My gun metal grey MESHUGGAH t-shirt invokes two types of responses – one is an awe-inspiring nod of approval and the other a curious grin. First reaction is from musicians and the second from older gentlemen who knows Hebrew. One is aware of the crazy genius of the band and the other knows meshuggah pretty much means crazy in Yiddish. Along with crossing genre boundaries, seems like even the typical demographic boundaries are blurred with this band.

The new album Immutable is pretty much signature MESHUGGAH, but mutating their unique mold in slightly new directions. Instead of the usual assault of mathematical precision riffs and polyrhythms, constantly slicing and exploding, we get blunt hammering of industrial tones, they are bordering on atmospheric. Even though these elements were always present, now they are shaping whole compositions. In short, while not completely immutable, they sound more or less settled in their ways. The band which discovered alien lifeforms like djent is now comfortable with their marginal revolutions.

Mark of a great genre or band is that ability to constantly chisel at the margins, and continuously evolve in surprising ways. Often illustrating layers and polycentric qualities. From that perspective MESHUGGAH has left their influence, obviously visible from their fanatic following. Then the question might be, can the world truly comprehend their crazy genius, can their disciples match and evolve the framework, even beyond the already dizzying benchmark set by the band.

Andreas Lawen, Fotandi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Review: The Blue Prison – Alchemist

The Blue Prison - Alchemist

Alchemist is a new EP release from a Japanese guitarist and composer Keigo Yoshida (The Blue Prison), residing in Los Angeles, CA.

Right from the start, the title song kicks off the EP incredibly strong with its toe-tappingly catchy rhythms and roaring guitars, followed by an equally solid djenty “Zenith,” presented with immaculate detail with ricocheting metalcoresque drums. “Kingdom” is far more edgy, with guitar solos tripping over the song’s plodding rhythm. “Red Sun” introduces a symphonic pattern forming a backbone for Yoshida’s immaculate soloing. Short closing piece “River” is an atmospheric piece that brings Alchemist to a solid closure.

Curiosity begs the question: what does The Blue Prison sound like outside the comfort of his niche he’s carved? Perhaps necessity will force him outside his signature sound before stagnation takes hold in future releases, but for now,  Yoshida has done his best: no-nonsense, tightly produced melodic prog.

Alchemist is out today; order it from Bandcamp.

Album Review: The Earth and I – The Candleman

The Earth and I

New Yorkers The Earth and I are a new name on the progressive metal scene, and The Candleman is their debut album. This seven-track release really injects a breath of fresh air into the genre, mostly due to clean vocals of charismatic singer Kendyle Wolven. Mixing female vocals with prog metal / djent is not a new thing, but The Earth and I rise above other contemporary acts.

The Candleman

After a one-minute instrumental and atmospheric intro “The Lake Under the Desert,” The Candleman continues with “CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone)” which leaves a gashing mark on your ears. Very refreshing, the energy is genuinely vivid. Lots of double bass, djent riffing, excellent vocals; the group could not have chosen a perfect track to begin this ravenous journey. “Little Frames” brings very carnivourous riffage, unforgiving vocals, backed by a Periphery ambience. Overall, a bolstering chapter in the album. A personal favorite, “And Now for a Slight Departure,” is a wonderful melodic tune carried with Wolven’s voice. A thunderous foundation lures the listener deeper into an unholy light. Keeping things true and prog, this is about as direct as the album gets.

The Candleman promises to bring forth a dark and discarnate attitude. With extremely well executed instrumentals that push the adrenaline factor into the senses, the album will capture and ensnare the listener and bring them down to ecstatic sinister bliss. While that is said and done, more solos could have been implemented, but this is just personal preference. Once you set foot into The Candleman it will be virtually impossible to leave/escape. Consider yourself warned.

The Candleman is out now; get it from Bandcamp.

Interview: CIVORTEP


Civortep is a progressive death metal project of Stefan Petrovic who gathered a group of guest musicians to help him with the creation and release of his debut EP “The Return.”

In the interview below, Stefan explains the meaning behind the project’s name, his writing process, and more.

What made you go for the name Civortep?

It is my last name backwards, I always thought it sounded neat so for my producer name I chose to have it as that.

How do you usually describe your music?

It has a little bit of everything in it! Not exclusive of any style, but I pretty much just go with what comes to mind and sounds equally as good.

What is your writing process like?

Write, Refine, Refine, Refine. For me I can’t play a lick and have it be a polished piece of gold from the beginning. It takes a lot of refining to get it to the point that I feel it is good enough to go with. And even then I may go back and build off of it even more.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

My biggest inspiration is independent musicians that can promote themselves and build an organic image without being manipulated both in their music and persona by the industry, which in my opinion produces clones, lacking in originality, like its existence depends on it.

Civortep - The Return

What is your favourite piece on the “The Return” album?

I’m stuck between Shadow Covenant and The Return as my two favorites. The words are definitely the strongest points in my opinion, and I felt that the way I sung them expressed the emotion I was going for very well.

What makes “The Return” different?

It has a lot of elements that are very scarce within the metal community. I don’t like to be gridlocked by a method or any single type of approach, so I went all out including elements with synths, orchestra parts, and tons of sound effects.

What should music lovers expect from “The Return”?

A ton of variety that can pretty much satisfy any taste, from heavy elements, to atmospheric and melodic.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

I approached this album with a vision of including all emotions, so I hope that would translate over to the listener. There’s definitely enough variety within it to satisfy pretty much the whole emotional spectrum.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Keep of Kalessin – Epistemology
Immortal Technique – The Martyr
Omar Linx – City Of Ommz

Get “The Return” from Bandcamp here. Follow Civortep on SoundCloudYouTube and Facebook.

Review: Jay Matharu – These Clouds are So Undisciplined!

Jay Matharu

The Uppsala, Sweden-based song-writer, performer, guitarist and composer, Jay Matharu, is set out to explore a wide variety of genres and unleash his full creativity on his debut album “These Clouds are So Undisciplined!,” clearly stating that he is not into music to make it big, but more importantly, for his passion for creating music.

One of the most striking features of his music is definitely Jay’s ability to cross different genres and platforms, incorporating elements of music from different styles: from metal to jazz fusion and even some subtle hints of hard rock and djent in the form of really memorable arrangements.

On this material, Matharu is showing an incredible amount of versatility, as a composer, performer and musician, casting a beautifully diverse collection of songs. Fans of good instrumental guitar-oriented rock with jazz fusion and metal excursions are certainly in for a treat.

Get the album from Bandcamp here.

These Clouds Are So Undisciplined

Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 30

Here we are again, at year’s end. I can’t believe that another 12 months has passed since I began my countdown for 2014, it doesn’t seem that long ago. And yet, in the intervening period, a lot has happened. My eldest daughter has started nursery whilst my youngest has changed from a new born baby […]