Dream Theater Announce “Distance Over Time” Album, 2019 North American Tour

dtdot

I’m interrupting a summer (now gone) of digging deep into the recently-released Dave Matthews Band album, the two excellent Southern Empire albums (do pick them up), and my autumnal tradition of listening to all that is Big Big Train to report what’s been making the rounds on this midterm Election Day in America: Prog metal kings Dream Theater have announced a new album, “Distance Over Time,” which will be released 22 February, 2019.

The band will then hit the road for a North American tour starting in March, and while concertgoers will no doubt be treated to newly-released material from “DoT” (or, as a nod to Rush, should it be “d/t?”), the highlight of the tour will no doubt be the news of the band celebrating 20 years of their landmark album, “Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory.”

A short teaser from the forthcoming album, which was produced by guitarist John Petrucci and with sweet artwork by Hugh Syme, can be heard here:

Here are the “Distance Over Time” tour dates for America and Canada. The band also plans to follow the U.S. dates with a show in Mexico City in early May.

March 2019
20 – San Diego, CA
21 – Los Angeles, CA
22 – Los Angeles, CA
24 – San Francisco, CA
26 – Denver, CO
28 – St. Paul, MN
29 – Chicago, IL
31 – Milwaukee, WI

April 2019
2 – Detroit, MI
4 – Toronto, Ont.
5 – Montreal, Que.
6 – Quebec City, Que.
8 – Boston, MA
9 – Oakdale, CT
10 – Red Bank, NJ
12 – New York, NY
13 – Upper Darby, PA
15 – Washington, D.C.
17 – Nashville, TN
22 – Charlotte, NC
23 – Atlanta, GA
24 – Orlando, FL
26 – St. Petersburg, FL
27 – Jacksonville, FL
29 – Dallas, TX
30 – Houston, TX

May 2019
1 – Austin, TX

While I initially gave a solid review of their previous release, “The Astonishing,” I’ve since given it few listens when compared to the albums that came before it, especially the song-oriented releases (rather than concept albums). I don’t know that any information about the tracks on “Distance Over Time” has been made public, but I’m fairly certain that given the scope of “The Astonishing,” DT would likely return to a song-oriented effort on the next one, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing what’s next from the gang.

Track Review: Death of an Astronomer – Digital Conversation

Digital Conversation

Sometimes, metal guys want to play jazz fusion, and that is something that Los Angeles based keyboardist, guitarist and composer Jairo Estrada does with his project Death is an Astronomer on the recently released single “Digital Conversation.” 

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/track=198860162/size=small/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/transparent=true/

Estrada offers up striking, highly progressive metallic fusion music that never bores or ventures too far off into aimless territory. Highly complex yet flowing, “Digital Conversation” sees weaving guitar and bass melodies twisting and turning around each other, the drums, following along every step of the way but keeping it all grounded. Arrangements just grab hold of you and take you on a mind altering journey. Nothing here is overly heavy, but there is just enough crunch in the guitar to keep this in the metal camp, yet when Estrada goes for some soaring, thought provoking chops, it’s classic jazz fusion/prog rock all the way. 

Jairo Estrada (Death of an Astronomer)

If you like adventurous, classy instrumental metal fusion, Death of an Astronomer’s debut single is a something you need to seek out immediately. But to make it easy, here is where you can get it.

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.

Review: Perihelion Ship – To Paint a Bird of Fire

Perihelion Ship

I find “To Paint a Bird of Fire” to be a very special album. There is a sort of checklist you can go down when preparing to listen to this kind of modern extreme progressive metal, and Perihelion Ship basically hit everything on it… But they go a bit further than that.

What are some of the things on that checklist? You’ve got your combination of growled vocals and lighter ones, which we’ve seen the likes of Opeth and many others successfully employ. There are frantic passages driven by thundering double bass and softer, more atmospheric moments. Slick melodies abound in the guitar work, and there are hugely ambitious and lengthy tracks. It’s all there.

