Progressive Metal

After many years Diablo Swing Orchestra are back with their fourth album.  Since Pandora's Pinata, vocalist AnnLouice Lögdlund left to pursue her career in opera full time.  She has been replaced by Kristin Evegård, who has now actually been with the band for years.

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New remastered digipak edition with one bonus track.

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New remastered digipak edition with one bonus track.

"Hope. Fear. Dark. Light. Trust. Betrayal. A Dark Discovery... An exciting discovery.

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"Geoff Tate returns with his Operation Mindcrime to finish his trilogy of albums with The New Reality. And once more I have no clue what's going on here with this conceptual album.

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"There’s a point you reach when listening to an album at which the music begins to ‘click’. You start to become familiar with the flow from track to track, and the depth of the music begins to shine through in the breath between the prominent, and often more salient, moments within the sound.

$19.00
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"At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I’ve been into Galactic Cowboys since their self titled debut album came out back in 1991. Since then, I’ve picked up each album (and the EP) immediately and the band never disappoint. Until 2000, when they broke up.

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At Laser's Edge we've always had a knack for sniffing out undiscovered or overlooked bands that we can bring to your attention.  I guess I enjoy turning over rocks and looking at what's hiding underneath.  Back in early 2017 I stumbled on a project from Ireland called The Vicious Head Society.

$14.00
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"Opinions may vary on the progressive metal/rock/what-have-you of PAIN OF SALVATION, but few would deny the copious amounts of creativity involved, not to mention that a POS album at the very least is guaranteed to raise eyebrows and cause a few synapses to misfire.

$27.00

"Opinions may vary on the progressive metal/rock/what-have-you of PAIN OF SALVATION, but few would deny the copious amounts of creativity involved, not to mention that a POS album at the very least is guaranteed to raise eyebrows and cause a few synapses to misfire.

$24.00

"Pain of Salvation is so much more than just a band name of three words. First of all, the Swedish prog metal band is original. They may be the first prog metal band since the early-90's that truly managed to impress not only prog listeners but fans of other genres as well.

