James LaBrie – Beautiful Shade Of Grey

Legendary vocalist of prog metal giants Dream Theater James LaBrie finally releases the new solo album “Beautiful Shade Of Grey” focusing on personal lyrical themes and refined melodic tapestries.
The album opener “Devil In Drag” relies on a glowing melodic combo of elegant acoustic phrases and elaborate synths arrangements leading to the passionate vocals of the catchy chorus especially impactful on the electric version included as bonus track.
The mellow melodic soul of “Give And Take” comes to life through the striking acoustic guitar work that perfectly complements James’s fervent vocal performance and captivates the listeners with the warm tonalities of the flawless solo.
“Sunset Ruin” embraces a melancholic ballad style as the gentle vocals flourish through the dreamy instrumental crescendos enriched by the classical beauty of the cello and the subtle atmospheric waves.
Evoking a sense of wistfulness, “Wildflower” continues to highlight an emotional depth as the delicate acoustic passages and the softer tempo emphasize the versatile vocal delivery.
On “What I Missed” the smooth piano piece conveys a dramatic mood while the precise rhythmic section has the chance to acquire energetic prog rock elements enhanced by the powerful vocals.
Featuring striking backing vocals by Theresa Thomason “Am I Right” easily expresses poignant feelings building a contemplative momentum through the eloquent guitar progressions and the final gripping melodic crescendo.
After two years in the making of “Beautiful Shade Of Grey” James LaBrie is joined by excellent musicians and chooses a luminous melodic approach revolving around his vocal prowess that will definitely please his longtime fans.

Pain Of Salvation Live at Lincoln Hall in Chicago

Finally Swedish iconic prog metal veterans Pain Of Salvation triumphantly return on tour across North America and the absolutely faithful fans gave them a warm welcome at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. The chosen setlist fully reflected the band’s eclectic sonic vision with the cathartic themes of the acclaimed release “In The Passing Light Of Day” and the experimental approach of the latest full-length “Panther”. The fiery proggy grooves of “Accelerator” ensured an impactful beginning and the intricate heavy dynamics of “Reasons” unleashed pure energy followed by the unforgettable melodic waves of “Meaningless”. We stepped back in time to revisit the masterpiece “The Perfect Element, Part I” with the frantic rhythmic patterns of “Used” and the sheer melancholia of “Morning Of Earth” as Daniel Gildenlöw continued to captivate the audience with charismatic vocals and impeccable musicianship. The band’s intense chemistry was palpable also in the execution of “Panther” skillfully blending catchy electro layers and rap style vocals. The majestic track “On A Tuesday” featured a passionate vocal breakdown by drummer Léo Margarit and during the encore “In The Passing Light Of Day” you could constantly perceive authentic emotions in Daniel’s spellbinding voice.
Once again Pain Of Salvation demonstrate to be one of the most interesting and courageous bands in the current metal scene delivering a memorable live performance that simply cannot be missed.

Toundra – Hex

Spanish instrumental post-rock band Toundra reaches another milestone with the release of the eighth studio album “Hex” which always evokes intense emotions through immersive soundscapes.
Divided in three parts the monumental 22-minute-long track “El Odio” clearly showcases the band’s charismatic songwriting approach and embodies a fascinating introspective journey that aim to convey contrasting feelings seamlessly shifting from shimmering melodic progressions, enhanced by darkly soothing guitar tonalities, to elaborate rhythmic crescendos that ultimately acquire heavier distorted dynamics.
“Ruinas” begins with enchanting atmospheric tapestries and within a quite groovy rhythmic ensemble the guitar work definitely stands out for the complex proggy rhythmic twists and the bittersweet melodic passages.
“Watt” channels pure cosmic energy through a dreamy multilayered atmospheric maze enriched by the eclectic crystalline melodic phrases and by the delightful addition of the saxophone while the precise rhythmic section has a chance to generate an engaging heavier momentum.
Throughout “Hex” Toundra confidently explore poignant emotive themes embracing a cathartic musical vision that naturally leads to a balanced blend of contemplative melodies and energetic post-rock dynamics.

Leprous – Aphelion

Over the last two decades Leprous have been pushing boundaries shaping a unique sonic identity bound to leave a mark within the modern metal scene and the latest release “Aphelion” continues to showcase creativity and passion.
The strength of “Out Of Here” comes from the accessible multilayered composition unraveling around a particularly fervent vocal delivery with rich atmospheric waves and luminous guitar tonalities leading to a poignant crescendo.
“All The Moments” offers an intriguing mix of gorgeous piano melodies expressing bittersweet emotions and opulent keyboards arrangements that ultimately puts the spotlight on Einar Solberg’s eclectic vocal delivery.
On “The Silent Revelation” the precise rhythmic section has a chance to create complex patterns acquiring heavier tones while the slower atmospheric momentum and the heartfelt vocals definitely convey somber feelings.
“The Shadow Side” certainly focuses on Einar’s emotive vocal performance surrounded by the elegant keyboards arrangements and the smooth melodic guitar work that will reach the acme with a charismatic solo.
The subtle ambiance flair of the intricate atmospheric layers and the soothing guitar phrases of “On Hold” amplify the crucial role of the genuine vocal delivery leading to an intense emotional whirlwind.
“Nighttime Disguise” returns to a bold technical prog approach that allows guitars to stand out with thick riffage and convoluted progressions yet the fascinating piano melodies evoke sheer melancholia.
While there is still a strong prog rock essence lingering throughout “Aphelion” it becomes evident that Leprous aim to expand their artistic vision to generate a varied work of music naturally shifting from catchy melodies to heavier rhythmic dynamics.

Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3

Featuring Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess and Tony Levin, legendary supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment finally returns with the new album “LTE3” which is destined to surprise the listeners with a brilliant creative force.
“Hypersonic” will delight true prog metal acolytes constantly delivering an overdose of technical rhythmic patterns and unexpected twists that often emphasize the powerful role of the pummeling drums and the crunchy riffage which will ultimately evolve into refined solos.
“Beating The Odds” showcases a heavier entertaining approach yet the main rhythmic rampage will embrace flamboyant dynamics with the insane shredding in contrast with the triumphant tones of the elaborate keyboards arrangements and the bright melodic guitar progressions.
“The Passage Of Time” unleashes pure energy through the convoluted rhythmic segments following a familiar & successful prog metal pathway as the band meticulously blends inflamed grooves and elegant guitar harmonies.
“Shades of Hope” marks a poignant moment offering a flawless combo of elegant piano melodies and gorgeous polished guitar phrases which certainly amplify an emotional theme.
There is a lot going on throughout the final opus “Key To The Imagination” as the palpable instrumental chemistry generates multifaceted tonalities shifting from intense groovy patterns fueled by the sharp riffage to luminous melodic passages enriched by the extensive & extremely intricate guitar leads.
After about twenty years hiatus “LTE3” is the perfect way to celebrate a triumphant comeback and you will be instantly impressed by the immense talent and the prowess of the musicians behind Liquid Tension Experiment.

Anneke van Giersbergen – The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest

During the last two decades the enchanting voice of Anneke van Giersbergen has conquered our hearts and after prolific collaborations with stellar musicians & bands she is ready to begin a new chapter with the release of the intimate solo album “The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest”.

Anneke’s unique voice is destined to shine bright throughout “Agape” which focuses on the fascinating melancholia embodied by the mix of soothing acoustic guitars and refined string melodies. 

“Hurricane” continues to focus on smooth acoustic passages that acquire a bittersweet southern style often emphasizing the haunting vocal delivery while the super catchy rhythm is embellished by a striking trumpet solo. 

“My Promise” is filled with wistful feelings as Anneke’s magical vocal harmonies are surrounded by breathtaking cello & violin melodic phrases that will ultimately evolve into an energetic opulent crescendo.  

“The End” is destined to move the listeners as the eloquent acoustic guitar melodies and the exquisite strings flow gently like a sweet daydream unfolding around Anneke’s poignant vocal performance. 

“Survive” revolves around the vibrant faster paced rhythm naturally built by the soft rock vibes of the acoustic guitars and the powerful vocal performance channeling an intense positive energy.  

“Love You Like I Love You” once again highlights the honesty and the stirring emotions that characterize the whole album as Anneke’s evocative vocals flourish through the elegant melodic ensemble. 

For the composition of “The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest” Anneke chooses a minimalist and deeply emotive approach sharing her personal heartbreak but also evoking a sense of precious hope that will inevitably touch your soul. 

Pain Of Salvation – Panther

Guided by mastermind Daniel Gildenlöw progressive metal masters Pain Of Salvation return with the new long awaited full length “Panther” which constantly showcases a meticulous songwriting approach that naturally unfolds a unique and charismatic sonic vision. 

“Accelerator” ensures an impactful beginning focusing on a wild blend of eclectic keyboards arrangements delivering futuristic textures and insanely intricate guitar progressions which portray an inner conflict certainly emphasized by the passionate vocal performance.

“Unfuture” begins with slow burning phrases that quickly evolve into a somber proggy ensemble where guitars can craft slower cathartic moments and easily generate unexpected rhythmic twists with a heavier approach that depicts a tormented soul. 

“Keen To A Fault” definitely goes beyond any expected prog metal blueprint as Daniel carefully chooses diverse rhythmic dynamics and tonalities to create a striking sonic realm that offers an impressive guitar work, rich atmospheric tapestries and peculiar tempo variations. 

On “Species” the mellow guitar passages accompanied by soulful vocals can take you far away yet the mood will ultimately grow darker as guitars embrace crestfallen tones as well as heavier moody progressions creating a series of captivating crescendos that effortlessly match the intensity and anguish within Daniel’s vocal performance.

