Interview with KILLER CORTEZ

Killer Cortez

Back in January, Boston-based prog duo Killer Cortez released their full-length debut “Maquiladora,” a record which is a pleasant surprise. The two-piece plays a show in Cambridge, MA this July 28th; if anyone is nearby on that date I would truly recommend to stop by and visit the Middle East Upstairs.

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Socrates Cruz spoke for Progarchy about the band’s first album, other genres, and more.

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

Life is treating us alright, thanks. There are times when we can get caught up with what’s not going well in our daily lives, but it’s also important to step away and understand that overall we’re pretty privileged to be able to make music surrounded by people that support us. That said, the past few months have been a fascinating mix of joy, regret, uncertainty, and excitement. This does lead to a heightened sense of creativity though!

Speaking of music, you have an album. What can people expect from “Maquiladora”?

It’s dark; but melancholy rather than angry. The album is kind of a collection of mini-documentaries that shed light on stories we thought were worth sharing. You could say the album is a little unnerving in that each of these stories is tragic; no matter how detached we are from the characters the plot is meant to feel familiar. Then, you have all these swirling instruments and textures and sounds that make the whole thing feel sweeping and cinematic. If you are looking for music with meaning then this is for you.

Maquiladora

What was it like working on the album?

SLOW. Also exhilarating. We’re really proud of the outcome.

Are there any bigger touring plans in support to “Maquiladora”?

It’s in our DNA to want to tour endlessly but we’re coming at this cycle through a different angle. We’re about to officially “release” the album at our show at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA on 7/28 and are close to announcing a series of dates for late Fall. Details are forthcoming, but most of the shows centered in New England, with a few scattered through NY, PA, and MD.

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

Though not exactly countries, we seem to be getting attention in the UK and Eastern Europe. It would be great to tour there soon and maybe cap it all off playing a massive castle somewhere in the middle of Czechoslovakia. One can dream, right?

Who and what inspires you the most?

Any song, moment, story, or person who causes us to reflect on our human condition. We’re both a little addicted to some kind of never-ending search for meaning, which really can rise up anywhere at any time as long as you’re paying attention.

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

We’re both really open minded – in the van we’re blasting anything from electronica and progressive metal to power ballads and orchestral film scores. With Maquiladora, some of this variety is reflected in the digital atmosphere of songs like Bracero or Villa Grimaldi, and also in the odd time signatures of a song like Pine Ridge Peltier.

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?

We’re excited to share our album with whoever is willing to listen. We tried to create a work that celebrates the struggles of the disenfranchised, the dispossessed, the exploited, and the forgotten. We feel that the shared human experience is one of constant struggle and of overcoming those challenges. Music can help us escape but it can also help us look inward.

“Maquiladora” is out now and is available from BandcampBandcamp. Stay in touch with Killer Cortez via Facebook.

ART AGAINST AGONY’s New EP “Russian Tales” Out on July 22

Art Against Agony

Germany-based collective Art Against Agony announce today their new EP titled Russian Talesscheduled for the release on July 22nd. The ensemble of musicians and artists combine different elements; their instrumental music evolves around progressive metal, experimental rock, jazz fusion and avant-garde.

Speaking about the forthcoming EP, the band commented: “The ‘Russian Tales’ EP gathers all of our experiences from our tour through Russia during the Siberian winter of 2016: Driving 12000km and playing 20 shows in 3 weeks was heaven and hell, with wonderful hospitality & delicious food, marvellous nature & wild animals, but also including insomnia, anxiety & social break ups.

To coincide with the release of the Russian Tales EP, Art Against Agony will embark on a tour across Russia in late July, followed by dates in Brazil in August. For the full list of dates see below.

Russian Tales is available for pre-order from Bandcamp (downloads) and Bigcartel (CDs). A video trailer for the EP can be seen below, and “Coffee for the Queen” single can be heard on Bandcamp here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Russian Tales EP Track Listing:

1. Königsberg Präludium
2. Nothing to declare?
3. Tea for the Dragon
4. Coffee for the Queen
5. Saratov Incident

Art Against Agony – “Against All Odds Tour 2017” live dates:

29.07. Back Luny Festival, Russia
30.07. Kaluga, Russia
01.08. Yelets, Russia
02.08. Voronezh, Russia
03.08. Tula, Russia
04.08. Zelenograd, Russia
05.08. Saint Petersburg, Russia
08.08. Sao Paulo, Brazil
09.08. Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
10.08. Rio de Janeiro – Botafogo, Brazil
11.08. Petropolis, Brazil
12.08. Rio de Janeiro – Barra, Brazil
13.08. Sao Joao de Meriti, Brazil

Art Against Agony line-up:

the_sorcerer (lead_guitar, philosophy)
the_machinist (rhythm_guitar)
the_surgeon (piano)
the_heretic (bass)
the_malkavian (drums)
the_maximalist (mridangam)
the_architect (photography)
the_switch (live_visuals)
the_harlequin (merch)
the_glasses (japan_supervisor)

Art Against Agony online:

Official website

Facebook

Bigcartel

Bandcamp

SOUL ENEMA Releases New Album; Feat. Arjen Lucassen, Yossi Sassi, etc.

