Review: Korzo – Supremacy

Korzo

With the amount of records being released in the present era, ranging from the bedroom to high-class studio productions, it is quite a challenge to satisfy my hunger for music lately. Most of this has to do with the fact that the music being released today lacks sincerity. Maybe I am stuck badly to the old-school understanding of rock music, but even though I try so hard, it happens quite a lot that I cannot understand and enjoy the modern music.

Korzo from Ukraine could be described as a true progressive rock metal band with touches of metal here and there, offering well-thought melodies, interesting vocal arrangements, and passages that connect the dots that are quite enjoyable. DP, who is the key person for this project, is a singer and guitarist who absolutely shines on the band’s sophomore studio release Supremacy. Although his voice tells the story, DP does a great work with his guitar — backing up the vocal melody most of times.

Supremacy album art

The album opens with “Empty,” which after a short ambient intro shows that Supremacy has a lot to offer. With often changes, Korzo distances themselves from delivering just a pure, lifeless showcase of technical proficiency, something that these guys definitely have, but rather presents the work that is alive, dynamic and above all, interesting.

References to various stylistically different artists can be heard in Korzo’s music. Their explorations within Anathema’s or Porcupine Tree’s melancholia speak of that, but the band is not afraid to delve deeper and expand their horizons. As Supremacy flows by, a listener is taken to a sound-trip that gets more metal-esque. Each of the songs on the album has its own personality, and labelling this record under a single genre would do this band a lot of injustice.

To summarise, Supremacy is a record largely based on the progressive rock genre channelling many different elements. This is a true epic, specifically in the amount of quality material, which requires quite a few listens to get into it. How far Korzo are ready to go? Time will tell. But for now they are on the right path.

Like Korzo on Facebook.

Album Review: The Earth and I – The Candleman

The Earth and I

New Yorkers The Earth and I are a new name on the progressive metal scene, and The Candleman is their debut album. This seven-track release really injects a breath of fresh air into the genre, mostly due to clean vocals of charismatic singer Kendyle Wolven. Mixing female vocals with prog metal / djent is not a new thing, but The Earth and I rise above other contemporary acts.

The Candleman

After a one-minute instrumental and atmospheric intro “The Lake Under the Desert,” The Candleman continues with “CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone)” which leaves a gashing mark on your ears. Very refreshing, the energy is genuinely vivid. Lots of double bass, djent riffing, excellent vocals; the group could not have chosen a perfect track to begin this ravenous journey. “Little Frames” brings very carnivourous riffage, unforgiving vocals, backed by a Periphery ambience. Overall, a bolstering chapter in the album. A personal favorite, “And Now for a Slight Departure,” is a wonderful melodic tune carried with Wolven’s voice. A thunderous foundation lures the listener deeper into an unholy light. Keeping things true and prog, this is about as direct as the album gets.

The Candleman promises to bring forth a dark and discarnate attitude. With extremely well executed instrumentals that push the adrenaline factor into the senses, the album will capture and ensnare the listener and bring them down to ecstatic sinister bliss. While that is said and done, more solos could have been implemented, but this is just personal preference. Once you set foot into The Candleman it will be virtually impossible to leave/escape. Consider yourself warned.

The Candleman is out now; get it from Bandcamp.

BARRY WEINBERG Launches “Beyond the Astral Sky” Single

BW

South Florida based musician and songwriter Barry Weinberg is set to launch his Prog Rock influenced album Samsarana in January 2018, but the musician is today announcing the imminent release of the first single.

The single, “Beyond the Astral Sky,” is an anthem, gorgeous track with soaring vocals. The song is the first in the series of singles taken from Samsarana, a release that sees the musician exploring through a number of styles evolving around Prog Rock.

About “Beyond the Astral Sky” Weinberg says: “This song is very personal to me and actually one of the first songs I had ever written for the album.  For years, this was purely a classical guitar piece with lyrics that I would play on my acoustic, but as I started to record it, I started experimenting with electric leads over the acoustic phrases and vocals and it evolved into what it is today.

Lyrically “Beyond the Astral Sky” is about hope in the face of despair. As Weinberg explains:

It’s about that experience when you look around yourself, your life and the world you’re in, and get overwhelmed by the chaos, destruction, darkness, confusion, stress, hardship… and yet, in that moment of utter despair, you can look up at a star or into a child’s eyes, and although surrounded by darkness, you can begin envisioning a different world, a different life, a different future that’s inspiring, joyful, empowering. This is how we make change in our lives. This is how we make change in the world. Acknowledging and owning the darkest parts of ourselves and our lives that we hate and shifting our attention to a new intention, our ideal, our vision. It’s the light dot in the center of the dark part of the Taoist yin/yang symbol. This is where I was at when I wrote this song and this where the main ‘character’ is at in the story of ‘Samsarana.’

