Estonia is home to composer Arvo Part. It is a country near the south of Lativa and it located near Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, and the Gulf of Finland. One of the bands to come out of Estonia is a quintet called Progress. Formed in 2009, their music is song-orientated with some heavy/prog momentum. After the release of their 2014 debut album, Pillipuhujad (Hornblowers), the band decided to take a long-hiatus break.
This year, they’ve released their second album entitled, Tulejää (Fire-Ice) on the label, Strangiato Records. It is a very good album that I’ve listened to. And for me with their influences between early Beardfish, Rush, and early Wigwam, but it’s more than just from the three powerful bands. With six centerpieces on the album, I was not just on the edge of my seat, but listening to this twice, I know that this is a band I will keep my eyes on.
The band considers; Mattis Kirsipuu on Drums and Percussion, Johan Nestor on Bass Guitar, Mattis Kuppart on Guitar, Ragnar Kaasik on Vocals and Sax, and Kristen Kutner on Keyboards and Guitar. Kristen plays lead on two of the tracks. Opener, Hirmul on suured silmadi features this whirling organ introduction whilst going into a dynamic showstopping rhythm a-la Rush style as Rangar brings his vocals through time and space.
And then Kuppart himself goes into this spacey section on his guitar as Mattis’ drums help him out in the chilling section in which brings this rising finale as it segues into Janu. Guitars delve in rhythmic vibes with this complexity between Van Der Graaf Generator and The Beatles Abbey Road-era with stop and go sections that give it the twists and turns on the composition.
Drums make it sound like a roaring Tidal Wave on Rahutus. It reminded me of a mellowing jazz-psych pop orientated piece at first. But then, the switch turns on with a cosmic bluesy delay/reverb effect and the tune reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s Rat Salad. Kristen goes from the keyboards to guitar in his lead sections with Kuu. There’s these clean-tone sections.
And from there, it goes from that to a ‘60s psychedelia eruption of the garage-rock genre and believe me, Progress has some amazing twists and turns in their sound with a holy shit momentum! Musta lipu all is with Alice Cooper heavy riffs done in the style of Alex Lifeson with a ‘70s Glam Rock touch. Kagnar brings a beauty to his vocal arrangement and near in the song, he lets out a mighty scream that took me not just by surprise but almost saying “Wow!”
You have to admit the rhythm is ready for take-off with a punching sound while Progress have amazing potential from their craftsmanship as musicians. With a bass vamp done by Johan Nestor on the closing title track, you can imagine Kristen taking his keyboard and making reminisce of the mellotron. The piece takes you into the warmth and freezing places of hell as Kuppart keeps his guitar sounding like a train chugging into higher measures as it benefits from Agitation Free and Aphrodite’s Child.
Progress’ second album, Tulejää will get you to take notice of their music and the band themselves. It’s a journey into mysterious locations that will keep you guessing of where the quintet will go into. If you love the bands from the golden-era of prog, doom, and bits of glam, I highly recommend you check this out.