Long Distance Calling – Boundless

Germany’s Post-metal powerhouse Long Distance Calling return with “Boundless.” The title of this record couldn’t be more apt, for LDC take a no holds barred approach to songwriting this time around blending all elements of rock, metal, prog, and ambient textures resulting in a compelling and often times emotional listening experience.

Opening track “Out There” begins with a rather simple but huge sounding drum fill cascading into heavy soaring riffs that finally lead into ending that wouldn’t be out of place on one of Steven Wilson’s solo records. “Ascending” kicks things off sounding downright like Mastodon or High on Fire but quickly takes a left turn to riffs that channel Tool or even Cave In. The use of keyboards definitely give Tracks like “One The Verge” a welcome change in texture from the otherwise guitar heavy instrumentation’s

This record took a few spins to really appreciate, but I chalk that up to how multifaceted the writing and songwriting is. Heavy, ethereal, and oftentimes downright Cinematic In scopes, ”Boundless” is exactly as it’s advertised. The record takes you on a journey where the lack of words snap vocals lets the music do all the talking that’s necessary.

This is not just for the post metal Russian Circles fans either. Fans of Steven Wilson, Mastodon, Tool, or Cave In will definitely find an album to appreciate.

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.

The Tangent – The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery

With a pretty extensive catalogue for the period of time that they’ve been around, The Tangent release quite a lengthy album.

Two Rope Swings: is a little more straightforward, if you can even say that. This track sort of gives you a little bit of everything, setting a nice tone for the rest of the album, to prepare you for what’s to come.

Doctor Livingstone (I Presume): opens with a cool lead synth melody that has a great tone, followed by some tasty lead guitar playing. Lots of tasteful playing going on here that’s very “well thought out.” There’s a big jazz influence that sneaks in all over the place with the chord voicing and phrases. You get hit with tons of dynamics. There’s solo, after solo, after solo, with the parts constantly changing. What more could you ask for?

The Sad Story Of Lead and Astatine: has a very melancholic opening. It sort of pulls everything down. Then it picks up with a bit of quirkiness that leads into more of a smooth jazz type of verse. But… That verse is loaded with some pretty crazy playing. The dual vocals add a really nice feel to this. It fills in some really nice space in the overall mix. I really like that these guys aren’t afraid to show off. There’s no need to hold back and, they know it. There’s a bass solo in here that is absolutely awesome, we’ll just put it that way. These guys all have a lot of clarity in their playing. And again, solo, after solo. There’s even a drum solo. Yes you heard right, a drum solo. And it works very well with the song. Trust me. I won’t give anymore away. You’ll just have to find out the rest for yourself. But if this intrigues you, then you will not be disappointed.

Rikard Sjoblom’s Gungfly – On Her Journey to the Sun

A solo album from the frontman of the band Beardfish, takes the listener on quite a journey. This album is loaded with tons of great, memorable vocal melodies and very 70’s prog influenced sections.

Of the Orb: opens the album with over 10 minutes of music. What would a prog album be without that? Lots of cool vocal melodies happening here with some very nice chord progressions. There’s a pretty cool long solo section towards the end that’s very entertaining.

On Her Journey to the Sun: starts off with a bit of a Latin chord progression, followed by some very full and interesting sounding vocal melodies. The vibe I get is that the vocals play a very important role in this music. Everything fits together very nicely. The bridge is very pretty!

He Held an Axe: kind of brings things down a notch, but in a very good way. The story telling vibe really comes through here. Again there’s no shortage of very nice chord progressions here. Very well done, with some nice dynamics

My Hero: If you enjoy 70’s Genesis, well you’ll love this track. I know I sure do. There’s definitely a modern feel thrown in as well. This track really stood out to me.

Polymixia: This is prog done right. We’re just going to leave it at that…

Over My Eyes: is very dynamic, and haunting. The song almost pulls you into it, to the point that you forget where you are and become fixated with feeling. I guess that’s what music is supposed to do. This song adds some nice variety to the feel of the album.

Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony

Probably Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian were always meant to create music together and the new band Sons Of Apollo finally sees the reunion of such talented duo joined by worldwide acclaimed fellow musicians Ron”Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto. When five artists of such caliber join forces to compose music it’s hard to fathom what the result could be but a blend of prog metal prowess and a true rock n’ roll essence seems to be quite logical and the debut album “Psychotic Symphony” is not about putting together virtuoso showcases as it is filled with highly entertaining rock grooves besides plenty of exquisite instrumental talent.

Listening to the enticing album opener “God Of The Sun” you will notice immediately the great chemistry and enthusiasm of the band as the whole instrumentation works in perfect harmony to create refined intricate sonic patterns. Starting with middle-eastern atmospheric arrangements this track soon evolves into epic cerebral progressions as the expected intense musicianship just cannot be tamed. On vocals Jeff is always ready to deliver a vigorous classic rock edge that effortlessly flows through the luminous yet crunchy guitar passages and the multifaceted synths arrangements. The kaleidoscopic nature of this song is rather noticeable as, despite the multiple fascinating eclectic tempo signatures, the melodic fluidity feels rightfully cohesive and often carries melancholic nuances.

On “Coming Home” incredibly vibrant grooves take the lead with Jeff’s true rocker vocal delivery and big catchy choruses that are basically surrounded by all kinds of precise keyboards arrangements engaged in the creation of  innovative atmospheric layers, unrestrained energetic bass & drums patterns and absolutely memorable wild guitar antics.

“Signs Of The Time” features a seamless blend of classic rock tonalities and fashionable prog complexity with a fair dosage of creative tempo variations. Throughout the song Derek provides loads of precise technical arrangements and soloing followed by Ron’s utterly majestic lead guitar work yet none of these virtuoso moments sacrifices the catchy rock essence.

“Alive” definitely focuses on more straightforward classic rock melodies including mellower guitar & synths passages as tempo significantly slows down favoring Jeff’s passionate vocal delivery yet there is still space for some dazzling keyboards arrangements and understated refined guitar leads.

“Figaro’s Whore” is a way to give space to Derek’s simply phenomenal performance as he delivers a trippy and a bit avant-garde keyboard solo ‘lead guitar’ style.

“Opus Maximus” aptly feels like its own opus and will inevitably hypnotize the listeners within a sonic maze meticulously crafted to impress and intrigue any audience. The beginning comes with somber atmospheric quality and graceful melodies but, following unpredictable movements in proper prog fashion, the whole band showcases explosive talent deliberately entering a more experimental phase skillfully delivering plenty of technical complexity and incredible variety that might even make you feel dizzy at times. Billy and Mike constantly provide a series of grandiose versatile rhythmic patterns, often powerfully groovy, that offer a solid support for Ron’s guitar extravaganza and Derek’s mind-bending arrangements.

As the band has stated, Sons Of Apollo is not just a side project or a one-off supergroup but rather a priority and a full time band so do not hesitate to join the incredible music journey that “Psychotic Symphony” proudly offers.

Caligula’s Horse – In Contact

Based in Australia progressive rock/metal band Caligula’s Horse has crafted an ambitious new album entitled “In Contact” conceptually based on how art and creativity connects human beings.

“Dream The Dead” showcases the band’s clearly eclectic personality with compelling polished guitar work that particularly shines in the memorable skillfully executed solo definitely characterized by modern prog influences. At the same time, this song delivers emotive nuances embedded in clean guitar melodies and a rather catchy chorus.

“Will’s Song (Let The Colours Run)” picks up speed with entertaining tempo variations again structured according to prog metal style. While the music themes keep on focusing on crispy sparkling guitar melodies/solos the syncopated rhythmic textures rely on a series of precise crunchy riffing and soft vocals seamlessly shift to a more rocker delivery.

“The Hands Are The Hardest” continues to emphasize delightful guitar melodies and sophisticated solo surrounded by polychromatic atmospheric layers that enhance the particularly emotional nature of this track without sacrificing a full display of the band’s instrumental prowess.

“Fill My Heart” becomes mellower and atmospheric channeling pure melancholy through smooth melodic guitars. As the song progresses the whole instrumentation acquires a more impactful prog metal approach that naturally leads to a truly impressive guitar solo that will inevitably capture the listeners’ attention.

