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Friday, November 25, 2011

Porcelain Moon - As It Were, Here and There

Finnish up-and-coming prog rockers Porcelain Moon, have something mysterious up their sleeves with their debut album. It has a combination of the 1970s rock feel of the golden-era almost a combination of Earth & Fire meets early Floyd meets Cristina Scabbi of Lacuna Coil and their album, As It Were Here and There, is one their finest achievements to open the door to give the retrospective rock sounds a mellowing yet haunting sound that you could have imagined it was recorded back in 1971 as if it was unreleased and then taken out of the shelves to finally given the treatment it deserves.

Having seven musicians in the band, seems unlikely, including a female vocalist whose voice sounds like Jereny Kaagman and a little bit of Annie Haslam meets Sonja Kristina on top of whipping cream while featuring a dooming organ sound that is in the realms of Black Widow and Blood Ceremony to name a few, is quite a soaring yet unbelievable album that carries the tightrope tight and hoping they don’t fall down towards their doom. The sound almost has this Middle-Eastern rock touch in this sci-fi affair to where the band would take the music into another direction as if they were recording for a film score for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain.

Sometimes retro rock bands want to stay true to the original 1970s rock sound and don’t mess and flunk it around, and they get it right or don’t, with Porcelain Moon, they got pitch-perfect and they have finally got the touch going like finding a rare diamond in the rough. Interestingly, the Prog-Doom-Organ Rock sound is the real magic including the mellowing moog turned nightmarish beauty on Caught in a Dream while the homage to the Doors sole self-titled debut on Parts, is twisted but a rumbling rocking dance that is touching.

Meanwhile they go into the thunderous powerhouse with the opener Lost in Haze and the crisp angelic Rainbow with a folk rock twist, is quite mind-blowing. The homage to Czar’s Beyond the Moon combined with a soft-spoken word about going out gone wrong a-la Horror mode style in a ballad vocalizing mode on Someone and Love as the sinister futuristic twist of Lard Free on Markens Grode featuring a haunting Rhodes and organ solo that sends chills down your spine.

The hard rock homage to Uriah Heep’s Look at Yourself-era comes in full swinging on Vinden as they sing in their own language. The Guitar uses a fierce rhythm and solo section as the organ uses some fierce crunches in their own mix in a combination of Thijs Van Leer, Manfred Wieczorke of Eloy, and Jon Lord as it goes into a jazzy waltz that has a Thelonious Monk psych feel to close the album out. Quite mind-boggling that when a new band comes out to make something explosive is beyond the beyond, but this band have got a long way to go and this could be a huge start for them.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jethro Tull - Stand Up [Collector's Edition]

As they were getting a huge following after the release of their explosive debut, This Was, released in 1968, Jethro Tull decided it was time for a change of music after the following first album. With Mick Abrahams leaving to form Blodwyn Pig and enter new guitarist Martin Farre, Ian Anderson had suddenly had full control over the music and the lyrics in what would later become their most turning point and influential albums of 1969. Stand Up is where the band moved from being a Blues-based band to progressive hard rock band mixed in with some Classical and Folk music influences that Ian adored when he was young.

Don’t forget the opening of the gatefold sleeve of the pop-up design that makes you feel like you’re a kid at a bookstore looking at some of the original pop-up books and knowing that the band had a sense of humor in them, however the music and the compositions on the album aren’t just classic rock songs that you hear on the radio, but more of a journey to take you somewhere that you’ve never been before for a long, long time. The guitar driven riff intro of the opening A New Day Yesterday, is one of the most explosive beginnings of the albums introduction between the sound of Cream meets Mountain.

Ian is no fluke when it comes to songwriting and various movements have come into full circle that go from haunting, melodic, and humorous quirky beauty to come along with the taste of his mind coming in. Songs like; Back to the Family, Fat Man, We Used To Know, Look into the Sun, and Nothing is Easy were showing the band’s sound still had the blues influence and the rompous stomping sounds they would suddenly go into and the direction they were about to go into a different road area. And not to forget, the jazzy ballad of Bach’s Bouree featuring Glenn Cornick’s walking bass line including the solo in the midsection that could have given the composers in the classical world, the middle finger.

But as this is the collector’s edition of the reissue of Stand Up, it proves that there’s more where it came from. We have the symphonic pop flavored single of Living in the Past, which also features the Mono version of the piece while the soaring rocking boundaries of Sweet Dream, 17, and Driving Song could have been FM radio staples and a live favorite among Tull fans and also included is four songs they recorded for the late John Peel for his Top Gear radio sessions at the BBC back in 1969. But wait there’s more!

