Perfect Beings – Vier

If you can imagine in your minds third-eye what a quintessential classic prog band would sound like filtered through a modern sensibility and perfect production, Perfect Beings is exactly that. Like a train ride crossing the plains of the Prog Rock timeline, Vier traverses this terrain with somewhat mixed results but never derails, leading to an interesting and captivating experience to listeners with a deep attention span.

Vier, German for four and the namesake title of this grand prog experiment is thusly and conveniently split into four separate parts. “Guedra” opens the record with retro drenched Prog worship. This part is most notably influenced by classic Yes. “The Golden Arc” is a bit heavier and mathier, less 70’s inspired overall, but yet positively proggy. “Vibrational” is as the name suggests extremely and essentially all ambient/atmospheric. Rounding off the album is “Anunnaki” which is a summation of all these disparate parts.

Instrumentally speaking, these guys can play and play they do.  “Enter the Center” provides some room for Levin to channel his inner Bill Bruford mixing bells, chimes, and flurries of fills reminiscent of classic “Red” era King Crimson. “The Persimmon Tree” is a keyboard tour de force offering a complex and captivating arrangement of strings, percussion, flute, and of course piano resulting in a haunting and melancholy theme. The vocals are the real highlight of this group as the complex three part harmonies of bands like Yes and Gentle Giant are fully replicated here.

These blokes proudly wear their influences on their sleeves and throughout each song flagrantly wave it in the listeners face. The influence is so uncanny at times it borders on replication of other bands, namely Yes, King Crimson, and even Steven Wilson. While imitation is the best kind of flattery, one must wonder that with as much talent that Perfect Beings clearly possesses, what else they could muster if not so intent on channeling their influences. That said, It’s impossible not to feel a warm sense of nostalgia for all things progressive especially on tracks like “The Blue Lake if Understanding” and “Patience” whose erratic structures offsetting wonderful vocal harmonies, and lush atmospheres would warm the heart of even the most jaded Prog head.

Throughout this almost hour and thirty minute Prog epic, your ear will lean to the familiar as well as the unknown. Take note, this music is not for everyone. Perfect Beings have crafted Vier with the hardcore Progressive rock/metal crowd in mind and they do this without a single shred of apology. If you are a fan of The Beatles, Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, and possibly even John Carpenter, Vier is just what the doctor ordered. This is music for Prog’s sake.

White Wizzard – Infernal Overdrive

White Wizzard’s fourth album “Infernal Overdrive” is an important release for the band as it marks the return of classic members, vocalist Wyatt “Screaming Demon” Anderson and guitarist James J. LaRue,  resulting in a clearly renewed chemistry that fuels the enthusiastic creation of the classic rock/metal anthems on this album.

The title track does feel like a blast from the past with empowering guitar driven grooves that will satisfy any vintage metal lover as the band crafts cohesive thundering rhythmic dynamics that give lead guitars plenty of space to deliver flamboyant solos and enthralling melodic progressions.

“Storm The Shores” is an easy crowd pleaser as recognizable NWOBHM elements hold a particularly dominant role in the song’s structure with powerful crunchy guitar riffs & bass lines keeping a straight forward groove enriched by thrilling vocals and vibrant guitar solos.

“Chasing Dragons” has a versatile nature leaning towards nostalgia infused melodies elegantly crafted by traditional yet absolutely kaleidoscopic guitar work that here truly shines, often with fancy shredding, through multiple rhythmic segments while vocals performed in classic rock fashion acquire profound emotional quality.

Starting with soulful acoustic passages “Voyage Of The Wolf Raiders” immediately showcases a melancholic depth that will continue to return within several softer moments yet classic NWOBHM dynamics inevitably take the lead intensely influencing the groovy guitar riffing and solos which feel always quite entertaining being characterized by a fiery creative force.

“The Illusion’s Tears” feels like a fervent nostalgic power ballad as it is filled with stylish heartfelt guitar melodic progressions often displaying luminous polished tonalities as well as wilder prog variations surrounded by a rather somber atmosphere flawlessly matched by a sincerely emotional vocal delivery.

Undoubtedly White Wizzard stay true to a vintage music formula comprised of high pitch vocals and killer guitar work and “Infernal Overdrive” constantly draws inspiration from unforgettable ‘70s-‘80s rock/metal flavors showcasing authentic passion.

Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons – The Age Of Absurdity

Everybody knows and appreciate the work of Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell so the new sensational band Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons featuring his sons Todd Campbell on guitar, Dane Campbell on drums, Tyla Campbell on bass, and vocalist Neil Starr is certainly destined to get a lot of attention with the upcoming debut album “The Age Of Absurdity”.

While old fashioned rock ‘n roll style is palpable on “Ringleader” this is not just a revival song as there is so much more to be enjoyed with addictive guitar driven grooves that also have a rebel metal attitude particularly evident in the explosive fancy guitar solos and the often frenetic rhythm.

“Skin And Bones” is filled with the perfect dosage of raw rock dynamics as all these deliciously groovy guitar riffs must be played loud to fully enjoy their vibrant energy and the compelling guitar solo skillfully embellishes the whole catchy rhythm.

Keeping alive a true rock legacy “Gipsy Kiss” is another super groovy track with an entertaining fast paced ensemble of guitar riffs that once again channel a versatile delightful rock mood with the help of crunchy bass lines and powerful drumming.

“Dark Days” will easily become a favorite with a lovely bluesy essence packed in each slow burning melody and Southern rock style harmonica while the main guitar riffs & solo flawlessly craft additional rock grooves bearing a subtle melancholy.

“Step Into The Fire” features another round of utterly entertaining upbeat rock grooves while lead guitars add extra powerful dynamics as well as flamboyant quality and the vocals certainly hold a proper wild rocker attitude.

“Into The Dark” becomes exquisitely melodic channeling a profound melancholy through refined guitar work and a rather brilliant solo as a significantly slower borderline ballad approach is enhanced by recurring bluesy harmonies and a more emotional vocal delivery.

Those who are looking for passionate hard rock will immediately fall in love with the outpouring rocker charisma of “The Age Of Absurdity” as Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons already have plenty of thrilling ideas and talented musicianship to craft exciting memorable songs.

Harakiri For The Sky – Arson

If in the beginning Austrian Harakiri For The Sky was just a studio project recently this intriguing band has expanded to a live lineup and there is definitely a buzz around the brand new opus “Arson” which passionately delivers a trendy post – black metal sonic ensemble.

“Fire, Walk With Me” immediately draws attention with soulful atmospheric melodies that seamlessly introduce a wilder guitar driven groove which certainly evokes melancholic soundscapes but also a rather blackened influence in the heavier instrumental passages accompanied by fierce screams. Without necessarily sounding too aggressive or depressing, the band delivers a fair dosage of extreme metal roots yet the melodic textures and softly atmospheric passages are characterized by darkly catchy tonalities.

As soon as “You Are The Scars” begins you can feel the vivid melancholy embedded in each piano or guitar melody which follows a cold blackened rhythmic pattern that occasionally slows down to favor additional painfully desolate melodic dynamics where guitars showcase remarkable surreal shoegaze oriented details.

Lavish arpeggios and understated eerie atmospheres on “Heroin Waltz” evoke dreadful emotions followed by a series of frenetic blackened grooves amplified by borderline desperate screams dwelling in a quite dark sonic realm yet guitars craft mellower refined melodies that bring wistful luminous nuances.

“Tomb Omnia” continues to emphasize a poetic darkness as le mal de vivre becomes extremely palpable in the elegant melodic cascades meticulously crafted by vibrant guitars and groovy passages but the more dramatic blackened elements definitely maintain a crucial role.

“Voidgazer” is filled with an exquisite sense of profound melancholia as a soothing melodic beginning is smoothly followed by intense darkened guitar riffing and the intricate melodic slightly avant-garde guitar work confidently steals the spotlight throughout the song but feels especially enthralling in the slower contemplative moments.

With “Arson” Harakiri For The Sky aims to fascinate the listeners with a whimsical blend of ethereal shoegaze/post-rock harmonies and primordial blackened dynamics resulting in the creation of a modern emotionally charged collection of songs.

Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs

Known as pioneers of Oriental metal Orphaned Land have recently celebrated their 25th anniversary and the latest epic endeavor “Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs”, conceptually based on Plato’s allegory of the cave and the noticeable pattern of revolutionary figures being assassinated through history, is another proof of the band’s unique music pathway and charismatic songwriting style.

The grandiose album opener “The Cave” starts with softly contemplative atmospheres swiftly followed by rich Middle Eastern flavors that constantly influence the opulent melodic textures and the majestic orchestrations. Sharp guitar riffs provide groovy rhythmic patterns that support vicious primordial growls but the intricate blend of stylish melodies and sumptuous orchestral arrangements definitely hold a more dominant role accompanied by solemn choirs and Kobi Farhi’s heartfelt clean vocal delivery.

