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

Burnt City’s Aydin Zahedi Talks About “Resurgence” EP

Aydin Zahedi

“Resurgence” is a debut EP by Australian Prog-Power Metal project Burnt City, a brainchild of guitarist Aydin Zahedi, who worked with singer Gus Monsanto, keyboardist Bob Katsionis, bassist Mike Lepond of Symphony X fame, and drummer extraordinaire George Kollias. With such line-up on board you can definitely expect some high-class musicianship and performance.

Hey Aydin. How are you doing?

Hi, thanks for asking, I am good, thank you for having me.

You released “Resurgence” on the January 1st. How do you feel about the release?

I am very happy and excited, I had a really good feedbacks which makes me wanna continue, because it took a lot of effort for me to finish it and I gave up once, when it came out I said to myself; “yes, I finally did it” so I feel extremely good.

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Interview: Alfonso Vidales of CAST

CAST 3

Mexican symphonic prog rocker Cast recently put out their 19th studio album “Power and Outcome,” and it was a good reason to talk with the founder of the band Alfonso Vidales about the new record, scene, and more.

Hey there! How are you doing?

Hello, Alfonso Vidales here and feeling great!

You released “Power and Outcome” recently. How do you feel about the release?

We think that our album became a solid piece of music with every contributor’s own taste and skills. That is what every production generates when you are involved in every side of the music production.

How much of a challenge was to work on the album?

I think that the making, recording and post production came out very smooth. Carlos and I looked very much that every mixing and mastering sessions were carefully observed. All the musicians and singers felt at the end that we developed an album to be recognized. Many years of Cast’s music were melted into this production.

Power and Outcome

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Mexico are you friends with?

After doing Baja Prog for 14 years we meet many musicians from the Mexican prog scene. Ramses Luna from Luz de Riada, Marco Corona from Codice, Ricardo Moreno from Iconoclasta, and much more. Probably I am missing many names.

What is your opinion about the current progressive rock scene?

As I said, from our Baja Prog list of names around the world I think that the progressive movement has become important and it is a nice and elegant choice for rock lovers to listen. I understand that the first generation is not anymore very active or some paseed away, but the legacy is still growing. Mexicali, our city, has a good progressive atmosphere and I think that is because of our festival and of course because of Cast, with 40 years of activity.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

My main influence is classical music as my parents both piano and are classically trained. But also Jethro Tull (Aqualung, Thick As a Brick, Passion Play), Genesis, Manfred Mann, Kayak (concept albums), ELP are in my list of favorites.

CAST 2

What are you listening to these days?

I listen to Rondo Veneziano and Classical music, but in my car you can find some classic rock too.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Tarkus, Thick As A Brick, Merlin (Kayak), Live With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (Procol Harum).

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Power and Outcome”?

Yamaha CP300 piano, Nord C2D organ, Mellotron, Nord Lead, Korg Triton, Minimoog, Oberheim,…

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

We are planning to continue touring. We have a tour which starts in August and ends in November. In between, the recording of the 20th studio album will start.

Any words for the potential new fans?

Welcome to the music of Cast, and get involved in our activities by visiting our Facebook page and our website. And please send us your comments, I will gladly answer them!

Review: Emperor Guillotine – Emperor Guillotine

Emperor Guillotine

Dallas’s Doom Metal upstarts EMPEROR GUILLOTINE have landed firmly within the Metal scene as one of the “newest modern” instrumental bands carrying the torch of the blueprint that BLACK SABBATH created over 40 years ago. In particular, SABBATH‘s first three albums are all over the project’s full-length debut release. From the song structures, the occasional synth noodling and the demonic Blues you cannot mistake the influence.

The project was formed by multi-instrumentalist and sole band member, Ben Randolph. A digital only release, it wets the appetite of every doom metal fan and the excitement for what comes next.

One of the biggest highlights of the record is definitely its production. It is obvious that EMPEROR GUILLOTINE reaching for a retro feel and are heavily influenced by Rodger Bain and his early BLACK SABBATH productions. Randolph achieves it in a very good way. One of the issues with bands going for this type of sound is that usually the bass is mixed too loud and dominates the material. In this case, the bass is audible but it still gives way for the guitar and drums. The guitar has enough gain, it’s powerful and greasy—just as it should be.

The songwriting is as strong; there is plenty here to celebrate. “Sailor on the Seas of Fate,” “Sea of Dust,” “The Oak and the Ram,” “Witch Mountain,” “The Bastille,” and “The Unearthly” are heavy, pounding numbers that represent this release. “Ursa Minor” is a beautiful acoustic piece that connects the “sides.” Its melody is haunting and recalls the atmosphere of 1960s inspired acoustic, folk records.

