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2011 : VOLUME 30
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Yes – Fly From Here
Yes – Fly From Here
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Frontiers Records
Catalogue #:FRCD520
Year of Release:2011
Time:47:32
Info:Yes
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Fly From Here – Overture (1:53), Fly From Here Pt.1 – We Can Fly (6:00), Fly From Here Pt.2 – Sad Night At The Airfield (6:41), Fly From Here Pt.3 – Madman At The Screens (5:16), Fly From Here Pt.4 – Bumpy Ride (2:15), Fly From Here Pt.5 – We Can Fly Reprise (1:44), The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be (5:07), Life On A Film Set (5:01), Hour Of Need (3:07), Solitaire (3:30), Into The Storm (6:54)

After a long layoff from the studio and some variable material over the last 20 years or more, the ancient Prog warhorse returns with a new line-up and a great deal of anticipation about the results of their first recorded fruits. Many fans are sceptical of this actually being Yes at all with the omission of legendary front man Jon Anderson but having bedded in new singer Benoit David over the last couple of years the time was right to record and the results are very pleasing.

Yes were one of the first bands I got into when I started exploring “non-standard” music and I have followed them through all of the trials and tribulations of the intervening years; the highs and lows, squabbles and brilliance, the lengthy periods of inactivity and blinding live shows and always hoped that they could recapture some of their earlier majesty on record. On stage they occasionally wobble but generally have not lost the ability to thrill but even the best albums of recent decades have been flawed. It is now 10 years since Magnification, the last studio album to wear the Yes badge, an enjoyable experiment in replacing keys with an orchestra. Prior to that The Ladder was lauded as a return to form but failed to quite deliver its promise and the other late ‘90s albums, the studio portions of the Keys To Ascension sets (the second part reviewed here) and the extremely poor Open Your Eyes did not do much to point a way towards recapturing either the glories of Yes’ first decade or the mainstream acceptance of their second so Fly From Here needed to be good.

In 1980 the Drama period heralded a sea change for the band and their fans with Anderson’s first departure together with one of Rick Wakeman’s many exits. The results have stood the test of time and Drama has grown in statue as some of the band’s other work has diminished. The 2009 tour saw the reappearance of material from that period to the delight of most fans, taking the opportunity to play the songs live with Benoit a good move. With the decision made to base the new album around a Buggles track gifted to Yes and played live in 1980 but never recorded by the band, Trevor Horn was drafted in to collaborate and ended up producing the whole thing. The obvious next step was to replace the incumbent keyboardist, Rick’s son Oliver Wakeman, with Geoff Downes of Asia and Horn’s old Buggles partner. This may have been a bit underhand and naughty with regards to Oliver but makes the whole enterprise much more valid. The last time Anderson left it was a shot in the arm for the band and I get the same feeling this time. Jon Anderson was responsible for pushing the band towards its best work but also added much of the sugary nonsense that has bogged down their later efforts. Love the guy but it is nice to hear the album without him, however sacrilegious that sounds.

So the album is here at last housed in the requisite Roger Dean sleeve (which is very nice except for the bizarre turkey-like beast on the front) that uses some of the Drama imagery to convey the link. It would be wrong to think of this as “Drama 2” but the lineage is clear. Benoit David at times sounds like Horn, at others like Anderson but throughout retains his own personality and to his real credit rises above the tribute band tag that he has been landed with since joining and puts in a fine performance. He proves himself to be a real asset to the group, also delivering his first co-writing credit on Into The Storm. The blending of David’s voice with Squire’s always impeccable backing vocals proves that another key Yes facet is intact and still here to enjoy. Horn’s production is exemplary and the instrumental work of Steve Howe and Chris Squire in particular makes this a Yes album in the truest sense.