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  • Vly began as strangers sending 1's and 0's across the Atlantic Ocean. British-based guitarist Karl Demata had a vague idea and a few demos, when a friend put him in touch with New York singer / artist Keith Gladysz. Keith began working on the demos, adding a more melodic, dream-like and decidedly indie sensibility. "It was a new way to work", says Gladysz. "The music and collaborative art I've made always started with people I knew, and creating naturally came out of that understanding. That's not the case with Vly. We managed to make an album without ever meeting. There was no gauge or reference point except for the music. It was a total shot in the dark".The sound of Vly shooting in the dark hits elements of progressive rock, classic rock, folk, early-Floydian psychedelia, intimate pop melodies, massive walls of epic guitar riffage, post-classical, post-rock and electronic music. And it's the diverse background of the members that lead to the breadth of their sound.The progressive sentiment of Italian keyboardist Elisa Montaldo quickly attracted the ear of Demata. "The first time I heard Elisa play" says Karl "I knew we had to be in a band. Her innate melodic approach and instinctual understanding and knowledge of 'anything prog' is simply remarkable"."Karl asked me to join the project at the very beginning" Elisa picks up: "My idea of prog is somehow more vintage, more typical 70's Italian style. After various experiments on arrangements and sounds, I went to Karl's studio to record most of the keyboards, where we found the right balance".Connecting with strangers, and expanding circles of mutual friends became the pattern for Vly. Karl next recruited experienced bass player Chris Heilmann who worked together previously in Crippled Black Phoenix. Chris provided a solid backbone with a more classic rock attitude.Demata doesn't hold back when talking about Sweden-based musician Mattias Olsson. "He is simply a genius. And he's never predictable as a drummer. Mattias also contributed some vintage keys and odd analog noises, which have a definitive effect on the bands sound. A common friend described him as a 'lateral thinker', and I can't think of a better way to describe him."Vly makes good on the futuristic dreams of the late 1990's, when promises of international recording sessions via the Internet excited incredulous musicians. Now that it's a reality (thanks to Dropbox and Skype), the method may be less glamorously sci-fi than one had hoped; still, they get the job done."I always disliked the cliches about music as a universal language, and more recently about the Internet bringing people together", explains Keith. "I'm even more uncomfortable with those sentiments now, since Vly proved them true".Vly's debut album, I / (Time) is available on the Laser's Edge imprint September 18, 2015. It's engineered and produced by Karl Demata, with additional production by Keith Gladysz and Mattias Olsen, and audiophile mastering by Bob Katz.VLY is:Keith Gladysz (Diet Kong, Typical Reptiles) - Vocals.Karl Demata (ex-Crippled Black Phoenix, Karl Demata Band) - Guitars, synths, programming.Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio Delle Clessidre) - keyboards and synths.Chris Heilmann (ex-Crippled Black Phoenix, Bernie Torme', Shark Island) – Bass.Mattias Olsson (ex-Änglagård. White Willow, Necromonkey) - Drums & keyboard 
    $13.00
  • APOLLO: The ancient Greek and Roman God of music and poetry.SONS OF APOLLO: The new supergroup featuring members of Dream Theater, Mr. Big, Guns ‘N Roses, and Journey.In early 2017, rumors began circulating about a new secret project including former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian. Finally, on August 1st, the duo revealed the details to the rest of the world, introducing their new band, SONS OF APOLLO.Reuniting to form SONS OF APOLLO, Portnoy and Sherinian join forces with guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), bassist Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force). Their debut album, Psychotic Symphony, will be released October 20 on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music. Psychotic Symphony was produced by the dynamic production duo of Portnoy and Sherinian, also affectionately known as “The Del Fuvio Brothers,” the nickname given to them over 20 years ago during their time together in Dream Theater.SONS OF APOLLO formed very organically, its seeds planted with a predecessor group, as Portnoy explains: “Derek and I reunited shortly after I left Dream Theater in 2010 and we put together an all-instrumental touring band with Billy Sheehan and Tony MacAlpine. That was my first time working with Derek since the ‘90s when he was in Dream Theater, and it was just great to be working with him again. Ever since that tour, which was really just a one-off live thing, he has been nudging me to start a real, original, full-time band. The timing just had never been right, because I had too many other things on my plate. Long story short, the time was finally right to take the bait and put together a band.”