For more info visit Barry Weinberg’s official website.

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Interview: INFINITWAV

SLK

Infinitwav is a brainchild of composer Stephen Latin-Kasper who recently released an album titled “Humans.” Stephen wrote, recorded and produced the release all by himself, but in the same time, as he explains, “none of us create anything alone.”

In an interview for Progarchy, Stephen talks about what it took to come up with the album.

Describe the vision propelling your album “Humans.”

The vision that propelled the album developed slowly after reading about National Geographic’s Genographic Project. I participated in the project and found out that most of the people that share my genotype are in Denmark and Norway despite the fact that my great grandparents lived in Germany and the United Kingdom. Having gone through life thinking that my ancestry is mostly German, only to find out that my genes are mostly Danish, made me think about what connects us to each other.

At the same time, I was in the midst of experimenting with some recordings of instrumental music. One night, creating the music caused me to think about genetic mutation and how that might have affected the human migrations out of Africa. That led to the thought that maybe humans who share the same mutations are more closely bound to each other than we realize. That grew into a story which influenced the music, and was in turn, influenced by the music. Two years later, I had composed nine songs; one for each of the chapters in the 12 page booklet that was published with the record in a double album jacket.

What made this the right time to pursue that vision?

If you are lucky enough to have a vision, the only time to pursue it is when it occurs. In my case, the past three years were an incredibly busy time, but the vision for HUMANS was deeply compelling. The vision became a project, as all visions must, but I never thought of it as work. I didn’t see the time that was required to turn the vision into reality as a cost; it was simply necessary. The materialization of the vision had to be transmuted. There was no alternative.

Tell me about what you’re communicating with the album cover.

The album cover originated as a mosaic commissioned by my wife and I for the outside wall of our garage. The album cover is a photograph I took of the completed mosaic. If you look closely, you can see the outlines of the concrete bricks. The artist is Kim Loper. I’m sure she could do a better job of answering the question, but I will do my best.

The mosaic depicts human diversity in terms of physicality and personality. Some of the figures in the mosaic are clearly moving with some sense of purpose. Others are just as clearly at rest. All of the figures are closely connected to each other. To me, the mosaic gives voice to the idea that our diversity should be celebrated. In connection with the story that is told in HUMANS, the mosaic projects the idea that our diversity is, and will be, critical to our survival as a species.

What was the creative chemistry for “Humans” like?

Since HUMANS was a solo project, there was no creative chemistry between me and other musicians. There was, however, substantial creative chemistry between the written story and the music that was composed to support it.

infinitwav - Humans

Speaking of the album’s creative process, provide some insight into it.

My foray into instrumental composition began as a challenge to myself. Prior to HUMANS, all of the music I had written included vocals, with the exception of some short pieces written for movie soundtracks. As noted above, I started writing a science fiction short story at the same time. That led to the establishment of a new goal for the instrumental music. It had to be written to support the story.

The creation of the music was quite organic. Most of the songs started with a melodic phrase. That was usually followed by a drum track to make it easier to keep all of the tracks that would follow in rhythm. The third track recorded was usually a bass line. One of the compositional elements that makes HUMANS unique is that the bass lines do not change for the entire song, regardless of how much the other instrument’s parts change. Synthesizers were used to shape the soundscape in each song. To emphasize the importance of percussion throughout the evolution of human music, each of the nine songs has its own percussion signature. You can recognize the songs just by listening to the drum parts. I intentionally avoided using strings (violins, violas, cellos). Guitar voices were used extensively. Given the nature of the story, it also made sense to me that the oldest of the woodwind instruments, namely the flute, should be part of the music. For most of the songs, the lead voice was written and recorded last.

Did the environment in any way influence the vibe the album transcends?

There is more than one way to interpret the word “environment” in the context of this question. I’ll be literal and assume that the reference is to the current environment in which humanity is living. That environment includes fundamentalist leaders rising to power in many developed and emerging economies, many of whom refuse to recognize climate change as a priority, or for that matter, recognize that it exists. We have a crazy man in N. Korea threatening to start a nuclear war. We have people falling ill on the streets of Beijing because they dared to breathe the air. The Pacific Ocean has been turned into a garbage dump, and we appear to be on the verge of a mass extinction event. Men all over the planet treat women as second-class citizens, or worse.