Soul Enema

Israel-based Progressive Metal band Soul Enema is announcing a release date of the upcoming album  titled Of Clans and Clones and Clowns. Out on June 23, the album is now available for pre-order from Bandcamp and iTunes.

The promising band’s second album represents an interesting and varied combination of influences, including 14 tracks mixed an mastered by legendary Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend, Paradise Lost, Symphony X).

Soul Enema has issued a statement on the forthcoming album saying:

Looking back, it took a lot of time and effort to create ‘Of Clans and Clones and Clowns,’ and the final result brings the feeling of a real accomplishment. It was a long, complicated process, constantly laden with a myriad of good reasons to give up or compromise. It probably couldn’t be any different, as our goal was a mature, well-produced statement, consistent in quality throughout, and at the same time versatile enough in its various moods, styles and approaches.

A creative and diverse Rock/Metal album, exploring vast melodic and rhythmic territories — from ABBA to Zappa, from King Crimson to King Diamond, between East and West and way beyond — in true progressive fashion. Like any reflection of the world we live in, it takes a wild ride over a wide emotional spectrum: sad, funny, perfectly sane, totally insane, very direct, quite obscure, and everything in between.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns also features guest contributions from Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen, Yossi Sassi (ex-Orphaned Land, Yossi Sassi Band), Sergey Kalugin and Yuri Ruslanov (from leading Russian proggers Orgia Pravednikov).

The band commented: “We had a great honor of featuring the instrumental talents of these,  as well as other wonderful musicians. Our next aim was to ensure that all of these components  work in the final picture, and that’s the reason why we welcomed one of the best guys on the list to mix and master this work — Jens Bogren. It deserved the best possible treatment, just as you as a listener deserve the best possible quality. The mixing process was far from trivial, and it took some effort to shape everything our way – clear and powerful enough, yet not overproduced. So, if you like what you hear, please order yourself a CD, or the highest quality digital download, to have it the way we really meant it to sound – full-scale and uncompromising. We hope you will have your own exciting experience with the album!

Soul Enema released a few singles from Of Clans and Clones and Clowns, you can check them below.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns is out on June 23th, and it can be pre-ordered from Bandcamp or iTunes. Visit Soul Enema’s official website for more information, and follow them on Facebook.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns Track Listing:

1. Omon Ra

2. Cannibalissimo Ltd.

3. Spymania

4. Breaking the Waves

5. The Age of Cosmic Baboon

6. In Bed With an Enemy (ft. Y. Ruslanov, S. Kalugin)

7. Last Days of Rome

8. Dear Bollock (Was a Sensitive Man)

9. Aral Sea I – Feeding Hand

10. Aral Sea II – Dustbin of History (ft. Yossi Sassi)

11. Aral Sea III – Epilogue(ft. Sergey Kalugin)

12. Octopus Song

13. Eternal Child (ft. Arjen Lucassen)

14. Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

Review: Adaen – Welcomer

There are times in every music lover’s life where a record’s concept, ambition, and execution is understood and loved immediately. Not just by the heart and how it makes you feel but on an intellectual level as well. These moments are when one truly appreciates an artist’s creation. Welcomer has all the essential ingredients to conjure up this feeling in anyone who listens to it with no fluff added.

More focused than the meandering nature of Muse and more immediate than the sometimes glacial pace of TesseracT, Adaen is a project, led by composer, singer and guitarist Valentine Berezin who is joined by bassist Alexander Vorontsov and drummer Leonid Nikonov, striking a balance seldom can attain, much less in the realm of progressive rock/post-metal. The sheer number of ideas as to where to go and what to do with the medium has resulted in many albums either going too far with the wall of noise or holding back too much in fear of doing so. Welcomer doesn’t experiment with the plethora of soundscapes and instruments available to those subscribing to the jazz/fusion moniker but instead chooses to hone its more contemporary musicianship to a razor sheen. Every instrument is clearly differentiated and contributes to the different cascades of mood every song portrays. The guitars in particular showcase a perfect mix of distorted riffage and technical fret play which play through and off each other artfully. The noodling has a clear focus in each song, and never seems to just fill space. In fact, the entirety of the record gives a definite sense of progression, carrying the listener from one section to the next seamlessly and gives off a welcome cohesiveness.

