Memorial Day Weekend Prog and Prog Metal Round-Up

There is a lot of great prog and prog metal currently in the pipeline – either that has already been released or that will be in the coming months. Plenty of new singles and whole albums out.

Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant

Australian prog metal band Caligula’s Horse released their brand new record, Rise Radiant, today. For some reason their music never really connected with me before, but this album has. It is insanely good. It has the technicality mixed with the quirkiness that this generation of prog metal has become known for. Outstanding vocals as well. I’ve got some homework to do on their back catalog. If all goes well, they’ll be coming to North America next January-February for the very first time. https://caligulashorse.com

Haken – Virus

I’ve been able to listen to an advance copy of Haken’s new album for a few weeks now, and it is quite good. It has been a slow burn for me, but that could have something to do with absorbing it in the background while I work from home. It has the heaviness and the technicality we are used to, and melodies abound. There’s a gentleness in Ross Jennings’ voice that strikes me as something new, but I could be wrong. There are also musical nods to their last album as well as “The Cockroach King.” The title is bound to upset some people, but it’s not like Haken could have possibly known what was going to befall the world when they wrote and finalized the album. The release date has been pushed back a few weeks to June 19. I expect this is due to production issues with supply chains in the western world having been shut down for over two months. The band released another single today. https://hakenmusic.com

Nick D’Virgilio – Invisible

Big Big Train drummer Nick D’Virgilio has a new solo album coming out. Based on the single, it has a bit of a Big Big Train vibe in the song structure and general progression, but there’s also a Broadway theatricalness to it. The latter, according to D’Virgilio, comes from his time working with Cirque de Soleil. The album title comes from being an invisible member in the orchestra pit. Nick obviously plays the drums on this album, but he also sings. Anyone who knows his work from Spock’s Beard knows what a great voice he has. Jonas Reingold plays bass, Randy McStine plays guitars, and Jordan Rudess plays piano and sythns. Brass and string sections are courtesy of the Abbey Road Studios orchestra. Yeah this is some next level stuff. I’m looking forward to hearing the whole thing. Out June 26. https://www.nickdvirgilio.com

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Black Sabbath: The Shining (with Ray Gillen)

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The Shining!

It’s a hidden gem, alright:

From bow to stern and across its inspired succession of riffs, forbidding harmonies, and mournful Iommi solo, ‘The Shining’ is built along the same, towering sonic architecture that defined so many vintage Black Sabbath classics of old, and should by all rights have joined them in the heavy metal trophy room, if not for the travails afflicting its creators.

Instead, ‘The Shining’ has become one of Rock’s Hidden Gems: recognized as such by few, forsaken by many, but glimmering brightly nonetheless, just like the Morning Star rising over the horizon.

And yet, even more hidden is the original Ray Gillen version. His vocals are the best, in our opinion, and the inclusion of his alternate recordings on disc 2 of The Eternal Idol Deluxe Edition are an opportunity for you to discover some of heavy metal’s most remarkable buried treasure (which were previously only available in bootleg form). You can hear the album as it was born. Later on, it was released with Tony Martin’s substitute vocals. But Gillen’s magnificent vocals are an achievement for all time.

Perhaps the track’s evocative title conjures up certain indelible subconscious images for you as well…

As with so many of his earlier films, Kubrick is less concerned with delivering a coherent plot than a mood, an environment and striking, almost dissociative images, and The Shining has so many of them. The ghosts of twin girls in blue gingham dresses, lurking hand-in-hand at the end of a hallway. The elevator doors unleashing a tidal wave of blood. Shelley Duvall’s bulging eyes as she swings a baseball bat in front of her. The reams of typing paper covered in the same phrase — “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” — over and over again. And in the film’s most famous moment, Nicholson’s face leering and sweating as he taunts his wife through a door he’s just splintered with an axe.

It’s those individual moments that have cemented themselves within pop culture, and which have been the subject of endless parody and tribute. The plot, which is riddled with logical inconsistencies and continuity errors (some accidental, some deliberate), ends up not really mattering in the long run. So perhaps The Shining is still freaking out modern-day audiences, many of whom have scoffed at the supposedly dated shocks of older horror classics like Night of the Living Dead or The Exorcist, not because it’s relatable or emotionally harrowing but because it slowly and purposefully insinuates itself onto you. It creeps into your subconscious and takes up residency there.

Frost* to Release New EP on June 5, 2020

This just in from the fine folks over at Inside Out Music:

FROST* – announce release of “Others – EP” on June 5, 2020


With FROST*’s latest album, “Falling Satellites”, dating back to 2016, it was about time mastermind Jem Godfrey teamed up with Nathan King and John Mitchell to continue forging daring and dynamic progressive music.

Completed already back in 2019, FROST* now announce the release of the stunning 32 minutes long “Others – EP”. Jem Godfrey states:
“Others” is a 6 track EP containing 6 songs that were written at the time of the “Falling Satellites” album. Initially the idea was that “Falling Satellites” would be a double album, but it felt more focused and concise as a single album by the time we’d finished making it, so these half completed songs were put to one side. Now finished and mixed, they are ready to see the light of day!”

The EP will be released digitally on June 5, 2020 and will be released as part of the limited “13 Winters” anthology-artbook physically later this year.

A first track from the “Others – EP” will be released on May 22!
The track-list is below:
1. Fathers
2. Clouda
3. Exhibit A
4. Fathom
5. Eat
6. Drown

Furthermore, FROST* are putting finishing touches to their highly anticipated new studio album which is tentatively scheduled for a September release through InsideOutMusic.

Alex Lifeson on Big Sugar’s “Eternity Now”

Alex Lifeson plays on the title track of Big Sugar’s new disc, Eternity Now.

Gordie Johnson gives the details in one interview:

ME: How did the collaboration with Alex Lifeson of Rush come into fruition?

We’ve been pals for decades so all I did was call him. The title track ETERNITY NOW was heavily influenced by my love of Rush so it seemed like the time to make the call. I figured if he was involved I wouldn’t have to explain myself later. I asked him to play a guitar solo (he agreed) but he also sent a number of overdubs that made the song even Rush-y-er(?) He’s a total sweetheart and a mentor. We love Lerxst!

And also in another:

AC: I put the record on the other day and I thought I made a mistake. It sounded like I’d grabbed a Rush record from 1988.

GJ: [Laughs] Make no mistake, my friend. That was not an accident! [Rush guitarist] Alex Lifeson is on the title track. He’s on the title track of my life and career trajectory. He was one of the first supporters of Big Sugar and one of the greatest mentors that I’ve had. And he’s such a down-to-earth chill guy. He saw us coming up, liked our music, and would do things like “Hey, man, here’s a double-neck guitar. Why don’t you take the Xanadu guitar and use it for a while?” Like, who does that?
So I texted him and I had to explain myself because it’s such a Rush knock-off. I got the Taurus Moog pedals in there and gave it the full Moving Pictures treatment. But he not only sent me a wicked guitar solo but a bunch of overdubs–acoustic guitars and banjos and all kinds of other production to put in the track. It got way Rushier. And I’m good with it.

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