Progressive Rock

Blow out price on the CD/Blu-ray edition of Amused To Death.  The album has been remixed and remastered by James Guthrie.  The blu-ray audio disc contains the album in a high resolution 5.1 mix as well as uncompressed 24/96 stereo.

$16.00
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R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour is a live DVD, released in November of 2005. It documented the band’s R30: 30th Anniversary Tour.

Alex recalled the strategy for assembling parts of the setlist for the R30 tour:

$10.00
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Some changes are afoot with this excellent Norwegian prog band.  The band has left Black Widow Records and moved over to Apollon Records, an upstart Norwegian label that seems to be signing prog rock bands right and left.  Another change is the band is singing in Norwegian instead of English.

$21.00

"Pendragon's first studio album with the classic line up is the least successful CD among fans. No wonder, the group was facing a transition period and did not know if they'd soldier on as a prog band or turn the tables and try a new image as a pop rock group.

$21.00

" PENDRAGON are one of those rare prog bands completely devoid of musical posturing. They simply follow their sweet little hearts, bang their drums, set the music aflame and you can't help but gulp it all down with gusto.

$20.00

"The Pineapple Thief managed to create a very emotional and well-written piece with this album. This is a very personal album for Bruce Soord, and the lyrics and the music have a very melancholic feel to them.

$21.00
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"Tim Bowness & Steven Wilson return with No-Man’s eagerly awaited sixth official album, and the band’s first since 2003’s atmospheric Together We’re Stranger.

$21.00

"Anathema has long been a band that I know I can come back to for solid, amazing music. From their start as a doom metal band to their progression into progressive alt-rock, the band has always delivered atmospheric, beautiful, emotional songs that resonated deep within.

$21.00

"Cairo are the brainchild of ex-Touchstone vocalist and keyboard player Rob Cottingham. After spending a decade writing and performing for the modern prog favourites, Cottingham has elected to spread his wings.