If this were the Olden Days “Side 1” would feature the extended, multi-part title track which is the best elongated work that the band has produced in a VERY long time. More a suite of songs with themes running throughout it is a worthy treatment of a neglected song. No matter that the piece in question is 30 years old, the result is a joy. All of the separate parts are Horn/Downes compositions with additional input from Squire on We Can Fly and Howe’s Bumpy Ride. It ranges from the punchy and up-tempo Overture which introduces some of the themes to come, through the expansive We Can Fly itself which is a track well worth re-discovering and given the full Yes stamp here, particularly towards the end with Howe all over it in trademark style. Downes isn’t as ornate or fancy as either Wakeman but is a classy presence. That said some of Wakeman’s parts are retained on We Can Fly and its reprise. The melancholy Sad Night At The Airfield opens acoustically, David singing with emotion, before bursting into epic chorus’ with some classic Howe slide and solo Squire bass, this track features some great moments. The energetic Madman At The Screens sees David channelling Horn’s vocals with plenty of classic Yes instrumentation and choral vocals. Bumpy Ride feels out of place but is harmless, brief and an entertaining diversion into Loony Tunes craziness before bursting into the reprise of the main theme to nicely tie things up. All in all this is a great piece of work packed with melody and inventiveness. It never goes too far outside the box but is a real pleasure to absorb. Yes are never going to make Close To The Edge again but I’m more than happy that they’ve taken another look at the Drama era.

“Side 2” comprises the remaining 5 tracks. It is always a pleasure to hear Chris Squire take a lead vocal as on The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be and though the song is quite low-key the treatment gives it a lift with an unusual rhythmic structure and echoes of Yes past here and there. Life On A Film Set is another Buggles out-take and is none the worse for that despite the irritating “riding a tiger” lyrical repetition. Some vibrant acoustic from Howe and keys from Downes lift the track again and the mid-section is quite a tour de force with distinct hints of ‘70s Yes. Hour Of Need is mellow and very melodic, a beautiful little number benefitting from the retention of some of Oliver Wakeman’s input which is fitting given his untimely exit. An extended version of this track is available on the Japanese edition. Howe gets his solo acoustic spot with Solitaire which features a number of different sections and feels which I look forward to hearing live on the autumn tour. A very funky Into The Storm closes things on a high, Howe again on fire. The energy in the vocal delivery is palpable and Benoit shows why he deserves his place. Alan White deserves a quick mention as on the last tour he appeared to be labouring but here his performance is good, particularly on Into The Storm. He is never flashy and does his job with the minimum of fuss so it is easy to overlook him but he is an important part of the Yes’ sound, allowing the soloists the space to play to their strengths. Hopefully he can up his game and regain his live prowess despite disappointing early reports from the current US tour.

Despite the fact that Fly From Here is only 48 minutes long it benefits for it as there are no padding issues such as those suffered on The Ladder. It may not be groundbreaking but Fly From Here has made this long time fan smile, probably with a partial sense of relief that despite the continuing soap opera and revolving door membership policy they can still deliver. I suspect that most of the credit should go to Trevor Horn who is probably the only man who can keep this dysfunctional family on the straight and narrow and luckily he’s always had an ear for a good tune. There may be a sense of looking backwards more than forwards but this is no pastiche and at this stage of their career there’s no point complaining. The playing is exemplary and thanks to Horn, Yes may never have sounded so good. Fortunately the music isn’t a letdown.

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

JEZ ROWDEN



Ani Lo Projekt - Miracle
Ani Lo Projekt - Miracle
Country of Origin:Bulgaria
Format:CD
Record Label:DOTT Music
Catalogue #:DOTT201111
Year of Release:2011
Time:50:39
Info:Ani Lo Projekt
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: A Miracle Is All We Need (4:35), Angels (4:06), Ark Of The Covenant (5:05), Cannot Fall Asleep (4:07), Cry Over (4:23), Fly (5:30), Give It To Me (4:35), Innocent Minds (4:12), Slip Away (4:11), What You Sow Is What You Reap (4:39) Bonus Track: A Miracle Is All We Need [piano version, duet with Ian Parry] (5:11)

The Ani Lo Projekt are a female fronted Bulgarian Symphonic/Progressive metal band that consists of Straho Antoniev (bass), Kossy D (drums), Kalin Zhechev (keyboards), Vlado Todorov (guitars) and Ani Lo (vocals) aka Ani Lozanova who already has two solo albums behind her.

