Rick’s Quick Takes for April

Short, sharp shocks this month: all albums and EPs reviewed below come in under the old school LP limit of 45 minutes! Purchasing links are embedded in each artist/title listing; album playlists or samples follow each review.

Entransient, Ghosts in the Halls: My hometown’s very own prog-metal band lays out the cards for all to see on their Facebook page: “Melodic neo/post-prog rock from Michigan. Influenced by Anathema, Alcest, and Porcupine Tree.” The good news is that guitarists Matt Schrauben & Doug Murray, bassist Nick Hagen, drummer Jeremy Hyde and vocalist/keyboardist Scott Murray refine those influences into a distinctive blend, marked by rich atmosphere and a towering core sound. The opening epic “Parasite” grabs hold immediately with its games of acoustic/electric musical chairs; “Synergize” and “Last Strawman” drive forward without mercy, as Murray testifies fiercely over bare grooves and fuzzed chords alike. More reflective moments like the title track, “Misplaced” and “Where the Shadows Lie” dial down the tempos and the lyrical angst while keeping the edge intact as the band prowls lush, more aerated soundscapes. (Kudos for Hagen’s mixing and engineering, as well as for the mastering work of The Pineapple Thief’s Steve Kitch; the band’s dynamic and textural range is captured with crystalline clarity throughout.) Entransient has an open, readily appealing touch to their music; as they blaze a fresh trail in a style that easily collapses into cliché, they’re well worth a listen.

Envy of None: No, this sounds nothing like Rush, even with Alex Lifeson’s guitar work in the mix. (If that’s what you want, the new anniversary edition of Moving Pictures is now available — and getting glowing reviews from unlikely sources like Pitchfork, for pete’s sake.) Lifeson does provide satisfying crunch, acoustic contrast, and creative lead work in spades, bedding in seamlessly with fellow core players Andy Curran (bass & guitar) and Alfio Annibalini (guitar and keys). They weave a darkly enticing aural mesh that cradles the understated, seductive singing of Maiah Wynne; her breathily fragile volleys, playing off the sticky minimalist hooks embedded in EoN’s web, are what might really ensnare you. Musically, this is all about basic song forms deployed in ambient/industrial/goth/post-rock styles; the seasoned instrumental interplay and Wynne’s preternaturally mature vocal work are what elevate the album above the obvious genre markers. So it’s old-fashioned chemistry and star quality, from veterans and newcomer alike, that turn out to be key to Envy of None’s appeal. Try it on that basis and see if it grabs you.

Continue reading “Rick’s Quick Takes for April”

Ego Path

The Silent Wedding has covered this song called “Diamonds and Rust”, for almost everyone that means Joan Baez, but for ageing metalheads it simply channels mighty Judas Priest. We all have our own aesthetic preferences, and The Silent Wedding successfully appeals to those very classic metal predilections. That essentially means, Ego Path is rife with melody, neo-classical shredding, NWOBHM riffs, and all the other essential signatures reminding us of that classic lineage.

It’s that time-honored sonic tradition running from UFO and Judas Priest, to 80s British heavy metal, eventually mutating into that melodic power metal path via the great Ronnie James Dio. Obviously, all these influences are not complete without those omnipresent progressive tendencies. Add those clean vocals with adequate range, meandering melodic ballads, and passages tailored for arena rock — The Silent Wedding becomes that exquisite expedition every classic metal fan and prospective classic metal fan seek!

Updates to Riverside’s Upcoming Tour

Recently we shared news about Riverside’s upcoming North America tour. Sadly due to various logistical issues, the band have had to cancel the shows from the first half of the tour, but at least they were able to salvage a good portion of it. Here’s the latest from Inside Out:

RIVERSIDE – Announce revised North American tour dates

 Continuing the celebration of their 20th band-anniversary, Polish rock masters RIVERSIDE will soon embark on a comprehensive tour across North America and Latin America.