$15.00
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  • Now here is a band that singlehandedly may be turning prog metal on its head and giving it a good kick in the ass at the same time.Need is a Greek prog metal band that has been around for a bit but like most bands from that country they don't get much attention outside of their homeland.  Orvam is their third album and it finds them stepping up their game quite a bit.Orvam: A Song For Home blends a variety of influences and dishes up something completely mesmerizing.  The band's musical DNA includes Fates Warning, Tool, Nevermore, and lots of prog rock.  All of these influences will crop up but tossed together in a unique way.  Its heavy but complex - ethereal and hypnotic.  Hell the band even weaves in some Mediterranean themes revealing their real roots.  Vocalist Jon V. is the anchor to the musical and he does a phenomenal job, sounding like vintage Ray Alder.  I love how amid all the grinding guitar riffs the band mixes a splash of old school Hammond organ.  Cap this monster off with the 18 minute title piece and you've got an instant classic.  The whole production was expertly mixed by Neil Kernon and masterfully mastered by Alan Douches.  BUY OR DIE!
    $12.00
  • THE 4 DISC 40 PAGE HARDBOUND EDITION INCLUDES A CD WITH BONUS TRACKS, 5.1 SURROUND (24/96 DTS) AND HI-RES STEREO 24/96 LPCM) MIXES ON BOTH DVD AND DTS LOSSLESS BLU-RAY. "Nothing is more consistent in the world than change. In the realm of music, change either comes with the speed of an arthritic glacier, or so fast the music community is left breathless trying to keep up; there rarely seems to be any middle ground. As far as bands and their evolution go, they fall into two categories: bands who virtually never change their sound, and bands that do so frequently. Fans as a general rule seem hostile to bands changing their sound, “selling out” being the most common accusation. A key factor of successful change is that a band has to be able to do it well, and their new sound must stand up against other albums with such a sound.With that in mind, few bands have been so consistent, not only in changing but changing well as Liverpool’s Anathema. They started out as a slow and heavy doom metal band, and they were very good at it. Over time they left that far behind – indeed it is now all but a distant memory, with many newer fans being hardly familiar with those early albums. They evolved, adding alternative and progressive rock touches, but always sounding like themselves: dark, melancholy, and deeply emotional. They hit the peak of their progressive sound with 2012’s highly acclaimed ‘Weather Systems’ and followed it up with the stylistically similar ‘Distant Satellites’ in 2014, which I felt was rather underwhelming and derivative of the previous. Anathema, however, have changed themselves again with the upcoming ‘The Optimist.’  While retaining hints of their progressive flavor, it is heavily electronic in nature – one could say moody, dark electric pop. And, unsurprisingly, given their track record, they have delivered another excellent and engaging album.The genesis of the new album lies in their 2001 album ‘A Fine Day To Exit,’ an album which tells the story of a man and his attempt to escape from his life, its problems, and possibly start anew. The story was unresolved, and his fate unknown, and so the narrative of this new album is meant to answer the question of his fate. The album starts with the brief “32.63n 117.14w” which are the coordinates of Silver Strand beach in San Diego, the character’s last known location and the beach where the cover for ‘Fine Day’ was taken.  The album begins with the sound of crashing waves and a man walking through sand panting for breath before entering his car and flipping through radio stations until a steady electronic beat begins. It flows directly into “Leaving it Behind” where the first guitar picking of Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh begins and the album launches into one of the few true rockers of the album. The track is classic Anathema of recent years; Daniel’s rich voice soars over strongly melodic yet driving prog-tinged rock driven by the crisp drumming and percussion work of Daniel Cardoso and John Douglas. This song will make a perfect opening number for upcoming shows and will leave any fan of the band pleased and looking forward to more.The album continues with the string and electronic dominant “Endless Waves” which is sung by the band’s other lead singer, the lovely, crystal-voiced Lee Douglas, who officially joined the band in 2010. It has become common over the last few albums for Daniel and Lee to trade off the lead vocal duties on the first and second tracks and then mix it up through the rest of the album, and ‘The Optimist’ follows that pattern. The tracks continue the character’s journey quite literally with the instrumental “San Francisco” and then “Springfield,” which continues his quest to either disappear completely, or find himself and come to grips with his life. The piano and electronic aspects are especially highlighted through here, and the keyboard work of the two brothers is never flashy but just enough to capture the emotion. The rise and fall of the music and is handled with finesse quite beautifully.As with much of their previous work, the atmosphere of the album is as important as the individual songs. With the addition of so much electronic key work, the result is an almost urban feeling that hovers over the whole album. In that way, it is not dissimilar to Ulver’s excellent ‘Perdition City’ with its overall feeling of isolation in the midst of millions of people. And by often commenting on the electronic feel of the album, I do not mean to imply that it is an electronic album in the way that the previously mentioned Ulver album is. There are plenty of guitars and rock moments along the way, only the electronics hover over the album in a way they have not done on earlier albums. This mix of old and new blends in a manner which makes it familiar while still being unexpected, fresh, and unmistakably, Anathema.The band does go into a very different direction from anything they have done on the Douglas sung “Close Your Eyes,” which can accurately be called a lounge jazz number. Mostly piano driven with moody horn work and light jazzy drumming, one can imagine the character sitting in a dim, smoky jazz club sipping a drink while Lee is on stage