Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor

The mighty Spock’s Beard return with a new release. Continuing with Ted Leonard on vocals, you know you can expect greatness.

“To Breathe Another Day”… The vocal harmonies are so good.

“What Becomes Of Me” has sort of a spacey intro that pick up into a Rush styled groove, but much more detailed. Ted’s vocals kick in and they’re so clear and understandable. I can’t stress enough how well he fits into this band. The bridge section is pretty cool. You get lead, vocals, solo. Just very well written.

“Somebody’s Home” has a nice acoustic intro, then it picks up a bit. You get a folk oriented guitar lead. The verse is loaded with a lot of emotion. The chorus is super memorable. I’m telling you, Ted brought new life into this band.

“Have We All Gone Crazy Yet” has such a genesis styled intro, The distorted guitars kind of break that up though. The acoustic guitar kicks in and well, Spock’s Beard does what they do best. They just keep building up the song with a ton of energy that comes through in the recordings. This is the longest track on the album, but it really doesn’t feel that way. I won’t spoil it for you.

“Box Of Spiders” has sort of an 80’s retro synth opening, but then throws in quite the proggy curveball. Trust me you’ll see. This track get pretty aggressive. I absolutely love it. There’s a ton of groove and spacey feeling stuff happening. It’s probably one of my favorite tracks. It’s what every Prog fan wants to hear.

Overall this is an extremely well put together album, Spock’s Beard has proven that they’re here to stay. Listen for yourself and be the judge.


Kino – Radio Voltaire

The new album from Kino. A band I was never familiar with, but had heard the name. Definitely glad I gave them a chance.

“Radio Voltaire” I would normally say sets the overall tone for the album, but I don’t really think it does. It’s a standout track and also the longest. It feels very triumphant. The lead playing is very nice throughout it. Very “80’s” styled phrasing.

“The Dead Club” is a bit more rocking, with a big use of synthesizers. I kind of get a Porcupine Tree vibe in this track. The structure is “straight forward” yet packed with a lot of subtle details and changes.

“Idlewild” is another one of the longer tracks. It starts with a really nice piano intro that gets followed by the vocals. After a full run through, it picks up with all the other instruments, becoming even more memorable that the first time around. There’s a really tasteful solo that comes in. It’s arranged quite well.

“I Won’t Break So Easily Anymore” has a very calm intro with some cool audio samples. When the keys and vocals kick in, I get some Marillion vibes. This is probably my favorite track. The instruments display a lot of variety while the song maintains a catchy feel. There’s a really cool synth solo that reminds me of early Genesis. That alone wins me over.

“Out Of Time” manages to mix a 90’s rock with a British Invasion feel. There’s a very cool break that comes in and changes the feel utilizing… Lydian of course. Typical prog fashion. They continue to build on this theme, until a nice bass solo kicks in. You heard right. And it goes on for quite awhile. I really dig this track

I recommend this album. It’s simple enough to enjoy on the surface, but intricate enough to dig in deep.


Alkaloid – Liquid Anatomy

The second release from the mighty Alkaloid, proves that these guys are evolving and growing immensely as musicians. Truly progressive, which seems to not be so common these days.

“Kernel Panic” starts the album off with a very Rush/King Crimson vibe going on. Which then leads into some more traditional death metal elements. It sets the tone for the journey that this album will take you on.

“A Decreed By Laws Unwritten” opens with an absolutely mean riff in the style of Morbid Angel, but more intricate. Even the vocal approach is similar. I love that these guys mix the old school sound with the modern sound so seamlessly. There’s a very eerie clean break that leads into some grooving riffing, and some ripping soling… of course. An overall very cool track.

“Azagthoth” opens with some very eastern sounding percussion and rhythms, accompanied by some interesting use of harmonics. It then starts to groove like no other, with a ton of different vocal styles. I really dig the riffing in this track. And the “Azagthoth!” sounds so evil. You get a lot packed into this track.

“Liquid Anatomy” has a very cool melodic clean intro, with some really haunting vocals. The overall vibe changes things up a bit on the album. It showcases a different side of the band.

“Chaos Theory And Practice” opens about as “in your face” as it gets. Very chaotic and dissonant, followed directly by a very badass riff (Again very Morbid Angel styled) which I absolutely love! There’s a very cool riff that bounces back from heavy chords and scattered harmonics, with a haunting lead over it. It creates a very cool vibe, with some very memorable vocals on top of it. The same idea gets played around with throughout the song. This is one of the highlights for me, being that it really showcases the band’s versatility and compositional skills.