The live performance of the band performing at New York’s Carnegie Hall in November of 1970 shows this is an volcanic explosive live recording performance of the band’s journey into the road they were about to embark on. They were there to promote Stand Up and their upcoming album, Benefit, it’s a goose bumping document and makes you feel that you are in the Hall watching the band, not give just a concert, but a breathtaking experience that you will talk about for years and years to come.

With dazzling versions of A Song for Jeffrey, To Cry You a Song, With You There To Help Me, and For a Thousand Mothers that had audiences jaw dropping of Ian’s singing and have them in tears when they blew the crowd away with their music. Meanwhile, there’s a thunderstorm performance of the 13-minute earlier version of My God which would later be on Aqualung, shows Ian’s mind-blowing flute solo as they would clap along to the rhythm to get them into the beat. It has some amazing compositions that had the band members enjoying themselves as if they were in a boxing match and duking it out to see who would win the match and take home the gold.

Even though the band would go through various line-ups, Ian Anderson and the Tull train keeps on chugging to influence a new generation of fans to go deeper into their music and looking at Stand Up, proves it’s not just an album, but it’s like going through a time machine and seeing what real music is that you’ll enjoy listening to and this is one of them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Catscans - Catscans EP

Now there comes a time with the digital revolution to startcoming out like sliding down towards the swimming pool and have a huge touch ofatmosphere and experimentations to might peak some listener’s interest andlooking through your parents or online to find the best prog album that youcould afford and not to pay a huge amount of cash to go with it. And let’s getthe facts, hearing the influences from Radiohead and King Crimson with a dosage of Curved Air to the mix, it seems like a perfect match made in heaven and hellof weird, obscure and musique concrete sounds like hearing different timechanges that you would hear from the late ‘60s and the golden era of the 1970s.

That and this new band, Catscans have finally come torealize that they have finally come in full circle with their sole self-titleEP and come to mind with a lot concepts that might come in handy to have musicsound surreal with feedback, scat-line vocals, high-pitch guitar lines,screeching violin work, and probably make sure that the kitchen sink is fulland set it on high voltage to let the dishes come synchronized and team up withthe beauty and the beast roar with a huge amount of anger inside their bodies.

Although the four pieces have made homage to the three bandsincluding the post rock sound of Mogwai, it is a process to bring the music ofthe genre and take the flaming gasoline burning bright and invent from melodicclassical guitar/violin structures and hope there is light at the end of thetunnel. With the hypnotic intro of the guitar virtuoso to surreal synths andthe dark atmosphere of Choeung Ek Memorial (Killing Fields), the twilight zonetouch of the Crimson-sque of the Red-era on Lost and Found and the dramaticviolin rock homage to Black Mountain and Wolf People on the 7-minute finale,Untergang come in as if it was recorded for a Horror Film.

They have a huge start in them in the new prog sound and notto mention the indie rock scene with a touch of film scores they might have inthe future for them, but here with the EP, Catscans has bright a futuristicsound of the future rock sound for a fine line in them and it shows they aren’tshowing off, but bringing an importance of not just to King Crimson, but thetorch for them has been given the full speed ahead to it. Not bad for a band,to give a haunting melodic sound of what the future of what was, is now a wasteland.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mastodon - The Hunter

The new space cadets of progressive sludge metal has come back in full swinging force is all that is needed to view the concept and view the other side of the post-apocalyptic world and seeing where the direction will lead them into. Following up to a previous album is not that easy and seeing which new sound will change and deciding whether they want to stay true to their roots or go into the realms of melodic structures in which the palms of the hand will take them to. But what we have here is full assumed control from a huge follow-up with The Hunter and it shows that Mastodon aren’t making any excuses, but to take the prog metal torch into the Olympics and burn the oil in the night time sky.

Already going into a psychedelic meditation experience with Crack The Skye released in 2009, they feel that it’s a twisted adventure that they must go on for their follow-up with sneering guitar sounds, prog-punk, thrash metal, and dealing with what’s happening on the news including the Wall Street protest and the 1% issue that’s been going on at the almost end of 2011. So if you’re into a swirling whirlpool of terror from the four-piece to lend out anger and story-telling complex, well, you’ve come to the right place at the right time for an adventure that you’ll never forget.

