Fort Wayne, Indiana, Prog Group Thematic to Release New Album

Fort Wayne, Indiana, based prog band Thematic is set to release their new album, Skyrunner, on January 31. I was previously unaware of this group, but I must say the single from the album is quite good. They have a good balance of the classic styling combined with the crunch of a band like Haken. Check out the video below and more info about the band and new album after that.

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Mini Review Round-Up – Frédéric L’Épée, Intelligent Music Project, and Cabinets of Curiosity

2019 was a busy year for me, and unfortunately I never got around to reviewing these physical submissions to Progarchy. Things have slowed a bit, so here you go – three solid albums of very different sounds.

Fédéric L’Épée, The Empty Room, 2019
Tracks: 
Badong (07:00), Inévitable traversée (04:23), Descending the Slow River (06:28), Amour et dissolution (03:32), Delta (08:22), Hymne aux Ancêtres 1 (03:15), Treasured Wounds (06:47), Mist (04:50), Parle-moi encore (06:40), Souvenirs de Traversée (05:44), Hymne aux Ancêtres 2. (02:04), Wegschippernd (01:03)

This album was a bit of a pleasant surprise for me. I had no idea what to expect. It is an instrumental album, but it isn’t like your typical instrumental prog album. It is quite unlike anything I’ve heard before. It is very cinematic. The music tells its own story in a remarkably compelling way. Monsieur L’Épée is obviously a master of his craft.

A French composer and guitarist living in Berlin, Fédéric L’Épée has been in the band Shylock, Philharmonie, and Yang. His musical influences are diverse, which becomes pretty obvious once you start listening to The Empty Room.

This album manages to be peaceful without being boring. I’d say this is one of the most interesting instrumental albums I’ve heard in a long time. The interplay of the guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards is simply stunning. The guitar tone is clean and pleasant. The solo on “Inévitable traversée” is quite nice. “Descending the Slow River” is a bit of a slower piece that may drag a little bit, but, like the other songs, it tells a story through the music. You get a sense of a slowly flowing river through the way the instruments are played.

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Neil Peart: A Misfit’s Hero

I’m still reeling from the news that Neil Peart is dead. I’m sure you all are too. None of us expected this. I think we all held out a glimmer of hope that Rush would play another show now and then or come out with another album without a tour. I certainly never imagined in 2015 that Peart would be dead within five years. My heart truly goes out to his wife, daughter, Geddy, and Alex.

This isn’t an obituary. Many others know the details of Peart’s life far more than I do, and I’ll direct you towards them for those kinds of remembrances. Instead, my thoughts on Peart and Rush are deeply personal. There is nothing unique about my experiences with Rush. I know for a fact that others, possibly thousands or millions, have had similar experiences. But this is mine.

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Erik Heter Remembers Neil Peart: “Exit The Warrior: Neil Peart, 1952-2020”

Erik Heter has written a beautiful piece on Neil Peart over at Spirit of Cecilia.

There are drummers, and then there are really good drummers.  And then there is Neil Peart.  It’s almost fitting of Peart that his death was not announced until today, January 10th, three days after his actual death on January 7th.  Whereas others did things in simple time and merely kept the beat, Peart’s timing – in drums and in life – was never conventional.  Hence the announcement of his death not on the day he died, but three days later.  The beats never fell quite where they were expected.

Read the rest – https://spiritofcecilia.com/2020/01/11/exit-the-warrior-neil-peart-1952-2020/

Robin Armstrong’s New Label Signs New Duo The Bardic Depths – Featuring Some Familiar Names

Progarchy wishes a huge congratulations to its former editor and co-founder Brad Birzer and Progarchist Dave Bandana who have formed a new band, The Bardic Depths, and become the first signing to Robin Armstrong’s (Cosmograf) new label Gravity Dream. Brad and Dave have made two albums under the name Birzer Bandana, with Birzer handling lyrics and Bandana handling most of the instrumentation and vocals. This new album, entitled The Bardic Depths, will feature a similar setup but with additional players and singers. Lyrics will focus on the literary friendship between J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Less (two of my favorite authors!). It promises to be a great album.

The following fine people have contributed to the album:

Brad Birzer – Lyrics and concept, spoken word
Kevin McCormick – Guitars
Paolo Limoli – Keyboards, Piano
Tim Gerht – Drums
Gareth Cole – Guitars
Peter Jones – Saxophone, vocals,spoken word
John William Francis – Marimba, spoken word
Glenn Codere – Backing Vocals
Mike Warren- Cello
Robin Armstrong – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Dave Bandana – Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars, Bass, Flute, Harmonica,
With –
Richard Krueger, Henri Strik, Scotty Scott, Andreas Mowinckel, Tony Bridgeman,
Martin Holmes, Phil Ball – Spoken Word

Congratulations again to both Brad and Dave!

 

https://www.loudersound.com/news/cosmograf-mans-new-label-announce-first-signing-the-bardic-depths

Bryan’s Best of 2019

Here we are at the end of another year. As you’re probably well aware, 2019 has been the latest in a string of great years for progressive rock and metal. Overall it didn’t blow me away like other years have (a few particular albums did however), but I think that’s more because of how my year has gone. I finished up grad school in the spring, and I spent the entire year job-searching before finally starting a new job at the beginning of this month. A couple of important people in my life died this year as well, so overall it has been a year full of challenges. My ability to properly soak in all the great music that has been released understandably suffered. But nevertheless, I found much to enjoy this year, and the following are some of my favorites. They are in no particular order except for my top three down at the bottom of this list.

Rise Twain – Rise Twain

The first album by Philadelphia-area duo Rise Twain is a stellar example of what popular music should be. Brett Kull and J. D. Beck are excellent songwriters and equally talented musicians. They combine the simplicity of a good song with the more technical aspects of prog. While it may be hard to call this a “prog” album, it certainly has many varied influences that make this a solid showing. Check out my review and interview with Brett Kull here: https://progarchy.com/2019/08/30/a-conversation-with-brett-kull-of-rise-twain/

Soen – Lotus

This is a magnificent album. Beautifully heavy, as any metal album should be, it retains an ability to move int0 peaceful contemplative spaces. When this album rocks, it rocks hard, and it keeps an upbeat tone that so many metal albums often lose. “Lotus” delivers musically, lyrically, and vocally. Check out Time Lord’s review here: https://progarchy.com/2019/01/09/album-preview-soen-lotus-soenmusic/

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Oak Releases Live-in-Studio Version of “Silent Night”

Ok, so I’m a few days late on this one. Norwegian prog band Oak have released their own version of the classic Christmas carol, “Silent Night.” They’ve given it their own arrangement, and it is uniquely their own.

Also a list of my favorite albums of the year should be coming to Progarchy this weekend, so stay tuned for that. I recently moved states to start a new job (my first full-time job post grad school!), so things have been a little hectic as of late. There should also be several reviews forthcoming of physical CDs sent to Progarchy in 2019, so stay tuned for that as well. (And for the artists who sent us physical CDs – no we haven’t forgotten about you! It’s just been a very busy year for me, and I’m the official Progarchy physical address.)

Anyways, here’s Oak’s “Silent Night.” Enjoy.