“Rise Of The Cephalopods” is the 20 min epic on the album. There’s an interview where Hannes talks about how he came up with the initial musical idea for it. It’s definitely my favorite track. We’ll just leave it at that…

For me, this was one of my top albums of the year. Every track stands out on its own. Truly progressive. I recommend buying this, and supporting these guys.
Liquid Anatomy

Rivers Of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name

This might be the strongest effort from this band. You can hear how much their composition has matured. This album is packed with dynamics and versatility, which gives it replay value. It’s definitely one of those albums that you can keep coming back to. I consider this to be a modern progressive death metal masterpiece, for that very reason.

“The Silent Life” opens with a nice chunky verse that leads into some cool “techy” riffing. There’s a lot of atmosphere in the background adding a nice ambient effect to the riffs. They even venture into some Pink Floyd territory in the bridge. I love the guitar solo on this track. Excellent phrasing.

“A Home” really pushes the point that this band is expanding their sound towards a more progressive direction, as opposed to letting themselves get trapped into the whole “tech death” label. This far in, you can already hear their growth. The vocals fit very well into the overall mix. There’s a nice clean interlude with some nice clean vocals that adds a nice new dynamic.

“Old Nothing” starts out as a heavy hitter. This one slaps you right in the face. The verse is quite badass to put it lightly. Riff after riff. It’s a little more reminiscent of their previous album.

“Subtle Change (Including The Forest Of Transition And Dissatisfaction Dance)” really showcases all kinds of dynamics. Clean vocals everywhere. Some more traditional prog elements floating around in this song. This track takes you on a journey, no question. It has excellent use of note choices and chords. I really love how much they utilize the Sax on this album. They enter into, dare I say, Dream Theater territory, as far as that traditional prog metal sound goes. They do it very tastefully I might add. This is one of the highlights for me personally. And the ending of the song… Well, just listen.

“Hollow” kind of brings things back a bit. This track has a bit more of a grounded feel. Super solid, and packed with punchy riffs. The solo is another great one. It’s really melodic, but flashy enough to get the point across.

“Death Is Real” has a pretty cool sounding intro that leads into a crushing riff. The chorus is so mean and powerful. It’s actually one of my favorite moments. It just has a nice erie feel. The interlude is pretty cool and creates a cool groove with interesting atmosphere. You get a second interlude later that’s equally as atmospheric, but more melodic.

Give this album a spin. I won’t give away the rest.

Where Owls Know My Name

Tesseract – Sonder

Tesseract is back with their 4th full length album. It’s pretty short, but is packed with high quality music. They blend elements from all of their previous albums on this one, and add some new elements as well.

“Luminary” opens the album. It comes in very “In your face,” but then quickly goes into a calm verse with some cool syncopation. There’s some interesting play happening with the chord progressions. The chorus is pretty big sounding and very easy to get stuck in your head. This song is pretty “to the point,” thus making it a good way to open the album.

“King” has a pretty nice opening groove with some very cool vocal arrangements. There’s the signature Tesseract clean atmospheric stuff happening in here as well. You really get a little bit of everything in this song. Even a little bit of harsh vocals that fit perfectly.

“Orbital” is very different for this band. It’s for the most part a short post rock feeling song. It sounds huge and has a very beautiful musical theme. I really hope they add more of this into their music on future albums.

“Juno” opens powerfully, but then goes into an awesome groove. The verse is awesome! You’ll see what I mean. There is a change that comes up later with some excellent vocals melodies, creating a really nice atmosphere, while the drums go crazy. This is one of my favorite tracks.

“Beneath My Skin/Mirror Image”… This song clocks in at 11:21. Just listen to it. It’s well worth your time.


Angra – Omni

Angra happens to be one of my favorite bands. Kiko Loureiro’s departure from this band was very hard for me, being that he’s my favorite guitarist, but they couldn’t have found a more suitable replacement for him. Marcelo Barbosa is the closest in playing style that they could have found. He proved that with the Almah material and this new Angra album!

“Light Of Transcendence” Opens the album very powerfully. The “fast” Angra we all know. Speed metal/Thrash riffing. Dual guitar leads. High vocals. Basically what you would expect from them.

“Travelers Of Time” Opens with some cool Brazilian percussion over metal riffing. This track has everything old school Angra fans will want to hear.

