VALKYRIE: A Supreme Achievement

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VALKYRIE is an astounding achievement by any measure.  It’s not only the best album of 2016, but it’s one of the best albums of the rock era, a relentless drive toward poetic and tonal excellence.  Glass Hammer is a band that never stops challenging itself, and it never fails to succeed.

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Susie Bogdanowicz, the Best Voice in Rock.

This is, by far, Glass Hammer’s best album.  Amazingly so!  In fact, it’s the perfect, but more intense, sibling of LEX REX, INCONSOLABLE SECRET, and PERILOUS.

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Jon Anderson’s Instructions to His Dog Sitter on National Dog Day

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I have no idea if Jon actually wrote this, but it is pretty funny.

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/yes-frontman-jon-andersons-instructions-to-his-dogsitter

Dear Frank,

Overture—Heart of Sunrise

Total Breakfast: Alpo-calypse

ii. Comb of Life

iii. The Solid Bowel Movement

Bridge—A Venture (Outside With Leash)

Fetch/Play Dead

a. Fetch

b. Play dead

ii. Long Distance Runaround (seg. into The Calling)

iii. Starship Pooper (use grocery bags!)

Requiem—Edge of the Sun

The Revealing Science of Dog (food)

ii. Sweet Dreams

Da Capo

Progressively,
Jon

Personal Playlist by Iris (26 August 2016) — Grendel HeadQuarters

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My latest playlist was next month, so it’s time for a new one! This playlist also contains some FREE music downloads, yippehyayeeeh! Here are some albums I’m listening to lately…(go click on the link below to see all the albums!)

via Personal Playlist by Iris (26 August 2016) — Grendel HeadQuarters

Review: Utopian Trap – The Human Price

The Human Price

Developing a progressive metal sound that is modern and experimental, Utopian Trap attain rarified stylistic differentiation on their sophomore album The Human Price. This quintet from San Jose started in 2005, slowly improving through over years to work their way up to a proper full-length — 2010’s Fiction Fades into Reality. The time passed by, and the band introduced a new vocalist Eric Boles, with whom they recorded and released their second studio full-length in July. There’s a hypnotic sense to a lot of the tempo shifts and riff segments – often switching moods up at the drop of a hat from tranquility to jackhammer cyber-fused heaviness, which along with the vocal employment gives Utopian Trap many colors and shades of arrangement exploration.

Two guitarists, Chandra Garud and Vinod Bhat, allow the band to tackle counterpoint elements while still giving an abundance of harmonic and melodic moments, occasionally shredding even in the keyboard department for the opening, almost 10-minute monster “The Human Price.” Fates Warning and Threshold come into the picture as prog metal riffs and melody are a focal point in many tracks, yet there’s also a bit of natural musicianship and dynamic contrast to the more streamlined “Atephobic.” You’ll find yourself humming along to many riffs or melody lines, and that’s a good thing in a genre that can sometimes be too technically sharp while forgetting to create a retainable, memorable song.

Boles handles the microphone duties in an excellent way; he is comfortable both in lower Russell Allen-registers and then anything piercing Tate high. Guitar solos punctuate instrumental sections, offering dramatic tension throughout The Human Price. The album features a boatload of drop on a dime tempo changes to highlight bassist Farhan Mohamed and drummer Roil Taggarsi as a fierce, schooled rhythm section.

Overall, The Human Price contains seven songs of stimulating song craft. Utopian Trap will gain converts, feeding social media buzz and aligning community attraction by the day.

Buy the album from Bandcamp.

MAGNIFICATION: Anderson’s Final Yes Album, 2001

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Yes, MAGNIFICATION (Beyond, 2001).

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Not Roger Dean, but still rather nice packaging (especially inside)

I was only age 33 when Magnification first came into the world.  Now, fifteen years later, as I approach age 49, I find myself marveling that this was the last Yes album released with Jon Anderson’s vocals.  I’m by no means a Yes purist, but I certainly think of Anderson as synonymous with Yes.  Regardless. . . how well has this album held up?

One of the great problems with mixing rock and classical music is the actual choice of traditionally classical instruments employed.  When it comes to the staples of rock—bass, drums, and guitar—certain classical instruments work extremely well in accompaniment.  Others, not at all, or rarely so.  Generally—at least to my untrained ear—deep strings and woodwinds work best with the traditional instruments of rock.

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