“Icon” brings a magnificent closure relying on an elaborate instrumental ensemble featuring exquisite darkened nuances, especially vibrant within the exceptional guitar work, and a spellbinding mix of enigmatic electronic arrangements and glowing piano harmonies which never fails to emphasize the song’s fascinating introspective nature. As always, Daniel pours his heart out through a poignant vocal delivery which expresses a multitude of contrasting emotions flourishing through the convoluted passages.  

Pain Of Salvation continue to follow a fearless music pathway which today leads to “Panther”, a dazzling opus that has in store many surprises driven by a distinct creative spark which often highlights the band’s technical prowess and a genuine emotional turmoil destined to move and inspire the listeners. 

Sons Of Apollo – MMXX

Back in 2017 Sons Of Apollo impressed the metal scene with the charismatic debut album “Psychotic Waltz” and now Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal , Billy Sheehan and Jeff Scott Soto return with a stronger chemistry and brilliant ideas to release the sophomore full length “MMXX”.

The album opener “Goodbye Divinity” manifest diverse nuances & styles starting with enigmatic synths that introduce a series of extra crunchy guitar riffs and consequent heavy rhythmic dynamics with an evident prog metal flair leading to complex variations and such dazzling instrumental ensemble is enriched by Soto’s charismatic rocker delivery. 

With a darker mood “Asphyxiation” focuses on massive rounds of heavy rhythmic grooves while maintaining a catchy essence enhanced by the passionate vocals and the eclectic technical nature of the song comes alive with the flamboyant keyboards and the vibrant guitar soloing. 

The atmospheric grandeur and the poignant piano melodies of “King Of Delusion” evoke gloomy emotions and will continue to hold an essential role throughout the song but soon the impeccable rhythmic section will take over delivering bold guitar riffs and precise drumming while the vocals naturally add an edgy rock vibe that will shift to a soothing emotive delivery during the slower introspective moments. 

“Resurrection Day” demands your attention with the elaborate prog approach of the guitar work and the remarkable rhythmic variations that generate massive entertaining grooves rendered even more interesting by the mind-blowing bass solo and the stellar keyboards. 

The inspiring epic opus “New World Today” marks a grand finale constantly reminding you of the band’s brilliant musicianship in fact every instrument is crucial in the creation of so many intricate patterns that generate a major sonic diversity ranging from fierce rhythmic blasts and insane odd time signatures to magnificent guitar leads and luminous melodic crescendos. 

It would be impossible to overlook the extraordinary talent that fuels “MMXX” yet Sons Of Apollo are not just trying to showcase their evident abilities as they work together to create a memorable collection of songs that is destined to attract more fans worldwide. 

Bent Knee – You Know What They Mean

Boston based band Bent Knee is an incredible creative collective in fact it’s not surprising to see that the new album “You Know What They Mean” is ready to deliver all kinds of mind bending soundscapes with a particularly versatile songwriting approach. 

“Bone Rage” will hit you in the face with a turbulent instrumental ensemble revolving around acidic guitar riffs and unusual rhythmic progressions but vocalist Courtney Swain is certainly the star of the show demonstrating a striking vocal range. 

“Give Us The Gold” is rather entertaining with a groovy upbeat rhythm that channels positive energy and makes you want to jump but the moody guitar melodies can also create introspective moments emphasized by emotive vocals. 

Just listening to Courtney’s otherworldly vocals “Hold Me In” will quickly become a favorite as the whole instrumentation effortlessly shifts from catchy rock elements to spellbinding melodic passages through futuristic atmospheric waves. 

“Cradle Of Rocks” is full of cool bouncy rock dynamics and the guitar work offers additional diversity mixing crispy tonalities with dirty rock accents while vocals tend to amplify the melodic depth with a luminous delivery. 

“Lovemenot” is full of surprises with borderline dissonant guitar riffs that can sound heavier and darker while Courtney’s vocal performance adds playful vibes or becomes utterly dramatic balancing the melodic spirit and the chaotic moments. 

With an artsy rock spirit “Catch Light” certainly shines for the great diversity offering danceable groovy rhythmic segments enhanced by impeccable vocals but there are also enigmatic vibes due to the introvert cinematic themes that convey contrasting feelings. 

You might try to analyze the experimental approach of Bent Knee but it would be a waste of time as they deliberately push boundaries with a rare artistic freedom that renders “You Know What They Mean” a truly unique opus. 


Anneke van Giersbergen Live in Joliet

After many years Anneke van Giersbergen returns to North America on an extensive stellar tour with Amorphis and Delain. We all know Anneke’s prolific work as vocalist of The Gathering and as a solo artist she also collaborated with several amazing bands and musicians, but this time she brings a very intimate live experience with an acoustic set that simply delighted the crowd at The Forge in Joliet. It was a pleasure to see that Anneke’s passionate performance included the famous The Gathering song “Saturnine”, “Ih-Ah!” from her collaboration with Devin Townsend Project, the melancholic “Circles” from her solo album “Everything Is Changing” and to end the show Anneke delivered a stunning cover of the classic Iron Maiden song “Wasted Years”. It was a truly unique acoustic concert and we hope to see Anneke back on the road in North America in the near future!