“Black Widow’s Web” Has a bit more of a theatrical vibe, combined with modern metal. There’s a really cool combo of harsh vocals here from the singer of Arch Enemy Alissa White-Gluz. It’s definitely a “mean” sounding track. I like that they tried something different with this one

“Insania” All I have to say about this is, it’s all about the verse in this song! Great mix, dynamics, and bass work. There’s great lead work in this song. It’s super memorable. Fabio’s vocals really showcase a warmer side of his voice on this track.

“Caveman” Is a very proggy track. You get some awesome Brazilian vocal chants with cool percussion at the beginning, along with some other changes. The bass playing on the bridge sections is all over the place. There’s some great dual guitar work as well. This song is all over the place.

“Magic Mirror” Is even more proggy, venturing into Dream Theater territory, with synths and what not. Angra tries a bit of everything on this album.

I won’t spoil the rest, but the ending of this album is quite epic. We’ll leave it at that.

The Faceless – In Becoming A Ghost

After quite a bit of lineup changes and delays, The Faceless finally return with their 4th album. This showcases a very different side of the band, and even has some writing from Justin McKinney, which adds a nice element to this new music.

Digging The Grave: opens with very dissonant and abrasive instrumentation, combined with very “black metal,” styled vocals. At a certain point, there’s a change of pace, where there are some clean vocals, combined with their signature “7-7-2 groove,” that they love to use. Definitely a tribute to Autotheism here. There’s also a Planetary Duality tribute that happens during the rhythm part behind one of the solos. It reminds me of the beginning of “Ancient Covenant.” This will tickle the pickle of old school The Faceless fans, for sure!

Black Star: opens with some pretty proggy riffing. It’s followed up by some cool interchanging vocals, bouncing from clean to harsh. The middle section has that Autotheism thing going on again with the clean vocals, and a 7/8 feel. There are cool new elements sprinkled in the track too.

Cup Of Mephistopheles: opens with a bit of a more old school 80’s electronic vibe. This track stands out a lot to me. There’s a lot of cool variations. It has The Faceless experimenting with new ideas. It has a nice eerie feel to it, in general.

The Spiraling Void is about the closest they get to the Planetary Duality sound on the album. With the instrumentation, and vocals being lower growls, as opposed to black metal styled vocals… you’ll see what I mean. This track has some more traditional Prog Metal elements as well.

The Terminal Breath opens with a cool lick that gets used a few times, that is very familiar in Michael Keene’s playing. This track is a cool way for them to close the album, with some Cynic vibes going on throughout the song. Great soloing in here. There’s some atmospheric black metal vibes showing up, that kind of drive the point home that they are changing direction.

There’s a lot of new ideas on this album, combine with signature elements that a long time fan of The Faceless will identify with.



Marty Friedman – Wall of Sound

Marty Friedman has been making a bit of a comeback as of late with some new solo material that “keeps up with the times,” so to speak and maintains his signature sound and phrasing. This album is packed with dynamics, melody, and aggression. I had the pleasure of seeing him on tour for this album in Chicago, and I can honestly say, for instrumental prog/shred, He has to have one of the tightest, high energy bands I’ve seen. They play as if they were playing a packed arena. Now let’s get to the album shall we?

Self Pollution: opens the album with some pretty cool riffing. Something that stands out about this album is that although it is a “Guitar Virtuoso” album, it has riffs for days. It’s very focused on composition. This track kind of throws a little bit of everything at you to give you a taste of what’s to come.

Sorrow and Madness: is easily one of my personal favorites. This track is loaded with melody and dynamics. The composition is very moving. And Marty’s signature sound is very apparent here, all those beautiful bends from out of the key that go into the key. Lots of emotion here.

Streetlight: Also packed with incredible dynamics, really shows that in a short period of time tons of versatility and ground is, has, and will be covered on this album.

Whiteworm: is an absolute rocking track, loaded with some flashy playing. It also has some very cool Latin vibes at certain points with the melody and rhythm. It has a very pretty chorus theme with a bit of an 80’s neo classical feel. Definitely a fun track.

Pussy Ghost: kind of changes things up with almost a black metal/death metal set of progressions. It’s a bit darker and atmospheric, but really interesting. It’s harmonically a bit reminiscent of some of the Cacophony material that was released way back.

I won’t give anymore away here, but I will say this. Go listen to this and buy it. It will be worth your time. I also recommend seeing him live, if you get the opportunity because it will be an enjoyable experience.

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.