“Mike and I work at a relentless pace in the studio,” continues Sherinian. “The music is modern, but we have an old-school soul. What is unique about SONS OF APOLLO is that we have true rock n’ roll swagger along with the virtuosity-- a lethal combination!”But what to call the next great supergroup? “Derek was mainly the one behind the name,” says Portnoy. “I have a list that I keep on my phone of about a hundred different band names, which I constantly have to refer to every time I have a new band every year (laughs). So I pulled up the list and Apollo was one of the names on the list. It was a word that both of us really liked. We started fiddling with different variations of the word. One of the original band names we were working with was Apollo Creed, the character from the Rocky movies, but after lots of different discussions on different variations, Derek suggested SONS OF APOLLO and it seemed to stick. Apollo is the god of music, so with that in mind it seemed like a fitting name.”With Portnoy, Sherinian and Sheehan having previously toured together in the aforementioned lineup that came to be known as PSMS, playing instrumental versions of various songs drawn from each member’s history, SONS OF APOLLO was the next logical step. They kept that fire burning and stoked it higher by bringing in a different guitarist, adding a vocalist, and creating all original material. The nine songs comprising Psychotic Symphony incorporate the progressive style and individual technical prowess Portnoy and Sherinian shared together in Dream Theater, combined with the swagger and groove of Van Halen, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.“I have known Mike and Derek for a long time, so when they came to me with SONS OF APOLLO, I jumped on this straight away,” says Thomas Waber, Label Manager/A&R International of InsideOutMusic. “However, the album they ended up recording exceeded my already high expectations by a long mile! We couldn’t be happier about it!”SONS OF APOLLO will hit the road in 2018 for their first worldwide tour.“This is a real band,” Portnoy declares. “This is going to pick up for me and Billy where The Winery Dogs left off, in terms of this being the next logical full-time thing for us. I’m not saying The Winery Dogs have broken up, because we haven’t, we’re just on a break. SONS OF APOLLO is absolutely going to be a full-time band and we plan on touring all over the world throughout 2018 and, honestly, it is the priority for all five of us.”Sherinian agrees, “We will go on a worldwide crusade in 2018 to bring SONS OF APOLLO to as many people as possible. Apollo was the God of Music, and we are his mighty offspring!”SONS OF APOLLO ARE:Mike Portnoy – drums and vocalsDerek Sherinian – keyboardsBilly Sheehan – bassRon “Bumblefoot” Thal – guitar and vocalsJeff Scott Soto - vocals 
    $18.00
  • 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
  • Fourth studio album from the prog "supergroup" of Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard), and Pete Trewavas (Marillion).  Like the previous albums expect marathon length pure prog rock that reflects back onto the golden age.  The title track is 32 minutes long!This is the 2CD/DVD Deluxe edition.Track List:Main Disc:1    Into the Blue                                          25:112    Shine                                                       7:263    Black as the Sky                                       6:434    Beyond the Sun                                        4:29 5    Kaleidoscope                                          31:53TOTAL TIME: 75:43      Bonus Disc:1    And You and I                                         10:432    I Can't Get It Out of My Head                   4:433    Conquistador                                            4:104    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road                      3:165    Tin Soldier                                               3:216    Sylvia                                                      3:497    Indiscipline                                              4:438    Nights In White Satin                                6:12TOTAL TIME: 40:59Making of Kaleidoscope DVD – Full length DVD behind the scenes of the writing and recording of this amazing album. Running time 1 hour and 26 minutes. Edited by Randy George. NTSC Region Free
    $28.00
  • In a time where progressive music is rising and there are so many options available to new listeners, it takes serious guts and personality to turn heads anymore. Norway’s Leprous has done just that in recent years, and it has been such a joy to watch them emerge into the limelight of awareness within the progressive community. It is no wonder, however, as Leprous continues to mature and to cling ever closer to their hearts when crafting new music.Leprous is a visionary band that defies genre labelling, not just in the style, but also in their attitude. After releasing “Tall Poppy Syndrome” (2009), “Bilateral” (2011) and “Coal” (2013); these artists released their monster album “The Congregation” (2015) that spurred high acclaim and an enormous world tour. Leprous, however, is not a band that takes success resting on their hind quarters, as they believe in pushing boundaries, learning from their mistakes, and following their instincts. They are prepared to release their new album “Malina” this summer, and it is set to offer a left hook to the progressive world.Of all things, Leprous is not a band that can be caged into any single genre. They aren’t interested in any of that. What they do believe in, however, is pursuing their artistic passions and following wherever their hearts may lead. They have been celebrated for years for their evocative mix of