Review: Rainburn – Insignify


Indian progressive rockers Rainburn are a band who sit firmly within that region of emotive music which crosses the line between the plaintive sound of Porcupine Tree and the bluster of cinematic indie. Now on their second release, Insignify out on November 7th, they return to the age old trope of the concept album with a narrative, which feeds into the at times explosive music.

Telling the story that deals with issues of existentialism, the significance of human life, narcissism, craving importance, insecurity and the search for reason, you may consider it all a bit convoluted. At nearly 50 minutes long it does test your patience and you may find yourself drifting away from the main theme. Give it some due listening though, and you’ll find a concept which works to keep your attention.

Although thematically it’s difficult to keep up, within the music you find a way to enjoy this album. Cinematic in not just scope, but in drive, the peaks and troughs of a film are recast within some wonderful playing. Particularly good are the plaintive guitar solos, feeding off a classic sound developed by masters of prog, and given new life here. They are moments which lift the album to another level and become moments of transcendent emotion.

Rainburn can do heavy too and on the tumultuous end of “Suicide Note”, the devastating centrepiece of the album, they bring a new heaviness to prog rock which only the metal maestros dare explore. Unafraid to raise the tempo, it’s fascinating to listen to the way the band use their music as a kind of soundtrack of emotion, rather than a classic style of songwriting. They may veer on the more predictable side of prog, but at least they do it well.

There is plenty on Insignify to excite prog fans. It’s always difficult to deliver emotional music such as this without veering into cloying territory and with a concept verging on the slightly pretentious, you’re edging towards dodgy terrain. All dues to Rainburn for pulling this off in the main though, and if you’re willing to give it the time you’ll find plenty to keep you coming back. Pour yourself a drink, stick your headphones on, and lose yourself in the story for a while. You’ll enjoy it.


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Tin Spirits No More

Wired to Earth

Well, I hate this news, and I hate being one of those spreading the news.  Sadly, it’s true, however.  The Tin Spirits–one of the best bands of the past decade–has called it quits.  Dave Gregory posted this on social media just about 10 hours ago.

It’s with heavy hearts that we must let you know, after 10 years of making music together, Tin Spirits is no more. There’s been no dramatic fallout, we’re all still dear friends, but unfortunately the end can no longer justify the means. We’d like to thank everyone who has helped us and been there for us through the years, everyone who’s turned up to a gig, it’s meant more to us than you could ever know. We wish all of you the very best xx
From Mark, Dave, Dan and Dougie

The last public announcement–dated November 22, 2017–revealed that the Tin Spirits was then writing a third album.  I’m guessing we’ll never see any part of that album.  Again, what sad news.

For what it’s worth, here is my review of their second album.

And, here’s an interview with Mark Kilminster.



Effigy of the Forgotten

Couple of days ago it was Slayer, now it’s Suffocation. 8th October marks 27th year of “Effigy of the Forgotten” – the first full-length release from these NY brutal death titans.

As expected, the debut is rife with jarring temporal switches, blistering harmonies and precision drums. Suffocation’s craft here is insane and immaculate. From “Liege of Inveracity” to “Jesus Wept”, the album is a relentless pursuit of deathly perfection. Brutal and deep, both in terms of guttural vocals and complexity, it simply razes all the barriers to the emergence of technical death.

If Tampa and Stockholm scene introduced the framework, Suffocation took an axe to it with their brand of restrained, but even more gruesome, assault. Building on top of Immolation, the band introduced layers of sophistication to the unbridled madness of old-school death. All the electric blues hues were now completely subdued, and comfortably buried beneath broad downtuned riffs and incessant double bass. Both typically advancing in tandem, quite like a grand symphony.

Undoubtedly, musical evolution tends to be incremental. And Suffocation is a vital link leading to the technical death movement. Quite like any other searing death metal classic, Effigy of the Forgotten is something all the extreme music fans should endure.

—- Image Attribution

© pitpony photography /

Reign In Blood

Released on October 7th, 1986 – so today marks thirty two blood soaked years.

Reign in Blood emphasizes Slayer’s complete departure from NWOBHM roots. In fact, the last remaining cross-over imprints are only on the additional track, “Aggressive Perfector”, included in the 1998 reissue. In other words, this is the beginning of Slayer epoch. Dissonant and inaccessible – here the band seamlessly march into the absolute margins of metal. But with an unprecedented level of fury which steamrolled the whole genre sideways, and inflicted legions of extreme metal imitators.

With aggressive structural progression and a signature speed — Hanneman and King effectively blend conflicting strands from hardcore/punk and heavy metal. Dissecting this intricate chaos mandates schooling in multiple extreme genres. But glad that appreciation only requires an ear for some atonal brew – of genre-bending twin guitar dissonance. The band simply accomplished what they actually state in Raining Blood — “abolish the rules made of stone”—and they did it while remaining grounded in that ever snowballing extreme metal roots.

— Image Attribution
By Benoît from Tours, France (Hellfest 2007 – 22/06/2007 – Slayer) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Riverside’s Incredible New Album is a WINO (Wasteland in Name Only)

One of the lamentable facts about great art is that it is often inspired by pain.  It is wasteland by riversidefrequently beauty borne of suffering.  As many readers of this blog (and virtually all of the writers) are Rush fans, we are keenly aware of how the dual tragedies of Neil Peart’s life served as a creative impetus behind the band’s triumphant return on 2002’s Vapor Trails.  Riverside itself is no stranger to tragedy, having lost their brilliant guitarist Piotr Grudzinski in 2016, while the band’s de facto leader, Mariusz Duda, lost his father only months later.  Thus, the fuel for the creative fire behind Wasteland includes the pain of tragedies both real at a personal level, as well as imagined at a civilizational level when one considers the album’s apocalyptic theme.  And based on some of Duda’s own words in a recent interview (see here), it may also serve as a metaphor for our current, chaotic times.  The results of this creative fire are nothing short of stunning.

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Emanon: Wayne Shorter’s Triple Dare

Jazz shouldn’t have any mandates. Jazz is not supposed to be something that’s required to sound like jazz. For me, the word ‘jazz’ means, ‘I dare you.’

Wayne Shorter, the last saxophonist standing from jazz’s golden age, its great lateral thinker both as player and composer, tossed off that quote in 2013 when he turned 80.  For his 85th birthday, Shorter has tripled down: his latest project Emanon breaches multiple boundaries, stretching out not just beyond jazz, but beyond music itself.

Emanon (“no name” spelled backwards, referencing both a Dizzy Gillespie tune and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man) is a marvelously ambitious sprawl, Shorter’s stab at a work of total art.  Containing a 2013 suite of his music re-imagined for jazz quartet and chamber orchestra, a double album of his quartet’s 2016 live date in London, and a graphic novel in collaboration with screenwriter Monica Sly and comic/children’s book artist Randy DuBurke, it’s meant to be heard and seen as a whole.  Also touched — it’s not available digitally, only in CD (Standard) or CD/LP (Deluxe) box sets.  Or as Shorter puts it, “The packaging is intentionally designed to reveal its dormant possibilities as it travels between alternative realities of the multiverse.”  Sounds kinda progressive to me …

Continue reading “Emanon: Wayne Shorter’s Triple Dare”