Unfortunately, the band have been forced to cancel some shows and are now announcing a revised, shorter tour schedule for North America.
The band shared this message:

“Dear Friends,

We have some bad and some good news.

The bad news is, for bureaucratic and logistic reasons beyond our control we cannot go to the USA in the first half of April 😦

Unfortunately, because of that, we have to cancel the shows from the first part of our tour:
Nashville (TN), Dallas (TX), Austin (TX), Phoenix (AZ), Pomona (CA), San Francisco (CA), Portland (OR), Seattle (WA) , Salt Lake City (UT), Boulder (CO) and St. Paul (MN).
Tickets will be refunded where you purchased them.

We want to apologise to everyone who has incurred additional travel expenses in connection with those concerts 😦  We promise to make it up to you with shows in…early 2023!

The good news is that we managed to save all shows from Chicago (IL) onwards. And, we were able to save the Atlanta (GA) date by moving the show to April 16. What’s more, we were able to add a last-minute show on April 18 in Cleveland (OH) at the Beachland Ballroom (on sale in the next few days)!

Please check the amended tour dates on the updated poster.

We are truly sorry about the whole mix-up. We were very close to cancelling the whole tour, but by some miracle, we managed to save at least a part of it, and we are definitely going to be there. We hope to meet as many of you as possible.

/ Riverside”

The complete list of upcoming RIVERSIDE dates announced so far reads as follows:

RIVERSIDE – North American Tour 2022
With special guests Keith Semple of The Cyberiam (for USA dates) & Randy McStine (for Canada dates)

April 16 Atlanta, GA – Hell at the Masquerade
April 18 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
April 19 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
April 20 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
April 22 Toronto, ON – The Opera House
April 23 Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre
April 24 Quebec City, QC – Imperial Bell
April 25 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
April 27 New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
April 28 New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
April 29 Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
April 30 Baltimore, MD – Baltimore SoundStage

May 2-7 Port Canaveral, FL – Cruise to the Edge
https://cruisetotheedge.com

RIVERSIDE – Latin American Tour 2022
May 8 Mexico City, Mexico – Auditorio Blackberry
May 10 Guadalajara, Mexico – C3
May 13 Santiago, Chile – Teatro Teleton
May 15 São Paulo, Brasil – Carioca Club

Album Review: Barry Kuzay’s “The Movers of the World”

Barry Kuzay - The Movers of the WorldBarry Kuzay, The Movers of the World, 2021
Tracks: Overture 2021 (2:43), The Movers of the World (6:20), Alone in the Mountains (8:28), The Virtues of Greed (9:09), The Pirate (7:26), The Twentieth Century Motor Company (12:33), Who is John Galt? (2:45), Enigmatic Engine (4:21), Wyatt’s Torch (5:27), Superspreader [bonus track] (2:57)

Barry Kuzay may be an unknown name in the music world, but that doesn’t mean he’s without talent. A civil engineer from northern Wisconsin by day, Kuzay rocks out by night. His 2021 album, The Movers of the World, is a concept album based upon Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The record has a classic heavy metal sound with elements of thrash and power metal.

Kuzay wrote the album, sings the vocals, and plays guitar, and his brother Ben plays bass. Drums are played by Matt Thompson of King Diamond, and there are a few other guest vocalists playing particular parts on the album. Kuzay has two styles of singing on the album. His quieter vocals are not as strong as his full on heavy metal vocals. When he sings his heart out, he sounds like Dee Snider. That grit works perfectly for this music and makes for an enjoyable listening experience.

Tim “Ripper” Owens (lead singer for Judas Priest in the late 90s and early 2000s) provides guest vocals on “Wyatt’s Torch,” and he has some epic metal shrieks that provide a classic thrash sound. This may be the best track on the album. Since this is the final track in the story, the album goes out on a high note.

Barry Kuzay – Wyatt’s Torch – YouTube

Musically the album rocks. There are symphonic elements that layer on top of the pounding drums and shredding guitars. This gives the album a bit of a European power metal flair. There are quieter tracks that help move the story along, but the album is at its best in its heavy metal moments. There are some clever musical moments, as well. The opening of “Enigmatic Engine” has a really cool guitar, bass, and drum riff that sounds like a steam engine. It’s a fun instrumental track that manages to move the story along, even without lyrics.