polyrhythmic grooves, melancholy atmospheres, melodic vocals, and biting lyrics; but their new album represents a pure stream of consciousness in the changes they have made to their sound. It’s in this imaginative style of composition that the band finds “a lot of the beauty about composing and creating: There’s always movement.”The band, however, found their instincts leading them away from simply polishing the melancholy progressive metal of “The Congregation”. They followed their conviction about creating music that feels right in the moment, which they consider to be the core of all true musical expression. In the process, Leprous has become a band that is “more accurately defined as a rock band than a metal band”, though even that label is unsatisfactory and binding to them. This is music that expresses their souls, embodies their passion, and confirms their genius.  They believe in making quality music that speaks to who they are right here and right now.About these changes, the band had this to say, "This album is the perfect example on how you can start with avision and ending up with a result that has nothing to do with the original idea. The writing of the album started out with the idea to perfect the sound and working method we began with on "The Congregation". While the writing process was actually pretty similar (30 sketches, elimination process etc etc) we gradually started noticing stuff with the sound and the songwriting on the previous album that we wanted to sound different. Gradually we realised what needed to be done. This album needs to sound more alive, more organic and more dynamic. The longer into the process the more obsessed we got with this idea”.“Malina” is set to be a change in direction in more ways than one. Right away, you can see that the cover art is more colorful and more mysterious than they’ve ever had in the past. The album itself has been nothing short of a labor of love. The album took 4 times as many days in the studio to record as past albums, as the band was certain that the sound they wanted would be found in the recording studio, and not in a digital mask that would be applied during the mixing stage.With this concept in mind, David Castillo of Ghostward Studios was brought in to produce and record the album to meet the band’s demands for a specific sound and the then went with Jens Bogren again to mix the album.  The band was however adamant about what this album needed to be, “We wanted it to sound like it sounded.  We did not want to "digitalise" the sound.”The members of Leprous have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into the process of creating “Malina”. They’ve challenged themselves to mature and grow in ways they themselves did not expect. It’s because of these amazing qualities that the band is set to conquer the music scene once again in 2017. Combining a new album with a fresh sound with their upcoming, biggest headline tour yet Leprous is ready to bring their passion and badass energy to fans and new audiences worldwide this year.
    $15.00
  • Hardbound mediabook edition with one bonus track."I haven't had anything similar on my musical plate for a while, so Gazpacho's eighth album Demon was an interesting, beautifully surprising and absolutely brilliant variation. Again Gazpacho mixes progressive sounds with electronic elements and folk instrumentation with the addition of dynamic riffing and amazing vocals. The outcome is a unique sound that is quite inimitable and rare to find. How much you enjoy the new record will mainly depend on how you respond to this incredible mix and the singing style used by the vocalist. Anyway Gazpacho rules, especially at night.I'm a great fan of these guys and for those of you that still don't know who they are, Gazpacho is a band formed in Oslo, Norway in 1996 by childhood friends, Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen, along with Jan-Henrik Ohme - later joined by Mikael Krømer, Lars Erik Asp and Kristian Torp; they released their debut album Bravo in 2003.Demon, the upcoming record, is a concept album based on the true story of a manuscript found in an apartment in Prague where the writer, a previous resident, had detailed his chase of an evil, “The Demon”. Demon is for sure full of emotion and humanity and the way the Norwegian band reproduces in music the diabolical story and the psychosis of the protagonist is wonderful.The story is told in four parts and it starts with 'I've been walking – part 1' and it couldn't start in a better low-key fashion way. There’s something disarmingly powerful about loud vocals from Jahn Henrik Ohme that add incredible depth to a song. The intermittent piano notes are just perfect and the delicate violin sound is like a nice shade of color you don't notice on painting but that painting wouldn't be the same without it. A great bonus.The second part of 'I've been walking' – that is the third track of the album – starts exactly where the first movement of the piece ends but adding a dark shadow to the overall atmosphere. There are still vocals but now are slower and they mix perfectly with the other instruments. The bass is gorgeous and the way the song turns into a more ambient and atmospherical dimension is great. It's such a damn good track and together, 'I've been walking' parts I and II, might be the best tunes that Gazpacho has ever written.The mix of sounds of the opening track changes completely