singing to a small crowd. It was an unexpected twist, but works very well. Daniel picks up the vocal duties again on the much more familiar sounding and sparsely sung “Wildfires.” It finds the character questioning who he is before a climactic building of pounding drums and crunchy guitars largely overwhelm the floating vocals which end with the repeating line, “it’s too late” before quieting back down and moving into the final song “Back to the Start.”Fittingly with such a title, the album closes as it began with the sound of crashing and classic-sounding Anathema. The lyrics sum much of the theme of the album (if not their whole career) up as Vincent sings, “They don’t understand ‘cos they don’t talk for me/There ain’t no master plan/ I came in to make peace/ the more we’re made to suffer the more we’re made to care”. The song builds powerfully with both vocalists sharing duties and perhaps being the two characters of the drama which comes back to the start. The band deliberately leaves the fate up to the listener, whether he returns to his old life or escapes and leaves to a new one. Which ending you prefer is likely up to your personality; the romantic (in the classic sense) in me would like to believe he returned and resolved things, but the opposite is just as probable and satisfying in its own way. Regardless, it is a perfect closing to the album.With ‘The Optimist’, Anathema have crafted an entirely new, yet familiar-sounding album that requires the listener to not only give it multiple spins to come to grips with it, but richly rewards them for doing so. As a sequel to ‘A Fine Day to Exit,’ it succeeds in bringing closure to the story, and the decision to leave the conclusion up to the listener is skillfully and intelligently done. While I wouldn’t recommend this as the first album for a new Anathema listener, anyone who has been following the band in recent years should be very pleased with it. Highly recommended." - Metal Wani
    $49.00
  • "This is an interesting crossover in that this album is reflective of a storyline that runs in the lyricist's recently published allegorical fantasy novel, The Edge of the World. Based on two opposing religions that consider the same city as a holy element, they agree to sign a peace treaty. But, as strife will have it, this ends in the literal burnt ashes of the city as an all consuming fire destroys the city setting both religious sides against each other yet again. The author was drawn into a music rendition of his story and supplied all lyrics while a coterie of prominent Prog Rock and Symphonic Rock form to create a band to present this story. Most prominent is the music-writing for the Anderson/Moesta lyrics supplied by Erik Norlander of Rocket Scientists. Vocally, the chores are shared between heavyweights like James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Lana Lane (a remarkable Ann Wilson sound-alike with a powerful voice, who has sang for many bands, and who is married to Norlander), Michael Sadler (Saga), and John Payne (later period Asia). The vocalists take on characters and throughout the album sing the appropriate parts. Musically, this band known as Roswell Six, have created a fine Prog/Symphonic effort named Terra Incognita: Beyond the Horizon. The clear influences are here. You'll hear Yes in the mix as well as the sounds of ELP, Kansas, Freedom Calls, and other usual suspects. The lean is toward symphonic rock with plenty of violin performed by David Ragsdale (Kansas), cello by Mike Alvarez, and flute by Martin Orford. The results are often grand. The works heard on Terra Incognita do the genre justice and are recommended for fans of such music. But when you bring such talents together, you're going to get great music. There are thirteen high-grade songs, two of them instumentals. The booklet is filled with enticing art, all lyrics, and a connecting storyline that brings the book and album together for those that want the full experience." - Matt Rowe/MusicTap.net
    $3.00
  • "Even though it has been a good forty years since the Swedish sextet Kaipa first appeared on the music scene, it was only back in 2012 and through exposure to their then latest studio album “Vittjar” that I was first introduced to their unique blend of melody-driven Progressive/Folk Rock.With that album having created such an impression, listening and reviewing the band’s latest material was something that I was more than keen on doing – perhaps in an attempt to discover whether founding keyboardist Hand Lundin & Co had managed to take full advantage of the positive press generated by the above-mentioned release.Soon the possibility to review “Sattyg” was presented to me and jumped at the opportunity. So, let’s see what Kaipa’s twelfth studio album has to offer.Similarly to its predecessor, “Sattyg” contains an interesting collection of thematically varied but pleasantly deceptive compositions, and, as you will soon find out, the word “deceptive” is complimentary.As I mentioned before, melody is an integral element in the band’s music, so what’s bound to initially and immediately attract your attention are various emotive vocal themes provided by the duet Patrik Lundström/Aleena Gibson, Per Nilsson’s flamboyant performances on the six string and/or Hand Lundin’s intelligently-crafted 70s themes keyboard parts.There is, however, a wealth of beautiful and cleverly hidden themes, mainly offered by the band’s dead-tight rhythm section, that only those of you willing to spend time on really listening to “Sattyg” will really profit from; these themes gradually reveal themselves to you every time you choose to revisit this beautiful album.Never the ones to shy away from a challenge, the members of Kaipa introduce their latest album with the epic-sounding “A Map Of Your Secret World” – what can only be described as fifteen minutes of pure musical joy!Opening with a stunning vocal melody by Aleena Gibson, the song works through a thematically challenging section that will make most Progressive Rock fans happy before evolving into a Folk tune whose memorable vocal lines are bound to stay with you for a while.Since joining Kaipa back in 2000, Aleena has helped shape the character of band’s second incarnation and no song demonstrates that better than “World Of The Void” – a composition filled with her strong and passionate performances.Dark vocal themes and jazzy rhythmical parts and clever bass lines characterise the