On “We Do Not Resist” the anger towards the global sociopolitical situation and human ignorance becomes extremely palpable as relentless growls and thick inflamed guitar driven grooves dominate the song’s structure yet there are more peaceful moments provided by enticing Oriental harmonies & atmospheric accents.

“In Propaganda” stands out for the stylish luminous acoustic guitar work heightened by triumphant choirs and magnificent orchestrations evoking particularly enchanting Oriental harmonies and effortlessly flowing through softer rhythmic passages or the occasional crunchy riffage.

Featuring a remarkable guitar solo performed by guest guitarist Steve Hackett “Chains Fall To Gravity” acquires softer pensive tonalities offering a memorable blend of poignant atmospheric layers and eclectic prog rock moments following flamboyant tempo variations while the whole instrumentation is always surrounded by charming Oriental melodic passages.

The intriguing vocal duet featuring guest vocalist Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian and the sophisticated melodic guitar progressions amplify the theatrical & symphonic vibes of “Like Orpheus” which was released as first single and certainly represents some primary elements of the band’s signature style flawlessly blending Middle Eastern cultural heritage and modern prog oriented guitar work.

“My Brother’s Keeper” holds a purely melancholic essence enhanced by subtle atmospheric layers and lavish orchestrations but also showcases an enticing series of guitar prog style dynamics shifting from tight riffing to shimmering melodies and Kobi’s spoken verses acquire a dramatic delivery adding emotional depth while unrestrained growls carry a profound fury.

Featuring guest vocalist Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates “Only The Dead Have Seen The End of War” is characterized by mystical atmospheres continuously embellished by Middle Eastern harmonies as well as dazzling orchestrations but also a deeper darkened essence evokes inexorable madness and pervades the more aggressive rhythmic patterns built by a noticeably heavier ensemble of guitar riffs & drumming.

“Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs” is definitely a protest album where music becomes a way to spread an important message uniting people all over the world and with extraordinary craftsmanship, attention for details and authentic passion Orphaned Land deliver a truly enthralling opus that will certainly become a must have for their faithful fans.

Audrey Horne – Blackout

Norwegian rockers Audrey Horne are known to be highly influenced by ‘70s – ‘80s rock/metal and such stylistic choice certainly continues to be the main focus on the latest full length “Blackout” skillfully packed with all kinds of catchy tunes.

With loads of positive verve “This is War” has what it takes to represent the album as guitar riffs & melodies steal the spotlight crafting enthralling grooves bearing a sparkling 80’s rock/metal mood and leading to a rather catchy big chorus.

“Audrevolution” still relies on super catchy guitar dynamics and crunchy bass lines add extra groovy elements to the upbeat uncomplicated yet absolutely entertaining rhythmic patterns while the guitar solo carries dazzling melodic quality.

The title track focuses more on blending captivating twin guitar harmonies and fancy stylish solos that demand the listeners’ attention while the overall rhythmic section is filled of easy retro classic rock elements resulting in a widely accessible track.

With loads of moody guitar melodies “California” holds a subtle dose of nostalgia and the retro rock style deeply influences the whole instrumentation but guitars also showcase a wild metal edge especially in the vibrant solos.

The danceable synths on “Satellite” reveal that the vintage rock vibe becomes even more palpable here as a slower smooth funky rhythm takes the lead constantly embellished by charismatic guitar work that builds explosive riffage and enticing leads.

“Naysayer” favors a memorable NWOBHM approach where enthusiastic guitars inevitably take the center stage delivering steady sharp riffing, another round of massive twin guitar melodic work and polished compelling solos.

Channeling the undiluted energy of retro hard rock “Blackout” should be played loud to fully enjoy its inner explosive dynamics as Audrey Horne demonstrate to be quite passionate about those familiar vintage tonalities that will satisfy any classic rock/metal lover.

Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon

Young Dutch metallers Bleeding Gods are eager to unleash their latest epic death/black metal opus “Dodekathlon” conceptually based on the Greek myth of the twelve labors of Hercules.

On the album opener “Bloodguilt” the band focuses on delivering a high impact sonic assault with mandatory tight guitar riffing and savage instrumental passages yet the addition of symphonic arrangements certainly evoke a mythological realm matching the lyrical concept.