in 'The Wizard of Altai Mountain' becoming electronic in the first part of the track and turning into a sort of gipsy or Yiddish sound in the second half. We are all crossing lands pursuing the demon.The story ends with 'Death Room' and the motifs of the 'The Wizard of Altai Mountain' come back like creating a circle with that song. Oriental sound, progressive rock and folk are all mixed together and the resulting fusion sound is incredible. I rarely make direct comparison among artists but this time I cannot avoid to think of Radiohead's music mixed with folk elements to create an intricate yet beautifully original tone. Other times they make me think of the Scandinavian prog-rock band Airbag but again Gazpacho find their way to be definitely unique.The story ends here and Demon too, a captivating and intriguing album that is absolutely brilliant. I like the way it flows song by song and the variety of sounds blended in it. Such experimentalism is the proof that the Norwegian guys are really talented and they deserve to be considered one of the best progressive rock bands on the scene today.Demon is an album that requires time and patience to be understood and to gain the listener's estimation and it will reward open minded audience. Play it in the dark to fully experience its great music." - Echoes And Dust
    $13.00
  • Superb return to form from these German masters of melodic progressive metal. Beyond Daylight exhibits many similarities to The God Thing and may well prove out to be their best effort yet.
    $15.00
  • "Twelve years, eight studio albums, two live DVDs and tours that have taken them from Moscow to Quebec. Now one of the most enduring third wave progressive rock bands on the scene returns - a band that has never made an album using the same personnel as the previous album. In fact, the same lineup has (to date) never been used twice.But there are regulars. And some of the favorite regulars are back for the 8th album: Flower Kings bass legend Jonas Reingold; the ever-faithful and gifted Theo Travis, familiar to many from his work with the Steven Wilson band, Gong and Robert Fripp, with his arsenal of wind textures from saxophones to flutes; and the return to the fold of the amazingly talented Luke Machin, a guitar hero for a new generation who can even wow the old generations (and who also fronts his own band, Maschine). And of course there's band leader Andy Tillison (keyboards and vocals), the only member of the band to have played on all the records.This team is joined by Morgan Ågren, Swedish drumming phenomenon who can even count Frank Zappa among his previous jobs (others include, but not limited to, Kaipa, Devin Townsend, and his own acclaimed Mats/Morgan Band). Morgan introduces to The Tangent a real live energy full of inspiration and eccentricity.The band, who were only supposed to make one single album in 2003, are now back with their eighth! A Spark In the Aether is a joyous and uplifting romp that sees the band concentrating on their forté: delivering driving, melodic, thoughtful and inspired songs with a large grin on their faces as they do it."Using protest, sadness and negative images in music is a part of an artist's job" says Andy Tillison, "and it's something we have often done. But every so often I think we need to turn to the music itself and remember why it is we get so much from it. On this album I just wanted us to play - have fun, make music and mischief that can be enjoyed just for the sake of it"So, twelve years further down the line, after albums about dystopian societies, midlife crises, alienation, homelessness and communications - the Tangent return to the very beginning and once again celebrate The Music. You are invited to join in."
    $16.00
  • Virtuoso keyboardist Vivien Lalu has created a new progressive metal epic featuring an all star cast:Band [A-Z]---Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta) - VocalsMike LePond (SymphonyX) - BassSimone Mularoni (DGM) - GuitarsVirgil Donati (PlanetX)- DrumsVivien Lalu (Shadrane) - KeyboardsGuests [A-Z]---Jens Johansson (Stratovarius)Joop Wolters (Shadrane)Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie)Mike Andersson (Cloudscape, Fullforce)Peter Wildoer (Darkane, James LaBrie)Born of Noelle and Michel Lalu, musicians from the ‘70s French progressive act Polene, Vivien Lalu has released a surplus of recordings through an array of different bands and projects since 1997, as the keyboard player for underground black/doom band Time For A Change. At the turn of the millennium Lalu played keys for two underground progressive metal bands from Paris, Sad Warden and then Mind’s Orchard, and in 2002 was hired by Hubi Meisel (ex-Dreamscape vocalist) to compose and record the keys for his solo album EmOcean, the following year doing the same for Meisel’s sophomore album Kailash, both of which were released by Lion Music.It was at this time Vivien Lalu begins recruiting his own associates from major prog and metal bands — some of which he shares time composing music alongside in progressive metal act Shadrane — and forms his own solo project, LALU. The first full-length Oniric Metal was released on Lion Music in 2005 and began an entirely new chapter for this composer and his insatiable need to create mind-expanding, cinematic music.These accomplishments helped Lalu to begin securing score and soundtrack work for film and television; over the last few