 singers. Quite a lineup there. The album was mixed by Lennart Östlund (a guy who has worked with Abba and Led Zeppelin) at polar studios this sounds quite old school in its aesthetics, which might come as a bit of a shock to a few people, but all in all, if you don’t approach this album with prejudice, it might be quite an interesting listen. Remember this is not “Therion” after all, but another project, that may feature some current and former members in its ranks, as well as other “known guests” but they have so far, remained anonymous for whatever reasons.Opener “Dr. Faust on Capri” sweetly and seductively unfurls its charms manifested via a quirky little riff, and some pleasant female vocals that will remind you of all those 60s/70s soft rock, psych bands. The whole melody changes somewhat and the song gets a little heavier towards its conclusion which has a rather imposing, simple male choir, that makes it sound a little like vintage “T” too...“Church of Carmel” is very soothing and sweet and seems to somewhat borrow from the aesthetics and sound of “Beauty in Black” but all through a 70s prism and a bizarre haze of sounds and colors.“Taste the Blood of the Altar Wine” is much much darker, led by a simple riff that’s thickened up with some key magik, while the vocals sound completely bewitching...Which sets quite the tone for “A Black Mass in Paris”, which begins quite a bit like “Nightside of Eden” but veers off into a lot softer and prog territory, before it begins to interject some really dark parts which work a bit like a chorus, since you can’t really say it has one, per ce.“Eater of Souls” has this eastern flavored riff and mixes threatening male and rather tame but at the same time unsettling female ones, which do get softer gradually. It’s not bad at all, just a bit weird. Some of these songs feel like they must have been conceived between “Ho Drakon…” and “A’Arab Zaraq...”“Sex With Demons” (what? Sex with Satan, anyone? lol) is completely bonkers and sort of nightmarish, describing lucid dreaming copulation with horny ones, Incubus and Succubus… with the whole thing sounding like the soundtrack to a bizarre 70s porno gone avant garde!“Venus in Flames” begins with this kinda Hendrix-y riff and some licks around it until another on plays a few times and the hypnotic female vocals make you visualize the vision of “Venus” in flames… diabolically pleasurable… I must say and if they ever re-make “Rosemary’s Baby” hey, the whole chanted chorus of this might work just fine.“Moloch” is downright spiteful and malicious both an invocation and a hymn to the ancient Ammonite god. It’s by far the heaviest and darkest song here.“Dante and Diabaulus” also feels like a “feverish” vision set to music, as it is a bit of an interpretation of Dante’s Inferno, but with a quite sinister take…Last but not least is an untitled bonus track, about “Three Demons”… which is also dark, slow, sinister, almost funeral in its approach and has a sudden outburst of cursing screaming female oclasms, as if a hymn to nyx, heacate and the underworld… it’s quite unsettling, disturbing and majestic in its ritualistic simplicity. This song is only included in the physical release which actually is one of the most lavish digibooks I have ever seen, with gold foil embossed markings and superb overall artistic direction.Overall Luciferian Light Orchestra is quite representative of what its name implies, it’s 70s inspired ritualistic psych hard rock and more with a dark atmosphere and occult themes. It might be not to everyone’s liking, but fans of Therion during their “transitional” phase, before the orchestrations somewhat took over the helm or of bands like Black Widow (sans the flute) etc., might like this quite a bit. Artistically it’s quite accomplished and does well what it’s set out to do. So allow yourself to be enchanted by the bewitching sounds of this side project… while we wait for Therion to come back with their “Classical/Opera” project…" - Grande Rock
    $13.00
  • Latest studio album from this lethal German band.  SBE was formed by guitarist Christian Peters in 2007.  The quartet (twin guitar, bass, and drums) will deeply satisfy the musicial appetite of any fans of 70s psychedelia, space rock, and doom metal.  They may well be the ultimate stoner rock band.Revelation & Mystery finds the compositions a bit tighter than previous efforts but that's a relative term when the title track runs past the 12 minute mark. Vocals don't interfere too heavily with the acid laced space trippin' guitar work.  Peters sings a bit and then they get down to serious business jamming their way into the cosmos.  If you are fan of early Guru Guru, Hawkwind, and Black Sabbath, or even Deep Purple you need to hear this band.  I got high just looking at the cover art.  This album is a total lease breaker to boot.  BUY OR DIE!  "The second album from Samsara Blues Experiment in as many years, Revelation and Mystery (World in Sound) takes a surprising turn in approach from their Long-Distance Trip debut, distilling the jams of the first record into more structured, song-based material. The tracks of Revelation and Mystery almost exclusively follow verse-chorus-verse patterns, and while part of the joy of listening to a song like “Singata Mystic Queen” from the prior collection was meandering along with it, Samsara Blues Experiment don’t completely lose sight of the journey in favor of the straightforward. Right from its start, Revelation and Mystery sees the four-piece layering guitar effects and infusing their parts with swirls and a spaced-out feel. It’s not that they’ve completely changed their methodology so much as they’ve shifted the balance within their sound. These structural elements were certainly present on Long-Distance Trip, but a cut like the semi-acoustic “Thirsty Moon” shows that Samasara Blues Experiment are able to work within these parameters to grow their songwriting. One gets the sense in listening to opener “Flipside Apocalypse” (which follows a 17-second nameless intro track) that this process is just beginning and that the band are still finding out what they want their sound to be, but that only makes Revelation and Mystery a more immediate, direct experience; the linearity of the album unfolding gradually as the songs move from the straightforward into the more sublimely jammed.Fast-paced rumbling from the bass of Richard Behrens in the surprisingly punkish beginning of “Flipside Apocalypse” is an immediate clue to the changes the last year have brought about in Samsara Blues Experiment. The mood