It would be quite easy to categorise and dismiss this band, putting them in bed with the likes of Within Temptation, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil or The Gathering but to name a few without hearing them, seeing them as wannabe’s, but that would seriously be doing the band and your good selves for that matter a disservice. This band maybe female fronted, but the Ani Lo Projekt needs to be looked at with an open mind; sure there are some slight similarities to the mentioned bands, but that was always going to inevitable. Importantly ALP have managed to not become a clone of those bands, being inventive, something that is worth listening to, not a regurgitation of formulaic passages that have been heard a thousand times before, a pitfall that a lot of these bands succumb too.

This is a band that has hit that right formula; their music is bombastic, melodic, powerful, hooky, intense, possessing a commercial presence too. Ani Lo’s vocals are powerful, full of range, taking a metal/operatic approach with her presentation, although let me just say, an approach that doesn’t grate on your nerves, which has been richly complemented by Ian Parry’s stunning production work.

The album is book ended by A Miracle Is All We Need, the opener a pure musical powerhouse, the closer a piano led ballad, a duet with Ian Parry, he of Crystal Tears, Consortium and Elegy fame, which adds another dimension to the song. There is nothing new about this approach or style but the Ani Lo Projekt does bring something slightly different to the table, something that I just can’t put my finger on, that I really like and I mean REALLY LIKE. I just think that it is not so much that its formulaic, it is probably that they have managed to incorporate several other genre approaches within their structures that really work effectively. You can hear their influences that include power metal, industrial, gothic, classical and opera which have all been married with the prog metal elements.

Their take on Michael Jackson’s Give It To Me rocks like the proverbial, taking the song to the next level. Ark Of The Covenant is a heavier and darker approached song, featuring some awesome guitar breaks, both lead and rhythm, its beat and time backline functioning perfectly, still retaining that stunning quality, vocally sublime sounding like Nikki Lamborn, (Never The Bride), in places. Industrialised Cannot Fall Asleep retains a sultry sound musically and vocally, that memorably bounces around your head. I could just go on and on here.

You may have noticed that I’ve jumped about picking songs out randomly, commenting on how good they are, this is something that can be done with this album as the songs on offer here are that strong. In all honesty this is just a stunning album full of stunning music from beginning to the end.

The whole mix of the album is perfect, bright and crystal clear, whether Todorov’s guitars, Antoniev’s bass, Kossy D’s drums or Zhechev keyboards, they can all be heard in their full glory. The whole package is nice presented too in a very nice digi-pak.

If female fronted prog metal bands are your thing, then this is an album that needs to be added to your collection, make no mistake about that. If you were to ask me what a female prog metal band should sound like then I would seriously be able to tell you in four words "The Ani Lo Projekt" it really is that simple; be there from the ground up; if this band continues creating albums this good then they are going to be massive.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



Total B.S. – 2The Core
Total B.S. – 2The Core
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2010
Time:50:25
Info:Total B.S.
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Rivka To The Max (4:59), Found It (5:03), Total B.S. (4:52), For Another Day (5:03), Following Forward (5:25), One Word (4:49), What It Feels Like (4:14), Acoustic Ears (4:57), Lights On (3:34), Finally Free (4:21), Running The Race (5:08)

Total B.S. is: Blair Gray (bass, guitars, backing vocals, production), Sara Rockoff (lead and backing vocals, production), Bryan Finch D'Booligan (drums, percussion) and Victor Stack (keyboards). It’s an unfortunate band name, though.

But, in case you were wondering, the band is named after its two main collaborators, Blair Gray and Sara Rockoff. Blair’s an incredibly talented (and funky) bassist and multi-instrumentalist, and a producer as well. Sara’s the songwriter, and fellow producer.