years he’s written many cues for the orchestral soundtrack for the Warner Bros movie Seuls Two, for the show Science X made in association with Lucasfilm Ltd. Additionally he joined the production team behind Laszlo Jones in order to assist the recordings and production of Banana Nation (Universal Music Group). He’s composed many soundtracks for French television, music and sound effects for Neko Entertainment, worked as a sound designer for Ubisoft Entertainment and much more.After collaborating with Shadow Gallery for a song on their Digital Ghosts album, and working with Canadian drummer Chris Nalbandian for his Paralysis of Analysis solo album — recording all keys and sharing solos with Derek Sherinian and Alex Argento — Vivien finally settled in and began work on the second LALU opus. Handling all composition and songwriting duties, as well as all keyboards on the massive production, Vivien weaved the cloth of the new album with vocalist Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta), bassist Mike LePond (SymphonyX), guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM), drummer Virgil Donati (PlanetX), the album’s parts recorded in several countries including the United States (Los Angeles and New York), Germany and Italy, produced by Lalu in his own studio, and mixed at Boumbox Studio in Paris by Yan Memmi (Dio’s Lock Up The Wolves, Marcus Miller’s The Sun Don’t Lie, etc.). Additional contributions from Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), Joop Wolters (Shadrane), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie), Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) and Peter Wildoer (James LaBrie) were also carefully built into the album, the final product boasting over fifty minutes of exceptional, massive  cinematic, atmospheric metal Lalu has dubbed, Atomic Ark. 
    $13.00
  • Its been quite a long time since we've heard from Magic Pie.  They went through lots of trials and tribulations getting this album finished but now its finally arrived.  If you are not familiar with this band here's the deal: Magic Pie are a Norwegian band with a retro 70s sound.  The music is a bit of a high wire act balancing the neo-prog sounds of The Flower Kings with the heavier elements of classic Uriah Heep.  They also seem to be the darlings of Rosfest having played there multiple times."It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since these proggers from Norway released their promising debut "Motions of Desire". At that time, their music struck me as an enthusiastic combination of classic prog and classic hard rock. (Think Deep Purple for the hard rock side of that equation.) At their best, they offered memorable passages and pieces that sounded like they very well could have been long lost recordings from many years ago. At their worst, they sometimes fell short of filling the big shoes of the legendary bands whose music they strove to emulate. That's actually not bad for a debut album from a new prog band. I found much to like and looked forward to hearing from them again in the future.Checking back in on them a decade later, I must say that I am very impressed with how they have developed and matured. No longer do I get the feeling that certain sections of songs are direct homages to any particular band from any one particular decade of prog's illustrious history. Their influences, while still very present and valid, are now more varied, including a greater percentage of modern reference points. More importantly, their influences are just that--merely influences rather than templates or even primary reference points.The sound quality on "King for a Day" is superb thanks in large part to the enlistment of sonic genius Rich Mouser (whose resume includes similar work for prominent contemporaries like Spock's Beard, Transatlantic and Dream Theater).Keyboardist Erling Hananger is an excellent addition to Magic Pie's recipe. His keyboard parts are expressive, dynamic and integral to the music. When appropriate, his leads seamlessly blend, harmonize, and work synergistically with electric guitar.The lyrics have a melodramatic and somewhat tragic flair this time around, but this is prog so you should be accustomed to the musical ride including a few tragic tales from time to time by now, right?OK ' so it's time for the "magic" question... A decade after their debut album, how has my impression of Magic Pie changed?On "King for a Day", I now hear a band which has found "its own voice", one that resonates confidently in the space somewhere between classic arena rock of yesteryear (on prog-steroids of course) and modern melodic prog of the 21st Century (like Spock's Beard and The Flower Kings). Add a few dashes of modern prog-metal to taste and you, my friend, have baked up a very nice confection indeed... MAGIC PIE!If you love modern prog anthems with big harmonies and 'sing along' choruses, give "King for a Day" a listen! I'm glad I did!" - ProgArchives
    $15.00