The current human environment is toxic in many ways, but I apparently am an optimist. I believe there are enough geniuses amongst us, who have access to enough resources to allow our species to transcend a global culture, which in 2017, still forces too many humans to live in miserable poverty. That in essence, is the story of HUMANS, in which we find a way not just to survive, but to prosper, in this, and other universes.

Tell me about the gear you used for creating “Humans.” How did you achieve all these tones?

Most of the instruments (voices) on HUMANS were created with two pieces of equipment: the KORG M50 and the Roland Octapad SPD-30. Both pieces of equipment include hundreds of electronic voices, all of which can be customized. The KORG M50’s arpeggiation feature allowed me to create dense melodies that other tracks could harmonize with. The Octapad made it possible for me to create percussion parts with many different ethnic backgrounds, so that each song had a percussion ensemble that was unique. All nine songs also had unique synthesizer voices. This allowed for each chapter in the story to have its own signature sound.

With the album out, what else do you have in the pipeline?

I have another two albums of material ready for recording. I am in the process of arranging vocal harmonies for many of them, and searching for other vocalists to record backing vocals. I remain interested in instrumental music as well, and was recently inspired by the first episode of Star Trek Discovery to write what I think should be used as the theme song for whatever the next Star Trek series turns out to be. That probably won’t happen, but a human can dream.

Visiti infinitwav’s official website here.

Review: Impera – Weightless

Impera band

Impera from Lisbon prefer to mix their metal with some groove and prog, albeit with the strong emphasis on the ‘metal’ part. The other bands of similar genre orientation place a premium on virtuoso musicianship and highly technical song structures, and while that also figures prominently into Impera’s music, these boys slather it all up in a special sauce that I like to refer to as ‘classic sauce.’ The group’s debut album “Weightless” sounds deliberately rustic and antiqued, like that milk-stained fake money you’d buy at the museum.

But production is not what prods Impera. What stimulates this band’s formidable corpus are five very talented musicians. It’s Daniel Chen, though, who takes home the MVP award on “Weightless”; if drummers are action figures, Chen carries both a rapid-fire uzi (the toms) and an erase-all, double-barreled bazooka (dual-bass drums). I guarantee, he will brutalize you.

Impera - Weightless

Like their metal peers, Impera sport some mathematics. But where Meshuggah get deep into calculus and Dillinger Escape Plan prefer(red)  trigonometry, these guys enjoy the more accessible stuff — we’re talking pre-algebra here. They drop in just enough to keep the arrangements flavourful, but not so much as to overload the vintage guitar riffs with Dream Theater-like complexity. And then they counterbalance it with some nice, old-fashioned, Sabbath-style metal attitude: guitars crunch, wail, and burn. The complete package sounds timeless, but in that unbelievable way that you’ve never heard before.

A great band whose raging, sodden hellfire now beckons you to warm yourself at its side throughout the impending winter months. A band whose crushing, odiferous, sodomizing blade dices like a Popeil cuisinart and runs you through with gruesome exactness. This band is Impera.

Treat yourself with “Weightless” here.

Review: Perihelion Ship – To Paint a Bird of Fire

Perihelion Ship

I find “To Paint a Bird of Fire” to be a very special album. There is a sort of checklist you can go down when preparing to listen to this kind of modern extreme progressive metal, and Perihelion Ship basically hit everything on it… But they go a bit further than that.

What are some of the things on that checklist? You’ve got your combination of growled vocals and lighter ones, which we’ve seen the likes of Opeth and many others successfully employ. There are frantic passages driven by thundering double bass and softer, more atmospheric moments. Slick melodies abound in the guitar work, and there are hugely ambitious and lengthy tracks. It’s all there.

To Paint a Bird of Fire

The thing about “To Paint a Bird of Fire” is that it isn’t just all there, it’s all there for a reason. This is songwriting taken to the next level. Every time there needs to be a softer moment it comes, and every time there needs to be a burst of aggression to release a building of tension, it comes too. In addition (and this is important), despite the obvious massive amounts of instrumental talent of the musicians, there is no shying away from using simpler riffs and chord progressions as building blocks to move a song forward.

I try and find some criticism of any album when reviewing. It’s tough for this one. “To Paint a Bird of Fire” is an album I really didn’t find boring at all. Song for song, it’s put together masterfully and is a great example of how it’s often better to create a shorter, focused, and wholly structured album than have 15 songs for the sake of having lots of songs where only 3 or 4 are really good. And importantly, as mentioned above, it’s got all the items on the progressive checklist not just for the sake of being called progressive, but because when you do those things right, you can make some great music.

“To Paint a Bird of Fire” is out now and is available from Bandcamp.