The band define themselves as a “Pop-Prog Funk” band. No, I’m not sure what that means either but, you know what? This is so refreshingly original that you just have to like it. Or at the very least respect it. There’s jazz in there, to, together with some rap, metal, spoken word bits, sampled stuff and a big dollop of soul.

Lovers of the bass guitar will absolutely love this record, as Blair makes the thing talk. Sara’s voice for me, though, was the clincher. Now before you roll your eyes, I know I have expounded on female fronted prog bands before, but my concerns with them is that they all - with the exception of Magenta, perhaps - sound, well, a bit ‘samey’ to my hairy ears. Not Sara Rockoff. She’s an absolute revelation, who has the vocal range to rock out with the best of them whilst sounding sultry, funky, sleazy even. Think a female Bon Scott, or Geddy Lee as your rocky frame of reference. Jonno will probably be able to discern Latvian jazz nose-flute avant-garde RIO notes in the vocals, and tell you she sounds like some incredibly obscure 1970s chanteuse, but I do not have anywhere near the depth, or breadth of that man’s expertise in all things prog. He is James May to my Clarkson. But I don’t half like it. It’s quite energetic, mind, so don’t put it on when your lady comes round, unless you want to do yourself a mischief.

First song Rivka To The Mix introduces us to the time changes and originality that we will meet throughout the album, with aforementioned ‘rap’ bit. Found It chucks in some synths, and fusion guitar. Elsewhere there’s organ, more synths, guitar and electronica on the progressive-sounding Following Forward. Whether this kitchen sink approach resonates with you is I guess dependent on whether you’re up for the challenge of some new, refreshing and stimulating music. It’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea but it floats my boat.

Understandably it’s American prog that, when the band actually is ‘proggy’, is the sonic touchstone. So think Kansas, think Echolyn but funked up to the max and tossed around in a jazzy dressing.

So in conclusion, it’s well worth a punt if you’re in the market for some adventurous new music, with a foot in the progressive rock camp, and with probably one of the best vocal (and bass) performances you’ll hear all year. In total it’s a very good record, that will get more than the odd spin chez Watson.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

BRIAN WATSON



Athem – The Extended Mind
Athem – The Extended Mind
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Dott-Music
Spectastral
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2009/2011
Time:66:30
Info:Athem
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Overture (1:32), Fallen God (6:23), Away (5:58), Prince Of Lies (7:21), Wake Up Screaming (7:30), Enigmatic Reverie (12:25), Merciless Eyes (4:56), The Extended Mind (4:59), Lifting The Veil (15:26)

I actually bought this album two years ago having read warm recommendations on a couple of web forums hailing The Extended Mind as a debut from a band willing and able to bring something different to the ProgMetal party. Yet to get a record deal, the band was selling copies from their website. The album finally appears to have won a wider circulation with labels promoting it from both sides of the Atlantic, hence this review.

Hailing from New Jersey, Athem consists of Will Shaw on vocals, guitarists Shawn Baldissero and Louis Vasile, Mike Hass on bass guitar, and drummer Alex Gonzalez. Former member Keith Elliot, who co-wrote the entire record with Shawn, plays all the keyboards as well as producing and mixing the whole thing. The quintet released a demo, Six Days Until Sunset, in 2005 but took another four years before feeling comfortable with their own style and ready to enter the studio.

The eight songs range from five minutes, to two tracks stretching well past the ten minute mark. It’s not an easy or immediate listen but it will reward your patience.

After the classical symphonic opening of Overture provides a somewhat clichéd opening, there is a smooth transition into my favourite song, the aggressive, technical, progressive stylings of the up-tempo Fallen God.

Just as you settle into the groove and think you’re listening to the next Zero Hour or Spheric Universe Experience, one is confronted by the jazz funk opening of the melodic Away. It morphs into something akin to Rush-meets-Enchant. As this song draws to a close, you are definitely thinking ‘what commeth next”?