“Emperor Guillotine” is an excellent introductory release from Randolph. My hope is that the next releases will embrace more of different styles such as folk rock and progressive rock. On their next release they need to instill the confidence that they don’t need to rely so heavily on imitating BLACK SABBATH. Do yourself a favor and check this album out out.

EMPEROR GUILLOTINE is on Facebook.

Review: Hyaena – Existence

hyaena

When trying to play technical death metal, so many bands fail at being anything more than just the subject for comedic reviews by Internet dwelling elitists. It seems as though most bands out there that fall into redundancy don’t put out albums as such, but exercises in excess. Whether trying to be as brutal as possible, or as fast and technical as possible, bands just forget how to write a song. Of course, for all of the excess that is generated by bands these days, something good has to come of it, right? Well, yes. For all of the barrier breaking brutality that modern death metal practitioners have released, tasteful or not, it leaves room for the few with a little more self-control to harness these ideas and craft something brilliant. Hyaena’s debut full-length is one such example of this.

On Existence, Hyaena utilise huge walls of dissonance and blistering riffs to create an album that is both crushing and unusually melodic. The riffing on this album lies somewhere between the dense texture of The Contortionist, and the off-kilter technicality of Gorguts, though it never sounds purely derivative of these influences. The huge sound is mostly attributed to the highly contrapuntal and busy form of riffing which the guitarists display, as much of the low end chugging and temolo picking is accompanied by droning higher pitched notes and fluttery riffs.

existence

What is most apparent throughout the album is the immense talent that all members of the band show, though their display of technical proficiency is never mindless. The powerhouse trio of drummer Christophe and guitarists Alex and Jimmy are a force to be reckoned with. All of the swirling dissonance sent forth by the guitars, is complemented by fantastic cymbal work and a large variety of relentless beat and double bass patterns.

Further adding to the intensity, and often times the feeling of unease throughout the album, is vocalist Virgile. Most of his vocals range from a harsh mid-range, to a high pitch screech, to perfect cleans, though really they are just all over the place; matching the ever changing riffs. Between all of the members, a thick and harsh texture is created, and along with the ballistic approach to song writing, absolute cacophony is achieved.

Cacophonous song writing can be both good and bad though, as when the intensity never seems to let up, it can become a tiring listen, as this album sometimes does. Thankfully it seems as though by the end of the album, Hyaena had matured a little more and the last few songs display a more flowing and well thought-out structure; a slight reprieve for those who have been relentlessly pummelled for the bulk of the album.

Existence is a fantastic example of dense and crushing music, carried out by brilliant musicians. Undeniably harsh and intense, this is definitely an album and band worth your time.

The album is available for pre-order here.

Review: Psychic Equalizer – The Lonely Traveller

tlt

Jazz is definitely one of these genres that were always there in the modern music and that will be played until the end of the world, therefore challenging it and creating something original might seem an overwhelming task for artists. However, jazz is also the most flexible type of music, in which there will never be a final word said – it’s like a book written by thousands of writers with another thousands waiting for their time to contribute. One of these writers is Psychic Equalizer, a project by pianist Hugo Selles who gathered a team of musicians around himself, and who recently added a new chapter to the book. It’s called “The Lonely Traveller”.

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Review: SynaptiK – Justify & Reason

jr

To start, I’m not exactly a huge fan of Prog-Power metal. However, I’ve found a very soft spot for SynaptiK for one simple reason: their take on the genre’s hybrid isn’t as overly cheesy as most other bands. “Justify & Reason” is a perfect example of how SynaptiK shows a bit less of a theatrical performance.

Many of the songs have spectacular, catchy riffs to go along with the verses that vocalist John Knight provides. While he still has a voice for power metal, he’s also able to actually sing with his voice with strong amount of control and a variety of range, which makes the smokey tone of his voice less of a factor. Knight doesn’t just stay in one octave for his vocals which is very typical of power metal so it’s nice to hear a wide variety of vocal points. Sure, some of the choruses are a bit too similar with a few songs, but they’re still more enjoyable than most power metal choruses so I’d be more than happy to hear it overused for two or three songs on one album compared to sounding similar to an entire genre.

Ian Knight’s and Jack Murton’s guitar work is pretty solid here. They definitely have some strokes of brilliance in their many solos, particularly in the opening “The Incredible Machine”, surely one of the highlights of “Justify & Reason.” “White Circle” has an incredibly addicting opening that’s very different from the rest of the mid tempo songs. Along with this, comes the verse and bridge riffs from “Human Inhuman” and “A Man Dies” which are incredibly groovy in a sense that they can really get you into the songs with their back and forth, up and down gallop-y feel. All the more reason for the songs to get stuck in your head after a few listens.

For the most part, I think this album is great. The riffs, solos, and vocals are great, and make for an enjoyable and easy listen from start to finish. In the end I’d say this is a pretty original album given its genre. Well done, boys!

Pre-order “Justify & Reason” from SynaptiK’s official website.