And The Hunter is one of the most explosive and most attention albums that is one of the band’s finest moment in Mastodon’s history. With their new album, it is breathtaking as when Crack The Skye got me introduce to the band’s music as if it was recorded in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with a combination of early Genesis meets the Kill ‘Em All-era of Metallica. Now you’re not going to hear 10 and 15-minute epics that was on the previous album, but what Mastodon did so damn well is its time to let the beast run loose and go buckwild and The Hunter is like a roaring anthem with its spine-tingling centerpieces almost as if they have left some of these songs for the Crack the Skye or Blood Mountain sessions.

The opening disturbing cinematic touches of Black Tongue, gives a twist on what’s about to come while Curl of the Burl and Blasteroid give an ear shattering metallic guitar driven crunch as the mad scientists let loose of their experiments and seeing where the monster will take the compositions to where it takes them. Then they go into the Prog momentum in paying tribute to their heroes of Hawkwind’s In Search of Space-era on Creature Lives. It has this moogy atmosphere and a very melodic psych-rock momentum as if they pay tribute to the Space Rock warriors with a bit of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper-era and I gotta admit, it’s a mind-fucked track, but very cool at the same time.

As for the doom metal touch on The Sparrow and the hardcore punk attitude of The Ruiner and Deathbound, they sort of go in the ring and decide who will win the boxing match, but there is no idea had they might win: they switch through the three genres and they don’t have the faintest idea who will win, but the complex is tight and tugged really hard as if the rope is dangling towards the persons doom while the spookiness of Bedazzled Fingernails sounds like a crossover between Metallica and the Thrak-era of King Crimson with a touch of the Fripp guitar sounds from a satanic force.

Not to give any bullshit, The Hunter will have a drawing line in the sand between the fans and deciding whether they love the album or spit on it and jaw it out and say it sucks, but you can’t deny how fucking amazing that this is the perfect Christmas gift for a metal or proghead to really get a real kick out of this and seeing how awesome it sounds from start to finish. Like coming out of a disturbing cave, Mastodon have finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel and the journey for them isn’t over.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rush - Moving Pictures [30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition]

Okay, I have to admit, I’ve been a huge fan of Rush since the late 1990s after hearing the roaring sounds of Tom Sawyer on the radio that got me hooked into this band and they still have a huge following and the train for them has never stopped for them. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since Moving Pictures has been released originally in 1981 and you can’t tell how they’ve done it from start to finish and all it takes is three men to really set the score and get the machine wagon rolling like a rumbling locomotive.

That and the CD/DVD deluxe edition of the album proved that they have got a lot going. Since they went on tour to promote the Time Machine tour that started last year and ended this year as the played the whole album in its entirety, they weren’t there to just play the album, they were there to perform the album and showed how much they have come a long way. And since the DVD/Blu-Ray features the 5.1 surround mix of the album including music videos and a never-before-seen music video of Vital Signs, it was quite surprising for me to see this and have watching it is one of the most breathtaking experiences I’ve ever watched.

Now let’s get to the facts. Here, we have the first disc which has been remastered that is the original album with no bonus tracks and no new stereo mix, it’s a mind-boggling taste that got Rush into the mainstream and showed how they can move away from the epics like 2112, Cygnus X-1, and By-Tor and the Snow Dog into ‘80s adventures of futuristic rock like no other. Songs like Limelight that deals with the frustration and reconciliation of being notice while the roaring Red Barchetta deals with a mysterious car that hasn’t been rode for a long time has finally got the gas and power to break the law.

You have to understand, Neil Peart is not a fool, nor an idiot, he’s writing the lyrics from the heart and how he and the band have to go through these rough situations and he gets it and understood where the band and the fans have to go through. The twist of the ‘80s Prog-Fusion time changing swift of YYZ is a fun instrumental fan favorite as The Camera Eye and Vital Signs, could have been used in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner as an opening scene of the wasteland in Los Angeles.

The album still has the kicks and the jams, the DVD/Blu-Ray features are a must see. And this will have Rush fans mouth being watery. The resotred pictures of the videos for Tom Sawyer, Limelight, and don’t forget Vital Signs are in a perfect condition and much, much better than seeing it on VHS. Hearing the new 5.1 sounds of the album is quite a jaw-dropping goose bumping warmth that is worthwhile. From the moment you hear the new mixes of Tom Sawyer, and the fierce intro opener of Alex Lifeson’s guitar on Limelight, almost as if you are in the studio in tears watching these guys having fun and enjoying a grand old time.