Little surprise then that the band takes a left-turn back to the more extreme guitar riffing, odd time signatures of Prince Of Lies. A rather proggy keyboard sound stops it being too extreme.

What next? Let’s have some church bells to open Wake Up Screaming, where the pace is slowed down to a ballad and some more unusual keyboard themes to maintain the conflict. A burst of jazz two thirds of the way through keeps the listener guessing.

Enignatic Reverie is a challenging slab of technical metal that stands alongside the likes of Ice Age and Suspyre. The remaining three tracks follow on in a similarly un-similar manner. Will Shaw really impresses, able to shift his vocals to fit the ever-changing demands of his fellow musicians.

When I played this album two years ago there was little doubt that Athem was a new band with superb musicians and huge potential, but who hadn’t quite decided who they wanted to be. Like a smorgasbord, there is just such a wide spread of musical tastes on offer here that one doesn’t know if one can take it all in without getting indigestion. I like most types of music as I like most types of food, but I don’t necessarily wish to try them all at the same time.

Similar to when I heard the debut from fellow US progmetallers Suspyre, I had hoped this approach could be refined with a more coherent second album. However at the time of writing, the lack of updates from their website doesn’t make it clear if Athem is still going.

If the words ‘creative’, ‘intricate’, ‘powerful’, ‘complex’ and ‘diverse’ are the sort of adjectives you look for in a review of a progressive metal album, then Athem will be right up your alleyway. For extended minds only.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

ANDY READ



Sadhana – Vicissitudes [EP]
Sadhana – Vicissitudes [EP]
Country of Origin:Australia
Format:Download
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2009
Time:20:10
Info:Sadhana
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Art After Dark (4:47), The Fold (4:30), Your Reason (7:07), Stationary Dancers (5:48)

Sadhana – The Real [EP]
Country of Origin:Australia
Format:Download
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2010
Time:20:30
Info:Sadhana
Samples:Click here
Sadhana – The Real [EP]

Tracklist: Eros (4:37), The Exchange (3:27), Better Than This (6:08), Seven Years Over (6:26)

After years of dogged resistance I’ve finally gone and done it! You are about to read a review of my first ever download purchase. Three decades of music buying and I’ve always bought the actual product. I need to have something physical for my musical money. Opening the case or sleeve, looking at the artwork, browsing the sleeve notes and (usually) reading the lyrics, is all a key part of the pleasure. Then a friend turned me onto this up and coming band from Melbourne, Australia. I really liked the clips I heard. I wanted to enjoy full songs but could find no way to buy a physical copy. A download was the only option. These two EPs are just so darn good, I had to have them. Thus a download it had to be.

Coming together in 2008, Sadhana consists of James Stewart (vocals), Paul Reid (guitars), Rients Huitema (bass/backing vocals) and Jimmy Mileto (drums and samples).

Within a year their debut EP, Vicissitudes, was launched with a sell-out release concert. More shows and festival performances, plus national and international radio-play built a rapturous live reputation. That led quickly to a second EP entitled The Real, which was released nationwide at the start of 2010. Although two separate releases, I’ve always treated the music as one, eight-song album. Listened to as one entity, there’s a clear commonality to the song writing, the performances and the style.

Musically Sadhana takes a generous influence from both Fair To Midland and fellow countrymen Karnivool. Vicissitudes also has sections that owe more than a passing nod to Riverside.

As you’d expect, the four tracks on The Real are slightly more sophisticated but with several modern touches including experimental samples and sequencing and the short rap sequence on Better Than This. The songs from Vicissitudes are slightly rawer but it has my favourite song in the shape of the intense Art After Dark and the more progressively expansive Your Reason. There’s plenty of variety in the musical textures and groove. There are some epic moments, and the songs are both catchy and interesting. Every single song has provided me with repeated listening pleasure.

The singer James Stewart is from the top drawer. His is a mid-range, modern kind of voice, with bags of soul and depth. There is a small but noticeable improvement between the two recordings. The rest of the band is tight and inventive. This doesn’t sound like an Independent release.