appropriately-named “Screwd-upness” while the same-titled “Sattyr” find the band bring strong Kansas-influences to the surface in their attempt to indulge in their much-loved Folk Rock melodies.It should come as no surprise to anyone that the second most important composition of the album is also fairly long. Featuring stunning violin melodies, clever choral themes and a beautiful melody which is carrier by all instruments in clear succession, “A Sky Full Of Painters” is another impressive exercise in technical dexterity, while “Unique When We Fall” a great vocal duet by Lundström/ Gibson.Ever-changing rhythmical themes and a healthy parade of impressive melodies also characterise the nine and a half minute “Without Time – Beyond Time” – a song that offers a fitting, as well as a rewarding conclusion to this absolutely delightful album.It takes a very talented and pretty harmonious group of musicians in order to create an album as thematically challenging and approachable as “Sattyg”.There have been countless occasions, while listening to the seven compositions on offer, when I found myself lost in Jonas Reingold’s soulful bass themes, stunned by the flamboyant nature of Nilsson and Lundin’s melodies and/or captivated by the vocal contribution of both Lundström and Gibson, all of which convinced me that the album, the CD version of which I soon plan to add to my collection, is one that deserves every praise possible.Another great quality release by a band that’s clearly at the top of its game." - Get Ready To Rock
    $15.00
  • Riverside's fifth studio album finds them in a continuing state of refinement of their sound.  While they continue to touch on the bands that were the original foundation of their sound (Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Opeth) the music seems to take on a more atmospheric feel.  At the same time 70s style keyboards creep in more and more.  Michal Lapaj's use of Hammond organ lends a Lord-ian flair when the band ramps up the heaviness.  The spacey flavors of Eloy that appears on Out Of Myself reappear just at the right time.  It seems that Marius Duda's Lunatic Soul side project has cross polinated a bit with the mothership.  His emotion driven vocals once again prove why he is one of the best frontmen in the entire progressive music scene.  This is one of those albums that will take many spins to really allow it to divulge all its secrets.  The domestic edition arrives as a 2CD digipak.  The second bonus disc contains 2 extensive instrumental jams of total blissed out space.  What more to say?  Highest recommendation.
    $15.00
  • “Let us begin where it all began...”Progressive rock band Big Big Train return with Folklore, their first full-length studio album since the award winning English Electric. Folklore contains nine new songs with a total running time of 68 minutes.Despite the album title, Folklore is by no means a collection of traditional-sounding folk music pieces. On Folklore, Big Big Train are reimagining and breathing new life into traditional themes, and also creating a few new ones along the way. The crafts of songwriting and storytelling beat strongly at the heart of the Big Big Train and inform every track on the new album.Folklore features the same line up (eight piece band and brass quintet) that performed three sell out shows at Kings Place in London last summer, with the addition of a string quartet. The experience of bringing this complex music to the concert stage has honed the band’s sound, making Folklore a focussed and exciting listening experience. All the hallmarks of the Big Big Train sound can be found here: powerful and emotional vocal delivery, and dramatic extended song arrangements which showcase the musical ability within the band.Big Big Train proudly present Folklore: an epic progressive rock tour de force.“Heigh-ho, so we go. We pass it on, we hand it down-o...”Folklore Ancient stories told by our ancestors around the camp re, being passed down from generation to generation. The passage of time sees the coming of written language and electronic communication, but still we tell our stories and pass them on.London Plane Once upon a time, a great tree took root on a river bank, and watched through the years as a city grew around it.Along The Ridgeway A journey along an ancient pathway, where legends are reborn.Salisbury Giant Big Big Train tell the true story of a medieval giant.The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun When the astronomer lost the love of his life, he set a course for the stars. Inspired by the much-loved British TV astronomer and educationalist, Patrick Moore.Wassail The old ways get a 21st century reboot in this pagan- inspired progressive-folk groove. The title track from Big Big Train’s Wassail EP, it was nominated in the “Anthem” category at the 2015 Progressive Music Awards.Winkie A ripping action adventure story about a true life war heroine, the  rst to receive the Dickin medal in honour of her achievement. To the best of our knowledge, this is the  rst prog epic about a pigeon...Brooklands John Cobb, racing driver, lived life at high speed on the racing line. Time passes, but the ageing driver yearns for one more adrenaline  lled lap of the track... Cobb died in 1952 while attempting the world water speed record at Loch Ness.Telling The Bees Traditionally, bees were told of births, deaths and marriages within the bee-keeper’s family, as it was believed that otherwise they would leave the hive. When his father is killed in the First World War, a young boy takes on this responsibility, grows up to become a man,  nds love and starts his own family. “The bees are told... and we carry on...”.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Big Big Train: BackgroundDavid Longdon: vocals and  ute; Rachel Hall: violin; Dave Gregory: guitars; Rikard Sjöblom: guitars and keyboards; Danny Manners: keyboards; Andy Poole: guitars and keyboards; Greg Spawton: bass; Nick D’Virgilio: drumsFormed in Bournemouth, UK, in 1990 by Greg Spawton and Andy Poole, Big Big Train has charted an independent course through the British progressive rock scene, slowly developing a richly arranged blend of electric and acoustic instruments that mixes prog, rock, post-rock, folk and classical in uences. 2009’s The Underfall Yard was the band’s  rst album to feature the powerful vocals of David Longdon, alongside the guitar of Dave Gregory (XTC) and the drums of Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard), since when critical and public acclaim for the band has grown rapidly.The two-volume English Electric (2012-13) further developed Big Big Train’s favourite themes of English history, industry and landscape, and the band won the Prog magazine Breakthrough award in 2013. The following year, the Classic Rock Society awardedBig Big Train their Best Band and Best Track awards, while David Longdon won Best Male Vocalist, a feat he repeated this year.After 17 years as a studio-only outfit, Big Big Train returned to the stage in 2015 with three London performances which topped the Prog magazine Readers’ Poll for Best Event, with several band members also featuring in the instrument sections of the poll. The band has just released Stone & Steel, a Blu-ray featuring songs from the London gigs along with performances recorded in 2014 at Real World Studios. 
