Posts Tagged ‘progressive metal’

Monsterworks - Scale and Probability

Monsterworks are a group of incredibly proficient New Zealanders, dropping no less than 15 full length records since their debut record in 2000, and ‘Scale and Probability’ is yet another thrashy progressive metal journey. It was released independently in May.

Opener ‘The Great Silence’ contains many different elements throughout its 8 minute run time. There’s some latter-period Tool-esque polyrhythms underpinning some cool soulful leads, while a dose of heavy, deaththrash moments keeps your head nodding. ‘Weight of Emptiness’ rumbles onward with a little bit of sludge heaviness in amongst the proggy bits. ‘Scale and Probability’ is a conceptually challenging record, exploring the mysteries of finding extraterrestrial life and how it’ll probably never happen, but despite this complex narrative, the music keeps you entertained. ‘The Reveal’ is an earworm, before the meandering ‘Ockham’s Razor’ leads us to our finish. That’s the thing about ‘Scale and Probability’; it’s a really good record, it’s just not a great one.

Having no previous experience with the band, I don’t know how their sound has progressed over the myriad releases but their judicious use of death/thrash elements within a progressive framework is interesting, and the labyrinthine song structures never leave you feeling cold and lost. ‘Scale and Probability’ may have a lofty concept, but Monsterworks keep it grounded in a record you’ll enjoy but maybe not rush back to.

https://monsterworks.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/monsterworks/

Greek prog metallers Mask of Prospero have just released their debut full length, ‘The Observatory’, through Symmetric Records and it is an assured slab of huge djent riffs and ghostly melodies. Equally atmospheric and headbanging, Mask of Prospero look to become the new powerhouse in European prog metal.

The soulful melancholy of ‘Dust in the Sky’ builds into a dense, chugging monster of a track, where delicate piano lurks behind massive riffs and choral voices. The progressive, almost djenty rhythms pervades the melodic powerhouse of ‘Drown in Grey’, and there is plenty of atmosphere lurking within the Nevermore-esque riffing of ‘Portrait’. Mask of Prospero balance huge heavy riffs with a real sense of melody and the grandiose, and while their songs aren’t overly long, they contain a huge amount of variety.

Be it in the glorious, soaring ‘The Way Back Home’, or the rumbling fragility of ‘Ignorance’, Mask of Prospero have created something rather special in ‘The Observatory’. Vast, heavy and thoroughly absorbing, this is atmospheric prog metal for the modern age, and it is a sound foundation for a bright future.

https://maskofprospero.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/maskofprosperoofficial

https://www.facebook.com/symmetricrecords/

A collaborative effort between elite members of the Indian metal scene, ‘supergroup’ The Minerva Conduct are breaking genre boundaries across the sub continent. Featuring alumni of Demonic Resurrection, Albatross, Gutslit and a former Animals as Leaders drummer, ‘The Minerva Conduct’ is a record that is scintillating, brave and mind bogglingly technical in parts. It is out 15th September.

Instantly precocious, proggy and thunderous, opener ‘Vile’ snaps into juddering Meshuggah-esque territory with some dazzling fretwork. Open spaces begin to appear within the chugging riffs, and this is where the Minerva Conduct begin to realise the potential of their collaboration. Soaring atmospheres meet heavy djent riffing; propulsive drumming coalesces with twanging bass riffs into a driving engine under stabbing guitar riffs. And this is only the first track! This is an album that effortlessly jumps from electronic, almost ambient soundscapes into brutal death/djent riffing without losing a step. I was six tracks in before I realised there were no vocals, a fact that does no harm to the evocative nature of the music.

‘The Minerva Conduct’ is a shape shifting beast; with progressive metal a vague catch-all genre title that never does the music enough credit, the band manage to construct an organic piece where songs are constantly evolving. The ethereal moments of calm in ‘Desertion’, the Gojira-esque closing to ‘Metanoia’, the electronic highlighting in ‘Appetence’: these are all high spots in a record that never fails to surprise, invigorate or impress. Hopefully The Minerva Conduct are just getting started, because I could listen to this stuff all day.

https://theminervaconductband.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/theminervaconduct/

https://tometal.com/

Inverse Records saw the release of this little hidden gem at the end of last year, and Bloodlash’s EP ‘Rain’ is progressive metal meets the glacial world of post metal. It’s available digitally from Inverse Records.

Opener ‘Godsbreath’ rumbles from the gate with a chugging riff, with some cool spiralling melodies. You can feel the influence of some of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, especially the likes of Lamb of God. ‘Spring Devoured’ has some quirky melody lines and virtuoso drumming that is reminscient of early Mastodon, but not as complex. Bloodlash could do with dropping the clean vocals, as I feel they don’t quite work as well as the growls do. It’s a minor quibble though.

‘Rain’ mixes death metal severity with chugging prog metal riffs. Like a heavier and less technical Children of Bodom, Bloodlash could be a band that would excel in the future, and instrumentally they have the chops. They need to work on their songwriting though, as there isn’t anything that leaps to attention as being awesome. Definitely potential to be fulfilled here though.

https://bloodlash.bandcamp.com/

Bloodlash

Album Cover - Adrenechrome - Tales From Adrenechrome - 2015

Billed as Canada’s answer to Baroness and Mastodon, Adrenechrome have some mighty shoes to fill. Their new record, ‘Tales from Adrenechrome’ has a cool comic book style cover, and is half an hour of pure Savannah sludge prog with a northern touch to it. It’s out next week.