The longest track on the album is “Graves” which might feel like a stand alone opus due to the significant instrumental and vocal variety but surely fits the overall heartfelt mood. This is one of those songs meant to impress as Caligula’s Horse create loads of complex cinematic themes focusing on absolutely stellar guitar leads, a stunning ensemble of intricate vibrant guitar melodies and graceful piano passages.

Caligula’s Horse effortlessly demonstrates excellent mature musicianship delivering an evocative charismatic work of music therefore the powerful soundscapes and the vivid emotional quality of “In Contact” will be easily appreciated by prog lovers worldwide.

Kaipa – Children Of The Sounds

Formed in 1973 Swedish prog rockers Kaipa have been known for the eclectic music experimentation and on the newest release “Children Of The Sounds” mastermind Hans Lundin is joined by guitarist Per Nilsson, bassist Jonas Reingold, drummer Morgan Ågren, and vocalists Patrik Lundström and Aleena Gibson.

The title track is structured like an operetta where positive energy, ‘70s rock themes and rich atmospheric arrangements are constantly emphasized by luminous vocals while the intricate guitar leads add a more modern sophisticated prog approach.

“On The Edge Of New Horizons” again is filled with happiness and bright harmonies featuring sparkling choirs and retro keyboards arrangements. Crunchy guitar riffs and fancy melodies channel interesting music diversity while the overall mood evokes daydreaming in the middle of the forest on a sunny day.

“What’s Behind The Fields” begins with technical guitar leads bearing remarkable neoclassical inspiration while the majority of the song relies on peaceful acoustic harmonies and mellow yet charismatic crispy polished guitar melodies.

The strength of “Children Of The Sounds” certainly is particularly palpable in the polychromatic vocals, the complex detailed arrangements and the absolutely dazzling guitar work, impeccably performed by Per Nilsson, that prog acolytes will find highly enjoyable.

Vuur – In This Moment We Are Free – Cities

Undoubtedly Anneke Van Giersbergen is one of the most beloved female vocalists and she finally returns to fully embrace a heavier progressive metal approach, joined by talented musicians, in the new music endeavor Vuur. The brand new debut album “In This Moment We Are Free – Cities” showcases a prog oriented complexity that inevitably becomes more unique due to Anneke’s passionate signature vocal delivery.

“My Champion – Berlin” opens the album with vibrant guitar melodies over strong layered modern prog metal riffing and eclectic tempo variations. The main music core is filled with crunchy heavy guitar riffs that offer a cohesive support for Anneke’s melancholic yet radiant vocal performance.

“Time – Rotterdam” offers monolithic guitar riffs amplifying the darker & heavier side of Vuur but the whole impeccable instrumentation is always ready to allow Anneke’s fascinating vocal prowess to become the center of attention. Towards the end of the song, Anneke’s vocals acquire a sincerely introspective depth within soft emotional arpeggios swiftly followed by an absolutely entertaining sharp guitar solo.

On “The Fire – San Francisco” guitars acquire warm tonalities delivering gentle sorrowful melodies always enhanced by Anneke’s voice that becomes rather haunting during the mellow moments and throughout the song effortlessly embodies different moods and styles.

“Days Go By – London” showcases mature & complex musicianship as guitars lead the way with remarkable shredded melodies often bearing darkened vibes even when engaged in frenetic acrobatic rhythms while Anneke delivers impressive multifaceted vocals that range from solemn high tonalities to softer dramatic delivery.

“Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki” is characterized by a colder melodic approach with loads of loveable gloomy guitar melodies that will reach a dazzling acme with an excellent guitar solo. Anneke’s ethereal voice passionately follows the darker instrumental intensity and the layered harmonizing backing vocals contribute to further embellish the rich atmospheric textures.

With a Middle Eastern style “Save Me – Istanbul” features pleasant melodic guitar progressions steadily entwined with heavier fiery guitar riffs. Through a maze of complex tempo changes Anneke flawlessly matches the exotic mood consistently harmonizing with powerful luminous vocals that, once again, display a striking vocal range.

Crafted as a majestic hymn to freedom “In This Moment We Are Free – Cities” hopefully marks the beginning of a long music journey since Anneke, just like in previous unforgettable projects, with ex novo enthusiasm and a genuine search for diverse creative outlets truly shines in her rightful role of band vocalist.