Album Preview: Soen – Lotus

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From an early review of Soen’s forthcoming Lotus:

When I say that Soen is pushing progressive metal forward, what I mean is that they take divergent strains and piece them together in a way no one else is capable of. They have the dynamics and chord choices of classic Opeth, and they marry with that the rhythmic bent of djent. But unlike the latter, where everything becomes muted by the chugging technique, Soen’s focus on open notes and chords slips melody into the rhythm, which is such a simple yet devastating trick I’m amazed I can’t recall anyone else who has mastered the art. Soen really is a synthesis.

“Lotus” is a work that stands entirely on its own, but it also works as a companion piece to “Lykaia”. They are cut from the same cloth, but are shaded differently by the spotlight. “Lykaia” is the darker, slightly heavier record, while “Lotus” is the more richly melodic affair. If such a word can be applied to Soen’s sound, this is their ‘optimistic’ record. Though still dark, there is an uplifting spirit to the melodies, which is a balance that only enhances the effect.

“Lotus” is an album even more after my heart. Soen have taken what they have always excelled at, and added in even stronger melody. They took the formula from what I consider one of the best metal albums of the last five to ten years, and made it even better. Fortunately, I have had the time to live with this record long enough to feel it settle within me, so I don’t have to predict how the record will age. As I listened again and again, “Lotus” continued to peel back new petals, revealing the sweet nectar waiting in the center. As good as “Lykaia” is, and as much as I love that record, “Lotus” makes an impact capable of digging deeper into our emotions.

Brian May: “New Horizons” (Ultima Thule Mix)

Queen has posted to their YouTube channel:

Celebrating the whole 12-year Journey of New Horizons probe. This is Brian’s personal tribute to the on-going NASA New Horizons mission, which on New Years Day 2019 will achieve the most distant spacecraft flyby in history.

H/T: Brian May’s Anthem for the New Horizons Probe Is Really Worth a Listen

The Enduring, Incandescent Power of Kate Bush

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Margaret Talbot writes in The New Yorker about The Enduring, Incandescent Power of Kate Bush after working her way through the box sets:

I spent most of a week last month in a Kate Bush-induced reverie—or was it a swoon? I know there were tears: you try remaining dry-eyed listening to “This Woman’s Work” on a cold November night after a glass or two of wine; if you do, I don’t want to know you. There may have been some ecstatic dancing that alarmed the dog; there was definitely some animated texting of lyrics to my children, who, at twenty-two and nineteen, are both, bless them, Kate Bush fans. She seemed, in certain ways, so current in her embrace of femininity as power—protean, generative, and emotive—and in the fact that, for all her artiness, she also eagerly grabbed onto the contemporary pop sounds and tools that she liked (drums recorded with the heavy-hitting effect called “gated reverb,” which was favored by Michael Jackson and Phil Collins, for instance). She anticipated a busier and more nonchalant traffic between pop and indie music.

Happy New Year! Keep Calm and Prog On in 2019…

Happy New Year from Progarchy!

Start the year right with some brand new prog from Dave Kerzner and friends…

Progarchy’s Rick K. comments:

Dave Kerzner, Gabriel Agudo, Randy McStine and company, you’ve done it again! In Continuum is the new band; “Acceleration Theory” is the debut album. Long-form sci-fi storytelling recalling The Alan Parsons Project at its best, then going further: irresistible energy, musical sophistication, and narrative flow. Plus great guest shots from Steve Hackett, Marillion’s Steve Rothery, Yes’ Jon Davison, Fernando Perdomo and more. Progressive rock is off to a great start in 2019! Check it out and buy it here: https://sonicelements.bandcamp.com/album/acceleration-theory-2

Top 10 Metal Albums of 2018

To my taste, the following albums were more metal than prog, so rather than place them on my Top 10 Prog Albums of 2018 list, I place them on a separate list of official recognition of their supreme excellence. Note that, as with my Prog list, the ranking is determined simply by consulting the number of times I listened to the album during the year 2018.

Top 10 Metal Albums of 2018:

#10 Wytch Hazel — II: Sojourn

#9 TesseracT — Sonder

#8 Distorted Harmony — A Way Out

#7 Michael Romeo — War of the Worlds, Part 1

#6 Judas Priest — Firepower

#5 Lucifer — Lucifer II

#4 Stryper — God Damn Evil

#3 Magick Touch — Blades, Chains, Whips, and Fire

#2 Haken — Vector

#1 Motorowl — Atlas

Metal Christmas, everyone, and a Heavy New Year!

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UPDATED (Jan 8, 2019): Seventh Wonder’s Tiara is replaced in the #10 spot with Wytch Hazel’s II: Sojourn, with which it was tied in December 2018, but which has now been overtaken by Wytch Hazel in my January 2019 listening.

Top 10 Rock Albums of 2018

The following albums didn’t have enough progginess to make my Top 10 Prog Albums of 2018 list, but for their rockin’ excellence they still deserve official recognition all the same, so here is an extra list. Note that, as with my Prog list, the ranking is determined simply by consulting the number of times I listened to the album during the year 2018. Here we go:

Top 10 Rock Albums of 2018:

#10 Sloan — 12

#9 Lenny Kravitz — Raise Vibration

#8 Metric — Art of Doubt

#7 Greta van Fleet — Anthem of the Peaceful Army

#6 Jack White — Boarding House Reach

#5 The Smashing Pumpkins — Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1

#4 Lake Street Dive — Free Yourself Up

#3 Gygax — 2nd Edition

#2 Bend Sinister — Foolish Games

#1 Danny WilkersonWilkerson

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Top 10 Prog Albums of 2018

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Top 10 Prog Albums of 2018:

#10 Roine Stolt’s The Flower King — Manifesto of an Alchemist

#9 Spock’s Beard — Noise Floor

#8 The Sea Within

#7 The Tangent — Proxy

#6 Subsignal — La Muerta

#5 Wilson & Wakeman – The Sun Will Dance in Its Twilight Hour
https://progarchy.com/2018/12/12/top-10-prog-albums-of-2018-5-wilson-wakeman-the-sun-will-dance-in-its-twilight-hour/

#4 Glass Hammer – Chronomonaut
https://progarchy.com/2018/12/08/top-10-prog-albums-of-2018-4-glass-hammer-chronomonaut/

#3 Gungfly – Friendship
https://progarchy.com/2018/12/07/top-10-prog-albums-of-2018-3-gungfly-friendship/

#2 Daniel James’ Brass Camel
https://progarchy.com/2018/12/06/top-10-prog-albums-of-2018-2-daniel-james-brass-camel/

Note that DJBC also performed the Concert of the Year:
https://progarchy.com/2018/12/13/dj-brass-camel-concert-of-the-year-2018-nov-2-at-the-space-centre/

#1 Southern Empire – Civilisation
https://progarchy.com/2018/12/05/top-10-prog-albums-of-2018-1-southern-empire-civilisation/

See also: https://progarchy.com/2018/12/27/my-album-of-2018-southern-empires-civilisation/

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