Still after 30 years since it’s original release, Moving Pictures continues to influence a young generation of fans and still keeps on growing. Alongside Dark Side of the Moon, Moving Pictures has still to keep growing and its quite amazingly the album that you must listen to while you’re in High School or in College to understand real good music. This is a must have Deluxe Edition that you must have in your collection and you’ll live in the limelight, the universal dream.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Altered Symmetry - Prologue

The cover of the album looks like something that was taken during the making of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy as the music is given with a wonderful and mind-blowing experiment. Combined with Metal and Story-complex songs, the band’s first debut album is something that you might want to take notice and pay full attention from the moment you hear this album from beginning, middle, and the end. Influences raging from Metallica, Dream Theater, Pantera, and the early days of Opeth, provides a huge resemblance in the city of Colombia.

Now I have a love of the Progressive Metal genre, no lie, but with Altered Symmetry, they certainly made a roller-coaster ride album with their debut, Prologue, as they take the music into a wonderous story into complex fairy-tales and a nightmare that will never end. Prologue could have been recorded as a soundtrack to the graphic novel, Batman Under the Red Hood and make it as a concept album, but with the stories influenced from Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens, it seems as if they have done their research so damn well.

From Long Lost Love, A Joker’s Vengeance, and Justified Crime, there’s a combination between James LaBrie meets James Hetfield meets Mikael Akerfeldt in their soft, loud, operatic, and growling voice that makes it sound like it was recorded in 1988. The guitar’s sound almost like virtuosity meets a thrashing sneer that gives it a huge volcanic rock format that you can hear in the album as well. Also on A Slave Without a Master, sounds like a vicious metallic crunch that provides a rumbling element of the Six Degrees of Turbulence-era.

There are some breathtaking moments in there and the eruption of the album adds to the atmosphere and gives it a mighty explosion and takes the machine going without any stop sign for them. A 7-minute fierce and energetic roadrunner epic, Lies and Fairy Tales comes off with a mighty bullet from the shotgun and has a touch of the running sections of the guitar, drums sounding like a machine gun that is going on without any stopping to shoot through the story structures. You have to admit there’s a bit of a mini metallic opera in there as if they were paying homage to Pete Townshend and Mike Portnoy as if they were watching them and giving them a huge pat on the back.

And by the time you listen to Prologue, you can’t just put it down, you might have a few listens to it and may have mixed opinions on their politics, whether you love or loathe it, it takes a good while to understand where the direction the band are going into. To put in more precise, if you admire Dream Theater and Metallica, you probably might want to check this album out and see where the trio are going for them, because the road for them, is just the beginning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Various Artists - Prog Rocks!

Now if you want to look at the geniuses of Progressive Rock that is an excerpt on what is about to come in a 2-CD set, well, you’ve come to the right place. But you must place your right hand to know these things before I move on. A; Prog is no longer a dirty word, Justin Bieber is a dirty word and B; listen to real good music. In what is here in this free CD compilation done by the good people at Classic Rock Presents Prog and the editor-in-chief, Jerry Ewing in which comes with the magazine featuring the Yes issue dedicating 40 years of Fragile, it seems the fairy tales has gotten a lot bigger.

Not only that the campaign that the magazine has been helping out with labels including EMI and InsideOut/Superball have been working hard on their butts to stay true to the music, but it’s time to go back on the magic carpet and enjoy the ride that you’ll never forget. This isn’t your typical compilation album, but an emotional and fabulous, majestic journey that you will embark on as the ride keeps you going as you reach to the edge and the passages of time. As the small booklet says, “A Unique Celebration of the Progressive Rock genre, past and present”, let’s start it off with a roar.

Starting off is the new stereo mix done of Jethro Tull’s Locomotive Breath which is from the 40th anniversary release reissue of Aqualung, is a wonderful mix. You can hear the drums and bass lines loud and some of the pieces I never expected from the original 1971 release, just got a beautiful treatment that Steven Wilson has done and has make sure to stay true to the effort of Tull’s music like a volcanic eruption as the highlight CD shows some bands you’ve heard of and up-and-coming bands you might want to take notice.

Van Der Graaf Generator’s melancholic tribute to Susan Penhaligon on Refugees, Barclay James Harvest’s orchestral symphonic fantasy rock sound of Galadriel, and Eloy taking the Space Rock sound into uncharted territory with Castle in the Air, with swirling guitar and bass lines that is out of this world. Then we go into the Canterbury land of Jazzy whimsical compositions done by Hatfield and the North with Lounging There Trying for more different time signatures while Steve Hackett goes into the Symphonic mode ala early ‘80s style with Cell 151 as neo-prog maestros Marillion tell a story of a marriage go into a fucked up world on Punch & Judy.