is more active, less calming and chilled out than last time around, and the guitars of Hans Eiselt and Christian Peters – who also handles vocals – seem to be more concerned with riffing out than stacking layers upon layers, though there’s some of that too, even as later in the song a riff straight out of the biker rock milieu shows up and carries the song through to its end. I don’t know if it’s the result in some change in the band’s songwriting process or just how things happened to come out this time, but the change continues through “Hangin’ on the Wire,” which is genuinely hooky and thoroughly in the realm of heavy rock. A crisp production during the solo section brings to mind some of Queens of the Stone Age’s finer moments, and drummer Thomas Vedder locks in with Behrens’ own excellent fills with a few of his own. Peters, though, emerges at the head of the song. His vocals confident and effected in equal measure, he works quickly to establish the verse and chorus patterns, both worthy of sing-alongs, so that by the end, “Hangin’ on the Wire” feels like its earned its handclaps, and though “Into the Black” starts out more ethereal, with extended solo sections and a long instrumental introduction, the shuffle soon takes hold and it proves to be more boogie than nod.But perhaps “Into the Black” is where the band begins their subtle shift into more esoteric sonics, because as the soft strums and plucks and interplay of electric and acoustic guitars take hold on “Thirsty Moon,” the song feels neither out of place nor especially unexpected, which it very well might have if placed earlier on Revelation and Mystery. Peters’ vocal line feels a little rushed during the verse – it’s almost as though there were too many syllables to fit in the line – but the interaction of his and Eiselt’s guitars in the instrumental break and the balance between the guitar and Vedder’s drumming in the mix makes up for any such hiccups. Another chorus feels delivered more appropriately, and the progression cycles through again; solo section into chorus, solo section into chorus. And it’s not until Behrens’ highlight bass line begins “Outside Insight Blues” that it’s apparent just how much Samsara Blues Experiment put into the album’s flow. Added keys allow the guitars to go farther out into sporadic notes without sacrificing fullness of sound, but after about two and a half minutes, there’s a turn into riffier material that carries the groove through the next six. There are a few part changes, but things don’t really feel jammed out until the classic ‘70s boogie meets psychedelia of the last 90 seconds or so, blues harp and all. It’s a shift worthy of Siena Root, and the two-minute interlude “Zwei Schatten im Schatten” (in English, “Two Shadows in the Shadow”) follows suit with an appropriate marriage of Eastern and Western musical traditions with sitar and acoustic six-string. There’s something sweet and solemn in the intertwining melody, and it’s a passing thing on the way to the 12-minute closer, but worth paying attention to in a way that many interludes aren’t.Then, at last, comes the ending title cut. Worthy of its name, “Revelation and Mystery” caps the album with a sense of psychedelic majesty through which Samsara Blues Experiment show their ability to keep hold of a song no matter how deep into space they might also want to push it. The song winds. Its progression is at once driving and subdued, and of all the songs on Revelation and Mystery, it’s probably the best blend of all sides of what’s shown itself to be the band’s current sound. Of course, at 12 minutes, one could easily argue it has time to do and be all these things – with room left over for a bit of that sitar to show up as well among the guitar leads – but still, it’s another display of the maturity Samsara Blues Experiment have been able to take on in a relatively short amount of time (their demo gave first notice in 2008). Some bands need three years to learn and foster growth between their albums, and some bands need to play. If the jump between their first and second records is anything to go by, Samsara Blues Experiment would seem to be the latter. Wherever this stylistic form takes them, I don’t imagine it’ll be too long before we find out, but until then, the 47 minutes of Revelation and Mystery provide a varied and exciting listen worthy of repeat visits. Samsara Blues Experiment continue to progress, continue to impress." - The Obelisk
    $12.00
  • We don't typically stock CDs by individual artists unless they are extremely well known.  Brian Ellis is of interest to us because he happens to be the guitarist for Astra, a band very important around these parts.  It also happens that this is one slammin' disc.  Ellis is obviously a talented multi-instrumentalist.  Compositionally its a bit of a jumble but in this case in a very good way.  He wears his influences on his sleeve and replicates the sounds of the 70s: kosmigroov Miles Davis, blistering Mahavishnu fusion, and topped off with a visit to Kobia.  Quite a clever achievement and highly recommended."Brian Ellis is an multi-instrumentalist from San Diego, California. He has released several albums in the last few years under multiple monikers and is perhaps better known as lead guitarist for the progressive rock group, ASTRA.By playing guitar, bass, drums, various synthesizers and keyboards, saxophone, trumpet, sitar, xylophone, kalimba, etc., Brian creates the illusion of a large live band jamming all together. After releasing 2 albums in 2007 for the now defunct Scottish electronic label, Benbecula Records, Brian found himself straying away from the programmed/sequenced elements and wanted to make an album where all the instruments were played live. The album was completed in early 2008 and was set to be the follow up to "The Silver Creature". Unfortunately, Benbecula decided to close it's doors at this time and the album was shelved."Quipu" takes Brian Ellis' jazz/fusion/funk sound from his previous solo works to the next level. The opening track "Birth" sets a deep atmosphere of delayed trumpets and saxophones with a slow beat and funky bass before exploding into an odd-timing heavy fusion workout harkening back to the days of Mahavishnu Orchestra. Whereas later tracks like "Psaw" (featuring David Hurley of Astra on drums) take on much more of a free jazz sound similar to Miles Davis "Bitches Brew" era, full of dissonance and surprising elements. The final track "Walomendem" is a 14 minute progressive rock epic hailing as a tribute to the great french band Magma."