Adaen live

At the heart of Welcomer is its concept, which is that of stripping away the superfluous qualities of emotion, situation, and inspiration and leaving behind only its essence. This is the “concept” in terms of following certain vibe and structures, and perfectly describes the band’s direction with the absence of a variety of instruments and the sharp focus of the songs. That is not to say Welcomer drags on at any point, in fact the pacing is beautifully crafted. Musically, the record achieves everything it was made to do.

Adaen bestow upon the masses a genre-defining album, displaying a marvellous blend of experimentation, songwriting expertise (not using that word lightly), and the feeling of plain rocking. The strange juxtaposition of using a concept of stripped-down instrumentation, conveying feeling and moods at their most basic level using a framework as frequently ostentatious and gaudy as progressive rock is not lost on this reviewer and the fact that it’s pulled off so well by three guys only is quite a feat. Those who want thrills without frills in their music cannot go wrong by giving this a listen.

Welcomer is available here.

Interview with MACHINES OF MAN

MoM

Earlier in April this year, Salt Lake City prog metallers Machines of Man released their debut single “Fractals,” as an introduction to their upcoming full-length album, for which they are currently running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

Bassist Rocky Schofield tells us in the interview below about the meaning of the band’s name, the upcoming album, and more.

What made you go for the name Machines of Man?

Pretty sure Jon came up with that about the time I first joined up to jam in the very early days of MoM. I’ve personally always associated it with technology and the concept of man actually becoming more like a machine as time progresses. That could just be my sci-fi nerd brain taking over though. If anything, it does make for a great acronym. I mean, who doesn’t love MOM?

How do you usually describe your music?

First thing that comes to mind is Progressive Metal, but I hesitate to say that because I don’t feel that we can be lumped into a specific genre. We definitely have the heavy riffs and odd time signatures, but also a lot of ambient and melodic elements. We aren’t afraid to experiment and throw some curveballs in there too; whether it be a jazzy fandango, salsa jam, or a beautiful piano based composition.

What is your writing process like?

We generally use Guitar Pro to help construct our music. Jon usually takes the reigns on putting some general ideas together and then we all get the file and any one of us can add or change parts, and just kind of keep bouncing ideas around. It’s really cool to see just a few riffs metamorphose into a fully developed song.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

There are so many amazing musicians and bands who inspire me every single day. I love listening to just one instrument in a song and how it interacts with everything else going on. These things inspire me to widen my approach to playing. Video game music has always been a big one for me and some of the other guys too, and I think that shows in our music as well. My bandmates also deserve a big mention here. I feel blessed every time I set foot in the rehearsal space and bear witness to the talent these guys have. It’s also a huge push for me to always be working to become a better player.

Machines of Man - Dreamstates

Tell me about the creative process for your upcoming debut album.

We had a few of these songs around for a while and things were looking a bit bleak to be frank. After some time to step outside ourselves and really evaluate what we were doing and who we were, there was a renewal of inspiration and drive to get this album made. The process has been a long and difficult road, and I don’t think any of us would change that for anything. I’m glad we went through the lows because I feel it helped us really put our hearts and souls into creating this thing that has become Dreamstates. For me that’s exactly what this album represents.

Do you have a title for the record? What can prog fans expect?

Dreamstates! Releases on June 27th. You can preorder it through our indiegogo campaign with some extra goodies now.

Expect heavy riffage, sweet saucy goodness, and non stop pleasures for your ears!

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

I would hope anyone who listens to this gets the same feels as I do when I hear these songs. I love being able to just put headphones on and get lost as the music takes you on a journey. Those are the feels I get and I wish that upon every person who listens to this music.

Machines of Man

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

Although I do thoroughly enjoy being in the studio and creating this stuff, nothing beats the road. That’s the fruits of the labor right there. Playing live, seeing old friends, meeting new friends, being able to connect with people in real life and not just behind a screen is as good as it gets.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Opeth – Ghost Reveries, Between the Buried and Me – Colors, and Thrice – Alchemy Index (Yes it counts as one album!)

Thanks for the time, and be sure to check out our Indiegogo campaign to preorder the album!

Keep in touch with Machines of Man via Facebook.

Interview with Australian Proggers ANUBIS

Anubis

In 2014, Sydney’s cinematic prog rock sextet Anubis released “Hitchhiking To Byzantium,” an album that was very well received and which was listed as one of the best Prog releases of the year. Following its release, the group embarked on tours around Australia and Europe promoting the album live as much as possible, and expanding their fanbase along the way. As a result of that Anubis released a live album titled “Behind our Eyes.” Now, almost three years later, the Australians return with their fourth full-length record “The Second Hand,” their best yet.