Opening track ‘A Familiar Face’ has some stunning, Kylesa-esque riffing and spiralling melodies. ‘Lockstep’ is more urgent, like if ‘Remission’ era Mastodon had spent a little more time mellowing out with John Baizley and co. It’s got this great, self assured swagger to it that I really dig, especially when it breaks out this killer blues boogie near the end. An almost stoner doom groove is prevalent, with Clutch-esque croons mixing with a more barked vocal in the rocking ‘Black Brubeck’.

It’s strange to find this kind of sludgecore groove coming from a place like Canada, when the genre is so well identified with Georgia. But Adrenechrome add some interesting twists to the formula to set them aside. The almost black metal section of ‘God Sized Shadow’, that stoner rock vibe on ‘The Heart and the Feather’ that feels so uplifting and the groaning stomp of the excellent ‘Hideous Appetites’.

Closing with the shimmering Mastodon worship of ‘The Led Elephant’, Adrenechrome complete what is a very satisfying listen. Yeah, they ape Kylesa, Mastodon and particularly Baroness, but they do it in such an honest and enthusiastic way it is hard not to enjoy the ride. The musicianship is stellar, the grooves are huge and the riffs are heavy as fuck. This is a great record, despite its unoriginality. Who needs something new when you can make music this good!?

https://adrenechrome.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Adrenechrome

http://adrenechrome.com/

Steve at SixSixSix Music is a good guy. So good in fact, that he’s agreed to help me out with reviewing here at The Killchain. Which is nice because I’m so laden down with promos for awesome music I can barely keep up. You’ll know his contributions, as I’ve now tagged him as SixSixSteve. He’s been in this game for a long time, so he knows what he’s talking about. Thanks Steve, you’re a blog saver!

I’ve been very impressed by the releases that have come my way recently from Italian label Avantgarde. And the one thing they’ve all had in common, has been a superior level of musicianship. And Norway’s Dystopia Nå are very close to the top of the pile, in that respect.

Dweller on the Threshold is a beautiful album. Mixing gentle Doomy passages, with minimalistic ambience and the occasional foray into Shoegazing Black Metal territory, it’s all tied together with maddening screams, cries of despair and any other downbeat form of expression you care to think of. The beauty of the music and the anguish of the vocals are perfect bedfellows.

And it’s an album that relies heavily on moods. From uplifting, through anger to total despair, it’s an ever-changing journey, with a never-ending palette of textures. Basically, if Steven Wilson replaced Dave Gilmour in Pink Floyd and then took the whole of Syd Barrett’s drug stash in one sitting and decided to throw some Black Metal into the Progressive melting pot, then you’re just about there with this album.
https://www.facebook.com/dystopianaa

https://dystopianow.bandcamp.com/

Symphony X used to be, for me, a bit of a Dream Theater wannabe band. I saw them support Dream Theater years ago in Glasgow, and I wasn’t overwhelmed by them. Not that there was anything particularly wrong per se, it just seemed like they were Dream Theater lite. On reflection, and on the back of excellent new record ‘Underworld’, I may have been a bit harsh…

‘Underworld’ is a vastly more focused prog metal record than anything Dream Theater has made in years, and it renders Symphony X a much more palatable offering straight away. From the grandeur of ‘Overture’ to the stomping ‘Nevermore’, ‘Underworld’ starts strongly and doesn’t dip over the following hour. ‘Nevermore’ is a great example of what the band do best; anthemic heavy metal with some serious musical chops underneath. It is progressive, but it doesn’t meander. It takes you into this incredible zone of soaring vocal melodies and galloping riffs that tick every box for me. ‘Underworld’ feels natural; nothing is said with more notes than required.

The highlights of this record by far are the stunning lead guitar work of Michael Romeo and the powerful vocals of Russell Allen. The former can switch between thrashing riffs, tapping solos or uber fluid melodic leads without breaking a sweat, and the latter’s voice accentuates the heavier and softer parts of each song. The almost balladry of ‘Without You’ is a good example of both, while the raging ‘Kiss of Fire’ is a true belter. ‘Underworld’ is going to be the album that makes me re-examine older Symphony X records, as it’s a seamless blend of prog, power metal and unabashed thrash in places and I don’t understand why my old self didn’t love this.

It’s difficult to imagine an album coming out this year that challenges ‘Underworld’ for sheer traditional metal power. Yeah they’ve got one of metal’s finest guitarists, and I’m sure the guitar tabs would cause many a music fan to have palpitations, but few bands can create that elusive vibe that essential, electrifying heavy metal has. ‘Underworld’ has it in spades. Be it in the spiralling progressive epic of ‘To Hell and Back’, or the Middle Eastern flourishes of ‘Charon’, Symphony X have crafted one of prog metal’s finest hours. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I love this fucking record, and you should too!

https://www.facebook.com/symphonyx

http://www.symphonyx.com/

http://www.nuclearblast.de/en/products/tontraeger/cd/symphony-x-underworld.html