Interview: LUNAR

Alex Bosson

One album that I’m really looking forward to, although I do have a copy of it, is a full-length by Sacramento, California-based progressive metal project Lunar, titled “Theogony.” The project, with a core trio of drummer Alex Bosson, guitarist Ryan Erwin, and bassist Ryan Price, with singer Chandler Mogel, has completed an epic journey with “Theogony,” which is out on November 10th via Divebomb Records.

Alex Bosson spoke for Progarchy about the album, inspiration, and more.

Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?

Life is wonderful! Really I love everything about my life these days. And music is a huge part of my life, obviously, so that makes things great since music stuff is going so well!  I’m really proud and excited about this album release.

What was it like working on the “Theogony” album?

There’s so many answers to that question… [laughs] In one form or another I have been working on this album for almost 3 years!! At times it was frustrating trying to coordinate with people all around the world for all the parts they played. I think by the end there’s over 20 or maybe 25 people that worked on “Theogony” in one form or another. So trying to match up everyone’s schedules and everything can be exhausting.  It sometimes was a full time job in itself. But it was totally worth it! Ultimately, working on this album was filled with fun, unforgettable experiences. The time spent in the studio with the musicians that contributed locally were always the most fun parts. I love being in the studio! And the other guest musicians around the world, when I would get emails from them with guest solos or something, my heart would just leap into my throat with excitement to hear what they had done. So although at times it was very difficult to make everything come together, working on this album was a fun, unique experience and I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished!

Lunar - Theogony

Are there any touring plans in support to “Theogony”?

Unfortunately, no, there are no plans for touring. LUNAR has actually never had a live performance. I tried for a long time to turn the band into a full lineup so that we could tour and play live, but, so far, it hasn’t been able to happen. Ryan Erwin, Ryan Price and I all live in Northern California, but still hours apart. And Chandler Mogel (the vocalist on “Theogony”) lives in New York. And all the lead guitar duties were divided up between numerous guest musicians. So I hope someday I will have a lineup that I’m able to tour with, but for now, this is just a studio project. I did it that way because I didn’t want to delay getting the music out there any more than I already had.

While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?

Personally, I haven’t had the opportunity to tour nearly as much as I would like. So I would love to tour anywhere really! But I feel that progressive rock and metal has a much better reception in Europe so I would love to do a European tour someday. In terms of specific countries, I’ve always wanted to visit Sweden, Norway, Germany and the U.K., so I’d love to hit those places on a tour!

Who and what inspires you the most?

Well as cliche as it may sound in a music interview, nothing inspires me more than music. Like most musicians I think, it just has this chemical affect on my brain when I hear incredible music that can’t be matched by anything else in this world. So whether it’s from the feeling it gives me, the incredible musicianship of the players, or some lyrics that speak to me, that’s what inspires me to create the music that I do. It’s an important part of everything I do music related. Even while I sit here doing this interview I’m listening to “Nil Recurring” by Porcupine Tree. In terms of the musicians / bands that inspire me the most, being a fan of progressive rock and metal, I love the bands that are the most diverse, but still catchy. Ones that are incredibly talented and when someone who’s never heard them asks you to describe them, you can’t, because there’s nothing else out there to compare them to. So these days my personal biggest influences musically are acts like Opeth, Steven Wilson, Haken and Ayreon. And I’m sure you’ll hear tons of influence from those acts in “Theogony.”

What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?

Honestly I don’t often seek out other genres of music to listen to, but I don’t believe in the restriction of genre, so I will listen to just about anything that someone puts on to show me and I’ll try to find something that I can draw some kind of influence or appreciation for in it. That being said, prog is such a broad category of music that you can listen to a few different bands that are all considered prog and find so much range of sound and influence. Spending a day listening to Steven Wilson, Ayreon, Radiohead and Ihsahn spans so many different sounds, but they can all be considered progressive bands. For my personal playing, I try to watch individual drum videos as often as I can to learn new things in my playing style and ability, and with that I find myself watching drummers from different genres. I feel that it’s important to not pigeonhole yourself in your playing, especially if you’re into progressive music. And while I love watching rock and metal drummers play, I often find I’ll learn more and open myself up to new ideas watching jazz drummers or gospel drummers.

I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?

I guess I just want to say thank you to you guys at Progarchy for taking the time to interview me and thanks to all the fans that read this and check out “Theogony!” The album will be out November 10th. I’m really excited for it and I really hope everyone enjoys it!!!

 

“Theogony” is out on November 10th; pre-order it from Bandcamp here. Follow Lunar on Facebook.