    $12.00
  • Fourth album from this Norwegian band is a near perfect blend of power and progressive metal. Each successive album has been better than the previous one - this one tops 'em all. Killer vox, crunch that is off the charts, blasts of synth and stellar production is the best way to sum of this monster. This is the 2 CD limited edition. It comes with 6 bonus tracks, mpeg video, wallpaper and other stuff. Grab it while it's available at a great price.
    $11.00
  • My Soliloquy is a British band formed in 2002 by multi-instrumentalist Pete Morten.  Since then the band has released a number of demos, gaining traction in the metal underground. The band had a number of notable support shows with Pagans Mind, Power Quest, Oliver and Rick Wakeman, and Threshold, as well as a second-to-headline set at Bloodstock 05 and a showcase at 2007’s ProgPower UK II.Since 2007, Morten has been an active member of British prog metal legends Threshold.  His membership has raised awareness (and created anticipation) for My Soliloquy’s long awaited debut.The essence of My Soliloquy is pure forward thinking metal – symphonic keyboards, shredding guitar leads, soaring vocals – all finely woven together with a blend of intricacy and melody.  The Interpreter was mixed and mastered by Rob Aubrey who has been a mainstay of Marillion’s camp for many years.
    $5.00
  • Second album from this superb Italian prog metal band. Long out of print, this new edition is remastered and features four bonus tracks including the original Japanese bonus track, two demos from 1993 and a rehearsal version of "Erase" from 2006. Limited edition of 3,000 copies comes housed in a slipcase and has a poster. One of the killers!
    $12.00
  • Big Big Train have ascended to the top echelon of progressive rock bands currently active.  They are easily the best band coming out of the UK - the fountainhead of all prog rock."Is there a nicer feeling than when you discover that one of your favourite bands is to return with new material much sooner than predicted and somewhat unexpectedly? There aren’t many better moments that’s for sure and Big Big Train are the architects of this great piece of news, offering us their tenth album ‘Grimspound’ less than 12 months on from the release of the utterly sensational ‘Folklore’.Long term readers will perhaps be familiar with that review, where I was quoted as saying that “‘Folklore’ is another amazing addition to the Big Big Train discography and is something all lovers of quality progressive rock should cherish and take to their hearts. I know that I have.”However, the feelings of levity and excitement about such a speedy a follow-up are, for me, tempered ever so slightly by a few more cautious thoughts. ‘Is it too early for more material?’, ‘has this album been hurried?’, ‘will the quality take a hit?’ You can see where I’m going with this. I worry that speed doesn’t always yield positive results and therefore, whilst I’m like a child at Christmas following this news, I have a few nerves as well. ‘Folklore’ remains on heavy rotation at the Mansion of Much Metal (and Progressive Rock), providing the same levels of magic as it did at the time of its release. The bar has been set and I desperately want ‘Grimspound’ to follow suit.So, does it?The answer, after a slightly slow start is ‘yes, very much so’. At the outset though, I wasn’t convinced if I’m honest. I was looking for similar heart-stopping moments to those that featured within the likes of ‘Brooklands’ or ‘Winkie’ and I couldn’t find them initially. But that says more about my levels of patience than it does about the music on offer within ‘Grimspound’ because, with time, those moments of genius are there to be found and to be heard. In fact, this entire record borders on genius as far as I’m concerned now. How else can you explain the fact that these eight musicians have returned so quickly and effortlessly with another eight superb, intricate and captivating progressive rock compositions?I understand that the band came up with an awful lot of material during the ‘Folklore’ writing sessions and some of what we hear on ‘Grimspound’ was given birth back then. But regardless, the achievement here beggars belief, it really does. Take a bow, Messrs Spawton (bass), Poole (guitars/keyboards), Longdon (vocals/flute), D’Virgilio (drums), Gregory (guitars), Manners (keyboards), Hall (violin) and Sjöblom (guitars/keyboards). You deserve it.Big Big Train have always followed a path of progressive rock that veers down the pastoral route and they probably always will – it’s in their blood. But this is not a group of musicians to stagnate either. So, whilst the music here is recognisable as Big Big Train, there are some differences to be heard between ‘Grimspound’ and previous albums.Some of this is down to the fact that newer members, Rikard and Rachel along with Danny have become more active in the song writing process, bringing their own unique view points to the table. And it is testament to the open-mindedness of the other members that this has been allowed to happen. Mind you, I think ‘welcomed with open arms’ would be a more appropriate description.One of the first things that I notice is that ‘Grimspound’ features very little brass. As someone who genuinely intensely dislikes brass within rock or metal music, I must confess that I am ever so slightly torn by this turn of events. For some reason, I never had a problem with the brass element of Big Big Train and so, once you realise how little of it is evident, it does give the music a slightly