  • "Progressive rock and boy-band pop seem like natural enemies at first. The former's fascination with ornate, elongated passages of finger-exhausting musicianship is in almost every way the opposite of the latter's emphasis on catchiness first; it's hard to imagine turn-of-the-millennium hits like "Bye Bye Bye" with extended guitar and keyboard solos. Yet ever since A Doorway to Summer, their 2005 debut, Moon Safari has put to rest the notion that progressive-minded songwriters can't make pop that's as hook-driven as it is ostentatious. Grandiloquent epics like "Other Half of the Sky," from the 2008 double album Blomljud, weave together widescreen arrangements with the band's signature five-part vocal harmony, a feature unmatched by few groups in any genre, anywhere. It's easy to isolate the audience with solipsistic soloing and obtuse orchestrations, but from day one Moon Safari has made prog that—assuming the layperson were more amenable to songs that run upwards of thirty minutes—could lead them to something like a pop crossover hit.But while the union of hook-heavy vocal interplay and '70's prog stylistics gives Moon Safari an unmistakable, unique sound, it also handicapped them in a significant way for their first two LPs. The group's accessibility on A Doorway to Summer and Blomljud, along with its technical prowess, is unassailable, but the high-fructose sweetness of its style leads to a diabetic rush when stretched out onto songs that span ten to thirty minutes. For example, "Other Half of the Sky," the titanic thirty minute showstopper off of Blomljud, has so many memorable hooks that by the time it's run its time out, it's hard to remember all of them. The classic problem of "too many voices leads to a noisy room" was the defining problem of Moon Safari's otherwise enjoyable sound for some time. All that changed, however, in 2010 with the release of Lover's End.It is no exaggeration—even as the decade remains young—to say that Lover's End is one of the finest progressive rock records of the '00's. Hell, it's not even crazy to say that it's one of the finest pop albums of the '00s; anyone, even those turned off by prog's eccentricities, can find something to love on this mellifluous collection of songs. From the a cappella charm of "Southern Belle" to the hook-loaded "New York City Summergirl," Lover's End is chock full of goodness from beginning to end. What explains its genius is that in contrast to A Doorway to Summer and Blomljud, the songs are given exactly the amount of space they need, and not a second more. Some songwriters may feel hamstrung by the verse/chorus structure, but it's a perfect fit for Moon Safari's joyous approach to music.With their newest studio outing, Himlabacken, Vol. 1, Moon Safari continue the refining of their sound, and while this isn't the breakthrough that Lover's End was, it nonetheless attests to the brilliance of this group. Whereas the latter was bound by a loose concept (love and heartbreak), Himlabacken Vol. 1 is less a lyrics album than its predecessor. The cost of this is that the music is less distinct in its cohesiveness, but there are no shortage of catchy passages and amped-up solos. "Mega Moon" comes off as a tribute to musical theatre, with "The Very Model of A Modern Major General" vocal delivery interweaving with Queen-esque bombast to an impressive effect. "Too Young to Say Goodbye" sees and matches the polyharmonic beauty of "Lover's End (Part One)." By sticking to concise song formats—the longest cut here runs nine and a half minutes—Moon Safari ensures that things never run out of steam, an essential quality to any good progressive rock band.If nothing else, Himlabacken, Vol. 1 proves that there's one thing Moon Safari can't be accused of: being unaware of themselves. Grand finale "Sugar Band" is as much a statement of identity as it is a slice of epic pop: "Sweet and saccharine are we," they declare, followed by "syrup's the blood in our veins." (Less successful is the clumsy Katy Perry innuendo of, "suck our big candy canes," which is thematically consistent but tonally off.) Both "Sugar Band" and "Little Man," one of the few Moon Safari songs to feature a solo vocal, are emblematic of the mushiness that might turn some prog fans away from their music. The latter, while obviously a touching document of a father's love for his son, does feel a bit out of place in how deeply personal it is; part of the strength of this group's sonic is the universality of its pop appeal, and the intimacy behind "My Little Man" makes listening to it an almost voyeuristic experience. "Mega Moon" and "Sugar Band" are better at capturing the convivial spirit of the band that's accessible to all.As with past outings, even those drawn to vocal harmonies might find it hard to stomach all of the sweetness of Himlabacken, Vol. 1. But what ultimately makes this LP successful is its unpretentious commitment to fun. Moon Safari are a rare collective that prove daunting musical chops aren't anathema to accessibility, and with Himlabacken, Vol. 1 they've made a recording that, while not the magnum opus that Lover's End was, is as true a capturing of their ethos as there could ever be. Sating a sweet tooth brings to mind the phrase "guilty pleasure," but there's no guilt involved with music as first-class as this. Who knew being in a boy band could sound so classy? " - Sea Of Tranquility
    $16.00
  • 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
  • "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
  • New edition of the third album from this great Italian band - their last in their purely progmetal phase. Oleg Smirnoff comes up with killer keyboard lines through out but it's the vocals of Terrence Holler that sets this band apart. Perhaps their best effort, now augmented in this new remastered edition with 6 bonus tracks and a poster. Highly recommended.
    $12.00