Let it be known that Beardfish may indeed become the leading progressive rock band coming into the 2010s. I consider that be a bold statement because the band composes interesting songs that seem so effortless, yet consistently awesome. I jumped aboard the Beardfish bandwagon in 2009 when they were announced to be a part of the Progressive Nation Tour 2009, alongside Pain of Salvation. After giving both Sleeping in Traffic Parts 1 & 2 dozens upon dozens of listens, I knew that Beardfish was something special in the current progressive scene. Both bands would be victims of the economic downturn. Unable to find financial support to get both bands to North America, they had to pull out of the tour. Beardfish turned around with a stellar release, Destined Solitude which equaled the greatness of Sleeping in Traffic.
Project D’s 2011 release, Big Face has an compositional quality that never feels like one has truly traveled through the album or have been challenged enough to warrant additional listens. D Project constantly switches gears to only to please themselves, leaving the album’s contents feeling disconnected. The album does have moments that suggest the musicians are talented, but overall, Big Face fails to truly be a work worthy of your collection.
“They” starts off with a great groove before the song finds its rightful melody before it becomes an unpredictable journey towards the end. “So Low” and “Kids Will Never Know” are uninspired, straight-ahead rock tunes that keep the album unbalanced. “Big Face” is a dated wall of sound that reaches too high and ultimately never delivers. “Anger Parts 1 & 2” and “Anger Part 3” beat the message across the head eventually becoming kitschy towards the end.
Soul Killing Female’s Landlines is a self-produced work by Michael Lewis that certainly has its influences on its sleeve and attempts to create an atmospheric experience with these influences in mind. The convolution of so many influences and the lack of collaboration leaves this album flat.
The album lacks any replay value since each song has a similar build-up and never provides a lasting impression. Instead of an album filled with songs from a particular musician or group’s signature sound, Landmines is a rehashing of the artist’s need to find that perfect build-up that leads to a chaotic conclusion. The pattern becomes old on this album.
Lime Shark, at first, sounds laughable, many progressive bands do. As the tracklist moves on you start to “get it.” This British band is less of a progressive rock band and more of a rock band with progressive leanings. The similarities to the harmonies of King’s X and driving bass rhythms from Rush are not apparent at all, allowing the band to exist as their own entity. Subsequent dives through The Money Clock reveals an album that does not bask in progressive over-achievement but relies on the simplification of melodies even in non-conventional time-changes.
The Money Clock certainly takes its time to present its best material, as “Burn” does not adequately grab the listener. The style and sonics are most interestingly not conventional, and at first can appear un-listenable. However, it is the third track, “Blindside”, that properly portrays the band’s intentions and as post-millennial, hard-driving, and accessible.
Jordi Clapés-Bot’s Right Sides kicks off with the title track, “Right Sides”, and features a haunting atmosphere with a sense of vicereal mystery and does not deviate much from the motif. Instead, Clapés-Botadds poses new ideas, experiments on top of his constant compositions and keeps the groove going by introducing contradictory sentimentality.
“Geometrical Views” features a bass line with a immediate hook, but abandons it for duel-melody, a guitar against whale song like effect. “Rocks” is placed at the center of this EP and its dark, cinematic leanings has you questioning whether you are the only one in the room or if there is someone in the back seat. All the while sustaining the beauty in the lightly plucked strings.
I am always skeptical about reviewing albums submitted to ProgSnobs, but of course the one or two that turn out to be excellent always revives my interest in continuing the blog. Kingcrow‘s Phlegethon is one of those albums, pure progressive metal on their own terms. It is well-composed, well-paced, and the entire album never outlasts the spectacle.
The first song “The Slide”, more of a prologue, includes the use of traditional progressive rock album opening tropes, the sound of the sea on the beach and a haunting single-note piano. It works. It segues into “Timeshift Box”, a hard-driving and well-composed instrumental that sets the tone of the album and frames the band’s progressive metal style.
With my Graduate World Cinema course at the Savannah College of Art and design, one of the particular aspects I have been studying is trying to reduce the Eurocentric (often Americentric) vision of the world. For cinema, this is easy as watching films with subtitles, even though the images can tell the story just the same. For music, this is a far more difficult task. I could have easily asked for Jose Carballido to provide me with some translations, but rather, I chose to challenge myself and listen and review this album solely based on how the language, which I do not speak or understand, interacts with the music. I think I failed.
There are few albums that acquire your attention so quickly, and somehow, I missed Haken’s debut release Aquarius in March 2010. As the year draws to a close, this album has had several rotations on my playlist and there is no reason for it to leave any time soon. For a debut album, Aquarius has the polished glazed that often only appears on a band’s third or forth album.
Aquarius is a concept album about two parents who beget a mermaid child and release it into the river, knowing full well they could not properly raise it themselves. The mermaid child struggles to live in a changing environment as becomes surrounded by nature’s retaliation toward those responsible for global climate change.
ProgSnobs welcomes all musical acts to submit their music for review. However, it may be impossible to do a full-length review and not all bands are able to send a compact disc, our preferred way to listen to new material. Once a month, if enough material comes through, ProgSnobs will publish an Amateur Round-Up with brief reviews of albums or material submitted by unsigned bands or artists who provide us with streaming or downloadable content.
Iconophobic is an instrumental album that is far more focused than most releases by self-produced individual artists, yet each of its compositions offer unfocused melodies that appear to be controlled chaos to your ears’ benefit. The album never gives you cheap thrills that you would expect and the short songs often have a feel of jamming to them, despite their construction being that of one person, Iranian musician Salim Ghazi Saeedi.
The first two songs offer the listener a clean and simple way to enter into Saeedi‘s musical world, particularly with the ultra short “Composer’s Laughter”, which features moments that captures the song’s namesake. “The Songful Song of Songbirds” has the jam feel to it, praise for a one-man operation. “Don’t You See the Cheerful Rainbow” has a playful and slightly humorous quality to it.