different flavour overall.As the band readily admits in the accompanying press release, ‘Grimspound’ also sees Big Big Train experimenting with longer passages of instrumental expression. So it comes as no surprise to learn that ‘On The racing Line’ for example is a five-minute instrumental piece, whilst other compositions have plenty of space for some indulgent instrumental flamboyance. Normally, I would baulk at the notion but where Big Big Train are concerned, they pull it off with style and elegance. Their music has always had the ability to tell a story and this is true whether or not there are lyrics being sung over the music; the dynamics and ideas at play here within the instrumental passages are such that the stories are able to continue very eloquently.Another interesting addition this time around is with the inclusion of a guest vocalist on the song ‘The Ivy Gate’. Judy Dyble offers her voice within this quite a dark and powerful composition that concerns “the reported sightings of a ghostly apparition beside the cemetery gates in a quiet English village.” It is an intriguing composition that begins with a folky, bluegrass banjo-led melody that initially I railed against. In the context of the song however, it makes a lot of sense and is a wonderful addition to the band’s armoury. Moreover, it is an ingredient that I have grown to rather like and enjoy.The violin playing of Rachel Hall is beautiful and I embrace the sadness and atmosphere that is conjured within this track. But even more, I love the way in which the song builds and opens up at the 4:30 mark to deliver a sumptuous melody that is made even more powerful by the duet of Longdon and Dyble that joins it, before the track deconstructs to end with some impressive and emotional vocals and the soothing sound of rain falling.It seems like I am uncontrollably waxing lyrical about this album, but that can’t be helped I’m afraid, with every positive word being well earned and justified. And it must continue I’m afraid.The opening few moments of ‘Brave Captain’ and indeed the album as a whole, create a very subtle, ambient soundscape, very introspective and thought-provoking at the same time. After a minute or so, the entire band enters the fray in what becomes a rousing and dynamic piece of music. This is arguably the most immediate track on the album but in true Big Big Train fashion, it ebbs and flows throughout its substantial 12 minute life creating a sense of drama upon which they tell the powerful story of a World War One pilot named Captain Albert Ball who gave his life for his country.Naturally, given the subject matter, there are moments that convey the sobriety of the story, like the almost Dire Straits-esque piano and bluesy guitar section. But equally, there are also times where the musicians open up their wings and take flight, just like the central character in the song. When they do so, it is quite a heady experience and it is easy to get caught up in the music that swells all around you.Another favourite is the quite stunning ‘Experimental Gentlemen’, a tale of Captain Cook on his first journey of discovery. Incorporating a vast array of intricate ideas within a remarkably cohesive whole, it moves from gentle, dreamy and wistful to up-beat and bouncy. You can feel an increase in intensity as the song slowly and inexorably moves through the gears to eventually deliver a dramatic sequence complete with an emotional and delicate lead guitar solo. That’s not the end though as there’s time for an extended atmospheric outro that has a subtle yet moving feel to it.Arguably the biggest exponent of those aforementioned extended instrumental passages is the longest track on the album, the hugely impressive ‘A Mead Hall In Winter’. The melodies are just so strong that they draw me in for repeated listens in spite of its length, rivalling anything that appeared on ‘Folklore’. But it is the experimentation and the ambition that is the most impressive aspect, including a plethora of bold and striking keyboard sounds as well as plenty of lead flamboyance all round. It all helps to create genuinely rich and engaging textures not to mention a multi-faceted, multi-layered soundscape. This sort of music only works when it is handled with care and attention to detail. And Big Big Train are fast becoming the safest pair of hands that I know, turning everything to gold with their unique Midas touch. My mind never wanders, my attention is never diverted away and as this epic composition draws to a close via a reprise of the early sumptuous melodies, I am filled with nothing but admiration for what has been achieved here.By contrast, ‘Meadowland’ is a much shorter proposition that benefits from a truly gorgeous lead violin and acoustic guitar intro, full of sensitivity and elegance. The wistful vocal delivery of Longdon adds a compelling embellishment to a piece of music that straddles the divide between folk and progressive rock, that I wish was twice as long.The title track begins in strange fashion with an oddly creepy and discordant introduction, quickly replaced by more acoustic guitars. Another serious grower, I’m currently of the opinion that it contains my very favourite melody on the entire album, accompanied by the words:“Out on the Heathland,Look up to the night sky.See the second brightest star?Adjust to the dark light.”The vocals and music together combine in magical fashion to stop me dead in my tracks. But I also enjoy the way in which the track subtly moves away from its starting point, to finish with more instrumental prowess in a much different and more up-tempo vein. The closing vocal passage is inspired too.Seeing as I’ve mentioned all the others, it seems churlish to overlook the closing composition, ‘As The Crow Flies’. It ends ‘Grimspound’ in fine fashion, fittingly oozing warmth and richness. It begins in delicate fashion, featuring more female vocals and some really welcome flute from Longdon. At the mid-point, the composition explodes in typically controlled but epic fashion, delivering a briefly rousing and heartfelt melody, led by hungry guitar notes that retreat all-too-quickly, allowing the song to ease to a gentle and introspective conclusion.Just when you thought that Big Big Train couldn’t possibly get any better, they do. ‘Grimspound’ is without doubt the best progressive rock album I’ve heard since…well, since ‘Folklore’ to be exact. Big Big Train have become an integral part of my musical life, to the point where I cannot imagine what my life was like before I discovered them. Right now, I can’t think of any bigger compliment that I can pay or one that is more justified and thoroughly deserved. Without question, Big Big Train are my favourite progressive rock band on this planet, bar none." - Man Of Metal blog