    $17.00
  • Its been decades since The Gathering would be associated with the metal genre so look elsewhere if you are expecting that.  Afterwords is a bit of a hodge podge release.  Its a follow up to last year's Disclosure.  It features re-recorded/deconstructed versions of material from that album as well as new tunes and tracks that were on the Afterlights EP from 2012.  The album also features a guest appearance by founding member Bart Smits, sounding quite different from how he did in the early days of the band.
    $15.00
  • Recorded on the 2009-2010 tour, with Rob Moratti on vocals.  A complete live run through of the Heads Or Tales album.
    $11.00
  • Fourth album from this outstanding jazz metal band from Hungary getting outside exposure with their signing to IQ's Giant Electric Pea label.  Special Providence started out their career as a pure fusion band - not unlike Tribal Tech and Return To Forever.  With their third album, Soul Alert, the band injected a heavier metal presence primarily in the guitarwork.  Essence Of Change carries on from Soul Alert in terms of heaviness and the use of distortion but at the same time there is clearly more of a jazz/fusion emphasis in the writing.  This gives us a nicely balanced sound that has a lot of cross over appeal.  Liquid Tension Experiment and Morglbl fans will love this and I expect open minded fans of RTF and Mahavishnu will enjoy hearing the young kats update the sound they developed in the 70s.  Expect a non-stop assault of laser beam synth solos and blistering distortion laced guitar solos.  Yeah this one hits the sweet spot and after many future spins I suspect this will sit at the top of their already impressive discography.  BUY OR DIE!!
    $15.00
  • For reasons beyond my comprehension this German six piece band is being lumped in with Graveyard and Witchcraft.  Yes this is a retro sounding band and hard rock is one of their primary influences and yes there is an occult theme running through the album.  I hear much more of a 70s hard rock sound.  Think in terms of Uriah Heep, Lucifer's Friend and Deep Purple but also some undercurrents of bands like The Devil's Blood.  There is Iommi-type riffing that turns up so I guess that's the Sabs influence and the connection to those Swedish bands.  I'm digging the swirling organ sounds. "Orcus Chylde are a band with a sound that is very hard to categorize. Parts Doom, Pysch, Prog Rock, Proto-Metal mixed in with a delicious 70's Occult Rock feel.They are part of the new breed of Doom Rock/Metal that is starting to make waves through the rock world. They have just released their astonishing debut S/T Debut album. An 8 song and 48 minute blast of out of this world psychedelic riffs.The album is expertly produced and played by everyone involved.If your a fan of 70's Hard Rock Bands such as Led Zep, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple then your going to love this. It takes the music from that era but adds some cool modern Doom Rock riffs to truly stand out from the crowd.This album feels like a greatest hits collection of this great band rather than their debut album. All of the songs  are great especially - The Day The Seventh Angel Came, Valley Of Thorns, Over The Frozen Rivers.All showing what this great band does so well. Paying homage to great bands past and present but putting their own spin on things. Such as the sublime vocals of vocalist Tobias and the Organs. The organs add a dream like quality to their music. Some times unsettling but altogether original and fucking superb.This album is receiving a whole lot of praise all over the place. And rightly it should. As it's Orcus Chylde's callling card to the world of Hard Rock/Doom Metal that a truly important band has arrived on the scene. And that they are here to stay for a long, long time.Long May It Continue. An outstanding album by a great band from our German Brothers.If you want a truly operatic theatrical doom rock/metal album full of original ideas and riffs then I recommend you check this excellent band now. You would be mad to miss out this excellent album." - The Sludgelord Blog
    $15.00