I haven’t read Ayn Rand, but I’m at least vaguely familiar with her views and her works, which have influenced other progressive rock albums, most notably Rush’s career-saving masterpiece 2112. There arguably hasn’t been a more fitting time than now to adapt Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged since 2112 and the economic malaise of the late 1970s. Things are far worse now. In fact they’re worse now than they were when Kuzay wrote and recorded this album in 2020 and early 2021. [I’ll spare you the long rant I wrote about how and why America is on the verge of total collapse.]

All this to say that many elements of Kuzay’s musical adaptation of Rand’s novel directly apply to contemporary society. Sometimes you forget that this is actually telling a story and not commenting on modern events, although I suspect this is intentional on Kuzay’s part. The lyrics are well-written, and thus the story he tells is compelling and rewards on repeated listens.

The bonus track might tick some people off, but I love it. Kuzay pulls no punches, and he says what’s on his mind. I agree with him completely, and it’s nice to finally hear someone in the music world go against the narrative. The song has a great drum intro too, reminiscent of classic thrash metal.

I also want to mention that the album artwork is great throughout the CD booklet. The art is science fiction and steampunk-themed, which fits the story. I’m guessing Kuzay spent quite a bit to have the artwork done, because it looks like something from a big-budget album. Definitely pick up the CD, if you’re so inclined.

Give The Movers of the World a spin. The production quality punches far above its weight as an independent release, and the album is enjoyable on repeated listens.

Buy the album at http://themoversoftheworld.com.

Barry Kuzay – The Movers of the World (full album) – YouTube

Riverside North and South America Tour and Compilation Albums

From the fine folks at Inside Out:

RIVERSIDE – Touring across North and Latin America!

 Continuing the celebration of their 20th band-anniversary, Polish rock masters RIVERSIDE will soon embark on a comprehensive tour across North America and Latin America.

RIVERSIDE’s Mariusz Duda checked in with the following message:
“We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of RIVERSIDE in very demanding and difficult times. Nevertheless, we keep on fighting and we can’t wait to go on our next tour of the States, Canada, and Latin America. We have prepared for you a very special set featuring music from all of our albums. We hope you’ll like our choices.“

The complete list of upcoming RIVERSIDE dates announced so far reads as follows:

RIVERSIDE – North American Tour 2022
With special guests Keith Semple of The Cyberiam (for USA dates) & Randy McStine (for Canada dates)

April 2 Atlanta, GA – Hell at The Masquerade
April 3 Nashville, TN – Exit / In
April 5 Dallas, TX – Amplified Live
April 6 Austin, TX – Come And Take It Live
April 8 Phoenix, AZ – The Nile Theater
April 9 Pomona, CA – The Glass House
April 10 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
April 12 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
April 13 Seattle, WA – Neumos
April 15 Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room
April 16 Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
April 18 St. Paul, MN – Amsterdam Bar and Hall
April 19 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
April 20 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
April 22 Toronto, ON – The Opera House
April 23 Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre
April 24 Quebec City, QC – Imperial Bell
April 25 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
April 27 New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
April 28 New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
April 29 Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
April 30 Baltimore, MD – Baltimore SoundStage

May 2-7 Port Canaveral, FL – Cruise to the Edge
https://cruisetotheedge.com

RIVERSIDE – Latin American Tour 2022
May 8 Mexico City, Mexico – Auditorio Blackberry
May 10 Guadalajara, Mexico – C3
May 13 Santiago, Chile – Teatro Teleton
May 15 São Paulo, Brasil – Carioca Club

Ticket info for all shows can be found here: https://riversideband.pl/en/gigs/riverside-20

Stay tuned for more special, international anniversary shows to be announce soon…

RIVERSIDE have recently released a special Digital Single entitled “Story of My Dream” to enhance the anniversary celebration. This brand-new track was recorded and mixed at The Boogie Town Studio in Otwock, Poland during two days in July and five days in September 2021, engineered and mixed by Paweł Marciniak as well as mastered by Paweł Marciniak at Manximum Records in Łódź, Poland.