Singer, guitarist and producer Dean Bennison spoke for Progarchy about Anubis in 2017, the new album, and future.

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

Life is good. Very good. We have a new album that’s just come out. It’s nice to have finished all that hard work and see it go out into the world.

Speaking of new music, you have an album. What can people expect from “The Second Hand”?

Well for starters, it’s a return to a narrative driven concept album. There were some people who expressed a bit of disappointment that our last album “Hitchhiking to Byzantium” didn’t have the narrative style of our previous albums, so I think those people will be happy to see we’ve returned to that format. It wasn’t a conscious decision though, it’s just that the themes that we wanted to explore were best served by going back to that format.

Musically though, I think this is probably the most diverse album we’ve made. We’ve used a broader range of sounds, and created a more dynamic album this time. I think people who liked our previous work will still find it recognizably us, but we’ve branched out quite a bit, so it’s still Anubis, but not quite as you’ve heard us before.

Anubis - The Second Hand

What was it like working on the album?

I sent a message to the other guys in the band shortly before the album was released, and told them that this was the most enjoyable album for me to make since our first album, “230503”.

We really worked well as a unit this time around, and it couldn’t have been a better experience making a record.

Are there any touring plans in support to “The Second Hand”?

Yes, but it’s early days in the planning. We’re going to do a few shows here at home in Australia this year, and the plan at this stage is to return to Europe in 2018.

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

After playing in Europe (Germany, Netherlands & UK) last year, we really can’t wait to get back there. We’d love to see more of Europe next time. We know there are quite a few fans in France & Belgium who keep telling us they want us to play there, so they would certainly be high on our list.

Who and what inspires you the most?

For me personally, first and foremost would be my wife and family.

I’m very lucky to have a loving and supportive family. Watching our young children as they grow is an endless source of inspiration. Not to mention the fact that my wife is also an amazing singer and songwriter, she is always inspiring.

Of course, the next source of inspiration for me would have to be the other members of Anubis. It’s a real privilege to play with such amazing musicians, who all happen to be great friends as well.

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

I’m a big fan of well crafted pop-rock. I’ve always been a big Beatles fan, and I’m a fan of anything Neil Finn has ever been a part of. In fact, I’ve always felt that prog music is at it’s best when it uses some of the more Beatle-esque, pop-melodic style elements as a way of drawing the listener in to the more atmospheric and complex elements of prog.

I’m not a fan of complexity for the sake of complexity. I think that music has to be accessible.

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?

Well thank you as well.

I’d really like to thank everyone who has taken the time to listen to our music, and especially to everyone who has already bought the new album. We’ve been so overwhelmed with the response. We feel very lucky to be able to do what we do.

The Second Hand” is out now and is available in digital format and CD from Bandcamp. Visit Anubisofficial website for more news, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

BANDOLIRUM: Bandoneon Prog Metal

Bandolirium

Argentinian Prog-Tango Metal act Bandolirium, led by bandoneon player Amijai Shalev, are set to release their self-titled debut album this Friday, May 12.

Although there were tries in the past to blend Tango and Progressive Metal together, Bandolirium’s approach to this idea goes a few steps further by including a bandoneon—a type of square concertina popular in Argentina—in their music.

About the idea to create Prog Metal music with the inclusion of the instrument, Shalev commented: “I feel it’s a natural result of the music I listen to and my personal background. Great part of being a composer is finding the unique combination that we are and the way we see our environment. Living in Buenos Aires,  this combination seems obvious to me, it hasn’t been done before just because people have a tendency to keep on doing the same stuff. In Prog Metal you hear very often rhythms and melodies from different cultures, so if we want to do Argentinian Prog Metal, Tango is a great inspiration, also using the bandoneon in metal parts is interesting because the sound is similar to keyboards but you can work the dynamics of an acoustic instrument, and of course for Tango audience the metal sound is something new.

Progressive Metal and Tango have a lot in common, the intensity and drama especially, but even specific rhythms that are used in metal are found in tango.

Bandolirium has previously released a cover of Metallica’s classic “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Shalev said: “I think that our version of ‘For whom the Bell’ tolls is an example how close tango and metal (in this case thrash) can get.

About the creative process of the self-titled album, Amijai said: “I composed all the parts with scores at home, a very intimate process, for the drums I only wrote a reference and our drummer, Marcos Edwards, composed the real drums. While rehearsing we made the changes and corrections; there were many of them. It was a very interesting work, we learned a lot doing it.

Bandolirium is out on May 12th.

Bandolirium is:

Amijai Shalev – bandoneon
Marcos de Cristobal – guitars
Matias Brandauer – bass
Marcos Edwards – drums

Bandolirium online:

Website

Facebook

Bandcamp