    $12.00
  • "Beware! This is the first time that I have been able to review a full Haken album without any word limits or other punitive restrictions placed upon me. You have been warned…I’m going to lay my cards on the table right at the outset: Haken are one of my all-time favourite bands. Despite only being in existence for a relatively short period of time, right from their debut ‘Aquarius’ I have held them in high regard. It is a situation that has only strengthened over the years with each passing album and having had the chance to meet the band on several occasions, from interviewing the whole motley crew on their tour van at Progpower Europe in 2010 to friendly chats with various members at numerous gigs subsequently.Regardless of this however, Haken are the real deal. Yes, they are a cracking bunch of guys but crucially, they back it up with a superlative end product. Each member of Haken is a supremely talented individual with their chosen instrument(s) but together there is a real magic; an unquantifiable ‘x’ factor that leads to the creation of music that is almost peerless and jaw-droppingly good.And, on that note, let us delve into the world of ‘Affinity’.It took me quite a while to get into and appreciate ‘The Mountain’. It sounded different from what went before it; more grown-up and, ‘Cockroach King’ aside, more serious and introspective. However, in stark contrast to ‘The Mountain’, ‘Affinity’ captured my imagination right off the bat and has not failed to let go in the month or so that I’ve been listening to it. If anything, the more I listen, the better it gets.Weirdly enough, a small voice in my brain kept suggesting that it might be a good thing if ‘Affinity’ wasn’t as good an album. That way, I’d be able to tackle this review without the inevitable comments from readers about me being a fanboy and moaning that ‘you were always going to give it a high score’. But then I came to my senses.‘Affinity’ won’t be for everyone, that’s for sure. If you’re a fan of the first two albums and wanted a return to more of that sound and approach, you might be left slightly disappointed. If however, you’re open to listening to a band that refuses to tread the same path twice, a band that champions the true meaning of ‘progressive’ by trying new things whilst remaining loyal to their core principles, then ‘Affinity’ will probably have the same impact upon you as it has had on me.And what exactly is that impact? It is almost impossible to describe if I’m honest. ‘Affinity’ is an album that transcends the normal debates around whether it is good or not. Of course it is good, that almost goes without saying. I’m not a musician, so I am unable to dissect all of the technical intricacies that are present on this record. That’s not my style. Instead it’s the feelings that Haken evoke in their music that I feel the need to focus on as this is arguably the most powerful and intoxicating aspect of their incredible music.We all have them – bands that, as you listen, make you feel happy to be alive. Well, for me, Haken are one of the four or five bands on Earth that do just that.The album opens with the sampled sounds made by early computers atop a dark, cinematic soundscape that grows in intensity, building the sense of anticipation brilliantly and setting the foundations to the musical avenues to be explored within ‘Affinity’. Whilst ‘The Mountain’ was heavily influenced by the 1970s with the likes of Gentle Giant looming large within certain compositions, ‘Affinity’ takes its cue from the following decade. To be fair, this was fairly obvious after one look at the retro cover artwork and the most excellent teaser trailers released a few weeks ago. Again, the imagery might not appeal to everyone, but I really like the boldness and simplicity of the artwork that deliberately and unashamedly harks back to the analogue days of cassette tapes and vinyl.The opening instrumental segues seamlessly into ‘Initiate’, the first ‘proper’ track on the album and a barnstormer at that, a deceptively complex piece of music that acts as a real showcase for everything great about Haken in 2016. And as I listen, almost immediately, several things become clear. Firstly, ‘Affinity’ is blessed by a production and a mix courtesy of Jens Bogren (Fascination Street Studios) that is right out of the top drawer. The music sounds powerful yet with a clarity that allows every instrument to shine. Nothing is lost or overlooked and the results are simply stunning.Secondly, Ross Jennings’ vocals have taken another huge leap in the right direction. I was always one of those that took a lot of convincing over his delivery on the debut record particularly. However, he has pushed himself to the point that he is, without doubt a highly talented and accomplished vocalist with a unique, passionate delivery.Thirdly, the increase in atmospherics, of electronic sounds and textures courtesy of Diego Tejeida is also very pronounced from the outset. Not only does he create a very interesting sonic palette that weaves in and out of each composition, he injects a surprising amount of warmth to the music that could so easily have sounded cold and inaccessible.This in turn links to my final observation, that ‘Affinity’ manages to deftly and expertly merge the sounds of the past with the sounds of the future. In spite of the 1980s sheen, all nine compositions on ‘Affinity’ come across to me as fresh and exciting, with accents of djent, post-rock, ambient and all manner of other sounds bursting forth at whim.Having said all that, ‘1985’ is almost entirely immersed in the 80s. In the same way as ‘Cockroach King’ was Haken’s ‘all-out’ track on ‘The Mountain’, ‘1985’ is the song on ‘Affinity’ that throws a little caution to the wind and shows Haken at their most audacious in many respects. Synth drums, overt retro sounds and an occasional dive headlong into 80s movie soundtrack territory all take place within this ambitious composition. However, it works, retaining a homogenous feel throughout. It is made all the more special thanks to a really rousing, hooky chorus that is nothing short of addictive.The elegant ‘Lapse’ features some of Jennings’ most accomplished vocal work on this record, and indeed throughout the entire back catalogue. The vocal chords are stretched in directions that must have been really challenging but the result is gripping, full of sincerity and emotion in places.