The Story of My Dream” single features artwork by Travis Smith (Opeth, Katatonia, etc.) and can also be checked out in a video clip directed by Tomasz Pulsakowski / Sightsphere here:
https://youtu.be/-s7fedFOP88

Additionally, RIVERSIDE also released two digital “best of” compilations via to showcase the comprehensive and rich back-catalogue from across the last two decades of band activity. Featuring material all especially remastered by Magda and Robert Srzedniccy (Serakos Studio) for this occasion, “Riverside 20 – Vol.1, The Shorts” includes 19 tracks and “Riverside 20 – Vol.2, The Longs” includes 14 songs each.

Both individual “Riverside 20” compilations as well as a bundle are available here:
https://riverside.lnk.to/Riverside20

RIVERSIDE previously also re-issued their debut album “Out Of Myself” as well as the “Lost’n’Found – Live in Tilburg” release via InsideOutMusic, following the launch of their acclaimed latest studio album “Wasteland” in 2018. Check out the various available back-catalogue titles by RIVERSIDE from the IOM webshop here: https://www.insideoutshop.de/Search?q=riverside

And stay tuned for more RIVERSIDE new soon…

RIVERSIDE line-up:
Mariusz Duda – bass, vocal
Maciej Meller – guitar
Michał Łapaj – keyboards and hammond organ
Piotr Kozieradzki – drums

RIVERSIDE online:
http://www.riversideband.pl
http://www.facebook.com/Riversidepl
https://www.instagram.com/riversideband.pl

New LEAH Track: Sleeping Giant

Leah McHenry, Progarchy’s favorite maiden of metal, just released an absolutely killer new song from her upcoming album. If the rest of the album is this good, it’ll be absolutely brilliant. It’s super heavy, and the lyrics reflect the troubles of today in a very subtle and fantasy-inspired way. Check it out:

Rick’s Quick Takes for January

Big Big Train, Welcome to the Planet: Yet another stellar addition to BBT’s discography, their latest effort consolidates the widened horizons of Grand Tour and the intimate subjects of Common Ground, casting an epic light on the everyday glory of family, community, love and loss. With Nick D’Virgilio, Rikard Sjöblom, new guitarist Dave Foster and new keyboardist Carly Bryant all involved in the writing, rockers like “Made of Sunshine” and “The Connection Plan” hit with maximum impact; ballads like “Capitoline Venus” and “Oak and Stone” are masterfully expressive; instrumentals like “A Room with No Ceiling” and “Bats in the Belfry” unleash the requisite nifty twists and turns — not forgetting less easily classified delights like the multi-sectioned “Lanterna” and the woozy dreamland wash of the title track. Throughout, Greg Spawton’s firm hand on the tiller and the late David Longdon’s vocal authority are rock solid, their partnership the beating heart of this music. In the wake of Longdon’s untimely passing, we can’t know if Welcome to the Planet is the last stop on Big Big Train’s journey or a way station before what might come next. But such considerations pale in the face of what we’ve been given; this one — easily my favorite BBT effort since the English Electric days — is a real thing of beauty, an album to be treasured and listened to again and again. (Check out Bryan Morey’s detailed review here.)

Continue reading “Rick’s Quick Takes for January”

Muse Release New Track: “Won’t Stand Down”

Just when we need them most – when the world is going to absolute hell with totalitarian lockdowns and mandates under the guise of “public health” – when we least expected it, Muse has returned with their uniquely bombastic stick-it-to-the-man hard rock. Sure, Matt Bellamy says “Won’t Stand Down” is about standing up to bullies, but he isn’t talking about a schoolyard buster stealing your lunch money (although it could certainly apply to that). This is the band that wrote “Uprising,” “Knights of Cydonia,” and a host of other anti-government songs. They even wrote a whole dystopian concept album about this same subject. Drones may have been released in 2015, but it’s more relevant than ever.