“Beloved By Artemis” is heavily influenced by the darkest depths of metal as the rhythmic patterns gain a distinct brutality following a faster aggressive tempo that will eventually give way to a symphonic approach with a large dosage of opulent atmospheric layers leading to a polished melodic guitar shredding solo.

“From Feast To Beast” begins with eerie atmospheres that slowly introduce heavier rhythmic blasts that will keep a rather frenetic & aggressive groove surrounded by plenty of symphonic haunting orchestrations while lead guitars tend to focus on luminous melodic concoctions.

The initial mix of somber guitar melodies and sumptuous atmospheric arrangements on “Inhuman Humiliation” foreshadows a moody composition that is constantly embellished by sinister accents and soon evolves into a gravely blackened rhythmic ensemble but darkly graceful melodies continue to have a major role.

“Birds Of Hate” surprises with a precise unrestrained groove characterized by clear thrash dynamics with a rather fast rhythmic backbone that seems almost unstoppable and insanely angered just like the particularly strong growls until symphonic elements appear in the mix.

“Tyrannical Blood” puts aside the album’s blackened death metal essence to deliver mainly a soothing acoustic composition where ethereal arrangements evoke melancholic soundscapes while enchanting guitars offer warm melodic tonalities and elegant harmonies.

“Hera’s Orchard” focuses on refined darkened melodies surrounded by majestic atmospheric layers that will continue to ensure an epic mood and guitars will often steal the spotlight creating extra melodic textures through cohesive blackened rhythmic patterns and ominous growls.

With a renewed lineup and a strong desire to reach a wider audience Bleeding Gods definitely worked hard to craft the twelve tracks on “Dodekathlon” which shows great potential successfully blending fierce extreme metal roots and absolutely accessible melodic tonalities.

Shining – X – Varg Utan Flock

Swedish controversial band Shining is often surrounded by stories of madness and erratic behavior but nobody could ever deny that Niklas Kvarforth is one of the most talented creative minds in the extreme metal scene and the tenth album “X – Varg Utan Flock” continues to unfold the band’s unique music pathway through intensely dark nuances and unrestrained emotions.

“Svart Ostoppbar Eld” immediately drags you into impossibly darkened depths with untamed raw guitar riffing introducing primordial black metal roots as the tight rhythmic section acquires chaotic speed and extremely cold tonalities while Niklas delivers painfully savage screams. Yet this oppressive blackened urgency will be interrupted by soft melancholy infused arpeggios and bleak melodic tapestries rightfully culminating with a pleasantly heartfelt guitar shredding solo.

“Gyllene Portarnas Bro” will easily become a favorite track with its palpable inner demons and exceptional emotional quality embedded in the brilliant guitar work as the exquisitely poignant recurring guitar melodies feel simply addictive and unforgettable. Here Niklas focuses on a dramatic vocal delivery with the expected dosage of outpouring charisma and anguish while slow burning graceful melodies and enchanting arpeggios keep a dominant role throughout the song even if there are occasional bursts of blackened fury.

“Jag Är Din Fiende” offers faster infectious blackened rhythmic dynamics with sharp guitar riffs marching frenetically through layers of subtly majestic Nordic bleakness and Niklas’s voice is absolutely filled with inspired theatrical anger but Andy La Rocque’s compelling guest guitar solo brings a marvelous classic metal mood into such obscure sonic realm followed by a sorrowful dreamy breakdown.

The classical piano piece “Tolvtusenfyrtioett” is made of pure melancholy and provides a contemplative break before entering the epic darkness of “Mot Aokigahara”, a song that certainly matches the dreadful moody atmosphere of the entire album. Refined, almost relaxing, arpeggios surround Niklas’ haunting vocal performance and lead guitars continue to impress the listeners with loads of passionate harmonies before a ghastly brutality takes the lead for the last time with fierce riffing & drumming enhanced by ominously ardent growls.

Regardless of any gossip about disputable behavior and suicidal messages, Shining’s music should always be the center of attention and with “X – Varg Utan Flock” Niklas & co. confidently goes beyond the average characteristics of a black metal album with a remarkably radical songwriting approach that will definitely solidify their seminal status in the current metal scene.

Sinistro – Sangue Cassia

Following the spellbinding album “Semente” released last year expectations are really high and Portuguese artsy post- doom quintet Sinistro is ready to surprise the listeners again with the brand new enchanting opus “Sangue Cassia”.