But then it’s the new waves of Progressive Rock of the 21st century that makes you want to say, “Wow!” With the Flower Kings and Riverside helps the campaign a wonderful touch into the new sounds of the genre, it is a fabulous ride, not to mention the disturbing and humor elements on Monkey Business and Conceiving You while Ayreon’s Comatose carries the spirit of the Concept Album-era and revise it and feel like the Sci-Fi rock opera elements has gotten a warm handshake.

But it’s the return of Transatlantic line-up as they carry the spirit of the Close To The Edge-era on Overture/Whirlwind and the reminiscent of early Genesis ala Jazzy style done by The Tangent that lets listeners know that the genre just roared with a huge alarm clock as it sends radio waves to let them know that we’re back with a vengeance. And as texas’ own answer to experimental metal from And You Will Know By The Trail of the Dead with futuristic ride into space on Pure Radio Cosplay seems in the realms of Prog, Metal, and Punk makes it feel like it’s going into another room.

Sweden’s Beardfish and Karmakanic close the compilation up with the ‘70s retro rock Tightrope and Turn It Up, would give the listener a chance to provide a chance to hear these new bands and see where they are going to take the music with them and focus how Prog has influenced a new generation of fans and bring the future brilliantly and it is a new dawn and a new day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cavalli-Cocchi, Lazetti, Roversi - Cavalli-Cocchi, Lazetti, Roversi

Now, the Italian Prog scene has now sort of revived in a new way here in the 21st century. This time, it’s a trio piece featuring vocalist Berando Lanzetti from Acqua Fragile and PFM, Keyboardist and Chapman stick player, Cristiano Roversi, and drummer Gigi Cavalli-Cocchi, has come to life in a new beginning of eternal life in the realms of the super group format in the realms of ELP, but in a relaxing, dramatic, and melodic atmosphere with their sole self-titled debut album released under the wings by the good fellows at Esoteric. There’s a bit of the Symphonic Prog touch in the styles of the early days of the Nursery Cryme-era of Genesis that has sort of come out of the cavernous cave to embrace it with open arms.

Listening to this album, is a very warm reception because what we have here is emotional and breathtaking from the first and second time you hear it from start to finish as if the trio who not only have a love of the British and Italian Prog sound, but they want to stay true to the roots and close to the sound and make it sound like its 1975 all over again. The pieces that Roversi does on the keyboards including the wonderful roar of the mellotron, will remind listeners of Tony Banks and sometimes Thelonious Monk with some jazzy bits in there including the upbeat whimsical touch on Why Should I? Meanwhile, Lanzetti, vocal sounds still can belt it out.

He has a combination of Peter Gabriel, Roger Chapman, and an older version of Geddy Lee, not in a menacing way, but he really can hit the singing notes so high, that it would make you feel like its Chocolate Kings all over again. Some perfect examples are the cover of Acqua Fragile’s Morning Comes and the opening track, New Life on Mars, which are wonderful songs, dealing with childhood reading sci-fi books and have this classical ballad that it would have been a perfect opening film title that deals with the loss of a child and how to deal with moving forward. And they really add the perfect ingredient’s to the songs and make it their own to see how they would handle the pieces like the oceans crashing throughout the thunderstorm.

The most important thing about these compositions, they are almost like theatrical songs that could have been the perfect score for a ballet dance set to the music in which they created and it has very laid-back warmth and still has the mighty eruptive finale with the punch in the gut that will make you say “Wow!” Their touch on Eno’s By This River, makes it very futuristic and post-apocalyptic while Great Love Does Burn Fast sounds like something that was left off the sessions for Selling England By The Pound with its Gentle Giant meets Beatlesque flavor to it.

The Gypsy-flavor touch of The Late Hour has a dark-like moody piece as Roversi sets the mood like its 1945 all over again almost as if they drew heavy influence of the Black Dahlia murder scenery in LA as if they pay tribute to the disturbing crime as the closing, Blue Boy Under an Ethnic Sky, with its PFM sound to the touch, is a wonderful way to close the album as the curtain comes down with a heavy applause. Now if this is one hell of a debut album, you guess it! Let’s see what CCLR have up their sleeve because they have a long journey ahead of them.