For those who enjoy some of the younger, crossover progressive rock bands, then I consider the music of Sadhana an essential discovery. They’ve yet to gain much of a profile outside of Australia so I hope these reviews will get the ball rolling.

The band is currently putting together its debut full-length album for release later this year. I really think it’ll only be short time until Sadhana is getting the same level of interest as Karnivool. These recordings may not be around for much longer so take my tip and get in their early. Remember where you read it first.

Conclusions:

Vicissitudes: 9 out of 10
The Real: 9 out of 10

ANDY READ



The Re-Stoned – Analog
Opus Symbiosis – Mute
Country of Origin:Russia
Format:CD
Record Label:R.A.I.G Records
Catalogue #:RO61
Year of Release:2011
Time:61:36
Info:The Re-Stoned
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Northern Lights (5:58), Analog (10:49), Put The Sound Down Or Get The Hell Out (6:06), Crystals (9:21), Feedback (7:54), Music For Jimmy (7:28), Dreams Of Vodyanoy (14:01)

The Re-Stoned have spent two weeks in the studio recording Analog their second album. I mean two weeks, (this is how albums use to be recorded), some bands spend months in the studio and don’t produce quality like this; Alisa Coral (Psi Corps and Space Mirrors) has performed another outstanding job offering clarity, allowing the instrumentals presented here, to elevate themselves to another dimension. This is obviously someone who has a deep understanding and passion for this genre as have the band.

The core duo of the band is guitarist Ilya Lipkin and bassist Vladimir Nikulin who has teamed up with Vladimir Muchnov, (the drummer for Ark Of Passage and Lord Of Doubts), who have jammed out these psychedelic space rock anthems. Symbiotically these musicians approach their craft with unification, strongly accentuating the prowess of the musical phrasings. The whole feel and sound is just mesmerising, allowing the importance of this music to shine through, with every little nuance shining through.

As with their debut album Revealed Gravitation which received a 7 out of 10, Analog is an album that will drag you right into their universe, an album that needs to be cranked right up, an album that is full of trance inducing shamanistic music that won’t leave you in a balance of stasis, music that has found its position in the chaotic universe of all things psychedelic and spacey. Just as a side point, The Re-Stoned have also recorded a seminal live album called Vermel, which you can download free from R.A.I.G Records website, which is definitely recommended and will give you a good taste of what this band are about.

Northern Lights open’s up the proceedings with its voyeuristic musical intensions, its musical preposition more than describes its relationship as a unit, laying the foundation for the following musical interactions. The whole combination of guitar, bass and drums work more than provides a perfect footing, repeating passages that furrow deeper into your psyche, leaving track marks for the rest of the musical notation to follow. Analog is more laid back in its approach, an amalgamation of interesting atmospheric sounds, spacey and lumbering, an exercise of how real emotional music is played from the heart, every note that is rung out of their instruments carries warmth and depth. Nikulin’s bass stalks the low end sonics whilst Lipkin’s guitar works swirls in the ether; Muchnov’s accurate drumming really bolsters the whole piece out, but there is no doubt the star of the piece and album is Lipkin. There is no sense of urgency here and the boys arrive at a conclusion when they feel it’s time to arrive, no sooner no later.

Put The Sound Down Or Get The Hell Out has got to be the song title of the year, an instrumental that calls to mind the phrasings of Q.O.T.S.A, the band has stepped up a gear, offering a perfect balance of instrumental interaction whose sound has been perfectly managed and produced. This is The Re-Stoned, a band at the top of their game displaying what they are capable of creating, a basic approached framework that is aligned with some really stunning guitar breaks, again a instrumental that is massive on atmospherics, three quality musicians that have found that zone, which has created a dynamic you can’t but help but want to play repeatedly. Vladimir Muchnov steps to the front with Crystals; his authority really drives the piece, the dominant duo in tow follow him, never demanding or taking lead, supporting his dexterity throughout. Lipkin’s guitar work is divine, a strong character with a beautiful blues feel which still retains that spacey dynamic. The whole retro feel of the piece is outstanding, moody, melancholy and to be honest perfect in both tone and approach.