To Paint a Bird of Fire

The thing about “To Paint a Bird of Fire” is that it isn’t just all there, it’s all there for a reason. This is songwriting taken to the next level. Every time there needs to be a softer moment it comes, and every time there needs to be a burst of aggression to release a building of tension, it comes too. In addition (and this is important), despite the obvious massive amounts of instrumental talent of the musicians, there is no shying away from using simpler riffs and chord progressions as building blocks to move a song forward.

I try and find some criticism of any album when reviewing. It’s tough for this one. “To Paint a Bird of Fire” is an album I really didn’t find boring at all. Song for song, it’s put together masterfully and is a great example of how it’s often better to create a shorter, focused, and wholly structured album than have 15 songs for the sake of having lots of songs where only 3 or 4 are really good. And importantly, as mentioned above, it’s got all the items on the progressive checklist not just for the sake of being called progressive, but because when you do those things right, you can make some great music.

“To Paint a Bird of Fire” is out now and is available from Bandcamp.

Review: Art Against Agony – Russian Tales

Russian Tales

We’ve been following this Germany-based collective for quite some time now, and their brand new release — an EP titled “Russian Tales” — was conceived during the group’s tour across Russia in Winter 2016. It may be because of it that the five songs here feel a bit cold in its nature, but hey — you spend 12000km experiencing winter in Siberia, and then let’s talk. All digression aside, Art Against Agony have once again produced a mind-twisting release, something they are already known in the experimental, avant-garde and prog metal underground.

The group’s can-do attitude of mixing odd experimentation techniques into a metal state has earned them success since their 2014 debut “Three Short Stories.” The particular experiment AAA undertake is the fusion of contrasting genres, principally the extreme side of metal and fancy jazz.

For “Russian Tales” it could be said that it’s a transitional release, as it was conceived between the release of “The Difference Between a Duck and a Lobster” in February 2016 and “The Forgotten Story” EP from February this year. The production here is perfect. “Nothing to Declare” and “Tea for the Dragon” both have infectious grooves that are more riff focused rather than uncontrollable experimentation. The latter could be considered as a centrepiece of the EP. “Coffee for the Queen,” for which the band recently released a music video is another highlight here; it’s more prog metal oriented than other pieces. Throughout the album the guitars constantly build up, what gives the band, in general, both vintage and modern sound that increases the uniqueness of their soundscapes.

The closing “Saratov Incident” feels personal, and it’s by far the djentiest moment on “Russian Tales.” The band unleashes a cannonade of riffs, accompanied with lush atmospheric motif and pounding drum work.

Although a release that was written while on road and in constant motion, “Russian Tales” is very consistent in terms of its structure and material offered here. You can possibly sense how it took its form out in the wild wilderness, and for this young band it certainly stands as a huge statement. At the time when this review is posted Art Against Agony are on another tour across Russia, so who knows, maybe they will come up with “Russian Tales 2.” Highly recommended!

“Russian Tales” is available from Bandcamp and Bigcartel.

Joe Hill’s Prog-Metal Shoutout

the-fireman-joe-hill
THE FIREMAN.

As someone who loves fantasy, sci-fi, and horror fiction, I was pretty thrilled to discover a new (new to me, that is) author this week, Joe Hill.

I started his novel, THE FIREMAN, on Friday, and I was rather excited to find that one of the characters had been the bassist in a prog-metal band, Unbreakable.

Granted, it’s one reference thus far, but outside of the work of Kevin J. Anderson and Ernest Cline, I can think of almost no author who embraces prog at any level.

So, a huge thank you to Mr. Hill.  And, by the way, he’s an excellent story teller.

To order THE FIREMAN, click here.

Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 29

Welcome to day two of my ‘Album Of The Year 2015’ countdown. If you missed the opening instalment of what is a series that will either make or break me, you can check it out right here: Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30. Additionally, if you missed my similar countdowns from the past […]

https://manofmuchmetal.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/album-of-the-year-2015-number-29/