‘The Architect’ is Haken’s monster epic. At 15 minutes long, it allows the band the time to explore a number of ideas without ever feeling cluttered or disjointed. The track starts off in grand, cinematic style before exploding in a barely-controlled prog metal assault. It is here that Haken most clearly reference their earlier output as the music flits between the over-the-top excesses of the debut and the grandiose tones of ‘Visions’.I’m then reminded vaguely of Tool in the more refrained guitar work and rhythms that follow, before another memorable chorus of sorts grabs the attention. And then, the song plunges into a music abyss where everything falls away to eventually and gradually rebuild over time. The foreboding yet ambient synth sounds lay the early groundwork as the bass guitar of relative newbie Conner Green joins the fray with some exceptionally expressive, deft and highly musical work. Ray Hearne’s drumming is subtle but inspired, and the resulting guitar interplay between Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths is inventive, melodious and ear-catching.If that wasn’t enough, as the song ascends from the depths, the band are joined by Leprous’ Einar Solberg who adds his unique gruff vocals atop some heavy djent-like riffing before a return to the chorus and an epic lead guitar solo that rivals that of ‘Aquarium’ for spine tingling majesty.‘Earthrise’ is possibly my favourite track on the album right now. I adore the quiet and melodic opening because it fills me with a warm glow and the feeling that the world can’t be an entirely awful place if such beautiful music can be written. It develops into a composition that is bright and breezy, complimented by lyrics that have a distinctly positive vibe to them.By contrast, ‘Red Giant’ explores entirely different terrain. It is the most modern and post-rock that Haken have ever sounded and is also one of their most brooding and quietly intense compositions. The keys and rhythm section take the lead on this track, which is arguably the biggest and most consistent grower on the entire record.‘The Endless Knot’ features some delicious drum fills from Mr Hearne and more killer melodies. It also affords Diego the opportunity to go a little crazy with more zany and out-there sounds. It also allows some six-string indulgence in the shape of one of the most intricate and dextrous guitar leads at around the mid-point. The song constantly shifts direction throughout its relatively modest life, but is held together by those strong melodies which return time and again to my great delight.‘Bound By Gravity’ then closes out the album in an impossibly perfect manner. It is arguably one of the softest songs that Haken have ever penned but it is also one of the most beautiful. Acoustic guitars and more warm and inviting keys, vaguely reminiscent of Sigur Ros envelop the listener in a soothing, comforting embrace. Jennings’ soft and gentle delivery adds an almost ethereal quality to the track as it floats along on a warm current of magical melody that is both uplifting and almost heart breaking. Such is its understated and subtle beauty, I find myself smiling broadly and wiping tears from my eyes almost simultaneously.How do I sum up an album like this? I could have mentioned a million bands throughout this review, from Textures to King Crimson and beyond as indeed there are reference points all over the place if you’re of a mind to count them. However, Haken are Haken and the bottom line is that they have developed into a modern prog band that is truly unique. ‘Affinity’ is one of the best progressive albums I have ever had the pleasure to listen to but more than that, it truly moves me and I connect to it on an emotional level; it makes me smile, it makes me cry and it makes me feel alive." - The Blog Of Much Metal
    $14.00
  • I can't remember a buzz on a band's debut since Circus Maximus.  Perhaps due to the album being released in Japan a year ago and its unavailability elsewhere, maybe because they are lined up to play ProgPowerUSA.  Whatever the reason the album finally gets a wide debut and it was worth the wait.  Damnation Angels is a British symphonic metal band fronted by a Norwegian singer.  He goes by the name PelleK and was a contestant on Norway's version of X Factor.  The band's stock in trade is epic sounding metal that pays a huge debt to Kamelot.  The instrumental passages take on the grandeur and scope of Nightwish.  PelleK does a sold job out front - he's obviously listened to a Khan quite a bit.  Highly recommended.
    $14.00
  • OH MY GOD!!! This Polish band sounds so much like Riverside that the album must have been written with tracing paper. No wonder - Riverside vocalist Mariusz Duda was an original member of Xanadu years ago. The band broke up but Xanadu's drummer put together a new version of the band in 2008.Not original in any way shape or form but if you want something to tide you over until the next Riverside disc arrives maybe this will scratch your itch. Its well done - just not one original idea here.  Probably the best of all the Riverside clones.
    $3.00
  • Sound Of Contact is a new band put together by Simon Collins and session keyboardist Dave Kerzner.  Yeah - Simon is Phil's son.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - Simon plays drums and he also sings.  His voice is eerily like his dad.  At times virtually indistinguishable.  The music follows a similar path to Phil's work with Genesis and solo.  Parts of the album are pure prog - in fact the album closes with a killer 19 minute epic called "Mobius Slip".  Other parts of the album exhibit a poppier more commercial side.  I don't think of the album as a pop album - its a prog rock album.  Kerzner provides some very interesting keyboard work - lots of intricacies through out the album.  There is that commercial element that reminds me of Genesis in the 80s.  With his voice sounding so much like his father, Simon will always be cursed with being compared to Phil.  That's a fact.  Overall I think he's come up with an interesting album that fans of more contemporary progressive rock will enjoy.
    $12.00