It would be hard to find a better album opener than the lengthy “Cosmos Controle”, a lovable moody music piece that relies on detailed cinematic atmospheres to assemble fragmentary images or memories. Constant ethereal sonic cascades are fully supported by a classic slow & heavy doom rhythmic backbone, featuring noteworthy bold bass lines, enriched by somber guitar melodies and extraordinaire vocalist Patrícia Andrade will put a spell on you to ultimately entrap you within a gloomy dream with her lascivious voice.

With a bewitching atmospheric/ambiance beginning “Lotus” slowly proceeds to channel sorrowful doom soundscapes with an overdose of lugubrious chords seamlessly entwined with memorable melancholic guitar melodies while Patrícia’s vocal performance is infused with pure sensuality and sophisticated charisma.

“Petalas” features a wistful ensemble of inspired minimalist melodies and eerie atmospheric layers resulting in more ambiance oriented track that enhances the poetic emotional qualities of Patrícia’s vocals but there are still understated doom accents within the rhythmic patterns.

“Abismo” returns to fully embrace powerful doom dynamics as guitars emerge from darkened depths with absolute gloom and renewed intensity confidently marching through a hypnotizing maze of lavish dreadful atmospheric layers while just like an enchantress Patrícia delivers graceful yet empowering vocals.

“Cravo Carne” dwells in a realm of undiluted darkness where guitars become particularly fierce in mournful doom fashion but also focus on the creation of enticing melancholy infused melodies surrounded by opulent atmospheric arrangements while Patrícia’s voluptuous voice sinuously and confidently moves through the stylish instrumental passages.

Through the emotional whirlwind and the sultry darkened essence embodied by “Sangue Cassia” Sinistro is establishing a unique mature identity and elegantly continues to follow an intriguing music pathway that will inevitably fascinate the listeners.

Corrosion Of Conformity – No Cross No Crown

The core Corrosion Of Conformity trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin has proven to be extremely passionate about music touring and composing hardcore albums but after 12 years a new record with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan back in the band is an event that fans truly hoped for. With this reunion and the consequent explosive creative force, C.O.C. proves to be stronger than ever and perfectly capable of regaining the deserved influential status in the current music scene with the album “No Cross No Crown” which showcases the band’s signature southern rock style.

Faithful fans will recognize the band’s iconic style on “The Luddite” which hits you right in the face with extremely vibrant guitar riffs obviously supported by precise drumming and delightfully dynamic bass chords as the whole instrumentation is always channeling irresistible stoner doom flavors. Pepper Keenan on vocals never disappoints as he simply embodies the song’s raw intensity as well as a wide range of authentic emotions.

“Cast The First Stone” also has what it takes to become the next groovy hit as guitars follow a deliciously wild rhythmic pattern that can acquire a frenetic distorted attitude but certainly maintains a profound Southern essence that becomes even more palpable in the highly adrenalized guitar solo.

Nobody could ever doubt the rare genuine passion of “Wolf Named Crow” as an enthusiastic rhythmic backbone is filled with a memorable overdose of hypnotizing stoner doom dynamics naturally leading to impressive and exquisitely trippy guitar solos proving once again the unique talent of these musicians.

“Nothing Left To Say” simply flows like a harmonious dream, a recollection of pale memories, fully expressed by Pepper’s emotive vocal delivery and hazy Southern rock melodies that will eventually gain extra raw power as guitar riffs acquire bolder sludge elements following an ex novo catchy rhythmic urgency.

The title track basically feels like a spacey breakdown/interlude evoking darkened nuances with intriguing doom infused stylish guitar work featuring loads of lavish melodies and Pepper’s warm voice guides the listeners through a hypnotic melodic maze.

Some grinding heavy guitar riffing takes the lead on “A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void)” as the rhythmic structure constantly channels a groovy stoner rock/doom sonic realm yet the charismatic lead guitar work engages in more trippy melodic concoctions filled with charming melancholic vibes.

On the cover of legendary Queen’s “Son And Daughter” everything gets deliciously fuzzy as thick slow burner riffs create an unrestrained addictive stoner rock groove with pleasant bluesy accents and the outstanding melodic guitar leads & solo always hold a heartfelt vintage quality that perfectly matches the hazy rock mood.

As if a dozen years did not pass by, the band’s chemistry is very evident in each song and C.O.C. proves to be absolutely relevant, actually essential,  in the current music scene as “No Cross No Crown” goes beyond any possible expectation holding a timeless rock charisma further amplified by the remarkable mature musicianship & songwriting.