Flanged and effect laden guitars open Feedback, a piece that more than reiterates the feeling of the title. As opposed to being an ode to pure feedback, the band intelligently have developed the whole sound architecture, creating sonic sculptures, melodic passages that are grand in approach, that bounce out of the speakers like a dominant alpha male, forceful, unapologetic mastering the timbral space, notations that perform and evoke the emotional beast within. Music For Jimmy has the band taking a more aggressive approach, an approach that doesn’t deviate to far from what the band have set out to record. It retains uniqueness and also an original approach, something that the band has meticulously managed throughout, never repeating theme’s or soundscapes from track to track. Where as Northern Lights left track marks on the cortex Dreams Of Vodyanoy the closing track of the album scars the temporal lobe, its musical harmonious text book phrasings, bounce around the brains hemisphere’s inflaming the need to seek more, an arousal, passionate feelings created by the sheer structure and approach of these musicians.

Sound wise the band hasn’t move far from their debut album, what I would say though is that Analog for me is note for note a better album. The appeal is still towards bands such as Karma To Burn, Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizzard and Phased and any other top quality stoner band, being a perfect place to start the journey of discovery for this band, one which I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



High Watt Electrocutions – The Bermuda Triangle
High Watt Electrocutions – The Bermuda Triangle
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:INS-003
Year of Release:2010
Time:39:00
Info:High Watt
Electrocutions
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Parts 1 through 16

The website for HWE mourns the band’s passing, after 3 albums. The record here was produced, performed and written by one Ryan electrocution between 2008–10, and now, as of May 2011 it’s all over.

This is what the website says about The Bermuda Triangle:

"Remember those weird, ethereal and tribal instrumental songs on some of your favorite classic rock albums? The ones that ended off an album or side 1? The interesting ones that didn't fit in on there at all? Well, what if a band sustained that for a whole album?

Toning down the bleak, dark and claustrophobic atmosphere of their previous two releases, High Watt Electrocutions return with "The Bermuda Triangle", a 39 minute instrumental track/ album that turns down the fuzz guitars and menacing presence, while opting for an admittedly more optimistic and serene vibe. But it's not without eventual chaotic waters--this is, after all, the audio equivalent to the fabled area of the same name, where planes, ships and people vanish without a trace in clouds, water and a haze of confusion.

Built largely on layers of ringing guitars, acoustic guitars, pianos, synths and shimmering effects, the album doesn't so much hit you over the head with volume as it does density.....a wall of chiming, swooping atmospherics and percussion on a largely drum-less album that clicks instead of pounds away. Song movements fade in and out of each other with ease; the absence of vocals and lyrics challenge the listener to determine what they're hearing in the music, and challenges them as to where proposed song movements start and end (note: track sample clips are divided here at this website to illustrate how the album flows).

The album is a nicely done individually numbered 500 copy limited edition cd-r release with custom improvised painted front artwork, making each cover different and unique."

For a one man effort it’s commendable, but, and it pains me to say this upon the band’s demise, it was never destined to have mass appeal and just doesn’t have, for me, enough diversity to make it interesting or a sustainable listen. It’s OK, and perfectly adequate background, or dinner party music but not for me I’m afraid. Nor, I think, for the majority of readers of this progressive rock site.

There were no peaks or troughs, no depth – serene is a very good description in fact. Young people use the term ‘chill-out’ I believe and it would certainly achieve that purpose.

The guitar parts sound in places a lot like very early Lifeson, circa Caress Of Steel, but repeats simple passages, as part of the overall vibe, and mood, rather than building to crescendos, or climaxes.

So, unfortunately then the band has, just as the album concept intended, ‘vanished without a trace’ which is a shame. Alas we’ll never know. But if you like the sound of the record, the band website is still up and running for orders.

Conclusion: 5 out of 10

BRIAN WATSON


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