“Won’t Stand Down” is a welcome return to the hard rock Muse I much prefer. Simulation Theory is too 80s synth pop for my taste. Yes there’s a little of that influence at the beginning of this track, but it’s full blown head banging heavy metal by the end. I hope the rest of the album (assuming they have one in the works) is this good.

Won’t stand down
I’m growing stronger
Won’t stand down
I’m owned no longer
Won’t stand down
You’ve used me for too long, now die alone

Muse – Won’t Stand Down – YouTube

Kruekutt’s 2021 Favorites!

I thought I didn’t have a big list of favorites from this year’s listening — until I revisited my six-month survey from back in June and added in the good stuff I’ve heard since then! The listing below incorporates links to full or capsule reviews, or other relevant pieces on Progarchy and elsewhere; albums I haven’t written about yet get brief comments, along with my Top Favorites of the year. Most of these are available to check out online in some form; if you find yourself especially enjoying something, use that Christmas cash and support your choice with a purchase! And the winners are . . .

Continue reading “Kruekutt’s 2021 Favorites!”

Bryan’s Best of 2021

We’ve come to the end of another year, and what a horrible year it has been. Really the only positive thing I can think of from this year is the music. In addition to all the non-music nonsense that has gone on this year, we lost from legends in the prog world, none hurting more than the tragic and completely unexpected death of David Longdon. That one will hurt for a long time.

I usually write my best of lists in no particular order, with my top pick(s) at the end. So without further ado…

Robby Steinhard Not in Kansas AnymoreRobby Steinhardt – Not In Kansas Anymore

Robby Steinhardt was another prog legend we lost unexpectedly earlier this year. He hadn’t been active in music for quite some time, but that was about to change as he was finishing up his first solo album and had plans for a tour. Sadly the latter was not to be, but we did end up getting his solo album in the fall. It’s a great record, and it shows what a key player he was in Kansas. His vocals are stellar, and his violin playing is second to none. This record has a bit of the magic that I think Kansas lacks without Steinhardt. There are more musical influences at work than just Kansas on this record. It’s not a solid 10/10 throughout, but it is a very good record. Check out my review and my tribute to Robby.

Devin Townsend Galactic QuarantineDevin Townsend – Devolution Series #2 – Galactic Quarantine

Devin Townsend has been a busy bee this year. In addition to working on three new records this year, he released two minor releases of live material. The first is an acoustic album (see my glowing review) from a show he did in Leeds in 2019. It’s a raw and emotional take on his music. The Galactic Quarantine album is one of his live-streamed albums from 2020 with the musicians playing live on green screens across the world. The music is blisteringly great, with a surprising amount of Strapping Young Lad material played. Devin humorously engages with his virtual audience, which makes the music come to life a bit more. This has been one I’ve returned to quite a bit this year. Perhaps an unorthodox release, but it would make a really good entrance point for the uninitiated to the heavier side of Devin’s music. Check out my review.

8250379_e4a1fc34c7Soen – Imperial

It turns out we never reviewed Soen’s latest album, which was released in January. The Swedish prog-metal supergroup can do no wrong. Their songs are catchy, memorable, and thoughtful. They can be both heavy and contemplative, and in my book they rank in the upper echelon of progressive metal. This record has been on repeat all year.

Atravan - The Grey LineAtravan – The Grey Line

Sticking with the progressive metal theme, Atravan was a pleasant surprise at the beginning of the year. This is the first Iranian band we’ve ever reviewed here at Progarchy, and they’re fantastic. I’m so glad the band reached out to us. They make metal in the vein of Riverside – heavy, spacey, wall of sound. Definitely a band that deserves recognition, although I worry what too much recognition could do for them with the repressive Iranian regime. Check out my review.

Continue reading “Bryan’s Best of 2021”